Archive for July, 2007


close encounters of the whale kind…

So I was out kayak surfing with some friends on Saturday at South Beach, Newport and EJ looks north and says, “Hey, look, there’s a whale”- and points to something about 50 meters North of us. For a moment I was worried EJ was mistaken and I considered the possibily of a shark – it is shark season after all, and we were surfing close to an estuary, at sunset, with tonnes of plankton around- but then I saw the whale spout and was reassured. The next thing i know the whale is swimming towards us. I begin to paddle as quick as I can to the beach- as much as i like surfing, I really dont like being reminded (up close and personal) that when I surf I am a tourist in the land of charismatic (and non-charismatic) marine macrofauna. I look back and the whale is swimming in mine and EJ’s direction before changing and headed towards Gary. I heard Gary shout somethng like’ thats crazy’ as the whale swam directly under his boat and bumped him. How awesome and scary!

I’m pretty sure that it was grey whale as I know that the grey whales tend to come close to shore, tho usually a little earlier in the year. I didnt see a large dorsal fin- just a small little nubbin- ruling out the possibility of an Orca. Whatever it was, Gary’s prescise words were “If that never happens to me again, it’ll be okay with me!”. Not many people can say they saw a friend get bumped by a whale- about 20 meters from them…I’ve heard swimming with dolphins is soothing, but i think kayak surfing with whales is a little different- at least for me.

I guess the whale saw us having so much fun kayak surfing that he just wanted in on the action, and who can blame him!


…that’s Spencer’s

So I’ve been to Spencer’s or 24/7 about 12 times over the last 4 or 5 weeks. The sessions have taught me a lot about my boating. I would say that improvements in play boating come in baby steps (with the occasional giant leap)- its takes time, dedication and patience to improve (for me at least). I have days out there I feel great about my boating but these are interspersed with days when I feel frustrated with my performance and of lack of progress. Yesterday was one of those frustrating days. Spins were fine, but i had difficulty setting up for the loop, until the last 10 minutes of our session, then wham bam, there’s the sweet spot. It seems minute changes in river level can alter the features at Spencer’s, so it takes awhile to get accustomed to where the spots to spin, cartwheel and loop are- and there are specific spots. James had set up his video camera so we could do some video analyses of what I was doing wrong. Sure enough, I wasn’t waiting long enough to ‘pop’ out vertically and was throwing my weight forward too soon. Arghh, its all a learning experience. I must say, even after the frustrating days, I’m still so happy to have been on the river. If nothing else, I’ve learned what doesn’t work, built core muscle strength and spent some quality time with quality friends, and that is surely a positive thing. To me, paddling without friends is like coffee without caffeine- it just seems wrong.


What works at 24/7, works at Spencer’s, right?

Dave, EJ, James, Megi, Sandra and myself headed to Spencer’s on Tuesday. EJ and James, the play boating superstars, were on hand giving us tones of great advice.

For me, it was tough to be back at Spencer’s after a whole weeks break. The river was lower than usual- at about 900 CFS- making the attainment a little easier, but still challenging to muscles that hadn’t been worked for a week. First off, because of the lower water, I had difficulty spinning. I could get only one spin and then flush. EJ had some great advice- (1) relax and (2) spin 180 then wait a fraction of a second before completing the spin- that way, if the boat is at the top of the pile after the first 180, waiting that 0.5 second in a back surf will allow the boat to slip back down the pile to prevent flushing. This advice was excellent! I tried it, and sure enough, 3 consecutive 360 spins.

Okay, with the spins feeling good, I moved onto trying what I had learned at 24/7 with Jesse…and what EJ and James have patiently tried to teach me for over 1 year. The infamous front loop…

I’ve changed my mind-Spencer’s is not a typical, nice, friendly hole- not like 24/7. In fact it is kind of trashy. So I spent a lot of time trying to get myself set up for the loop by surfing, but I just couldn’t hit the sweet spot and ended up flushing or getting a lovely window shade- my signature move. Then came some advice that I have found invaluable. James told me to throw in a 360 spin to put me at the top of the pile to set up. I tried this and after the spin, I was looking absolutely perpendicular to the sweet spot, sitting at the top of the pile. One forward stoke and I accelerated down the pile, caught the bow, stood vertical and threw my weight forward- I guess a little too much because my helmet hit my front deck-and next thing I know, I’m back in the hole facing upstream- just where I should be- with a huge smile on my face.

Other attempts at the loop were fair. I have to work on the ending as I kept getting flushed, but I will say that I noticed improvement >100 % in my loop attempts after spending some time at 24/7 with Jesse, Dave and Grace. 24/7 is not the most aesthetically pleasing spot in Oregon (being under Interstate 5), but it’s worth a visit for any wannabe play boater, in my wannabe play boater opinion.


On a quest to become a playboater- starting with the basics.

Hi water people. So I guess I’ve been meaning to blog my paddling exploits for a while. I would describe myself primarily as a surf kayaker, with a little bit of a river runner/creeker and playboater thrown in for good measure. This summer, in a bid to improve my and rodeo moves in the ocean, I’ve been spending a lot of time at Spencer’s hole on the N. Santiam, Oregon. It’s a fairly friendly wave/ hole that requires attainment to get to the service eddy -which is a good work out. I’m using the blog site as an outlet to chart my progress.

Firstly, for the last month, I’ve been having fun in the new JK all-star. It’s a fast, well-balanced and loose boat. The first thing I got to grips with was getting loose on the wave. EJ Etherington gave me some great advice- not to fight the boat and let it go to a point that it felt like it was on ball bearings. This is the feeling of a loose boat- and it feels great! Next job was to concentrate on my 360o flat spins. I thought I’d been doing these right for years but then I discovered, when I got my first REAL flat spin that it feels like spinning on a swivel chair- super quick and super fun, with very little effort needed. After the 360, we started working on dropping an edge to allow some verticality to the spin-ie initiate the end of the boat. I didn’t want to use a double pump; so instead, I entered the wave, threw in a 180 (so surfing backwards) and dropped my right stern edge. This had the effect of throwing the bow vertically. Okay, most of first attempts ended in getting flushed, a window shade or in a screw-up (yes that is really the name of a move) but at least I was getting the feeling of how the cartwheel could be initiated.

Now at the point where I felt like I was getting somewhere, I headed down to a much friendlier spot in Eugene, called 24/7. Jesse Coombs, kindly coached me into getting the feeling of how to throw a cartwheel. This time I did initiate my bow with a double pump. After about 1 hour- I managed to get 4 to 5 consecutive ends down fairly consistently. Next up, Jesse took my through the mechanics of a loop- adding onto the knowledge that had been passed to me by EJ and James Bagley Jr. Although, not quite there yet, I’m managing to get the feeling of how it should be…

Next up…apply what I learned at 24/7 to Spencer’s.


Hello world!

The World Kayak initiative would like to announce the recent creation of a new blog This is a first post on this blog’s behalf.