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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Behaving Like Salmon. Why we paddle upriver.

Some say we are foolish. Some think we work way to hard for way to little. Some even say its not Sea Kayaking. But the proud few who commit the time and learn these skills, well they realize that all the sea kayak adventure that they have been looking for is right there in their own back yard. This post if for them and for those who may be sceptics of up river sea kayaking. Its time to give it a serious look.

Up River Sea Kayaking, is not only a physical workout, its great training for boat control,surfing, endurance, and style. Ever wonder why Penguin Paddlers seems to progress so quickly? Well ask one of us, I'm sure many of us will tell you that our seat time on the river made us the paddler we are today. The following link is to a article written about Up River Sea Kayaking in Redding. The author does a much more eloquent job describing the epicness of it way better than I ever could, so instead of trying to reword it, I'm just going to re post it. Enjoy.

P.S. In Rocklin check to see when our next upriver paddle is heading out. In Redding check to see the next time you can join them on the river.

A short upriver kayaking video.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Lake Tahoe Road Trip!

Lake Tahoe Road Trip, Trip Report!

Lake Tahoe is one of California's most renowned paddling destination. The water is cystal clear, the high sierra mountain air is crisp and clean, the shoreline is filled with beautiful rock formation and expensive houses. What could possibly make it any better? How about sharing that experiance with 60 other enthused paddlers.

That is what our annual Tahoe Road Trip is all about, and this year was no exception. We had more boats on the water than ever before. We had paddlers drive from Washington, Southern California, Nevada, and of course all over Northern California. There were 5 different Northern California clubs that were in attendance as well. This was the first year that we had a vendor cosponcer the trip. Sterling Donaldson from Sterlings Kayaks brought down a trailer full of his composite Sea Kayaks for people to demo and paddle throughout the weekend. He and his boats were very well recieved. He also did a very informative emergency repair clinic back at camp during our evening pot luck on Saturday night.

Over the four days we paddled from Baldwin Beach to Emerald Bay, Sand Harbor to Skunk Harbor, and Zephyr Cove to Cave Rock. The weather was amazing the whole weekend, no real wind to speak of and not a single cloud in the sky. Each night after the paddle we would pick a campsite to have a pot luck at, and everyone would bring food, beer, etc and share it with the group. One guy even brought a mobile massage chair and gave massages for tips! Add Image

I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story, but all and all it was an amazing trip. Thanks to all you paddlers out there who came up to support it!

Sun Rise at Fallen Leaf Lake where we camped.

My new love, Sterlings new prototype Reflection.

Rony in his new Illusion.

Ron handing out in a rock garden near Sand Harbor.

The Group getting ready to head out on day to at Sand Harbor
Sterlings demo boats blinging in the sun.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Sometimes words are worth 1000 Pictures.

I spend a lot of my time on the water with people taking photos and video in hopes to share them around and get people excited about paddling, however last night was different. It was our last Wednesday Night Clinic of the season at Folsom Lake. The clouds were ominous and the wind was building. We had a medium size group of people, and everyone was at a different skill level. So I tried my best to work with everyone one on one. I really tried to do my best to meet them where they are at and give them a little something to work on in order to progress their skills. So some worked on rolling, some on edging, some on sculling, and then there was Ken. He is brand new to paddling, and is like a sponge when it comes to learning about kayaking. He has a few physical limitations but his gun-ho attitude makes up for his lack of flexibility. So last night he wanted to work on self rescues. So I started off by showing his a basic paddle float reentry. Then he tried and was able to hop back into his boat. After 15 minutes or so a man that was nervous about tipping over was trying anything and everything he could think of in order to swamp his boat and get back in. After about a hour of skills practice the wind had started to blow pretty hard and the waves were starting to build up off the point, so I decided to take the group out to practice boat control in the wind. (Secretly I wanted to catch some surf rides in my Illusion but don't tell them that:) So as we head out everyone jets off into the wind and waves except Ken and myself. Ken looks over at me, his eyes wide as saucers and says, "You are going to stay close right?" I reassure him and then we paddle off. After about 10 minutes of slogging into the wind I look over at Ken. His face was lit up like a kid on Christmas Morning. He didn't think he would be paddling in conditions like that for at least a year. Then the real fun began when I turned everyone around, drop their skegs and start paddling back to the launch. I had these simple instructions, "When you feel your bow drop down on the wave, paddle like hell and catch a ride." So everyone paddled off including Ken. After taking a few strokes Ken catches his a ride and zooms off. He first ever surf. For those of you remember the feeling of your first surf ride, you know the rush that comes along with it. So after that we pull back into the cove just in time to witness an amazing sunset. The perfect way to end our Wednesday Night Clinic series.

So after the clinic last night I was flying high on the feeling of a job well done. I always enjoy my time on the water teaching and paddling with friends, but when I get an email like this, it serves as a reminder that what I do for a job is having lasting impacts on peoples lives. For that Ken I'm so much more grateful to you than you will ever be of me. Thanks for the kind reminder of why I do what I do. Despite the economy, despite hours, despite the pay, I get to make a impact in peoples lives and that makes my job the best one in the world for me.

Please read on to hear the Email that Ken sent me about his time on the water with us.

Dan Arbuckle

Hi Dan,

You played a huge role in making a dream come true for me yesterday; I thank you so very much. I now own an adequate number of physical items to begin kayaking but, they would not really be any real value without the coaching you have provided by way of Penguin Paddlers. Me being one who is concerned about basic safety; wanting to be able to climb back into the boat unassisted, I now feel I’ve crossed the line where I can begin enjoying the type of kayaking I want to do. Then, after all the coaching, to have been guided out into the hard wind and rolling little waves of that huge lake was an experience that just brought it all together for me. I feel I’m ready to do this now in a way that is a step beyond just lazy meandering in warm, still water. Yeehah! Being out in the wind and waves at sunset with the spectacular cloud formations was so intensely beautiful. I’m alive again!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tide Race paddling

For many of you including myself, paddling in currents or tide races is a very intriguing prospect. The water is racing by you, white water and waves are all around, and then you look at shore only to realize you are dead still in relation to the rocks around you. There are few things in the sport of kayaking that can compare with the feeling of flying on the water without really moving forward a inch. I found a great article written by my friend Paul Kuthe. He gives some great advice about how to train and safely paddle tide races. Like Paul we do all our education in the safe predictable environment of the River. Feel free to email me for upcoming river paddles that you can join in on. Check out his article and let me know what you think.

Here is a link to a video of me Surfing my Sterling Illusion on the American River.

Bow draw vs. low brace turn

Hi Dan,

Boy, I wish I knew about the Penguin Paddler clinics sooner; I would attend all of them if I could! I have been watching YouTube videos and getting inspiration and questions.

Are there certain situations where you would use a bow draw over a low brace turn to turn your boat? They look like both techniques can do the same thing ie change direction 90 degrees.

Thanks, Reader

Dear Reader,

First thing first, I will be teaching clinics throughout the year, just not on Wednesday nights due to sunlight. (Penguin Paddlers Does a clinic series every summer on Wednesday night). I will do some during the week, and possibly a couple weekend ones. Just check the Community Calendar on Other than that feel free to show up to any of our events and I would be more than happy work with you on stokes.

In regards to your email, that is a excellent question. The two moves do very different things to the boat. The low brace lean turn pivots the boat 90 degree (or so) by putting pressure on the paddle blade and edging into the turn, thus killing all your speed. This only pivots your boat it does not actually change the direction of your momentum. Example would be if you are paddling toward a rock and you do a low brace lean turn, you will turn 90 degrees but your overall momentum will still be headed toward the rock. So in order to avoid the rock you will have to do some sort of forward stoke to change the direction of your boats momentum. This stoke comes in very handy when you need to stop in a hurry. Like skidding your bike when you where a kid. It also becomes very useful when you start paddling in currents and eddies. It allows you to have solid support when crossing currents. It is also the basis for surfing, although there is more details about that that we can get into later.

Now in regards to the Bow draw (or more effective would be Bow Rudder); this stokes is used to turn the boat as well, but instead of killing your speed and pivoting your boat, it allows you to keep your speed and actually change the direction and momentum of your boat. *NOTE* any time you edge to your inside you are slowing the boat down, and anytime you edge to the outside your can keep your speed while turning. So when you do a Bow Rudder, you will be edging away from the stoke in order to keep your speed and allow the curvature of the boats hull to steer the boat where you want it to go. So lets break it down step by step. First thing you will do is initiate your turn with a big sweep stroke on your outside edge, then follow up by holding that edge and planting your bow rudder on the opposite side, and always be looking where you want to go. By doing these three things you are setting yourself up for success. your forward sweep sets your edge and begins the turn, your bow rudder gives you directional control and your vision helps your body lead the boat where you want it to go.

I like to think about it like this. A inside edge turn is like hitting the e-brake on your car. It will cause your car to stop in a hurry and turn you sideways. The bow rudder is like your front wheel. You turn the wheels slowly and it allows your car to change direction and continue holding its speed.

There is a lot more to learn about bow rudders and bow draws, as they are the basis for good boat control. However to avoid confusion I will leave it at that. Please feel free to join us on any of our free clinics and I would be happy to address these questions on the water. Also here are some links to watch that show the difference in Inside and outside turns as well as Lean turns vs bow rudders.

Shawna and Leon from Body Boat Blade did a couple of nice video on edging for Canoe and Kayak Mag. Great shots that help illustrate my points.

Here is a short one of me doing some edging bow rudders and draw stokes on flat water:

*If this helps good, If it creates a stumbling block leave it.

Thanks so much for the question.

Dan Arbuckle

Hey everyone,

First off I would like to introduce myself. My name is Dan Arbuckle, team paddler for Sterlings Kayaks, store manager for Penguin Paddlers, and Head Instructor for the Rocklin store. I created this blog in hopes to further share my enthusiasm for the sport of Sea Kayaking. I encourage you to email me with kayaking related questions and I will do my best to post your question as well as a response here on my blog so we can all learn together. I hope you enjoy my post and check back often for new exciting photos, review, advice, and trip reports.

Dan Arbuckle