Monday, May 16, 2016

Reservoirs and kayaker fortunes finally rise again

BEFORE: Rolling down the hill to launch at Rattlesnake Bar last October.
AFTER: Fishing boat at about the same spot, March 18

Our long-term drought may not be over yet.... 

But these days, the view from a kayak looks pretty good around Northern California. Consider this before-and-after comparison at Folsom Lake Recreation Area's Rattlesnake Bar. 

It was just last October 30 that NorCal Yak pal Dale and I drove to the launch near
BEFORE: A weedy wonderland
Penryn, as Folsom was shrinking to historic low levels. Dale had scouted the area on foot and swore there was enough water to float us about six miles down to Granite Bay. 

But after we walked our kayaks a country mile down a steep hill, made our way through thick brush that towered over our heads, repelled our yaks down a small cliff, and then crossed a wide beach to reach the water, I shoulda known better. Apparently, I was completely unencumbered by the thought process.

Let’s just say that for the rest of that day, there was more mud-slinging than in a Republican presidential debate.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Use tie-downs on every kayak trip -- or risk disaster

At the scene -- and time definitely did not stand still 

You know you’re in for a hair-raising kayak story when it begins...

"Miraculously, no one was killed or injured." 

This is one of those stories. Not to sound melodramatic, but it’s a paddler’s tale with lessons that could save lives. And off the water, at that.    

It happened last Nov. 27, Black Friday. While most folks were already stampeding into the shopping malls or sleeping off their turkey dinners, I headed toward Tomales Bay with paddling pal Trudy on I-80.   

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Early splashdown kicks off kayak waterfall tours

Finding waterfalls at Englebright? As easy as one, two, three 

Snow melt turns on the faucets for area lakes and rivers....

Dry times aren’t over, not by a long shot. But there are trickles of hope for paddlers in Northern California’s lakes and rivers, thanks to early runoff from the Sierra. And that sets the scene for waterfall tours by kayak, even before the spring equinox arrives.

Our paddler pod enjoyed just such an outing last Saturday at Englebright Lake in the Yuba River gorge near Marysville. A ten-mile round-trip jaunt revealed several

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Get out of the kayak cockpit to find a better view

My best sea otter video ever was taken from the shore...

It seems kind of strange to write this on a paddling blog, but sometimes, you can find the best view and take your best photos by getting out of your kayak.

This came to mind recently after two British tourists kayaking on Monterey Bay had a close encounter of the worst kind with a humpback whale. The whale – probably in the 40-to-50 ton range – breached and then dropped squarely on the Brits’ tandem kayak just off Moss Landing.

It's almost impossible to approach wildlife on the water without disturbing them, especially females with young 

Miraculously, the pair not only survived – they escaped without injury. Tom Mustill and
Charlotte Kinloch later recounted the incident in numerous press interviews, as a tour