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Sunday, July 21, 2019

Choosing your first kayak? Watch this video

Dan Arbuckle introduces a review of five entry-level kayaks

Some longtime paddlers may look down their noses when they see....

...entry-level boats from big box stores. It’s an easy call if you’ve been paddling for years and invested a large sum in a kayak that’s fit for almost any body of water. But there’s another point of view, as a new YouTube video explains. And it’s notable for several reasons.

First, it was created by Dan Arbuckle, who owns the Headwaters Kayak Shop in Lodi. Dan is well known in Northern California kayaking circles as an entrepreneur paddler who’s very active in the community. He’s also as sharply attuned to social media as anyone I know in the watersports biz. Which is where YouTube comes in.

One of Dan’s latest YouTube videos is “5 Kayaks Under $300:Are They Worth It?” On the day I found it, the video had more than 58,000 hits. The following day, up to more than 64,000. As of this writing, it’s closing in on 125,000 hits – after only a month online. That’s extraordinary for a kayak video that doesn’t involve a shark attack or a ride over Niagara Falls. Dan's 28-minute video obviously hit the right note with paddlers.  

Anyone familiar with Headwaters knows that the shop inventory includes some high-end kayaks with price tags of $5,000 or more. (Less expensive but quality boats too.) So you

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Water's high, and so are kayaking hazards

Cosumnes Fire Department crew practicing rough water rescues on Lower American River (2017)

Many Northern California paddlers are dusting off their boats.... 

 ….but before that first launch of the season,  it’s time to review a safety check list. Especially since Northern Californian waters will be running extra high, fast and cold this spring. Long-time kayaking instructor Dan Crandall recently posted a comprehensive list of tips on his River Store web site.  While that post may be primarily  oriented toward the white-water crowd, it’s worth a read by flatwater kayakers, too.  Also check out this 2017 NorCal Yak post on high-water paddling with photos, videos, and some incidents that reinforce the need for extra safety this time of year. 

©  2019 Glenn Brank 

Monday, September 25, 2017

I've seen the Golden Gate from both sides now

Before a paddle under the fog-draped icon of San Francisco Bay…

 …our leader asked, “What are your goals today?” An easy one for me: “I want to paddle out the Gate – and I would prefer to come back.” As it turned out, that would be the right goal for a kayaker who ended the day feeling nearly as time-worn as the span that symbolizes San Francisco.

Thousands of kayakers have paddled under the Gate, and they’ve done it many thousands of times. I bet all of them remember their first trip. For me, the allure had little to do with kayaking and everything to do with another trip under the Gate in 1943.

It was a clear night. A troop transport ship chugged out of the Bay carrying hundreds of  soldiers. Including a 19-year-old, Blue Ridge Mountain farm boy. He had never traveled 

A paddler's wish comes true: "...and I would prefer to come back"
more than ten miles from home before he volunteered for the Army. Below decks, the heat from jammed bodies was so stifling that men were allowed to sleep on deck.

“I could see all the stars in the sky – and then suddenly it all went dark as we passed under the Golden Gate,” Dad recalled years later, awe still in his voice. My own Gate voyage began with those nostalgic thoughts and ended very much in the present.