Saturday, July 19, 2014

Urban Oasis and the Outdoor Project.


First day in the States and we ended up on a new adventure. Pulling up at Montlake park in Seattle Tara and I meet Tyson and Tyler who are part of the Out Project, and online adventure guide website. OP and TRAK had paired to promote Sea Kayaking on the site and the benefit of using TRAK kayaks for Urban adventures or more wild ones.

Today was about me making sure they were comfortable with the boats, and also to discuss how I could help them create the content they needed for the website, and along the way that meant we ended up on an Urban Kayak adventure at the same time. All four of us put on the water and paddled around the corner to a crazy little place called the arboretum, a place where idyllic Lillie pads and ducks swam about on the glassy serene waters, while busy freeways ran over top, held above the water by concrete stilts.

The place was a contradiction to the senses and extremely surreal, you eyes computed to your brain, tranquil japans garden style lake, yet your ears at some places where screaming you’re in the middle of a freeway junction, and over all you felt like you where in a part of a city that was being taken back by the wild. Tara could not handle the conflict and paddle back to the park, while the boys and I explored a bit more. I was totally fascinated by the whole situation, so bizarre yet so great for those who cannot escape the city easily to find wild beauty. It almost seemed an “ideal” situation to me... Tara scoffed at this suggestion though what I mean is “ if you are going to have a city, this is a great way to incorporate nature in to it, if we could do this to 90% of each city... we would be a huge leap further ahead towards living in tune with nature”.


It also became apparent there were some reasonably challenging waters to deal with in the urban waterways of seattle.. as we paddled through a canal between lakes, the boats where big and did not slow for kayaks, rapidly the water went from calm, to boat wake swell and rapidly shifted again to a confused sea state as waves refracted of the walls and merged with the swell making some solid calapotiss waves, your average beginner paddler could struggle with these conditions for sure.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Downwind Squamish Surf Ski Dash and immigration Comedians



Last night Tara and I crossed into the USA, thought not before we had an “EPIC” Surf Ski adventure.

I had just spent a day helping install the new amazing custom” ‘Yak Wagon” roof rack that now enables 16 x 7 feet of storage space on the roof of the bus, and after an evening paddle in Deep Cove North Vancouver, the day ended with a pleasant long sleep in the ‘Yak Wagon.

The next day, as I popped out of the bus to go find the amenities, I bumped into Bob Putnam, the owner of Deep Cove Outdoors and Canoe and Kayak Centre, and after a catch up, Tara and I were soon invited for a Downwind Surf ski Paddle....... We were supposed to cross the border today..... let me “Think” about a surf ski outing.... well traffic would probably be quite high between 3 – 8pm, so if we go paddle we could cross at 9pm lower traffic amount.... “OK Done! We are in!” I exclaimed. “now let me go tell Tara!”


The fun part here is that Tara had never been in a surf Ski before, both of us had not done down wind surf ski runs before, though we both had super strong cross over skills, so we were exited by the novelty of the idea. Earlier in the week, Tara had paddled a K1 racing kayak around the lake without falling in, so combined with her solid rough water expedition and white water paddling skills, she would be all good.


(c)Worldwildadventures-1086After visiting Deep cove to discuss TRAK kayaks, I confirmed with Bob we would come, and we loaded a ski on the Wagon and off we went to Porteu Cove, here we meet the rest of the crew we were paddling with, and they all had slight nervous doubt when Tara and I told them we had not paddled surf ski’s in conditions like this, and in Fact Tara and not used either a surf ski or a wing paddle before. Bob knowing the backgrounds of both Tara and I, had a kind off sly twinkle in his eye it seemed. Tara was a little nervous about it all, though I knew she would be fine and joked with her about it.



Soon we were on the water and it was so much fun, the speed, the surfing of waves, and water in the face, along with the challenge of a different vessel in advanced conditions, all added up to 2 hours of great fun. The biggest thing I learnt this day was to read the waves 2 -3 sets in front of you, in order to predict where to steer the ski in order to keep catching and staying on surf able waves. And by god it worked, a revelation for my skill set right there, awesome.


Charging up Howe sound hooting hollering, and ripping along in 3 foot wind waves with 35 knot winds at our backs we all to soon found ourselves in Squamish estuary, ducking and diving amongst the kite and wind surfers, to get into the harbour. Soaked head to toe with big smiles and aching muscles, we helped load up the ski’s and then it was off to have beer and pizza at the local brew pub. What a fun day and yet another paddle discipline I want to indulge in.


All to soon we were back on the road and heading for the border, and at 9.20 pm we walked in to immigration after reporting at the booth, and we were greeted, not with the expected surely USA immigration officers, but by some rather human, endearing and humorous individuals. It all seemed your usual routine, until our case officer left to get our passports from the booth officer, and while he was gone another officer made a comment that we were left standing at the altar by the priest. And soon it was all on, wise cracks flying left and right. The next target was my bus... “what are you .... errr driving .... some sort of .....err caravan?” asked the officer with some sort of bewilderment as he looked at the bus through security camera monitor showing it parked outside. “or is it a..... Bus?”

On telling him it was an ex well chair transporter, he smiled and stated cautiously “ I was going to say it was some sort of..... um.....some sort of.....” “oh man don’t say it” jibed the other security officer with a look of mischief”

Our case officer said “ I was going to say it looked like some sort of “Handicapped Enabled” vehicle!”

“OH MAN YOU SAID IT” laughed the other officer, “Ha ha ha ha ha is not that bad man, look it is a tour bus it even has marketing decals on it, it looks great really!” we all laughed at the truth of both realitys of what the ‘Yak wagon was and had become”. Tara had been processed and just as I was about to be processed, the whole system crashed... and soon came a whole bunch of new jokes followed by “ don’t joke about this stuff, we are supposed to be putting across an air of high tech surveillance, we are meant to have all this fancy CSI stuff our systems don’t crash” followed by some more chuckles. Eventually the process worked while being harried along by more friendly banter, and while I went out to get money from the bus to pay for the visa waiver stamps, Tara informed me they even attempted to impersonate me and my accent...

Who would have thought we would have had a laugh at the border crossing with immigration officials, I guess there is a first for everything. Soon we were in the USA , with a fully kitted out ‘Yak Wagon, a lots f different Kayaks, and the realisation suddenly hit me.... the Yak About Adventure with TRAK Kayaks and the TRAK on Tour had really begun, this will be a lot of work, though will also be a lot of fun.

TRAK on TOUR in America Clear Background Copy

Friday, July 4, 2014

TRAK on Tour Begins Sunshine Coast and the Skooks’


(c)Worldwildadventures-1I am finally on the Road; the TRAK on Tour project has begun, I will be spending the Northern summer traveling the West Coast of North America from Canada to Mexico and back and so far it is a fun challenge of balancing work and life on the road with the need for a life slightly apart from work, and getting some white water boating in.


My old bus has been wrangled into service and will be transformed over the next couple of weeks into a rolling billboard and house for the trip. So far I have visited Shops on Vancouver Island from Victoria to Campbell River, though the fun really started once I crossed on the ferry across to the Sunshine Coast. This area is an old stomping ground, and it was great to catch up with old friends the first night at dance party in Lund (at the end of the road heading north). The next week was a good balance for shop visits from Lund to Gibson’s landings with some great kayak fun, Paddling sea kayaks and K1’s out from Lund and then Ripping it up at Skookumchuck narrows at a 14knot current forming an awesome late evening wave that allowed stunning sunset surfs.


I got to share the wave with some of the Team Pyranha kayakers, including Dave Fusilli and Hailey Mills, it was inspiring and humbling to paddle with these great boaters, and I even managed to help amp them up about rough water sea kayaking at the same time and teach them a few tricks. Between a TRAK Seeker, a Jackson Karma RG and a P n’ H Hammer there was a great representation of Sea Kayak/ Long boats, alongside the little Carbon Jed play boats that the team had. The wave was big and quick to form at this tide exchange and the foam pile was large and surging. I started in the TRAK Seeker making the most of the big green face and small erratic foam pile. It is always exhilarating to get big fast carves out of the the Seeker especially on a large fast wave like this. soon the foam pile was to large a prominent and I switched to the Jackson Karma. The Karma mad good with the big pile, being able to side surf, back surf and almost flat spin. The nose was quick to engage and ender and at one point I almost got a front loop out of the 11.5foot  beast. a couple of hours later I was exhausted and the eddy fence into the wave had got to big that the Karma RG wasn’t getting across. I at this point below a firey orange sunset sky, had a surf in the Hammer and with its slightly longer length and rockered nose it was still possible to drive on to the wave while all other boats had to walk up above the wave and then drop in. Soon the darkness settled in and we had to leave the wave ( still roaring and asking to be ridden) behind as we all headed to lay our heads and sleep.


Unfortunately the next day I had to keep rolling, though longed to stay and play on the wave for the coming week. I said goodbye to the Pyranha team and would see them again in a few days the MEC paddle Fest in Vancouver and a week later in Victoria.