Sunday, January 29, 2012

January, Poof........ Gone!

Where did it go? What happened? One thing I know for sure is that we didn't get on the water this month and it wasn't from a lack of wanting to or being prepared for a day of exploration.  Simply...... Old Man Winter made his presence on the "Wet Coast" and for a short period of time we even became a winter wonderland with a cold snap and snow.

It doesn't stop there because if it wasn't raining, snowing or sunny on my work days (it figures), it was blowing anywhere from 50 km/h to 90 km/h at peak gusts. Although we didn't see Toto fly by we did see the roof of our boat (not kayak...whew!) shed leave last Sunday.  So in a nutshell ....... January was a complete write off in terms of being on the water but we did explore other life opportunities.

Taking advantage of the inclement weather, Robyn and I have really immersed ourselves into yoga practice to increase our flexibility, tone our wobbly bits and bring a little bit of relaxation into our busy lives. After three weeks of five formal practices per week we have seen and felt a tremendous improvement in our bodies that will only assist us in the development of our kayak skills. Maybe my body will now be able to generate the much heard about "hip flick" for rolling. ;-)

This month Robyn gained another year of life experience and I will do the same on Monday. In moving forward with our passion for kayaking we heard about the South Island Sea Kayaking Association (SISKA) from kayak instructors and friends on Facebook over the past few months and attended their January general meeting this past week.

The meeting started with a "Gear Swap" and it was a chance to meet some of the kayakers (some local legends) we have read about in numerous blogs, forums and on Facebook. I managed to pick up a MEC 20 Litre dry bag in almost new condition for a great deal of $5 to add to my gear head collection. Sweet!

The business end of the meeting was a very relaxed format. Sheila (Chairperson) worked the membership with her sense of humour such as trying to explain "current" training in a pool environment, only to realize there are no currents in a pool.  One member suggested (in jest) that maybe a kayak could be dragged sideways with ropes up and down the pool to simulate the currents!!  Everyone had a good chuckle.

The guest speaker of the night was Nick Castro of Active Sea Kayaking.  Nick spoke about surfing with kayaks. He is the owner / instructor who surfs the Baynes Channel tide race and has some amazing video on You Tube.  His knowledge of techniques and etiquette while surfing with other kayakers and long board surfers was very informative and he also has a very unique sense of humour. His slide show of great surfing captured from cameras mounted on his kayak are so cool it just further tweaked my interest in getting a GoPro Hero2. After a great evening..... we signed up for membership in SISKA and look forward to participating with the club.

Did I mention that I'm a Gear Head?

After a few months of research and shopping around we picked up a GoPro Hero2 Outdoor Edition, LCD BacPac, Suction Mount, Grab Bag of mounts and a 32GB Class 10 SD Card yesterday. Visions Electronics gave us a skookum deal on the Hero2 and LCD and blew the other big box shops out of the water in price (even though they didn't have all the accessories that we were looking for). A couple more stops at Valhalla and Future Shop completed our accessory needs. I can't wait to start using this new way of capturing our adventures on and off the water!

Here comes February!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Firming Up Our Stance

Two weeks into January already and I can feel the warm weather and longer days starting to set in on the west coast except...... it has been snowing on and off all day and the forecast calls for more during the week. My back has been responding to treatment and I have been meaning to bring my creative thoughts to reality as well as exploring different forms of exercise (Yoga) that will compliment our kayaking and my running goals this year.

On the advice of our RMT who is also a certified Bikram Yoga Instructor, Robyn and I enrolled in a 4 week basic "Yoga 101" Hatha workshop focusing on the yoga fundamentals of breathing (pranayama), alignment and poses (asana) that will build a strong foundation of the philosophy. Our first "101" session made an impression on us so much that we also attended two all level Hatha classes during the week and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of controlling our thoughts, breathing and learning the limitations that our bodies have developed over the years. I have really appreciated what it has done for my ailing back that I now start my day with 30 minutes of practice that prepares me to tackle the challenges of the day. It's early to tell but I feel that the increased flexibility that can result from Yoga practice will benefit our days on the water. Namaste

For the past couple of months I have been creating in my noodle box (LOL) a pair of  kayak racks for wash downs and rigging instead of using lawn chairs to rest our rides on. So after a quick trip to Home Depot and Capital Iron, I whipped up a couple of light weight easy to use collapsible racks that are in many ways like saw horses but not so clunky to handle or haul around in the truck. Simple 2"x2" pine construction, stainless hardware, carpenter's glue, seatbelt webbing, and a little rope and they were ready in no time.

These should do the trick either at home, RV site or on the beach prepping our rides

OK, many might think that we are "keeners" or some might think we are crazy for wanting to paddle during the winter months but both have us have embraced this passion full on. Every time out we have taken away so much from the experience and in our own way connected with what being on the water means to us individually. The challenges to get on the water even in miserable winter conditions can be somewhat eased if properly prepared for what mother nature has to offer. For many (and us included) the thought of getting wet (feet) while getting in the boat just puts enough doubt in one's mind that opportunities to ride the waves might pass on by.

Another addition to our "Gear Head" wear. NRS Boundary Boots

Solution? Chatting with fellow kayaker (Liz) at yoga last night, it got us thinking that we need dry booties of some sort for the winter. So after having a great breakfast down town at John's Place we checked out the local dive shop but the solution wasn't there. Stopping by Ocean River (what's new :-) to see what they had, we chatted with Peter who is a kayaker and guide in the summer. He personally recommended the NRS Boundary Boots and I have to say that I think he was reading my mind. They fit great in the store and even better at home with our farmer john's. I think these just might be the answer!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Great Read With A Laugh Or Two

So I'm one of those people who likes to know about what I'm doing, how things work and how to develop my skills every time I get the chance to try it again. The same thing applies in my approach to kayaking and I guess you could say it is one of my "quirks" but it has got me this far in life so it must be working. 

Today we have the ability to do much of our research on the internet but sometimes you just can't beat a good old fashioned book to thumb your way through. For me, I like to read (usually on my eReader) and it's not often that a hard or soft back book captures my attention. For Christmas, Robyn gave me a book call Sea Kayaking Illustrated by John Robison and I did the old "judging a book by it's cover" thing and thought it just was another kayaking book until..... I opened it to page 6  which explains the Types of Sea Kayakers. (Amazon Preview-Look Inside)

Here the eight types of kayakers are described with artwork from the author which include The Gear Head, The Naturalist, The Baja/Belize Bum, The Fishermaniac, The Wave Hog, The Reluctant Spouse, The Fitness Guru and The Whitewater Kayaker. Reading the illustrated descriptions made me laugh and when I asked Robyn which of the eight I am there was no hesitation "Gear Head"!!! OK I'll give her that one.

Working my through each section was not only informative but I chuckled most of the way especially when I got to "Pee Kayaking" and "Making Poopies". Here the author uses 10 pages to describe the finer art of relieving yourself when in a kayak of which I hope that I don't have to do very often. If nature calls.... I'll probably be laughing during the experience thinking about this book.

Most kayakers have heard or read this wonderful illustrated book but if you haven't, take the time to pick up a copy and have a look. I'm sure you'll want to add it to your collection.