Building the Pygmy Ronan

After paddling a Pygmy Coho for close to 20 years I decided I wanted a boat that was a little more playful on the water. The Pygmy Ronan caught my attention and after paddling one at the Pygmy facility in Port Townsend Washington, I decided this would be my next boat. This boat is intended to serve two purposes, when I’m paddling with my wife it will be her boat, and when I’m paddling with others, it will be my boat. I started building in May of 2017 and during the course of the build I kept several time lapse cameras going to document the process. I launched the boat in October. Over the course of the build I accumulated over 40 hours of time lapse video, so it’s taken me some time to edit it down to two minutes.  The boat took about 75 hours to assemble, working in chunks of time from an hour or so up to three hours.

I’m happy to say the boat performs beyond my expectations. Light weight and easy to get on an off my the top of my pop-up camper,  playful on the water and easier to manage in rough water than the 17 foot Coho.

Turn Left at the Gargoyle

#1 Park N Surf Oceanview.. Wild Tender Sanctuary.

On Saturday evening July 21, with the sun setting and the fog moving in I was a bit concerned about finding the campsite I’d reserved. I had printed off instructions on how to find the site. The instructions were two pages long, including such instructions as “veer LEFT on what we lovingly call “Wong Way.” There is a sign on the road that reads “Wrong Way,” and then further along “take a left at the gargoyle and proceed toward the ocean…”

This was following a day on the water learning how to teach kayaking techniques for an upcoming kayaking skills clinic being offered through the Bay Area Sea Kayakers (BASK). The kayaking was happening in Half Moon Bay, but the closest camping I could find was a site called Park N Surf #1 located on a property called Wild Tender Sanctuary near Pigeon Point Light House. I found the site through Hipcamp.com, a website that’s useful for locating camping alternatives to the better known campgrounds. It’s a bit like Airbnb for camping. Actually I should credit my wife for finding the site. I trust her to conjure up a camping when everything seems to be booked.

I was secure in my camper at twilight, just as the sky was going dark. The next morning I broke camp, and headed back to Half Moon Bay for the second day of kayak exercises. On Sunday it was all about the forward stroke; learning how to make the boat move efficiently without tiring your arms. While the kayaking was fun, the real adventure for the weekend was finding my campsite.

What Memo? And Whales!

Thursday, May 3. Up at 5:30 to take care of some business before joining my kayaking friends for a paddle out the Golden Gate. After taking care of business, a conference call, I hopped in my truck and drove to our intended launch site, Horseshoe Cove, near the Golden Gate Bridge. When I arrived I was greeted with “Didn’t you get the message that the paddle was cancelled?” It seems with the weather prediction for wind the official BASK trip had been cancelled. That left five of us with our boats and weather that looked manageable. We huddled up and discussed the prospects. If the predicted wind did come up, it would blow us back in the Gate.

With the requisite radio check and safety talk, we launched our boats for a “non-BASK” paddle. We went out the Gate, and hugged the coast along the north side looking for opportunities to play in the rocks. I’m a bit shy about rock gardening, not wishing to bash my wooden boat into rocks, and thinking I’ll need to get a plastic boat for rock gardening. Playing in the rocks looks like so much fun. I did find a few spots where I could poke in and out of the rocks confidently. We stopped at Black Sand Beach for lunch, and then continued on to towards Point Bonita. We found a blow hole not far from the point, and took turns nosing our boats into the hole and taking a shower in salt spray. An impressive amount of spray for just a little wave action. Then we headed out to the point where we waved to the tourists lining the railing at the light house.

For our homeward leg we took advantage of the wind to blow us back under the bridge. We went for the deeper water making a straight shot for the bridge.  It was there that we saw two whales spout. We first sighted them when they were a couple of hundred yards ahead of us. They closed in on us fast, passing between our boats.  We also saw porpoise, sea lions, seals and a huge flock of grebes. We made quick time returning to our launch site with the wind and current in our favor. We launched at 10 am and were off the water at 2:30 covering 8.9 Miles.

About the time we were pulling our boats out of the water blue shy was showing and the wind was picking up. I seems we were just ahead of the predicted wind. You can view more photos from our adventure here and view the track of our paddle here, including a way point that shows the whale sighting. A remarkable paddle for those of us that didn’t get the memo.

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