Rock the Boat

Most people prefer to have a boat that’s stable.  Being on a boat that is rocking can be unsettling. Kayaks on the other hand can be a bit tippy, and learning how to use that characteristic to your advantage can be a valuable skill on the water. Take for example a situation where you might get thrown off balance by a wave. Learning how to edge and brace can save you from tipping over.

On Sunday, August 5 our goal was to teach fellow kayakers how to rock the boat.  This is the second weekend of this years BASK 2018 Skills Clinic. Last year I was one of the students in the clinic. This year I’m a volunteer on the teaching side. Putting your kayak on edge also makes it much easier to turn. You have less boat in the water if it is on edge.

BASK 2018 Skills Clinic session at the Berkeley Marina on August 5, 2018.

Learning these skills takes practice, since some of the motions are counter-intuitive. As you can see our students are well taken care of with plenty instructors and volunteers. We start with simple exercises to build the basics and then progress as the students gain confidence in their skills. Part of this process is learning to trust your fellow paddlers. Knowing you’re among skilled and knowledgeable paddlers add to the fun and camaraderie.

BASK Skills Clinic 2017: Camping Trip

Our final exercise in the 2017 BASK Skills Clinic was an overnight kayak camping trip on Tomales Bay. We gathered a Miller Boat Launch on the East side of Tomales Bay, loaded our camping gear into our boats and paddled to Marshall Beach where we set up camp; a distance of three miles.

Part of the exercise was to learn what it takes to plan and execute a kayak expedition. Once we had set up camp we were off on a treasure hunt, using our navigational skills to locate clues that led us on a four mile treasure around the bay, were we finally found our  treasure; patches to sew on our PFDs indicating we had graduated and chocolate.

I the evening the students hosted a feast for all the BASK campers; coordinators, volunteers and students, with tamales, tacos, Spanish Rice and following a campfire, we launched our boats again, in the pitch dark to to look for bioluminescence. Quite an experience to dip your paddle into the inky black water and see sparkles and ripples of light. Here’s a link to some additional photos.

BASK Skills Clinic 2017: Day 9

September 2 found me on the water again with fellow BASK Skills Clinic students and our amazing crew of instructors. With a heat wave baking the San Francisco Bay Area, playing on (and in) the water was the place to be. Following our intro day and four weekends of skills training, this was an optional day.  We opted to spend the morning practicing paddle strokes and rescues. I typically wear a dry suit when paddling on the Bay, since the typical weather pattern is a cool wind and cool water. With temperatures approaching 100 degrees though, I opted to wear my short Farmer John and a t-shirt. Along with the spray skirt and PDF I was quite comfortable in the boat, and in the water. After spending the morning on drills, somebody suggested we paddle to Treasure Island, and off we went. Here’s a link to our track if you want to see our route. We have one more adventure left in the skills clinic; that’s an overnight kayak camping trip on September 23. Stay tuned.