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CdA sea kayakers rally for dying whale

WATERSPORTS — This story about a group of Coeur d'Alene-based sea kayakers and their poignant encounter with a dying gray whale calf is generating some endearing emotions among readers.  It's a story about hope.

Here's a video of the experience produced by sea kayaker Sam Morrison:

Baby Gray Whale Rescue from Sam Morrison on Vimeo.

 

Don’t forget sea-kayaking basics

WATERSPORTS — Fall is a fine time for sea kayaking around the region's waters, from Fishtrap Lake to the San Juan Islands.

Even if you're an experience paddler, it's always wise to review the the basics of paddling safety  Here are seven reminders from Boat US.

Know how to re-board: All paddlecraft are different, so before you hit a lonely, remote stretch of river or bay, learn (in a safe place) how to get back in the boat quickly and efficiently as hyperthermia is a threat that increases by the minute. Some paddlers add extra floatation inside the boat as it can help reboarding. (Tip: this can be accomplished simply by inflating a beach ball or purchasing aftermarket float bags). If you do ever fall out and can’t get back in, stay with the kayak or canoe – it’s a bigger target for rescuers to see.

Don’t keep it a secret: Tell people where you’re going by filing a float plan. It could be as simple as telling your spouse, in writing, where you are going and what time you plan to return. Writing it down makes it become habit. Be as specific as you can – this isn’t the time to forget to mention you’re heading to your hidden fishing hole two miles off the beaten channel.

Understand the basic rules of navigation: You may not be out there with icebreakers just yet, but there may still be some recreational boating traffic and potential ship traffic. The simple challenge is the smallest boats are hardest to see. One simple tip to help visibility is to spray the tips of your paddles a bright color. Paddlers also can help themselves by understanding some basic rules of navigation.

Don’t leave without a bailer: With low freeboard — or the distance from the water to the gunwale — paddlecraft are prone to getting water aboard. Once it starts, it’s only a matter of time before your canoe or kayak becomes ever lower to oncoming waves. Keep water out and buoyancy up by having a bailer ready (Tip: tie one to each seat).

Thermal up or down: Neoprene gloves, a drysuit or wetsuit tops and hats are the ultimate protection in retaining body heat this time of year. However, have outdoor gear that offers versatility by being able to cool down or warm up when appropriate. Even if it may feel like summer, never leave shore in just a t-shirt and shorts. It only takes just a short change of weather or a dunking to drench you and the hypothermia clock starts ticking. A bright colored rain parka can also be seen at great distances.

Going remote? Go Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): Advances in GPS technology have brought down the cost of personal locator beacons, but if your budget is tight you can still rent a PLB from the BoatUS Foundation for $45 weekly, plus shipping. There are no additional subscriber fees and paddlers going to remote locations can order online at BoatUS.org/epirb or call 888-663-7472 (Tip: mention code “DISC10” for a 10% discount on the weekly PLB rental rate through December 1, 2014).

Keep it secure up top: If you need to get your favorite kayak or stand-up paddleboard to the lake on your car or truck’s roof this fall, check out  the three basic types of roof rack systems and ways to safely tie down the load. Your kayak has no desire to meet the road or become a hazard for oncoming vehicles.

Spokane paddlers offer canoe, kayak classes

PADDLING – The Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club is launching its annual series of paddling classes for canoeists as well as whitewater and sea kayakers starting next weekend.

The classes are taught by qualified instructors as follows:

May  18 ­– Flatwater solo and tandem canoeing.

June 21-22Beginning whitewater kayaking.

June 28-29Moving water canoeing.

July 16, 19, 20Sea kayaking.

Cost for each class is $55 per paddler and participants must become club members.

Sign up: 448-9214, or email dianecadams@asisna.com.

Sea kayaker details journey on B.C. coast

PADDLING — A free program on a British Columbia sea kayaking journey from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on Vancouver Island will be presented at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, for the Spokane Canoe and Kayak Club at Mountain Gear's corporate office, 6021 E. Mansfield. 

The two week adventure of paddling along the exposed coast of Queen Charlotte Sound will be detailed by Roy Massena, who has kayaked extensively in Pacific Northwest waters and has encountered more than his share of challenging conditions. 

Sea kayakers paddle at night where the plankton shines

PADDLING — Sea kayak outfitters are leading paddlers out of the San Juan Islands as well as Bellingham Bay on night-time excursions to see one of the bright little wonders of the sea.

When conditions are right, the stroke of a paddle paints a swath of bioluminescent light that resembles a swish of Tinkerbell's wand.

"When we accidentally paddled over a school of startled juvenile herring, they jumped out of the water looking like kamikaze lightning bugs," writes Tan Vinh in a story for The Seattle Times.

The natural spectacle of bioluminescence is caused by single-celled planktons that emit light.  

Outfitters offering bioluminescent night tours include:

• Community Boating Center in Bellingham will hold its next tours on Sept 5 and 6. $50 per person. 360-714-8891 orboatingcenter.org.

 Salmon Bay Paddle in Ballard leads stand-up paddleboard tours at Shilshole Bay. $85 for one person or $65 per person at group rate. 206-465-7167 or salmonbaypaddle.com.

• Discovery Sea Kayaks in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, does tours around Griffin Bay. $99 per person. 866-461-2559 or discoveryseakayak.com.

Read on for Vinh's first-person experience.

Sign up for canoe, kayak and sea kayak classes

PADDLING – Registration is open for the excellent annual paddling classes taught by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club:

  • Flatwater canoeing for solo or tandem boats is June 5.
  • Moving water canoeing is July 13-14.
  • Sea kayaking for novice to advanced is July 17, 20 and 21.
  • Whitewater kayaking dates are not set.

Each class is $55 per person, except the flatwater canoeing class is a free pre-requisite for the moving water class.

Sign up: (509) 448-9214.

Kayakers bagging big halibut on Washington Coast

FISHING — Men paddling kayaks are putting to shame the myth that you need a big boat, diesel fumes and and a big run from a port to catch a halibut.

Check out this story by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine about a Seattle angler who landed a 'but of more than 80 pounds from his 14-foot kayak.

San Juans Islands, Glacier Park on Lonely Planet’s list

OUTDOOR TRAVEL — Two premier outdoor recreation areas within a day’s access from Spokane are listed among the Lonely Planet's Top 10 U.S. Destinations for 2013.

The San Juan Islands are No. 3 on the list and dubbed “The Gourmet Archipelago.” The writer notes the three main islands – San Juan, Orcas and Lopez – support two vineyards, a lavender farm, an alpaca ranch and weekend farmers’ markets that ply everything from artichokes to marionberries.”

From the outdoor recreation angle, the islands are standouts for bicycling, sailing and sea kayaking. “Hop on a bike, explore the beaches and enjoy the scenery, but be sure to eat!” the author says, noting several fine restaurants.

Glacier National Park is ranked No. 10 — perhaps a little low from a outdoor enthusiast's point of view, but that’s just as well, considering the Lonely Planet’s top 10 list is viewed by 12 million people a year.

“A relatively new shuttle system offers an eco-friendly alternative. But go soon,” the author warns. “The park’s 25 glaciers are melting – and could be gone altogether by 2030 if current climate changes continue!”

Here's full list of Lonely Planet's Top 10 U.S. Destinations for 2013:

  1. Louisville, KY
  2. Fairbanks, AK
  3. San Juan Islands, WA
  4. Philadelphia, PA
  5. American Samoa
  6. Eastern Sierras, CA
  7. Northern Maine, ME
  8. Twin Cities, MN (Minneapolis and St. Paul)
  9. Verde Valley, AZ
  10. Glacier National Park, MT

Lawsuit filed in 2012 student kayaking death on Rock Lake

WATER SPORTS — A city parks instructor manual appears to ban city-sponsored kayak trips in the kind of weather that led to a chaotic and deadly excursion organized by Gonzaga University and sponsored by the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department, according to a lawsuit filed Monday. 

Christopher Gormley, 18, died from hypothermia after his kayak tipped in the frigid waters of Rock Lake on a notably windy day during the spring break trip on April 1, 2012.

Flathead Lake tests paddlersshore-to-shore

PADDLING —  Kayaks, canoes and stand up paddle boards will go 4.5, 9.5 or 24 miles on Montana's Flathead Lake on Aug. 24 in a race event to benefit First Descents, a non-profit organization providing outdoor adventure therapy for young adults with cancer

The Epic Shore to Shore race is open to all paddlesports enthusiasts.

Paddlers can race as teams or solo as they crisscross the bays and inlets along the west shore of the lake.

 “We are a local group of outdoor enthusiasts who have a passion for paddling,” said event organizer Chuck Ludden.

Info is on the  Epic Shore to Shore website and the event's Facebook page.

Registration includes a T-shirt for each competitor, a free drink ticket and a pasta dinner ticket.

Registrations will be accepted until one week prior to the race. 

Solo entry for Epic/24 miles = $75
Solo for Intermediate/9.5 miles = $60
Solo for Recreation/4.5 miles = $45
Team:  Each member pays $45

Sea Kayak Adventures offers discount for orca trips at Johnstone Strait

ADVENTURE TRAVEL  – $200 discounts are being offered for guided six-day sea kayaking trips geared to paddling with orcas off Vancouver Island.

Nancy Mertz, co-owner of Couer-d Alene-based Sea Kayak Adventures, said they have a few slots they’re trying to fill for camping excursions in the famous killer whale waters of Johnstone Strait.

Info: 800-616-1943 or www.seakayakadventures.com.

My wife and I joined one of these groups a few years ago and the exprience of paddling with orcas ranks among the most exciting in our repertoie.

See my short narrated video presentation on the sea kayaking trip to Johnstone Strait above.

Spokane adventurers detail 15 weeks in Alaska

ADVENTURING — Spokane adventurers Debbie and Bill Pierce will present a free program about their 15-week, 12,000-mile summer trip of kayaking, fishing and wildlife photography in Alaska tonight (April 23), 7 p.m., at the Corbin Community Center, 827 W. Cleveland Ave.

"Carrying kayaks and mountain bikes on our conversion van,  we explored as many roads, trails and waterways as possible," Debbie Pierce said. "With no real plan or time commitment,  we used  the fireweed as our only timekeeper-our summer's clock.

"Traveling from mid-June to late September, we watched  the blossoms climb up the stem of the  tall plant, knowing that (according to Alaska folklore), summer was over when the petals  hit the top."

She said their photos include some of Alaska's amazing scenery, "including the beautiful  mountains and wild rivers, the rugged coastlines and magnificent wildlife."

The program is sponsored by the Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club.

Sea kayakers’ program explores Antarctic waters, wildlife

PADDLING — Bill and Debbie Pierce of Spokane will present images the wildlife and culture they explored while sea-kayaking from a mother ship near the Falkland Islands and Antarctica Peninsula in a free program Monday (Oct 17), 7 p.m.,  at Mountain Gear Corporate Headquarters, 6021 E. Mansfield sponsored by the Spokane Mountaineers.

College kayakers live sheltered lives

CAMPING — Parents love getting notes from their kids indicating they're capable of dealing with adversity — especially when they maintain their smile while making lemonade from lemons, and inflict comfort and happiness on people around them.

Here's a recent email message from my youngest daughter, Hillary, who works with the Outdoor Program at Western Washington University.

"I just got back from a wonderrrful kayak trip to Lummi Island, and I was an official leader so I even got paid 90 bucks! We saw  4 river otters frolicking today, as well as a PORPOISE and seals galore!
 
"We forgot the tent poles, so we had to be innovative and practice our tarpology skills… with the help of the throw ropes and some paddles, we managed to make a mansion out of rain flies and ground cloths! 
 
"My chocolate sea pudding with the Turkish washcloth seaweed thickener was a big hit :)

Local paddlers offer canoe-kayak clinics

Sea kayaking, July 13 evening indoor class followed by July 16-17 session at Medical Lake, for beginners as well as seasoned paddlers.

Whitewater kayaking, July 16-17 on Spokane River.

• Cost for all clinics: $55 per person per class, plus $20 club membership.

• Preregistration required: Diane Adams, 448-9214 or email dianecadams@asisna.com

Discounts offered on sea kayak whale-waters trips

PADDLING — If a guided sea-kayaking trip to the Vancouver Island area or southeast Alaska has been on your back burner, maybe now's the time to act.

Coeur d'Alene-based Sea Kayak Adventures has just announced discounts on their summer trips oriented to seeing orcas in Canada's Johnstone Strait area ($100 off) or a whales, glaciers and hotsprings trip based out of a mother ship near Sitka (25 percent off).

Offers available through Monday. 

It’s bargain time for Baja sea kayakers

SEA KAYAKING — It's time to quit thinking about a sea-kayaking adventure in the Sea of Cortez and Mexico's Baja California.  It's bargain time to the safe part of Mexico.

I'm just back from a nine-day trip of paddling and camping — The gray whales were parading their newborn calves for us. 

But here's why I'm mentioning this before I run my feature story in the paper:  Air fares have just been slashed.

Alaska Airlines is running a web special that will get you from Spokane to Loreto for about $350 round trip through April 30!

Check out the outfitted trip offerings from Sea Kayak Adventures based in Coeur d'Alene. 

Follow Black Friday with Adventure Tuesday

OUTBOUND – Two Coeur d’Alene-based outdoor adventure companies are the ticket for people prompted by this week’s snow and cold to start planning an active getaway — to someplace warm.

Read on to check out the latest from Sea Kayak Adventures and ROW Adventures: