Saturday, December 27, 2008

Gwaii Haanas Video

Time to blog again...this is the video from Scott, Meaghan, and I's trip to Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). Enjoy!

Gwaii Haanas from IGB on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Room of Doom

I took a day of leave on Friday to paddle the room of doom at Deception Pass with Rand. We met up at SRK and loaded boats and gear to start the trip up to Coronet Bay. We met up with John during a quick stop for breakfast at the Country Corner (I recommend the breakfast burrito...complements the Room of Doom quite nicely!) and caravaned on to the bay. I threw in a couple offside rolls...missing each one the first time. I'm going to blame that on the new hip braces...and I have no doubt John and Rand were comforted by the fact that I did roll up. Eventually.

As we paddled away from the finger piers and into flooding tide, I realized I had fallen into an intense, focused silence as I paddled, eyes locked on the pass ahead (sweating the missed rolls, I'll admit). Releasing my death grip on paddle and pass, I turned to see what Rand and John were discussing. Nothing...they wore matching determined gazes; focusing on the moving water around us.

We reached the Room of Doom by working the eddies on the south side. Once in the room, whirlpools were well-formed at the point and a strong back-eddy was pushing us against the rocks and west against the flood. Rand gave a great brief on what to expect and things were uneventful as we played in the whirlpools and eddies until a large yacht powered through the pass, pushing up a large wake (overhead). As John and I watched the waves, we saw Rand push up to the top of the room and swing out into the waves, earning the day's brass-balls award and shaming the rest of us to paddle out and surf the standing waves ourselves. Although the water is confused in the Room, my observation as the current built was that a strong back eddy runs along the wall and boils regularly erupt, pushing anyone into the room against the walls. Simply paddling into the room resulted in lateral motion towards the wall and forward motion across the room and out into a large whirlpool. I found this out personally as we crossed Deception Pass to check out the Canoe Pass side.

The Canoe Pass side was also interesting, although much less intense than the Room of Doom. There is a nice calm area to break into, and we worked on 360's, rolls, and eddying out. John left from here to return home.

Although there was calmer water at Canoe Pass, I was less comfortable with the overall situation. As the water flows through the pass, it runs right into a sheer wall on the north side. When I would eddy out at a good speed and as far up the back-eddy as possible I found myself driven too close to the rocks for my comfort. The hydro's are such that I found it very difficult to paddle away from the wall. I suspect that a missed roll or other miscalculation in the current might result in a 200 yard ride along the wall with barnacles working on gore-tex, fleece, and flesh. I didn't try the experiment, nor do I want to scare people away (any more experienced DP paddler's want to weigh-in about this area?) but I like to have an exit strategy and I didn't feel good about this one.

Rand and I paddled to the East end of Canoe Island and played in the whirlpools there for a while...we weren't going to make it back to the Room of Doom, and in our pleasantly tired state, the boils and whirlpools off Canoe Island were a mostly a pleasure. However, while playing in one whirlpool, I was either too close, or was driven back into, the rocks in the midst of a nice, fast spin. The sound of barnacle/fiberglass interaction was loud (sadly you can't hear it on video...but you can hear me singing) and will probably force me to get a keel-strip as I currently have a few exposed fibers poking out of the gelcoat. We played on for a while, then headed back to Coronet Bay to start the drive home.

In summary, the Room of Doom was a great experience, for some reason I had "Peaches" stuck in my head all day and felt the need to sing on camera, and I tore a chunk out of my boat (she's not speaking to me right now).

Only in Seattle...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Surfing Grayland

On Friday we headed to Grayland to meet up with the crew at "The Whale Blow Inn" for a weekend surf trip. Chester, Setsuko, and Dave made it up early to check out the surf at Graylands and reported clean breaks at a gentle 3ft or so. Saturday morning, Meg and I fired up a warming breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs for the crew and we headed for the beach.

Naturally, after a few pleasant, sunny days at the office, we made it to the beach in cold, drizzly conditions...a fresh wind blowing from the southwest with a westerly 4-5ft swell. But, we came to surf, so out we went. It was a relatively uneventful time...the receding tide gave us a small zone near the beach to play in and a couple larger zones further out to practice in. Sean found a wave to snap his paddle in, leaving him with a long swim in from the surf zone.

Once we had Sean safely in, we decided it was time to break for lunch. Alex arrived fresh from the Tacoma news-scene and joined us in the water after lunch. The wind picked up over lunch and I spent much of the afternoon paddling into the wind to avoid being blown to Canada. A few paddles back up the beach into 20+ knot winds wore me out and realizing that I was getting to tired to handle the bigger waves, I moved into the smaller surf near the beach to work on skills in more manageable waves and work on maneuvering in the wind...good times were had by all in the afternoon and as we loaded our boats onto the cars and cinched down the last straps the wind petered out, cleaning up the surf zone considerably. It didn't seem worth dressing and pulling 50lb boats off the car and into the water though and most of us retired to the beach house for a pasta feed and hours of kayaking and wilderness talk.

A great weekend...thanks to those who came up, especially Dave, Bob, and John in particular for giving up their time on the water to watch out for the rest of us as we messed around in snotty weather!

Click here for Pictures
(Thanks to John for loan of the camera for pics and video)