Author Archives: Jay Murdock

2019 June Lake Trip Report

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

We had mostly great weather this year in the Sierras while watching the Aspens turn color (they were green at the campground when we arrived, and yellow when we left).

We paddled Silver Lake and Gull Lakes, and hiked to Parker Lake.

Jennifer’s parents and daughter joined us, and they entertained us with songs from the Sound of Music as we hiked. Each night we went to different restaurants for dinner and had good conversations. It was a relaxing, beautiful trip, and time well spent. Hope you can join us in the future.

Sitka Trip Report

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

In June of 2019 fifteen of us ventured to Alaska, this time to a very special place with a Russian name. We had several paddles on the bay, and at a lake nearby that we were flown to in a float plane with an amazing pilot. The Swing EX inflatable boats performed well, and we are already planning our next trip in 2020 to Austria.

Kevin’s modified Cessna 185 that he has mastered the art of flight in
Mary getting ready to paddle Redoubt Lake

We were able to launch at the dock in front of our hotel, which was very convenient. After our paddles we would walk around town to the shops and museums, go on hikes, and gather at several restaurants to dine. Sitka is a very cool place to visit and a wonderful place to paddle. The water is clear and calm, protected by the many islands that dot the bay. We could see starfish 20 feet down, and got up close to several bald eagles. Everyone had a fun and memorable time.

First day getting our boats ready to launch.
Taking a lunch break on “Friendly Island”…
Janet and David looking at an eagle

We had four main sponsors for this trip. Innova Kayaks gave us a good discount on the boats, the Totem Square Hotel gave us discounts, Kevin Mulligan of Baranautica Air Service gave us special treatment and hats when flying us to the lake, and West Marine gave us cool water repellent hats and gear discounts. We also received help in letting us launch from the dock from Wayne and Joel of FishBaranof.

Thom showing he can paddle…without a paddle.
Jennifer looking good in her boat
Our hotel is just right of center. Thanks to Eric Emerson for taking this and two other photos here.
Mark took this photo after 10 pm. The fishing never stops in summer with 20 hours of daylight.

Beginner’s Class Report

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

The Club hat-sales-proceeds free class for beginners held on 4/27/19 was conducted under ideal weather/temperature conditions at Aqua Adventures.

The class covered introductory basics of getting in and out of a kayak at a dock, holding the paddle, the low brace, and the forward, back, sweep, J, and scull strokes.

We then practiced the power forward stroke, using the legs and torso, and discussed some safety issues like hugging the shore, crossing a busy channel, and the signal light.

We also discussed having some second level introductory classes, which are now being planned. Those classes will be called “Basic Safety Instruction”, and will cover the wet exit, self-rescue using the paddle float, assisted re-entry using the heel-hook, T-rescue, quick tow rescue, dealing with extreme temperature, lightning, fog and wind, hugging the shoreline, using a VHF or phone, crossing a busy channel, the buddy system, group travel, using a signal mirror and/or flag, filing a Float Plan, and the signal light. These classes are open to those who have already taken the Beginner’s Class, or have evidence they know those basic skills.  

Many thanks to AA, and to Gary Billick and Jesse Nodora for assisting in the instruction.

A great day on the water…

South Bay Paddle Report

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

Ten people paddled on Saturday, March 30th to see the National Wildlife Refuge in the south part of San Diego Bay.

The elusive turtles did not come to the surface where we paddled, and are rarely seen (they come up for a quick breath, then are gone). We did see fish jumping, and several birds, including a pair of Ospreys in a nest provided by the Refuge (below).

The weather was beautiful, and a slight head-wind on the way back gave us a mild challenge. We ended the paddle with some sightseeing in the Coronado Cays, then had lunch in the park where we launched. It was a good day on the water.

Whale Watch Paddle a Success

Twelve paddlers ventured out on Sunday, January 27 from Aqua Adventures on a calm ocean and perfect weather. Debbie Van Martin and Dave Beckmann led the paddle, and our thanks to them for doing that.

Three whales were spotted in the distance to the west. A few paddlers tried to catch up to them, and were able to get a little closer, but those whales were in a hurry to go south.

Our thanks to Catherine Kimball and Debbie Van Martin for these photos.

The next club paddle will be in April, launching out of the Coronado Cays to see the wildlife of the south bay. Come join us to experience the quiet openness of that area, and calm waters. There will be a picnic after the paddle. Beginners, youth 12 and up, and all boat types are welcome on this paddle.

2018 June Lake Trip Report

Click on photos to enlarge

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

The annual Fall Colors Trip in the Sierras this year had great weather and new experiences, as nine of us paddled Silver Lake, then did some exploring up the Lundy Lake canyon. Eric from the Napa area joined us on the paddle, and brought his Swing EX inflatable kayak, making five of those boats on the water (the boat we will be taking to Sitka, Alaska next June). Those paddling the Swing EX were impressed with the speed and maneuverability of these kayaks. Going up the feeder creek into Silver Lake, they made the sharp turns without any problems. I left off installing my skeg to see how the boat would track, and it did surprisingly well. Pumped up to 3 psi, these boats are rigid and have similar “skin” as Zodiacs, making them very durable. The portability of inflatable kayaks was demonstrated on this trip, as we had only one hard shell boat in our group. I did not miss looking through the tie-down ropes on the drive up and back, nor the hassle of car-topping my Legend.   

 

(A big thanks to Kate, Debbie, Bob and Eric for these photos)

The nice thing about the June Lake trip is the village right adjacent to the campground. Some of us camped, while others stayed in motels. We went to two restaurants, and have gone to the local brewery there also in the past. There is great hiking among the Aspens, and lots to explore and do with good friends. Every year the colors have been slightly different, and this year the trees had not yet “peaked” in color, but there were some, especially in Lundy Canyon that were deep gold. The crisp fall air, the campfire, and enjoying friendships in a beautiful setting is always a rewarding experience. Come join us next year!

 

   

5th Annual TRR Fund Raiser

Saturday, September 15 at the Mission Bay Yacht Club, many people, including several SDKC members showed up to support the work TRR does for our veterans. This location will hopefully be the future site of the “Pints and Paddles for a Cause” events because it is ideal, having a private beach and good facilities for a fun day raising money. This year there was great music, plenty of tables, several donated items for the raffle, good food and beer…and lots of laughter.

Click on photos to enlarge

The day started with a Social Paddle around Sail Bay, with several participants, then the “Khaotic Kayak Races” happened with great fun of several “Heats”. After those races, the “SUP Pandemonium” races took place.

During all this the BBQ and Ninkasi Beer were supplying food and drink to those who watched the races, or just had a chance to catch up with old friends. If you missed the event, but still want to donate to TRR’s work, here is the website:

https://www.teamriverrunner.org/Donate

Be sure to select San Diego as the “Target” for your contribution. And for TRR, thank you for that. Also, a big shout-out to Craig and Ashleigh at Aqua Adventures for being a huge supporter of TRR for this event, and for helping in many ways throughout the year.

   

Alaska Trip Report

Many in our group contributed to these photos

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

Nine of us (Mary, Lois, Kirk, Gary, Debbie, Miki, Mark, Sheri, and I) ventured to Alaska in June of 2018, and Kayaked Blackstone Bay in the Prince William Sound for four days. Alaska Sea Kayakers was the outfitter, and our guides Victor and Cornelius were great. Victor is a very good cook, and really spoiled us. This bay has 7 glaciers, steep walls, and several waterfalls, making it one of the most popular places to kayak in Alaska. We were awe-struck by the beauty.

Click on photos to enlarge

In Alaska, the rain does not stop most activities. Only high winds can do that. We had both on our first day, so we were shuttled in by boat. When the wind died down, we kayaked toward the head of the bay and saw four glaciers, waterfalls, and many small icebergs, called “Growlers”, which are not more than 3 feet high from the sea surface.

 

On our 17 mile paddle back to Whittier on days 3 and 4, we saw several Bald Eagles up close, paddled next to many water falls, and even saw some blue sky and sunshine. At our last campsite a humpback whale was swimming close by for hours, an unexpected “gift” to us from Alaska’s bounty. The following day, as we approached the end of our paddle, we were already wishing it would last longer. That is the magic and wonder of Alaska.

  

From Whittier, we drove back through the narrow tunnel that is open to vehicle traffic and trains by a tight schedule that allows both to travel safely in each direction. You are actually driving on the train track, with the nagging thought “did they get the schedule right?” We then drove up to Talkeetna, the embarkation point for climbing Denali, the highest peak in North America at 20,310 feet. Our cabins were out in the woods near a 70 sled-dog kennel, with an occasional howling of the dogs sounding like wolfs. That was haunting, but very cool!

The next day we boarded a DeHavilland Turbine Otter and flew along the south side of Denali, landing on a glacier just under the cloud cover. That was one of the most thrilling experiences for all who took the flight, and one we will never forget. Our Alaska trip was amazing, with wonderful experiences (like seeing a moose up close), and we became good friends with lasting shared memories of a real adventure.

 

Robin Kedward – In Remembrance

Click on Photos to Enlarge

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

A memorial paddle and service was held on May 26th at the Aqua Adventures site to honor a great friend and teacher to many of us through the years. Robin was also a great guy to paddle with, always optimistic and fun-loving. He often had a good joke to tell on a day or overnight paddle, and looked at the bright side of events that could have discouraged someone else. A diving co-worker told a story at the service which summed that up, of them surfacing a quarter mile from their boat, with some students in tow. Robin simply said “It is lovely day for a swim”, and that was the essence of how he approached life.

Robin’s struggle with the cancer that eventually took him on May 8 was a lesson in courage to us. The last time I saw him, he looked frail and tired, but just finished an ocean paddle that would have been a challenge to many of us. He did not complain a bit about the disease that was consuming his body, and only talked about us planning some new paddles for the club.

Robin graduated from the Royal School of Military Engineering and went on to serve with the British Royal Marines, leading expeditions to North Africa, the Middle East and to Eastern Europe. He also spent some time Salvage Diving in the North Sea. Immigrating to America, he and his family lived on their 45 ft sailboat and were able to take several trips down the Baja. After receiving his Captain’s License, he operated a number of craft including a private yacht and several Dive Charter boats. He loved Baja, and spent a lot of his time kayaking, hiking and camping there. He was also a good musician, playing the guitar and singing, or just listening to Italian Opera.

  

I spoke with Robin’s wife at the service, and told her how he loved to entertain us on our paddles with his many jokes, and that on one occasion heading to the Midway, the two of us were discussing the strange behavior of a certain bird, which suddenly struck us as extremely funny. We laughed so hard that we almost capsized, and that was why it was special to know him: he knew a great deal about a lot of technical things, from navigation to astronomy, and would gladly teach you what he knew. And the next minute he was telling a great joke in a clear and unbroken way with his Royal Marine swagger and dramatic presentation that made the moment very entertaining. The telling of jokes around a campfire transported him back to his military days that he loved, and which we were able to witness. I have since forgotten many of his jokes, but will forever have vivid memories of the way in which he told them. Like Herb, he was a man’s man. Those of us who were privileged to spend time with Robin will miss him, and are thankful that we were blessed to know him.  

 

 

June Lake Fall Colors – 2017 Trip Report

Click on photos to enlarge

The annual October kayak and hike trip this year was wonderful, with great weather and perfect for enjoying the aspens in full color. We kayaked Silver Lake and went up the feeder stream for about half a mile. The hike around Gull Lake was very relaxing, with beautiful scenery (the photo above was taken on that hike). New friends, Gary and his wife B. J. joined us, and we had great conversations at our dinners in the village.

This year we ventured further north for a day trip, going up to Bridgeport and seeing the hotel where Mark Twain stayed, then driving over to the ghost town of Bodie, a fascinating place to see. Set in a very unforgiving and remote area north of Mono Lake, we were impressed at how many homes had nice wall paper, pump organs, stores that had display windows, and so on, in an attempt to soften the harsh environment of that desolate setting. I was struck by one photo on display of a young girl with flowers that captured the essence of that effort, that no matter how difficult life might be, there are ways to lift our spirits with beauty and elegance.

We had a wonderful trip to the Sierras, and hope you join us next year.