Author Archives: Jay Murdock

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.

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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

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-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

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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. 

Team River Runner Fundraiser on Mission Bay

The annual “Pints and Paddles” event took place this year at Bonita Cove. Eight teams of three paddlers raced in the “Khaotic Kayak Races”, and it was wild. Even though it was a bit on the cool side, no one minded getting soaked by the water blasters. There were even two occasions where one team sent a swimmer to capsize another team’s boat. Great fun and a good day on the water for a worthy cause.

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Tall Ship 2017 Paddle and Picnic

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-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

18 people from the SDKC, Valley-Wide, and Wednesday Night Meet-Up Group turned out on a warm day to see the tall ships, three of which embarked from the docks to take part in gun battles while we were there. Four club hats were sold, and the buyers looked very cool in their new attire.  

On the return leg a mild breeze from the west cooled us off a bit, and new friends were made on this fun day on the water. We had people from Mexico and as far as Redlands join in on this paddle. 

My thanks to Jeremiah Brower for some of these photos.

 

Tall Ships Club Paddle and Picnic

Kayaking affords a special view

The Third Annual SDKC Tall Ships Paddle and Picnic will coincide with the Tall Ships event on the “Big Bay” this year. The Liberty Station launch ramp is the ideal place for us to gather, launch our boats, and have a picnic afterwards. There is plenty of parking, and restrooms are close by, just to the south in the park. The “Tall Ships” will be tied up at the embarcadero area of downtown, and there may be “Gun Fights” on the bay in the morning for us to view as we paddle.

Date: Saturday, September 2nd

Launch Time: 9:00 am

Launch Location: Liberty Station launch ramp (see map below)

Who is Invited: SDKC members, CKF members, Night Herons, Valley-Wide Kayak Club, TRR people, Thursday Night and Meet-Up Paddle Groups, and any guests you want to invite. SOT’s & SUP’s are encouraged to join in on the fun (life jackets must be worn by all paddlers). Youth 15 and older are welcome if they are experienced paddlers and able to paddle 7 miles on flat water. They must paddle with, and close to their parents at all times.

Rentals of Boats & Stand-Up Paddle Boards Available:  Aqua Adventures has special “overnight rental rates” for boats, paddle boards, and foam car top carriers. You must pick yours up at AA on Sept 1st. Give them a call to reserve yours at (619) 523-9577. 

Picnic Following the Paddle: Around 1 pm…or when we return from the paddle.  If you can’t make the paddle, come join us at the picnic!

Duration of the Paddle:  We will be on the water for about 3 hours, checking out the Tall Ships and gun battles out on the bay.

SAFETY NOTICE: This is aintermediate-level paddle of at least 7 miles, not intended for beginners (those with little experience). Please read the “Disclaimer” at the end of this announcement.

There will be a lot of power boats, personal watercraft, and sail boats on the bay during this event, so we need to stay close to shore at all times. When we cross the open water between Harbor Island and the B Street Pier, we need to stay in large groups, in order to be more visible to other boaters.

CAUTION: The ramp at our Liberty Station launch site can be very slippery, so be careful when you walk down that concrete ramp.

Our Plotted Course is in Yellow

What to Bring: All safety gear (life jackets must be worn by all paddlers), VHF radio, camera, zinc sunscreen for skin and lips, sun glasses, water and snacks for the paddle, hat (a few of our new club hats will be available to purchase for $15), food and drinks for the picnic (everyone brings their own, andno glass bottles please), and a blanket to sit on. There is a grassy area next to the ramp for cleaning off your boat, so bring water for that.

Directions to Liberty Station Launch Ramp: From I-5 south and I-8 west, take the Rosecrans exit (which is Hwy 209 on the map). Take Rosecrans to Lytton Street (at the Sail Ho golf course) and turn left. Take the first right, into Liberty Station. Follow the one way street to Sims Road and turn left. Turn left on Historic Decatur, a one-way street which takes you back toward the entrance. You will immediately see another street named Perry on your left. Turn into the parking lot on your right at that juncture. The ramp is at the east end of that lot (LS Launch on the map). There are restrooms just south in the park (follow the sidewalk along the canal/park).

Liberty Station Launch Site

“Turtle Paddle” Report

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-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

Eighteen people showed up for the paddle on April 22 at Coronado Cays, and Bob Jones cheered us off the beach. In addition to single kayaks, we had three paddle boarders, the twins in an inflatable kayak, two in a tandem kayak, and a canoe. While we did not see any of the large Green Turtles, new friends were made and everyone said it was a good day on the water.

“Jake’s Paddle” at Newport Beach

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

Twenty six people from the CKF and SDKC showed up to paddle with Jake (first photo below) on a beautiful April 1st day. We launched at the Coast Guard Station beach and paddle south, with some doing a little “Rock Gardening” while the rest of us took pictures. The paddle was followed up with a potluck lunch while Steve and Mark sang some songs and Patrick played the drum.

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It was a great time of seeing old friends and meeting new ones. The two clubs decided to have more of these joint-paddles, with the next one in San Diego during the Tall Ships event. We all wish Jake the best for his future, which may involve some exciting and new education and work experiences.

Rough Water Skills Class March 18 – Report with Photos

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-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

Thirteen people took part in the session led by Jen Kleck, designed to learn and practice skills in handling rough water and rescue techniques to quickly aid someone in a dangerous situation (close to rocks or in a surf zone). While the water conditions were too mild to experience and practice certain skills, we did practice bracing, but mostly rescue procedures. The following photos will show the sequence of what we practiced.

 

Below- Jen demonstrated the assisted re-entry using the leg hook (or heel hook) method. Emphasis was placed on keeping the swimmer in sight and having her hold on to her paddle. Jen’s paddle was kept across her lap, then placing the swimmer’s paddle there also just before re-entry. On still water, the swimmer’s body position while getting in the boat may be ok, but it is better to stay low on the aft deck for better stability.

    

Below- Jen went through the methods of getting someone who has exited their boat away from rocks or out of the surf zone. The quickest way to get a swimmer from danger is to have them swim to you. Have the person then hang on to your bow or stern handle while you paddle out of danger, then retrieve the boat later. A good way to get both the swimmer and boat to safety is to have them hold on to the bow and stern handles of your boat and theirs, and leg kick while you back paddle. The rescuer’s boat position should always be furthest from the rocks while performing this.

Below- Towing a person sitting in a boat can be divided into two categories, a quick, or short tow for rescue, and an in-line tow, which is not as urgent, and is for distance. We did not practice the in-line tow, which is done with a 30-50 foot line that is used for longer tows. We did practice a few methods of the quick tow for rescue purposes.

Quick Tow Methods:

Contact Tow– There are two methods of doing this. The easiest method is to simply have the person being rescued lean across your kayak foredeck and hang on to your deck lines while you do a forward or back paddle. The second method is to use a short line or leash and hook it to the other boat, performing a close tow. You can see Jen doing that in one of the photos below. More photos of these two procedures will be added at a later time to give more details, and this article will be then found in the skills group of articles.

Close Tow– This method involves a short line of 5-10 feet, and can be performed using your longer waist tow line, tied off for a short line, or a dedicated short line ready to employ and stored on your foredeck. If you use a line for towing, always have a knife ready for quick use in case you get tangled in the line. After studying this, I personally like the idea of having a dedicated line kept on your deck in front of you to use immediately for a quick tow rescue. By using a 5 foot line or webbing strap, with a carabiner at each end, the close-tow line is a contact tow line (because the two boats are making contact with each other). You can buy a manufactured non-stretch contact line, or make something yourself. If you make this yourself, be sure to file off the carabiner gate tooth so it will not snag the line, or better, buy a stainless steel carabiner that is “toothless”. Always hook the carabiner to the deck line from beneath that line, with the gate facing up. Store the line across your foredeck by hooking a carabiner to each side deck line, so you can employ it to the other boat on either side. Keep the excess line under a bungee line, or crisscross the line over the deck (the bungee storage deploys faster though).

    

Below- Jen demonstrated the cowboy re-entry method, and everyone practiced the assisted re-entry of clearing the boat of water and getting the swimmer back in. The morning was followed up with a fun time at the patio, and showing off the old and new club T-shirts. We will be having more of these skills practice sessions in the coming months, led by Jane Hardy. And next winter, if enough people are interested and Jen can instruct it, we will have another special session in rough sea conditions out in the channel. That will be done with a short notice, when we know the conditions are favorable and Jen is available.