Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tides and Wind

Before you go out, it's always a good idea to understand how the tides and wind impact the area where you'll be paddling.  At least, check the weather forecast in advance, but always be prepared for quickly changing conditions.  In the north bay, mornings are typically cool and calm.  As the inland temperatures start to rise, so does the wind on the coast.  It can be dead calm at 7:00 AM, and 25 mph winds and whitecaps by 10:00 AM.  It's also helpful to know the typical wind velocity and patterns.  This information can alleviate a lot of frustration.  If you know the wind blows like stink from the west or northwest by 10 AM, you better head in the that direction for the start of your trip so that you at least have the wind at your back for your return leg.  The last thing you want is to be heading upwind on a SUP after a multi hour paddling session!  Struggling to make it back to your car is not a lot of fun.

Be prepared for the winds but also be prepared for the tides.  A nice easy beach entry at high tide can turn into a 100 yard walk through knee deep mud at low tide.  Surfers and fishermen keep an eye on the tide charts and so should we.  My favorite beach break is only good during a higher tide as otherwise, there just isn't enough water over the sandbar.  Tides are predictable so it's pretty easy and inexpensive to pick up a tidebook from your local surf or paddling shop. 

People that are fortunate enough to have a smart phone (I do not but I know people that have them), have a great resource for checking conditions on the fly.  You can find an example of one othese apps for checking tides on the right hand side of my blog.

The old saying "if in doubt, don't go out" holds true so why not have some information to help alleviate these doubts?

Here are some other resources for checking wind and tides:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Learn Right the First Time

I recently had the opportunity to sit in on an Intro to SUP class offered by California Canoe & Kayak (CCK) out of their Oakland shop.  This shop is right on the water at Jack London Square and an ideal place to learn.  There were five students in the class, ages 20s-60s.  None have ever paddled a SUP before.  Within two hours, they were doing cross-bow draws and self rescues.  This class accelerated their learning process greatly.  The instructor (Ben) was great.  He showed them just what they need to know for that portion of the class.  Ben is an ACA certified SUP instructor as well as a kayaking instructor. 

Ben spent about 10 minutes going over some basic things about the board and paddle on land before having everyone get on the water for the real instruction.  Once everyone launched from the dock, they were standing within a couple minutes.  After this point he covered the forward stroke and a couple of turning strokes so people would not run into the docks or boats!  After this, we covered a variety of topics, safety, weather, proper, powerful forward stroke, turning strokes and self-rescue.  After paddling around in wetsuits and pfd they were happy to practice getting back on the board.

I highly recommend taking a class to anyone entering this sport.  What would take weeks to learn on your own, can be learned within just a few hours.  More importantly, the learning process is easier and you are learning right the first time out.  CCK supplies the board, paddle, wetsuit (if needed), leash, and pfd.  They even having changing rooms and showers.  After you take the class you can use the board and rest of the gear for the remainder of the day, and most of them took advantage of this offer.  Why not, the weather was perfect, they already had the gear, and most importantly, they already had to confidence to go out there on their own.

Here's a clip from their website:

Stand Up Paddleboarding 101 (Oakland Estuary)    $60
By now you've probably seen Stand Up Paddlers, seemingly walking on water! Check out this wonderful new sport! Give Stand Up Paddling a try in our introductory SUP class. SUPing has become incredibly popular in a few short years because it's so fun, easy, and another GREAT way to get on the water. (It's good for you, too.) No previous paddling or surfing experience is necessary. This 3-hour session in the sheltered water of the Oakland Estuary (launching from our dock at Jack London Square) will get you started, and you'll be cruising in style in no time. Our SUP boards are great for novices - great for rentals, too, once you've completed the class.
Start time: 9:00 am
Private lessons can be scheduled upon request; private instruction is $45/hour per person, limited to 5 persons maximum. (2 hours minimum for private sessions).
Prerequisites: Good physical condition is important to assure an enjoyable; however, no previous paddling experience is necessary. The minimum age for the SUP 101 is 14 years; children under 18 years must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Private lessons for children under 14 can be arranged upon request.

Upcoming Dates:
06/01/12     06/10/12     06/29/12     06/30/12