The Tsunami X-3 Trident. Not a small boat.

The Tsunami X-3 Trident. Not a small boat.

Naturally I was devastated when my late husband died, but one of the things that really had me exercised was how the heck I was going to get kayaks on and off the truck by myself. It might sound silly to some, but I’m short, the rack is high, and the Kevlar boats are long and heavy.

Thanks to my friend Rebekah Kakuk, I learned how to get the X-15 up and down solo, so that was great. But what about the X-3 Trident? A boat that’s 25’ long and weighs 100 pounds? This summer I got a chance to see if I could manage it by myself and by golly I pulled it off. So for all of you out there who may find yourself in a similar predicament, here’s how to get a Tsunami X-3 Trident off a Rack-It rack on a Toyota Tacoma all by yourself, even if you’re 5’ 3”.

The specs for the Trident

The specs for the Trident

July 4th, Jim and I loaded the Trident onto the rack no problem. Jim wanted to try the boat out with his partner Patti because they were considering taking it to Baja. But at Russian Gulch they decided it was too tippy so I ended up taking it back home. Since Jim and Patti had returned to Guerneville, I was stuck unloading it myself. Actually, there are people I could have called to help, but I was walking with a friend the morning of my return and when I asked her if she could help she said, “Can’t you do it yourself?” She seemed to think I was totally capable. Of course, she hadn’t seen the Trident.

Jim and Patti at Abalone Pt. with the Trident and the X-15

Jim and Patti at Abalone Pt. with the Trident and the X-15

But her words stuck with me. Could I do it myself? I’ve done practically every other thing I’ve found myself having to do alone since Eric died. Maybe I should give it a shot. So the next morning when it was still nice and early and cool I walked up to the truck where it was parked by the boat rack and took stock of the situation.  



I thought about whether I’d be able to lower the bow onto the tail gate once I got the stern down. It seemed doable. I decided to do it. I untied the ropes and then took a break to Really Think about what was going to happen. I visualized the process of sliding the boat off the rack and analyzed where the stern would end up. Then I opened the back of the truck and stood on the tail gate. The first thing was to flip the boat over, because it was resting on its rails and it slides a lot easier on the hull. First check. I couldn’t flip the damn thing to save my life because I was positioned toward the stern of the boat and it was too heavy. So I climbed up onto the rack, made my way to the center of the boat’s frame, and it was an easy flip from there.

Got 'er flipped. What's next?

Got ‘er flipped. Now what?

I climbed down and thought about it some more. Then I got back up on the tail gate and holding onto a rail with both hands started to slide the Trident toward the back of the truck. Little by little I carefully worked the boat back. It started to tip but I controlled it so the stern slowly but surely lowered softly to the ground. Once the stern was established on the ground, I took a break and assessed the situation again. The Trident looked pretty impressive tilted up against the rack, its bow high in the air. Now came the tricky part.



Approaching the stern, I grabbed the back rails and again Very Slowly started sliding the Trident off the rack. Finally there was only a little bit of the bow still resting on the rack. I set the stern down and thought about the next step. I climbed up onto the tail gate and tried to lift the nose off the rack, but I couldn’t do it. The stern was stuck on the ground making it so I couldn’t lift the bow and I couldn’t slide the boat back without damaging the rudder. I wasn’t sure it would move anyway. So I got down, picked up the stern again, and slid the Trident back some more until just the littlest bit of the bow was still perched on the rack.

Cautiously so as not to rock the truck and drop the boat I climbed up on the tail gate and found that I could now lift the bow off the rack. There I was standing on the tail gate holding the bow of the Trident in my arms unable to move. I couldn’t get it down onto the tail gate because the stern wouldn’t move and the boat was a little too long to lower down without cracking the glass in the back window of the camper shell. If I tried to muscle it I was afraid to damage the rudder or lose control of the boat. Then I realized that I could probably lift the bow over the back of the rack to the side and then lower it down that way. I slid the boat as far over to one side as I could and took the hull in my arms. I gently lifted the boat up and over the rack. There I stood on the edge of the side of the tail gate, cradling the bow in my arms. I realized I couldn’t just drop it on the ground. Now what?

Yay! I did it!

Yay! I did it!

The boat actually felt light since I was only holding the very end. With my arms glued to my sides, elbows bent at 90 degrees like a forklift to protect my shoulders, I slowly bent my knees and squatted down with the boat in my arms. I got as low as I could and eased my butt down on to the edge of the tail gate till I could slide my legs over and sit. Now I could hop down and lower the bow to the ground. Mission accomplished! 

I washed the boat off and two friends who live down the street came over and helped me get the Trident into its berth. Easy peasy. While moving the boat at no point did I feel out of control or in danger of blowing out a shoulder, losing a limb, or breaking the boat. The entire process, including all those pauses to stop and think, only took about 15 minutes. So even though the Trident is almost five times taller than me and weighs nearly as much as I do, I wrangled that bad boy no problem. Whoever said, “Where there’s a will there’s a way” never said a truer word. I probably could have racked the boat by myself too but why push it?

I hope this information is useful, and I’d love to hear your stories about maneuvering boats in difficult situations. If any of our readers have a good tale to share let’s hear it! Vive la independence!    



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Sea Kayaker’s Mind, Beginner’s Mind

by Nancy Soares on July 3, 2017

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.
 Shunryu Suzuki

The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.
Jiddu Krishnamurti

Everything you know is wrong.
Firesign Theater

Bet you never thought of this option in a kayak

Bet you never thought of this possibility in a kayak

The ocean can change in a moment, especially in a rock garden, and when the shit hits the fan it’s always good to have choices. The quotes above apply to kayaking as well as to life. When out on the ocean would you rather have many possibilities, or few? Soft, flexible minds allow us to see abundant possibilities, giving us options. Open minds also expand the limits of our sport. Zen describes this soft, flexible mind as having an empty cup, a big mind, or beginner’s mind.   

TR Capt. Jim Kakuk: time to get flexible

TR Capt. Jim Kakuk took this photo of Banzai Bozo Dave Nagel rocking the rock: time to get flexible

Awhile back in an article about the book More Deep Trouble we put forth the proposition that instead of labeling ourselves as “advanced” or “beginning” paddlers we might try seeing ourselves simply as kayakers without embellishing the term in any way. When we apply adjectives like beginner or expert to ourselves right away we’re all in a box. This limits our potential. It can be helpful to put some space around any assumptions we may have about our paddling selves. This space allows us to hold many thoughts about kayaking (and ourselves) without having to stick to anything.

TR Deb Volturno: Hold those thoughts and gimme some space

TR Deb Volturno: Hold those thoughts and gimme some space

Eric often talked about the tunnel vision that can afflict a paddler when something extraordinary or unexpected happens. Adrenaline and stress can literally shut down our mental and physical operating systems. We run out of options because we can’t think. Sometimes we can’t even move. Eric had a great story about this. One day he was holding a rock garden class. He specifically told the class, “don’t go over there”. A person who shall remain nameless allowed himself to drift into the danger zone. A big wave came through and Nameless came out of his kayak and ended up on top of a small sea stack without boat or paddle. Another wave could have come through any time, but Nameless didn’t move. Eric started yelling at him to get off the rock.  “Jump, jump!” Eric ordered. Nameless still didn’t move.

Steve Sinclair of Force Ten - now would be a good time not to freeze up

Steve Sinclair of Force Ten – now would be a good time not to freeze up

Finally Eric paddled over and threatened to climb up and throw Nameless off the rock if he didn’t jump. That did the trick. Nameless jumped off the rock and swam in. Calamity averted. But the point is that according to Eric this person had gone into a whole other zone. His mind had divorced itself from reality and he wasn’t able to act until from sheer force of personality Eric broke through that mental fog and made Nameless save himself. Eric’s theory was that on the ocean forces can become so overwhelming that some people shut down in a protective mechanism that may prevent them from freaking out but additionally prevents them from acting to save themselves. In the Deep Trouble books we see quite a bit of that phenomenon.    

Kayaking and life, it’s all the same; once we start down a particular mental rabbit hole our ideas can congeal into rigid ideology. Rigidity is typically counterproductive, unless you’re talking about concrete and steel and even they can be too rigid like when they don’t stand up to earthquakes. When we get locked into a certain point of view it can screw us up.

TR Misha Dynnikov: no paralysis here

TR Misha Dynnikov: paralysis in a cauldron may get you killed

When we get narrow we also stop learning. Giving up the great burden of opinions that we are not obliged to carry (thank you, Thomas Merton!) allows us to tap into little nudges from the universe that can guide us. By practicing nonattachment, nonjudgment, and nonresistance we get “big mind”; we see options and can quickly adapt to changing conditions. On the ocean adaptation is the name of the game.

Now would be a good time to keep an open mind

Time to keep an open mind

In the end, I think that mentally assigning descriptions to ourselves is something we all do, but it gets in our way. As we develop as paddlers, we create images in our minds: I got certified in X, Y, Z. Now I’m an Expert. I’m a kayak instructor. That makes me an Expert. I’ve demo’d 40 different kayaks, 30 drysuits, and 20 PFDs. I’m an Expert. On the other end of the spectrum: I’ve been kayaking for 20 years and I still can’t roll. I suck. None of these statements is necessarily true.

The images we create of ourselves as paddlers determine to a great extent what we expect both from ourselves and from other paddlers. If we stick to “small mind” we may disregard or disrespect others who don’t do what we do or like what we like. For example, lots of people back in the day thought the Tsunami Rangers were crazy, irresponsible, stupid, or all of the above. But nowadays all kinds of people are out there smashing and bashing and having a blast. As people’s minds have expanded, so has the sport. Now, there is truly something for everyone in sea kayaking. That there is so much cross over is a sign of an expanding collective mind.

Running out of options? I think not.

Running out of options? I think not.

My yoga teacher has a lovely image that describes the way we view the world. He talks about a pot. You place a pot in the middle of a group of people. Everyone sees the pot differently because everyone is looking at it from a slightly different angle. What each person sees is true and real but it’s only a small part of the story, or of the pot. Thus, everything you know is literally wrong, at least to some degree.

I’d like to close with one more of Eric’s kayaking stories to illustrate what I’m talking about and why it’s so important. Eric and another Ranger (I think it was John Dixon) were out at Maverick’s one day. They saw a guy in a kayak behaving in a manner they thought was sure to get him killed. Normally Rangers don’t interfere with other paddlers but in this case they felt it was worth a mention, so they paddled over and had a chat with Doomed Guy. He took offense, and mentioned that he was a student of someone who shall not be named and that therefore he “knew what he was doing”. The Rangers shrugged their shoulders and left him to his own devices. They found out later that the next day Doomed Guy had gone paddling and somehow managed to come out of his kayak and drown. No one knew what actually happened, but had that guy sustained beginner’s mind and not locked himself into a point of view that had no bearing on reality he might still be alive. Free your mind, baby!

Have you ever experienced a shutdown on the water, either in yourself or others? How’d that work out? Share your story below!

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Why Do We Test New Rangers?

June 5, 2017

Shareby Captain Jim Kakuk Why do we test new Rangers? I remember as a young scruffy kid hanging out with my friends down by the river in a tree fort. We were always coming up with big plans and scheming on who would get to join in our gang as there was always a need […]

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Bird Watching From a Kayak: Princeton Harbor in Spring

May 1, 2017

ShareI recently paddled around Princeton Harbor for the first time. I know it sounds crazy, but even after living and kayaking there for 12 years I never did that. I was always en route to the outside, to the swells along the jetty, to the surf in and around the lagoon, to Mushroom Rock, to […]

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Meet Michael Powers, Tsunami Ranger and Amazing Captioned Photo Creator!

April 3, 2017

ShareAt 76 Michael Powers is the oldest Tsunami Ranger. He became a Ranger in 1990. For almost 30 years he has been the unofficial Tsunami Ranger photojournalist, filming and photographing the Rangers and their adventures all over the world. He’s had his own share of adventures as well. Michael enhances many of his photos using […]

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Inside: One Woman’s Journey Through the Inside Passage by Susan Marie Conrad

March 6, 2017

ShareReview by Nancy Soares Editor’s note: Susan is an adventurer, writer, educator, and speaker. Her tenacious exploration by sea kayak has fueled her stories and images of the natural world for decades. Her articles and photographs have appeared in Sea Kayaker, Canoe and Kayak, Adventures Northwest, and Figure magazines. Magic and gratitude. That’s what comes […]

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In Memorium Eric Soares August 1, 1953 – February 1, 2012

February 1, 2017

ShareEditor’s note: This is our annual tribute to one of the founders of the Tsunami Rangers. This year we reflect on how we do nothing of ourselves alone; without the earth, air, and water to support our physical bodies and the people we encounter in our lives who support our souls we could not be.  […]

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A New Year, a New Tsunami Ranger – Cate Hawthorne’s Test Debrief

January 2, 2017

ShareEditor’s note: This year’s retreat was brief but packed with action, so we decided to cover it in two posts, the first which came out in October, and this second debrief in order to give Cate her due.   Deb: We agreed on the rendezvous location, “Thunder Cove”, one of the Tsunami Rangers’ favorite secret destinations on […]

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The Seal and Me

December 5, 2016

Shareby Maya King Editor’s note: Maya King is the daughter of Tsunami Ranger Steve “El Rey” King. We decided to make her essay our December post because we believe that seeing the world through the eyes of children is a valuable experience. Young minds are less conditioned and in many ways see more clearly than […]

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THE ORDEAL – Tsunami Retreat 2016

November 7, 2016

ShareHowling wind. Choppy waves. Funky swells. Boomers. Contrary currents. This year the Tsunami Ranger retreat had it all. But we’re a team and we made it! Once again, Rangers and friends overcame all obstacles and had a great time on the annual gathering. Capt. Jim Kakuk and guest Nancy Soares share the story. Nancy: Jim […]

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