Tsunami Ranger Sea Cave Terms

by Nancy Soares on August 11, 2014

Editor’s note: Thanks to Michael Powers, Eric Soares, and Jim Kakuk for these fabulous photos.

The Rangers prepare to enter a cave at Elk, Northern CA

The Rangers prepare to enter a cave at Elk, Northern CA

One of the cool things about the Tsunami Rangers is the lexicon they invented to describe the marine environment. Some of these terms have probably become mainstream, but just for fun I thought I’d reproduce the Tsunami Ranger Sea Cave Terms.

A good reason for knowing and understanding these terms is that when you encounter the reality you’ll have at least some sense of what you’re dealing with. You will find all these things in the sea caves of the Northern California and Southern Oregon coasts.

Balrog, n. a powerful demon who lives in crevices in the earth. Created by J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion.

TR Dave Whalen gives a good impression of a balrog in a cave

TR Dave Whalen gives a good impression of a balrog in a cave

Cavern, n. a cave featuring a big room (if elaborate called a grotto; if light pours through the ceiling called a cathedral).

Cathedral Cave. Pictured: TRs John Lull and Deb Volturno

Cathedral Cave. Pictured: TRs John Lull and Deb Volturno

Elevator, n. the rapid rise and fall of surge in a cave.

Dave Whalen riding an elevator in a cave

Dave Whalen riding an elevator in a cave

Exit, n. a back or side way out of a cave.

The exit is behind and to the right of the kayaker. Pictured: Laura Nixon

The exit is behind and to the left as you look at the kayaker. Pictured: Laura Nixon

Fourth dimension, n. what it is like to be inside a cave. The most radical zone a kayaker can enter (e.g. first dimension is normal seas, second is surf, third is rocks, fourth is caves).

TR Capt. Jim Kakuk gets all Zen in the 4th dimension

TR Capt. Jim Kakuk gets all Zen in the 4th dimension

Grok, v. empathetically understanding a situation to its fullest, done immediately upon encountering it. Taken from Robert Heinlein, Stranger in a Strange Land.

Eric grokking the rocks at Sniveler's

Eric grokking the rocks at Sniveler’s

Labyrinth, n. a cave featuring intricate, winding passages which make it easy to get lost (also maze, warren).

Entering a labyrinth at Cape Flattery

Entering a labyrinth at Cape Flattery

Sandwiched, v. getting crushed by rising up in an elevator and striking the ceiling or tooth hanging from the ceiling.

Could be a tight squeeze

Could be a tight squeeze. Pictured: Eric Soares and Craig Hoyt

Sea trog, n. a valiant, cave exploring kayaker who dares to face a balrog.

Sea trog Glenn Gilchrist at Marin Headlands

Sea trog Glenn Gilchrist at the Marin Headlands

Shaft, n. a long, narrow cave with a square, rectangular, or rhomboidal shape.

Nancy Soares navigates a shaft at Russian Gulch

Nancy Soares navigates a shaft at Russian Gulch

Soft spot, n. a safe place to be in a cave (also called station) (e.g. a giant cavern is a safe place because there are no squeezes or teeth of concern).

Misha and Eric find the soft spot at the entrance to a cave

Misha and Eric find the soft spot at the entrance to a cave

Sybil, n. a legendary, alluring female entity that inhabits sea caves (synonyms include mermaid, nereid, nixie).

Nereids

Nereids

Tooth, n. a stalactite or stalagmite (identified by shape, e.g. incisor, canine, molar).

Backdoor Cave. Note the molar in the ceiling.

Backdoor Cave. Note the molar in the ceiling.

Tube, n. a long narrow cave.

TRs Deb Volturno and Tim Sullivan enter a tube

TRs Deb Volturno and Tim Sullivan enter a tube

Twilight zone, n. a dimly lit part of a cave.

Rangers in the twilight zone

Rangers in the twilight zone

Wave in a cave, n. an expression indicating the worst real event that could occur in a cave.

A wave in a cave. Pictured: Eric Soares

A wave in a cave. Pictured: Eric Soares

We hope you enjoyed the Tsunami Ranger Sea Cave Terms. Even if you never encounter these scenarios, they still fire the imagination and give you a sense of what it’s like to kayak in dynamic sea caves. If you have some of your own sea cave terms not mentioned here, please share with us!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Fat Paddler August 12, 2014 at 5:29 am

Great photos! And Nancy, does this mean YOU are a Sybil??

Cheers, FP

Reply

Nancy Soares August 12, 2014 at 7:45 am

Yes, it’s a lot of fun to go through the archives and Eric’s old writings to find stuff for the blog.

Hmmm, am I a Sybil? Well, since I spend more time in the water than in my boat I suppose that’s apt. Also, I just saw something in the local paper about these two women who make mermaid tails you can actually swim in. They’re beautiful. Apparently there’s a worldwide “mer-community” (there’s the Internet for you) who have totally glommed on to these tails and put these gals into big business mode. I’d get one but they cost upwards of $2,000 and I just can’t justify it. Yet. Of course, now you’ve got me thinking…

Reply

Tony Moore August 14, 2014 at 6:59 am

Thanks, Nancy, for the sea cave terminology, with wonderful photos to illustrate…AND in alphabetical order! I wish there were more than one sea cave in Rhode Island. There have to be some in Maine, with its rocky coast…maybe I should check that out.

Reply

Nancy Soares August 14, 2014 at 7:17 am

Hi Tony! Glad you enjoyed the post. Yeah, that was all Eric. He loved naming things. In fact the Tsunami Rangers have all kinds of names for themselves. I should do a post on that sometime; some of the names are hilarious.

I’ll tell you what; you discover the sea caves of Maine (and name them, or it) and take some photos and I’ll put it on the website. That would be wonderful! Just giving you a little motivation 😉

Reply

Rainer Lang August 20, 2014 at 12:18 pm

A great read!

I appreciated how Eric was able to draw from literature, science fiction, popular culture, mythology, and other sources to name things and communicate ideas. When that didn’t quite fit; he would M.S.U. (make-stuff-up).

He was a very engaging communicator and story teller.

Reply

Nancy Soares August 20, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Hi Rainer! I like your acronym: M.S.U. I think that’s one thing that will always set the Tsunami Rangers apart from other kayaking teams – lots of imagination went into forming the team and creating their own brand of extreme style of sea kayaking. They made stuff up. Eric was an almost obsessive namer of things. He named environmental features and kayaking stunts. He named places, boats, vehicles, and all his friends. He had loads of names for me (not all of them complimentary). Most if not all the Rangers have “G” names (I’ve got two “G” names myself) as well as other fantasy names. He told me a story one time about sitting around the campfire on retreat and asking the Rangers to come up with special names for themselves. He came up with the name “Red Wolf” for himself. Immediately Jim said, “Nawwwww, you’re “Red Dog”!!! So Eric became Red Dog and painted that name on his helmets. Mockery was a big part of Eric’s m.o. and he laughed at himself as well as at everyone else.

Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for commenting!

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