Kayak Resolutions 2016

by Nancy Soares on January 11, 2016

I was at something of a loss as to what to do for the first blog post of the New Year. It was weird. For nearly four years I’ve managed to keep the blog going to honor Eric’s posthumous wish and it’s been fun. Searching for copy I’ve enjoyed trips to Kauai, Sardinia, and the Southern Oregon and Northern California coasts. I’ve enjoyed meeting cool people like Jeff Laxier and Cate Hawthorne of Liquid Fusion and interacting with great kayakers like Bryant Burkhardt and John Dowd, learning more about our kayaking community than I ever imagined. I’ve enjoyed working with the Rangers to produce posts on their adventures as the Tsunami saga continues. I’ve loved watching the team dynamic shift kaleidoscope-like from when Eric was alive to after he died with the change in guard and the addition of new Rangers, and to see that as the kaleidoscope continues to turn each new perspective is unique and beautiful.

Surfing in the rocks with Liquid Fusion Kayaking

Surfing in the rocks with Liquid Fusion Kayaking

The blog motivates me to get on the water, not an easy thing to do when one lives two hours away from the ocean. Plus I’m not so familiar with the coast in Oregon where I live now. If I was back in Half Moon Bay I’d have places to go and people to go with, but here in Ashland I only have jujitsu and yoga buddies, no paddling friends. Partly my fault, of course, as there are groups I could check out but I’ve always paddled the Tsunami way with a few close friends forming a rogue crew that’s basically a splinter group from mainstream sea kayaking. When you learned to kayak kamikaze style, it’s hard to fit in with people who belong to conventional organizations. Let’s face it – the Tsunami Rangers call those guys Herberts and a lot of them think we’re nuts.

Yeah, we're nuts...

Yeah, we’re nuts. Riding a wave up a rock in a cave.

But despite how hard it’s been to get on the water, up till now I’ve always had something to write about. Why then am I coming up empty handed? One reason is I have a new partner, and building a new relationship takes time and effort, kind of like learning to kayak. In fact, however experienced as kayakers we are each new boat requires adjustments. Just like learning to paddle a new boat, learning to be with someone new demands adaptation, and I’ve been adapting for the last nine months. This has tended to draw my attention away from the blog. The good news is my partner, Robert, likes to kayak with me. In fact, that’s how he and I got together in the first place. It happened like this.

Yeah, Robert's brave...

Robert’s so brave! Preparing to take a fall from Margaret Hubert.

It was December 2014, just before Christmas. It was a rough time for me. 2012 was my first Christmas without Eric. 2013 was my first Christmas without Eric or my dad, and my son and my mom and I scattered my dad’s ashes. 2014 would be Christmas without Eric, my dad, or my mom, and my son and I planned to scatter my mom’s ashes. So the holidays were pretty loaded for me. I was at the dojo one night and Robert asked me if I had any kayaking trips planned. It was storming out, cold and wet, and I fretfully told him, no, of course not: it was winter, the weather was terrible, and anyway all my kayaking friends were down in California. “I’ll go with you,” he offered.

I viewed him with disfavor. “Have you ever kayaked?” I asked. “No.” “Have you ever swum in the ocean?” “No.” Disfavor changed to disbelief. I thought he must be crazy. But right before New Year’s one of my friends committed suicide. Then right after New Year’s another friend was attacked and nearly stabbed to death at her home. I was traumatized. I knew I needed to go to the ocean and get on the water. I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. So I checked sea conditions and the next time I saw Robert at the dojo I asked, “You want to go kayaking?” “Sure,” he said, “When?” “Tomorrow,” I said. ”Uh, let me see if I can get off work,” he replied.

Aaah, Trinidad!

Aaah, Trinidad!

He did and we went. I got hold of Rebekah and together we took Robert to Trinidad. We had a great day. It was one of those wonderful January days that are more like summer than Summer on the Humboldt coast. The day started out a little active. I took a long swim trying to climb up a sea stack, and Robert nearly speared me in the legs doing a surf landing on a cobblestone beach. Because it was rough, we landed as a team. First Rebekah paddled in toward shore. She got to a safe place, checked out the surf, and when it was okay to come in she gave the signal. We paddled to where she was, and then at the next opening I paddled in to land first while Rebekah waited offshore with Robert. Once I was safe on the beach, Rebekah sent Robert in. After he landed she paddled in as well, so Robert got to experience that aspect of team kayaking. I was devoutly grateful to Rebekah for joining us since it made Robert’s first kayaking experience safe and controlled.

We kayaked on a hot lake in the desert

We kayaked on a hot lake in the desert in April

As we munched our lunch on the beach we watched the surf pound the cobbles. “How are we going to get off the beach?” Robert asked. How indeed! But there’s always a window (well, almost always). In this case the sea actually calmed as the day progressed and we had no problem getting off the beach. I took off first, wading into the water just past the break, jumping in to the X-0 and paddling hard to the safe zone. Rebekah helped Robert time the waves, got him off the beach safely and then followed after. We paddled leisurely back toward the put in. The water turned glassy, with just the lightest of swells. We paddled around stacks and rocks and rode the swells by the cliffs. Then we ran Robert around the pier pilings to teach him some skills before we finally beached our boats. That night Rebekah put us up at her place in Orick and we had a lovely sunset dinner on the beach near the mouth of Redwood Creek.

We salvaged an old inflatable double and went down the Rogue River

We salvaged an old inflatable double and went down the Rogue River in July

Since then I’ve been teaching Robert to kayak the Tsunami way, passing on the skills Eric taught me. I took Robert to local lakes and made him fall out and get back in the boat dozens of times, first in the X-15, then in the X-0. I even timed him as he got faster and faster at the maneuver. I taught him some basic strokes. I also took him to Crescent City and made him swim in surf for a couple of hours.

Diving under the waves at Crescent Beach

Diving under the waves at Crescent Beach

We crashed through waves, dove under waves, and swam parallel to waves in the troughs. We noted our position in the water using landmarks on shore and watched how the currents pulled us around. Then we swam against the longshore current. When we were tired I took him to the cliffs at Boardman State Park and showed him how to scout, watching the surge, timing the swells, noting foam lines, and observing how the water moves around and over rocks.

Foam lines on the Southern Oregon coast

Foam lines on the Southern Oregon coast

One of the greatest benefits of having Robert around is that he helped me rebuild the boat racks. My son had built them, but although the racks had lasted for at least five years through storms and winter weather time had taken its toll and they needed reinforcing and new roofs. Once the racks were solid Robert and I went down to Sebastopol and retrieved my X-3 from where it was stored at Maurice’s place. We took the long way home along the coast, spending the night in the back of the truck at a wayside in Willits, and went to Trinidad again where we got the X-3 on the water. So Robert got to paddle that boat as well. Now he’s had experience with all three of my Tsunami kayaks.

We launch the X-3

We launch the X-3

We had another good trip when we went to my old stomping grounds at Pillar Point. Support from the tribe was there as TR El Rey loaned Robert the old blue X-15 and TR John Lull came out with us to the Point. John gave Robert some useful tips and he got his first taste of some real surfing. Once again, we were fortunate with small surf inside – doable and very safe. Robert did well and we all had a lot of fun.

Robert has his first adventure with a Tsunami Ranger

Robert has his first adventure with a Tsunami Ranger

One of the best things about taking Robert kayaking was his reaction the first time he got off the water with me and Rebekah that day at Trinidad. We pulled our kayaks to safety and then ran back into the water just to play and enjoy. It was such a beautiful day and we’d had so much fun and we love the water so much! When we got out for the last time Robert said, “I feel like a whole different person!” and there was a note of wonder in his voice. That’s when I knew we’d done the right thing.

At Pillar Point

At Pillar Point

This year Robert and I will kayak more. There will be practice sessions on the lakes. There will be trips to the Bay Area and Trinidad. But I also plan to explore my own back yard with my new paddling partner, beginning with Crescent City and its environs. And I want to take Robert to Mendocino to see the caves and visit our paddling friends in Ft. Bragg and Elk. Maybe we’ll do a kayak camping trip. I’ve even picked up an old inflatable double kayak from John Lull which we launched on the Rogue last summer. Frankly, while I have nothing against solo paddling I think it’s a lot more fun (and safe) to have a pal, so I’m more motivated to get out there than ever.

Me and Robert and Barbara and John's old X-2 as Leo takes it to its new home in WA

Me and Robert and Barbara and John’s old X-2 as Leo takes it to its new home in WA

That concludes my post for January, 2016. It’s all new, folks. Looking back I realize I actually did quite a bit of kayaking in 2015, with a lot of variety thrown in. I don’t know what the New Year will bring for the Tsunami Rangers and myself, other than to say it’s for sure gonna bring more Adventure! Stay tuned!

Happy New Year, everyone! May your kayak’s path be as smooth or bumpy as you could wish!

 

 

Like this post? Then please help us out and share it on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. And don't miss any Tsunami Rangers posts: subscribe by e-mail or subscribe by RSS. And you can leave a comment below...

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Doug Lloyd January 11, 2016 at 10:27 am

Very pleasant post Nancy! You sound ready to move forward and as always, life is lived one day at a time, one adventure at a time, while the journey is lived at times sublimely normal; at other times, exceptionally surprising. Thank you for keeping Eric’s legacy alive and well in real time. Stay strong.

Reply

Nancy Soares January 11, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Thanks, Doug, I will. I’m particularly grateful to you and people like you who have supported this forum, some of whom I’ve met in person and some of whom, like you, I haven’t met but who nevertheless are now friends. I see why Eric wanted this blog to keep going. It was his greatest gift to me and what’s so cool is that through it he and the Rangers are still engaged with the greater kayaking world. Nice to hear from you 🙂

Reply

Jim Kakuk January 11, 2016 at 12:16 pm

Good story Nancy, and nice to see the blog still going. Looking forward to the 2016 paddling year. – Kuk

Reply

Nancy Soares January 11, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Me too! I hope to see you and Patti on the water or on the playa this year! Love you!

Reply

Ed Anderson January 11, 2016 at 5:05 pm

Thanks for the update Nancy! It sounds like life continues to move forward. Hit me up the next time you are down to paddle Pillar Point, work permitting I will very gladly join you. Have a great year!

Reply

Nancy Soares January 11, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Hi Ed! Thanks for the Xmas card! Sorry I didn’t get one out to you this year. I love seeing you and your family, and I will let you know next time we come down to HMB although it may not be before the next race. Tell Honami and the girls I said hi.

Reply

Scott Becklund January 11, 2016 at 8:04 pm

What a gift to open my mail and find this.
I heard about your trip to HMB and how Robert was received. I hope he enjoyed it as much as the local tribe did.
As always love to you Nancy and Happy New year to all.
Let’s hope we all have great adventures on and in the water this year

Reply

Nancy Soares January 12, 2016 at 9:07 am

Robert absolutely loved going down to visit in HMB. I feel so blessed to be part of such a great tribe of comrades. Scott, you are truly one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all the love and support from you and the Rangers. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

Reply

Moulton Avery January 31, 2016 at 1:47 pm

What a lovely update, Nancy! I’m so happy for you! Time rolls inexorably along, and it’s hard for me to wrap my pointy head around the fact that four years have passed.

Thank you for keeping the blog alive, and for reminding all of us that both solace and wonder await those souls who venture out upon the water in these marvelous, tiny boats.

I’ve met someone who’s charmed my heart as well – a big surprise, because I wasn’t all that optimistic about the prospect of ever falling in love again. Her name is Angie, and I’ve introduced her to sea kayaking, though not in as picturesque a location as you did with Robert.

I wish you the very best this new year. With a bit of luck, Angie and I may find ourselves on the West Coast for a visit.
Moulton

Reply

Nancy Soares January 31, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Hi Moulton! It’s sooo good to hear from you. I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. So glad to hear you’ve found a companion. Our best and toughest work in this life is done in relationship because relationships bring up all our triggers and challenge us to grow. It’s been strange for me to pass from wife to widow to partner – I still kind of feel like I’m flying through space just trying to relax and breathe through the changes. Actually, I suppose that’s our true Reality – flying through space on a rock called Earth and trying to deal with the changes life throws at us. Oh well, there you got me going all philosophical.

If you and Angie come out this way please stop by for a visit. You’re always welcome to stay, and there’s plenty of kayaking on both lakes and seas. Nice hiking as well 🙂 Thanks for checking in.

Reply

Jeff February 25, 2016 at 8:12 am

Nice Nancy, very nice. Looking forward to being part of and reading about you and Roberts adventures.
Rock on!

Reply

Nancy Soares February 28, 2016 at 8:16 pm

Hey Jeff, good to hear from you. I hope I’ll be posting lots more adventures for 2016. We’ll cross our fingers. The year has started out well so far!

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: