In Memoriam – Eric Soares, Co-Founder of the Tsunami Rangers

by Nancy Soares on February 5, 2018

Eric “Red Dog” Soares RIP

This photo kind of says it all. Impressive, a little scary, even a bit ridiculous. That was Eric. This photo was taken before one of the Sea Gypsy Extreme Sea Kayak Races in front of Michael Powers’ house at Miramar Beach in Half Moon Bay. Will Nordby, one of the editors of the Tsunami Ranger videos back in the day, worked it up to its present manifestation. Eric, as usual, was directing the show. 

I’m not sure what else to say. When Eric died, I wrote one of my first blog posts, The Quest for the Magical Healing Pool, about that experience and that’s all the grieving I’m going to do in public. But every year on or around the anniversary of his death, February 1, 2012, I’ve published some kind of memorial post. This year marks the 6th year since he was translated.

Eric aroused strong emotions in people. You either loved him or hated him. Rarely were people indifferent. He was a genius; he was an idiot. I can say that. I was his wife and I know. He was generous; he was stingy, especially with food. He was compassionate; he was cruel. He was a gifted athlete and kayaker but give the man a hammer and he’d put it through a wall. He could be incredibly patient but he had the most explosive temper of anyone I ever met. He was calm; he was violent. He was sacred; he was profane. He was hysterically funny and kept me in stitches much of the time. He could tell the best story! He was the most interesting person I ever knew and yet he talked so much sometimes I literally stopped listening and he’d start to babble a bunch of nonsense sounds to see how long it took before I noticed.  When I didn’t notice he’d let out a loud “Beeeeyotch!” and I’d go, “Huh?” and snap back to the present. “You weren’t listening to me!” he’d accuse. I wasn’t, but I will miss him as long as I live. 

Feel free to share your memories of Eric below. They’re always welcome.  

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Kakuk February 5, 2018 at 10:12 am

Nancy, You summarized Eric really well. There is always a flood of memories that come back when I think of him and his little sayings are part of my vocabulary. He was intelligent, insightful, conversant, fun to be around and one hell of a good friend. We are lucky to have known him and he will always be a part of our lives.


Nancy February 7, 2018 at 9:26 pm

Ah, yes, the little sayings. So often I’m doing stuff around the house and one of those will pop into my head and I feel like I’m sharing a private joke with him still. Like, “It takes a pillage!” Or someone will say, “Thank you,” and I’ll say, “You’re velcro!” I’m so glad I’m not the only one in the world who still gets those jokes!


Doug Lloyd February 5, 2018 at 10:20 am

Like the ocean he loved, to me Eric was dynamic and forceful, a fiercely vibrant personality that crashed upon the shores of conventionality.


Nancy February 7, 2018 at 9:28 pm

Well said, Doug. Thank you.


Mike Libolt February 5, 2018 at 11:18 am

I wish I had met him. Mike


Nancy February 7, 2018 at 9:28 pm

Me too.


Carl White February 6, 2018 at 5:50 am

Eric was a key figure in the American evolution of sea kayaking. His enormous experience on cold and rough water made him someone whose views had to be taken very seriously. Other than several exchanges of letters in the later 1980s when I briefly edited ANorAK (we discussed, among other things, The Lord of the Rings–specifically the nature of Tom Bombadil!), my contact with Eric was reading his excellent articles and Letters to the Editor of the much-lamented, lost Sea Kayaker Magazine (I miss it so much). One of Eric’s greatest moments in SK was his ringing letter of endorsement of Moulton Avery’s then-revolutionary article, Cold Shock, in a 1991 issue of the magazine. Eric wrote that a copy of the article should be stapled to the forehead of every sea kayaker–this expression of total support standing out amidst a sea of waffling, dodging, evasive counter-nonsense from minions of TASK, the Trade Organization for Sea Kayaking. Eric’s letter was all anyone needed to grasp the true nature of the cold water threat and the importance of Avery’s article, and it is my own best memory of Eric, never having met him.


Nancy February 7, 2018 at 9:35 pm

Stapled to the forehead… oh yeah, that was Eric. He thought very highly of you, Carl. He developed many strong relationships with people he never met a through his articles, books, and videos, and those people were an important part of his life. Thanks for keeping the faith.


steven King February 6, 2018 at 2:34 pm

I wanted to also mention the theme that Carl has so elegantly articulated. Eric and Jim have made a very large impact at a global level on the world of Ocean Kayaking. He and Jim have inspired people in Portugal, New Zealand, South America, Asia and many other countries. Eric has a legacy that transcends time, Oceans, people and places, clearly he was a reincarnation of Azores whaling seafaring cultures both genetically and mythologically. Surely many incarnations before that and more to come. I hope mine will manifest in his path and wake in his future incarnations.

For me I wish to offer a series of words that spring into my spirit when I think about him and here are those words.

Brother, mentor, warrior, jester, teacher, explorer, thinker, waterman, mountain man, wanderer, gypsy, scholar, writer, seeker, supporter, experimenter, kayak acrobat, motivational speaker, entertainer, dancer and lover of life!


Nancy February 7, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Wow, Steve, great tribute. Thank you so much! In the words of Eric himself, I love you, man! Very very much!


Rainer Lang March 10, 2018 at 5:24 pm

I am super lucky to have been one of Eric’s students. When I was first thinking about buying a surfski; the question what would Eric do? popped into my mind. The answer: paddle it like you stole it was the answer. Thank you Eric!


Nancy Soares March 14, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Did he really say that? Hilarious! Thanks for the comment, Rainer! You got me laughing 🙂


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