Surf Sirens Unite! First Class Ocean Whitewater Instruction For Women   

by Nancy Soares on November 5, 2018

Editor’s note: Thanks to TR Captain Deb Volturno for contributing some of the photos in this post. And thanks to everyone who participated in the Surf Sirens gathering this year. I love this group! 

Surf Sirens Unite!

Surf Sirens Unite!

The third annual Surf Sirens gathering at Hobuck Beach on the Makah Reservation in Washington State was a big success this year. On the first day, Friday, September 21, sixteen women showed up for some rollicking ocean whitewater play, an impromptu rock garden paddle. It was a soft, drizzly day with relatively flat conditions but a fair amount of wind.

Esther Ladwig enters the elevator

Esther Ladwig enters the elevator

We paddled out from Neah Bay to Waadah Island and around to the northern side facing the San Juan de Fuca Strait. There we found some nice features: pour overs, slots, and a nifty little spot like an elevator where you paddle through a crevice as the water rises and falls with the ebb and flow of the sea.

Checking out the outside

At the tip of Waadah – Sirens outside

It was cool to watch the paddlers disappear down behind the rocks and then rise again to go shooting out the back side when a good wave pushed through. I sure wish I had gotten a photo of Jo Ann Moore riding her wave; I’ve never seen anyone look so stoked!

Lunch break!

Lunch break!

We took a break for lunch on the rocks and then messed around some before heading back to set up camp at Hobuck and get dinner. This year I opted for a cabin. It was pricey, and I’d slept in the truck last year which is my normal M.O. but I had the feeling it was going to rain this year, and it did. It was nice to have a warm room to come back to and to hang the wet suit up to dry. I spread out the gear, ate a light dinner, and fell asleep in a comfortable bed within sound of the sea.      

Instructors Alison and Deb practice a rescue

Skill development: instructors Alison Reinbold and Capt. Deb practice a rescue

On Saturday, seventeen women showed up for surf kayak instruction. Eight of us (almost half!) chose to be in the short boat group, with surf kayaks, whitewater kayaks and waveskis. I chose to be in this group. I really enjoyed the long boat surf instruction I got last year, but this year I’ve been playing around with river kayaking and paddled my first Mamba, and I wanted more.

The waveski gets a good ride

Kelley gets a good ride on the waveski

It was so much fun! The instruction was great, as always. Jameson Riser and Melinda Moree were the instructors for our group, and were really good at helping us in our attempts to master the admittedly shitty surf. However, I always maintain you can have a good time and learn stuff regardless of conditions. In fact, paddling in challenging conditions makes you that much better on nicer days.

Tsunami Rangert Paula Renouf drops in

Tsunami Ranger Paula Renouf drops in

We stayed out till we were all pretty thrashed. The waves were choppy and droppy. Before class, I watched the few board surfers out there braving the rough conditions. Boards and bodies were flying. Almost no one was getting rides. Rather than try to catch the waves on the outside I decided to spend the day playing in the aftershock. Out and in, out and in, catching a few short rides and getting dumped a fair amount. Lots of face enemas, but fun and a really good workout. Finally I was getting tired so I started waiting for something resembling a good ride before boldly springing into action. It was a good day for boat control.        

Esther's great edge!

Esther’s great edge!

That night we regrouped for another fantastic potluck – yum!  The bar keeps getting raised. Everyone contributed and we had a massive spread of healthy, nourishing, and REALLY GOOD food. Barbecued ribs, yummy soups, fruit, bruschetta, salads, desserts, all kinds of delights for hungry stomachs.

Diana Sorus breaks the wave barrier

Diana Sorus breaks the wave barrier

Here’s what Surf Sirens Co-Founder and Tsunami Ranger Deb Volturno had to say: “Saturday was an extraordinary day for surf play!  Great to see the fun and excitement with everyone out in the waves shredding it up.  I think almost everyone got out for some wave time!”

Tatoosh Island

Tatoosh Island

Before I left, I made time to drive out to Cape Flattery and take the short hike out to the tip of the cape where I was rewarded with amazing scenery and a view of Tatoosh Island. It was great to stretch my legs after sitting in a kayak all day the day before and before the long drive to Vancouver, WA, my next stop.

The trail runs through some of the last remaining old growth

The trail runs through some of the last remaining old growth

I really enjoy this surf camp. I like the way it’s set up so participants can take advantage of anywhere from one to three days of instruction. Days One and Three are unofficial paddle days; some of the instructors come along and are available for questions and a little coaching but the official day for instruction happens on Saturday. That’s the day you really don’t want to miss.

Instructor demo with Jameson Riser and Melinda Moree

Instructor demo with Jameson Riser and Melinda Moree

When I saw at the waves Sunday morning conditions had improved drastically. The waves looked small and well-regulated and the sun was making a fitful appearance. I would have liked to have stuck around but duty calls. Last year I paddled one day, this year I paddled two days, so probably next year I’ll arrange it so I can do three. Why not make the most of the long drive? Plus it’s a beautiful place to paddle. And may I say, the cabin was totally worth it!       

The beauty and the splendor and the wonder of Hobuck

The beauty and the splendor and the wonder of Hobuck

Everyone did well and had a good time. Instructor Jennifer Yearly joined us this year from down California way and it was great to have her. She wasn’t in my group but I know she was appreciated. It’s wonderful that we have so many fantastic women kayak instructors who together offer us students umpteen years of combined experience.

No butts on the sand - team building with squats on a tow rope

No butts on the sand – team building with squats on a tow rope

Here’s one more comment from Deb: “I love this event, and always feel energized by the level of commitment and enthusiasm of all who participate!” I second that emotion!   

Breaking the wave barrier

Kelley breaking the wave barrier

Join us for the fourth annual Surf Sirens Kayak Surf Camp in 2019 coming Sept 20-22!!! You don’t want to miss it. And check us out on Facebook at for photos and comments regarding this event. 


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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven King November 5, 2018 at 10:08 am

Looks like a total blast and waver warrior woman! Geat post, group, place and people. I can attest to excellent wave ski surfing teaching of Melinda Moree, she rocks it and taught me good technique for sure a few months ago.

Is this campsite where we put for the Ranger retreat up there several years ago?

Thanks and dont stop!


Nancy Soares November 5, 2018 at 10:57 am

Hey Steve, yes, you called it, that is indeed the campsite to which you refer. So glad Deb conned, er, uh, talked me into joining this group. I’m sold! It’s so much fun, and such a beautiful place and great people.

And no, we have no intention of stopping 😉

Thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. Love you and miss you!


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