Editor’s note: This is the fifth in our Meet the Rangers! series. Previously we’ve introduced Tsunami Ranger Admiral and Shaman Michael Powers, Vice Admiral Jim Kakuk, Commander Deb Tortuga Volturno, and Lieutenant Commander Steven El Rey King. A great big shout out to all the Rangers who contribute to this series with text and photos! In this post we introduce Commander Scott “King of the Culinary Arts” Becklund, starting with a quote from Commander Eric Soares’ book Confessions of a Wave Warrior:
Commander Eric Soares: Scott is a master butcher and king of the culinary arts. He is also a waterman extraordinaire. He is one of the best abalone divers on the planet; he gets his limit in minutes, then prepares and cooks the mollusks like a chef at a gourmet restaurant. He is also a fantastic fisherman who takes his dory down rivers and fishes for steelhead and salmon. Then he fillets and smokes his catch and gives samples to friends. It’s good to be Scott’s friend.
At our 2009 retreat in southern Oregon, Scott prepared a meal that will go down in history. Picture this; we are camping on an idyllic beach at sunset, and Scott barbecues New York steak that has been rolled in his proprietary rub. Then we savor lobster tails simmered over the barbie while steaming in a garlic butter sauce. Heavenly.
Commander Scott Becklund: Both my parents were teachers. I was so lucky to get summer-long vacations. As the third of six kids I always felt like I was in the perfect place at the perfect time. I was usually old enough for the exciting adventures. Like having parents who would tag team to take us backpacking while they switched off who would stay in camp. One parent at a time would have magical trips in the Sierras with 2, 3 or 4 kids.
Both my parents loved the ocean. A usual weekend day would be the whole family at the beach for breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. As the teachers graded, wrote or read we were allowed so much freedom and took complete advantage of it. My dad made most of us kids fiberglass kayaks about the time I was 8. They were river boats but we mostly used them in Tomales Bay or mountain lakes. We had family friends we would camp with on the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts. All the kids would marvel at the dads as they put on their crude early “wetsuits” and dive for abalone. As soon as I could borrow a mask and see in the tide pools, I was hooked. 2000 Leagues Under the Sea hooked. It didn’t matter if we were in the mountains or on the coast one or most of us were in the water. Even fresh water fishing became more fun if there was swimming involved.
By the time I was 13 my parents would let me kayak across Tomales Bay and spend a night or two by myself. I loved the independence I and most of my peers were given. I can barely think of a time when I was a child that there wasn’t a boat around.
I saw one of the first Tsunami Ranger videos at a home theater with a group of my Underwater Hockey friends. All beyond competent watermen. We were astonished. We all could relate to the water part of it but the thought of adding a kayak to so much chaos was too much. I was looking for a new kayak when my dear friend Sue Watson tracked down Jim’s contact information and encouraged me to call him. I wanted a fun boat to push my skills and a tandem to paddle with Roxana my wife. I drove to Half Moon Bay one weekend to test Jim’s boats. I paddled an X-15 and an X-2. Afterwards I drove to Monterey Bay Kayaks and tried Necky singles and tandems. Within a day I ordered both boats from Jim. I enjoy both and use the X-15 for most of my ocean play. I still don’t think I could have chosen better. It’s the perfect boat for our coast to paddle, play, fish, dive and camp from.
Jim and Eric offered me an entrance into one of their weekend classes after I bought the boats. In what I didn’t realize was true Tsunami form, I invited myself to “camp out” at Eric’s house on that Saturday night. This is where I could take off on a tale. To catch an eve with Eric, Nancy and Jim as they were relaxed and not just talking kayaks is still unforgettable. It must have been too obvious what a slow learner I was, as both Eric and Jim invited me to “help” on several later classes. I got to paddle along and continue to learn.
By this time I had coaxed Jim to come to the Sonoma and Mendo coasts with me on some dive trips. If Jim was rusty at all it didn’t take any time until he was pulling bigger abs then me. I missed some invites to paddle with the Rangers when first my son and then my daughter were born. But I raced in the Sea Gypsy races and spent some great days paddling with Jim and Eric. I met Deb shortly after I bought my kayaks from Jim probably at Michael’s house. 1997-98? Deb stopped whatever she was doing and visited with me. I was so impressed with her kindness, knowledge and grace. I often think about that day when I see a picture of her.
In 2007 Jim asked me if I wanted to test to be a Ranger. He told me Eric had been grooming someone to test alongside me. Jim and I regularly stayed with our friends Larry and Sue Watson at their Sea Ranch house. Somehow that’s where they decided to have the test. I’m not sure how Steve and I hadn’t met before but it didn’t matter. That day was grey, windy, raining and with decently big swell. We were both charged up for the test and I could not have asked for anything else. Having that chance to team up with Steve “El Rey” King and the friendship that developed was life-changing.
The thing that first comes to my mind now when I think of the Tsunami Rangers is the word Tribal. I had heard the word tribe used to describe a group usually of friends, but I didn’t give it much thought. We Rangers call ourselves a tribe. Though it may sound trite, I feel that this group truly is a strong tribe. A group with such diverse backgrounds, knowledge, and skills but with a common mindset. The differences always seem to complement and enhance our trips and our time together. Each one of the Rangers has become a family member.
Vice Admiral Kuk: Reflecting back on the 25 years I have known Scott, he has become a close friend and an integral part of the Tsunami Ranger team. Scott came into the orbit of the Tsunami Rangers in the mid 90’s through Susan and Larry Watson. He was looking for a kayak to add to his many water toys. Susan told him he should check out the Tsunami Rangers and the boats that I build, and he did so, later joining the team. Commander Scott is a solid member of the Rangers in every way, always in control of his craft while looking out for others on and in the water. Scott is a bit mysterious sometimes, a complex Gemini; he is both serious and funny but always has a positive outlook. More than an avid kayaker Scott is an excellent waterman with a good understanding of the fluid dynamics of the ocean. Not only does Scott have expert kung-fu timing in chaos kayaking conditions but he also brings good food, booze and cigars for the after paddle parties.
“Aqua lung Scotty goes diving into the depths, eyeing abalone with bad intent”. On our many diving forays into the kelp-forested coves along the Sonoma and Mendocino coasts, Scott was always the deep diver into the unknown void to reconnoiter for the prized gastropods. I liked being his wing man on our many diving expeditions, following along as he swam down into the blue waters of the sea. Scott is a master in the zone between the waves and kelp in the underwater world of free diving. Moving along through the kelp forests with ease, Scott is occasionally followed by a seal with eyes on his dive bags full of the giant snails.
Steve King often joined Scott and me on our hunt for the giant pumpkin in the patch of swirling kelp and darting fish. The three of us would work the kelp forests along rocky shores together but Scott was always the big ab man when we compared out catch later on the beach.
After an adventurous day along the open coast, Scott with the rest of us, would sit on shore watching the sunset and enjoy some good tequila and maybe a cigar while reanimating the experiences of the day. Now reminiscing from the comfort of home about those times I am thinking: “BEAM ME BACK THERE SCOTTY”!
Commander Steven El Rey King: The more time I had the good fortune to spend with Scott I began to wonder if he was entirely human or actually part seal. I have images in my head of abalone diving with Scott when I would be underwater seeking abalone and then I would see Scott 10 – 15 feet below gracefully slipping through the kelp either spear fishing or searching for a large mollusk. He really looked more like a seal than a person. Then he would disappear. Scott is so comfortable both in the water and on the water in his kayak it is inspirational.
Scott is the definition of a water man and he has taught me a great deal about his secondary water world. Paddling with him in a double in the Tsunami race was a blast. We would break the wave barrier and he would gently but firmly push me to paddle harder, always with humor. One morning we spent kayaking surrounded by dolphins, birds and many humpback whales in Monterey Bay and in retrospect I think the whales were coming to check out their fellow marine mammal in his human incarnation.
Scott’s passion for delicious food is unmatched. Who else would bring steak and lobster to barbeque on a remote beach on the coast of Oregon as part of a 5-day retreat? On my first trip fishing for salmon on the Trinity River with Scott, the first morning Scott caught two large fish in one beautiful fishing hole in the first 20 minutes, while Vice Admiral Kakuk and I were skunked the entire day. Thanks to Scott, as always, we went home with some delicious fresh salmon. Scott also has a great appreciation for fine Pinots and tequila, especially at remote beach campsites in California and Oregon.
When ocean conditions are challenging, Scott is always keeping a weather eye on his fellow Rangers. He deploys his very clean roll whenever circumstance requires or he does it just for fun. He surfs his boat and body in waves with glee. I had the great pleasure of taking my Tsunami Ranger test with Scott and that created a strong bond between us. His skills are highly developed. Scott is a core and quintessential Tsunami Ranger. I count myself fortunate to be able to call him my friend and mentor.
Scott is also a loving and dedicated father, husband, son and brother and has shared his ocean passions with his family all their lives. Words that describe Scott for me are: ocean lover, seal, generous, playful, skilled, powerful, thoughtful, adventurous, loyal, mountain biker, chef, ab diver, spear fisherman, river runner, boat builder, naturalist, devoted son, brother, husband and father, guide, and friend.
Lt. JG Nancy Soares: Scott Becklund took his Tsunami Ranger test along with good friend Steven King in 2007. It was the first and only tandem test ever administered by the Rangers.
Scott is an integral part of the team. He is an ace forager when it comes to wrangling food from river and sea, and food is Very Important to the Rangers. Back in the day when you could still get a good ab, Scott, Steve, and Jim would hunt for abalone every chance they got. One of their fave spots was so rich in sea snails they dubbed it Abby Lane.
Scott was introduced to me close to 20 years ago and my first memory of him was at one of the Sea Gypsy Races in Half Moon Bay. He had been bitten by the Tsunami bug. He bought two of Jim’s boats and the rest is history. He raced, foraged, camped, and partied with the Rangers. He made the best meals. How could the Rangers not welcome him in? No Tsunami party is complete without something yummy from Scott’s larder.
Words that describe Scott: loyal, dedicated, loving, kind, thoughtful, supportive, inclusive, chef supreme, hard worker, team player, family man. He gives his all to every endeavor and is always willing to step up when assistance is needed. He’s also really good with knives and other tools. And he looks great in an apron and nothing else. Sorry, Scott, I had to say it. And I agree 100% with Eric, it’s good to be Scott’s friend! Love you, buddy!
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