Friday, September 30, 2016

Keep Calm and Paddle On: How to Keep a Less Than Ideal Situation From Becoming a Really Bad One

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Outside Adventure to the Max guest blogger Pete Delosa

Whitewater kayaking might be the best thing on Earth, at least for me anyway. If you read what I wrote here then I’d guess there’s a better than average chance that you like kayaking at least a little bit too. If you’ve ever spent a day in a kayak then you’ve probably noticed that in kayaking, as in life, things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes we have to abandon play A and move to plan B, C, D, E…

When things start to go less than ideal, how can we make sure that they don’t make it all the way to really bad? I have a couple of ideas on this that you may or may not find helpful. The first and I think most important thing is to stay calm. I know it’s often easier said than done but trust me it helps. When we’re calm we can look around and take in information. Our brain can then use that information to evaluate our situation and make informed decisions. Sounds weird, right? Believe it or not when we start to panic we get twitchy and spastic. We start to cling on to the first idea that we see which isn’t always the best. It’s pretty easy in our frantic state to actually make our situation worse. Often times a better escape route is right in front of us. We just need to relax long enough to see it. I know I know, it’s really hard to stay calm when you think you’re about to drown. Just try to start practicing. Start by reminding yourself afterwards you need to be calmer in the future. Then eventually that will turn into reminding yourself to calm down mid incident. With even more practice you’ll stay calm right from the start. This works both when you are the victim and the rescuer by the way.

The other piece of advice I find myself sharing with people, often on the side of the river after a rescue, is to stay out of the water. Let me clarify. If you or a friend becomes a swimmer in the river, especially on class III and up water, once you are on shore you need to STAY THERE. When the swimmer is out of the water they are for the time being safe. They should not go back in the water, period. Now I know what you’re thinking, “what if we can’t get them back to their boat?” Situations may dictate that the swimmer needs to go back in the water. If so, fine. I’m just saying make sure, absolutely sure, that there really is no other option before you put someone back into the water.
There’s my two cents on minimizing carnage. Do with it what you will. Thanks for reading.

 You can catch up with Pete on his blog and his videos on You-Tube
Outside Adventure to the Max is always looking for guest bloggers. Contact us at if you are interested.

Friday, September 23, 2016


        When autumn dulls the summer skies, And paler sunshine softly lies --V.O. 

As summer comes to an end, I always look back on those long warm days and even nights on the water. Each day. Each and every one them was a unique adventure and experience for me. Kayaking towards a horizon of mountains on the reservoirs and lakes of the western Sierra or reading the river's flow and picking a good line whether going up or downstream. So when people ask me, which I prefer, the smooth and calm of the lakes or the swift or gentle flow of the river?  My answer of course is...well, both. For me, it would be like picking a favorite child.

Lake Natoma with Current Adventures

Yes, the call to the lake is forever powerful. As American writer and conservationist Henry David Thoreau said, "Lakes are something which you are unprepared for; they lie up so high, exposed to the light, and the forest is diminished to a fine fringe on their edges...So anterior, so superior, to all the changes that are to take place on their shores, even now civil and refined, and fair as they can ever be.""

South Fork of the American River

But, who can resist the pull of the river?
"Rivers are magnets for the imagination," said author Time Palmer,  "For conscious pondering and subconscious dreams, thrills, fears. People stare into the moving water, captivated, as they are when gazing into a fire. What is it that draws and holds us? The rivers' reflections of our lives and experiences are endless."

Lake Jenkinson
This past summer I paddled out on both lakes and rivers as often as could with my wife Debbie, my son Taylor or the gang at Current Adventures Kayak School & Trips.  So either,  a lake or a river it was an adventure in fun and friendship that keep my memories of summer burning bright.  Here are a few of my favorite images from this summer kayaking.
Lake Tahoe with Bayside Adventure Sports
Lake Clementine
Moonlight paddle on Lake Natoma
Lake Natoma
North Fork of the American River
Eppies Great Race
Loon Lake
End of Summer at Lake Jenkinson

Friday, September 9, 2016


I have kayaked bigger lakes by far. Under Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior, Lake of the Wood on the border of U.S. and Canada and into sea caves along Lake Michigan in Door County Wisconsin.  All of those lakes are massive in size.  At their edge, you look out into a sea swell as far as you can see. The horizon falls off into waves. However, at the Lake Tahoe, you look across to see the gleaming Sierra Nevada Mountains raising from its blue depths and feel the majesty of the place. American writer, Mark Twain described the thoughts we all must experience when seeing the lake for the first time or one hundredth.

  " last the Lake burst upon us—a noble sheet of blue water lifted six thousand three hundred feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full three thousand feet higher still! ... As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords."

You will need waterproof pocket Thesaurus to come up with all the different types of color blue you will see when paddling around the lake. Its cobalt color was long credited to the unusual clarity of the water, however surprising new research suggests that the real explanation lies with algae that live in the lake.

“The result was totally unexpected, since we all expected that clarity and blueness of the lake is correlated,” Dr. Shohei Watanabe, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis, told The Huffington Post, “Clarity is mainly controlled by fine inorganic sediments but blueness is mainly controlled by algal populations.”
Using help from NASA, Wantanabe, measured the lake’s blueness and then combined this “blueness index” with measurements of a Secchi disk, a white disk commonly used to measure its transparency of water that remains visible when it's lowered into it. His results showed that the bluer the lake, the lower the clarity of its water and the lake is actually bluest when algae concentration is low, suggesting a possible need to change in conservation efforts, which traditionally have focused on controlling sediment to keep the lake water clear.

The blueness of the lake is extraordinary along the massive granite walls of D.L. Bliss State Park's Rubicon Point. There it is hard for me to take my eyes off the water as it changes in hues blues as I paddle along with my son Taylor. Under the point, it is the most stunning shade of indigo I think I have ever seen. North of fabled Emerald Bay, this area is a  popular spot for boaters as well as swimmers, who brave the cool waters. Kayaks and speedboats rock along in the waves along the shoreline. For me, finally paddling towards the horizon of mountains proves to be an exhilarating experience.

"This place is spectacular because it is one of the highest, deepest, oldest and purest lakes in the world." said President Barack Obama told a crowd of about 9,000 at the 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit last week, "It’s no wonder that for thousands of years, this place has been a spiritual one. For the Washoe people, it is the center of their world. And just as this space is sacred to Native Americans, it should be sacred to all Americans."

He challenged all of us, to keep the lake's spirit alive through conservation and combating climate change to protect its pristine views, keep its air pure and most certainly its waters clear and blue.

Over the Bow is a feature from Outside Adventure to the Max, telling the story behind the image. If you have a great picture with a great story, submit it to us at

Friday, September 2, 2016


It's not like crossing the street. Out of the safety of Horseshoe Bay, some of the wildest sea conditions on the entire West Coast can be found.  San Francisco Bay is known for steep waves, fast and swirling currents and howling winds blowing through the Golden Gate. Adding to the chaos are the pleasure crafts, ferries and ocean-going vessels competing for the same waterway. Area guides and kayakers familiar with these water make it clear. You can't out run or beat the fast-moving ferries crossing their traffic lanes and caution should always be exercised.

"When I'm on the bay since I'm the slowest and smallest thing out there," said California paddler Mike Rumsey,  "I always trying to keep my head on a swivel and aware of my surroundings ."

"It's true that we share the waterways with all vessels," added California-based sea kayaker Kathi Morrison, "But believe it or not kayaks sit on the bottom of the right of way chain. We are no match for tankers, ferries, commercial vessels or something with a motor or sail. We must paddle responsibly and defensively understanding that vessels cannot see you or react quick enough to avoid consequence."


Glare from the sun is being a possible reason for this week's accident involving a group of kayakers and a ferry on the Hudson River near Midtown Manhattan. Police say the New York Waterway ferry was leaving Pier 79 at 39th Street just before 6 p.m. when it struck 10 kayakers, sending multiple paddlers into the water. Five people were hurt, including one employee of the Manhattan Kayak Company who suffered a severe arm injury.
"He was lying on top of the kayak and there was this pool of blood and we knew that we had to go over there and assisted him priority," told Harbor Unit police officer Tommy Le to NY 1 News. 
An other paddler suffered a serious head injury, while the guide had a punctured lung and a broken rib, while others were hurt with minor injuries to the shoulders and back.

“It is a minor miracle that it hasn’t happened to some other kayaker or boater or jet-skier before,” Eric Stiller, owner of Manhattan Kayak Co., the group that led the kayakers who were injured., told the Wall Street Journal, “I tell people out here, we don’t have great white sharks. I’ve got something bigger and faster than great white sharks. Out here, we’ve got ferries,”

A preliminary investigation determined the captain of a NY Waterway ferry, backing up from Pier 79,  “was unable to see the kayakers behind him” before striking them, New York Police Department Chief of Patrol Carlos Gomez told the Wall Street Journal.
 “Apparently sun glare was a factor,” Chief Gomez said. “It sets, as you know, west, and he was looking behind him and the sun kind of blocked his vision or impaired it.”

The accident highlights the risks for recreational and commercial watercraft when they share the  increasingly crowded waterways. "When you have that mix you run the danger of collision between recreational and commercial mariners,” Andrew Coggins, a retired U.S. Navy commander and professor at Pace University who studies the cruise industry told the Wall Street Journal, "The collision, clearly illustrates the dangers involved in mixing commercial and recreational shipping. Commercial ships don’t always see recreational shipping and recreational shipping doesn’t always stand clear of commercial shipping.”

According to their news release, California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW) anticipates an increased number of recreational boaters on waterways during the upcoming Labor Day weekend and reminding boaters to following simple navigation rules can greatly decrease the chances of being involved in an accident. In 2015, 503 boating accidents, 232 injuries and 49 fatalities were reported to DBW on the state's waterways.
“Just like highway rules, navigation rules tell boat operators about right of way, signaling to other boats and how to avoid collisions on the water,” said DBW’s Deputy Director Lynn Sadler. “Not only must boat operators keep a sharp lookout for fast moving vessels, submerged hazards or swimmers and paddle craft, they must know navigation rules in order to quickly and safely respond to changing conditions.”

Those who lead recreational kayaks and stand up paddle boards tours,  should remind their clients they need to be vigilant when on the water.  They also should follow safe practices, including such common-sense measures as being aware of nearby vessels, staying clear of ships and avoiding designated commercial routes.

“Whoever is in the right or in the wrong, you’re the one who is going to get hurt,” said David Matten, of Long Island City Community Boathouse, which leads recreational kayak tours on the East River in the Wall Street Journal, “You have to stay away from the ferry. It’s incumbent upon us to pay attention, where they are and where they are going.”

"Assume no one can see you and give ship traffic a wide berth," agreed Rumsey, "Know were the ferry and shipping channels are. Even around the docks is like crossing the street stop look and don't play around moving boats."

"It's easy for a large group to cross the ferry path when the ferry is at the dock," points out California kayak instructor, Byrant Burkhardt,  "Actually a good idea, not knowing when it will launch but expecting the pilot would see them before taking off. The general rule when a large group crosses traffic is to stay close together to be more visible."

"Know the ferry schedule as it's easy to get displaced by their engines," added Morrison, "Stay in a close group, wear bright clothes and know that you cannot out run other vessels. Turn on your VHF radio to channel 16 monitoring all the ships."

Far off from any ferries or large boat traffic on Lake Natoma, near Sacramento, it was only crowded with small sailboats, paddle boards and dotted with kayaks. On the beach, surrounded by kayaking students Current Adventures Kayak School and Trips instructor Kim Sprague gives the last of his pre-paddle instructions before hitting the water. He hits one of the kayaks hard with his hand exclaiming that these boats are tough. You can crash into each other and they won't break. From the back a female student raises her hand and asks what about the bigger boats?

"I just always yield to the bigger vessel,"said Sprague.  Good advice when navigating congested waters.