Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Local Access TV Interview

I was interviewed on a local access TV show that plays in the San Jose area called "Darlene Carman Presents".  They interviewed me on kayaking and my starting California Kayaker Magazine.  Neither of the interviewers had ever kayaked, which made it both challenging and good.  Challenging in that the questions seemed to come out of the blue, but good in that it forced me to talk about kayaking at a level of someone who doesn't, which is really what their viewers likely are.  Interview can be seen below:

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

California Kayaker Magazine

Seems I have been bad at updating this blog. Since I last posted here about it, there have been 4 more issues of California Kayaker Magazine published.

Spring 2012 Issue of California Kayaker Magazine

Issue #8 - Spring 2012
Contents include Getting Butt Time, Big Sur Learnings, Critters from Kayaks: White Pelicans, Interview with Surf Kayaker Rachael Krugman, Petaluma to Napa by Surf Ski, Building Your Own Kayak Primer, Review of the Gordon Brown Rescue DVD, a must-see Center Hatch photo, and much more...

Fall 2011 Issue of California Kayaker Magazine

Issue #7 - Fall 2011
Contents include Cowboy Scramble recovery, Traditional Arctic Kayak Symposium, Salton Sea, comparison review of GoPro HD Hero vs Oregon Scientific ATC9K "mountable" waterproof cameras, review of Delta 10 kayak, Interview of American Whitewater's President, and much more...

Summer 2011 Issue of California Kayaker Magazine

Issue #6 - Summer 2011
Contents include swimming for kayaking skills, surfing Baja, paddle ergonomics, tips for Eppie's Great Race, comparison review of Pentax Optio WG-1 vs Olympus Tough TG-610 waterproof cameras, review of Yoga for Kayaking DVD, and much more...

Spring 2011 Issue of California Kayaker Magazine

Issue #5 - Spring 2011
Contents include draw strokes skills article, common murres, outfitting your boat (footbeds), review of Advanced Elements AirFusion, and much more...

You can read all the issues for free at http://www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html.


Monday, January 03, 2011

Galapagos - land and water

Ok, I saved the best for last. The birds in the Galapagos were interesting, but I am more of a mammal/reptile/fish person.

Ok, when one thinks of the Galapagos, they likely think of the giant tortoises. Even the name "galapagos" is Spanish for a type of horse saddle, which some of the tortoise shells look like. So figured I'd start with some tortoise pictures...

(click on any picture to see it in higher resolution)

Here is a close up of another tortoise's head. Do you think he looks a bit like ET?

There are farms in the area that are in the traditional range for these tortoises, and often have a lot of tortoises there. So along with growing crops, they charge a small fee for tourists to walk around and see tortoises. We did have to have a naturalist/guide with, but much of what they were doing is keeping the tourists from bothering the tortoises. Though we could still get pretty close.

When we got off the bus, our guide immediately perks up his ears, tells everyone to be quiet and motions us to follow him. We wondered what was up, as we were headed a different direction than most of the other tourists. This was what he was headed for...

The male is much larger than the female, so you can barely see her.

Check out the video of these guys - make sure you have your speakers on for full grunting effect...

Off to the sea again - there were sea turtles all over the place in the Galapagos. Here are three in one picture, taken while snorkeling.

Here is a video of one that was not bothered by my swimming next to him:

Here is a pair of white tip reef shark seen while kayaking. These guys mostly feed at night, so rest in the shallow reefs during the day.

Galapagos shark seen while snorkeling. This guy was about 10 or 15 feet down by a sea stack. I don't remember if I caught a glimpse, or was told they were there by our guide, but I dove down and saw them and got a couple of photos. It is hard to tell size in this photo, but he was maybe 5 or 6 feet long.

Marine iguanas resting on a lava rock shoreline. These are the only iguanas in the world that swim out into the ocean to eat seaweed (most iguanas live and eat on land). The small ones are females, where the large, green one is a male (lucky guy).

Marine iguana swimming - as seen from above. Caught this picture while kayaking. This guy was headed back to shore after feeding.

Marine iguana that we saw swimming as we snorkeled. This one was also heading back to shore. I tried hard to find an iguana eating underwater, but never saw one.

One of the many friendly sea lion looking to play as we snorkeled. Our guide said that the younger ones often like to play., They will swim around you, sometimes looking to have you chase them, and sometimes they would want to chase you. So you would swim underwater and do flips and such and they would stay near and play.

Here is a video of me playing with another sea lion.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

Galapagos - Birds

I have a lot of photos from the Galapagos - too many to do in one posting here. So I had to find a way to break them up. Given that Darwin seemed to focus on the finches of the Galapagos as a key part of his theory of evolution, it only seemed fitting I start with bird photos. Though he may have started with finches, they weren't standouts in my mind, so I don't have any finch photos here...

Picture of the blue footed booby, which is endemic to the Galapagos. One of those animals you have to see when you are there. There is also a red-footed booby, but we didn't get to see those.
ps - actually, I think it is spelled "bubi", but that doesn't allow as easily for the corny jokes and t-shirts about booby watching and all.
(click on any picture to see higher resolution version)

Continuing with the booby/bubi pictures - this was a surprise catch for a photo. I just blasted away with the camera (actually, we had 3 cameras with us) and took almost 2000 photos. Sometimes you flash through a photo and don't see something at first. This is one of those - I didn't see the booby diving until I did a second review of the photo. Very streamlined shape that the bird is able to get into.

This was another lucky shot - and with a basic point and shoot camera at that. This is the same booby shown diving, but after he had his meal and was now flying back up to make another dive on some poor unsuspecting bait fish.

Yellow warbler on some volcanic rock at a beach. These guys were all over the place and perhaps take the function of pigeons in our country, as they were always around watching to see if some scrap of food would drop from us humans.

Frigate birds. During breeding, the males have large red pouches that they inflate to attract a mate. But I am not sure they would be trustworthy mates, as they get much of their food by stealing from boobies.

Better check the immigration status of these American Oyster Catchers. They do look a little different than the ones we have in California (I don't think ours have the white chest/undersides, but they do have the bright red beaks). Always loved the name "oyster catcher" - a catcher to me refers to catching something that moves, yet oysters don't move.

Well, this one isn't a bird picture, but is in the sky. This was a shot of our inter-island flight between San Cristobal and Isabela Islands. The airline that runs these flights has 2 planes - a 5 seater and a 7 seater. Our group of 11 required both. And I got to sit in the co-pilot's seat (that guy with the stripes on his shoulder is our pilot).

I wasn't really a good choice for this, as I am a bit large. Whenever the pilot banked the airplane, the yoke (or whatever they call the steering wheel) on my side whacked me in the knee. And he had to push my knee out of the way to adjust the tail flap fine tune adjustment. And if I stretched my legs, I would be pushing on the pedals (which I am sure would not be a good thing to do). So I spent much of the flight trying to stay still.


Saturday, January 01, 2011

Ecudador Highlands

Some friends signed up for the Galapagos & Otavalo Highlands Trip through REI, and let us know about it. Was expensive, but we decided this was on our bucket list, so signed up to join them. Another couple we often do things with also signed up, so our little group was 6 of the 10 people on the trip. This post shows some photos from what we saw in the highlands near Quito, Ecuador, where we started our trip.

Hiked around the Cotacachi-Cayapas caldera early on in the trip. 6 mile hike, but made much harder by being at some 10,000 feet in altitude. This is north of Quito, near Otavalo.

(click on photos to see larger size)

Andean condors that we saw on the hike. Given that there are only 60-70 of them in Ecuador, we were looking at some 3-4% of the total population. Also saw some eagles in the area.

Spent a night at the Termas de Papallacta hot springs resort, which is east of Quito. Hotel is at some 12,000 feet in altitude. Drove uphill from there to do a hike at Lagunas de Banos. Soaking in the hot tubs was quite nice, but the water was a few degrees cooler than the onsens in Japan.

In the highlands of Ecuador, the driving style was a bit more aggressive than we were used to, particularly when passing. This was a switchback area going down a gorge - did seem to be newer pavement than many of the other areas. But potholed roads sure didn't slow them down. And the signs and lane striping all seemed to be suggestions, not requirements (notice how the bus I am in is smack in the center of the road).

This is cuy - something that is a specialty of the Andes. In English, it is called Guinea Pig. We had heard about it on an Anthony Bourdain TV show, and made a point to try it. Tastes a bit gamy, but not that bad. More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guinea_pig#As_food.

Galapagos photos to come in another post.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter issue of California Kayaker available

The winter issue of California Kayaker Magazine is available for download from the website or to be read online by going to www.calkayakermag.com/magazine.html. Contents include skills article on using a Greenland paddle, gray whales, whitewater run on Rancheria Creek, how to make swimbaits, dry storage summary, outfitting your boat, and much more...


Saturday, November 06, 2010

Rights of Navigation Question

I went out to Yellow Bluff in Sausalito yesterday (Friday, November 5) to take photographs of kayakers playing in the tide rip that forms there on strong ebb tides. Saw something which I found to be disturbing, which I wanted to run by others and see what they think.

Note - to see a larger version of the photos, click on the photo and then under "Actions" click on "View all sizes". Flickr changed the system, so this is not as easy to do as it used to be.


This picture above shows the Yellow Bluff tide rip from the bluff. Current is going from left to right, and creates a choppy condition in this location. There are 3 kayakers in the rip, though at least one the boat is of a coloring that is hard to see.

The rip is the roughly triangle shaped patch of rough water you can see. On the right side (as we look at it) is calm water - that is an eddy and the water there is actually going the opposite direction from the rip. The calmed water outside of the choppy water is going the same direction as in the rip, but doesn't have the underwater geography causing the current to form any waves there. Plenty of open water out in the Bay for boats to get through - this is not an area of limited navigation.

Kyakers go to play in these waves. When conditions are right, there is a train of waves that slowly moves forward in the rip, which the kayaker can surf. But there is also a lot of chop, so a place where even experts need to constantly work to control their boats. When I am in the rip, I keep a good distance from other kayakers for safety reasons.


Empress of Sausalito, a 90 foot commercial tour boat that does Bay Cruises, parties, etc., looking to run straight through the rip. I took notice because I was surprised such a large boat would be that close to shore and it also looked like he would go close to the kayakers.


Still approaching the kayakers. This is looking like he is going to be much closer to them than I would care for.


Close up to show how close he got. The three paddlers were all experienced, so able to control their boats - but what if they had been more novice and got thrown off by the chop (or the Empress' wake)?


Empress of Sausalito continuing on to (presumably) its dock in Sausalito. Thankfully no one bumped into another.

Here is a PDF summarizing the rules of navigation. I would say that the Empress was overtaking the kayaks (all where facing the same way, though the kayaks were not making any forward progress against the current, so this could be argued) and that it would have been against Rule 8 for passing so close should a collision have occurred.

So, what do you think? Do you think the Empress put the kayakers at undue risk? If so, what could the kayakers do different next time to help reduce this risk?

ps - one reason I am posting this is to provide specific info for future reference on the Empress, as others have mentioned times they have had close calls with the Empress. Those times are hear-say. But should a situation happen in the future, by putting what I saw on the web, there will be some public info that could possible be used to show a history.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Fall issue of California Kayaker Magazine is available

The fall issue of California Kayaker Magazine is available for download from the website.


Friday, July 16, 2010

More whales from kayak

Heard reports of lots of ways out in Monterey Bay chasing huge quantities of krill, so decided to check it out. Matt K. was nice enough to join me, which was good, as we would be going very far out (over 5 miles from shore - see track in picture to the right).

Two videos I took are below. The videos are of different individuals, so may not even be the same type of whale.

Some conversations going around as to what type of whale they are - blue, humpback, or fin are the most common mentioned. The first video (showing the fluke) looks to be a blue). The second video has a larger dorsal fin than would be expected for a blue, so perhaps is a fin whale. But fin whales don't normally show their flukes when they dive, and this guy did. And no reports of fins in the area from the whale watch boats. Maybe a humpback? But I got some shots of a humpback in the same area a few years ago, and there were much smaller than this (video clip at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2CQeeX9mqQ).

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer issue of California Kayaker Magazine is available

The summer issue of California Kayaker Magazine is available for download from the website. I am very happy with the content of this issue - the writing was good, and there is broad coverage of various types of kayaking. Wish there were a few more advertisements to help pay the bills, though - hopefully that comes in time.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Whale seen while kayaking

Been a while since I posted. Sorry about that. Next issue of the magazine is almost ready to print, so to celebrate I went for a paddle during the day yesterday. Came across a gray whale in the bay. Got some decent photos and videos.

I have seen a few dozen gray whales over the years while paddling, but these were probaly the bets photos and videos I have ever gotten. And didn't hurt to have the very scenic Golden Gate Bridge in the background.


Sunday, May 09, 2010

Good camera? Good price?

What do you think? Is this a good camera and a good price? Looking for a "basic" DSLR. This one comes with 1 lens.

And is this "starter kit" (case, DVD, etc.) any good?


Saturday, April 03, 2010

I'm a publisher

Been a while since I posted something here. Sorry about that.

I have been busy because I started a new business - a kayaking magazine. And the first issue was just published! It can be downloaded from http://www.calkayakermag.com/CaliforniaKayakerMag-Spring2010.pdf
会社を設立するので忙しかった。出版されたばかりのカヤックの雑誌だ。 http://www.calkayakermag.com/CaliforniaKayakerMag-Spring2010.pdfからダウンロードされる


Friday, February 05, 2010

Good deal on a waterproof camera

Found a good deal on Amazon for a waterproof camera - a Pentax Optio W80 for about $175! Normal sale price is more like $250, and I think retail is about $300. Here is a link to the cameras at Amazon.

I have had an older version, the W20, for many years now and have been very happy with it. So I have ordered one of these guys as an upgrade for myself. It has arrived and I look forward to trying it out this weekend.

To see how the older W20 worked, I used it as a comparison point for reviews I did of the Oregon Scientific ATC-2K and the GoPro Hero 3.

Note - the prices aren't listed on the main screen, and it does seem to change some (I got it for $170, with free delivery and a free memory card). I suggest adding all of the ones that don't have prices listed to your Cart, then viewing the cart to see which is cheapest (removing all the rest).