Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cold Day on San Juan

The weather just seems to sway between spring and winter.  Today the clouds moved in, temperature dropped and the wind started to pick up.

Though it was cold it was a nice relaxing day.  I met up with my friend Monika to go check out the Red Tailed Hawks.  We watched then kite in the wind in search of food.  We never got to see them make a kill.  We started to wounder what there success ratio is.  The Olympic Mountains were beautiful today.  Clouds made a serpentine like impression around the mountains and the snow covered peaks stood proud.  With the dark sky there was almost a feel of purple to the clouds over the mountains.  Though we sat in the cold and the Red Tails were busy doing their thing, we had a great time.  

If you have time check out Monika's Blog She has a bunch of great photos to enjoy.

Here are couple of images I took.

It is best to click on the image to get a better view.  

The Olympic Mountains in all their glory.

Hope everyone is having a good night.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spring is Back on San Juan Island

If you look at my pictures from yesterday you will see snow.  Today you will see blue sky and no snow.  Oh how fast the weather can change.

I ended up going out to check on the Red Tailed Hawks (RTH) and seeing what they were up to.  It was lots of fun I got to see the pair RTH1 and RTH2.  They were doing some pretty nice high soaring.  After awhile RTH2 went somewhere and RTH1 stayed back to provide nice entertainment.  RTH1 was gliding into vertical stall and flipping back over into a steep drop.  It was lots of fun.  Then RTH1 would dive steeply out of sight in to the trees.

Heading further down the Rufous morph was perched in a nice shrub and was I think is its mate was near by in a tree.  I have not had much time to view the pair.  The Rufous is pretty easy to id and today I was able to get good views of the possible mate.  It has a few white feather on the back of the head that really stick out.  This will help id it when it is perched.

Got a nice view of a fox just sitting in the sun. It seemed to no really care when I was there taking pictures.  The fox seem to get a lot of human handouts in that area and have lost any fear they had of humans.

I pretty much took it easy today and spent most of it outside looking at the wonderful hawks and enjoying the scenery.  

ANYWAY, here are few images.

As you can see today was much different than yesterday!

Rough day for the fox.  I mean laying around with no worries in the warm sun.  Thats got to be rough.

Here is the new RTH if you enlarge the image you can see the few white feather on the back of the head.  Image was taken through a scope, not the best quality.

Here is RTH1.  Image taken through the scope as well.

Hope everyone is having a great day!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Winter Returns to San Juan Island

Last night the temperatures started to fall off and a bit of freezing drizzle had started.  By this morning there was a light blanket of snow covering the ground.  It was in the upper 20s when I woke and had plan on going for a run today.  So I sat around thinking about it and then decided it would be a great to be out in the snow for a run.

I got Guinness roused from his sleep and headed to the Finlayson Trail.  The drive out was as I expected, Beautiful!  I geared up in some warm running clothes and was ready to hit the trail.  At the trail head is was so nice.  The snow tends to make everything seem quiet.  It was cold but perfect for a run.  As I headed into the woods the trail was pretty clear.  The tree canopy had kept most of the snow at bay.  Ferns along side the trail had a faint covering of snow.  It was really nice. The back side of the trail I climb the hill to the open view of the Olympic Mountains, as I reached the clearing there was a Bald Eagle flying at eye level in search of food.  I took a moment to take a few pictures and decided it was best if I kept moving. On my return I saw one of the Red Tailed Hawks I have been watching over the past weeks.  It was perched in the top of a tree all puffed up trying to keep warm.  

All in all it was a great time on the trail.  The snow did not change the fact that I was running and breathing hard.  It simply added a nice decorative touch to the scenery.

This will be my only post for the day.  I do have some images to add.  But I have things to get done today.  Plus I have a birthday get together for a friend.  So I will not be getting back out to enjoy the spoils of nature.

ANYWAY, enjoy the photos and have a great day and evening.

This picture was taken a few nights ago.  But this is pretty much how I looked this morning.  Nice and cozy.  Hard to pull your self from the warm comforts of home to get out in the cold some times.

This was just a view off the side of the trail.

Here is the start of the trail.  Pretty nice!

You can see a nice little covering of snow.  Dark skies!

Cattle Point Lighthouse in the distance. My little digital camera was having a hard time metering with the snow.  Will have to get it out and work with it to see if I cannot improve the images.

Hope everyone enjoyed checking out the little bit of snow we got.  Any amount on the island really just adds another dimension of beauty.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Discovery Sea Kayaks

I just wanted to make a quick post for now to invite those of you who know or know of Discovery Sea Kayaks, to helps us out.

Currently there is a running for the best Eco Adventure Company in Washington.  We feel that we (Discovery Sea Kayaks)  hits the top of the list in quality and safety in sea kayak touring for Washington State.  Many of you who visit my blog have either been out on a tour, have taken lessons or are aware of the high quality standards Discovery Sea Kayaks adheres to.

So I ask those of you that feel that Discovery Sea Kayaks deserves to be recognized as the Best Eco Adventure in Washington State, to please proceed to the following link and cast your vote.

We work hard in developing exciting and new opportunities for people to connect with nature via kayak.  We promote kayak safety and education so that everyone can enjoy a safe experience. Please help us be rewarded for our determination and hard work.

Many thanks to all of you who come to my blog daily.  It means a lot to me to share my knowledge gained about kayaking and  my island life, kayak and travel experiences with everyone interested.  We all live diverse lives in this world and I simply offer a window to another view of someones journey.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kayak Towing

There are many tow belts on the market and it is important to get one that you can work with. Some tow systems are mounted the the kayak and others are attached to the paddler.  All tow systems should have a quick release. Given the various styles, I can really only speak of one.  I have found it to be the easiest to use when I need it.  My choice is the North Water Sea Tec Tow Line.  It has been easy for me to use and when I daisy chain the tow line I can set it for various lengths.

So when is it time to use the tow belt.  Well being a sea kayak guide, you are asked all the time to provide assistance to tired paddles.  But this would be a bit of a misuse of an important rescue tool. It is not worn by guides to give clients free rides.  Plus over working your guide in a non rescue situation is not a good idea.  You want you guide to have plenty of strength I a real towing scenario were to develop.  Some examples of when to tow.

1. An injured paddler needs assistance getting back to shore.
2. An incapacitated paddler is being supported by another kayak and a tow is needed to get to a safe location.
3. A paddler is stuck in a dangerous situation such as crashing waves on a rock wall.  A rescuer paddler can assist them to safer waters with the use of a tow.
4. I have done this in the past.  When you are leading a group across a channel with swift currents and one of the kayaks in the group is getting sweep too far off course.  The tow can rejoin them with the group to set a new angle of attach to getting across the channel as one group.

So no where in the list did I list a paddler just being tired.  In most cases were a paddler is tired you can try to adjust the group pace to relieve the stain on the tired paddler.  Have good group dynamics and control as a leader is very important.

There are a few variations of towing you can use.  When setting up a tow with a tow system (belt) I always make sure to attach to the other kayaks bow deck lines.  The perimeter deck lines are attached in various places along the kayak.  If for some reason one of the mounts breaks you are still attached to the deck line and do not lose the paddler being towed.

First I will introduce the Contact Tow.  This is  a simple town that can be used for a short distance and quick setup.  The kayaker in need of a tow simply grabs hold of the the bow of the kayker providing the tow.  If the kayak in need of assistance is positioned so that they are face to face to the rescue kayaker.  Then communication is very easy between the two kayakers. This can be a good method if there are only two kayakers and one is sea sick.  The sea sick paddler can rest by leaning on the the rescue kayak and the rescue kayaker can move them to shore.

Second is the Straight Tow.  A rescue kayak is attached to the bow deck line of a paddler in need of assistance.  If there is only two of you the kayaker needing assistance must be capable for maintain balance to prevent capsize.  The length of the tow can be decided on a couple of factors.  I have found if it is going to be a long tow, then I like to have a nice long length of line out (around 30 ft).  If I am going to be doing a short distance quick tow I usually have about 15 ft of line for the tow.  The next factor to consider is your direction of travel in relation to the sea.  Are paddling into the waves or do you have a following sea.  With a following sea (waves approaching from the stern) then I suggest 30 ft of tow line.  Kayaking into the waves (wave approaching from the bow) then I go with about 15 ft.  Make sure you have good communication with the paddler being towed.  This means you may have to use a loud voice to project over wind and waves.

The third tow is the Rafted Tow.  This is used when there are more than two kayakers and the kayaker in need is not able to maintain balance to prevent capsize.  The set up is close to the Straight Tow except the tow line is passed through the bow deck line of the support kayak then attached to the kayaker in need of assistance.  The will bring the bow of the two kayaks being towed together making it easier for the rescue kayak.  The support kayak is to aid in balance and communication.  Sea sickness often causes paddlers to be off balance, therefore this is a great tow for that situation.

The last town I am going to mention is what I call the In Line Tow.  When you have a group of paddlers on the water and one of the kayakers finds themselves in need.  This can help increase the speed and distance you can cover.  The set up is the same as the Rafter Tow, except the kayak providing the tow now gets assistance.  This in done by a fourth kayaker attaching to the bow deck line on the kayak towing the raft.  This is set up like the Straight Tow.  Now you have two kayakers providing power to the raft.

There are other ways of setting up tows, but my focus here was to introduce kayakers to the main tows that I have used and found successful.  All these tows should be practiced with your paddler partners.  Towing can be very exhausting, so pace yourself if you are in for a long tow. Remeber a tow belt is a rescue tool.  Use it as it was intended and do not give out free rides.

Hope everyone was able to follow the diagrams I made.  Please leave comments if there are any questions.

ANYWAY,,, I hope everyone is having a wondeful night. 


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Kayaking: Seals, Sea Lions and Bald Eagles

The plan was to go kayaking today with my roommate (Lyle).  The forecast was for increasing winds from the SE and rain.  We checked out the South end of the island and looked a like a bit more than Lyle has been out in before, so we headed to the NE part of the island.  When we arrived it was a definite difference from the S part of the Island.  It was a pretty chill paddle with light chop here and there, but overall really calm.  As we left the beach and headed towards the NE tip of San Juan Island with no real plans for the paddle.  We rounded the NE corner of the island where the is a nice Kelp Bed with good current rushing over the shallows.  I noticed something in the water but it was mainly submerged.  Getting a second look I could see it was a large Stellar Sea Lion about 20 yards away.  It was logging on the water just at the surface with its head submerged. I alerted Lyle there was a Stellar close by so that he did not paddle in its path.  Stellars are very large majestic animals.  They look like they could be the battle gate keepers in some mythic tale. Lyle was not really seeing the Stellar yet so I slapped the sides of my kayak so that the Stellar would be aware of us and Lyle would then see it.  So I proceeded to tap my kayak and a second, more large than the first, Stellar pops up.  This was a big guy and raised his upper half of his body to gain a better view and to show us how large he was.  The two Stellars then started to move in out direction.  Not really wanting to have an interaction with them we pushed around the corner to a nice shallow.  This way they could not sneak up on us.

After the excitemen, we continued now in a westerly direction along the N side of San Juan Island.  Bald Eagles seemed to be everywhere.  Some calling and circling above in an areial display with its mate.  Other perched high in the tree tops to have demading view of the area. Harbor Seals popped every few minutes to check us out and along the top of the water and disappear with no trace left at the surface.  We made it to the area near Pearl Island and stopped to snack on some fruit.  Then we simply turned back and retraced our route home.  

Getting closer to out take out we decided to play a bit.  I was having fun with some rolls and messing about with some sculling.  Lyle was playing with his sculling and I was pushing him to get wet.  He has not problem with it, but the water is really cold and the air temp is not that warm.  But soon he went for it and entered the cold green.  After a couple of attempts at this roll he decided to bale out and cowboy back in.  By this time we were both getting cold and ready for lunch.  We headed back to the beach and loaded gear and head to town.

We both feel really lucky to be able to just hop out of the house and within minutes of home be on the water.  Not just on the water, but with amazing views, wildlife abundant all around us and good friendship.  

Here are a few images from the paddle.

Heading North toward Spieden Channel. You can see Spieden Island in the distance.

Just another view of the above image.

Looking West down Spieden Channel.

Lyle with Orcas Island in the background.

Looking towards Pearl and San Juan Island.  You can see the heavy cloud cover moving in.

Looking West towards the Haro Strait and British Columbia.

The end of the day and a bit more shameless marketing for Discovery Sea Kayaks.  It is really a nice image, click on it for a better view.  

ANYWAY,, it was a great day on the water.  I really enjoy taking people out kayaking.  If you ever find yourself heading towards San Juan Island contact Discovery Sea Kayaks and lets get on the water together.  Let me share the waters I love with you.

WOW.  A friend was walking home and noticed this amazing rainbow.  She stopped in to let us know.  This picture was taken from in front of my house.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Rain is Back

A super slow day today.  Got up and enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and then met with a friend and headed out to have a nice time before the rain moves in.  It was pretty chilly out and we basically just sat around with sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains and just enjoyed being outside. Monika met up with us and spent some time doing some of the same with us.  Richard made his way by, it was becoming a nice little party.  Soon everyone went there own way.  Not really much to report other an life is good on San Juan Island and the rain is back in the forecast for the week. Think I might take off for a rainy day paddle tomorrow.

Hope very one is doing well and enjoying some of the images I post from time to time.  Please keep coming by.

A nice view of the Olympics Mountains today.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another Beautiful San Juan Island Day

Today started with a meeting with Richard and then off to meet Liz.  She was coming out for a interview to be a guide with Discovery Sea Kayaks.  Started off with a nice tour of the island and then getting on the water for a short paddle.  During the paddle we talked over area of improvement and what might be needed to become a leader.  It was a very nice time on the water.

Later I headed out for sunset and it was a just what I needed to end my day.  Say good night to the yellow orb in the sky was very cleansing.

Here are a few pictures from the day.

A nice view up the shore of the west side.

A large group of River Otters can been seen here.  They were swimming all over the place.  Must have been about 8 of them total.

OH,,, here it is!

Almost gone.

Another great end to another wonderful day.

I hope everyone is finding time for the small moments in life, such as a sunset.  It can really do wonders for your mind.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Elephant Seal

There was an account of a Elephant Seal located on the shore of San Juan Island. Being conservative and not wanting to bother it.  I took a side route to the area that would give me a birds eye view.  I had a spotting scope so I knew I would get a great view from afar.  It is best not to approach marine mammals on the beach.  They are very large, can be unpredictable, and could be under considerable stress.  It is best to step away and if you have you dog with you, put on a leash right away. In San Juan County you can report these animals  to the Marin Mammal Stranding Network.  Remember these are wild animals that usually do not have close contact or interaction with humans.  Therefore they can react in a manner which could lead to their injury or yours.  It is best to view them from a very safe distance with optics.  I have opted to leave the location of this seal out of my post to hopefully not encourage people to visit.  If you happen to come along a beach with signs posting that there is a marine mammal hauled out on the beach, the best thing to do it select another beach location.

Here are the photos I took.  Mind you these images are taken with a point and shot digital through a spotting scope.  So they are not the best.

Here I am setting up the scope.  Look how nice the sun looks.

Ahh.  Taking a bit of a rest.

There were some people approaching the beach.  Nervous behavior ensued and the people got way to close and should have been more respectful.

Close up of forward flipper.

Close up of the hind flippers.

Just doing the best it can to blend in.

After the I had my time viewing the Seal I headed off in a new direction to check on the Red Tailed Haws.  I found the Rufous Morph thanks to a large juvenile Bald Eagle.  The Eagle landed in a tree way off in the distance.  When I got the scope out and was scanning to locate the Eagle I found the Red Tail.  I took a few photos and they are not that great.  But you can see the nice rusty colors on the chest.  These images were taken via the scope from hundreds of yards away.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed seeing the Ele Seal...  I sure had a great time seeing it today.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Morning Kayak Lessons

A good start to the day when you wake up and see the sun and having to get on the water to teach kayak lessons.  Though it was cold outside, I could tell it was going to warm nicely once the sun had time to do its work.  After a cup of coffee it was time to meet Lauren (my student for the class) and load the gear and get on the water.  The water was perfect, flat calm and good for learning the basics.  Lauren has taken classes before and it pretty up to speed on self rescue.  So we were out to work on kayak handling skills.  Mainly driving home proper edging, body movement and blade placement.

After the lesson it was off to grab a bite to eat and get back outside.  I of course headed out to check in the Red Tailed Hawks (RTHs).  I ran into Monika again, , who once again got great images on the RTHs in flight. She got some images of the pair together.  I was able to locate the Rufous Morph further south. There was a visitor with me in town from London and I was having fun showing some of the beauty of the island to him.  We scoped out Stellar Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and various birds.  He seemed to really enjoy the views from the island and he agreed the RTHs were amazing.  

So I know that RTHs are pretty much everywhere and some people reading this must think I am nuts.  But on San Juan Island we see lots of Bald Eagles, but not so many RTHs.  So seeing this pair is pretty nice.  There are so many morphs within this species it is amazing.  They are super resilient and can survive in many environments.  I have always been an admirer of RTHs and it is nice to have such a consistent pair to watch.

The sounds of Meadowlarks and Black Wing Blackbirds could be heard all around.  View of Bald Eagles soaring high in the distance.  It was really another great day to be on the island.  

To end the day I went down to Steps Wine Bar and Cafe for my last glass of wine in its current location.  It is sad to see it move , but the new location sports a nice water view and more space. The old location holds many memories for me.  From my parents coming to visit for my birthday, many nights with good friends, and dinner with certain special people that have moved through my life.  I look forward to many new memories at the new location!

On another note I added a new member to the Discovery Sea Kayak Guide Team today.  He was very excited and I am excited to have him.  I will give him a more official welcome aboard later. But he seemed very happy to join the Team.

I took a few pictures today, so check them out.

Oh so nice to be on the water!

The old Cannery.

Working on wide figure 8 patterns here.  I am looking for proper edging and paddle strokes.

Whenever I can take pictures of the sweetest mini ever made, I DO!  Check out this Previa with a sweet NDK Explorer on top.  Nothing else needs to be said, PERFECTION!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Morning Run and Beautiful San Juan Island Sunset

Today I decided to start my day with a run and the sun was bright in the sky.  I was excited to get out and enjoy the fresh air.  Guinness and I arrived at the trail head as always and a bit of stretching then off on the trail.  It was just a wonderful time to be on the trail.  I cannot say that my legs were ready for the morning run, but they got me through. 

As I climbed the back side of this, oh so fun to jog up, hill.  When I got to the top in the open grassland there was a fox in total hunting mode.  I stuck around for a bit and watched but moved on so not to disturb it efforts.  

The day was blue with nice big white clouds.  The water was very calm and hardly a breeze in the air.  As I finished my run I got a glimpse of one of the Red Tailed Hawks I have been watching.  It was perched high in a fir tree enjoying the sun.  

It was a great morning to get outside.  I owe the thanks to a friend that said they were getting up around 5am for a run.   I laughed and said I will make it out by 9am.

After cleaning up and eating lunch I headed back out with my bird watching gear.  When I arrived Monika's car was parked where I usually scope out the Red Tailed Hawks.  She was no where in sight and was off taking photos of the many Meadowlarks we have been seeing.  Check out her blog to see images.

I set up my gear and one of the really light morph Red Tails was perched in the same tree from the mornings run.  Monika soon arrived back at the car and we both were enjoying the view. Then the Red Tail took flight flying right over the car.  Monika I am sure got some great shots. The hawk made a big loop and returned to its perch.  It took flight again and we followed in the direction it disappeared.  As we head toward the lighthouse we saw another Red Tail.  It was majestically perch on top of a rock on a step slope.  As luck with have it.  It flew right over us and I cannot wait to see Monika's photos.  Soon after we returned to Monika's car and went our own ways.

I headed out the the West Side of San Juan Island to catch the sun set.  When I arrived it was warm and the sum was still high in the sky.  I spied a view of a River Otter moving around in the kelp bed below.  I got to watch it for about 15 minutes before it decided to move on.  While waiting for the sun to drop I laid back and took a nice nap in the sun.  It sure was a rough day. As I woke and took a look around there was a Stellar Sea Lion heading south along the shore. I could see Dall's Porpoise in the distance moving along at a nice viewable pace.  

The sun made its way slowly and as it tucked behind the clouds the temperature started to fall fast.  It was a nice sunset and I was happy to be apart of it.

This a beautiful place to live.  If you ever have a chance to visit, I would jump on it.

Here are few pictures I took from the day.

You can see the fox in the tall grass.

Nice view of the calm water and blue sky.

Ahh the self portrait as I await the setting of the sun.

The sun drops behind the clouds.

Not a bad view.


The final image.  Not too bad!

Well I hope that all of you have enjoyed the images and a bit of what I had to say.

Anyway! Hope everyone is doing well.