Monday, December 13, 2010

Kayak Tour Discount

Discovery Sea Kayaks is offering a great deal for those shopping for San Juan Island Kayak Tours for this coming summer 2011.

If you book your trip and prepay we apply a 15% discount to the price of the kayak tour. The prepay is nonrefundable, but we provide the flexibility for you to change your tour date to another booked tour of the same value on the 2011 calendar.

This deal is good until March 31st of 2011. So if you are planning a San Juan Island vacation and know that you would love to get on the water for a few day and do some camping. Well BOOK NOW and PAY NOW and SAVE!!!




Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sea Kayak Guide/ Naturalist Guide Jobs

Discovery Sea Kayaks has started the quest for new Kayak Guide Staff for 2011. We are located in the Pacific Northwest on San Juan Island in Washington State. Our tours travel amazing routes throughout the islands. Wildlife encounters range from Killer Whales to Bald Eagles.

We seek outdoor enthusiast that have a keen interest in water sports and natural history. Out tours are mix of fun and education. Guides provide the Naturalist information that the guest seek to enhance their vacations.

We operate Half Day and Full Day Kayak Tours as well as Multi Day Expedition Kayak Tours.

If you have experience kayaking or guiding, that is a bonus. If you are someone who wants to get into the outdoor industry as a guide we offer intern positions as well. All guides regardless of experience have to go through guide training.

If you are interested in working for Discovery Sea Kayaks, send your resume and an attached photo of you kayaking or enjoying another outdoor sport. Please make sure your resume includes all your outdoor experience, training and medical/first aid certifications.

Send resume to: info@discoveryseakayak.com


Jason Gunter
Discovery Sea Kayaks

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Buyer Beware

Have you every wondered what it must be like to show up after booking a kayak tour and meeting the outfitter you have selected and not feel like basic safety protocols are being followed.

I know that I may be a bit strict in my thinking here but really as a commercial outfitter you would think some things would be basic. Something as basic as wearing a life jacket (PFD) should be a must.

I can hear some of you now. It is 90F outside and the water is 80F. That is true and on your own I feel if you do not want to wear a life jacket then that is your business. But as a professional outfitter you should be an example setter.

In the Pacific Northwest where air temperature is not always that warm and the water is never warm. I still see images of people not wearing life jackets on commercially operated kayak tours websites.

Coast Guard records will show that most kayak and canoe related deaths can be attributed to the person not WEARING a life jacket. Having it simply strapped to the deck or in the cockpit does not count as wearing your life jacket.

Not only is it "my opinion" that it is a bad practice for commercial operators to tell guest it is okay to not wear life jackets. But to have images on their websites is, again in "my opinion", irresponsible.

As a guide I feel it should be your job to promote safe paddling concepts and good stewardship all around.

So if you find yourself in a situation where your outfitter/guide tells you it is okay to not wear a life jacket or any other behavior that does not seem to be obvious basic safety. Don't do it and feel free to ask questions. Any questions of safety should be dealt with and your outfitter should handle your concerns with respect.

Going out with a commercial outfitter is suppose to be fun and above all safe. So pay attention to all the images on the websites when shopping. Think to yourself if what you see in the images on these sites are adhering to common sense safety.

I respect any ones opinion to disagree with me on this topic and hope you can respect my opinion.




Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kayak Guide Jobs San Juan Island

I just wanted to post a note that Discovery Sea Kayaks is looking for people for the 2011 kayak season. I know it is early to start thinking about 2011 kayak season on San Juan. But we get a lot of people that are passing though the area and should come out and get on the water with us if they are interested in getting a position in 2011 as a sea kayak guide.

We are looking for outdoor minded people that understand the seasonal lifestyle. People that show up prepared to work long hours and day after day if need be. If you have kayak skills and interested in becoming a guide, get in touch. If you have strong outdoor skill and have guided in the outdoors, but do not have tons of kayak experience, get in touch.

We have an extensive training period that will help develop on skills you have or new skills. We cover natural history and human history of the San Juan area as well.

Guides must be responsible and punctual. A guide must be prepared to help out in anyway possible. Guiding consist of: shuttling vans, cleaning gear, packing kayaks, hauling kayaks, taking care of guest, washing vans, and various duties and at some point there is kayaking. So my point is there are many duties other than kayaking. It is a must that you can take directions and follow them to completion.

Being a kayak guide can be fun or stressful. It really depends on the perspective you bring to the job.

So if that all sounds good to you get in touch: info@discoveryseakayak.com 360.378.2559

Friday, August 20, 2010

Kayaking San Juan Island in Jeopardy??

I know that many may have forgotten all the mess last fall when NOAA announced the possible closure of the majority of San Juan Islands west side. The west side of San Juan Island is one of the best places to kayak in all the San Juan Islands.

The following link is full of information from last fall that I posted here on my blog. There are links in the post that will take you to the Recovery Plan and info on the closure prospects.

So what is going on today?

The San Juan Island Kayak season has been in full swing and the season has been busy. As a commercial operator that runs tours out of San Juan County Park we have agreed to new terms in our permit that is call the Kayaker Code of Conduct. This is good stewardship information that we pass along to every guest that we take to the park for kayaking. We collect signatures from each guest that they have received the information. If you are a kayaker heading out on your own to San Juan County Park. You will have to pay a fee and listen to a short presentation before you can launch from the park.

Here is some info that some may not know. There are observers along the coast that are recording kayaker behavior around the whales to see if the Kayaker Code of Conduct is enough to have people act in a more respectful manner around killer whales. This information that is collected will be used to determine if: A. Commercial Kayak companies can be a self regulated industry. B. If the public will follow the new regulations without enforcement.

What does all this mean?

So as of last year after the public comment period NOAA decided to have a grace year where the new Kayaker Code of Conduct would be in place and monitor its success.

In the end the area that we all love to kayak is still in jeopardy of being closed to all kayakers. I am sure that this fall NOAA will have a public statement to present. What that statement will be, I have no idea. Either way I fear over regulation by any government organization.

From an outdoor enthusiast point of view, I hate to see any public lands and/or waterways closed. I understand the need to protect resource such as wildlife and land. I come from a biology background and support conservation. But when we have an issue like we have here, where there is a total lack of information on how Southern Resident Killer Whales react to kayaks. Combined with an overwhelming amount of data that supports depletion of food resource as the major cause for concern for the killer whale population here in the San Juan Islands.

I fully support realistic endeavours that will foster a healthy salmon population. Given the complex problems dealing with fisheries I find this should be the area where most energy should be spent. Figuring out a sustainable way of replenishing fish stocks for the San Juan Island region would go a long way to fostering a healthy environment for the killer whales here.

The killer whale population has arguably been in decline. I say arguably because when we look a the historical numbers before orca captures and I am not sure we are taking fish (salmon) stocks at the same time period in to account. The carrying capacity for species change when the habitat evolves. Basically we cannot expect the numbers to increase for a species if their habitat cannot support feeding at an increased population level. We all know that salmon populations are low and can then deduce that we cannot expect the Southern Resident population of killer whales to reach historic levels.

If we look at the numbers of Souther Resident Killer Whales over the past 10 years we do see a rise and fall of the population. A possible indicator of reaching a threshold for the habitat. So why do we see a higher mortality rate some years vs other years? There are some orcas in the population that are fairly old and the life span of killer whales have been decreasing due to increase toxins in the environment and the food web. So if we have a bad salmon season and the killer whales are having a harder time making a living. We might see an increased mortality that season due to a couple of reasons: 1. Natural mortality of aging animals in the pods. 2. Bioaccumulation of toxins combined with the lack of food means the animals will have to produce energy from fat stores. This will increase the likely hood of death by the toxins interfering with other physiological processes.

So in the end I feel the government should be spending all of their energy working on the food source issue. But instead they have amassed a lot to money to challenge that kayaks, of all vessels on the water, are contributing to reduction of the Southern Resident Killer Whale population. In a time where government resources are maxed out and that economies are backed against the wall. We see a total disregard of tax dollars going to solve a problem, that in the end, will do nothing to save the killer whales. Harder questions should be asked here. Ones that justify the expense. How can we get good to the killer whale population? How can we further protect our watersheds and waterways from toxins?

But instead we get, kayakers are a threat to the Southern Resident Killer Whale population.

So keep your ears and eyes open. There will be a statement coming this fall. This is only my intuition that leads me to believe NOAA will start following up with the closure. Read news papers or check back here. I will post any updated info I get.

Help protect San Juan Island kayaking and support logical, sustainable conservation efforts.

Thanks for reading.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Kayaking San Juan Island Wa State

Finally our summer is in full swing and then today the winds moved in. It is still nice and warm, at least warm for the Pacific Northwest. But today the winds are strong and keeping people off the water. We do have a tour out today but we changed our kayaking location to get away from the wind.

I had a really nice Half Day Kayak Tour out just the other day. The water was nice and the skies were clear. Really nice to be out there on the nice days.

Looks like the wind will die down tonight and then it is looking really nice for the rest of the week.


Getting ready to head out on the water.
Nice and clear out. The Olympic Mountain are in the distance.

Team work when paddling a tandem is a good idea.

Well if you plan on getting on the water. Check out our web page: www.discoveryseakayak.com

We are operating tours daily and can get you on the water for a great time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

San Juan: Open for Business

Today is kind of crazy here in the little town of Friday Harbor. Lots of people came over to enjoy the weekend for the 4th of July. Plenty of fun things to do while they were here. Town hosted a wonderful small town parade. The evening was filled with music from Rock the Docks.

I went to a friends house and BBQ'ed. His house is on the water so Robin and I took our kayaks to do some rolling practice. The evening was met with clouds, light rain and then sunshine again.
The whale were in the area all weekend, so I am sure there are many happy folks that went out whale watching for power boat, kayakers that explored the west side of San Juan and those who visited Lime Kiln State Park.

Discovery Sea Kayaks was busy as ever on the 4th and the 5th seems to be no different. Now I sit watching loads of people stage for the ferry to head back to the mainland. Back to their normal pace in life. It is nice that for a short time San Juan Island can offer a break from the day to day life of the city goers.

Now that the holiday is over, the island will remain busy but with a bit more of a relaxed vibe. So from here on out it is a great time to come out and join Discovery Sea Kayaks on a Kayak Tour.

Take a break and come on out..


Monday, June 28, 2010

New Lodging in Friday Harbor

If you are looking to stay in the heart of Friday Harbor and have a harbor view, check out 123 West.

123 West has a fun modern design with interior details you will love. From culinary kitchens to stunning vies of the harbor. You will be close to everything in town.

They recently launched a new website and if you are planing on coming to Friday Harbor for a visit, you should check them out.


On another note Kayaking have been great the past week. The Souther Resident Killer Whales have been hanging on the west side of San Juan Island almost everyday. Stop by the Discovery Sea Kayaks blog for pictures or book a tour.

Thanks for visiting

Jason

Friday, June 25, 2010

Check out Discovery Sea Kayaks Blog

So I am starting the use the companies Blog a bit more. I will continue to blog here as well but I plan to update more kayak tour and trip information on the Discovery Sea Kayak Blog.

So Stop by and check it out and bookmark it please.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

San Juan Kayak Tours and Adventure

Summer is slowly working its way in here on San Juan Island. We have been running lots of tours to the west side of San Juan and have had early success with orca whale encounters.

Remember if you are shopping for a Kayak Tour on San Juan Island that Discovery Sea Kayaks has the smallest group tours on the island. The main benefit to small groups is that you get great service from your guide and you travel with less impact on wildlife. Since we travel through prime killer whale feeding areas, we do everything we can to minimize impact. One of the best ways to do this is by reducing the number of boats in a group.

I have been out having fun with a couple of our interns doings some fun kayak training. Yesterday we practiced towing exercises. Plus we working on off side rolls and a few other skills. It is nice to have a chance to help young paddlers develop their skills.

Multi Day Kayak Tours seem to be very popular this season and it is a great way to see the San Juan Islands. If you have a group of friends come out and see us. We put together a tour that you will remember for years to come.

Discovery Sea Kayaks is located a few hundred feet from the ferry landing in Friday Harbor. So we are easy to reach. Just walk on the ferry in Anacortes and walk up the the shop and we will take care of you. It is an easy day trip from Seattle.

Kayak is one of the reasons to come to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. People travel from all over the work to kayak here. I know of you live in Seattle the Juans are you back yard. But everyone should come check it out.




Yikes! Sometimes you can get surprised by an Orca. Even when we try as hard as we can to maintain distance from Killer Whales, they get curious..

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Discovery Sea Kayaks - Kayak Tours San Juan Island

Not only does Discovery Sea Kayaks offer the best sea kayak tour adventures on San Juan Island, check out our new website! http://www.discoveryseakayak.com/

We specialize in providing Half Day and Full Day San Juan Island Kayak Tours and Trips to areas where Killer Whales (Orca) are commonly seen. We launch our Kayak Trips in the heart of the wildlife view area for San Juan Island. No need to spend half the day kayaking just to get to the zone when you go with Discovery Sea Kayaks, we spend the entire day in the area. This increases your chances to have encounters with Killer Whales from kayak.

If you are looking to go out for more than one day. Check out our Multi Day Kayak Tours. We will take you all over the islands in search of beauty and wildlife. Camp on outer islands and enjoy meals prepared by your guide. When I say meals, there are no dehydrated beans here. We prepare fresh foods using as much locally grown goods as possible. So be assured this is the top of the line tour for San Juan Island Kayak Tours.

Let us take are of you! Contact: info@discoveryseakayak.com or call 866.461.2559


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

3 Day Kayak Tour

Last weekend I was out guiding a 3 day kayak tour. I took one of our new guides along for training. It was a nice small group of 4 people. It was really a great trip despite the rain.

The first day was a nice long paddle day as we made our way to Jones Island to set camp. Soon after arriving at Jones Island the wind picked up and we were all happy that we were off the water. Katie and I set camp and started working on dinner prep. The guest took off for a nice hike around the island. Even with the winds the evening was amazing. Off the bed early to avoid the chill of the wind and get a bit of rest after a long day.

Day two, Katie and I were up early and the guest got up slowly at their own pace. The day was shaping up to be beautiful. The sun was bright and the temps were warm. The day had little tide exchange so the water was really flat. We made our way across San Juan Channel towards Spieden Island. Once we reached the north shore of the island we slowly moved though amazing kelp beds. We then headed over the the Cactus Islands. Wonderful current moves around the Cactus Islands with waving kelp at the surface of the water. Eventually we ended the day on Stuart Island. Once of my favorite islands to visit. I usually do not go to Stuart because it get so much use, but the season has been slow so I figured we would be safe from the masses.

We ended day two with a hike to Turn Point on Stuart Island. This is truly one of the best places to catch the sunset in the islands. Not only did we get to see the sunset we go to see Orcas from the bluff as well. It was a great end to the day.

Day three we were revisited by the rain. Though we had a day of rain the day was really nice. We took off early in the morning and headed off to San Juan County Park. On the way we had two Orcas pass by.

The trip was a great trip. It is always fun to be on the water with great people sharing a kayak experience on the island.




Monday, May 31, 2010

Rockpool Alaw Bach TCC Kayak

Once again sorry for not having any images.

I recently had a chance to paddle the Rockpool Alaw Bach TCC kayak that is made here in the US. It is being manufactured by Eddyline in Carbonlite material. I have almost no experience with the Carbonlite material so I will not get into much detail on Carbonlite.

First off I will start with saying the kayaks are beautiful. Great lines and the Carbonlite finish is smooth and flawless. The interior looked liked the kayaks are put together with care and for a little flare there are sea star shapes pressed into the bulkheads.

I am roughly 5'9 and 195 pounds, I thought the kayak had a great fit. It is a bit more narrow than my NDK Explorer and has more of a snug fit and a slight different knee orientation than I get in my NDK Explorer. I worried at first that I would not be comfortable sitting in the kayak for a long time, but after a decent paddle I did not notice any discomfort. Make sure you check the seat if you are going to take on for a demo. The seat has thumb screws forward and aft of the seat. The seat is designed to slide forward and back. Once I found the right place for the seat I was comfy and ready to get on the water.

My first paddle was short. I basically got off work and ran to the water to hopped in. I played around in flat water with different stokes, braces and some rolls. Overall I found the kayak very maneuverable and stable on edge. Moving forward through the water is nice and easy. When brought up to speed it cruises at a good clip. The Alwa Bach TCC tracked nice and straight. When using draw strokes the kayak responds quickly and smoothly. It also seemed to be a good rolling kayak. The back deck was nice and low so you can really lay back on the deck. I was a bit interested in how easy I would exit the kayak if I needed to. The cockpit is long and narrow with very little room between the thigh braces. But I found with a bit of a wiggle a came out clean and in control of the kayak. Cowboy/Cowgirl rescues were not a problem.

Day two I took the kayak out in a windy and choppy condition. With a nice strong breeze and a decent tidal exchange the water was nice and choppy off the points of the island. I headed out to an area where the sea was mildly confused with wave refracting off the rocky shore into on coming waves. The Alaw Bach TCC was solid. I felt very stable heading downwind. The kayak was nice and easy to turn around in the chop to head back into the waves. It was pretty fun crashing through the waves. I had the most fun paddling along the shore with waves rushing up along he rocks and simply drawing up and down the waves as I paddled the shoreline. The Alaw Bach TCC really handled well and responds so nice to the hanging draw.

After messing around the shoreline I set up to try and catch a few wind waves to see how the kayak would handle when catching a small wave. It was a different experience than my NDK Explorer but after a few rounds I started to trust what I was feeling. The one thing I noticed is how straight the kayak would travel on plane. It really seemed to resit broaching.

When I headed out in the wind I was prepared to the kayak to be a weather cocking machine. But to my surprise it held course without issue. With the up swept bow I just assumed I was going to have to fight it the whole time or use the skeg. I ended up not doing either.

All hatches were super dry. They were easy to put on and just a bit of a struggle to get off. Which is fine with me. But I was happy to see how dry the hatches were after playing in the waves and playing upside down.

So what do I think about the Rockpool Alaw Bach TCC??? I have to say I was sad to give it back and I think that I may end up with another kayak soon.

How do I feel about Carbonlite??? Well like I said I really do not know that much about it. But it seemed really durable and I did not notice any more flex in the full when loading it than I do with some of the glass kayaks I own. The finish is far better than that of standard plastics and it is more ridged. I think I would prefer to have a fiberglass model. But if you look at what they are trying to do with the design, then Carbonlite makes sense.

The idea is to produce an amazing hull that is a performer. But do that at a cost that is reasonable. There are a lot of great kayaks out there from NDK, Valley, P&H, TideRace etc... But you will easily spend 3500 bucks or more. The Alaw Bach TCC is retailing at 2999. For those really looking to get a great kayak that is truly a performance machine at a great price, then check out the Alaw Bach TCC.

I will get some link up soon....

Thanks
Jason Gunter
Discovery Sea Kayaks

Emotion Kayaks

The long weekend was full of clouds and rain here on the island. So the weekend is was not as busy as we would have hoped it to be.

I hosted a Emotion Kayak Demo Day on Saturday and it was rainy and windy. Not many people showed up. But those that did come by had a blast messing about with these fun recreational class kayaks.

If you are not familiar with Emotion Kayaks and you are looking for a recreational flat water style kayak, you should check them out. I took all the demo models out for a little paddle and it was really fun. If you are looking for a "sea" kayak then this is not the brand for you. But if you live on a protected bay, lake or slow moving river, then you would have a blast.

So the update for the shop on demos. We have select models available for demos. All you have to do is give us a call and set up a time and we can get get you on the water for a test paddle.

In stock in the shop I have the Glide, Advant-Edge and the Spitfire. I also have the Temptation, Grand Slam, Tandemonium and the award winning Comet.

So if you think you are in the market for a fun and stale recreational kayak, give me a call (360.378.2559) or drop by the shop.

Sorry I do not have photos. My digital cam has been missing since I moved but it has been relocated and I will start adding images to upcoming post.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Kayaks I Like to Paddle

There are lots of kayaks out there and they come in different designs. But we all end up setting on designs and kayaks we are most comfortable with. Not all people like the same kayaks as I do and that is why they come in different designs. But I thought I would give everyone a bit of info on the kayaks that I like to be in.

First my two primary kayaks are a Nigel Dennis Explorer and a Nigel Dennis Romany HV. So my might start to see I am a pretty solid NDK fan but there a few other kayak out there that I love to paddle as well.

Why I do I like the NDK kayaks so much? First off my two NDK's are several years old and are built pretty much like tanks, which is the way I like. I know that they can be a bit heavier than other kayaks out there, but I am not to worried about how hard it is to get on and off my car. I am more worried about running a tiderace with rock all over and not destroying my kayak. My NDK's have taken a beaten and just keep on going. That is not to say that I have not had to patch a whole or add some gel here and there. They have their wounds, but they were earned honestly.

I decided on the NDK as my primary kayak years ago. I had the chance to paddle one for a summer and after being in various conditions with the kayak. In the end it was a solid performer that I felt at home in. The round hatches can be a bit of a pain to pack but that is a minimal issue for the great performance I get from these kayaks.

Now that said here are a few other kayaks I like. I own a P&H Capella 167. I really love playing around in this kayak. It feel a lot different than the NDK Romany to me. It is nimble and still can hold a good pace. It does great with dynamic water conditions and really is an overall sweet kayak. The lay up is a bit light for my taste but the design is pretty awesome.

Tiderace Kayaks are another group of kayaks I like. I have had the chance to play around in the Xcite but not the Xplore. The Xcite is a fun kayak. The overall construction seems to be great. The color schemes are very catchy and fresh. I am sure the Xplore is a great kayak as well. The one thing that holds me off on these two kayaks are their cost. They just seem to be a bit more than other high end kayaks out there and I am not sure they warrant the extra cost. But if you have the cash and don't mind shelling it out, it is a fun kayak.

Another option that I hope to be checking out soon is the Rockpool ALAW Back TCC. Rockpool is another UK company that produces an amazing design but the cost for a fiberglass kayak is just to expensive. But Eddyline kayaks is producing the kayak in their Carbonlite material. Now that it is being produced in the states the price drops. Though the material is different than fiberglass, I am very excited to check out the kayak. The kayak is designed for dynamic water conditions and the TCC material is suppose to be very durable. So this could turn out to be a fun kayak to play around rocks with. I will let you know after I demo the kayak.

Last but not least is Valley Canoe Products. Valley makes a full line of kayaks from hard chine to round chine kayaks. Valley pretty much makes all nice kayaks. From construction to performance they really have a good line of kayaks. Of course I am partial the round chined kayaks (Aquanaut and Avocet). But I would check out Valley if you haven't yet.

That is a nice list of kayaks that I really enjoy. There are tons of others and I am sure that some out there have different taste than I do. If you would like to share your favorite sea kayak, please leave a comment on your favorite kayak and why...

Thanks
Jason

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sea Kayak Safety Full Circle

Now that I have reached a good place in my post about safety. I wanted to bring things full circle and kind of give a thought process to safety. I hope the reading has not been to bland, but I feel this is a topic that really is good for anyone who is on the water, cold or warm waters.

After you have reached the point of purchasing a kayak and all the extra gear needed to be safe. It is time to practice. I cannot emphasize how important it is to practice with all of you equipment. This will allow you see what works and what might need to be modified or replaced. It is better to find flaws and weakness when you are practicing and not depending on the gear for your life.

Practice with partners you plan to paddle with. This will develop you kayak relationship with you partners. In the process you will learn each others strengths and weaknesses. This is invaluable information when faced with real world emergencies. Work with each other on scenarios that will help develop better techniques and do not hesitate to focus on areas of your weakness.

Take a rescue and paddle strokes class. For some it is nice to take a class that focuses on certain aspects of kayaking. Some may even want to get certifications to go along with all their hard work. You can readily find classes offered by the British Canoe Union (BCU) and the American Canoe Association (ACA). Approach your local paddle shops, as they most likely offer lessons that may not have certifications at the end. But none the less they still offer quality kayak lessons. When you go for lessons it is best to listen to the instructors on the flow of education. Many people stop in my shop and all they want to learn is to roll a kayak. Like most things in life, we must first crawl before we walk. So be patient and let your skills develop.

OK, lets say that you have taken some classes and practice wit you kayak partners, now what? Well depending on the region you are kayaking, make sure all of your gear is sufficient for the area you are in. From here we need to develop a plan. Even if you are heading out for a few hours, a full day or a week. It is best to create a plan and leave message of your plan with someone back on land.

Planning: I always create my paddle plan based on my traveling desires. I ask my self where do I want to go and for how long. Being in Washington State, the tides have a broad range so that is where I start. I check the tides and then refer to a current table. After the tides and currents are worked out I check the Marine Forecast. When listening to the forecast I am generally interested in what the have been doing, what they are currently doing and what they might be doing later. After all of this basic information is collect I look at my desired travel area and see if it is still a logical place to go for the paddle.

Gear Check: Once my plan is in place I make sure I have all the gear I need for the paddle. I start with the basics. First I check my standard gear, which you can learn more about by reading my post "So Whats In Your Kayak". Then depending on the type of trip I am going on, a day trip vs a camping trip. I will add the gear necessary, such as tent and sleeping bag etc.

Now if am equipped with my Chart in hand, travel plans and all gear to be safe and have fun. I know this sounds like a lot of things to do just to head out for a paddle. But I assure you that if you do your planning ahead of time before getting on the water. You will save your self much needed time if something goes wrong out there.

Being out in nature has its inherent risk. But being prepared and practiced will help mitigate issues that arise when you are far from help and you depend on yourself and your partner for survival.

A bit of personal advice:

Never become complacent about the areas you travel. Even if you have traveled there a 100 times or you have years of experience. Always take the proper steps to ensure safety while traveling on the water.

Know your limits and your partners limits.

I could go on and on with advice but I will stop here. My over all goal here is to set a bit of a tone about safety as the sea kayak season is kicking off for the summer here in the Pacific Northwest.

Please feel free to write questions and comments. I always try to address any questions.

Jason


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Should I Wear A Drysuit?

So I have been focusing some of the past few post on safety issues and equipment. There always is some interest in should I wear a drysuit, westsuit or dry top and dry pants. I am going to give my opinion on the topic and you can take from it what you wish. But please be clear that the information here represents my opinion only.

As always, it really depends on the region you are paddling. I paddle the Pacific Northwest most of the time, so my experience padding cold water is a reflection of my what I say here.

To be upfront, I paddle a Kokatat Gore-tex drysuit. I wanted to get that out in the open first. Before I started paddling in a drysuit I either wore a wetsuit or just clothes I did not mind getting wet.

When I got into sea kayaking and wanted to learn skills that require capsizing and being out of my kayak, I wore a wetsuit. For my daily pursuits I generally work some quick dry pants and polypro. Working rescue skills in the cold water was doable, but not much fun when in my wetsuit. Being wet and cold really start to set in after a good amount of practice.

Wearing no immersion garments in my daily pursuits now seems a bit careless after my years on the water. I would not recommend heading out on the water, in regions where cold water is an issue, without some sort of immersion protection.

Eventually a reached a point where I decided to try out a drysuit. Man did things start to change. When I wanted to go out and practice rescues there was far less hesitation is getting on the water. My drysuit seemed to afford me more time and comfort in the cold water. This enabled me to hone my skill more. I also could push the limit more in my practice as the psychological barrier of the cold water seemed to fade. My skills started to increase at a more rapid rate. I attribute this partly to the addition of the drysuit to my kayaking closet.

So what do I do now on a daily basis? Most of the time you will find me in my drysuit. When I am leading trips I almost always wear my drysuit. Even if the weather is warm. It is easy to cool off with a simple roll. But if I am out leading a day trip and its a scorcher out, which is may be 85F here, I will wear a shorty dry top by NRS and dry pants. My wetsuit days are in the past.

When I am asked should I buy a drysuit, here is what I say. First I ask what is your budget. If it is unlimited or your not concerned with price then I say get a drysuit. If you are a bit on the budget shopping side, I say get a good farmer john wetsuit and a nice drytop.

The wetsuit, dry top combo works well. The dry top will keep you dry while bracing and rolling and if you come out of you kayak, the neoprene wetsuit will aid in keeping you warm.

So you might want to know why I did not mention the dry top, dry pant combo. I usually do not mention the combo because I feel if you are going to spend that much money, you should just get a drysuit.

If you have a big budget and want the flexibility. Then get a drysuit and buy the dry pant, dry top combo as well.

My end advice is: If you are going to paddle cold waters and want to be safe. Then paddle in a drysuit. If a drysuit is out of your budget, get the wetsuit, dry top combo. Just as on land heading out for a hike you always hear, Cotton Kills. Well take some good advice. Not wearing the proper clothing in cold water paddling regions can kill as well.

Thanks for reading.
Jason




Monday, May 3, 2010

So Whats In Your Kayak?

I have noticed over the years that people seem to head out kayaking for the day with little to no spare gear. Being a guide for so many years around the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest I have developed a system of always having gear in my kayak. Depending on where you live, this may seem a bit over kill.

Here is a list of things in my kayak by hatch:

Day Hatch
  • First Aid Kit: I always have a basic first aid kit that I can access while on the water.
  • Emergency Signal Devices: I have a few different types I like to have on board. I have signaling smoke, signaling flares, strobe, chem lights and a spare whistle.
  • Warm Items: Spare gloves and beanie
  • Documentation Materials: I like to keep a paper and pen/pencil along with tide data in a water proof case.
  • Water Bottle and Snacks: I like to keep a water bottle for drinking and a extra for emergencies. For snacks I like to have Swedish Fish, Snickers, fruit and trail mix or granola bars. I know some of you think having Snickers is not good, but they really hit the spot when I am about to crash.

Forward Hatch
  • Dry Bag with Spare Clothes: I generally have spare socks, gloves, beanies, fleece top and bottoms. I will admit I have a few extra clothes than what you might need if you are just looking after yourself. But even so I try to take in mind my paddle partners in case of emergencies.
  • First Aid Kit: I keep a larger kit in the forward hatch than I do in my day hatch. This may be unnecessary for those not leading kayak tours.
  • Emergency Blanket: Super light weight, but hold in a lot of heat.

Stern Hatch
  • Shelter: I keep a tarp structure in the rear hatch for emergencies or for simple comfort when the rain is heavy.
  • Food: Besides the snacks I have in the day hatch I pack my lunch in the stern in a dry bag.

Roaming Gear

I have some gear that lives in the day hatch sometimes, on the front deck sometimes and on me sometimes. It depends on the condition and situation of the moment.
  • VHF Radio: I generally keep my VHF (ICom M72) in my day hatch. When I am in need of updated weather info or other info I attach the VHF to the lines forward of my cockpit. In rare occasions I will have the VHF attached to my PFD.
  • Signaling Devices: The signaling devices I have in my day hatch will on occasion be attached to me on my PFD.

PFD
  • Knife: I carry my knife in a pocket of my PFD. I have it attached to a lanyard that is equipped with a quick clip release.
  • Hand Held Compass: I keep my hand held compass in my PFD.
  • Sun Care: Sun block and lip protection live in my PFD.
  • Whistle: I have a whistle attached to my PFD all the time.
I wear a tow belt that is separate of my PFD and not attached to the kayak. I prefer the North Water Sea Tec.

Nautical Chart: Generally I have my chart in a water proof case attached to the deck lines just forward of the cockpit.

It is important to be familiar with all of your gear and where it is located. Practice sitting in your kayak on land and retrieving and replacing gear to your Day Hatch. When you are out for a paddle with friends and the water is a bit choppy, practice the exercise again. Be careful to attach gear removed from the hatch to deck lines so waves don't claim them.

If I notice any items I have missed I will update promptly. If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you.

Thanks:
Jason
www.discoveryseakayak.com






Sunday, May 2, 2010

April Fun (Kayaking, Tall Ships and More)

April is over and man what an April. I was luck enough to get on the water to guide some trips. We ended up having a pretty good month as far as tours go. The weather could have been a little better, but you deal with what you get. I hope that May will start to mellow out and the winds start to fade.

But all in all there was lots of fun to be had. We had one multi day tour out in April and it was a blast. The first two days of the journey were rainy. But the last day was calm seas and sunshine. The beauty of the San Juan's stepped out from behind the clouds and graced our last day with sun and red checks. It was a larger than average tour so I had two co-leaders long with me, Shawn and Richard. It was so much fun to be out with other guides, as we usually operate alone.


Early morning view from my tent. Rain all night and rain for breakfast.

A few days after the tour, back on San Juan, two tall ships came to port. The Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftain were open to donation to hop aboard and check them out. It was fun to check out the tall ship style. Though they are not old originals, they are still beautiful.


Hawaiian Chieftain up front and Lady Washington in the back.

To end the talk of April I will part with what everyone hopes to find at the end of a Rainbow.


A PREVIA!


Friday, April 30, 2010

Kayak Demo Day San Juan Island

Welcoming Emotion Kayaks to Discovery Sea Kayaks.

To kick off the new line kayaks arriving at our shop we are hosting a Kayak Demo Day May29th. Starting at 9:30am we will have kayaks at Jackson Beach for test paddles. Bill Walker, the rep for Emotion Kayaks, will be here to provide in depth information on the different models.

Discovery Sea Kayaks will have kayak packages for sale in the shop, 185 First St Friday Harbor Wa. If you test out a kayak you like just drop by the shop and take it home. We have great package deals in the works for the Demo Day.

Demo Day will end at 5:30pm May 29th. So make sure to drop in and check out the kayaks.

Emotion Kayaks are great for beginner kayakers, wildlife watchers, photographers, fishermen, and to toss on your boat for quick exploration of bays.

You can pre order a kayak package before May 15th and receive 10% the package price.

Contact for details: 360.378.2559


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mothers Day Special

Discovery Sea Kayaks is offering a Mothers Day Special. May 9th all Moms receive 50% Off West Side Half Day Kayak Tours departing at 930am and 230pm. Please check out the tour on the company website: West Side Half Day Kayak Tour.


Limited Space: Book Now: 360.378.2559

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Discovery Sea Kayak, Seattle Magazine

Discovery Sea Kayaks was mentioned in Seattle Magazine May 2010 for Great Escapes for 2010.

Here is a link to the article: We are mentioned in the "what to do" section

http://www.seattlemag.com/0p135a2071/great-escapes-2010-friday-harbor/

Once again the Discovery Team is very grateful for being recognized for our hard work. We strive to provide the highest quality kayak adventures possible, not just in the San Juan Islands. The Discovery Team's passion for kayaking and the outdoors shines on every tour. Thanks to our great Guides and Staff we are able to share our vision with everyone who joins a DSK San Juan Island Kayak Tour.

Thanks again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Inspirational

Just wanted to share this video that is posted on the Canoe and Kayak Magazine homepage. It is a short video and will only take 5 minutes of your time. I hope you can take the determination of this one person and let it inspire you to take on the difficult tasks in your life.

Discovery Sea Kayaks Recognized

Just wanted to post a quick announcement that Discovery Sea Kayaks took Second Place in the King 5 Best of Western Washington contest. We are always faced with touch competition here in the Pacific Northwest, where there are lots of outfitters. But we were please to see we made the mark at Second Place. Though First Place is always the hope, this leaves us a bit more room to improve and provide even better service than before.

This is Discovery's second year making the list in the Top 5! Thank you to all who voted to help Discovery be recognized for all of our hard work.


So come back and join us on a true kayak adventure around the San Juan Islands...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

To Skeg or Rudder? That is the Question.

I have had a few people looking to get more information on buying a kayak with a skeg or a rudder. I am not going to write a post and say you should have one over the other but I will give some simple facts and then my opinion.

First I will start out with the skeg. For those who are not familiar with the skeg system, I will give a quick description. The skeg is located on the hull side at the stern of the kayak. It is deployed from the cockpit via by a rope system or a cable slider system. When deployed it moves vertically out of the hull and retracts the same. It can be adjust variably to reach the desired effect.

The most common mistake people make is thinking that the skeg is just a different form of a rudder. A skeg is not used to maneuver a kayak. The skeg is used to create lateral resistance. So you might ask yourself, why do I need this lateral resistance?

To answer this question we have to look at the design of kayak and a few terms. Kayaks generally will turn into the (weather cock), by design, when the kayak is neutrally loaded or unevenly loaded with heavy weight in the bow. By neutral loading I mean that heavy point of the kayak is centrally located, being you the paddler. Given a neutrally or bow loaded kayak with wind off the beam. Most kayaks will turn bow to the wind (weather cock). If you are making a course between two points with a nice wind off the beam, maintaining you course may become difficult. This is where the skeg comes in. By lowering the skeg you increase the resistance in the stern. The increased resistance at the stern corrects for the beam wind. The result will be one of two things. You will start maintaining your course with more ease or your bow will start to turn down wind (lee cocking). If you start to have lee cocking you have lowered the skeg too far and creating too much resistance in the stern. For this reason the skeg has a variable drop, so that you can fine turn or trim your kayak.

So with above explanation I hope you take away a couple of key points.
  • Weather Cocking: the kayaks tendency to turn up wind when neutrally loaded or bow loaded.
  • Lee Cocking: a kayak will turn down wind with a skeg lowered to far or a stern loaded kayak.
  • The skeg is NOT a rudder and maneuvering the kayak will be done with edging combined with proper paddle strokes.
Now we can move on to the rudder. The rudder is used to maneuver the kayak left and right. Rudders come in all types of deployment methods and shapes. I am not sure of the big difference the shape makes in a rudder but they all serve the same purpose. The rudder has a more simple explanation than the skeg. So I will not spend as much time on the rudder system.

In simple terms, if you are using a rudder and need your kayak to turn to the right or adjust to the right to maintain a course. You just have to press on the right foot peg to control the rudder. It is nice and easy system: Press the RIGHT foot peg to go RIGHT and the LEFT foot peg to go LEFT.

Now let's get to why you might want one over the other. For this section I will be giving my personal opinion. My experience with the different systems has developed over many years as a kayak guide and kayak educator. To get any biases out of the way, I paddle a kayak with a skeg.

I feel skeg style kayaks have lots of positives.
  • You rely on your skills sets to master maneuvering your kayak.
  • When paddling in rough conditions you can use the foot pegs to to push against to aid in rotations and power.
  • Learning bracing and rolling the foot pegs, once again, offer a stable platform to push off of with your lower body.
A couple of negatives:
  • It is very common that the skeg gets jammed with rocks. So if you plan on using the skeg while paddling, make sure that you clear it before leaving the beach.
  • The skeg housing in the stern of the kayak takes up storage space.
  • Not very often, but the skeg cable/ropes can break.
I will list the rudder bullets all in one and let you decide what is negative or positive.
  • You can maneuver the kayak left to right via the rudder and minimal skills.
  • Easy to maintain course with a poorly packed kayak.
  • Rudder cables break and leave you without the ability to steer if you have not learned proper skills to maneuvering.
  • Rudder assembly breaks and you cannot deploy the rudder or do a simple field fix unless you have spare parts.
  • Foot pegs do not lock place so you do not get a strong platform to push off of for power paddling, bracing or rolling.
  • Foot pegs get jammed requiring repair.
  • Rudders can become dangerous in rescue situations.
My overall personal opinion:

I do think that rudders have a solid place in the market of kayaks. But I think it is important for each individual to decide what type of paddling the will be doing or what type of paddler they want to become. If you plan on learning all the proper paddle strokes and edging techniques and would suggest getting a skeg kayak. This does not mean you cannot do the same in a rudder kayak. You would just learn with the rudder not deployed.

In the end I prefer to not use either. I have a skeg in my kayak and have used it very little over the years. I pack my kayak for the condition I am in and use edging to maintain my course. I have found this work well for me and deal very little with weather cocking issues.

A quick rule of thumb for skeg kayaks.
  1. Skeg up = Weather Cocking possible
  2. Skeg down = Lee Cocking possible
I hope that I was able to clear a few things up for some folks. If there were any questions or I have confused you more than you were before. Please leave a comment for me to address..

Thanks.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Transient Orcas

So I was at work yesterday day and the Marmot order came in. So it was time to open boxes and start getting it all in the computer, priced and then out on the floor. I decided to grab a quick lunch with my buddy Eduardo when my phone rang. It was my buddy Ivan who is the owner of Western Prince Wildlife Cruises. He got word there was a pretty good size group of Transient Orcas out in the Straits. He called around and wanted to see if anyone wanted to go out on his fast boat Western Explorer. It is nice to be able travel fast when the Orcas are pretty far away and the Western Explorer does just that, TRAVEL FAST.

It was a great day out. There was a bit of rain when we left the harbor but the sun won the battle by the time we got on the scene with the Orcas. There were a couple different groups just traveling around. There was a few tail slaps here and again and we got an unexpected close pass by a small group.

There were some great photos taken from the encounter. I only had my IPhone with me. I did not have much time to get prepared to head out. Even so, everyone else aboard had nice DSLR's with good lenses to catch the event. I will post my few image below. But I am going to include a couple of links to pages that have much better pictures..

Western Prince Facebook (Ivan has images posted from the day and many more cool images to check out.)
Whale of A Purpose Blog (Jeanne is an avid whale watcher and picture taker. She does not have new images up as of this post, but she has some other up and I am sure new ones to come.)

Check out my images below and remember they are IPhone images, so not the best. I have to get back to work, ENJOY.

A large mail passes by and gives us a nice tail slap.

Dorsal fin of the large mail know as "Chainsaw"

Another view of "Chainsaw"

Here is a cool grouping passing the side of the boat

A couple of dorsal fins off the bow

Robin joined me on the outing. She even got a little work done by doing a couple of plankton tows.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How to Select a Kayak Outfitter

I am going to outline some basic steps to help find a kayak outfitter to take a kayak vacation. I will mainly use references to sea kayaking as that is what I am most knowledgeable about, but this advice could be applied to many kinds of outdoor adventure vacation activities. Through my years as guide and business manager, I have seen people put in unsafe situations and people spend money on vacation activities that was less than it could be - if not a bad experience. Therefore I thought I could provide some helpful tips to get the most out of your kayak vacation.

Many regions have a different sets of guidelines for choosing and outfitter and it is important to understand the environment in which you will be heading out in. Being the in Pacific Northwest where the water temps are pretty cold, winds can be strong, the currents can be extreme. It is important that you know a bit about the situation and that you choose to go with guides that are skilled and tall all the extra precautions to make you safe and comfortable. Some of my comments may not apply if you are looking to go with a company that offers sit-on-top tours in Florida, but even then, it is good to know what your getting into.

With all that said I hope this will help people find respectful and safe companies to go kayaking with.

Outfitter Websites: As with most things today the Internet is usually the place to start window shopping for your kayak outfitter. This is a good way to isolate outfitters in the region you plan to visit, but be careful when reading the content of the websites. Many companies will make amazing claims and show you images of great wonders with wildlife piled high in one image and kayaker in the middle. Here are a few things to think about.
  • Images on the site: Do the images seem to be even possible. Believe me I have seen it all and Photoshop computer software can do a lot to images to make a fantasy out of bits of reality. Use good judgment and good common sense. If a company is willing to dupe potential customers with images on a website, then imagine what they will do once you arrive.
  • Exclusive paddling areas: This statement I have seen more than once. There are times when this is true. But usually it means they are based in a resort and have an exclusive launch location, but the area can still be accessed by other companies leaving from a different location. But when you see these statements be careful. Usually this is marketing to get your business and when you arrive at the launch beach with every other company in the region, well you start to feel a bit taken. More often than not, outfitters paddle the same regions.
  • Research or Non-Profit: I have seen this claim a few times. Yes, it can be true some of the time and yes, some organizations may even be registered as non-profits. Though this sounds philanthropic, it is in your interest to follow through and see what these organizations really do. I have found some really do research, but I have also found the opposite. Using the non-profit status and research tag is a great marketing tool that has been used more than once to attract clients. They use marketing tag lines such as, "Feel good knowing your money goes to save the wildlife". Such a statement should raise a red flag and behoove you to looking into such claims. Be sure to explore the company's website and explore their associated businesses and research institutions.
  • Guide Training: You might be concerned about safety and if you aren't, you should be. Guides should all undergo training and their training should be on-going. Just because a guide is shown how to do something once, does not mean they have perfected the techniques needed to be proficient in rescues. Like everything else, kayaking takes practice, being a trip leader takes practice and being a rescuer takes practice. I have been a guide for many years and I am continually practicing my skills and taking courses to both refresh my techniques and learn new ones.
    So, if you see claims like, "oldest company" or "I have been leading tours for the last 30 years", ask them if they continued their training or what level of training they have had, including first aid. In some areas, tandem kayaks are common for guest to paddle on tours. Be cautious of any company where the guide exclusively leads trips in a tandem kayak. Sometimes companies cannot help it, but they usually try to get the number of guest to be even to ensures the guide is in a single kayak which is easier to maneuver in a rescue. Single kayaks are more agile and creates a safer environment for the guest. Avoid at all cost, tours where odd number groups are required to run tours. This means the guide will must be in a tandem kayak, NOT GOOD. In addition, make sure the company provides all the guest with life vest (PFD's) and that the guides carry first aid kits, tow ropes, radios or other forms of communication if available, and extra warm gear in case of emergency.
  • Better Business Bureau: Check the company out with the Better Business Bureau and be sure to check all names a company may have. Sometimes a company will have more than one name associated with them. Check them all out as it is hard to say what complaints have been filed.
Make Phone Calls: It is simply not enough to just read a website and book you kayak tour. The website should be used as a resource to collect information so that you can ask good questions when you call. During your phone call you should voice all your concerns and questions, all of which should be addressed without issue by the company. Again, use common sense. If you feel some of your questions have created a defensive nature to the person on the other line, then something is wrong. Respectful companies will go out of their way to make sure you are well informed and answer any questions you have.

Check Travel Sites for Reviews: Though this is not a sure fire way to get information since companies that are issue prone will go to great lengths to leave an overly grand review for themselves. Sites such as YELP and Trip Advisor can provide information from past guest on tours.

Other Red Flags: Just wanted to bullet a few extra tips while looking over sites and chatting with kayak tour outfitters.
  • Equipment: It is always best to figure out what you are paying for. Some tours market all inclusive but you end up providing half the gear yourself. Small details to think about. Will you be provided dry bags or foul weather gear for your day tour. If you are going on a camping tour will you be provided tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, dry bags, foul weather gear, forks, spoons, cups etc. You will find all "inclusive" means something different to everyone.
  • Food: If you are going out for the day some outfitters will provide you lunch and some will as you to arrive with you own lunch. Make sure to ask what food will be served for lunch if it is provided. If you are going on a camping kayak tour see if all meals are provided. Some may not include lunch. Ask about snacks and other energy based foods that will be needed for the day while kayak touring.
  • Payments: See if they accept credit cards and if they do be concerned if they want to add a percentage if you decided to pay by credit card. If they want cash payments only be concerned if you are dealing with a legitimate company. Requiring a person to pay large amounts of money in cash could mean to company is not on the up and up with the IRS or other tax collecting agencies. BIG RED FLAG!
  • Outfitter Insurance: This is a very important issue. Some kayak tour operators may not carry liability insurance. A lot of the time these operators will avoid using areas for camping and launching kayaks that require permits, since most launch locations that require permits also require outfitters to have have proof on insurance. You do not want to go with an outfitter that does not carry liability insurance.
  • Hints on Safety: You can get somewhat of an idea on safety by looking at the outfitters website. If you see images of guides or guest kayaking without proper safety equipment such as PFD's (life jackets). In any area I personally feel PFD's should be worn. But in areas where swift currents and cold water are common, PFD's are a must and should always be worn by guides and guests. Not wearing such safety equipment and posting images of such online is irresponsible of the outfitter. Use common sense and look for clues on unsafe behavior.
So what can you do to protect yourself from the above? It's simple.
  • First go over the site with your common sense goggles on. Shopping for a grand adventure is fun, but do not let a websites content take advantage of you with unrealistic claims and images.
  • Make a list of things that caught your attention, negative or positive.
  • Call the company and discuss things that may concern you. You should always call before booking, even if you end up booking online. Collect as much information as you can about the company over the phone.
  • Ask pointed questions. If they do research or make such claims, ask what it is they do. If they donate to research or conservation organization, ask for a history of who they donate to. See how recent the company's research is or donations have been.
  • Check Travel Review Sites for further information.
  • Feel good and comfortable with your decision. If for any reason you have hesitation, KEEP LOOKING FOR A OUTFITTER.
  • Ask companies if they are members of local associations or business groups. Most lodging places receive commissions for send guest to certain outfitters so they are not always the best source of information. You should feel free to ask your lodging front desk when inquiring about an outfitter, if they pay commissions.
All in all I feel there are a lot of good outfitters out there working hard to do the right thing and provide a great adventure. But there are those that choose to take a different route to simply get as much business as possible.

I hope this small article has provided some good information for those looking to for kayak outfitters for their vacation. Shop smart and just use good judgment and all will be okay... and hopefully have fun!..

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Kayaking All Weekend

I was on the water leading kayak tours Saturday and Sunday. It was nice to be out and on the water all weekend. Saturday the tour started out with a bit of chop and following seas. The winds were out of the NNE at a steady 15kts. But the wind pushed us South pretty fast. We arrived well ahead of schedule at Deadmans Bay. We got out and took a short walk along the coast. Before long it was time to head back out on the water. The NNE winds were stiff so paddling was slow and choppy. My guest did well and had a great time being on the water.

Today was a bit nicer with lighter winds out of the N. I had a group of students from the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Labs. It was a good size group and everyone did a great job. It was a nice time to be on the water. The winds faded as the afternoon turned to early evening. Tours are always fun when you have a large group that listens well and gets on the water quickly and on the flips sides gets things loaded quickly. Clean up is always a bummer with all the gear and kayaks to clean. So I did not get out of there until later, around 830pm. But all is clean and ready for a tour tomorrow.

Guess I really do not have much else to share as I pretty much just kayaked this weekend.






Friday, April 9, 2010

Nice day for a hike.

Well after work Robin and I decided to head out and get a bit of hiking in. It was a great walk. We headed out to the DNR land to explore the area. As we hit the trail head Guinness was excited to be outside as he sniffed and tugged at his makeshift leash.

It was nice and windy but we had some protection as we approached Young Hill from the East and with the wind being out of the West, it was nice. The sun was warm and bright, though the trail was nice a muddy. Spring flowers were popping out of the ground everywhere. We managed a few off trail excursions though some nice thickets. But we always returned to the trails to move on. We poked around having fun along the way and finally got the to top of Young Hill. Reaching the top, we were met with lot of heavy gust of wind. It was still a beautiful sight. We did not hang out to long as it was getting a bit chilly in the wind. We headed back into the woods and down the hill. On our way our we saw a few deer starting to move about.

After a bit of time we made it to the car. It was a really nice little hike in a great forested area of the island. Just what we all needed after sitting in offices all day.

Tomorrow brings great fun as I am hopeful the winds will be down and I have a Kayak Tour to take out. The whole weekend is looking pretty good. So I hope people are coming out to enjoy. Discovery Sea Kayaks will be on the water and I will be guiding, so come join me.


Robin and Guinness under some pretty nice Cedar Trees.

HUGS.. Guinness never gets enough hugs ;)

A large Madrona on the ground. The wind must of got the best of it.

A view from the top of Young Hill. I promise it was windy up there..

That is all I have for the day. Check back for pictures from my kayak tours this weekend.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Let the wind blow.

Well it is another windy day here on San Juan Island and luckily we do not have any tours out. There seems to be a good amount of people roaming about town, but I am sure that kayaking is the last thing on their minds today.

I hope to get out for a short walk or run today. It will be a cold one out there, but I need to get out. I have a kayak tour going out on Saturday and there are spaces available. Stop by the DSK SITE or give us a call to join, 360.378.2559.

Western Prince Whale and Wildlife Tours are operating tours as well. Enjoy a trip around the island looking for wildlife and enjoying the scenery. Plus if you book a tour with Discovery Sea Kayaks and the Western Prince you will get 10% Off each tour.

**If you have a Washington State ID Discovery Sea Kayaks will give you 15% Off our West Side Day Tour till May 15th.

Looks like the winds are forecast to ease up this weekend. So the kayaking should be good. So don't be afraid to travel on up to the island and enjoy the early season. Great deals can be found all over the island for the early travelers.

Hope everyone out there is enjoying their day.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kayak Tours and Wind

Well it has been busy over the week and I have been getting on the water for some guiding. I had a good 6 days in a row of Day Tours. That is always good, but not when the wind will not stop blowing. The sea state has been a bit cranky due to all the SSE and SSW winds we have been having on the island. Though the seas have been rough my groups have been having a great time.

I have not seen any Orcas yet, but I have read reports of some Transients out near Race Rocks. Bald Eagles have been busy building on their nest and going through the motions of courtship behavior. Some of the summer sea birds are hear and a few loons are still around. We had a great encounter with a fox on the shoreline. The fox had to scale a pretty steep area to get down to the waters edge. But when we approached, it scaled the near vertical with ease. On one trip we had a great view of two different California Sea Lions swimming north in the Haro Strait. So there is plenty to see right now.

Today I mainly worked in the shop. It is time to get ready for all of our new gear and clothing. All our Marmot and The North Face clothing gets here in a couple of weeks. So if you need some new clothing for the outdoors, stop by the shop.

Plus we are gearing up for our garage sale. April 24th: New and Used Equipment. Boreal Design Esperanto tandem kayaks, a few single kayaks. Plus camping gear: Tents from The North Face, and sleeping bags too. Plus some good deals on New clothing and outer wear.

Well I guess that is all I have to say today.


My Explorer setting at Deadman Bay while we were taking off to hike to the Lime Kiln Lighthouse. Discovery Sea Kayaks.

A view from Deadman Bay. Not a bad day until the wind picked up. Then is was fun and tougher to lead people home. But Fun! Discovery Sea Kayaks.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

San Juan Island Kayak Tours

Just wanted to let everyone know that Discovery Sea Kayaks is OPEN and operating Kayak Tours. Day Tours are already booking for this weekend. Plus we have a great deal going for those who are residents of Washington State and have a Washington State ID. We are giving 15% OFF our West Side Day Kayak Tour with your Wa State ID till May 15th.. This is a great opportunity for those that live around here to beat the crowd and get a discount.

Multi Day Tours are also booking. We are getting lots of interest in our 3 and 5 Day Kayak Tours. So if you are thinking of getting a group together for and Kayak Island Adventure, give us a call 360.378.2559.

If you are looking to buy your own kayak, we have some good deals on USED KAYAKS.

So I have had some questions when people have called lately. They are concerned about the Ferry ride and thinking about taking a tour in Anacortes instead.

First let me say that the Washington State Ferry ride from Anacortes to San Juan Island has long been thought of as one of the most scenic and beautiful ferry rides one can take. Second the ferry route is now part of the Washington State Scenic Byway. The cost is more than worth the relaxing ride through forested islands with rocky shores. View Harbor Seals and Bald Eagles along the way. The beauty encountered during the ferry ride alone is worth the ride and more than rivals what you will see while kayaking out of Anacortes. So when you are planning your vacation to the San Juan Islands don't let the idea of ferry hassle stop you from actually getting here. Half the experience of a San Juan Island Kayak Tour is the amazing ferry ride to welcome you to Friday Harbor.

Here are couple of links about the Ferry Route.