— Brinestorm

Most kayakers I know use gloves when they’re paddling. Some detest gloves, opting instead for optimal contact with the paddle. To each his/her own, of course.

But me, I’m a glove guy. My hands prefer a low-friction buffer of fabric to help avoid blisters. And it’s taken a long time to settle on gloves I like.

Like so many things in paddling, it’s all quite personal, but here are the gloves I’ve used, and loved…or hated.

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Hey, Outdoor Clothing Industry: Can you please consider putting heavier-weight materials on the arms of your upper baselayer garments, and lighter-weight materials on the torso?

We paddlers wear PFD’s on our torsos, as well as spray skirt tunnels. Including a jacket/drysuit and a base layer, my body’s core is wrapped in four layers of material. This keeps the body’s core quite warm. When we’re in cold water, the torso tends not to get as cold as our arms. Even on cold days, after paddling for a few minutes, I get overheated in my torso, even if it’s so cold that I can’t feel my fingers.  Sweaty backs and numb hands is a really uncomfortable combo.

I’ve experimented with wearing the thinnest synthetic or wool t-shirts with fleece cycling sleeves, but this is fiddly at best and sometimes those sleeves are a bit constrictive. Low blood flow means colder arms, so that doesn’t always work out.

Imagine having a top made of Patagonia’s Capilene 1 on the torso and Capilene 3 on the arms. Or, even better, wool that’s two to three times as thick on the arms than the torso. This would help thermo-regulation in a major way and not create redundancy in terms of weight or material. A jersey cut would reduce chafing and let the sleeves cover the shoulders, which are not kept warm by most active-cut PFDs on the market.

The lesson here for paddling clothing and gear manufacturers is to think about undergarments as part of a larger system, the system of gear all us responsible kayakers are already wearing. This would help backpackers as well, who have half of their core covered in a pack, and cyclists, who need to vent from their backs on hot or intense rides.

You’d sell more vests, too! 🙂 I accept product royalty payments in turkey jerky and rye whiskey.

If you’re a paddler who’s found interesting ways to balance warmth and comfort while paddling, chime in with a comment below!

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[Remember that you can watch this video larger on Vimeo or watch it full-screen by pressing the icon in the lower right corner of the video above.]

I’ve been outside the Golden Gate of the San Francisco Bay on a number of trips this fall, and the video in this post is a compilation of some of these sights and sensations. Mostly small-condition exploration and play, but with some capsizing, side-surfing, and combat rolls thrown in for good measure. Zero injuries, except some wounded pride, and many chances to paddle with some of my local friends and heroes.

Anyone coming to the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium in January will be in some of these very same environments, so come on out and I’ll see you there!

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Here in the San Francsico Bay Area, the Pyranha Fusion is an increasingly popular rock gardening kayak: It’s about 10′ long, intended for self-supported river running, but it has a skeg for tracking well in flat water. After trying one on the Mendocino coast (which you can see in an earlier blog post and video), its responsiveness and stability was awe-inspiring in ocean whitewater conditions. I knew I had to have one!

But, being a sea kayaker, I was struck by its total lack of perimeter lines. I’ve never seen a river kayak with perimeter lines, but nearly every serious sea kayak has them. When you need or practice rescues and recoveries as much as I do, they are absolutely essential for maintaining contact with your boat should you wet exit…or for someone else trying to recover your boat for you. In fact, a recent pool session revealed that a friend almost couldn’t even lift if after a capsize to do a T-rescue, as the front grab loop was the only place to get purchase.

So, I decided to add some perimeter lines to my brand new boat!

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Kayaks are pretty much the only way to board the USS Thompson. or what’s left of it.

Modern ruins are just plain rad. I’m a huge fan of post-apocalyptic fiction and love exploring disused spaces. Many people don’t realize that a kayak buys you admission to many such places.

The San Francisco Bay Area has a rich naval history. The most visible artifacts of this history are the once-mighty shipyards at Mare Island, Vallejo, and the infamous Mothball Fleet rusting away like ghosts in Suisun Bay. A lesser known artifact is the South Bay Wreck, better known as the USS Thompson, is located in the southern part of the bay, halfway between Redwood City and Fremont, but unlike these other sites, it can really only be reached via kayak, given the shallow waters. Heck, we had a floating picnic right on – well, over – its deck.

The Thompson is a wrecked hulk, covered in amazing textures and slowly being overtaken by algae, barnacles, and rust. However, the salty waters of the bay didn’t make it this way: It was purposefully sunk and used for bombing practice (with dummy warheads, luckily).

Local paddlers can put in at Redwood City near Corkscrew Slough and head pretty much due west. You can’t quite see it from the sloughs, but keep your eyes peeled and what remains of its superstructure is hard to miss.

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How do you signal the Coast Guard when you need help? You use your VHF radio, of course, and you broadcast on either channel 9 or 16 (in the US, anyway). Then, when they’re dispatched, what is the very best single way to help guide them to you? Pocket flares? Marker dye in the water? Flashlights? Shoulder strobes? GPS-equipped personal locator beacons?

No, no, no, and no. The answer, once again, is your VHF radio.

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Source unknown.

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A tired me, crossing the finish line…but I finished! (Photo by Bill Rostenberg)

I just participated in the SeaTrek Regatta and ETC Paddle-A-Thon, a charity race for Environmental Traveling Companions. Those who pledged to my participation raised over $500 for this excellent charity, and I got to paddle my first race ever, a 9.5-mile course around Angel Islandin the San Francisco Bay.

And somehow I won first place in my age and boat category. How could that possibly happen?!?

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Sand Harbor, Lake Tahoe, California


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I categorize carabiners in two über buckets: rescue carabiners you need to trust lives with, and accessory carabiners that simply help small items stay put. ITW, a military equipment manufacturer, has created possibly the most perfect accessory ‘biner for sea kayaking: The GrimLoc. Swords to paddleshares, I say!

In a world where sea spray, salt, and sand could spell death to normal ‘biners, these things are ingenious, invaluable, small, light, and oh-so-convenient. What makes them so cool…and unique?

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