Northwest Paddle Festival

Northwest Paddle Festival What a day! An 80 degree sunny Saturday with hundreds of paddlers = amazing. This festival seemed to have all the vendors in the area, with lots of kayaks to try. There were seminars on many topics. Below are the ones I went to with a couple of the many good points they made: Communication devices by Rob Avry: VHF radios are good for monitoring the emergency channel (16) and calling for help if needed (but don’t even hit the talk button on that channel if you don’t want the coast guard to track you), and for getting weather information. The radio is limited by bad weather and distance, and you need to learn to use it (like using channel 69 for “pleasure”/talking to your fellow kayakers, stating who you’re calling 3x then who you are and your message). It needs to be water proof radio (not just resistant) but it doesn’t have to be buoyant because that will make it bulky and you can just tie it to yourself with a string). Fast find personal location beacon has a one time charge of about $250 but NOAA will be able to receive your signal wherever you are around the world, no matter how remote. Delorme inReach has a monthly subscription service  (that you pay for on the months you need) for sending texts/emails and receiving replies. And with any of these devices don’t forget about batteries for longer trips (using solar recharging equipment and/or bringing along spare batteries). This is the short version of the short talk so use this information as a place to get started, not a blanket recommendation for every new paddler. Fast Find Personal Locator Beacon Packing for kayak camping by Todd Switzer (he has a YouTube channel): Anything you want to actually stay dry needs double protection, like a zip lock bag or tupperware/snapware inside a dry bag (rolled multiple times). Pack fridge items (like hard cheese) on the bottom of the kayak, cooled by the water. Pack your meals in separate bags (1 bag per meal) so you don’t get moisture in and get moldy food. Once you’re packed do a practice paddle before you get going to make sure you’re centered. Go Pro (we only heard the end, having too much fun on the water) by an REI employee: the battery lasts for about one hour running continuously without  wifi on. Get broken tent poles and a tripod mount to get the go pro higher for more interesting footage. A float attached on the back is necessary because the go pro sinks like a rock (and are expensive!). Packing for touring (can you tell my main focus?) by an REI employee: Center your weight. Water and other heavy items should be in the center, lighter items on the ends, and don’t forget to center left and right as well because paddling at a tilt will get old fast. A rough guide to needing temperature regulation (a dry suit) is that you need it if the air and water are less than 120 degrees combined. Try doing a day trip with everything you need for an overnight trip, because milage is a lot more difficult fully loaded, and so are rescues (so practice before it’s an emergency). As for trying out kayaks… We tried out a lot of single and tandem kayaks, which is a great place to start if you’re thinking of investing larger chunks of change. There are so many different cockpit shapes and you want to find the perfect one that fits your body. By perfect fit I mean that you have a lot of points of contact between your body and the boat, so you can control it. Your toes, bottom of your foot, knees, hips, back, everything. Alex really enjoyed taking Tiderace (the xplorer L) and Valley (etain) kayaks for a spin (I took out the smaller versions). We didn’t ask about the price tag (~3,500) until after the joy ride. IMG_5014 My favorite, and last kayak I tried, fit me physically and mentally. The Pygmy Murrelet 4PD (~1,200) is beautiful (It’s wood! And at least according to them handles like fiberglass) and feels amazing between you and the water. Pygmy We also tried inflatables. The singles were fun and stay pretty straight once you get going (at least on calm water without wind) but the tandems were definitely easier to keep straight. We tried two inflatable tandems: the AdvancedFrame Convertable Kayak was my favorite because I could brace my knees on the side and Alex’s feet weren’t pushing against me, and Alex’s favorite was the Innova Swing II because of it’s firmer frame. Innova Swing II When you go next year don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat, wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet, and bring your own life jacket if you don’t mind carrying it, because then you don’t have to wait when the vendor is out or only has ones too large/small. There were plenty of paddles. Bring something to take notes on the seminars and kayaks (they all start to blend). You can either bring your lunch or buy from the food trucks. There’s a gear swap, but at least this year there wasn’t much selection. It’s $10 for parking (unless you paddle in) if you don’t have the discovery pass and $7 to try the kayaks/stand up paddle boards/canoes/UFOs (unidentified floating objects).

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