Wednesday, July 21, 2010

End of an Era - Start of a New One!

The lack of posts might give you some idea of how busy life has been since Kai was born in September last year. Well I have finally submitted to the inevitable and decided to finish working as a sales rep. The only way to make money as an independent sales rep is by spending time on the road and that just isn't possible with two young children.

So at the end of July I will no longer be a sales rep and will instead be focussing my attention back on my family and developing the instruction and guiding services side of my business. To that end, Bryant Burkhardt has joined the River and Ocean team and he will be developing the whitewater side of the business next summer as well as helping me take the sea kayak instruction to the next level.

I will remain as a Team Paddler for P&H and Kokatat and will continue to be part of the team that includes Matt Palmariello that organises the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium.

So whilst I might spend less time behind the wheel in the future, I hope to spend more time on the water and more time with the kids.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Point Reyes - King of Headlands

The swell forecast for Monday, December 28th 2009 was 16.5ft @ 16 seconds. At least the wind forecast was more favorable (NNE 5-15kts). We (Dan, Dave, Thomas and myself) left Drakes Beach for a trip out to Point Reyes lighthouse at 10am with overcast skies and an air temperature of 53degrees.

Point Reyes is the windiest spot on the US Coast and the second foggiest. Winter time is perhaps the best time to kayak out to Point Reyes. The average temperature is only 5 degrees cooler in winter and it is normally much less foggy and windy than the summer months. Of course winter does bring with it big swell and this was what we had to contend with on this day.

The headland of Point Reyes sticks out like a raised fist to the Pacific swell. Unique in its geology and ecology, it is the jewel in the crown of marine national parks that adorn the coast of California. Point Reyes National Seashore includes Tomales Bay and Drakes Estero, both wonderful places to explore by kayak, but for the more adventurous, the lighthouse perched precariously on the crumbling granite cliffs is a 'must see' from the cockpit of a kayak.

Punching through a solid three foot surf on Drakes Beach woke us up for the 2 mile paddle south across Drakes Bay to Chimney Rock. Suitably warmed up we gave the huge waves breaking on barely submerged reefs a wide berth as we swung west to follow the line of towering cliffs that would lead us to the lighthouse. Every golden sand pocket beach is occupied by elephant seals this time of year, the deep guttural call of the males an acoustic match to the booming surf.

The myriad of wave carved stacks, arches and enticing gulleys makes this section of coast a rock gardening heaven, but the powerful swell determined that we could only be spectators to the death throes of the waves that pounded and pummeled the reefs, whilst elephant seal pups slept soundly just feet from the carnage.

Another two species of pinnipeds make this inhospitable two and a half miles of coastline their home. Common Seals occupy a rather stony beach and California Sea Lions seem to have drawn the short straw, making do with granite boulders and a large, dark cave awash at high tide. Their constant noisy protests just add to the cacophony of wind and waves. Soon enough the lighthouse adds man's endeavors to the mix. Built in 1870 and retired in 1975, it provides one of the best viewpoints to watch the migration of gray whales (unknown to me the southward migration had started and several whales were spotted that same day).

For us it was our turn-around point. There was little prospect of landing on Point Reyes Beach which stretches some 12 miles north from Point Reyes towards Tomales Point without any break in the pounding surf.

For a while the swell seemed to have subsided as we retraced our route back to Chimney Rock, encouraging me shorewards in a vain attempt to find somewhere to play in amongst the reefs. And then, just before I got too cocky a huge rolling monolith reared up behind us and as the crest feathered, we slid of the back, getting showered by spray just before the 20ft wall of water pitched over in a perfect barrel and exploded on the now exposed rocks. Even well outside the break zone, swirling boils indicated hidden rocks that had the potential to cause the biggest waves to collapse with little warning and I stayed alert looking over my right shoulder trying to judge if any wave had evil intent.

Finally we reached the fringing reefs at Chimney Rock and I just couldn't resist the temptation to pass as close as I dare to the rocks now exposed by the fallen tide. The others were more prudent and swung out wide only to have a rogue swell rear up behind them and give them a exhilarating few moments. Disappointed at not getting a decent surf ride myself I turned and punched through the walls of whitewater rolling around the corner of Chimney Rock and succeeded in getting a couple of good rides as well as a bit of rescue practice as the others joined in!

After a spot of lunch we followed the shoreline back to the put-in, enjoying some surf zone practice in the growing surf as we worked our way NE trying not to disturb the slumbering elephant seal behemoths looking like huge black boulders on an otherwise sandy shore.

In my humble opinion, the paddle to Point Reyes from Drakes Beach is one of the best in an area that offers some of the finest sea kayaking in California. I hope to be offering guided trips throughout the Point Reyes National Sea Shore, as well as the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 2010. Please email me if you are interested in learning the knowledge and skills necessary to explore these areas safely by kayak.

You can see my photos of our day on the water and the spectacular sunset that followed by visiting my Flickr page.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. Anybody who dares suggest that having kids shouldn't change your life needs to spend sometime in my shoes! Whilst I wouldn't change anything about my life as it is right now, I will admit that it is incredibly challenging trying to find a balance between family, work and play. Play time simply doesn't exist at the moment and the only time I get to paddle is when I am 'working' (a very misleading description).

I did manage to get some nice waves at the NorCal Classic at Davenport in October competing in my new Murky Waters kayak, the Aqua Libre.

Last weekend I finally got certified to teach sea kayaking! Whilst I have been teaching many disciplines of paddlesport for years I have never had a formal instructor qualification in sea kayaking - until now.
Despite a wet and windy three days, I had a great time doing my Open Water Instructor Certification with Instructor Trainers Marce Wise and Bryant Burkhardt and the other candidates. Thanks guys!
I have enjoyed going through the American Canoe Association Instructor Development program and recommend it to anyone. I found it much more accessible than the British Canoe Union program which requires so many hoops to be jumped through it puts many folk off even trying. There are those that argue that the BCU program goes into much more depth on how to teach but I found the ACA program perfectly adequate. I look forward to doing the whitewater instructor certification next year. I will be offering ACA Open Water and Surf Kayak courses in 2010 in the Bay Area as well as freelancing with other kayaking schools. Please contact me for further details or keep an eye on my website:
2009 has been a tough year on many levels for a lot of folk working in the paddlesports industry. It has very much been a case of survival of the fittest and whilst several manufacturers and retailers have gone out of business I am pleased to say that all the companies I represent and the majority of the shops that I work with have survived. We can only hope that the economy will continue to recover in 2010 and I wish everyone a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.
Please add this New Year's resolution to your list: Support my local specialist paddlesports retailer!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kai Charles Morley

Kai Charles was born at 10.39am on Tuesday September 8th 2009. He weighed 9lbs 5oz and is 20" long. This photo was taken just an hour after Kai was delivered by C-Section at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.

Gina elected for a C-Section on the advice of her OB doctor Secily Bason-Mitchell. This turned out to be visionary as Kai had managed to tie a knot in his umbilical cord that could have led to serious complications had Gina attempted a vaginal delivery. Plus with Kai being such a big baby and our daughter Shea Bella having being delivered by C-Section last time, it was all pointing towards a C-Section again. Of course this means a long and painful recovery for Gina but she faced the ordeal with amazing courage and determination.
The operation was completed without any complication and Kai was delivered with Gina being completely aware of what was going on whilst being pain free. It is a miracle of modern medicine that leaves us in awe of the remarkable team of doctors and nurses that do this daily. And all we can can do is say "Thank you" which seems rather inadequate.
We also want to say thank you to everyone who has sent congratulatory messages by email and text.
Lastly we want to say a HUGE thank you to Gina's mom Carolyn and step-dad Fred who have been looking after Shea Bella for us whilst we are in hospital.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Hey Folks,

Well it is that time of year when I don't know which way is up! Two weeks ago, was AquanFest in Foster City, CA, hosted by Aquan Sports. Last weekend was the Lake Natoma Paddlefest in Rancho Cordova, CA hosted by California Canoe and Kayak. Both events had great weather which resulted in a good turnout and good business.

It was great to see Gina and Shea Bella on the water at Lake Natoma.

I am now the sales rep for Pyranha US for California, Arizona and Nevada. I am delighted and look forward to seeing as many retailers as possible at next month's Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City.

I guess I am going to be seeing even more of this great country in the future...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


There is one word that best describes Alaska - BIG!

I have been lucky enough to have been invited to Homer, Alaska by my friend Tom Pogson who runs Alaska Kayak School and organizes the Immersion Skills Symposium over Memorial Day weekend. After a couple of easy, and at times spectacular flights to Anchorage and a very pleasant drive down to Homer I arrived to see a stunning view of Homer Spit and the mountains and glaciers of the Kenai Peninsula.

I am staying with the Todd's whose gorgeous house sits on the bluff 1200ft above Kachemak Bay, overlooking the Kachemak Bay State Park and the Kenai Mountains. They have been amazing hosts and we are all going on a three-and-a-bit day kayak trip along the north side of the Kenai Peninsula starting Thursday.

Today I helped lead a trip across the Bay to Gull Island and into an exquisite inlet where the minus tide had exposed some plumose and christmas anenomes and hundreds of sun stars, sponges and even a large clam that Rob Avery almost turned into sushi.

After an hour of sunbathing on the beach:

Yes! Sunbathing in Alaska I kid you not - we headed back and saw tufted puffins on our second pass of Gull Island as well as thousands of murre, black legged kittiwakes and, of course, lots of gulls.

Tom Pogson, Alaska Kayak School

The crew did really well on the crossing back and it topped off a really successful symposium for Tom, Ryan and the rest the the AKS team. Well done you guys!

If you are looking for a world-class destination for sea kayaking then look no further than Homer, Alaska. Tom Pogson is one of the best instructors I have ever had the pleasure to work with. He has a deep understanding of what his clients need combined with profound knowledge of both the technical aspects of expedition sea kayaking and all aspects of the Alaskan wilderness.

Family fun

One of the advantagesJustify Full of working as a rep in the paddlesports industry is going to beautiful places and sometimes Gina and Shea Bella get to come too.

These pictures were taken at Lake Del Valle, near Livermore, CA during a demo for Sunrise Mountain Sports.

Thanks Kim and Allison!