Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Time to reflect

Hi Folks,

So I have spent a week getting to know my family again and have started wading through the paperwork and phone calls and other stuff that has stacked up since I have been away.
My Mum flew home yesterday and we shall all miss her, especially Shea Bella who got to spend quality time with her English Grammy and loves her very much. I couldn't have done the VI trip without your help Mum. Thank you so much!
My body is almost completely healed. A huge blood blister appeared on my left heal which explained why it hurt so much for the second half of the record attempt. Otherwise I am in good shape and already replacing the lost pounds and losing my six pack once again. Ah well!
Thanks to everyone that has sent messages of congratulations. They are all really appreciated and whilst I have tried to respond to them all, if I have missed you out please accept my apologies. If I can help anyone planning a similar style of trip feel free to get in touch either by email: or my cell: 415-816-8746.
I will be giving a first slide show presentation about my trip at California Canoe and Kayak's Sacramento store on Saturday November 8th. Contact the store for more details: 916 851 3600.
I have also conducted interviews for Wavelength magazine and Canoe Kayak magazine and will be writing an article for Sea Kayaker magazine as well.
I wanted to show you some photos from the trip as a taste of what you might see at one of my slide shows. The first is of my kayak after landing on the beautiful Catala Island, located in Esperanza Inlet on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island, between Nootka Sound and Kyuquot Sound.

It was the most perfect day and I shared my campsite with a very tame deer and had my dinner listening to sea otters squeaking at each other in the Sound. Idyllic!

The second photo is of a close encounter with large male killer whale in Johnstone Strait, just east of Race Passage. That dorsal fin was about 6ft high! He was with a pod of about ten whales that were feeding in the powerful eddies created by the ebbing tide. They didn't seem to mind me at all and kept following me even when I paddled off, the youngsters exploding out of the water giving me quite a shock. I was paddling with them for about an hour. Truly one of the highlights of my kayaking career.

The final photo speaks for itself. I was overjoyed to finish. Not because I had beaten the record, just that I wanted to go home to see my family.

It will be quite a while before I do anything quite so long and hard again. But never say "Never"....

Monday, October 13, 2008

On my way home...

Hi Folks,

I am just back in Cali, at a Motel 6 in Yreka, catching up on some work and sleep before leaving in the early hours to make the final drive home.

So just a quick update: I finished the circumnavigation of Vancouver Island at 7.42pm on Saturday October 11th, in the dark and rain. I started at 2.53pm on Wednesday September 24th which by my sketchy math makes a total of 17days 4hours 49minutes.

It was one of the toughest challenges I have ever undertaken on several levels. Whilst the sea conditions I faced were much less challenging than during my UK and Ireland circumnavigation, and that was of course a much longer (6 month) trip, the fact that I was trying to break a record and that I desperately wanted to get home to be with my family meant that what seemed at times to be constant headwinds became incrediby frustrating. I pushed my body and mind as far as I ever want to go and will not rush to put myself in that position again. I found the pressure of breaking a speed record quite different to that of being 'first' to do something. It was definitely a different mindset and one that turned an amazing journey into something of a chore for a large part of the time.

That said of course it is very satisfying to have set out with a goal and to achieve it. I saw some incredible scenery, had some really close encounters with some amazing wildlife, and grew to love and respect our ocean and its coastline even more than I did before. I learnt a lot about myself now that I am a father and how this has changed my attitudes to record breaking and risk taking without me being aware of it until now.

I will download my camera and get some photos posted asap. Thank you so much for your support. Believe me, knowing that there were quite a few folk willing me on made all the difference when the doubts crept into my head, which they did several times.

By the way, I used a Valley Nordkapp (standard size, NOT the low volume) and it was awesome! My Kokatat gear performed superbly, as did my Optimus cooker, Mountain Hardware tent and Gaia dry bags. I used a Lettmann Nordic wing paddle in a medium blade size and 215cm in length. The same type of paddle that I used for my UK and Ireland trip and once again it was as smooth as silk and bomb proof.

After 700miles I had no blisters on my hands, just an aching back and two very sore heels which I bruised whilst bracing in big seas whilst being blown down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Time to get some sleep so that I will have the energy to play with Shea Bella tomorrow afternoon.

Good night!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

He Did It!!!

     Congrads to Sean!!!  He pulled into Port Hardy last last night @ 7p.m.  He broke the record by nearly 6 days, ( plus he had 1 layover day in Uculeut).  He paddled straight all day without stopping.  Solely eating power bars and drinking water.  You would have thought that he would have been exhausted, however just empowered.  
     His adrenaline rush carried him through out the night as he drove to the ferry terminal in Nainamo.  He survived eating a Subway sandwich and Rockstar drink arriving at 2:30a.m.  He caught the first ferry to Vancouver.
     He will make his way home now down the I-5.  Projected arrival into SF Bay on Tuesday.  He wanted to make some stops at dealers along the way and I absolutely said "No Way!"  Get home!  He was easily convinced but feels like he should pay visits to his dealers.
     I will be having a welcome home party for him next weekend with friends and neighbors.  I am sure he will be delighted.  I am teaching our daughter to say "Dada driving," now because that is what Sean will be doing for the next 2-3 days.  
     Cannot wait!  Thanks everyone for following his journey.  Hopefully, Sean has inspired others to take a journey and get out and explore.  I know he has with me.  I am off to Mexico next month with girlfriends on a surf trip.
     Gina and Shea Bella

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Spoke with Sean last night

     Spoke with Sean last night and he is beside himself.  He has been having headwinds the whole time so far up the East Coast.  His wind direction has been total opposite of what he has needed from the West coast to the East.  I said to him, "Oh!  Are you done today?  It does not look like you went very far?  I thought you would have made it to Cualicum Beach?  He said, "thanks!  I paddled straight for 9 hours against a strong headwind."
     The night before last...  He thought his tent was going to be blown away while he was in it.  Amazing winds he said...  
     Physically, he is doing okay.  He is having normal back aches and pains.  Mostly, his left heel is killing him.  He says it is from bracing so much during the choppy seas of the "Graveyard of the Pacific."  It is really bruised and difficult to paddle and walk on.  
     On the brighter side, I shared with Sean all of the blog inputs, emails, and phone calls that I have received.  He also shared a cute story with me once he arrived in Victoria.  He had a man greet him by kayak.  "Are you Sean Morley?"  Sean replied, "yes."  The nice French-Canadian man and his daughter took him out for dinner and let him stay in their home on the beach.  Another cute story was the next morning a group of school kids ran down to the beach and cheered him on.  They are following his progress from school.  
     My conclusion is although the weather and conditions have been challenging and unfavorable...  the people and scenery he has seen has been remarkable.  I mean how many times does somebody meet and greet you in the water, take you out for dinner, and provide a nice warm bed for you???!!!***  Not in my lifetime.  And I have been on some pretty extreme kayak trips.  
     Counting down the days Sean.  Get home soon!
gina and shea bella

Monday, October 6, 2008

Around Victoria

Hi Folks,
     First of all...  I would like to thank all of you who have emailed me in support of the venture.  Believe it or not...  I have even gotten some atta' boys for holding down the fort and supporting Sean.  It has been hard!  Some days pass quicker than others!  I am just glad that 
Sean has gotten around Victoria safely and there is an end to this outrageous trip sooner than we might think.  
     As you know, Sean took a layover day in Uculeut when there were fierce winds and minimal visibility.  The next day, the winds dropped and he departed for Port Renfry.  I think the thought of turning around or aborting the trip were still in his mind, but he persisted and went with his instinct and (VHF radio) that stated better weather.
     With the wind at his back, he got to Victoria pretty quick.  I think he was a day early than had predicted.  Awaiting him in Victoria (I believe in a sea kayak) was a friend of a friend of his.  This kind man took him in for the night at his house.  Sean phoned me from the strange area code to let me know that he was okay.  He was charging his cell phone among other things...
It looks like (as of 10 mins ago.) he has made it South of Nainamo and camping out for the night.
     Again...  Thanks for your emails, phone calls, questions, and support.  They are immensely appreciated.  
     gina and shea bella

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Storm bound in Ucluelet

Hey Folks,

I have just read Gina's updates to my blog. She is such a trooper, looking after the house, the dogs and Shea Bella whilst I am out 'playing' and she even finds time to update my blog bless her! Of course my Mum is there helping too and I will forever be grateful to them both for this opportunity.

So I am here in the small town of Ucluelet storm bound with winds of 30-40 knots from the south east which once again is in exactly the wrong direction. I made the decision to stay put after listening to the weather forecast on my VHF radio issued by the Coast Guard. Thank goodness I did. I took a walk out to Amphrite Point Lighthouse and the sea conditions were horrendous. Horizontal rain, less than 1/2 mile visibility and a very rough sea. So it has given me the opportunity to catch up on my emails and the blog.

I want to thank Gina's Mum who is 'on the case', following my every move and watching my back, especially when the Spot Messenger website was down for a while. She now has a personal contact with the folk at Spot who will update her if the site requires any more maintenance in the future!

I also want to thank Rob Avery who has sorted out a delivery of a container of Valley Sea Kayaks for me whilst I am out 'playing'. It is reassuring to have him looking after business in the Pacific Northwest for me.

So how's it been? Well I am completely in awe of this island. I will be writing in detail about my adventure later but for now I just want to say that from the moment I said goodbye to Brian Coggan as we left the bay at Port Hardy, I didn't see a single human being for 6 days. I saw a couple of boats in the distance but that was it. The north west of the island is by far the most remote place I have been. Sure there was evidence of human activity and maybe it is just the time of year but it was quite an experience to not see anyone or be able to talk to anyone for such a long time. I did monitor my VHF radio for weather reports but even that was sketchy reception at times. What I did see were lots of bears (I shared my first beach with a Mum Bear and her cub - they didn't seem to mind!), whales, seals, porpoise, loads of sea otters and some very big and scary sea lions! Please tell me they don't bite because at times they were coming very close and roaring at me and I was paddling away as fast as I could! I was delighted by the sea otters which seem to be really pletiful north of Clayoquot Sound. I have spent much of my paddling hours 'writing' a children's story in my head for Shea Bella. I think I have a nice story line going and may publish it online if it is any good. It is about a baby sea otter called "Kelp" and his journey around Vancouver Island...

Anyway, the weather forecast is not great for the next two days at least and not great for the next 6 days. I am confident I can get to Bamfield across Barkley Sound from here but the problem is the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The wind gets channeled through the Straits and there are potentially few places to land if the swell is big. They are giving swell heights of 4-5 meters at the moment. I need to be able to make good mileage and I cannot do that if the wind is too strong.

So I have to wait for the wind to drop. It is forecast to do that tonight, but to pick up again from the SE tomorrow. Saturday sounds better but the wind is forecast to pick up again from the SE on Sunday and Monday. I had hoped for NW winds to blow me down the Straits but it seems that the northwest winds that are predominant in summer were switched off as soon as I set foot on the island! Of course I wonder if I my strategy was wrong. Maybe I should have started at Victoria and headed up the west coast. It's always easy in hindsight. And there is a good chance I would be up around Cape Scott right now and they have a hurricane wind warning in effect up there at the moment!

Anyway, I will try to be patient. I cannot afford to take any uncessary risks with this next section. They don't call it the 'Graveyard of the Pacific' for the fun of it and I do not want to be added to the long list of lives lost on this notorious section of coastline. I have just heard that Dan Henderson, who is trying a clockwise circumnavigation is holed up in Port Renfrew. I am sure he is having the same concerns as I am having. At least he will have a tail wind but that can be tough too if the wind is too strong.

Thanks for your interest and I will try to keep you posted or get my darling wife to let you know what I am doing or just keep checking the Spot page.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Arrived at Ucluelet

     I spoke to Sean this evening, and he has arrived at Ucluelet.  To be honest, he sounded exhausted.  He has been fighting headwinds pretty much his whole trip.  The water has been very choppy.  There has not been much swell or dangerous waves breaking over him.  Just constant chop and wind.
     With that said...  He went into town today to an internet cafe to look up the weather.  Tomorrow and the next are expected gale force winds in a Southeasterly direction.  This is not favorable.  He plans to get though the next big crossing by sneaking in between the small islands and sheltering himself from the wind.  
     With that said, I felt like telling him to abort the trip, but could not allow those words to escape.  When you love someone and feel like they are "unhappy," or could be physically drained...  You want to embrace them and be close bye.  
     I held back any words of ending the trip and later Sean thanked me for that.  He thanked me for my support and says that "this will carry him through the rest of his journey."
     Sean plans to paddle really hard the next two days through the gale force winds and making Victoria by Sunday.  We are nearly a third of the way done with his trip.  He is still on track of his route plan even though he has setbacks with the weather.
     Keep your head high Mr. Morley!!!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 5

     Well, it looks like Sean slept on an island last night in between lots of river mouth crossings.  He has squawked me several times throughout the days letting me know that he is still moving and making progress.
     Day 5!!!  We hope that he is feeling well and getting in lots of good strokes.  Looking at the VI, he still has a bloody long way to go.  Will be break the record???
I keep looking at his progress and wondering well, "if he paddled this far today, how long will it take him to get to Tofino?"
     In the town of Tofino, I believe he will have cell phone access.  That could occur by tomorrow or the next.  I will update the blog after I have a conversation with Sean.
     Until then...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 3 at Winter Harbour

     If you all log onto and scroll down to the site you can actually see the progress and location of Sean.  He is Day 3 into his epic journey and appears to be doing well.

     He has made it around Cape Scott (which was the most exposed) Northwesterly point of VI.  Hopefully now, the wind will be at his back and he can cruise down the Western portion of VI with a smile on his face.

     Sean has a couple big river mouth crossing to cross, so stay tuned...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sean Departs Port Hardy on 9/24

Hi Folks,
     I am Gina, Sean's wife.  He has given me the task of keeping folk posted on his journey.  I am happy to do so in between work and taking care of our daughter.
Sean departed Port Hardy on 9/24 in the afternoon.  He was reluctant to do so because of some gail force winds, but the weather was clearing and he was eager to get his first two strokes in the water.  
     He is using his Nordcap LV instead of the Rapier 18 by Valley SeaKayaks. He performed a test run in the Rapier in the morning, but felt because of the stormy conditions he will be more stable in the LV.  
     I have been receiving squawk's from his GPS system.  He will squawk me upon arrival to a new destination and in the morning before he departs.  It seems to be working so far.  His first camp out was successful and I will update you all as soon as he makes it around the Northwest corner of VI.
     Cheers for now!!!
     Go Sean!!!  
     Our daughter Shea Bella can now say "Dada Kayak!"  She is 17 months old.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Starting today

The forecast is looking okay for a start this afternoon to make use of the ebb and the remaining SE winds to carry me towards Cape Scott. The wind is forecast to drop Thursday into Friday and back NW so that should give me the opportunity to get around Cape Scott and then have the wind at my back for a couple of days. I have to say the extended forecast is not good with a big low developing up in the Gulf of Alaska in four to six days time. That could bring some strong wind and big swell to the west coast which is not ideal. I will need to get south of the Brooks Peninsula before all that arrives!

I will of course continue to monitor that and make the right decision if conditions get too big.

So I plan to start as soon as I can this afternoon. Keep watching....


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ready and waiting at Port Hardy

Brian Coggan and I left Port Angeles, WA yesterday evening on the ferry to Vancouver Island. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset down the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We stayed the night with Doug Alderson, author of the fabulous guide book, Around Vancouver Island (see previous blog). We talked through our respective routes and gleaned tons of useful information. Brian is probably going to head NE from Port Hardy and make his way island hopping over to the BC mainland coast before heading south weaving his way through the islands in Johnstone Strait and the Discovery Islands before crossing back to VI and heading south towards Puget Sound. In the meantime I will wait for the weather window I need to make a start on my record attempt. We are Port Hardy, ready and waiting. At the moment there is a big fat weather system, the first of the autumn moving onto th west coast of VI. Whilst I may be able to head up towards Cape Scott tomorrow it may be more prudent to wait a day and let the system blow itself out over the island.

I shall probably be blogging again tomorrow but if I don't it means I have started! Keep checking the Spot Share page (link below)


Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Getting Nervous!

So I am busy doing all the last minute preparation for Vancouver Island Expedition.

I will be taking a Spot Messenger and you can track my progress at:

I want to say a huge thanks to Kokatat who have once again been a tremendous support providing me with a gorgeous new Gore-Tex Meridian dry suit.

Thanks to Chris Mathais, sales rep for Mountain Hardware who has arranged for me to take a Stiletto tent described as: "Our lightest, most advanced tent for the solo backpacker. New ultralight components developed exclusively for Mountain Hardwear bring the Stilleto in under 2 1/2 lbs: superlight fly and floor fabrics, new Atlas UL poles and 1/4" webbing with molded clips throughout. All-mesh canopy reduces weight and provides excellent ventilation. Innovative hoop design with our patented Evolution Tension Arch delivers strength with a minimum of poles".

I also want to thank Katadyn who have supplied me with an Optimus Nova+ multi fuel cooker and a very trick titanium cookset as well as a load of Micropur water treatment tablets.

Thanks too to Gaia who have supplied me with a few dry bags, a very cool stow float and a paddle float (just in case).

And thanks to Valley for letting me use a demo boat for the trip! I will try to look after it!

I still plan to start from Port Hardy on September 23rd if the weather looks good.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Vancouver Island Record Attempt

Well folks I am delighted to announce that I have been given the opportunity to have a go at the record for circumnavigating Vancouver Island by sea kayak. Firstly I want to thank my wife Gina for giving me a pass and my Mum who is flying over from the UK to help look after Shea Bella for the three weeks I will be away.
You can find out more about the expedition by following the links on my expedition website The plans is to start my expedition immediately after the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium on September 22nd 2008.
Thanks once again to Dom Miles of IceTea web design who looks after all my websites. Dom and his family live in Devon, England but will soon be here in California for a holiday and I can't wait to see them and show them the beautiful county of Marin.
I also want to thank Valley Sea Kayaks for their support. I will be using a Rapier 20 for the expedition

I will be travelling fast and light and hope to knock out 50 miles a day. In theory that means I could complete the 700 mile journey around the island in two weeks but the weather may have other ideas! I will be starting at Port Hardy, up on the north east corner, the idea being to wait for a good weather forecast before starting the 'clock' and knocking off the crux moves around the most northwesterly point, Cape Scott and the notorious Books Peninsular before any bad weather arrives.
September and October are traditionally are good months for weather up there. The land is cooling off so the big thermal winds of the summer will be easing off and hopefully I will complete the circle before the winter storms arrive. I hope to use a Spot messenger: so you will be able to track my progress.
More details will follow soon.

Kelowna Kayak Symposium

Kelowna is described as Canada's best kept secret. Deep in the Okanagan Valley known for its fabulous wine, Kelowna has a wonderful climate and the 90 mile long lake is stunning. Kelowna Kayak and Outdoor is a full service kayak store and the owner Ray Chelini and his staff are extremely knowledgeable and professional. I first met Ray and his family at the West Coast Sea Kayak Symposium in 2007 and I loved his enthusiasm for the sport and for Valley Sea Kayaks. He has quickly become one of the my best customers and I supply him with Valley kayaks, Lettmann and Mitchell paddles and Barz sunglasses. As a former member of the Venezuelan national kayak racing team he recognizes good quality when he sees it!
Ray and his wife Jacqui were wonderful hosts to Rob Avery and myself and it was well worth the 2400mile round trip to enjoy their hospitality. It was also great to meet Greg Alderson, author of "Sea Kayak -Around Vancouver Island" as well as several other publications including his latest release:
Doug gave me loads of information to help me plan my forthcoming expedition to circumnavigate Vancouver Island (more of that in a later post).

It was also great to meet Nick Castro, owner/instructor of Active Sea Kayaking: His sense of humour had me in stitches and I couldn't think of a better guy to go for a paddle with.
I also want to thank the folk from the Kelowna area who came to see my slide show. Hopefully next year I will have some more stories to tell you about Vancouver Island. Kelowna is a very special place and the prefect location to enjoy Lake Okanagan.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Aquanfest 2008

Congratulations go to Vince Pao, owner of Aquan Sports for hosting Aquanfest 2008. It was a great event blessed with good weather and an excellent number of attendees for this inaugural event. With an emphasis on introducing new paddlers to the sport the location on a sheletered lagoon in Foster City was perfect.

I want to thank Randy Kneeland who gave up his Saturday to help me with my booth. He owns a Valley Avocet and a Kokatat dry suit and is a great advocate for both brands. He also 'volunteered' to race the Rapier 18 in the fun race and did really well considering it was his first time in a race and in a racing kayak.

I also want to thank Galen Licht who helped me out on both days. He also easily won the sea kayak class racing the Rapier 20.

My treat for Father's Day was to go kayaking for the first time with Gina and Shea Bella. The picture says it all.

Life doesn't get any better!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ahnu Footwear

I just want to say thanks to Eric Adams, sales rep for Ahnu Footwear. He has fixed me up with a gorgeous pair of Lodi sports shoes. Not only is Ahnu a local Bay Area company with a great philosophy - check out: but they also make superb shoes!

Thanks Eric!

Olympic travels

Hi Folks,

It's over a month since my last post which is some indication of how busy I have been. The paddling season is in full swing which means lots of demos and events up and down the west coast. I have travelled well over 20k miles in my trusty Ford E250 van so far this year!

I have just got back from another road trip: this time to Washington State, for the Puget Sound Sea Kayak Symposium near Tacoma beneath the towering 14,410ft Mt Ranier an active volcano encased in snow and ice.
I stayed with Rob Avery and his wife Kris for a few days on Bainbridge Island which gave us an opportunity to talk business and plan for the future. Rob and I then taught a couple of classes for Tammi Hinkle at Adventures Through Kayaking in Port Angeles before heading even further up the Olympic Peninsular to the Hoebuck Hoedown Surf Kayak Festival at Neah Bay close to Cape Flattery, the most Northwesterly part of the contiguous continetal USA.

The surf was uncharacteristically tiny but we had fun all the same. There is a solid bunch of talented surf kayakers in the Pacific Northwest and it was good to hang out with them for a couple of days. Neah Bay is a beautiful beach that belongs to the Makah Tribe whose village lies on the northeast (sheltered) side of Cape Flattery. I couldn't resist taking a couple of photos of the local watercraft. Bald Eagles are as common as seagulls in the busy harbor and osprey regularly flew past the beach, talons clenched around their catch.

I want to thank the Olympic Paddlers for hosting the event and especially Rob Casey and Deb Volturno for their hard work. It was a really worthwhile trip for me and it was good to be able to support Tammi Hinkle, the owner of Adventures Through Kayaking in Port Angeles. I can certainly recommend the Olympic Coast of the PNW as one of the most beautiful I have yet seen.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Shea Bella's 1st Birthday Party

Hi Folks,
Here are some photos from Shea Bella's first Birthday Party on the beach at Sausalito. We were blessed with perfect spring weather and Gina and I want to say a big "Thank you" to Sea Trek Ocean Kayaking Center for their help and to all our friends and family who made this such a very special day for Shea Bella and us.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Update on Container #3

I have just had notification that container #3 has arrived in Oakland and is awaiting Customs clearance. So just when I thought I was going to get a few days at home it seems I will be heading up to Portland next week. I will keep you all updated on the ETA for Alder Creek.

Busy Days!

Since my last post I have been as far south as Albuquerque, New Mexico delivering an Aleut II and aquanaut to Sandia Prep School. It was my first time to the high desert. Fascinating drive across the Mohave Desert into Arizona and over the continental divide to New Mexico. The I40 Freeway reaches over 7000ft - strange to see snow on the ground in a desert! The dogs came with me and gave me the perfect excuse to stop and take in the scenery.

Almost as soon as I got home from NM, it was time to head south again, this time to San Diego for the SW Sea Kayak Symposium on the beautiful Mission Bay. Hosted by Jenn Kelck and the staff from Aqua Adventures this proved to be a really successful show for us with a lot of interest in the boats, especially the Valley Aquanaut and North Shore Atlantic as well as Gath Headgear and Barz Sports Goggles. It even rained a little to help promote interest in the Kokatat gear!

I also gave four surf kayak clinics which were well attended and we had some big waves - a little too big at times!

Thanks to professional photographer and surf kayaker Dominick Lemarie for the photos!

Thanks also to Jenn Kleck for a great event and to all who made it possible by either volunteering or attending. I will be back next year for sure and hopefully next time I will be able to join you for the post-event trip to Baja.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Update on the Rush 7' 2" and Nemesis

Jared and I got to test the new Rush 7' 2" last week before the SCKSF. It is a pocket rocket! The conditions weren't that great at Davenport but I still managed to pop a couple of small aerials. It bottom turns much faster than the Rush but lacks the down the line speed. If you surf steep waves and like going airborne then this is the boat for you. Despite its short length it has plenty of volume in the back end and more in the rails than the Rush so I would have thought it will float someone up to 200lbs fairly well. I will post some photos of it in action as soon as I can.

One of the hot juniors, Alexander Stubbs will be testing one on the East Coast US and I have one on the west so if you fancy giving it a try just let me know.
We have some more work to do on the Nemesis International Class design now that the World Surf Kayak Association has published the new rules. Standby for a radical new design and a finned High Performance version.

Santa Cruz update...

Jared Licht at Steamer Lane. Photo by Larkin Donley.

Well the Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival at Steamer Lane certainly lived up to its reputation as the best surf kayak event in the world. As always, the organising committee led by Dennis Judson staged a fabulous event and we enjoyed fantastic waves all weekend.
I was frustrated not to reach the quarter finals despite some reasonable wave scores in the High Performance category. I was beaten by a couple of juniors, Chris Hobson and Sam Davenport which though disappointing for me, bodes well for the future of kayak surfing.
But Jared Licht did the River and Ocean Team proud by reaching the semi finals before being slammed by a HUGE wave, even bigger than the one he's surfing above. He broke his paddle across his face and smashed his boat but earned the respect of his peers when he rolled up with half a paddle, before having to bail out of his sinking kayak. It was really tough luck but he will be back next year and we had all better look out - the lad is ripping!
And my wife Gina showed our daughter Shea Bella how to do it by achieving a 2nd in women's High Performance and a 3rd in the International Class.
Peter Orton, one of the co-owners of Valley Sea Kayaks flew over for the event. It was great to have his help manning the booth and it was really useful for him to see the sort of punishment we give the surf kayaks. He has gone home even more committed to providing us with not only the highest performing but also the strongest surf kayaks on the planet. I know Jared will appreciate that!
I am off to Albuquerque, New Mexico tomorrow to deliver some kayaks and then I head down to San Diego for the SW Sea Kayak Symposium next weekend. Hope to see you there!
Sean Morley

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival

Looks like we should be getting some swell for the SCKSF this weekend:

River and Ocean will be there with a booth with all the range of Valley Surf Kayaks and Kokatat Watersports Wear.

Hope to see you there!

Shoreline Report

Here is a report from Rob Avery, River and Ocean's 'newest' team member who has been out testing the Shoreline by North Shore Sea Kayaks:
Deception Pass, WA
This morning I headed north to Deception Pass, a narrow slot between Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island in north Puget Sound. Skagit Bay fills and empties twice a day through this narrow gap into the Straights of Juan de Fuca. Today the tidal flow was predicted to be a modest 5.1 knot ebb. With the weather forecast blowing 20 knots from the west down the straights all last night and this morning with wind waves of 4 to 5 feet it promised to be a good formula to test the new North Shore Shore Line kayak in an environment conducive to its design (the opposing wind and wind driven waves against the ebbing tide can make quite large standing wave in The Pass). I had previously paddled the Shore Line in the pool and sheltered waters of Eagle Harbour, but now for some fun!
Well, deceived again... Upon arriving at Bowman Bay, the launch site for Deception Pass, the weather station nearby was reporting only west 6 knots and the waves on the beach were just ankle-slappers... Rounding Lighthouse Point we were greeted by the usual harbor seals and bald eagle, always a welcome sight. The Pass had a few small standing waves, but just enough to test the surfing ability of the Shore Line. My usual day play-boat is a Valley Avocet and this is a very different boat. The Shore Line is about the same length but has harder chines and more buoyancy fore and aft. I found it very quick and nimble on waves with a nice dry ride. While I was getting used to the edge transition I found that the Shore Line rolls just fine in lumpy water for a combat situation! I was surprised at how twitchy it was on a wave and expected the initial stability to be firmer. But upon inspection of the hull I saw the shallow-V: I believe that when the boat gets up to planing speed on the wave face it lifts out of the water reducing its stability. Once on edge it turns on a sixpence and held an edge firmly. On flat water it tracked very well and had very well defined initial and secondary stability.
My paddling buddy had his Romany and we traded boats for a while. He loved how lively and quick the Shore Line was in comparison to the Romany which frankly made me think I was paddling a log! Can I have my boat back now?
On the paddle back the wind did pick up to around force 4 to 5. I found with beam or quartering sea at my bow there was little to no weather cocking. With a quartering sea at my stern I found the Shore Line did weather cock slightly. A little skeg did the trick and I also found how the boat responded to trim, by leaning back just a little I could straighten out the track. A well behaved craft in these conditions.
All in all, I would say the Shore Line is a paddler's boat. While a novice would feel safe and sound in it, a competent paddler will make it dance while having a big cheesy grin on their face!
I wonder if I can catch the 4:40pm ferry home to Bainbridge Island for a hot-tub and cold-beer! Cheers,
Rob Avery

For details on the Shore Line and the rest of the North Shore line up including the excellent Atalantic single and double just follow the link on the River and Ocean website.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Top Secret!

These are the first pictures of the new "Rush 7'2". It's the one in grey.

Designed by Peter Orton this is how he describes it:

"Based heavily on the Rush we have reduced the length by approximately 4-5"
(about 10-12.5cm), 80% of this coming off the rear end. Rocker has been increased slightly, again especially at the rear. Although the back has been shortened, rear volume is about the same due to an increase in the size of the buoyancy bulge. What are we trying to achieve? Because of the high inherent speed of the Rush we wanted to see what we got by sacrificing a little in return for a looser feel and quicker direction changes. Probably at its best on steep fast breaks but time will tell! We don't really see this as a replacement for the regular Rush, more a choice for those who like a looser feel or paddle steeper breaks."

We should have the first prototype at the Santa Cruz Kayak Surf Festival in two weeks time along with the new IC boat, the Nemesis and the rest of Valley's surf kayak line up. The word is that some of the world's top wave skiers will be at the event including World Champion Mathieu Barbarit! There may be a special 'surf off' heat with two top surf kayakers against two wave skiers and a stand up paddle surfer which would be very cool. Let's hope we get some waves but perhaps not as big as this one which was definitely the biggest wave of my life at Steamers Lane on 'Big Tuesday' last December.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Day in the Life of a Kayak Rep...

I guess there might be folk out there who envy the carefree, independent life of a kayak rep. When I left my secure job as a policeman back in the UK I had no idea what I was going to do for a job when I moved to California and when I was offered the opportunity to rep for Valley on the west coast I jumped at it. Surely there can be nothing better than talking kayaking all day and I will have all those boats and all that kit to use whenever I want?

Well of course the reality is a little different to how I had imagined and the truth is I am on the water less now than at any time in my 30+ years of being involved in the sport. Of course some of that is because I am a new dad and have more responsibilities. But it is true that no-one from the UK can understand just how vast North America is until you live here and discover how long it takes to drive from Seattle to San Diego. I clock up some ridiculous mileage as I truck up and down I5 in my trusty Ford E250, pulling by 20’ box trailer full of kayaks with a stack on the roof of the van for good measure. I flinch as I swipe my credit card yet again and fill the tank with gas and see my carbon footprint grow as quickly as my bank balance shrinks. I check my watch repeatedly, as the miles to San Francisco slowly reduce on my journey home from yet another road trip.

So why on earth do it? Why leave my new family for days at a time to sell boats? It is a question I often ask myself and is often asked of me (especially by my wife!) The fact is I love my job. I love to meet new customers who quickly become my friends. I love being associated with the sport that I am so passionate about and I love spending time with folk who share that passion. I love to travel. I have probably seen more of the west coast than many Americans who have lived here all their lives. Of course the driving sucks sometimes but when I drive beneath Castle Crags on the climb up the snow covered flanks of Mt Shasta, or follow the winding Eel River on Highway 101, dodging the towering redwoods I am reminded of what an incredibly beautiful country I am now fortunate enough to call my home.

And just occasionally I get on the water: Trinidad Head, going airborne off 20ft swells, ‘testing’ out the new Atlantic single from North Shore Sea Kayaks and my new line of Barz Sport Goggles,

or at C-Street, Ventura getting multiple airs with my Rush in near perfect conditions ‘testing’ the new Mammoth spray skirt from ElephantWear.

And then when Gina and Shea Bella get to join me on the road life takes on a whole different pattern. I know how fortunate I am to spend so much time with my daughter and to see her grow from tiny newborn to aspirant toddler. To hear her chuckle as she plays with her mum on the backseat as we trundle up the Freeway and to hold her until she falls asleep in yet another motel room. It makes it all worthwhile and I wouldn’t swap my new life with anyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Valley Update

Those of you patiently waiting for the next container please note that current ETA is now 02/04/08. I know you have customers waiting and I can only apologize for the delay. The container is apparently coming by rail from the east coast and I am assuming bad weather is causing the delay because it has not yet left New York! I will keep you updated.

The February container is full and we are currently taking orders for the April container. Please note our fax line has been repaired so you can once again fax orders to: 415-747-8724.

You may wish to check out our ‘new’ line of sea kayaks:
North Shore Sea Kayaks are an established and well-respected brand in Europe. The company is now owned by Valley and fills some of the niches within the Valley range, including the Buccaneer, a large cockpit expedition kayak and the Atlantic II, a popular double for outfitters and families.

Gath Helmets

River and Ocean are delighted to announce that we will be representing GATH headgear on the west coast.

Whether you are surf kayaking, sea kayaking or river boating it makes sense to wrap your head in a layer of defense. GATH headgear is made from the latest high-tech, shatterproof plastics and provides a super lightweight, snug-fitting, layer of defense against superficial head injury, cuts, bumps and abrasions. GATH also helps minimize the painful physical side effects caused by the sun (deadly skin cancers and eye damage), wind chill (chronic ear ache, surfers' ear), salt water spray (sore eyes), and pressure-induced ear injury (perforated ear drums).

  • GATH is a top choice of police, fire, lifeguard and (water) rescue services.

  • Gath enjoys a dominant market share in the surf scene.

  • Gath is the top choice in kite boarding and windsurfing.

  • Gath is a top choice for surf kayakers.

  • Gath has been selected for use by Olympic white water slalom teams.

  • Gath is growing in slalom (water) skiing, wakeboarding and barefoot skiing.

  • Gath is being discovered by PWC riders, including rescue services and freestyle competitors.

  • Other uses: sailing, cave divers, shark feeders, body surfers.

  • Modified Gath with “warm and fuzzy” liners and outside goggle retainers are being used by skiers, snowboarders and sky divers.

You can download a pdf of the full range of GATH Headgear at our website

Mitchell Paddles

River and Ocean are delighted to announce that we will be representing Mitchell Paddles on the west coast.

For over thirty years, Mitchell Paddles has been at the forefront of paddle design. From beautiful wooden paddles to composites and hybrids, the Mitchell family has infused their experience as whitewater champions into their first-class paddles. With years of professional woodworking skills, David Mitchell has passed along his knowledge of the craft to his son Peter Mitchell who is continuing the tradition of hand-crafting the finest paddles in the world.

We will be sending out more information to all dealers very soon but in the meantime please check out the Mitchell website

Kokatat Watersports Wear

River and Ocean are now proud to represent Kokatat in the States of California, Nevada and Arizona. Here is a copy of their recent press release:

Kokatat Hires Sean Morley as Western USA Sales Representative
Arcata CA- Kokatat is pleased to announce Sean Morley has accepted the position as Kokatat Sales Representative for the western territory. This territory includes California, Nevada and Arizona. Sean moved from the UK to California in 2006 and founded River and Ocean LLC, a Sales and Customer Service Agency within the water sports industry representing such established lines as Valley Sea Kayaks and now Kokatat Watersports Wear. He is based out of the California Bay Area where he lives with his wife and daughter and continues to work as a freelance kayak instructor.
Sean began kayaking at the age of ten, often paddling alone, exploring the relatively sheltered waters of St Austell Bay on the south coast of Cornwall, England. “I used to wonder what lay around the corner and dreamt of continuing around the next headland until eventually I had paddled all the way around Great Britain” explains Sean. In 2004, Sean completed the first solo circumnavigation of the UK and Ireland (including all inhabited islands), 4,500 miles in 183 days.
Other accomplishments include British Canoe Union 4 star award and 5 star trainee. Sean is also an avid surf kayaker winning the Masters High Performance category and placing 2nd in the Open High Performance category at the 2007 World Championships as a member of the USA West Coast Surf Kayak team. After more than 30 years of kayaking Sean’s passion for the sport is undiminished. Sean says, “I love nothing more than to share this enthusiasm with fellow paddlers, be they novices or experts.”

“I am truly delighted to be the new Kokatat outside sales representative in California, Nevada and Arizona. As a member of Team Kokatat I have been testing the gear in some extreme conditions and I know that it performs superbly. Joining the Kokatat ‘family’ and having the opportunity to work for a company that makes such innovative, quality products and that operates with the highest standards of integrity is a dream come true” says Sean Morley.

Happy New Year!

Hi Folks,

One of my New Year's resolutions is to communicate more regularly and effectively with my customers and this is one way that I hope I can do that. I know how busy you are and that you are not always available to take a phone call or have time to write an email. I know that when I am on the road I can be hard to get hold of as well so hopefully this might provide the information you need.

I will be using this blog to update you about existing and new lines and to highlight some of the offers available and some of the products that I am most excited about.

I will also use this blog to update you on container arrivals, order deadlines and any other information that I think will be useful.

I am always open to feedback so if you want to see any other information posted here then just let me know.

This blog is in no way intended to replace any personal communication and I look forward to seeing you all soon.

Sean Morley