SUP at Lake Berryessa, CA May, 2011

Nikki & Hula Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Lake Berryessa in Northern California is about 2 hours north of San Francisco, and is a great place to go this summer.  It’s a fantastic lake for boating, fishing, water skiing, wake boarding, and yes…even stand up paddle boarding.

This is the favorite “local” lake for my husband and I and our dog Hula.  It’s a beautiful lake and never too crowded.  There are several marina’s and launches to choose from. 

There is a new concessionaire and they have grand plans for a new and improved marinas and recreation areas.  They hope to start their major renovations in 2012, and for now have limited services.

Currently, boat launching is now available at Lupine Shores and Chaparral Cove, click here.

Annual Launch Passes are now available for sale and will be valid from March 1, 2011 – March 1, 2012
Pass is good for entry of one water craft trailer and up to six people.
Additional people will be subject to the day use fee.

Note: The website says the launch fee is $20.00, but when we were there at the beginning of May 2011 it was $21.00 + tax.

To find out more information check out Berryessa Shores, click here.

Been There, Done That! Greenwood Beach at Elk, CA.

Gearing Up.Greenwood Beach.Surfing in the waves at Greenwood Beach.Redwood Empire Divers ClubTagging abalone at Greenwood BeachTagging AbaloneElk Dive May, 2011
NW swell predicted 5-7 ft. at 10 seconds, prediction accurate. S swell predicted 1-2 ft. predicted, prediction accurate. Calm winds predicted, prediction accurate.

Greenwood beach at Elk, Ca. altogether

Redwood Empire Club Dive schedule for Cuffy’s Cove. Boat and kayak accessible only. Boat in from Albion or kayak in from Greenwood Beach. As you can guess, Cuffy’s Cove is desirable, because it’s hard to get to. Bigger abs, and last year I shot a 21″ Black there via inflatable from Albion.

So…our outgoing president of Redwood Empire Divers scheduled a kayak dive to Cuffy’s Cove via Greenwood Beach.

There were six of us. One of the six has never even been diving or kayaking before. Terry, you are a trooper. Well, we checked from the bluff, as the beach is at least a half mile down hill. There were some big sets and some smaller ones but there was about 5 seconds between sets. Now that I have kayaked in and out of Greenwood Beach, of course I hear the stories that many have given up on kayak diving after Greenwood Beach.

We all have our kayak carts, and we make it down the half mile path to the beach, only ready to abandon the wheels and drag the kayaks another quarter mile across the beach to the one slightly protected entry of a NW facing beach. Let me say that I don’t personally own a kayak, my husband Brian does, but I don’t. Our DEAR FRIEND Chris :) let me borrow his kayak for the day. Oh yeah, Chris, we carried your kayak, we didn’t drag it.

We are watching the sets, and we go to the calmest part of the long, crescent shaped beach. My husband says, “It’s time to go and be ready to paddle hard right from the get go”. He pulls the kayak out and says “hurry get in and start paddling”. I hop on the kayak and fumble for a second with my paddle and then I’m paddling. It’s a long flat sand beach and there’s not just one short set to get through. As I paddle, the small roller grew exceedingly fast. I hear my husband yelling from behind me, “paddle as hard as you can and stay straight to the wave!!!!” The wave is growing and growing, and there’s nothing to do except paddle as hard as possible. I hit the 6 foot wave and I feel the force hit the top of the kayak and I make it over! Wow, I couldn’t believe it, was a rush! Mike, from the club was a boat length behind me and the force of the wave knocked him out of his boat. Unfortunately he did not have his top on and was sent back to the beach in 48 degree water.

Two of us are out and the last four are making their way through the surf. So Paul and I go through what I now call the “gauntlet”. The sets had been low, but of course as we start to go through it picks up. The preferred route is to go between the 3rd rock “Casket Rock” and rock #2, but Paul thought we could make it. Well, Paul did and I barely did.

I see Paul ahead of me and he’s surfing down white wash between a narrow opening of rocks, and my white wash wave is bigger! I couldn’t turn in time to face the kayak down the swell, and that would have only sent me directly into a huge rock spire. Remember, I’ve only been kayak diving a few times before in fairly calm seas…. There are many “boilers” in the small area and the white wash wave comes and launches me from the kayak. I go under, pop up to see another one coming. I think of surfing and think just duck dive and you’ll be fine. I take a quick look for the kayak, and to my absolute horror I see it crash on the rock spire not far from me. It took only a split second for it to get to the rock. So I now I’m stuck in the washing machine of the white water wave crashing on me and trying to not get bashed on the rock like my DEAR FREINDS kayak is. No one is watching to see what is happening. I watch for on coming waves, and I’m trying to kick, with no fins and only booties which seems harder than bare feet, to stay away from the rock.

There are many very shallow rocks beneath me. My hand brushes against some kelp and I grab onto it, thinking “great I can hold onto it and won’t get sucked into the rock”. I scream for Paul, thinking he might be able to paddle in and help me. I quickly realize there is no way he can paddle in and I need to get myself out of this. At the same time my legs start getting to get tangled in the kelp I’m holding onto and I have to force myself to relax so my legs can escape the grip of the kelp around my legs as I’m in the washing machine of water.

Luckily I determine the waves are getting smaller and if I’m going to make it through the shoot, I’m going have to do it NOW. Meanwhile, I’m still horrified to see our DEAR FREIND’S kayak get slammed onto the rock a couple more times before it makes it’s own trip around the rock away from me and up side down.

I did have the mind to hold onto the paddle, as I thought “well, I’m going to need it when I get the boat back.” I still have to surf into Greenwood Beach and I didn’t think I would be body surfing.

Let me tell you, it is not easy kicking without fins, and holding a paddle. Fortunately I had my 7 mm on with booties, but no gloves. By the time I made it Paul’s kayak, I was pretty exhausted, hands bright red and aching from the cold, and didn’t even feel my head, even though I had my hood off.

My husband finally come along and is a little perplexed why he sees me in the water without my kayak. He yells, “where’s your boat?” I point behind the rock, and he thinks “well, this is great”.

He rescues my boat and we paddle another half mile to the dive site to Cuffy’s Cove. The viz is shit, 5 feet at best. We spent some time bailing my kayak, and I sat there suffering from some Post Traumatic Stress. I told Brian, I don’t think I can dive. I was already shivering and spent.

Brian say’s to me “You can suck it up and put that behind you and get your limit or you can sit here and freeze your butt off on the kayak.”

It took me a few minutes to pull it together, but I eventually got in and pulled my limit of abs.

We all started back in and it looked calmer than when we came out until we once again got to Greenwood Beach. Four of us made a bomber attack to the beach as soon as the waves appeared to get small enough and we made it in without getting rolled. I did manage, however, to completely ram Paul’s legs with my kayak. I couldn’t steer, and he did not heed my screaming warnings that I was headed right for him. His words were “payback’s tough!”.

Once my feet hit sand, I gave a high five, and big hug to Terry and kissed Terra Firma.

It was a long, long trip across the beach, up the trail and a 3 hour drive home.

Like I said, been there and done that. Never again do I need to kayak dive from Greenwood Beach. And all of the party was in agreement.

Abalone Dive and Chowder Get Together – April 10, 2011

This weekend Brian and I hosted our Redwood Empire Divers club Saturday dive.  This was the second weekend of abalone season, so we thought it would be fun to have a club ab dive and then make abalone chowder following the dive.

Our plan was to dive Ocean Cove, however due to a strong NorthWest swell and a SouthWest swell and fairly high winds we ended up at Fort Ross.  We descended the trail to find calm water, the entry was gentle, and we were greeted with about 6 inches of visibility.  We were in the water for about an hour and then headed back to our day camp at Ocean Cove.  We had a great turn out from our club of divers and non-divers and a wonderful group effort of creating delicious chowder.

Fresh ab chowder on a beautiful clear and sunny day, we had the camp fire going, drinks, dessert and great friends was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday.  Looking forward to our next get together.

2nd Annual Doran Jetty Clean Up – Bodega Bay, CA

Paul & Mike - RED club membersBeverly & Irene - RED club membersJames - RED club memberMatt from NorCal Underwater Hunters

John - RED club member

On March 5, 2011 our dive club, Redwood Empire Divers, did an underwater cleanup of the Doran Jetty at Bodega Bay.  Located in Sonoma County, this is a very popular place to go to fish, picnic, camp, fly kites, horseback ride, and hang out on the beach.  It has a nice protected bay and a nice beach for SCUBA certification dives and the Doran jetty itself always has anglers and crab fisherman.  With the heavy use of the jetty, there tends to get a fair amount of garbage left as well as crab pots that get caught in the rocks and embedded by the changing tides.

One of our group members started this annual clean up dive last year, and we had such a great time cleaning up garbage that we did it again.  This year we also made public annoucements and anyone who wanted to help with the clean up was welcome.  We had a few guests show up to help and check out the scene.  One of our guests included Matt Mattison of NorCal Underwater Hunters.  Matt also helped us last year, and this year his club donated a $25.00 gift certificate for Bamboo Reef in Santa Rosa to the diver who collected the most trash.

We met about 8am and had a safety breifing by an officer of the Parks Department.  It was a beautiful morning, clear skies, very little breeze, and not too cold top side.  Our club had two boats in the water to assist divers and take large trash.

We had about 12 divers in the water this year, but the amount of trash was much less than last year.  The visibility was quite clear this year, and I was pleasantly surprised to see all the beautiful sea life at the jetty.  The rocks on the jetty are carpeted with anemones of all sizes.  There were crab all around, many of the largest ones in a mating hug.  There were also many little jellyfish. 

After everyone was out of the water and acconted for, we had a grand picnic.  Everyone brought something to share, and we cooked up the crab that had been caught.  The winner of most trash collected was announced…it was me!…and I recieved the $25.00 gift certificate to Bamboo Reef.  Thank you Matt!

We all had a wonderful time and we’re looking forward to doing it again next year.

You can check out another write up of our day here: The Community Voice

Terry Maas – Freediver’s Recovery Vest

Terry Maas demo - Freediver's Recovery Vest Terry Maas speaking on his Freediver's Recovery Vest at Freedive ShopTerry Maas

Last Saturday, at the Freedive Shop in Sacramento, we were finally able to meet the iconic Terry Mass, world class freediver and spearfisherman.  Terry was presenting his invention of the Freedivers Recovery Vest (FRV).  The FRV is meant to save a diver from deep water blackout, shallow water blackout, or surface blackout.  It was very interesting to hear how this started as a garage project and is now an extremely high tech piece of life saving equipment. 

The FRV can be used over and over, it just needs to be refilled and packed down which takes about 5 minutes.  Therefore, you will have if for a lifetime!  Check out the video I posted that shows the FRV inflating while I’m topside. 

To find out more go to www.freedive.net

Click here to watch a 7 minute video demonstrating the FRV in action. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRKAlxKJBBw

January 2010

January we had a great meeting with one of our dive clubs, the Monterey Bay Tritons.

The winter time is usually when the best weather is, and we were not dissapointed.

Friday afternoon we stopped by Hula’s (our yellow lab) favorite beach in Carmel and we all had a great time, especially Hula.

We met up with our friends from the club and had a lovely Italian dinner in Carmel that evening.

Saturday morning the club met for a dive and we had beautiful conditions.  Sunny, clear skies, and 25 – 30 ft. of visibility!  We had lots of harbor seals to swim with all day, but the fish were on vacation.  The water was quite chilly, but everyone still had a great time.

The next day we had a lovely morning in Monterey Bay.  We took out our kayak and stand up paddle board and had a nice cruise from Del Monte Beach down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and back.  It was a bit windy and slow on the way out, but ride back was quick and easy.  The vantage point from the stand up paddle board is great and I was able to see sea lions, sea otters, cormorants, and jellyfish.  Lots of other people were out as well surfing, kayaking, and diving.

We’re Back!

Nikki

A happy girl "cause I'm going diving.

We’ve been away from blogging for a while but we are back.  We’ve already done some fun things so far this year, and we have lots more planned for the year ahead.  We will also recap some adventures from last year. 

This blog encompasses several different subject matters.  Of course, first and foremost, it’s a diving adventure log.  We would love for you to joins us on our adventures as we dive through California and beyond.  This section will include “Trip Reports”, “Life is Interesting”, “Good Times”, and “It’s and Adventure”.

This blog also will include, exciting news regarding our jewelry such as new pieces added to the collection, special offers, etc.  Our line of sea life jewelry, as some of you already know, is our expression for our passion of the sea.  You can check it out at http://www.divingdesigns.com/.

In addition, the blog will include, “Cool Things” and “Tricks and Tips I’ve Learned Along the Way”. 

So, thank you for stopping by and joining us on our adventures.