Sunday, January 25, 2009

Extraordinary strong winds

This is an extraordinary hard winter, with heavy rain and winds.

In the last week here in the south of Sicily like in most part of Europe, the weather was all than good. Today a paddling was in my plan but the 35 knots blowing from the night before and reinforcing in the late morning prepared for me and my friends Peppe and Vincenzo a wild environment that discouraged all of us entering the water.The water was the color of the sand and big waves were running in two different directions. The beach was disappeared and some crushed wooden buildings parts were floating into the foamy liquid with all their nails and screws still attached on. Some seagulls were flying over the breakers looking for confused fishes and a Common sandpiper was looking for a sheltered spot between the exposed rocks.Also in Donnalucata, a village 10 km north of the Bruca beach, the conditions were pretty wild and after a hot coffee in a bar we just talked a little bit more about the weather, to agree that this (still blowing right now) is the strongest wind in the last ten years...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium

I was yesterday at the first day of the GGSKS in the "rescue, towing and incident managment" class, with Rob Avery and Bryant Burkhardt as coaches. The class was really interesting and we also had a lot of fun, practicing the rescues into the Yellow Bluff tidal race. All our training was done with the great view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the skylight of San Francisco, Angel Island, Alcatraz and the Berkeley Bridge.

In the evening the symposium organization offered very good pizzas and drinks just before the presentation from Nigel Dennis of his last expeditions in some really extreme environments, like the circumnavigation of remote South Georgia island. His pictures are beautiful!

After a short pause Sean Morley introduced me for the slide show of the "Around Highlands" expedition of May 2008. Despite my poor English I was able to tell the story of the 800 km vojage that I've done with Mauro and Tatiana all around Scotland, from Fort William to Inverness.

Thank you to Sean Morley, Jen Kleck and Matt Palmariello for the organization this beautiful symposium.Thank you to my friend Fran Sticha, for driving me around California with her car, helping me so much in reaching the beautiful symposium location (Sausalito and Horseshoe Cove) and back to my sister's home in Pescadero.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Through the Maveriks waves

At 8:30 Chris Manchester with his huge Dodge truck pick me up in front of the gate of the Redwood residence. He is the owner with Doug of the Half Moon Bay Kayak co. Their base is located right into the harbour of Half Moon Bay, at the southernmost part of the village.
The day is beautiful, with no clouds of fog. Chris give me the basic equipment, included a helmet, and guide me out of the harbour and through the remarkable waves just behind the famous surf spot called Maverik. One of this 2 meters rollers strike me on the way out and I’m very surprised by the power of this waves!

Keeping clear from Maverik we paddle for about 8 km, pretty far from the coast to avoid the surfing zone. Than we approach the cliff in a place called Table Rock for the presence of a flat rock right at the sea level and about one mile from the beach. The huge rollers of the Pacific Ocean are bended around this rock and crush over it. Chris explain me how to overcome the first line of rollers and we reach a very large soup zone behind Table Rock. Than we paddle forward looking for a suitable place to paddle back to the open sea, avoiding to be crushed on the second line of the surf. The head of the kelp algae rise out from a 10 meter deep sea floor while we manage to paddle our way back to the harbour. The waves from north west and the ebbing tide help us.
On the Maverik’s waves we meet a surfer and Chris suggest him to try at Table Rock (here some surfers have a speed boat that drag them right over the wave). Than we paddle across the narrow passage between the mushroom rock and the rollers over the reef to land on the beach on the north side of the harbour, in order to portage the kayaks quickly into the harbour.

Thank you Chris for the beautiful paddling day, my first one in 2009!

Doug and Chris in front of HMB Kayak Co.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The 2009 begins...

Rosanna makes a delicious dinner for the end of 2008: lentils soup, american turkey, potatoes and a marvelous chocolate cake. Also the little Paola waited for midnight and then we all sleeped as babies into the house deep into the forest...
For the first of 2009 we have a pancakes breakfast and then we drived to the Wilder Ranch park to walk with the children and eventually we had a pic-nic in a nice sunny afternoon.

In the 2nd me and Barbara drived (I should say that only Barbara drived because I forgot my driving licence in Italy) the car of Rosanna to Oakland and stopped at the California Canoe & Kayak shop, where we started to talk with the owner, Keith Miller, who called quickly Fran Sticha (in the picture from left: Keith, me, Fran). She escaped from her work and reached us in few minutes. I purchased some good equipment and then we had a marvelous lunch with crab, clam and mussel shells. Fran, who visited us in Sicily the last year and paddled a couple of hours with me, drived us to the world famous Berkley University in which she works.
With Barbara we had only one hour to visit the huge university but it was enough to have an idea. Then we drived through the Berkley bridge to San Francisco by night and reached Pescadero before dinner to embrace our little Paola.
An unforgettable day.