Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Waves, Rapids and Rivers

Welcome, Guest Blogger, Mike Darbyshire of Deep Cove Outdoors

This past weekend I got the opportunity to share my neck of the woods with a couple of Starboard Team Riders, Nikki Gregg and Dan Gavere. After much planning and a weekend of racing and some grueling paddles I was stoked to get some surfing done.

The plan was to spend two days up at Skookumchuck Rapids surfing the standing wave that forms there on a large flooding tide. For those who aren't familiar with the wave, it is a smooth glassy wave that forms over a rock shelf during the flooding tide. The wave is clean, glassy and green up until about 10 knots of current. When it gets above 10 knots the wave foams out and is not as easy to ride.  Above 10 knots the whirlpools, boils and waves also get considerably harder to deal with if you fall off the main wave. For the brave few, the wave also greens out again at around 14-15 knots but the mess behind the wave gets pretty scary....maybe next trip.
We made the trip up to Egmont the night before our surf day and camped at the put in at the Backeddy Resort and Marina. From here it's about a 30 minute paddle into the wave...or a 45 minute walk.....or a 2 hour trek through the woods on a mountain bike with 4 boards on a homemade trailer. 

I paddled into the wave on a Starboard Coast Runner towing my 9'0" Starboard Converse which worked out very well. We had a tough headwind but we made it there much faster than Dan on his bike. When I arrived on my board the wave was just starting to form. It's amazing how fast the current builds, one minute you would think you were in Deep Cove on a glassy morning and the next minute you start to see eddy lines forming and boils and whirlpools beginning to form downstream.

The glassy wave is best surfed on a Sea Kayak or SUP so we shared the wave with a few sea kayak friends from Deep Cove. I started the session waiting for the wave to get bigger so I decided to try surfing the Coast Runner. 14' of board was a little bit challenging to move around but once I got it on the wave it held pretty well.

Mike surfing a 14' Coast Runner photo: Chris Emerick

As the wave built to the max current speed of 9.2 knots we had a nice steep wave that held some shorter boards in very nicely. We even got a little bit of sunshine to dry us out.  My board of choice on the wave is my 9'0" x 30" Starboard Converse. I feel like it has just the right amount of stability and maneuverability.  Other boards that worked really well were the Starboard Whopper 10'x34", the Starboard Element 9'8"x30" and when the wave was steep we had some fun on the 8"5x29 Starboard Pro.

After an awesome day of surfing we spent the evening at the Backeddy Resort and Marina...(and Pub).  I went to bed ready for another day of surfing and an even steeper wave. I awoke to torrential rain that wouldn't let up. After a quick breakfast we packed up and got on the water. The rain still hadn't stopped and I was glad to have my Kokatat Drysuit instead of a wetsuit. I literally lived in my drysuit for 2 days and managed to stay warm and comfortable in some pretty ugly west coast weather.

We surfed our way through the rain and had some awesome surfs. The wave foamed out pretty quick but there was still a small pocket of green wave that we could stay in. Dan was working the little pocket really well, carving in and out of the foam.

The sun finally decided to show itself after about 11 straight hours of pouring rain and we had a nice paddle back from the wave....The only downside being that now we had 3 people and 6 boards to paddle out. Chris towed one board behind the 11' Starboard Slick he was on. I managed to stack my 9'0 onto the 10' Whopper and paddle them out together. Dan put together his Search and Destroy Rig which consisted of a 14' Coast Runner, drybags, camera bags, rolling luggage and an 8'5 Starboard Pro duct taped to the nose.

As if two days of surfing wasn't enough, we decided to get back to Vancouver and run the Capilano River the next day. The Cap was running at a lower level which made it a little bit rocky but there was enough water to have a lot of fun through some of the rapid sections. The Starboard Astro Whopper was the right tool for the job here, very stable and could handle getting bounced off the odd rock. There aren't too many Stand Up Paddlers running rivers yet up here in BC yet but I can see some potential for the sport to grow. It was very challenging but a lot of fun and I was very glad to have Dan in front of me so I could follow/copy everything he did.  I'm stoked to get out there some more and hit up some more rivers.

Overall, it was an awesome weekend hanging out with some top paddlers in the industry. Thanks a lot to Dan Gavere and Nikki Gregg for coming up to see what BC has to offer for Stand Up Paddlers.  Also a huge thanks to Chris Emerick for shooting photos all weekend, hanging out and paddling. And a big thanks to Starboard SUP, Werner Paddles and Kokatat Watersports Gear....without them I would be naked, cold, wet and swimming.

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin