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2018 AOTY/DOTY Entry

Topic: Shelter Cove - 10/17/17  (Read 655 times)

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  • Gimme Shelter Annual Kayakfishing Tournament Director
  • Manatee
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  • View Profile LoletaEric.com
  • Location: Humboldt - Always OTW if there is an option.
  • Date Registered: Dec 2004
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Tuesday at the Cove with Joe.

Joe's retired Special Forces with 20 years in the US Army, and he's still doing contract work in Afghanistan. Needless to say, he brought plenty of physical ability in to this trip - his first ocean paddle and only the 2nd time on his Jackson Kraken 13.5. With the forecast calling for light winds and low swell I hoped to see an ideal ocean for Joe's debut on the Big Blue - if you've followed my reports over the past couple of months you may know where this is headed...

Joe and I met up in the dark, got acquainted, geared up for the day and launched around 8AM. A bit more of a south swell was coming in the launch than is ideal, but we were soon on the water heading for the Bell Buoy. Joe'd forgotten to score motion sickness meds on his way up north from Folsom, so I was relieved when we got outside in pretty steep and choppy seas and he didn't turn green.

We were on quite a rodeo ride out there with strong current pulling us toward Kamchatka, so I was really pleased over the course of the morning to see Joe feeling comfortable and handling the marginal ocean. It wasn't dangerous conditions, but it was the kind of water where you have to stay alert.

We got on the board early with Joe's first lingcod and rockfish from the yak, and soon the ocean mellowed enough to cruise out to the Whistle. A few hours on the outside made for a great tour with plenty of fish and lively conversation. By early afternoon Joe announced that he had really gained a ton of confidence on his yak on the open water. We were looking to head in for a halibut try on our way to launch when suddenly the odds reared their ugly head...

I heard a sudden splash, turned my head and saw Joe's kayak upside down with Joe grabbing the keel. I quickly paddled up on him, confirmed that he was OK, assessed various floating gear and proceeded to prioritize getting him back on his boat. We got the Kraken flipped over, but it had taken on some water through a hatch that wasn't secured. Big lesson number one for the guide - make sure the guest does not ever have a hatch unsecured.

With water in the Kraken we were both aware of its compromised stability, but it was good enough to get him back on top of it. Here's where the next challenge arose: it wasn't easy to get Joe back on his boat. I paddled over to the other side of the yak from Joe, held that side while he climbed on board (the stability of my X-Factor was vital right there), and we remained in close contact - basically forming a raft with both the yaks and our arms. Joe was OK - his drysuit had kept him warm in the 50 degree water, and I counted on the fact that his line of work was keeping him from being in shock from the sudden dunking.

We took a second to confirm that he was OK, gathered a few pieces of floating gear, and made a plan to de-flood his hull. Joe held us stable as I climbed forward on my yak, opened my front hatch and got my bilge pump. We worked together to pump out about 10 gallons of water from his hull, and soon we were paddling toward launch around a mile away.

The brisk paddle on what was now a calm and sunny afternoon worked to warm Joe up, as he did have water inside his drysuit, and he had regained confidence in his stability and adequate warmth. Luckily only minimal gear went unaccounted for, and all things considered, this potentially dangerous and costly event was minimized in terms of negative outcomes.

Joe and I both learned big lessons from this. I can't really have people confirm their ability to self-rescue right before the trip - that would require getting soaked first thing in the morning. It is very important though that I communicate to my potential guests that they must have a strong working knowledge of their ability to get back on the yak with gear on. This is something I take for granted because my boats are extremely stable, and I dive and swim from them regularly - with and without fins. Advice that I have for anyone going offshore: consider that having an extremely stable boat is a big deal when it comes to not only avoiding a dunking but also when it comes to how hard it may be to climb back on.

We finished our day in high spirits with Joe packing away 15 to 20 pounds of lingcod and rockfish fillets and dedicating himself to further preparing himself for this sport. I feel lucky that this went down with a guy so able to deal with adversity and challenge, and I am dedicating myself to being that much more prepared for the next time.

Thanks for being with us.
I am a licensed guide.  DFW Guide ID:  1000124.   Let's do a trip together.

Loleta Eric's Guide Service

loletaeric@yahoo.com - call me up at (707) 845-0400


Being an honorable sportsman is way more important than what you catch.


  • Sea Lion
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Nice report and lessons learned! I like to keep my pump topside because is the weather is bad enough to need it I don't want to open my hatch to get it.

Glad you guys had a good trip!



  • Sea Lion
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Another fantastic day at the Cove.  Thx for sharing, and see you next year
Down to 1 Hobie Revo...


  • Sand Dab
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Thanks for that great report! I purchased a set of stand n' fish pontoons to add stability because I did like Joe and rolled it. Did do a self rescue but at least he had someone with him. I was alone which I will not do again for a little while. Nice fish boys!!

Where there is a Portagee there is fish!!!


  • Salmon
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Thanks for the report Eric! And thank you for your dedicated service, Joe!!


  • Sea Lion
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Good write up, Eric!  Glad Joe had one of the best guide in the business, that one definitely paid off!  'saw you guys saved the fish too, that's very awesome.  Now that everybody is good, that trip made a very good story!

Santa Cruz Raptor G2 <--- Simply awesome (www.santacruzkayaks.com)



  • Sea Lion
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wow scary moments but he was in good hands. Great report as always  :smt006


  • Salmon
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Yes Eric what a great report.
Reminded me of GS11 all over again.
It was nice to read another one of your short stories.
I see a book in your future.


Bald Eagle

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Well done in getting Joe back on the kayak and this reminds me that I need to get a bilge pump. I've been in this situation and there's a big difference between paddling a kayak and paddling a "barge".


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Thanks for sharing the experience with us Eric.
"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass...it's about learning how to dance in the rain."

Proud owner of the Raptor & G2 kayaks! (www.santacruzkayaks.com)


  • Salmon
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Congratulations Joe! You caught some nice fish with an "angel" for a guide. You were in good hands.
"Look for it in yourself - it's there, and it has many forms.  "It" is a way to live that benefits you by doing your best to do the right thing by others." LoletaEric