Friday, February 28, 2014

Suspending publication

Been a poorly kept secret, so many of you know. But for those that don't, I have stopped publishing California Paddler/California Kayaker Magazine. I enjoyed running it for the 4 years we published, but had to pull the plug as it just wasn't making financial sense.

I wanted to put out a thanks to the many people who helped (often unpaid) bring this magazine to life.  Eric Bloom (editing/proofing), Karen Lapinski (editing/proofing/legal/reviews), Laura Ramos (initial layout/editing/proofing), Elizabeth Rowell (photo editing/California Paddler logo), Brian Warkentine (California Kayaker logo), and Sylvia Wu (editing/proofing/reviews).  And to all the authors and photographers who provided content.  And to the people at the retailers/tour companies who loved the magazine so much to make space to give it out to their customer.  And, of course, the companies who believed in the benefit of advertising in the magazine enough to lay out their hard earned cash for advertisements.  The magazine definitely took a community to be possible.

I am open to bringing it back at some point in the future (maybe as an online only magazine), but am not actively working on that.

The web site will be kept up so people can read back issues.  And the and pages will be keep up so we can keep posting news and items of interest.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sea Kayaking with Gordon Brown Volume 3 review

Gordon Brown is one of Scotland’s premier instructors. He has the highest achievable certification from the British Canoe Union, and is the only American Canoe Association certified coach in Scotland. He has also been a guest instructor at the last 2 Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposiums (and will be at the next GGSKS next weekend). Gordon owns and operates Skyak Adventures on the Isle of Skye.

Sea Kayaking with Gordon Brown Volume 3 is the third and last video in a 3 part series. Sea Kayaking with Gordon Brown Volume 1 video covers the foundations of sea kayaking – paddling, turning, steering, edging, etc. California Kayaker reviewed the first video on our blog at
Sea Kayaking with Gordon Brown Volume 2 moves to more advanced materials, covering assisted and self rescues, tows, technical landings and launches, and anticipating/avoiding troubles.  This DVD was reviewed in the Spring 2012 issue of California Kayaker Magazine, which can be read online at

Volume 3 continues to move to more advanced content.  It has 4 sections:
  1. Handling Emergency Situations
  2. Sea Kayak Navigation
  3. Rolling Clinic
  4. First Aid Kits
Preview for the Volume 3 video:

Volume 3, Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown from Simon Willis on Vimeo.

Here are our thoughts looking at each section:

Handling Emergency Situations
The video uses a mock rescue to present safety planning, how to deal with an emergency, and what to expect if rescue services are contacted. The big picture main points of the segment apply to all paddlers: be prepared with signaling equipment, training and practice; paddlers should be prepared to address emergencies themselves until help is available; equipment for contacting emergency services, what it does, how to use it, and the limitations; making yourself visible to searchers. The video also discusses complications such as being unfamiliar with rescue equipment and working with cold hands.
We thought about this hard and feel that the US Coast Guard rescue procedures are similar to Her Majesty's Coast Guard and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, but a US paddler might not want to rely too heavily on some of the details presented just in case there are differences. 

Sea Kayak Navigation
This segment is less location-specific than the first, but does talk about OS Maps, which seem to be the UK equivalent to Topo maps. The graphics were very helpful in explaining tides and correcting bearing for tide flow. A bonus is the explanation of why the most extreme tide periods are called spring tides even though they occur every 14 days. The presenter gives several rules of thumb to use in predicting tidal action. The night navigation is worth watching because, as the video points out, paddlers risk finding themselves paddling at night no matter what their float plan is.

Rolling Clinic
Rolling seems to be one of the most difficult kayak skills to present on a video, and the video points out that rolling cannot be learned by watching a video, but has to be learned in a boat. Gordon's video is one of the best because it is filmed in clear pool water with multiple camera angles (including what one reviewer called the "crotch view") showing the same move.
There were a couple of methods Gordon used that I would try, either while practicing my roll or helping someone. The video shows how a coach can assist the paddler while sitting on the side of the pool. When a paddler completed his first roll, instead of immediately making another attempt, Gordon suggested he get out of the boat, sit with his eyes closed, and think about what was happening during the roll.

I am not so sure video feedback would be as useful, and even Gordon says it can be difficult to find one correction to concentrate on when the video may show the paddler making several mistakes.  

First Aid Kits
First Aid kits are like tow ropes - everyone should have one, but if you put 5 kayakers together, you will get 6 opinions on what you should use. Still, there is useful information in this segment, with the key points being the importance of training for how to respond to an emergency and how to use the items in the kit; consider carrying a minimal kit close at hand and larger kit in a hold; and items to carry in the first aid kits.

You do not need to watch any of the prior volumes to get benefit from the other volumes.  

Who should buy Volume 3?  We thought about this a bit.  Volume 1 would be good for any sea kayaker (and even for people who paddle other types of kayaks).  The second gets more specific for sea kayakers, and in some cases specific for group coastal paddling, yet still is generally useful.  This video, volume 3, gets very specific to some areas of sea kayaking, and has a bit more limited market.  There definitely are skills to be gained for anyone paddling a  sea kayak, even if paddling on protected lakes, but the topics covered are best for people who do expeditions, paddle in areas with currents, and in groups. If you fall into one of these categories, get it.  But if not and you don't have an extra $30 in your pocket, maybe hold off on this one (or spend it on volume 1 or 2, if you don't have those).

This DVD has 2.5 hours worth of content.  It costs $29.95 and is available for purchase from your local paddlesports shop or online from

Friday, November 8, 2013

Apps to read California Paddler Magazine on tablets

Have a tablet and want to read the magazine.  You can always download the PDF from  Or now you can use specific apps to read the magazine.

For Android tablets, you can download the California Paddler Magazine app from the Google Play Store.  This app has all published magazines loaded in it, so they can be read at any time.  And automatically adds new issues as they come available.

For iPad users, you can download an app called Coverly from iTunes.  This app lets you read many free magazines, including California Paddler Magazine.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summer 2013 Issue of California Paddler Magazine is now Published

The Summer 2013 issue of California Paddler Magazine (formerly California Kayaker Magazine) has been published.

Contents include How to Buy a SUP, Blending Strokes for Improved Performance, Paddling with Kids, Big Bear, Ocean-Going Native American Plank Canoe, reviews of the This is the Sea 5 DVD, Rock the Boat DVD, and BC Coast Explorer Guide Book and much more...

About California Paddler Magazine:

California Paddler Magazine (formerly California Kayaker Magazine) is a print and online magazine focusing on being the source for paddlesports information for the Southwest. We are dedicated to promoting fun and responsible paddling, and advocating for increased paddling opportunities in this region.

The stories in California Paddler Magazine are written by local experts and include articles on places to paddle, tips on how to improve your paddling experience, and information of concern to paddlers and the local paddling environment. Covers all types of paddlesports (sea kayaking/touring, white water, surfing, fishing, stand up paddling, canoeing, etc.) and for paddlers of all levels (those entering the sport to pros).

 More information on the magazine can be found at

Friday, April 12, 2013

California Kayaker Magazine renamed to California Paddler Magazine

Here is a press release for the upcoming name change from California Kayaker Magazine to California Paddler Magazine.

California Kayaker Magazine Changes Name to California Paddler Magazine
San Francisco, CA — April 12, 2013 — Starting with the Summer 2013 issue (#11), California Kayaker Magazine will be published under the name California Paddler Magazine.

By changing the name from "kayaker" to "paddler" the magazine seeks to expand the content to cover all paddle sports. “Canoes and rafts have somewhat limited retail markets in our geography, so likely will only be covered from time to time,” said Peter Donohue, California Kayaker Magazine’s Editor, “but with this change we do plan to have stand up paddleboard (SUP) content in each issue, reflecting its fast growth and popularity.”

Donohue also said that beyond the addition of SUP, the rest of the magazine will not see major changes.  “We will continue to print on high quality paper stock, distribute through all the same locations – with the addition of SUP-specific retailers, print on the same schedule for 2013, increasing to 3 issues for 2014." – he added. “And keeping our loyal kayaking readers in mind we will continue to include great kayak content in each issue."

Donohue offered that the first SUP article will be about the different types of SUPs (displacement boards versus planing boards, etc.), written by Scotto of Clavey Paddlesports, a past contributor to the magazine.

About California Paddler Magazine:
California Paddler Magazine (formerly California Kayaker Magazine) is focused on being the South West's source for paddle sports information. We cover all forms of paddle sports (SUP, kayaking, canoeing, etc.) and for readers ranging from those just entering the sport to professionals. California Paddler is printed on glossy stock and packed with photos and stories written by local experts. Articles include trip experiences, skills, product reviews, news, how to get started, etc. Print runs exceed 10,000 copies per issue, which are distributed free at paddle sports, general sports, and boating outlets in California, Oregon, Arizona, and Nevada. Each issue is also available to be read online.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spring 2013 issue is published

The Spring 2013 issue of California Kayaker Magazine has been published.

Contents include solo trip on Glen Canyon, paddling Ahjumawi State Park and Fall River area, Trolling for Trout, the basic types of kayaks, T-Rescue skills, Sportsman’s Best - Kayak Fishing book review, and much more...

About California Kayaker Magazine:

California Kayaker Magazine is a print and online magazine focusing on being the source for kayaking information for California. We are dedicated to promoting fun and responsible kayaking, and advocating for increased paddling opportunities in this region.

The stories in California Kayaker Magazine are written by local experts and include articles on places to paddle, tips on how to improve your paddling experience, and information of concern to paddlers and the local paddling environment. Covers all types of kayaking (touring, white water, surfing, fishing, etc.) and for paddlers of all levels (those entering the sport to 5 star paddlers).

More information on the magazine can be found at

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

2013 California Kayaker Magazine Plans

2013 is coming together for California Kayaker Magazine. There will be 2 issues - a Spring (published end of February) and Summer (end of June).  Content is starting to be lined up now.

Advertising info is also set, and can be seen at Prices have been held the same as 2012 (and even lowered slightly for those who commit to advertising in both issues).