Trinidad – Jan. 16, 2011

Hey Everyone,

Just got back from an amazing trip to Trinidad Ca. I paddled with a few of the locals on one of their Sunday Morning rough water paddles. The first thing I will say is the people from the kayaking community up there are top notch. If you ever get a chance to go up and paddle with this group, do it! You will not be disappointed.

So Sunday after a long night of restless sleep we met up at Trinidad Harbor at 8:00AM. The usual group of 8 people were already there with their boats on the beach. I was pleasantly surprised to see that almost everyone there was paddling a Sterling Illusion or Grand Illusion. I say pleasantly because I sell Sterlings Kayaks, and my purpose for the trip was to product test his new Reflection Kayak. So my friend and I geared up, strapped on our waterproof cameras and hit the water. The weather felt like classic North Coast, overcast, misty, and a cool 55 degrees. The ocean was predicted to be at 8-10 ft swell at 12 seconds out of the West, perfect conditions to put the new boat through its paces. So as we paddled out of the harbor we weave our way through moored fishing boats, bobbing side to side in the ocean swell. We spot a few seals, and even a pod of Harbor Dolphins.

Local tradition is to paddle out through the first rock formation you come to called Prisoner Rock. Its two big rocks that stick up out of the Harbor with a wide slot big enough to paddle through. Legend has it that this island gets its name because back in the day this is where people would drop off drunk fisherman to sleep it off. Wether true or false I can’t say, but the story helped lighten the mood of the day, and we all took our turn paddling through the slot and into the Pacific Swell.

The first placed we paddled was called “The Corner” which made perfect since because it was the corner of Trinidad Head. Here you are in the full exposure of the Pacific swell along a long steep rock wall. The waves wrapped around the corner rising and falling along the wall making it a great place to get comfortable in lumpy reflection waves. We all took our turn trying to get in
close to the wall and see how high we could catch a ride up the wall. After a bit we began to paddle further around Trinidad Head. To our right was a towering rock wall with constant white wash and foam crashing against it. We made our way up to the next play spot called Smack Wall. I had been to Smack Wall before last summer during a Club Mixer put on by 4 Northern Ca paddling clubs, so I sort of knew what to expect, but this day was not like the last. As we sat back and watched a few sets come in, we saw the water exploding up the cliff and creating a curling wave that sometimes seemed to be 20 ft tall. Then a few seconds later the reflection wave would hit us, and our boats would jump out of the water, as if we where plowing through the surf. I was the first to take a turn. I paddled up nose to the wall and waited for a big set to roll in. When it did I felt the water suck away from the wall leaving an enormous troth between the wave and the wall, and then in a second I was lifted up and shot into the air on top of this frothy monster. I felt myself being back surfed out to sea and I knew what was coming next. The wave curled at the top and sent me cart wheeling backwards for what felt like eternity. While in the wave I made sure to keep my paddle loose in my hands and made sure my elbows where in tight to my body, I was ready to let go at any minute if I felt any pressure on my shoulders. After a fun ride I rolled up in the wave and paddled back in for another ride. After a few more good rides, and a few huge dumpers I decided I better call it a day let someone else have a turn. Right behind me was Marcella, a graceful lady with nerves of steel. She paddled up to the wall as if she had done it a million times, spun her Illusion around and surfed the reflection wave right our to sea. She made it look so easy and smooth and my hat goes off to her. After that a few other got in close to the wall and caught rides including another local gal named Georgiana. I was so impressed to see the Trinidad women charging harder than many of the guys that day.

Being the flat lander that I am, I began to see green. Sitting in the swell looking at a camera lens made me feel a little sea sick so I asked the group if we could paddle to the next spot. We made our way over to Pilot Rock. A large circle rock a hundred yards off the coast. The way the swell wrapped around both sides of the rock made for an interesting point break and surf ride. We all took turns and practiced Greenland rolls while we waited. After about an hour or so we made our way back to the corner, than back through Prisoner Rock for tradition.

I was so impressed by this wonderful group of people, their skill level, and their humility in their boats. You could tell they were all so passionate about the ocean and about sea kayaking. If you ever go paddling up their do yourself a favor and hook up with the Trinidad Locals. You will not be disappointed.

So after we hosed our gear off and loaded the boats, everyone invited us to meet up at the local coffee shop to shoot the breeze and have drinks. As a group they decided that they would be giving me their perpetual Smack Wall trophy for having the biggest ride. The trophy reads “Smack Wall Master” “Awarded for extraordinary skills, courage, and absolute Lunacy.” and it has a kayaker
sitting in a gold cup with an intense look on his face. The fact that they welcomed me in to their community, showed me their spots, and let me have their trophy even though I live 6 hours away, really blew me away. Although its just a cheap plastic trophy, this little award means more to me than almost any award I have ever received, because it was given by peers that I look up to and respect.

A big thanks to all the Trinidad Locals who paddled that day. Mike Dedman, John Day, Marcella, Georgiana, Bruce, Damon, and Mike Z.

As for the test of the new Reflection Kayak? Look at the pictures and you will see what I thought :)
Here is a link to the photo album with all the picture from that day as well as a few from another  trip that went out of Trinidad on Sat.

And this is what I am most proud to show off. Here is a few minute video of Smack Wall going off! From what they said, this is as big as it can get without closing out. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading,

Dan Arbuckle

1 Response to “Trinidad – Jan. 16, 2011”

Leave a Reply