Salmon Bay Paddle - SUP Instruction & Tours in the Pacific Northwest Tel: 206-465-7167 /


7 Pacific Northwest Marine Focused Environmental Orgs to Follow

Below are a few NW environmental orgs we follow..

Forterra - Seattle based Forterra is a land trust org, meaning it buys land to save it from development. Recent purchases have included a large section of Anderson Island in the South Puget Sound.

North Olympic Land Trust - Same as Forterra, but based in Port Angeles, NOLT purchases land on the Olympic Peninsula. Recent purchases have included the Lyre River drainage and delta which drains into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Puget Sound Keeper - A Seattle group that works to keep our waters clean of trash and pollutants, and networks with the public offering group clean-ups. Follow them to join a clean-up!

Feiro Marine Life Center - Port Angeles based aquarium and educational center right on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Elwha River scientist Ian Miller who featured in the Seattle Times Feb 2017 suggested listing this one! Feiro also has a great citizen scientist program.

Northwest Straits -  These folks work with ocean acidification, kelp and oyster recovery, marine debris and education / stewardship. Based in Mt Vernon, they have a good take on North Puget Sound waters.

The San Juan Preservation Trust - The hottest paddling destination in the PNW, the San Juan's gets over 60k paddlers a summer. As a result of it's beauty, remote feel and water access, public land is disappearing.  This group buys up land and has over 50 saved properties throughout the archipelago.

Washington Water Trails Association - Based in Seattle, WWTA has several water trails and works to preserve public access on both salt and freshwater locations. The Cascade Marine Water Trail has over 175 paddle-in campsites throughout Puget Sound. Support by joining and attending a work party to preserve sites. My book, Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juan's lists many of the wwta campsites.

* Know of another group we should list?


Snow Day Paddle on Shilshole Bay!

We got a lot of curious looks but had a hoot paddling in a blizzard today on Shilshole Bay. SBP instructor Joe McColskey and SBP ambassador Darrell Kirk and I paddled toward the Locks, surfed a few boat wakes, then took the 4 knot current down to Shilshole Marina. A SE wind jacked up making for an easy paddle to Golden Gardens.

A 11.5' tide gave us only 2' under the marina gangways (connecting shore to docks). So we proned and/or sat under each for our journey back to the Elks Beach.

We were cookin' in our 5/4mm suits once back at our beach.  A nice post paddle lunch at Geo's Cuban was a great end to a snowy day.


2017 St Paddles Day Paddling Race

March 18th is our 6th annual St Paddles Day Race at Alderbrook Resort on Hood Canal.  This year we'll have a new race course for the 6 miler - From AB to the estuary at Tahuya then to Hood Canal Marina and back to AB.  Check with us for any questions. 

Date: March 18th
Details: $10pp
Races: 3m and 6.4m
Vendors: Free entry
Who Should Race - Open to all craft, but you need to have prior experience (no beginners)

Thanks for visiting my blog!
 Check out my year around classes and tours in the Pacific Northwest. or contact me at 206.465.7167 or
Get sup certified with the PSUPA - Courses held all year. Check our site for dates.


Saturday Alumni Paddle = Jan 28th

I've been offering casual group paddles most weekends throughout the year. Today, we had a stoked group leave the Elk Beach for a nice paddle to West Point. Given the strong SE wind, we used the lee below Magnolia Bluff to get a gentle glide to the point. Just before the point, two of our paddlers spotted a sick baby harbor seal on the beach near the point. They called the marine animal hotline to report it.

L to R - Rob, Holly, Chris, Ryan
The rest of us poked around the point fighting 17kt SE winds. We paddled upwind a few hundred yards a few times surfing waist high wind waves into the point. Re-joining the rest of the group we used the remaining SE winds as a light downwinder back to the Elks. 50 degrees today, a lot warm than previous paddles!

Join my mailing list to follow updates on these paddles and upcoming classes / clinics. Sign-up on my website, link below.

Board in pic:
Imagine Surf Connector 14' CC

Thanks for visiting my blog!
 Check out my year around classes and tours in the Pacific Northwest. or contact me at 206.465.7167 or
Get sup certified with the PSUPA - Courses held all year. Check our site for dates.

Winter Lesson and Tour with Florida Paddler

L to R - Rob, Darrell and Mark. 
This week Mark P of Florida called me up for a intermediate lesson and tour. He was referred to me via Ballard paddler Darrell Kirk's site, Stand Up Paddle the World. Cool connection. Darrell's blog is worth checking out - tons of great podcasts with local paddlers and paddling industry folks. And check out Darrell's many paddling travels to the Salton Sea, Chicago River and a mine in Missouri - 400' below the ground.

Mark and I went out last Sunday for a 1-1 lesson to refine his current skills and teach him a few new tricks as well. He was preparing for a race the following week in Melbourne, Florida with master paddler Larry Caine would be present offering clinics and such.

See my prior post on what we covered with Mark during his lesson here.  Thursday we grabbed Darrell and paddled out around West Point Lighthouse into South Beach below the bluffs and over to Perkins Lane. Beautiful flat glassy day, warmer than usual!

Board in background - Imagine Surf 14' Connector CC

Thanks for visiting my blog!
 Check out my year around classes and tours in the Pacific Northwest. or contact me at 206.465.7167 or
Get sup certified with the PSUPA - Courses held all year. Check our site for dates.


Advanced Paddle Board Lesson - What We Cover..

Below is a summary of a recent intermediate to advanced SUP lesson for a client last week. He was looking to start racing and improve his turns and rough water skills.  In 3 hours, we covered the following skills. It may seem like a lot but for an experienced paddler, he either already knew a version of each and just needed tips for improvement, or some of the skills were new him.

Here’s a few of the strokes we covered Sunday

            - Crossbow – remember to look where you’re going. If turning (crossing over) left, look left. (not ahead).                      Keep fingers loose, both knees bent for best results. Just untwist, no power. 
  • Cross-bow – stall – While underway, cross over then hold the paddle in one location letting the board turn. Like the bow/nose forward rudder.  
  • Forward and Reverse Sweep Turns – Bent knees, place paddle at tail or nose, lower straight arm, watch the path of the paddle from one end to the next. 
  • Bow/Nose Rudder – Placing paddle by nose of board with power face facing hull. Works best when underway or for incoming current. Used to turn nose. Loose grip.
  • Dufek (in book) same as nose rudder but in the middle of the board, place blade in water at side, power face facing hull or nose, rotate shaft to catch more or less water = resistance.  Used to turn and go sideways.  
  • Ferry – technique used to cross fast current so you cross vs get pushed downstream. Place board in a 45 degree angle facing upstream – then keep your eyes/head on where you want to go. Pick a landmark such as a tree or rock.  If you look right or left, you’ll lose the board angle and stall out. More board angle for slow current, less for swift current.  Paddle on either side depending on speed of current. Also works in wind.
  • Sideways - Side–draw. Place paddle in at side, pokerface facing hull. Upper arm straight and on handle, lower arm pulls shaft towards hull. Slice in-water to return blade to starting point. If the nose is turning, place blade in water at or behind feet. Further back for boards with more rocker. Slicing motion also works instead of puling in.  Bend knees in bumps.  
  • Bracing – slapping blade on water at side when tippy.  Paddle for stability. About to fall? Get low. Don’t get high to find balance.  Or paddle. When in doubt, paddle.  
  • Turning by pushing a rail in the water on one side. Try both to see what happens. Great for slight turn. 
  • Walking on board – when paddling, step or jump back then forward. Keep paddling when doing this. Or place blade flat on water at your side. Get comfortable moving about. 
  • Pivot/Buoy Turn – when paddling or blade flat on water at side, step/slide back behind handle. Turn board. Then move back further. Turn board, etc. At the tail, knees must be bent, be in surfing stance (one foot back) and you should be paddling constantly to stay balanced.  Be willing to get wet. Spin in 360s or jack up the board as far as you can go then recover.  Watch fin on bottom.  
  • Using Eddies – look for water with no current behind an obstruction like a dock, rock etc. Use these to move upstream swerving in/out.  Works in wind too. 
  • Forward stroke recovery in-water by slicing blade from exit position parallel to the hull and forward to the nose. Powerface facing the hull.  Great for stability and wind. 
  • Upwind or lost/broken paddle – Prone on belly, paddle blade under chest, using both hands to paddle. OR sitting, using a canoe stroke (one blade) or both ends of the paddle like a kayak paddle. 
  • Falling – always fall flat. Get back on at the rail adjacent to the tail which is easier to grab the opposite side. Kick hard to float body to surface while pulling on.  
  • Sweeping brace – during forward stroke, instead of feathering above surface, slide it across the surface like a hydroplane, leading edge up. This will give you a lot of stability in rough water. Same technique for the sweep turn during a pivot/buoy turn.
What next?  Aside from working on the above, think about learning to surf your 14’ board. The more rough water you get into the better racer you’ll be.  You’ll be surprised how many paddlers can’t handle bumps or funky water with long boards.  Paddle in clapotis (reverb), wind, small to medium sized surf, etc.  Practice all turns in rough water as well. Use an incoming wave to help you turn your board 180 degrees on one stroke.  Paddle smarter, not harder.  Any questions, give me a holler!  Rob

Thanks for visiting my blog!
 Check out my year around classes and tours in the Pacific Northwest. or contact me at 206.465.7167 or
Get sup certified with the PSUPA - Courses held all year. Check our site for dates.


Surfing in Seattle?

In my 5 Ways to Surf Shilshole Bay post, I mentioned wind waves. Wind waves create both downwindable conditions but also in the case of the photo here, they like ocean waves will eventually end up at a beach. If the beach has a gentle slope, then waves will build and possible extend some distance giving us a surf opportunity.

Right in front of the Ballard Elks lodge where we teach (below), a SW or strong (30kt) northerly will push waves into the beach. At lower tides waves will build. Boat wakes will also throw waves inside creating nice waves. I once surfed a chest high set, but short lived as it was a drop-in and bail out of there type sort of wave.

Like our freighter waves, waves break like these all over Puget Sound. Just a matter of finding beaches with a gentle slope, then paying attention during storms, boat wakes and varying tide levels to see what happens. You can find good beach break waves on lakes as well. A friend once rode a chest high wave from a boat on Lake Washington. Search for beaches using aerial photo sites like the DNR Shoreline page and Google Earth. Geography to look for may include points of land with lots of sand on one or both sides or crescent shaped beaches which empty out to a flat beach at low tide.

Cleaned up wind waves at the Ballard Elks

Read more about waves on Puget Sound and tools for finding them..
- Armored Shorelines - Essentially bulkheads, create a reverb wave form called clapotis.
- DNR Aerial Photos - View WA shoreline photos from the 1970's to present day.
- Google Earth - Same as above but view from 360 degrees and make measurements, etc.
- Learn to Surf Freighter Waves on Puget Sound (class) - come with a freighter wave manual.

Learn more about my book Kayaking Puget Sound and the San Juans, 60 Trips. I also offer SUP and Kayak lessons available throughout the year at Salmon Bay Paddle. Questions about paddling on the Salish Sea, give me a holler anytime at or 206-465-7167

Support the Washington Water Trails Association and the Cascadia Marine Trail. The wwta works to create and protect access for paddlers on Puget Sound as well as provide an extensive network of over 60 paddle-in camping sites -