Paddle Articles

Emergency Steering - DIY Rudder Cable Backup System for OCs and Surfskis

Emergency Steering Broken Rudder Cable Solution

Emergency steering device for broken rudder cable

There are times where we are out on our canoes and surf-skis and our rudder cable breaks. It happens. And a perfectly great day can turn bad real quick. There are many creative quick-fixes one can do, and we will discuss several of them at the end of the article. But there is one in particular we'd like to focus on that can really not only help you hold a line, but create the ability to turn in a semi-controlled manner. And the great thing can dial in very quickly and easily, because it is installed and ready to use when the moment comes! Thank you to Cali Paddler Frank who took the time to craft and share this great write-up. Enjoy!

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VHF Radio Demystified – The most important part of your paddle safety kit

Paddle VHF Radio Demystified
Many of us have come to paddling, whether it be kayak, SUP, surf ski, OC1 or OC6, from backgrounds other than traditional boating like power boats or sailing. Because of this you may not be familiar with the venerable marine VHF radio that has been the mainstay of the boating community since 1950. Advances in electronics have shrunk the size and cost of the VHF radio to a small hand held device that can be bought for under $100. For these reasons a handheld marine VHF radio should be in everyone's safety kit.

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Downwinder Best Practices

Downwind Best Practices

Please take a look at these great lessons assembled by some really studly paddlers and ocean enthusiasts.

Remember...conditions are fun...until they aren't.

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CP Review - Nocqua Spectrum P2 Paddle Light System

Nocqua Spectrum P2
Any paddler who played with lite-brite as a kid is about to be pretty excited. Paddling at night is always ethereal. There is heightened awareness, added use of our senses, and it really kind of makes us feel like rebels. So with all of that in play, you figure having lights for safety is key. But also, why not have some lights on for fun? Well the Nocqua Spectrum P2 light system introduces a whole new level of paddle craft lighting. Check out the review that follows to see paddle illumination in a whole new light (yea we just wrote that).

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CP Review - Duk Gear Waterproof Floating Cell Phone Case

Duk Gear Review
Sometimes a product can be simple and do everything it needs to do. Reliably. And so far we feel the Duk Gear Waterproof Floating Cell Phone cases are a perfect example of that. Keep your phone handy, still take pictures, float if it falls in. And of course, keep your phone dry and protected. Oh, and not break the bank too would be nice!

The Duk Gear company, created when they saw way too many paddlers losing cell phones while paddling on a nearby lake, is US Based and a 1% for the Planet aligned company. So you know they care about their role in the environment as much as we do. We recently tested out two their flagship products with our cell-phone on numerous OC1 and SUP paddles. We were pleased with what we experienced.

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CP Explorations - Half Moon Bay, Bolinas and a whole lot of in between

CP Explorations - Half Moon Bay, Bolinas, Santa BarbaraEPIC Adventures for a Cause 2020 - originally was SC2SF but it really ended up being a random collection of crazy fun paddles. Come along for a recap of the fun.

Another year, another stretch of new coastline to explore in my forever quest to explore the entire California state. This year, the plan and finishing route were nothing alike. In fact, for the days and hours leading up to it, we almost didn’t even go. You see Santa Cruz was one of many areas dealing with major fires. Families evacuated, homes and state parks burned, roads closed, and air quality bad enough to cause people to avoid being outside at all. So you can imagine our struggle of going up to the area for what was originally supposed to be a three day paddle from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. Would we take hotels from evacuated families, crowd roads that were needed for emergency vehicles? Impose on folks in a time that people were struggling to keep positive. So for this Epic Adventure for a Cause, I want to direct people to the Red Cross for the cause. Please visit to see how you can help those impacted and even the first-responders.

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CP Review - Garmin GPSMAP 86 Review for Paddlers

Garmin GPSMAP86 ReviewSafety is not something paddlers always equate with technology. We think of PFDs, leashes, and in some cases the all important marine radio. All of these are important for safe paddling, but there are many dangerous situations that can be helped by a little bit of tech.  Introducing the Garmin GPSMAP 86sci and 86i models. A high-end water-ready satellite communication device with GPS tracking, and emergency SOS beacon capabilities. So. Many. Features. We paddled over 90 miles along throughout California across 4 days, day and night, ocean and bay to put it through the test. Enjoy our review.

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OC1 Volare First Impressions and Reviews

Puakea Designs Volare OC1 ReviewGreetings all. Each time a new paddleboard canoe or surfski come out, the paddle world (including us!) can't wait to hear and read about first impressions. So consider this a running log of various paddlers we extremely respect as they test out new craft and share their personal thoughts and feedback. Please note, these are not paid sponsors, just regular folks who love to paddle, like all of us!


Volare OC1 by Puakea Designs

Paddler: Guillaume E. from San Diego
Location: Pacific Ocean and Mission Bay, 8/20/2020
Conditions: 12-18 mph winds, south to north

I got to paddle the Volare in windy conditions yesterday. I did two loops going south straight (Jetty to Pescadero)


  • First loop: Condition: stiff local wind (15 mph) from the south, some white caps, local wind swell, 1 to 2 ft (occasional 3ft), very short period. Some cross groundswell from the South West. Conditions varied from very technical to pretty well aligned.
  • Second loop: wind started easing, wind swell was still present. Conditions were a bit less technical than first run.


  • Canoe does not punch thru waves faces, instead it rides on top of them. So I experienced quite a bit of canoe slapping against the waves. It does not impact speed much (note that I usually ride a v1 that cut thru waves faces like a knife)
  • The characteristic “bouncing effect” from the Kahele is not present. That is a good thing
  • Ama is very stable. I played around going upwind at a 30 degree angle, with wind on the ama side. Ama came up a few times but the canoe was not twitchy (like the Ehukai can be) and fairly stable.


  • Canoe requires a bit more pressure on the blade to get on the wave than the Kahele (and less than the Ehukai), but once you are on the wave, it is a smooth ride.
  • Very stable downwind, I was able to lean right, forward, back, canoe responded well and did not twitch
  • Canoe keeps the speed pretty well, I was able to connect a few waves without killing myself.
  • As for upwind, canoe does not pearl much and stays on top of the wave.
  • On the first downwind,  when I went left on the wave to ride the shoulder, the canoe got away from me a few times and I ended up at 90 degree angle. I do not recall experiencing this on the Kahele on similar conditions.
  • This did not happen on the second run when the wind had eased.
  • Maybe the waves were a bit steeper on the first run, or maybe the stiffer wind pushed the tail sideway due to the higher profile and longer canoe (compared to Kahele)?

On the adjustable foot well:

  • Very spacious foot area and pretty comfortable, The adjustable track (on both side) rests against the side of your foot. It did not cause any discomfort but I am wondering if it can be a problem on very long paddle when the skin is soft.
  • When I lifted my feet (to readjust my position), the bottom flap of the foot plate would stick to my heel a bit. It did not cause the foot well to disengage but this is something that I noticed a few times (it drew my attention away from surfing)
  • On the foot plate, the pedal inflection point is much higher on the foot than on the Kahele: at the toe knuckle’ articulation instead of mid sole (shoe size 11)
  • One advantage is that you can really drive your foot down without risking to turn the canoe
  • One disadvantage is that I was understeering a lot as I am used to steer from my midsole and not from my toe. This is probably an issue that would go away as one becomes accustomed to the steering.
  • I am not sold on the adjustable foot well. Maybe it was my first outing, but my focus kept on getting drawn back to the foot well while paddling. Maybe it is the novelty of it, and eventually, I would ignore it, but on this first outing, it really took my attention away from surfing.

On boat wake riding - I got lucky and got a really nice boat wake to play with in the channel. Canoe picked up the speed well and I got a nice ride.

Additional notes - On the crappy tidal wave at the 5mph buoy. Maybe I am the only one doing this, but at the end practice, when I get around to the 5 mph buoy at the base of the Mission Bay Channel, I always challenge myself to try to surf a very crappy ripple. I noticed that even though I had to put a bit more pressure on the blade initially, it felt as taxing to surf the ripple as the Kahele would, but not more. So that is good thing.

Comfort - . I did not feel much difference from Kahele, except for the wider foot well (which is a plus). I only paddled for a bit more than 1 hour though. Canoes usually become uncomfortable after 2 hrs for me.

Speed - Interesting foot note, I just checked my average speed on the two downwind runs. On my first run, I was average 8.3 mph over .7 miles. This is the same pace as my fastest mile run (<7 mins per mile). Note that the conditions were very good for fast time: besides the stiff wind, there was a strong south to north current.

Overall opinion  - Downwind, it is fun, smooth and stable canoe for surfing that does not have the bouncing effect of the Kahele, nor the twitchiness of the Ehukai. It requires a bit more pressure than the Kahele to get on a wave, but not by a lot.
I am not sold on the adjustable foot plate but it has value if canoe is shared by several people of different heights.

It is a natural next evolution from the Ehukai and Kahele.

[Thank you to Aqua Adventures for the canoe used in this review.]

CP Review - Goodboy Paddlesports V-Bar Rack Review

Goodboy Paddlesports Oc1 Surfski Kayak Roof Rack ReviewWe transport our canoes and surf skis practically as much as we paddle them. Sometimes we are so lazy after a good long paddle that we even leave the canoe on the roof (guilty). So wouldn’t it be important that the rack we use to carry the craft is safe to travel with, easy to load, and oh yea, affordable would be nice too right?

Well, for the past few months we have been seeing more and more racks by a company called Goodboy Paddlesports (formerly Good Boy Kayaks). And with several long trips coming up, we decided there was no better time to test one out and share our feedback with you all than now. So please enjoy the review below, where we take you through the unboxing, installation, and use. Mixed in with some good old fashion customer service.

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CP Review - Level 6 Padling Gloves

Level Six Paddling Gloves ReviewI know its not the most macho thing to be putting on before a paddle, but hey, I admit to rocking paddle gloves. And over the years I have used gloves from DaKine, West Marine and Water Sports Warehouse. So when these new paddle gloves, called the "Cascade", from a Canadian paddling company called Level Six came to my attention as I was gearing up for a 4 day 120 mile paddle adventure, I figured what better way to give them the ultimate test!

Find them online here at West Coast Paddle Sports.

Unique Features

Gel Padding: I don't always get blisters, but when I do, its always in the same place(s) on my hands. And whether I am paddling OC6, OC1 or SUP, once the blister starts, it is hard to let it heal and still paddle as much as I want. Once my mileage goes over 12 miles I usually start to have them start. I have found gloves to really help buy me another 8-10 miles on top of that. But most gloves don't offer well-placed padding, just leather to reduce the friction. And that helps. But these gloves offer 2mm gel padding in several pockets on the hand, in addition to offering protection from the friction that other gloves offer. The padding helped me in the base of my hand by the wrist not have the usual tender spot that accumulates after many miles of pushing down on the paddle handle. There is gel and padding also along the main blister spots for me, at the base of each finger. For me, my middle and ring fingers tend to get it the worst. So those spots are protected with these a bit as well.

Paddle Gloves

Pull-off strings: This was a feature that I have never asked for, but once I figured out what they were for, I was immediately grateful. If anyone has ever taken wet, half-finger gloves off, you know it can take several minutes to pull them little fingers off, grab the glove, and get the darned thing off. And if you do, chances are you got impatient by the end and turned the whole thing inside out! So more time spent having to fix them before you get on the water the next time. Well, these gloves have little fabric bridges that are unnoticeable while paddling, but you can pull on each on to help get the glove off quickly. Each glove has two, between pointer and middle, and rind and pinky fingers. Pulling on those helps get the glove off. Subtle touch, but actually pretty sweet!

Paddle Gloves

Nose-Wipe: Ok this one made me laugh out loud! They actually list on the marketing that these gloves have a nose wipe. But as someone who is way to often trying to wipe sweat, spray, snot and spit off my face, it makes sense. There is a little spot on the back of each glove by the thumb and pointer finger that is a soft non-abrasive material with no seams. Unlike rigging gloves and other glove alternatives I have paddled with, these are actually designed with a paddler in mind. And yes, we do sometimes need to wipe our face, nose, eyes while paddling. And do this was pretty welcomed!

Paddle Gloves


Most gloves out there will last me a good year of paddling. I wear them 1-3 times a week, for 5-25 miles a paddle, depending on the time of year. Sometimes intervals, sometimes long slow paddles. Even some 9man change races sprinkled in there where I am grabbing the gunwales of moving canoes 8-9 times to hoist myself up. The Level Six gloves tested here have not had a full year of testing, but 120 miles in a week was certainly enough to notice any defects. The gloves held up great so far. No loose stitching, no separation yet on the fingers where the circle of material meets which often fails on the other gloves I use. The gel packs seems as full and cushy as when I started. The only thing that fail was one of the finger pull-off strings I mentioned above broke its seems where the stitching met the glove. If they weren't so darned useful I would not have cared, but I was disappointed by this. The other ones are solid and working fine still. I will reach out to Level Six and see what they say.

Da Funk

I don't wash my gloves after every paddle. In fact, they usually get left in the van and never fully dry. So I know what kind of funk they can incur. These went 4 days of camping and paddling, 8 hours of water time, then sitting wet overnight when I would then put them on again the next morning. About as gross a circumstance I would throw at them. And they don't have an ounce of odor to them. I have to say, I was pretty pleased, since I had a long drive after with them sharing the car-ride home. When I got back I hosed them in fresh water and let them dry in the sun. Smelled brand new and odorless when I paddled a few days later. (Too bad my towel can't have this same result.:)


I could care less what they things look like really. But the fact they are black with red accents makes them more noticeable than my normal DaKine gloves, but less flashy than the West Marine gloves that were a bright Cali Paddler turquoise blue. The only bummer with black is being a dark color it shows salt stains more, but a quick rinse on these and the salt washed right away. I was in cold water in Monterey, so maybe black is good for heat; bad for Hawaii and warm weather paddling though. So take that into account, if you are sensitive to heat in your hands as it could be a plus and a minus. Coverage is important with sun exposure. And I never got a sunburn on my hands when wearing them, as some gloves on the back of my hand leave an uncovered half-circle portion by the velcro of skin exposed which gets burned.These were full back of hand coverage. One last thing of note, the velcro-like attachment was not something that catches on other fabrics, only itself. Plus smoother and less abrasive if rubbed on your skin which can sometimes happen when you wipe your brow mid paddle-stroke.


I usually pay $30-35 for gloves. My wife who steers OC6s more, prefers full finger gloves and pays a bit more. These were actually cheaper than what I usually pay though. They were listed at ~$25 bucks at West Coast Paddle Sports and I was super pleased to put that extra 10 bucks back into my wallet. (Actually, who am I kidding, towards another accessory, a floating cellphone case I will review another time.)


I paddled more miles in 4 days than I ever have. Even at the Gorge, or on previous adventures. And the final results? A single blister when it was all said and done. Compared to my normal blisters, this matched what used to occur after a 15 mile paddle. So really, this was minor and pretty much was a non-issue within 24 hours. I would have loved no blisters, but considering this was all I got, and less than what I usually am facing, I am pretty thrilled! The gloves were comfortable and never intrusive to my technique. And while wearing them and not paddling (carrying gear, rigging, helping load the canoe) they for practically not noticeable when worn. The padding on the palm helped my comfort at the end of each long day as well, since there was no bruising.

I will update after a few months of use, but I have to say, I just found my new gloves of choice! They were better performing, just as comfortable and much cheaper then other gloves worn.


  • Gloves actually designed for paddling, vs. rigging or dive gloves.
  • Better protection than normal gloves from blisters with gel padding not just leather.
  • No bruising on hands due to padding.
  • Didn't stink after paddling with gloves fr 4 days and never properly rinsing.
  • Gotta love the finger pulls for easy removal.
  • Gentle non-abrasive and seamless 'Nose wipe' sections are actually welcomed.
  • Full back of hand coverage, no sun exposed semi-circle.


  • Sad that one of the finger pulls broke, as that was a great feature. Not sure design flaw or just a one-time production QA issue.
  • I miss the snap-to-each other feature that some gloves have where each glove can snap to the other and helps keep me from losing them. I go old-school though and just velcro them to each other which works.

Available online and in store at West Coast Paddle Sports here.


Cali Paddler Team Writer Clarke Graves

Team Writer Clarke Graves - If there is water, he will paddle it (regardless of craft). Clarke is a surfer turned paddler who grew up in San Diego but has traveled every corner of California enjoying its beauty and appeal. He has had the privilege of racing SUP, OC6, OC2, OC1, Prone, Dragon-boat and surf-ski.

One of Clarke's goals is to paddle as much shoreline in California as he can, with as many paddling friends who are willing to join him. If you have an idea for Clarke to write about or any questions, send it our way and we will pass it along!

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