Paddle Articles

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!

How To Choose A PFD Or Life Jacket

How to choose a pfd or life jacketPFDs...Great when you got'em. And always important to have the right one. But really, how many of us have put the proper time and research into something that is literally designed to save our lives?

Cali Paddler was recently contacted by Guillaume from HappinessWithout to see about sharing this amazing and helpful article here on How to choose a PFD or life jacket. And we are so grateful to share with all of you the wealth of info it includes. Whether you paddle Kayak or SUP. Lakes rivers or ocean, we found this a very important and helpful guide. Enjoy!

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Swelldone - So much more than a paddle game

CP Asks...Swelldone Paddle GameWe are the first to admit it, paddling does not get the glory and spotlight as much as other sports (unless of course, you are a paddler. In which case it is all we talk about). So when we caught 'wind' that there was a paddling game out there on the horizon, we immediately sought it out. But if anyone expected a low effort -bored in 1 minute-designed by a non-paddler-ported from another game disappointing experience. WE WERE SO WRONG!

This game is not just well done, it is SWELLDONE. And so we reached out to interview the designer and paddling friend Wyatt Wong to ask some pretty important questions about the game, how it came to be, and what we might see in the future. Enjoy!

Check-out and download the game here:


> Hi Wyatt, first off, we LOVE what you did. But for those new to the game, tell us a little bit about this game and why it’s unique?

Swelldone is a paddling game that's designed from the start to be an open-world experience with a focus on downwind surfing. The other paddling games that are current out there are pretty basic and seem to have a limited or specific experience to navigate a closed obstacle course or to focus on a particular type of arcade gameplay.  The experience I wanted for Swelldone was to give the player unlimited access to explore open water and let the waves take you wherever you want to go. I wanted to make the game realistic enough for a paddler to learn and apply their skills to read and get on bumps, yet keep it simple and fun to get lost on endless wave trains.


> What were some challenges to helping us feel like we are actually paddling?

Oh, there were quite a few gnarly challenges to designing and creating this game. Never a dull moment!

The first huge challenge was to understand how to model and simulate the water and environment - the experience of being on the water is very complicated to simulate as the ocean is very dynamic with wind, waves, chop, currents. As experienced paddlers, we look for and respond to all these variables that we read from the water. It was important then that the game is able to provide the same level of fidelity in these details for the player to feel immersed as if they were paddling on real waves, but not get so technical that new paddlers get overwhelmed.

The next challenge then was to simulate watercrafts - factors like buoyancy, handling, drift, surfing and sliding on waves. To appeal to both novice and experienced paddlers, the watercrafts must move and behave in a real and predictable way and so they had to be fine tuned with the ocean physics.

After that, modeling avatars and animating the paddle strokes and subtle movements were the next challenges - I ended up building my own motion capture rig to recording avatar animations as the paddling movements for Swelldone were totally unique and generic "lily dipper" animations could not be used.

And then there were a ton of technical hurdles, I'll save that for another nerd-out sesh.

> What made you decide to do it?

I just felt it was time to have a game like this for all paddlers to enjoy. I became very inspired by Keizo Gate's 2017 Solo Video, where Manny Kulukulu'alani said in the intro "I guess my whole purpose behind it is perpetuating my culture [of the Hawaiian canoe] because that's where everything is derived from... if I don't get out there paddling the ocean then different parts of my life just fall out of balance." Manny's words really resonated with me - I've always wanted to preserve and promote the Polynesian paddling culture and I've also felt that paddling really helps me to find my center. I want to thank Keizo and everyone in that video for articulating what paddling means to all of us.

In late 2018, I had also moved away from the ocean - from the San Francisco Bay Area to Toronto. I could no longer paddle in the ocean year-round and the windy days are different. The withdrawal is real! And with the mess of 2020 and COVID cancelling everything, that was the last straw. I decided it's time to do something good and share a little stoke and fun. Ultimately, the game is my love letter to the paddling ohana and is a way for me to feel connected with the feel of the ocean.

> Are you an app developer by trade?

I'm a tech "Product Person" by trade and I consider myself to have a very special set of skills.  Over the course of my career I had: spent a number of years building training simulations in a virtual world/MMO; developed all kinds of software from mobile apps to large enterprise systems; created hundreds of hours of movement training videos and strength & conditioning programming for fitness and elite athletes; and been very active at my outrigger canoe club (He'e Nalu OCC) where I was also an interim race director for "Round the Rock" Alcatraz Challenge. Education comes in handy too, I have an undergraduate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Queen's University in Canada and an MBA in Product Development and Product Marketing from Santa Clara University.

> What is your background with paddling?

I've been paddling only for 5 years although it feels much, much longer than that. I discovered outrigger canoeing in early 2016 after stumbling on some Youtube videos and I knew I had to find a way to try it. Prior to that I had been in a dragonboat a few times and participated in a few novice/recreational level competitions. It took me a while to find an OC club that was active to take on a newcomer during the off season, but as soon as I sat in an OC6 I became obsessed. I learned everything I possibly could about the sport and culture and I trained my butt off to eventually earn a seat at Catalina with my club in my first year. Now I paddle OC6 with Maka Koa and Sunnyside in Toronto, I have my own OC1 (PueoX), I paddle SUP every now and then, and I also recently got my first Epic surfski.

> What can we expect to see in future versions of the game?

There's so much planned for Swelldone and I'm very excited to continue working on it. I'm currently working on networked multiplayer gameplay so you can surf and race with others in the game from anywhere in the world. Once we players on to party waves, we can host virtual races, challenges, and leaderboards in game.

I will also be adding other watercrafts - more OC models, SUPs, surfskis, foils, anything that surfs! New avatars, clothing, gear, a lot more content to personalize players and preferences.

More courses are in the works.  Swelldone launched with a small map of The Mokes and we can certainly expect more courses to be added soon of real-world locations.  The locations are all modeled from real world terrain and are GPS accurate... so I'm curious to try and load GPS tracks of real world runs in the game to race against and see what that's like.

Oh, keep an eye out for marine life, what's an ocean without fish and mammals?

Something else I'm exploring are ergometer and rower integrations.  I'm a big fan of Zwift and I think being able to use your erg/rower power your avatar in the game would add a lot more fun to dry-land training and increase program adherence. No one wants to get on the erg, it's monotonous and it's a grind - and I want to change that. I'm currently collaborating with KayakPro to link up to their new Genesis Port console for their kayak and OC/dragonboat ergs.  This is another feature I'm building for myself so I can be motivated to train consistently in the off-season and I hope that it'll help other athletes stay engaged as well.

> We see the game is free? So incredibly generous of you. Is there a way folks can Venmo you if they want to support your future gifts to the paddling community or something we can support you are a part of?

Yes, Swelldone is completely free and I want the core game experience to remain free so that paddlers of all ages and experiences can play.  I really want to further the culture and excitement of open water paddling for those who are not fortunate enough to experience the ocean firsthand. The costs are real though - hosting and bandwidth fees, software licenses, art assets, development programs and tools, and hundreds of hours of time. I've been doing this entirely on my own as a passion project, so if you share a similar passion I will definitely appreciate your help and support!

There are several ways you can help support and contribute:


  • Subscribe to my Patreon page - please chip in for a paid subscription and follow along with my progress:
  • Direct donators - please Venmo me directly if you feel generous to help offset some of the perpetual costs -
  • Brands, product reps, race directors - please considering sponsoring your content to add the game. I'm looking for boats, boards, apparel, gear, and race venues - let's talk! Email:
  • Just keep playing and enjoy the game! Share with your friends! Please leave a 5-star rating in the App Store, your feedback is always appreciated.

Aloha and Mahalo,

> Thanks so much! And we encourage all of our readers check-out and download the game here:

Free Downloadable Cali Paddler Zoom Background

Get your free Cali Paddler Zoom Virtual Background graphic here!

We can't always be on the water. Or with each other. In fact we are now often starting at one another through a computer screen. But that doesn't mean we can bring a little Virtual Cali Paddler stoke to the Video meetings!

{Credit to our amazing Summer Intern Lucien, who in addition to being a paddler is an aspiring artist and designer. He created all the artwork you see here and we are stoked to have his talent on board!}

Download here:

(Zip file contains two sizes PNG files in normal and flipped orientation based on your preference).

Understanding Eddy Currents in Rivers

We aren't going to lie, we are baffled sometimes how one stretch of water, be it in a river, or even a bay during a tide swing, can have completely different speed and dynamics than something mere feet away. And we are also always looking to understand the waters as best we can for safety...and let's be honest, speed!

So if you have ever been curious about eddies, where to be, and where not to be when you are paddling in certain directions, this article is for you. We reached out to Davide Sartoni, who's experience and understanding of River SUP and water dynamics blows our mind. Enjoy!

Understanding Eddy Currents in Rivers

As a river flows past an obstruction, water backfills the space downriver of it, forming an Eddy. Whitewater paddlers often use eddies for scouting, regrouping, and resting spots while systematically moving down rapids. Eddies are also used as safer areas to recover swimmers and equipment during a rescue. In order to effectively and safely move in and out of eddies, paddlers need to better understand the hydrology of these features.

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California Race Preview - Hanohano Huki Ocean Challenge


Time for some more SoCal Racing! One of the longest running races in California, 20 years as the Hanohano Ocean Challenge and 6 years prior to that when run as the Excel Surfski Race, this race is a huge destination for paddlers of all ages, experience and speed. You WILL find someone at your level here. And as is often the case with these races, you will also find some really friendly paddlers. Learn more here about the race, the courses and some tips and tricks to make it a positive experience for you.

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Outrigger Canoe Tips for Padling In and Out Through Surf

At some point or another, you might enter a race where you have to enter through the surf to get to the start line. Or maybe you go for a paddle and want to beach along the way but there is some surf to account for. This can be intimating to some. And others may not understand how a simple extra second can make all the difference. Here are some important tips, Dos and Don'ts and lessons learned the hard way which may help you safely get to your destination and not have to worry so much about that upcoming race with a beach entry.

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