Category Archives: NW Way of Life

Ski to Sea Podcast: Why the Kayak Leg was REALLY Cancelled with 200+ Paddlers Waiting to Race!

2011 Race Day Wind Graph

An estimated 200 kayakers were left high and dry at the start of the kayak leg of the 2011 Ski to Sea, when race organizers, the US Coast Guard, and the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Department made the decision to cancel the kayak leg due to heavy winds and rough seas.

Winds were out of the south and were gusting to near 30 mph, creating waves some paddlers claimed were “3 to 4 feet” and “breaking over my head.”

Estimates put the number of swimmers — that is, paddlers who capsized and ended up out of their boats — at 30 to 35.

Some capsized paddlers were in the water for as long as 15 minutes before help arrived. In Bellingham Bay’s 50F degree water, a paddler wearing inadequate clothing can become dangerously hypothermic in that time frame.  The potential for tragedy was very real.

Nonetheless, and understandably so, there were some angry, disgruntled, disappointed racers — and some of them let their thoughts be widely known.

This post appeared on the Ski to Sea Facebook Fan Page:

“…The organizer of the race made a huge mistake by not being prepared for the last 200 teams to start. I think it was pretty sh***y to blame the water condition, that was a huge cop-out, take accountability for your mistakes.”

This sort of comment was rare, though not unexpected. Prepping for a race as big as the Ski to Sea is a bid deal. It’s hugely emotional, and having your race experience cut short before you even start just plain hurts. Period.

It’s for these exact reasons that I wanted to talk to the race committee members who were involved in making the decision to cancel the remainder of the leg: Mac Carter and Larry Bussinger, both chairs of the kayak leg, along with Mac’s wife Penny.

In the podcast, they explain in full detail the events that unfolded on race day, right up to the point of deciding to cancel the rest of the leg.

And… we talk about what could be done differently the next time this happens.

Listen in, and leave your thoughts or questions here on the blog or at the voicemail hotline: 360-389-2489.

Click here to read the text transcript of this interview.

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Happy Halloween from the Nelsons!

Few places must offer the pure fun on a Halloween night that downtown Fairhaven offers! For the 2nd year in a row we took Hayden there, and the place was just PACKED!

Little kids and dogs and moms and dads and everything in between, prowling the streets by the hundreds dressed like goblins, ghouls and goons, laughing and getting high on sugary sweets and cool, salty, autumn air.

After an hour or so of that, we teamed up with our friends the Zechas and toured lower Fairhaven with Hayden, Audrey and Cole all filling their sachels with more sugary stuff. It’s true what they say about having kids… you get to re-live your youth through them. I loved every minute of it.

Happy Halloween, everyone, everywhere! Hope it was safe and memorable!!!

1st Bellingham Bay SUP Race Goes OFF!

IMG_3378Check out the photo album below!!!

Tonight, we hosted the first of three Stand-Up Paddleboard races in the Pre-Paddle Grand Prix point series. We didn’t know what kind of turn-out to expect, having just starting spreading word about the race and helping to host SUP demo nights at Padden a little over a month ago.

We were STOKED to have 17 racers out on the water!!! We all met at Cornwall Beach, and from there paddled up to Taylor Street Dock, under the catwalk, and back to Cornwall.

Despite the headwind and a hard go on the first leg, every paddler stroked it out and we had some great finishes on the Cornwall Beach.

This informal race was the first of three races in a point series, all leading up to the main event on September 5th, the Paddle Grand Prix. If you’re interested in trying Stand Up Paddling — undeniably the fastest growing watersport in the world — and think you might want to race, head to Lake Padden on any Tuesday this summer for free demos.

We also do a race at the start of the demo night, one lap around the lake (just under 2 miles) and it’s a great, warm, friendly place to see how you like it.

See you there!!!

Bellingham’s BMX Dirt Jump Park near Civic Field

CaseyBellingham is so freekin’ full of cool, FREE things to check out.

And I’m not just talking about events — I’m talking about day-to-day expression sessions in, on, and around B’ham where stoked-on-life people are livin’ large. And you can step in there and take part in it, or you can get every bit as stoked sometimes just WATCHING.

That’s what we did tonight, right after we finished watching Hayden tear it up at the All-Comer’s Track Meet at Civic Field.

We walked over to the BMX Dirt Jump Park  on the other side of Puget St. and found 8-or-so riders, young and old, taking turns launching big air off the series of dirt jumps.

There was a mom-n-dad-n-son trio learning and getting progressively more aggressive on the smaller jumps. There were two female shredders throwing down every bit as hard as the guys. And there were two riders, Corey Schmidt and Brandon Strong, taking turns launching monster airs and looking as comfortable doing it as you might be playing Frisbee in the front lawn.

I shot a few telephotos from the edge of the track, then worked my way under the apex of the biggest jump and switched to a wide-angle lens.

There it is, yet another bonus of Bellingham livin': Any Joe off the street can grab a camera, stumble across some action, and pretend you’re on assignment for National Geographic Adventure.

Whether you’re into jumping your bike, action photography, people watching, or just being outdoors in the beautiful Bellingham summer… it’s all here for you. Get out and gitcha’ some!!!

Boulevard Park Evening Concert Series

Boulevard Park Summer Concert SeriesA few weeks ago we set up a picnic date with some friends at Boulevard Park on Bellingham’s waterfront

When we got there we were a bit surprised to find no empty parking spaces anywhere near the park.

Eventually, we snuck into a spot up on the Boulevard and took the Overpass down to the park. What we found taking place in the park has pretty much doubled our already-deep love of Bellingham summers!

The Evening Concert Series

It turns out we had stumbled upon concert #1 of the highly regarded Evening Concert Series organized by Bellingham Parks and Rec.

From up on The Porch — the timberframe pavilion featured in the Structures I Love photo gallery — weBoulevard Park Evening Concert Series were ROCKED OUT by Geoffrey Castle on his electric violin. Castle bills himself as playing “Celtic Soul” but on top of that he threw down some Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn and I tell you if those boys were there, they would’ve put a fist in the air and said “Hell YEAH!!!” He was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

And so was the night: The setting, the crowd of many hundreds, the games for kids, the sunset, the windsurfers and sailboats gliding across the bay, the cheers, the dancing, the music, the energy!!! It was just an epic, iconic Bellingham night. A one-of-a-kind experience.

But that’s just it: It’s not a one-time thing!

It turns out it’s a regular event during Bellingham summers. We were back tonight to hear another band, The Walrus, laying down classic rock tunes with just a PACKED dance lawn in front of The Porch!

More shows are scheduled, including Picoso (Urban Latin) on July 17th, Five Alarm Funk or maybe Spaceband on July 31st, and raging Celtic Bluegrass rock by the Clumsy Lovers on August 14th.

Treat yourself this summer to ALL these FREE concerts at Boulevard Park — one of the most beautiful and amazing settings on the entire west coast — and yet right here in our own Bellingham front yard!
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