Tag Archives: surf kayaking

Hobuck Hoedown – Take Two…


One of our favourite experiences two years ago was our unplanned trip to Neah Bay to attend the Hobuck Hoedown. It was a last minute plan and we were blown away by the location, the waves and the incredibly welcoming festival group. The event went into hiatus last year and came back again this year as a non-profit event run by a passionate group of local volunteers. We knew we couldn’t miss a chance to attend a second time and luckily it fit perfectly with our fairly vague schedule!


We got to Hobuck a few days ahead of the competition and had a great time surfing and generally playing around on the beach and in the water…


On our last trip Hunter and Tim were zen surf masters in their kayaks – Tofino, Hobuck and California. I just didn’t find it that fun, mostly because I wasn’t crazy about the cartwheel crashes in my kayak, and opted to stick with my surf board most of the time. Two years later and I’m a stronger kayaker with a smaller boat – WOW… I get it!!! It was sooo much fun that I didn’t want to get out of the water and you couldn’t get the smile off my face. I would only quit each day because I was exhausted.

We have spent the summer talking with Hunter about competition and how it’s about going out and trying your best and just having fun, especially at his age. He has poked at both Tim and I to ask why we aren’t choosing to compete so I decided to enter the competition with Hunter as a fun togetherness thing. We both entered into the “skookum” class which was a mixed boat class for those that were not looking to collect points as part of the race circuit.

All week the waves had been around 2-3 feet and I was having a lot of fun. Saturday morning we arrived at the beach to see 3-5 ft waves in very tight sets. Getting out was the hardest part and probably consumed 80% of the 19 minutes that you get in the heat! My first paddle out I got pummelled twice with waves landing directly on top of me and just cartwheeling my boat backwards and upside down. If it wasn’t for all this “role modelling” stuff I probably would have bailed after the first 5 minutes as 2 other competitors did. I ended up third in my heat but had a fairly low score due to my lack of ability to get out to catch the green breaking waves vs the foam pile.

I got off the water feeling somewhat concerned for Hunter. The waves had dropped a little bit as the tide was coming in but were still quite a force to be reckoned with.  He got tossed around a fair bit but luckily did not end up getting pummelled as much as I did. Hunter had a couple of strong surfs in the last 2 minutes and came in 2nd in his heat. Top 4 went into the finals on Sunday and Hunter made it into spot #4!!!

Sunday was almost the exact opposite of a day. We had an offshore vs onshore breeze and the waves were few and far between, with most being in the 1-2 ft range. The difficulty in the finals was actually finding waves to catch! Hunter was against 3 adult men who were all paddling sea kayaks, which made it much easier for them to get some propulsion going to catch a green developing wave. We came up with a bit of a strategy by watching an earlier heat and decided that his play boat advantage was being able to catch the waves closer into shore just as they are about to break and this worked out well. He ended up 2nd overall which was pretty fabulous and well earned!


Overall it was a fabulous week at Hobuck. The campground is wonderful with both a general camping area (with washrooms, showers, drinking water & showers) for $20 and an RV area (with full services) for $30, both of which are a bargain. You are right on the beach and have amazing sunsets every night. We were lucky to listen to a Makah Elder storyteller on Saturday night and it was neat to see and hear how similar their culture is to the Coastal Tlingit that we know from home.

Although Neah Bay is fairly out of the way, we definitely recommend it as a stop for any paddlers or surfers that want a low key getaway with great amenities.

There is something for everyone in Tofino


We have just spent another glorious week in Tofino – also fondly referred to as “my happy place”. It never disappoints and each visit seems to get better and better, even in the variable weather.

Over the past 20 years we have been here eight times and these visits have ranged from campground (no amenities) all the way up to a 5 star Relais and Chateau Inn on the beach. Our last two stays have been based in a friends one bedroom condo on South Chesterman beach and I think we’ve found “just right” for us… We walk right out onto the beach and the level of surf is perfect for our abilities on any given day.  It is great to be able to play in the surf, even in the rain, and then come back in and dry off and have never ending hot chocolates! It’s even better having somewhere that your gear will dry so when head back out later in the day you aren’t cold, wet and clammy 🙂

At the midpoint between South Chesterman and North Chesterman is Frank’s Island, which you can get to at low tide and is a mecca for tidal pool exploring. Starfish colonies and clusters of Sea Anenome’s abound! Walking the full length of North and South Chesterman beaches (and back) takes about an hour and is something we do every day, rain or no rain.

We flew this year verses drove and it felt like an exercise in minimalism to get down to 40lbs per person (not per bag) due to the KingAir flight from Vancouver to Tofino. We had left our boards and surf kayak there in the spring so our big splurges were taking the new inflatable SUP and Hunter’s Scooter. One bag full of water gear and one shared duffle bag for the rest of our clothes, ranging from shorts to fleece plus rubber boots and rain coats.


Much to Hunter’s dismay it rained about 80% of the time this trip. We caught two sunny breaks and headed straight for the skateboard park so he could get some scooter time in. It’s one of his favourite parks and he loves to be able to gauge his improvement over past trips. We like it because it’s really family friendly and graffiti free, which is possibly due to it being just across the street from the RCMP station.

We got the SUP out on our second day and both Tim and Hunter had fun experimenting with it. It’s definitely harder to get out through the surf and the crashes look fabulous thanks to the extra length (9ft 6″) plus paddle that go flying around. We attempted to take it out another day but the storm swell was just too powerful and it quickly became clear how futile this was. The rest of our time was split between surfboards and Tim in his surf kayak.

The more I surf, the more I love surfing…

  • a bad day surfing is still a day outside in the ocean with my family
  • how can you not smile when you are “playing” in the ocean?
  • the crashes don’t hurt nearly as much as they do in other sports, and many of mine are epic!
  • the sense of community and camaraderie at the beginner areas is fabulous – you often cheer for strangers

While it was nice to be able to fly in for a quick visit, we definitely missed having all of our toys with us. Hunter wished he had his BMX and his skateboard. We all wished we had our mountain bikes to play in their bike park and ride to town an back on the bike paths. Hunter was also wistful for his kayak. Visit #8 was not a disappointment and we’re already planning out when we can come next and how we can bring all the toys…


Hobuck Hoedown – Surf Kayak Event


The Hobuck Hoedown is an annual surf kayak event held in Hobuck Bay in the furthest corner of Northwestern Washington state. It is organized by Olympic Raft and Kayak and Morgan and Maggie are the passion behind it.

It is an old school event that is all about community, competition and fun. It was a wonderful place for our first Surf Kayak competition experience with a low key atmosphere and incredibly supportive people (organizers, judges, and participants).

hunter SUP 2

There were multiple classes within the event – High Performance, International Class, Waveski, Whitewater, Stand-up Paddleboard and Raft. We initially entered Hunter into Whitewater, Stand-up paddleboard and Raft. After testing out the Stand-up paddle board he opted out of that event as it was a bit too wieldy for his size.

Hunter and Tim surfed throughout the morning while waiting for his heat just after lunch. Tim managed to demo about 6 boats over the course of the weekend but never found “the one” that would justify buying yet another boat because it was that much better than using his Jackson whitewater boats.

Tim Mega demo - morgans boat

Hunter had a bout of nerves just before his heat, announcing that he didn’t want to do this “as it was really competitive – they give out medals just like the Olympics!”. We managed to get through the tears and into his boat just as the flag turned to green as he was off in the water. I was on camera duty and Tim was dedicated safety support and we were both full of nerves…. We couldn’t believe when we both looked at our watches and only 6 minutes of the 20 minute heat had gone by!

He was on fire – full of smiles, surfing away, even throwing in old school paddle spins mid way through to impress the judges!

hunter hoebuck


Hunter mostly surfed in what is referred to as the “soupy zone” where the waves were just cresting or had just crested. It meant that most of the waves he caught were white vs green. As we progressed through the day, we learned more about how Surf kayking is scored and it turns out that the starting point is you have to catch the wave on the green. Then it is about how effectively you make use of the wave (front surf, side surf, spin, carve etc.).

Hunter wowed the judges and got a round full of cheers when he came off the water from the first heat. At 10, he was the youngest competitor and they didn’t have a youth class so he was out in the water with 4 adults.

With only 5 in their class, everyone made it into the finals. Hunter was disappointed that he wasn’t top 3 in points (he was 5th at 20.5 but only 8 points behind the 1st place competitor) but thrilled that he was in the finals.

Before the finals, they had the raft surfing competition – Tim was a last minute recruit to paddle in the boat with Hunter, Morgan and 3 others. They had a tonne of fun and lots of smiles…. Morgan capped it off with a back-flip off the raft to earn more points and they won the event!

raft team 1

morgan back flip


At the end of the day, Hunter came in 5th in the Whitewater category BUT the judges were so impressed with him (age, personality and skills) that they created a junior class and awarded him a medal for first. We are all sooooo proud of him – for competing, for getting through the jitters and for being his personable chatty self the entire day. Pretty awesome for learning day one and competing day two.

Hunter and Mom - medal


Thanks have to go out to coach Tim (Dad), coach Sean (YCKC) and coach Kevin (YCKC) for helping to give him the confidence, the skill and the love of paddling…

Oh, and for those that are wondering – yes, I did go out and surf kayak. In order to maintain my “keep up with Hunter” status, I hit the waves on Saturday for a while in between everything and had a good time…

lee surf kayaking