Friday, April 25, 2014

Bravo 4 Brian


      I wanted to take this opportunity to brag on the school that I work at, and the city that I live in. This isn't a fishing story, but its definitely one thats worth hearing. 

    Brian Bravo and his family embarked on a two month vacation to see family and friends in Mexico. Brian's father, Jose Bravo, was forced to stay home for work. After a relaxing and exciting vacation the Bravo family headed home to The Colony,TX. Not very far into their return trip an accident happened that would change their lives forever. 

     Jose Bravo received a phone call around six in the morning on August 5th, 2005 from a distraught family member. All he was told was that there had been an accident and that family was hurt and he needed to get down there immediately. Jose was not able to get a flight down to Mexico that night and had to wait in agony until the next day. When he finally was able to get down there he learned that he has lost his wife, daughter, and brother in law in the crash. The rest of his entire family was resting in critical condition in the hospital. His youngest son, Nick, was still in a car seat and managed to break his arm and leg. His oldest son, Brian, was ejected from the vehicle and has suffered a major spinal cord injury. 

     Jose had learned that this was a single car accident and that their SUV had sustained a mechanical failure and had rolled several times. 

     Brian had to stay in the hospital in Mexico for well over a month and Jose's vacation time had run out. He was able to take his youngest son home to Texas and stayed in constant communication with family at the hospital. After three surgeries, not much had changed in Brian's condition. Jose decided it was time to bring Brian home. He went to the American Embassy where he able to arrange for an ambulance to take Brian to the Texas border where he was met by another ambulance that drove him to Children's Hospital in Dallas. Brian was in very poor condition when he arrived in Dallas. He had several infections and very serious bed sores from not moving for over a month. Children's graciously informed the family that they were going to donate the surgeries that Brian desperately needed. 

     Ten surgeries and five months later, Brian was able to return home with his family. Upon returning home, the family had to quickly adjust to their new life. Brian was paralyzed from the neck down and had lost all mobility and speech. He was 14 years old when he tragically lost his mother, sister, and his use of his body. 

     I am proud to tell you that Brain's story does not end there. He is currently a happy 21 year old man in his final year at The Colony High School and will graduate in June. The Colony High School started Bravo4Brian as a school/community project that set out to change the Bravo family's life. Through the hard work by several students, teachers, coaches, and community members, they were able to get a wheelchair accessible van donated by BraunAbility along with AllyAuto. The efforts of so many were also able to present the family with a check for $25,000 for ongoing expenses that Brian's care requires.

     I am humbled and proud to be a part of this school and community. A story like this does not come around often, and its one of over coming adversity and people coming together for a greater cause.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Demo Days

     This past Saturday I had the privilege of helping out with another demo day with the great folks from Mariner Sails of Dallas. These events are always a lot of fun and very successful. I am extremely passionate about kayak fishing, and as I continue to be a student of the game I enjoy passing on what I've learned to guys just starting out. 

     Since joining the Mariner Sails team I have been given opportunities to expand my knowledge base on several different kayaks and what sets them apart from each other. Each brand has something unique to them that different people gravitate to. Theres something about letting a first time kayaker demo a few different boats and seeing that light bulb go off when they find that perfect fit for them. What I tell everyone that comes to demo, is that there is no perfect kayak, just the kayak that meets the majority of your needs. 

     What I love about Mariner Sails is that demo days like this one are about exposing people to kayaking and giving people the opportunities to hands on inspect kayaks that they have only seen on the internet. Everyone one of the outstanding members of the Mariner team are truly passionate about the sport and spreading the word. It's never just about the sale with these guys and I think that's what draws people in the most. 

     Mariner Sails will be hosting another huge demo opportunity at the annual spring Kayak Fisherman's Get-Together at Lake Lavon on May 10th. We will be at the East Fork Park Pavilion starting at 11am. Come by and talk shop with the extremely knowledgeable staff that Mariner has attending and have a lot of fun.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I'm Hooked!

     I had the privilege to attend a clinic with a seasoned product representative from Werner Paddles. I was shocked at the amount of information that I was able to take away from an hour and a half clinic. Every single contour, curve, and ridge on a Werner paddle serves a purpose. 

     The Werner backstory on the new Hooked line of paddles is a simple, yet interesting one. They went to various kayak fishing tournaments, paddle sport shows, and generally anywhere that kayak anglers gather to get feedback on what anglers really want out of their paddle. I think the final conclusion was a little bit of a surprise to them, and a bit unexpected. People didn't mention rulers on the paddle shaft or line hooks molded into the blade as necessary features needed on their paddles. The main consensus was that people wanted simply a high quality paddle to get them to the fish the fastest, and the easiest. That was it. Simple enough, no gimmicks or flash, just a high quality paddle. The best part for Werner is that they already have some of the best paddles on the market. 

     Something that I thought was very interesting was the fact that a guy will walk into a kayak shop and drop $1,500 on a high quality, name brand kayak, but will walk out with a $50 aluminum paddle. When you stop and really think about it, the kayak is pretty, comfortable to sit in, has neat features that we like as anglers, but unless it has a pedal system, all it does is float in one spot. It makes no sense to go all out on the kayak and skimp on the paddle. The paddle is essentially your motor, and we all know a good motor is what gets your kayak from point A to point B. 

     Werner has several key features, that I think set them apart from the other quality brands. First is their Smart-View Adjustable Ferrule system. This adds life to a kayak paddle that will inevitably take a beating over the course of its life. There are no collars to wear out our bulky buttons to push that can eventually halt use of a paddle long before the blades wear out. Large push buttons leave a little wiggle room in the paddle shaft that can decrease its effectiveness, but Werner's system has a tight fit that makes the paddle feel like one solid shaft. Another key feature that I find important is their blade dihedral and buoyancy. The dihedral allows for water to flow evenly off the paddle on a stroke and prevents water "confusion" that will cause a flutter of the paddle on each stroke, resulting in faster shoulder fatigue. The blade buoyancy also slows fatigue by assisting on the back end of a paddle stoke to pop out of the water. Go to Werner Paddles key features page to learn more about the science that elevates the performance of these paddles. 

     The most important part of selecting a paddle is taking into account your budget, paddling stroke, dimensions of your kayak, and swing weight. The swing weight test is a very helpful test that easily shows you how the paddle will pull through the water, and can be very helpful when deciding between multiple paddles. The very knowledgable and helpful staff at Mariner Sails of Dallas can assist you is finding your perfect paddle. On average it takes a paddler 1,000 strokes to go one mile (depending on the paddlers ability), if you add 4 ounces with a heavier paddle it's like carrying an extra 250 pounds per mile.Werner makes a paddle for every style and every budget, see which one works best for you.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

PPF Repost: New to Kayaking? Check the Law

      This week I really wanted to emphasize kayaking safety and the laws associated with kayaking. Chris Payne put out a great article about kayaking laws and I think its really important to get this information out to as many kayakers as possible. These laws are meant to keep us safe, which is the most important thing when on the water.

In the state of Texas, you don't have to register your kayak in most cases. If it has a motor, trolling or otherwise yes, but in most cases no. Laws are different in each state so make sure you check them out carefully before venturing out. Here is how it reads in Texas:

New to Kayaking? Check the Law.

The following vessels when on Texas public water are required to have current registration, including when docked, moored, or stored.

  • All motorized boats, regardless of length;
  • All sailboats 14 feet in length or longer or any sailboat with an auxiliary engine(s); and
  • USCG Documented vessels (New — see section below).
  • Exempted vessels — Non-motorized canoes, kayaks, punts, rowboats, or rubber rafts (regardless of length) when paddled, poled, or oared and sailboats under 14 feet in length when windblown. Adding an outboard or trolling motor to one of these types requires titling and registration.
  • An exempt boat may have previously been titled as a motorboat. You can check whether a title has been issued for free.
That is great news but slow down for a second and let's really look at this. Just because you don't have to register your boat (as long as you meet the above criteria) doesn't mean you can stroll down to Mariner-Sails and pick a boat and a paddle and be on the lake before sunset. There are some other things to look at within the laws. 

Just to get on the water you need to read this:

All vessels, including canoes and kayaks, must be equipped with one Type I, II, III or V wearable PFD for each person on board. A Type V PFD is acceptable only if used in accordance with the specific instructions on the label of the device.

Need some help picking one out? Visit a kayak dealer and try some on. For more info, check out this post here. And if you want a direct link to a recommended manufacturer? You should check out NRS or Stohlquist. PFDs are what they do. 

If you are going to paddle at night:

Remember that you must carry one bright white light that can be exhibited in time to prevent a collision. It is recommended that you carry a lantern, flashlight, or other attached white light that will be visible from 360 degrees. Regulations state that canoes, kayaks, and all other manually driven vessels may exhibit sidelights and a sternlight, and shall exhibit at least one bright light, lantern, or flashlight from sunset to sunrise when not at dock.

Need some help? For the absolute best you need to look at the YakAttack VisiCarbon Pro Light. You can find it here with a Mighty Mount (others are available). It also has a hi-vis flag so people will see you during the day as well. 

A general warning to have your safety items:

Operating Vessels without Required Equipment is Prohibited - No person may operate or give permission for the operation of a vessel that is not provided with the required safety equipment. An operator may not permit a person under the age of 13 to be on board the vessel while the vessel is underway if the person is not wearing a USCG approved wearable PFD. Marine enforcement officers regularly perform vessel safety checks to ensure the safety of boat owners and passengers.

One more thing you will need by law:

Any vessel less than 12 meters in length (39.4 ft.) is required to carry a whistle or horn, or some other means to make an efficient sound to signal intentions and position in periods of reduced visibility.

As you are thinking about total purchase price, a weekend trip down the Brazos, Guad or just a play day at the lake, make sure you have a PFD (life jacket),  whistle, and if paddling at night, a 360 light. 

Stay safe, not only will it save you money but it might save your life!