Friendly Townsfolk Rally To The Aid Of A Kayaker

Marna Powell
Kayak Zak's

Peter Donohue publishes California Paddler and he had called me the evening of Oct. 3 when the winds on land were gusting 25 mph and offshore around 30 knots. The swell was up and the waves were dumping.

His friend, Matt Krizan is a Level 5 American Canoe Association Instructor who is paddling a sea kayak down the entire coast of California and raising money for “At the Crossroads,” an outreach program geared towards street youth.

On Thursday, Matt was having a rough time as his rudder cable had come loose in high winds and choppy seas. Modern electronics allow Peter to be in San Francisco and keep tabs on Matt offshore along Redwood National Park.

Peter was worried that Matt needed a safe place to land, so he called me to ask where he could send his friend. My advice was Freshwater Lagoon Spit. It was going to be a rough dumping surf landing anywhere, but if Matt kept heading south, he’d be facing very steep beaches at Stone and Big Lagoons.

Matt managed to land at Freshwater Lagoon but got sucked back in and Maytagged a bit before being spit out and finally landing. He launched the next day after zip-tying the rudder cable and made it into Trinidad Harbor just after 5 p.m.

I received a call from Matt shortly after Peter gave him my number. Seems it was a fortuitous moment for several of us. I had been vacillating: “I should go to Trinidad Art Night. It’s the last one of the year. No, I should go home and drink vodka. No I should go to Trinidad Art Night and spread the word about the Benefit to Reopen Stone Lagoon Campground. No I should go home and drink vodka.” It was just my usual internal dialogue.

Matt called to ask about facilities in Trinidad and if he might find a screwdriver to purchase if he walked up the hill. “I’m on my way right now to go to Trinidad Art Night and I have a toolbox in my pickup.” Decision made, I headed to the Head.

Well, it turns out that his Freshwater Lagoon landing beat the bezeekers out of the composite kayak and he had no way to repair it. The screwdriver was to return the nut to the footbrace to repair his broken rudder cable, but it was not going to patch the jagged rips in the fiberglass.

Luckily, it was Trinidad Art Night and Salty’s Surf and Tackle was open late! I called Salty’s. Dori Fulk answered and turned me over to Gabriel Adams. I loaded Matt into the Kayak Zak’s mobile and we drove up to Salty’s. I always think I’m the most cheerful, energetic and positive human on the planet and then I run into Dori. Oh, and then I run into Gabe. YIKES! With three perpetually positive persons in one small room, it’s a good thing there was a band to distract everyone.

While Guns and Barrels rocked the parking lot, Dori loaded me up with jewelry from Midori Angelica Designs, her line of jewelry featuring natural stones and shells from the sea, for our raffle on Oct. 20 (did I mention the Fundraiser to Reopen Stone Lagoon Campground?) and Gabe talked with Matt about his repair needs.

Wow, Salty’s could have simply sold some stuff to Matt and sent him on his way but Matt is kayaking around Cape Mendocino and down the Lost Coast and all the way to San Diego for goodness sakes, so Gabe called Teague Shumpart, owner of Peninsula Surfboards & Repair and Teague agreed to come see Matt’s boat at 8 a.m. the next morning.

I then drove Matt back to his kayak before discovering what sort of trouble I could get into at Trinidad Art Night with all that great music and nice people and of course, art!

It turns out that Matt’s kayak needed a bit of love to continue the journey without breaking in half along the way. Teague scooped up Matt, his kayak and all of Matt’s gear and not only repaired the kayak but also gave Matt a place to stay for a couple of days while the repairs were completed. Sunday morning, the four of us met for breakfast at The Eatery in Trinidad to share some well wishes for Matt on his journey.

Matt sent me a message at 7 a.m. Monday morning to say that he was about to launch and continue his journey.

By Monday night Matt Krizan had made it to Eureka. You can track Matt at There is a cool tool on this site that updates every half hour when he is on the water so you can actually see his progress.

So, three Trinidad businesses came together to help a complete stranger travelling through our neck of the woods, or water in this case. Each of us was asked for a small thing and yet each of us chose to step up and give much more for a stranger who became a friend.

Now that Matt has returned to his journey. I’ve discovered that he is also a hero who saved a surfer’s life at Mavericks in January, 2011. I am liking this guy more and more!

Marna Powell lives in Orick and has a business in Trinidad but everyone thinks it is in Orick. No, it’s the very last Trinidad address and the very last mail delivery address in Humboldt County: Kayak Zak’s at Stone Lagoon Visitor Center 115336 Highway 101, Trinidad 95570. She urges everyone to come to Stone Lagoon on Sunday, Oct. 20 to help reopen the campground, or at least to send money.



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