I enjoy reading the posts of those of you pushing your skills in demanding ocean water. I paddle/instruct/guide in Alaskan waters. We don't get much in the way of tide races, overfalls, strong currents or good surf (just nasty dumping waves with big rocks in them). While we do have big swells, rebound waves, a few strong tidal current areas, they are from 15 to 60 mile paddles from the closest road. Anything goes wrong and you are in a true wilderness emergency situation.
I keep an old van with a sea kayak and a surf kayak on it in San Diego and am improving my surf skills. I get out each winter for 10-14 weeks of wander time. But it sounds like San Francisco area and/or Puget Sound area offer all types of challenging conditions for raising skill levels.
My question is...How much paddling goes on in either place during the winter? I can travel then and could put some concentrated time in if it were possible to join up with other paddlers wanting to push their limits a bit.
I'd be glad to trade some fantastic Alaska summer paddling help/gear use/guiding for some lower 48 paddlers in return for some winter paddling partners.