When you really think about it, Suki Waters has the perfect name for the career she’s created for herself.

The 61-year-old Jenner resident is the founder and owner of Watertreks Ecotours, a kayak outfitter specializing in guided tours and boat rentals to make it easy to explore the region where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean. .

Although the business has primarily focused on rentals during the COVID-19 pandemic, Waters said customers are still seeing wildlife and learning more about the river and the ecosystem it supports.

“Just getting out on the water gives you such a wonderful immersion in the area, the ecosystem and the animals that inhabit it,” she said. “I always thought the best way to experience this part of California was from the water, and that’s the kind of experience I try to help create.”

Currently Watertreks is open for half day and full day rentals on weekends only. As spring turns into summer, Waters plans to resume guided tours and expand the company’s hours and days accordingly.

According to her, Watertreks Ecotours provides an essential service for those who wish to open their minds: a curated introduction to the natural wonders and beauty that make Sonoma County special.

“It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly,” she said.

History through generational knowledge

Waters’ love of the Russian River and the Sonoma County coastline goes back generations. His grandmother was a historical docent with California State Parks. Her great-great-grandmother was a member of the Kashia Pomo, the Native American group whose tribal lands include Cazadero, West County, and the mouth of the Russian River.

Waters herself began working outdoors in 1987, when she volunteered to lead seal walks for a local nonprofit.

In 1999, she was guiding in the region for the Sierra Club. In 2000, she toured for state parks.

Over time, Waters thought it would be great to develop community education programs that would educate locals and visitors about the water, the local ecosystem, and the creatures that inhabit it. Finally, in 2005, Watertreks Ecotours was born.

The business was then only rentals; Waters gradually added guided tours and other programs to educate people about the area.

There was certainly a lot to share.

There’s his family’s generational knowledge through their connection to the Pomo Indians, as they had been in and around Jenner for so long. For example, his family members had ties to Penny Island, a small island near the mouth of the river that members of the Pomo tribe farmed. Specifically, Waters’ cousins ​​spent time there when they were kids.

Waters also has stories about living in a village near Goat Rock State Beach, life in Jenner, and more.

“Water and wildlife are part of who I am. The area is rich in history, not only for me and my family, but also for all the families that came before us who spent time calling it home,” she said. “That’s why education is so important to me. This is why I try with every visit and interaction with clients to leave them with a fact or information about the area that they have never had before.”

Share your passion with everyone

In this vein, Waters has structured all of his tours around this instructional model. Consider it his attempt to spread the love and bring awareness and appreciation to how unique our county’s coast truly is.

Rentals start at $50 for two hours. Each rental includes a tutorial behind the Sonoma Coast Visitor Center on the west side of Highway 1 in Jenner, just north of Café Aquatica. During these sessions, Waters gives guests a paddling lesson, briefs them on wind and water conditions, and reminds them of the rules governing interactions with marine mammals (boats cannot approach within 150 feet).

There on the terrace, guests get even more downloads – including information about Penny Island and the area’s cultural significance, plus the inside scoop on why seals like to give birth in the area and what’s going on. goes to a colony. anyway.

“We try to put them together for fun,” she said.

In total, the suggested itinerary for rentals includes a two-hour loop paddle, which includes time to search the shoreline, ogle the seal colony north of Goat Rock State Beach, and watch pelagic birds.

Waters added that the guided tours, which start at $120 per person, work with similar data over a four-hour period as guests paddle around the mouth of the river. These tours also include a summit for a picnic.

Waters is also committed to educating locals and visitors out of the water. She has established Watertreks Ecotours as an educational partner of several local and regional non-profit organizations including the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods and California State Parks.