Thursday, August 28, 2008

Extending the Limits

The next time I took my kayak out I paddled over to the Children’s Pool (a.k.a. Casa Cove). That was not too bad of a trip. Being late fall the swell can come up. And on this day I would say that it was about four feet. Coming up on the reef just east of the Children’s Pool Breakwater I had to pay close attention to the swell. The shallow reefs in this area come very close to the surface in spots. And a large swell can turn from being a boil over the rocks to a breaking wave without much warning. These changeable conditions made it necessary to keep a watchful eye on my surroundings. On days like this with a swell you need to stay on the outside.

One week later (12/17/07) I headed North along La Jolla Shores towards Scripp’s Pier. It was a clear, clam day with the swell down to one or two feet. Just south of the pier I ran into a small pod of dolphins playing just outside the surf zone. They were traveling in a northerly direction and I continued to follow them. Found myself north of the pier in the area of Scripp’s Canyon. This is the site where I first dived from a kayak back in 1994. Soon the dolphins disappeared. They probably stayed where the baitfish were, that they often feed on. I continued on past the Torrey Pines Gliderport as far north as Torrey Pines Golf Course. Round trip about 6 miles.

Over the next few months I would stretch my trips a little further each time. First out to the Kelp Bed west of Children’s Pool. A very popular place for the many kayak fishermen I see out there all the time. By mid January I was kayaking as far as Marine Street beach and back. In February I was reaching as far as Bird Rock. Sometimes on the way south if the sea was flat calm I would paddle among the many caves down below The Coast Walk east of La Jolla Cove. On a calm day I’ll paddle in and out amongst the caves, testing my maneuvering skills at close quarters. Or I will watch the Sea Lions playing in the water or sunning themselves on the rocks.

Another thing to do on the way west and south is to stop in at The Children’s Pool and watch the Harbor Seals splashing in the pool, or resting on the beach. It has been sometime since I have dived at this site. But I have many great memories of my close encounter with these creatures. These very curious and even affectionate animals have often approached me. Though we are able to use the beach to dive I hope to use my kayak to access sites off this area without disturbing the seals on the beach or those who think it is their job to protect them. And there are many sites in this area that I would like to dive that are a very long swim from the shore.

On one particularly clear day in March I was paddling down towards Bird Rock. That was my farthest trip on the kayak so far . Out of the light haze to the south a long structure appeared. As I paddled towards it I realized that it was Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach. Wow! Could I make it there? I felt good and not too tired. I thought if I just take it slow. I paddled past Bird Rock, past the surfers at Tourmaline Surfing Park, and on past Palisades Park, and on until I was finally at Crystal Pier. At the pier I took a rest for a while, drank some water and mentally prepared for the long trip back. Taking a line of site heading on the point of Bird Rock I navigated back to La Jolla. By the time I reached Marine Street I was definitely feeling tired. But once I turned the corner at Children’s Pool and La Jolla Shores came in sight the swell was at my back and giving me a nice push just when I needed it. After what I estimate was a four or five hour trip I made it back to shore. Hopping out of my kayak in the surf my legs turned to rubber and would not support me. For the next month I would try do this long paddle once a week.

On April 13 I once again paddle down to Crystal Pier. It was an unusually calm day and I did not have to fight any swell or current. When I got to the Pier I took my usual break. There was a large pod of dolphins swimming just out past all the surfers waiting for the next set of waves. I followed them south a bit. Before long I noticed I could see the Mission Bay Jetty. Could I make this? I thought I could and started my trek across the ocean surface. In less than half an hour I was there. After another rest I turned back north towards La Jolla. While taking my heading I noticed that the Lois Ann was out at the Yukon dive site. I was really feeling good and rested. I knew I could make it. And I began the paddle out. I must have got my second wind. I was not just taking a leisurely slow paddle to the site. I was driving out there at a good clip. I was just a quarter mile out when the Lois Ann pulled up anchored and motored off. But there was another dive boat out there. I visited them for awhile, had a snack, and headed back to La Jolla. Round trip time 6 hours, including breaks. How far was this I really do not know. But it was at least 12 miles. My longest trip. But it was not the last time I would do this.


Very Anonymous Mike said...

What is the difference between a "kayaker" and a "floater"?

Kayak Kevin said...

A Floater is up Sh*t Creek without a paddle