September 9, 2008
My Nephew was visiting so I decided that I would take him kayaking. The day before kayaking with him I went down to La Jolla Shores to Avenida De La Playa and checked out all the Kayak rental places. Pretty much they all offer the same thing, two-hour Kayak Rental for $28. Included in the price is all you need for using the kayak and instruction on where you can and cannot go with the rental kayak. (More on this later.) A couple of weeks earlier I had taken my cousin kayaking. That time I had a gift certificate for two single guided tours.
So, now a comparison between just renting a kayak and taking the tour. The cost of the tour is about twice as much. With the tour you get some basic instruction on paddling with a kayak. And the tour guide brings you to many of the places of interests between La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove. The guide we were with was very knowledgeable about the La Jolla area. Going along with him for me (as a local) and my cousin as a visitor was a plus. And you are able to enter the Caves in the kayaks.
When I brought my nephew kayaking I was informed that the rental kayaks could not be brought into the Caves. The Lifeguards would fine me and it is a steep fine. However, I was still able to enter the Caves if I wished. So I asked that if we traded kayaks if my nephew could go in. I was told that was permissible. I was also not really supposed to cross the swim lane running from the Cove to the Shores in the kayak. These are both things that I do all the time in my kayak and have never been approached by a lifeguard. I was also told not to go near the area known as Devil’s Slide just south of the Marine Room. It is dangerous. That can be true when the surf is up. I don’t blame the kayak rental shops for these restrictions. I think the Lifeguards institute them for good reason. I can see that they probably do not want a whole large group of kayakers paddling across the swim area, or having to rescue groups of inexperienced kayakers from the caves and rocky beaches that are not easily accessible from shore.
So as we were about to leave the beach I asked the person from the shop If I should be back at the beach by 1130 (two hours). He said; "Give or take an hour." So we had up to three hours if we wanted. I don’t know if this was their regular routine or if it had to do it being a weekday and just past the busy summer season. With all the restrictions placed on a kayaker without a guide two hours was more than enough.
Some of the kayak places have boats with see through bottoms. My nephew used one of these. Great for when the visibility is good. Today it was not bad in the shallow areas. So first we paddled south along the Shores towards Marine Room. The water was very clear in the surf zone down to a depth of about eight to ten feet. As we went south just outside the surf zone we started seeing the Leopard Sharks. There was quite a good concentration this day. And as we got to Marine Room there were even more. So we paddled around in the area for quite sometime. Observed a NOAA boat nearby. Asked what he was doing. Told me he was checking the Leopard Shark population.
Next we paddled over to the cliffs and caves. We explored around the area and checked out the Sea Lions. There was a group with a guide going in and out of the larger caves. Though it was very calm I did not exchange kayaks with my nephew and let him go in. If he got in trouble I might not be able to help. I asked the guide about the restriction of going across the swim lane (which many other kayakers and I do all the time without consequence). He said that since it was just the two of us it would probably not draw much attention. And if it did it would probably just amount to a verbal warning. So my nephew and I crossed the lane and went out to the kelp bed. Spent some time there and headed back to The Shores.
We still had plenty of time so we went back south to the Devil’s Slide area. Surf was very small so I headed in to the cobblestone beach. I dismounted my kayak in knee deep water and found a place to exit. Then I climbed up the steep cobblestone beach. Just as I reached the ledge at the high tide line I came upon a Sea Lion carcass. It was lying on its side, mouth open, exposing long yellowed canines. I was up wind and did not detect the scent of decay. But as I continued down the beach away from the carcass I caught the very strong odor of decay.
Got away from it and dragged my kayak up on to the shelf. Placed the seat just back from the edge, sat down in the kayak, got ready to paddle, leaned forward and did the seal slide down the rocks into the water.
Hit the water’s edge and paddled out through the small surf. What a ride! I left the beach and Sea Lion carcass behind. I wonder if SIO or Sea World is interested in knowing about Pinniped deaths? I’ll find out.
Went back to Marine Room. We still had about half an hour left so I played in the surf going in and out and practicing my surf entry and exit techniques. Sounds like work but on a hot, sunny day like this it can be a lot of fun. Meanwhile my nephew watched the swarming Leopard Sharks. Then we headed back to the boat launch.
So if you have visitors to San Diego this is something that everyone can do. It is great fun and just enough off the beaten path to be a memorable experience.
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