Monday, January 19, 2009

Not Another One

January 17, 2009 Saturday

After my blog entry "Time Trials", I went out paddling on 1/15, 1/17, and 1/19. But, this entry will focus on Saturday’s paddle. It was the most interesting.

This whole week has been the most excellent week for being out on the water, flat, clear, with just the gentlest of breezes to keep you cool and refreshed. There was supposed to be some high surf starting up this weekend. Well, at The Shores, in front of the lifeguard tower it was non-existent. A few hundred feet north it was chest to head high and the surfers were out in force. I launched my kayak and was headed out by 0840. Once past the ankle-slapping "surf" I headed over to The Caves. Bit of a swell in close so there was no shooting the Caves today. But otherwise the surface was a glassy mirror. The waning moon hung in the southwest and its reflection was visible as a single orb. No breaking up of its image by even the smallest wind ripple.

As I headed out towards the western kelp beds to spot whales I passed by Boomers and Children’s Pool. The surf was crashing there. And on all the reef breaks at Hospital Point, Marine Street, Wind & Sea, and Bird Rock the surf was up.

I paddled down to Crystal Pier where I stopped for a break and ate a little snack and rested. Then I started back north. Right away I ran into a pod of Dolphins playing just outside the surf. It was such a nice day and I had nowhere to be so I sat and watched them frolic for about a half an hour. Two young ladies on a tandem had paddled out to see them. We watched them and chatted. They asked me where I had started. I told them. They said they might go as far north as Bird Rock. I told them about conditions and moved on northward.

I paddled up the coast and when I got to Wind & Sea Beach my butt was getting just a little sore. You see, by then I had been sitting on my kayak for three hours and twenty minutes. So I paddled in to shore to see if I could haul out and take a rest. You must be very careful at some of these beaches along this part of the coast. There is a very steep beach and the swell will come right up to the shore and then suddenly break in a very powerful crash. But today the tide was just right and I beached my kayak with no problem. I took a little walk to stretch my legs and ease my butt. After that short break I was re-energized.

I watched the sets carefully to time my entry just right. I sensed a lull and pushed my kayak into the water. A small wave was coming in just then. I sat on my kayak but was not well positioned on the seat. My seat had caught under me. I fell out of the kayak and let go the paddle. Grabbed both paddle and kayak and tried again. Not having to wait anytime at all I hopped up and was paddling out. Not a bit of breaking surf in my area. But the surfers out at the Wind & Sea reef break were really going at it. (Not being a surfer I don’t know the proper lingo. So, If anyone wants to educate me I would appreciate it.) Paddling out I spotted the two young ladies I had met earlier. They were headed back south and I could not catch them up to say "Hi". But they had gone quite a bit further north than they had planned. I was impressed since they had told me that this was the first time out in about six months.

Meandered my way back north and was turning east around Children’s Pool when I spotted a flotilla (I think that might be the correct term) of kayak tourists sitting out west. This is unusual. They typically do not come out this far. As I was wondering what they might be up to when I sighted the distinctive gray mist of a Whale spout. Even after many hours sitting on a kayak when I see something like this I get a boost of energy. I paddle at top speed in their direction.
I was able to get out in the vicinity and get a good look at the whale. I infiltrated the group and followed the whale for another 20 minutes of so. At one point the whale came up right between two kayak fishermen, about 20 feet from one of them.

I turned back to The Shores. I caught up with a couple that had been out watching the whale with us. I said to them that this was my second sighting in two Saturdays. I told them that soon my friends were going to stop believing my stories. He said he would vouch for my. I was seriously tempted to tell about my Kayak Blog so he could go on and post a comment verifying the sighting. But I figured they had nothing to write the Blog address on. So you will just have to trust me.

PS. On Sunday while waiting for my dive buddy to show up at La Jolla Cove I saw another Gray Whale just outside the near kelp bed. Am I straining my credibility?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Time Trials; Warning Uninteresting Content

January 13, 2009

One of the perks of being a School Bus Driver is a nice long split between morning and afternoon routes. So, since it is a carbon copy of last Saturday I zipped down to the beach directly from work this morning.

Left the parking lot at work at 0920. There was a little traffic going into La Jolla from Highway 52. I arrived at Starbucks 0940 for a little fortification. Ordered a Grande Espresso Truffle (if you like Hot Chocolate and Espresso I highly recommend this drink) and a Banana Nut loaf. Ate the Nut Loaf while waiting for the Espresso. Drove to La Jolla Shores and was in the parking lot by 0950. Unloaded and prepped my kayak and was paddling through the surf by 1010.

By 1040 I had made it all the way out past the farthest Kelp Bed West Northwest of the Children’s Pool. There was a fishing boat, The Sea Watch, out there. I circled around it on the outside using it for a reference point. I knew that I wanted to be back at the beach by 1130 so I could get home and get ready for work and be there by 1330. I still had 20 minutes left until I would have to start back. So I went south for ten minutes and turned back towards the Sea Watch. I paddled directly back to the boat. I made it in 7 minutes. It was now 1057. I took a three minute rest and then headed back to La Jolla Shores.

I arrived at The Shores precisely at 1130. Striped my gear off the kayak, washed off the sand and put it up on my car. Then I rinsed the sand off of me, changed clothes and was driving out of the lot by 1200. I was back home by 1220 in plenty of time to make myself lunch and get to work.
Now that I know it can be done I will try to get out anytime the weather is nice and I have no other errands I need to do on my break.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

To Blog or Not to Blog

January 10, 2009

The Ocean is a Desert with its Life Underground,
And the Perfect Disguise Above.

The weather this weekend was forecast for clear skies with Santa Ana winds building in the mountains later in the day. So I planned to do my first kayak paddle of the year. Due to the Holidays, family obligations, and some days of very dense fog at the beach I did not get out on the kayak. Although I did get in my traditional New Years Day dive.

I arrived at the beach later than usual, about 1030. It was warm and sunny with small surf at La Jolla Shores, occasional sets of 3 to 4 feet. There was just a gentle breeze coming from the southwest. I went through the surf and got the regular cold water wake-up slap in the face. Very bracing, and believe it or not one of the pleasures of kayaking.

Started heading due west, bypassing my usual excursion over to the cliffs and caves. Just went immediately out to the western kelp bed to the northwest of the Children’s Pool. Then I turned south to Marine Street beach. This was my planned turn around point. Since it has been a while since paddling I decided to keep it short.

When I paddle I really enjoy experiencing my surroundings. The sights, smells, and sounds of the Ocean. I sometimes will pause in my paddling and just listen to the Sea. Absolute quite, broken only by the cry of a sea bird or the huff of a sea lion or seal taking a breath. And I also think about what I will write in this Blog. But I have previously discussed many of those aspects of kayak in past entries.

Now if this were my dive log I would record the particulars of a dive regardless of how uneventful a dive turns out to be. Of course, a dive log has the added function of being a record of the ones dive history for Dive Operators to know your experience level or possible medical reasons if a problem with Decompression develops. But this Blog is not only a record of my kayak experience, but an exercise in creative writing that I hope is enjoyable to read. So I was debating weather or not to make an entry at all. This paddle was turning out to be a very nice but typically uneventful day in Paradise.

Well, I reached Marine Street and turned north to head back. I had paddle up to the inside kelp bed just off The Children’s Pool, and was passing by a Sea Urchin fisherman’s boat. He had his Dive flag raised and was underwater on a hookah. (For non-divers that is an air supply from a compressor on the boat with a hose down to the diver.) Coming out from behind his boat something on the horizon to the west caught my eye.

The Ocean is generally a flat surface, except for the swell. So when something rises above the surface it is usually worth checking out. This time what caught my eye was a puff of gray mist. Whale sign! I immediately turned in that direction, west past the outside kelp beds. I continued to scan the horizon to spot the whale sign again. A few minutes later there was another puff, a little closer and traveling slowly south. I figured it was a half-mile or so west of my position. Again and again over the next few minutes I would see a puff, then the back of the whale as he arched through the water. Then I got a glimpse of the flukes as he sounded to the bottom. This I believe is a sign that it was feeding. And it seemed that it was now not moving south but staying in the vicinity I had first spotted it. Then, simultaneously, to my left and to my right about one hundred yards apart I saw two spouts and two flukes rise above the surface and sound in perfect unison. So what I though might be one whale I now had proof of at least two. I continued to paddle in their direction for a bit. But after many minutes they surfaced far to the southwest. And there was no hope of my getting any closer than the quarter to half mile I got. After that I turned towards The Shores. At least I would now have something to write in my Blog.