Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Point Loma Paddle

Monday,November 23, 2009

After my last long paddle I decided I would try something different this time. Taking a look at a map of the coast it seemed that the distance from Mission Bay to the tip Point Loma is similar to that of La Jolla to Crystal Pier. So I decided I would try that paddle. Besides I wanted to find a place to launch from that I might use to go out to the Yukon dive site. I knew there was a nice little beach in Mariner's Basin. I have paddled around in there with Cindy's Thursday night kayak group. So I drove down to the south end of Mission Blvd. and around into the parking lot by Mariner's Basin.

I checked out the beach and could see that it was not a long walk from the lot to the beach. Very close to the same distance that I have to walk when launching at La Jolla Shores. Then I walked over to the Jetty and observed the swell coming in from the Ocean. It was about 3 to 4 feet, not bad.

So I launched my kayak in the usual manner and began my paddle out through the channel. I left the beach at mariner's Basin at 0820 and was out at the Red Channel marker buoy by 0850. Though it took half an hour to get there it did not seem to be the mile and a half that I can usually paddle in that time.

From there I turned south towards Ocean Beach fishing pier. The swell was pretty good so I was not going to be able to hug the shore. At this point I was about a half mile out. Though the swell was good and coming in from the west-northwest there was very little wind. It was glassy smooth. Probably about a zero (0) on the Beaufort Sea State Scale. I paddled down south following the kelp bed and the lobstermen's buoy markers. Met up with one lobsterman retrieving his traps. I asked him if there were any restrictions to how close you could come to shore down at Point Loma where it becomes Navy property. He said that there was not, but that the surf was up and I had better notget too close in. I already knew that, but thanked him and continued on. With the swell the way it was I would never come in closer than 1/2 mile. And was more likely a mile or so out from shore the entire trip.
This picture gives a good idea as to how clam it was on the way down.

A nice but uneventful trip down. I reached near the tip of Point Loma in about two hours. I was directly west of The Cabrillo Lighthouse.

And I could see the Coast Guard Lighthouse Station down below the cliffs of Point Loma.

After a short break I turned about. Here I spotted something that I had seen in previous paddles put did not have my camera to record it. A Great or White Egret (Ardea alba)standing out on the kelp canopy. ( See Bird Identification pages).
These are shore birds and are not really adapted to be out at sea. But I guess they are light enough to stand on the kelp and fish. I would see another dozen or so on the trip back. The only other things I saw on the trip back were a couple of sea lions swimming in the kelp.

After about an hour of paddling northward the breeze started to pick up. First just small ripples on the surface. Then after another half hour it really started to blow in from the northwest. Almost at the same bearing as the swell. It continued to build. And before too long occasional white caps started to appear. Then the wind waves were getting up to about one to two feet in height and the white horses were becoming more frequent. It was seriously impeding my progress. I estimated that the sea state was getting to be about 3 on the Beaufort Scale. Winds from 8 to 12 miles per hour and waves heights up to two feet, and scattered white horses. I had to bring the wind unto my port bow to keep from being overturned. The spray was coming up over the bow and getting me wet. I had my shorty spring suit on so my body was not cold. But my legs were exposed and they were getting chilled a bit. When I would stop to take a rest I would turn facing south to let the sun warm my legs.

I kept on plugging along. I was traveling north-northwest. And soon I would have to turn east into the Bay. I was worried that if I had to turn in while the wind was still blowing I would capsize. But I was able to keep the wind forward enough, and off my beam, long enough to get in the lee of the Jetty. The wind and waves ceased and all was clam. And just the swell to give me a little push in.

I made it back into Mariner's Basin and beach my kayak at exactly 1310. So it took me two hours and forty minutes for the return trip. Not bad considering the conditions. And though this trip was shorter than my last trip, I was very wobbly on my legs, probably form the fight with the wind and the waves.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Veteran's Day Kayak

Veteran’s Day Kayak

It has been some time since I have done my long paddle to Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach and back to La Jolla. Having the day off I thought I would try to do it once more. And in fact, I would see if I could go a little farther. So I stocked up on water and trail mix and headed to La Jolla Shores.
A very calm day with little swell with a slight overcast to keep things cool. Launched and was paddling out by 0840. I took a direct route over towards Children’s Pool area. If I was going to try for an extra long paddle I did not want to take any sight seeing detours. Besides, it is possible to see some great things whatever course you take.

Once around the corner of The Children’s Pool Breakwater I headed south to Hospital Point, Marine Street Beach, and Wind & Sea. Down about Wind & Sea I came in close to shore to check conditions for a possible haul out on the return trip. Just in case I need to rest my butt and stretch my legs. As I came in close to shore I spotted a small pod of Dolphins, probably numbering about six to ten, with at least one small juvenile. Followed them for a few minutes until they disappeared. They were frolicking in the surf. Probably chasing a school of bait fish.

Though I was paddling most of the time I considered this my first rest. Took some water and turned south again.

Clear water to a depth of at least 20 feet and virtually no wind. Clouds in the sky blocking out the heat of the sun, all this made for a nice paddle. Passed Bird Rock, sighted Crystal Pier, and headed to Tourmaline. Once at Tourmaline I spotted Mission Bay Jetty appearing out of the haze. Got out my binoculars to confirm it. (Looking through binoculars on a moving kayak for any length of time is not recommended.) Some construction equipment with a light on the Jetty gave me a target to aim for. So I took a straight course right to the Red Navigation Buoy off the Jetty.

Paddled and paddled and paddled. That stretch from Tourmaline to the Jetty is a long one. And it is mentally fatiguing. It seems endless and then you are there. I took my first real rest here. Got out my trail mix and sat out there eating, drinking and planning what I felt like doing.

After a 10 to 15 minute rest I decided I would try to make it to Quivera Basin and Aqua Adventures Kayak Shop. Turned into the channel and made my way in. The entrance to Quivera Basin was not that far. I turned in and then proceeded to find the right slip that would bring me to Aqua Adventures. After a few tries I found the right slip and pulled in.
I secured my kayak on the dock and made my way up to the shop. I wanted to see Jake and let him know that the Police had recovered my kayak. He was not there. In fact, Jen told me that he was gone for good. He has left to go back to Portage, Wisconsin to fulfill his dream of kayaking from Portage to Portage via, the Mississippi, along the Gulf Coast, around Florida, up the East Coast and then down the St. Lawrence Seaway, Eire Canal and back to Portage. Amazing!

Check out his progress at http://www.portagetoportage.com/index.html

It took me exactly three hours to make this trip. I calculated how long it would take me to get back to La Jolla with about a half hour extra rest time and figured I would need to be underway again at 1215 to make it back by 1600. Rested, ate and refilled my water bottles for the trip back. Set out on time.

The wind had picked up slightly. Just a bit of wind chop. Nothing to really slow me down. In fact it made for a fun trip back, splashing over the wavelets. And periodically I would get on the lee side of a kelp bed and the water would turn glassy smooth.

As I rounded the corner near Children's Pool the sun was lowering in the late afternoon sky and peeked out from under the high clouds. It shone its rays on the beaches and cliffs turning them a warm golden color.

I reached La Jolla right on schedule. And surprisingly, my butt was not as sore as I thought it would be. In fact, I never had to haul out and take a little walk-about to ease things. Even though it has been many months since I have done a long paddle like this my muscles remember and I do not get as fatigued.

Non-Kayak Dive

November 7, 2009
Non-kayak dive.
La Jolla Shores
Descent Time; 0826
Depth; 58
Bottom Time; 00:49

I had called my dive buddies Mark K. & Debbie Z. earlier in the week to see if they might be diving this weekend. They have deserted me for Cozumel. Well, can you blame them? So I headed down to the beach anyway to see if I would meet someone to dive with. If not, I would get out on my kayak.

Met up with Steve G. and Mark P. and a couple of others. They were going on Safari to see the Lion Nudibranchs that have been hanging out on the kelp growing out on the points. Steve and Mark did not mind if I tagged along.

We descended onto the wall in about 60 feet. Swam a short distance to find the outcropping of sandstone that is supporting the small kelp grove. Found a multitude of the Lion Nudibranchs. Spent the whole dive checking out these fascinating creatures while Steve and Mark photographed them.
A few were knocked from the kelp. Since I was not doing video I rescued those that were drifting about. I would catch them on my glove and let them adhere. Then I would take them to the kelp and gently transfer them over.

Photos graciously provided by Mark Pidcoe

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fickle Finger of Fate

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009. On Wednesdays I get off from work early in the afternoon, about 2:30. Today happens to be a very beautiful day. And I have time to get in a couple of hours kayaking before the sun goes down early in these short fall days. I drove down to the beach and launched my kayak. Today is a very special day. To understand why this day is special I must bring you back to Wednesday, October 21st. For that is the last time I was paddling on my kayak. I had a good paddle and returned home. Thursday passed and Friday dawned a typical cool fall day.

Leaving my apartment in the dark (we have not yet set the clocks back to standard time) I walked to my car as I have for the last 15 years. And for the last two years the sight of my kayak atop my car has greeted me. But today was different. Through in the early morning gloom, broken by the dappled streetlight coming through the trees, I could see that my kayak was not where it should be. Coming closer I found my tie-downs lying cut on the ground and my kayak gone. My jaw dropped. I could not believe it. It was stolen was my first thought. Then partial denial set in. Maybe some kids in the neighborhood were playing a prank. They took it off the car but surely it was just tossed over the fence or hidden behind the dumpster. But there was no immediate sign.

First action was to call into work and say I could not be in. The dispatchers said I must, as they had no one to cover my routes. Even the Supervisors were out doing routes this day. Typical, everyone wants to have Friday off, leaving no one to cover for emergencies.

So I called the Police and made a preliminary report over the phone. That is about all that can be done accept in the case of real emergencies. I then drove into work and ended up being only three minutes late. A supervisor clocked me in so my lateness did not show up in the system, which would require written acknowledgment of my tardiness.

Later in the day Officer Cairncross of the SDPD Eastern Division contacted me. She took a full report and told me that a Detective would be in touch with me in a couple of days, as soon as the case was assigned. I also called my Insurance agent and Neighborhood Watch person.

On Sunday my Neighborhood Watch person contacted me. She informed me she had observed a suspicious person she knew of having possibly committed other thefts in the area. So this might be a possible lead. I told her that as soon as I knew whom the investigating detective was I would let her know.

On Monday I spoke with Detective Guffy about my kayak. She gave me some ideas about possible recovery. Such as looking on Craigslist and checking used sporting good stores. I did both. And eventually would call some of the swap meets and dive shops that sometimes sell used equipment and gave them the heads up. Colby’s Swap meet was very helpful. They said they would look out for it. Having a serial number stamped on it helped very much. Colby’s said that they have in the passed caught people selling stolen goods. And go as far as detaining people that have purchased stolen goods (though they are not arrested) until police get there. That was comforting to know.

I found no Scrambler XL on Craigslist. But I did locate some potential replacements in case mine was not recovered. Something that Detective Guffy did not think too likely. Meanwhile I also put the word out on Divebums to keep an eye out at the beach, especially if someone approached them with a blue Scrambler XL for sale. According to John Moore that is potentially 800 pairs of eyes on the lookout for my kayak.

The worse part of all this was that in a week some friends of my Cousin Dana were coming out from North Carolina and were avid kayakers and wanted to go out. They were very excited about being out here and kayaking. They had never seen seals or sealions and were looking forward to it. I e-mailed them and said I had had a little problem with my kayak, but that we would still go. I would just rent one. Why could not this thief have waited until after they came?

Well, the week prior to my planned kayak excursion the weather had not been all that great. Some large surf and heavy winds. But I put in a requisitions for perfect kayaking weather and told my friends to "Touch wood, scratch a stay, turn three times, and may the Lord and Saints preserve us." (An old Nautical charm).
Saturday, October 31st arrived. I went to the beach early and checked out conditions. My request had been granted. It was flat; ankle-slappers were all that touched the shore. Just a slight breath of wind to keep you cool.
I met Rich and his son Tyler at Starbucks. I got a cup of coffee; we picked up some water for the paddle and headed down to The Shores.

We parked main lot and walked down the beach. We got our kayaks from OE Express. This is me (in the Blue PFD and white hat). Yellow kayaks! It 's just not my color.

Launched and headed over to Marine Room to see the Leopard Sharks. Crystal clear water, teaming with dozens of the skittish creatures. Spent some time viewing them and headed over to the caves to observe the sealions. Explored a few of the caves and watched the sealions. Just a few sleeping in the early morning sun, rather quiet.
Rich Tyler

From there we paddled north around the (now unmarked) swim zone leading out of La Jolla Cove. And pointed our bows westward to the far kelp beds past the
Children’s Pool. Made it out there.
Told Rich & Tyler what little I know about the ecology of the kelp beds. Then we headed back to La Jolla Shores. Took one quick detour for a last look at the Leopards Sharks and headed to the beach. Such non-existent surf that we didn’t even get the rush of riding some one to two footers into shore. But they really had a blast.

On the way back from eating lunch we stopped by and had a look at the Jack-o-Lanterns form the Underwater Pumpkin Carving contest. I liked the Jack-o-Lantern that was eating another, smaller Jack-o-Lantern.

Friday I had received my initial insurance check. And when I get a replacement I would get the remainder of the cost, minus my deductible. I spent Monday looking for a replacement kayak. I was not able to find a used Scrambler XL. This one fits my needs for diving perfectly. Ocean Kayak has a new model, The Scrambler 11 that replaces the XL. I may have to get that. It has one feature that effects my use as a diving platform. The rear carrying handle is a hard plastic handle that goes across the rear tank well. Thus making it difficult to slide your dive gear out the rear. But otherwise it has all the features of the Scrambler XL.

Tuesday, and it has been ten days since the theft of my kayak. Detective Guffy indicated that the likelihood of recovering it is small. And I don’t think that she has been able to talk with the Neighborhood watch person to check into the possible lead. So it appears that I have lost my kayak.

Wonders of Wonders!!!!! I came home after my morning routes and there was a message on my recorder. The Police had found my kayak! I called the number and the Detective said that he could meet me in 20 minutes at the Eastern Division on Aero Drive and return my kayak to me.

Turns out they had an on-going investigation of a auto theft ring in Serra Mesa. And when they went into the residence to look for stolen motorcycles a blue kayak was found among the stolen bikes. One of the Detectives saw the serial number and punched it into his computer. Up popped my Police report and I was called. I drove over, the Detectives met me, let me in, helped me load my kayak, and I drove off one very happy kayak diver. Called my insurance agent and canceled the claim and reimbursement check. Best $150 I never got.

And so today was a very special day. Because I was out in the flat, crystal clear ocean on My very own blue Scrambler XL, perfect for diving and paddling.

Lessons learned; Put some kind of identification number on everything you own.

Don't get complacent. I always used to lock my kayak. Until one day I dropped my cable at the boat launch and did not realize it until I got home. Not wanting to drive back I decided I would buy another one. Days, weeks and then months pass and my kayak is still on my car. Parked all over town, while at work, diving, visiting friends, it never got stolen. One and a half years it was up there without being locked. Then one day I got up for work and it was gone. A crime of opportunity. And I allowed that opportunity. NOT AGAIN !!! Fool me once...etc.
So that is the story. As for the guys who did it. They know who they are and where they live. If they are not now in jail they soon will be. With the cost of my kayak being over $400 it is a felony. And it will just add to the charges of Grand Theft Auto.