Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Monster Returns - June 10

So Sue and I launched our kayaks this morning at the boat launch on Avenida De La Playa in La Jolla.  I wanted her to experience this entry point so she could compare it to Marine Room.  Both have their benefits. At the boat launch you can drive your car right out on the beach and unload. but then you must go find a parking spot, and they have a time limit.  Sometimes hard on a beautiful summer day.  At Marine Room you must portage your kayak down to the beach.  But once parked you can stay there all day with not time limit.

On our first paddle in La Jolla she made it out past the Children's Pool.  So this time I set a goal of South Casa or Hospital Point.  I let her set the pace and told her that when she felt she had reached her limit we could turn back.  Well, she kept on paddling and paddling. And before you knew it we were past my original goal and she still felt like continuing.  So we then went as far as Marine Street Beach.  Below is a picture from Sue's kayak of our furthest point south.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Created a Monster

Sue's first La Jolla Paddle
My dive buddy Sue recently purchased a used sit-on-top ocean kayak.  She was exited to get out and try it.  So we met one Sunday morning at Marine Room, La Jolla Shores . I had told her that I would let her set the pace and the distance we went each time. But I expected her to increase it a little each time we went. 

I had ulterior motives.  I wanted to create a kayak monster just like I have become.  I gave her some instructions and shoved her into the surf.  She paddled out and made it through the surf without spilling.  I then turned to the beach to get my kayak launched.  When I turned back she was in the water.  I paddle quickly out to her.  I gave her verbal instructions on how to get back in.  (I was not about to show her.  I am not going to get totally soaked just so she can learn to get back on her kayak.  She the one who tipped, not me).  After a few tries she was up and ready to go.

Then we set out. I said that pretty much everyone can make it over to " The Caves" Even the tourists who have never been on a kayak can do this.  So we went there.  Then I asked; "Can you make it to Buoy "A"?"  She said she could. We did. 

Then I asked; "Can you get to Buoy "B"?  She said she could and we did.  Just about here I told her that out towards Children's Pool is where I have seen Gray Whales. 

Then she asked how far is it to "Children's Pool"  I told her that it was about 20 minutes from where we were.  She wanted to attempt it.  I reminded her; "You understand that we have to get back, right?"  She did and we went there.  Just as we headed there we found ourselves in the midst of a small pod of Dolphin.  That was a great sighting for her first time out.

At that time I told her I was very impressed with what she had accomplished but thought we should turn around.

We turned about and I explained to her the differences we would experience with speed and apparent speed now that we were going with the swell instead of against it.  Soon we were back and ready to attempt re-entry through the surf. I gave her a few tips on how to avoid tipping in the surf. And she did it just right and stuck the landing 100%  She was stoked about what she did. It was not until we were eating lunch and she went to lift her Iced Tea to drink that she realized how much had really done. She had to augment her lift with her other arm. Bu that was just a momentary thing. And she can't wait to get back out. 

But my plans have been foiled.  I don't have to Create a Monster. It was there lurking beneath the surface all the time.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Whales Sighted at Mission Beach Yesterday

Well, today (Friday, April 20) is my Furlough day from SDUSD Transportation. A day off with out pay designed to help the budget. The weather report said that In-land it will reach the 80's or 90's With temperatures in the desert in the 100's.

But along the Coast the high pressure is going to keep the fog and Marine layer hanging around the shoreline most of the day. But that is not going to stop me from getting out in the water.

Reports were that yesterday a Gray Whale and its calf were seen in the surf zone at Mission Beach. They were able to get video of the two whales. So I thought this would be as likely a day to see some whales as any.

So I got up early, loaded up the kayak and headed for Marine Room to launch. The weather report was accurate. It was overcast and cool. Not much wind though. So just before 0800 I headed out onto a gray green sea to try and spot some whales. The swell was kind of large out of the Northwest with another smaller, short interval, swell coming from the SW. The NW swell was big enough that I had to stay outside the reef breaks at Children's Pool, Wind & Sea, and Bird Rock.

I made it down to Crystal Pier in 90 minutes. There I took a break. While resting on my kayak I noticed a flock of Brown Pelicans coming towards me like a storm-cloud out of the WSW. They were following a large school of bait fish. As they came closer I noticed that not all the splashes were from a Pelican plunging into the water. A good sized pod of Dolphins (possible Pacific white-sided) hunted the same school. Resting there, the Pelicans and the Dolphins swam or flew right around my kayak. Never even pausing in their hunt, they plunged and splashed and dove all around me. In less then ten minutes the school was decimated and the birds and dolphins vanished as fast as they had appeared.

Not having seen any whales I decided I would head back north. I was going to paddle for half an hour until I got to Bird Rock and then take a rest. As I got to the south side of Bird Rock Cove I saw, off to my left, three large Bottlenose dolphins. They were on a course to the North. At first they were making good speed and to keep up I had to paddle as fast as I could. I did this for about half an hour with no break. Then about Wind & Sea it appeared that i lost them. By then they had crossed inside and were about 1/4 mile ahead.

I then rested for a short time. After proceeding on I caught sight of them again. Still between me and the shoreline. This time they were slowly hunting on the reefs. So slowly that I had to go about half my regular speed so as not to overtake them. I did this for about another hour. During that time a few Sea Lions came by to pester the Dolphins and check me out. Finally near to The Children's Pool I lost them for good.

Though I did not get to see any Gray Whales, it was a terrific paddle. Hit the shoreline at 1150, three hours fifty minutes after leaving. The last two hours spent following my three dolphin pals. The surf had fallen since I left and I stuck the landing with no spills.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sensations (January 28, 2012)

For some time the weather has been, well.....winter-like. But on Thursday (1/26) Summer arrived ahead of schedule. Suddenly we had clear skies and temperatures in the high 70's low 80's. So there was nothing to do but get out on my kayak. Now, on Thursday I only had a short time. So I just took a short jaunt out to The Far Kelp, fifty minutes round trip (plus prep time).

But Saturday was just as nice. I was down to the beach by 0830. I launched at Marine Room restaurant, at the south end of La Jolla Shores, instead of my regular entry at the boat launch. This way you can park and you do not have to move your car.

I hear the snap, crackle, and pop stepping on the beached kelp as I take the kayak down to the shore, Sandflies buzz up and alight on my legs, the occasional annoying one that flies up my nose or in my ear.

Warm sun on my face, legs, and arms. A very gentle 1 to 2 knot wind brushes across bare skin. Cool water on legs as I enter, and a brisk wave floods over the bow of my kayak slapping me in the face. The smell of the remains of a wood fire on the beach waft past my nose. The skirl of shore birds wheeling in the air reaches my ears.

I paddle out again to the Far Kelp west of Children's Pool. I am hoping to see some whales, it is migration season. I have not seen any this year. Also there was a report of a White Shark to the south off Imperial Beach. To see that would be a great experience (as long as all I experienced was seeing him). So I paddle west as far as the last kayak fisher. Then I turn south to head towards Marine Street, Wind-and-Sea, and Bird Rock.

It has been a very long time since I have done a really long kayak. But I was feeling pretty good. So I just found a nice maintainable pace and kept going. Before I knew it I was past Marine Street, past Wind-and-Sea, and at Bird Rock. So I just kept going. I spotted some dive boats at Wreck Alley to the West of Mission Beach and pointed my bow in that direction. I made it all the way out there and that is when I took my first break. Travel time was about two hours.

On the way south, along the rocky, west-facing beaches the surf was big, and I had to stay far outside. The roar of the crashing surf was the only sound filling my ears.

After a short rest I turned about and headed back. The sun is now on my back and the wind in my face. As long as it is gentle this is nice, it it keeps me cool on hot days, and creates a false sensation of speed. Today, though light, the breeze was chilling me some. So I put on my shirt to cut down on the wind chill factor. Heading into the wind little wind-wavelets slap the bow of my kayak.

Once around the point at Children's Pool I turn east and head to the beach. Wind and the long swell pushing at my back I pick up speed a little. Just in time as after 3 1/2 hours I am getting a bit tired. Each time a swell passes beneath my kayak I am pushed forward and a bow wake splashes on the lee. The surf is no longer crashing in this protected bay. And so quite sounds become more prominent. The splash of my paddle, sea birds calling, and a whisper from behind me. Something is following me. I can hear it after each stroke. Oh, it just the whisper of my wake.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Last day of Christmas

Monday, January 2, 2012.

My last day of Xmas vacation. Yesterday I did a dive with my buddy Mark K. condtions were nice, foggy.

So today I waited until about 1:00 PM and headed for La Jolla Shores for a paddle. The fog was just burning off at that time. To the South and west was the Fog Bank. To the north it was clear and blue. Air temp was a cool 64 degrees. Hit the surf at about 2:40 and headed straight out to the Far Kelp. It was kind of choppy with a wind frim the north of about 2-3 knots, just the occasional white cap, and a swell from the northwest of about 2 -4 feet. Just a nice day.

Once I got out past the kelp the fog had receeded and it was sunny, though it did not warm up much. But the sun on my back felt good. The wind dropped just a little so the chop was less. Headed North with the hope of meeting up with the Gray Whales.

On the way out I passed a group of Kayak tourist coming back in. After they passed I had the ocean to myself. No tourist (nto that they are bad), no fishermen. Just me and the birds.

I did not encounter any Whales today. On the way in a couple of Harbor Seals and a Sea Lion (juvey) came and checked me out.

Just nice to be out on the water