Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Elkhorn Slough June 21, 2017

It's been a while since the last post, but that's because we have mostly been paddling the same places. Buddy Mike and I have been trying to coordinate a paddling trip to Monterey, and managed to do that last week. We drove up (about 3 hours) and checked into our hotel on a Tuesday afternoon, did some walking and eating, drinking, etc., and got ready to paddle the Elkhorn Slough on Wednesday morning.
I had paddled there some years back, with a launch from Moss Landing. On that day, we paddled approximately 7 miles back to the far reaches of the slough. The paddle back, against both wind and tide, was probably the most strenuous I've done. To avoid that, we planned to launch from Kirby Park, which saves about 5 miles of paddling in (it should be noted that those are 5 very pretty paddling miles, but been there, done that...). The morning was a touch foggy, and remained gray with temps in the 60s, perfect for paddling. We timed our arrival at Kirby Park for just before 9 AM, giving us over an hour to paddle into the far reaches before high tide, which was just after 10 AM. When we drove around the slough to Kirby Park, we found the road closed, and later found out that it had been closed since February when the road was washed out in a storm. We had seen no mention of this in our internet reading while planning the trip (I have since added the closure comment to Google Maps).
We drove back to Moss Landing, confirmed the road closure at the Monterey Bay Kayaks shop there, and launched from the public ramp for $11. We paddled back in for about 3.5 miles, to where a small island exists, and could see the Kirby launch site from there. There are railroad tracks (and 2 bridges) that cross the slough, so we hurried to the shore to catch a glimpse of a passing train. While paddling the tide had turned, and we took the flow back to Moss Landing, although there was some wind that started late morning. We are used to seeing seals and otters, and were not disappointed as they are plentiful in the slough. There were many paddlers out by now, mostly within a mile or so of the Moss Landing docks, where kayak rentals are popular. On the way back to the ramp, we paddled out toward the harbor entrance, but didn't go out into the ocean, as the swell was fairly large and tight. A great morning of paddling. The only low point was that I left my nearly new Sqoosh butt pad at the ramp, and hoped to find that someone had turned it into the kayak shop. They didn't, but most paddlers would have. It's a fine group.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Port San Luis February 22

Lorelei, Ron and I had a great day on the water. We put in from the beach ramp area at Port San Luis (just north of Avila Beach) and paddled across the bay to the lighthouse area, where we beached and spent a bit of time climbing over the seawall to watch the surf. Several groups of folks also made it to this area; more kayaks than I have ever seen there. From the lighthouse, we cut across the water toward Pirate's Cove, and spent some time in the kelp beds and rock gardens. We completed our triangular trip by heading north up the coastline, paddling through the oil company pier and back to our starting point. We were bathed in sunshine the entire paddle, and had only a bit of wind that never made for difficult paddling. There were numerous seals and sea otters to watch throughout the day.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Best Way to begin February

Another gorgeous winter day on the Central Coast. Blue sky and warm sun beckoned this morning, so I paddled from Pasadena Point in Baywood, with the tide still on the way in. Despite the direction of the tide, I paddled into Morro Bay and eventually over to the sand spit, where I hiked over to the ocean and watched the remaining surfers on the south side of the south jetty trying to catch some final rides as the wind came up and blew out the surf. The tide had reached its peak by now, and the wind on the bay started up as well. I paddled south along the sand spit and met Alice and Steve, who were visiting from Portland and enjoying the sites of the area. They were paddling a double Klepper kayak that they bought new and have paddled all over for the past 45 years. Canvas on a wooden frame, the boat was in great shape (so were they) and was in original condition except for one newer seat. What and advertisement for Kleppers! I've paddled my Necky Kayook for 14 years now, and it is still in great shape, but I doubt that it will have the longevity of that old Klepper. Wait and see....

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy New Year!

A paddle on the first day of the new year is now officially a tradition! This is the 4th (perhaps 5th) New Year paddle, and this was a beauty. While much of the country was battling storms, we paddled in t-shirts on a windless high tide with sunny skies and temps around 70 degrees F. Our paddle took us from Pasadena Point to the bridge at the Sweet Springs Nature Conservancy (you can only paddle to the bridge on very high tides), on to a usually inaccessible corner of Shark Inlet, along the sand spit and back several hours later.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Eve Kids

Christmas Eve 2013, we had a household full of friends and family. Now that we have reached Grand parent status, it is tons of fun to watch our children interact with each other. Travis and Lisa have two children (Mela, 7 and Daxon, 3), and Bennett and Brittany are expecting their first (a girl) in April. Joining us were; my Dad, and the Neelands-Gentry and Beckett families. Katia Beckett grew up with Travis and Lisa, the closest thing to a daughter we had until Emily's entry in '92. Susan and I were so pleased to host with long-time friends Cindy and Ross (parents of Katia). Here's a pic of our combined progeny:
Bottom row: Katia Beckett (it's a boy!), Alisa Harrell, Emily Harrell, Brittany Harrell (it's a girl!) Back row: Bennett Harrell, Dustin Beckett, Travis Harrell

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Perfect Weekend

The weekend of November 17 and 18 was great for paddling. On Saturday friends Lorelei and Ron and I paddled from Morro Bay into a slack tide and out toward Baywood/Los Osos. There were duck hunters along the sand spit, so we kept more to the middle of the bay and made a nice circuit, stopping at the point across from the State Park Marina for coffee and crackers. On Sunday morning, with high tide a bit later, we paddled from the Baywood Pier, crossing over to the Sweet Springs area and following the coastline around past the Cuesta inlet and out to Shark inlet, which we avoided as there were duck hunters there. The bay was dead calm and the skies sunny, which made for easy paddling. We drifted around near the sand spit and had some coffee and snacks before heading back across to Baywood. On the return trip, we had just the slightest of warm breezes at our backs. Perfect weekend.

Sunny with a chance of seals in Morro Bay

I'm usually all covered up to protect from the sun, but it was just too warm, so a few minutes of exposure felt great. It's always fun to send these pics to friends back East; right after the first snowfall. Yes, it was warm and windless on a perfect central coast Sunday (Oct. 6) morning. We paddled to our heart's content and had some fun watching a group of seals frolicking around the back bay.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Santa Ana day in Morro Bay

Saturday, October 5 was an unusually warm day at the central coast. When the thermometer on the shady side of the house read 70 degrees at 8:15 in the morning, I assumed it had broken. I was wrong. The Santa Ana winds came to the central coast and made for a different kind of kayaking. There were two main differences: the winds were from the east, and they were warm. Lorelei, Ron and I paddled from the dock the marina on the embarcadero in Morro Bay, hitting the water at around 9:30 AM. The tide was heading toward a high of 4.6' that peaked at 11:14, so we headed south on the incoming tide. Our plan was to paddle to the back bay and hang out until the tide turned and then paddle back. We paddled slowly along the sand spit and kept our southerly heading where the spit goes SSW. This put us a few hundred yards offshore. The winds really picked up, and we had 1-2' wind waves on our port side, which made for some nice rolling and splashing; also requiring close attention to position. After a bit, we decided to head down-wind (west) and take out on the spit for a short hike to view the ocean side. With the winds from the east, the breakers would spray back up and behind the waves, an interesting look. We took our time and enjoyed Lorelei's home-grown apples. When we returned to our boats, the tide had started going back out, and the wind had died down. We crossed the bay to the eastern side and then continued north past the museum and back to the dock.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

High tides and good times

Three paddles in three days; vacation is good! I paddled from the Baywood Pier on a high tide early this morning. The temp was 40, the tide 5.7'. For only the second time in memory, I was able to drop my boat right off the pier and climb in without ever getting even my big toe wet. I paddled out across the flooded estuary, over sections that are normally above the waterline, and then along the peninsula south of the State Park Marina where they have recently built a long boardwalk for hikers to better experience the area. The picture posted here is of a downed tree that is usually sitting on top of the pickleweed in the area on the north end of the estuary. With the reflection, I thought it had a fish-like (albeit an odd one) appearance. I continued up past the museum and then across to the sand spit and eventually back to Baywood, where the water level had receded to more usual levels and necessitated a beach landing. It was sunny and windless, and definitely a good time to go out, as the wind really picked up later on. My hike at Montana de Oro was so windy in the afternoon that almost no one else was out, and, although I am always blown away by Montana de Oro, I literally was today. Back to the real world tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I rock, Sorber rolls

Today, I had the good fortune to paddle with my friend John Sorber. We set out from the beach at Port San Luis, me in my Necky Kyook and John in his homemade Greenland style kayak "Abi" and hand-carved Greenland paddle. The surf was small, so I didn't even have on my spray skirt, which was a mistake as I took a small wave over the bow and had to pump out and paddle wet. John was decked out in a wet suit and his Tuilik, a necessity, since his boat is extremely tippy by design, and he loves to roll it; sometimes in mid-sentence. We paddled out through the harbor at Port San Luis, and out to the point were the old lighthouse was, doing a bit of cruising along the headlands to enjoy the rocks and small caves. From there, we headed out across open water south towards Pirate's Cove, playing around near some of the big rock features, keeping just outside the break (with a wary eye for bigger swells). John got quite a treat while we were in the kelp, as he startled a sleeping sea lion that he did not know was right next to his boat. Both John and sea lion demonstrated their surprise! With some larger swells coming in, we decided not to beach at the cove, and after a while went out beyond the kelp and paddled back to our put in, taking a fairly direct course through the oil company pier. Along the way, John rolled quite a few times, mostly intentionally. Before we headed into the beach, he demonstrated a number of cool rolls. Our landing was un-eventful, and we packed up for the day. Three hours and approximately 5 miles of paddling with a friend is a great way to spend a school vacation day. Back to work soon.

New Year's Paddle 2013

In keeping with tradition, I hoped to get out and paddle on New Year's Day. This year, it was doubly good! Ron, Lorelei and I paddled on a full moon and high tide from the Baywood Pier; we were in the water at 11:45 PM on New Year's Eve. It was pretty cold, and plenty dark, despite the full moon (cloud cover). We paddled around the back bay until 1 am, celebrating the turn of the new year with glow sticks provided by Lorelei. On New Year's Day, we paddled out on the next high tide around noon, making our way to Shark Inlet, along the sand spit and back to Baywood. It was considerably warmer and sunnier than the night before ;). I think it was the 4th year that a paddling outing was done on the first of the year. What a great start.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

King Tides Paddle Morro Bay

Mike, Ron, Lorelei and I paddled from the Baywood Pier on a 5+ foot tide on Saturday, December 15. The weather was fine and windless, leaving a glassy bay for us to explore. We paddled over to the sand spit, where we realized that the very high tide had deposited trash right at or just above the water line, making it easy to pick up and bring back with us. We took the trash that we could fit, using a 5 gallon bucket that was part of what we picked up. We did not have the capacity to bring back larger items, like the full-sized plastic trash can that we took from the water line up to higher ground. We plan to organize a more concerted effort on the next very high tide, bringing along trash bags and towing an empty sit on top or two to fill up. We continued down along the spit to the place where it hooks over toward the Morro Bay Embarcadero, and took out there to walk over the dunes to the beach side, where we enjoyed tasty snacks (fun to say peanutbutterballs). We took a more direct route back, able to paddle right through the grassy island area that was nearly totally submerged.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just Plain Lucky

Sunday, November 18 began with rain. It rained for most of the morning, then began to break up. At the coast, it's hard to tell where the next weather is coming from, as the mountains and sea all have their own ways of surprising you with what comes next. As I did the previous day, I decided (rather spur of the moment) to go out paddling. I put in at the Baywood Pier, which was absent of the normal folks who hang out on nicer days. The restaurants were nearly empty, but the bay was full with an approaching high tide of around 5 feet. I set out in very calm, almost still, water and saw no other craft out. What was out (again) were several groups of jumping seals, followed by the birds. With no destination in mind, I floated and watched the seals, the diving brown pelicans, the floating white pelicans (I counted 36) and numerous cormorants, ducks, gulls, and more. I was watched pretty closely by a lone gray seal (was that its job?)and noticed that there was also a lone white pelican that was not with the rest of the group. I paddled around some more and headed back after an hour or so. On the paddle back, the sun was out and it was quite warm. What looked like rain turned out to be a glorious and entertaining paddle. Just plain lucky.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rain or not

The forecast called for rain all day. Ron, Lorelei and I went out strolling around Baywood in a light rain, which came and went. The air was warm and the breeze slight, making our walk only slightly different than any other. With more rain promised, kayaking was put on a "probably not" list. We changed our minds, though, and Ron and I went paddling in the back bay just after the high tide. It never rained at all after we got in the water. We were treated to the usual sites of the back bay, paddling past Sweet Springs and out to the sand spit. We heard gun shots from duck hunters, but saw none. What we did see was a fine moving feast enjoyed by dozens of diving pelicans and breaching seals. Another perfect day.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Laura's Birthday Wish

Friends Lorelei and Ron and I had a fine paddle with birthday girl Laura (12) whose birthday wish was to go kayaking. Laura handled the kayak solo all the way from the Baywood Pier to the sand spit and back. We were accompanied by neighbor Rob who was out on his paddle board. Along the way, we watched thousands of diving/feeding birds of numerous variety who were feasting on the bait fish run in the bay. A number of seals enjoyed the feast as well, and checked us out as we paddled. On the sand spit, we snacked and "slid" on the dunes. With plenty of water and little wind, it was a fine outing. I think everyone should kayak on their birthday.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Jim and Linda Angelo and I paddled in Morro Bay today. We had considered going to Avila, where the humpback whales have been treating folks for over a week to a spectacular show, but we heard that the whale's popularity has created huge crowds, backed up roads, etc. Instead, I paddled from the Baywood Pier, and met Linda and Jim off their starting point in the Cuesta Inlet. We paddled on a rising tide and into the wind over to the sandspit, about mid-point on its length. We hiked the dunes up to the highest point, where views are 360 degrees of the bay and ocean. We noticed that just off-shore there was a swath of bird floating the was perhaps a mile long. Soon, we noticed a lot of feeding activity off-shore, and we spotted humpback whales! There was a whale-watching boat out there too. We could see the whales breaching and spouting with the naked eye, but were afforded better views with the binoculars. What a treat! We watched until we couldn't focus any more (staring at the ocean is tiring). After a treat of peaches and pistachios, we got back in the boats (the tide had risen considerably) and paddled along the spit, into shark inlet as far as we could go. I "dropped them off" at the Cuesta Inlet and finished my paddle back into Baywood. Wow!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dolphin in Morro Bay August 2012

I didn't plan to kayak today, but needed to go to Morro Bay to get some propane, so I decided to put my boat in at the Tidelands Marina and paddle north to the rock (Morro Rock) and back. It was a gorgeous day on the bay, and the tide was just cresting. Before I even got in the boat, three dolphin were spotted just off the dock, and heading north toward the harbor entrance. They were in no hurry. I paddled near them and took a bit of video, and then paddled up ahead and just sat with my iphone ready to record. I missed the first dolphin as it surfaced only a few feet from the bow of my kayak, and though I couldn't see what I was recording because of the glare, did manage to get a bit of them as they went by. A feel good experience. The rest of my paddle to the harbor entrance and back was very nice, and I spotted the dolphin again near the rock as they headed out toward the ocean.

Scott's first kayaking trip

While my brother Scott was visiting in Los Osos, we hiked the Montana de Oro bluffs walk, played around near Morro Rock, walked the beach and the pier in Cayucos, hiked a portion of the Estero Bluffs trail, and went out for his first kayak paddle. We paddled on a near high tide from the pier in Baywood, and over to the Shark Inlet area. It's about a mile or so, but seems farther when paddling straight into a decent wind, which is what we did. Scott managed well, and was rewarded with calm waters once we reached the sand spit area at Shark Inlet. After a bit of poking around, we paddled north along the spit and climbed up King Dune for the awesome view of the entire area; ocean on one side, bay on the other, with views of Morro Bay, Baywood, and the surrounding hills. The paddle back had a bit of wind help, but not as strong as the way over. I think we hooked another kayaker.

Pender Island July 2012

During our wonderful week in British Columbia, we had the privilege to spend 3 days with old friends John and Ted and (most of) their families. Hosts John and Cindy provided an awesome place to stay, fantastic meals, fun-filled outings and of course, the enduring companionship of great friends (since 1967 for me). One of our outings included kayaking along the shoreline of South Pender Island. The scenery must be experienced to be appreciated. We paddled from a put in spot 2 miles from their waterfront home, and switched paddlers; Ted taking my place as he and John continued for another few miles and back. Later in the day, Ted and I paddled back to the original put in.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Solo to Shark Inlet

I went out for a solo paddle on a rising tide on Saturday evening, July 14, 2012. I left the Baywood pier at 5:30 pm and paddled southwest  into the wind and across the back bay to the Shark Inlet area, which was in the lee of the sand spit dunes. It was a good, brisk paddle over, and the wind provided a pretty decent workout for me. I investigated little nooks and channels in the far corner, and found a nice place to just chill for a few minutes.
On the way back, I called my best bud Doug on the occasion of his birthday (also Bastille Day).