Saturday, June 28, 2008

Morro Bay paddle June 28, 2008

Wow! This paddle started out at 4 PM on a completely gray afternoon with white capped wind waves from the southwest on a rising tide at 3.5 ft. Aside from one canoe and a sailboat in the distance, it looked at the start to be one of those paddles that would be mostly just good exercise. Wrong again. I paddled due west to the sand spit, enjoying the quartering waves and stiff wind and didn't stop until reaching the spit; sheltered from the wind. I paddled leisurely north toward Morro Bay, stopping to hike up the spit for a view of ocean and bay. Continuing north, with the wind non-existent, it was a fine time to appreciate things like the dunes with steep enough slope to create paddling-depth water just inches offshore on the rising tide, and to give paddling access to areas that are usually exposed. I spotted several egrets along the shore, and in the area that is host to the blue heron rookery, counted at least 9 heron sentinels in the brush just offshore. I kept my distance, but was able to photograph a few. Near the point where the sand spit becomes property of Morro Bay, I glided over a bit of orange and paddled back around in hopes of seeing it again. The orange was a jelly fish about 12" in diameter. I took a photo, which is a poor re-creation of the original. At the point, dozens of pelicans stood on the shore, with many taking flight just overhead, then returning to stand and wait. A cormorant, using 6 flaps or more and much "running" while taking flight from the water gave me further appreciation for the larger pelican, which requires only 2 or 3 flaps to become air born. I turned back toward the south for my return to Pasadena Point, and sat watching an otter (perhaps two), do continual back flips in and out of the water. Keeping a respectful distance, I took many pictures, hoping to catch the action, but breaching otters are not cooperative with digital still cameras. I will have to read more about them in an effort to decipher what was really going on. Aerating the fur? A mating ritual? Just plain fun? No idea, but enjoyable to watch. As I paddled a few hundred yards east of grassy island (at a low tide this would still BE grassy island) a motorboat with two gentlemen on board passed between me and grassy island. I knew this was still quite shallow, and watched as they hit bottom and backed up. I paddled over and asked if they knew the area (they did not), and explained how they could travel between the channel markers and be guaranteed sufficient depth for their boat. They headed toward the channel and slowly followed it, while I made great time with steady paddling, little wind and an incoming tide. After they passed the markers at the State Park Marina, we met up again. I cautioned them not to motor into the estuary (covered with 6" deep water) and pointed out the next marker, one of the white plastic poles with red on the top. Then they asked me if the channel ran all the way to Avila! I explained that the bay was a dead end, and that they needed to go back to the rock and go out to the ocean there. I was glad not to be on that boat, and was both puzzled and amazed that anyone would go out into the ocean who didn't know where they were or what the channel markers meant. I hope they made it OK. On the way back into Pasadena Point, I sat and watched a seal and a small bat ray, then made for land, arriving at the same time as Mark from Orchid Outriggers, who had been called out to rescue a distressed Pelican (he did). I also spoke with friendly paddlers Tom and Sara(h), recent Los Osos arrivals who are avid paddlers but new to the bay. The tide was up to 5 ft. by then (7 PM), making it easy to get the boat up into the grass for loading on the cart for the walk home. Somewhere along the way, the sun had come out, and it was tempting to just put back in....

No comments: