Crescent Bay Paddle

Perhaps I seemed a little whiny when I wrote about my mundane Monday paddle earlier this week. Iíve been lamenting our rather passive sea state of late and had todayís group paddle been the same olí paddle out of the harbor, I might have succumbed to my warm bed this morning. But Duaneís plan was to head out of Crescent Bay for a paddle to Three Arch. A surf launch and landing gave me hope for the carnage Iíve been craving, but the mild surf conditions prevailed.

Four of us, Duane, George M., Bob M. and I, showed up on this beautiful morning. I know Iím supposed to be scared to death that the world is coming to an end, but if global warming is responsible for such a nice winterís day, Iím going to try to pump out some extra CO2 this week. George and I teamed up to get our boats down the small hill to the beach, while the macho boat builders did the stoic shoulder carry. The beach was pretty calm, but there was still an occasional set that would roll in that was at least big enough to make you look foolish if you mistimed your launch. It was big enough that Duane chose to keep his fancy new hat in his day hatch till he made it to smooth water. Soon we were paddling the glassy water toward the low lying sun.

With very little swell to contend with, we were able to really hug the shore as we headed south. I think we all agreed with Duane that this is one of the nicest areas to paddle in the O.C. There are always new interesting rock formations and it is always a wonder to see the houses built on the cliffs right up to the waters edge. We got to paddle through a lot of rocks and by caves and spits. Occasionally a small wave would rumble through to remind us we were still in the ocean. Around one small point there was a house with a staircase down to the water with a wall built like a small jetty. Duane paddled in having to time his entry with an incoming swell as there was a 2 foot ledge at the opening when the water receded. On the way out a little unexpected contact with the rocks added a bit more character to his hull.

It was really nice being able to sneak around the rocks and cliffs and enjoy the great scenery. When we got to Aliso Beach, Duane decided to try to head into the creek. Even with the mild surf, there were still some nasty breakers abusing the shore, but after a little bit of carnage on my part, we were soon all headed up the creek. Worried that we may be breaking some unknown injunction against paddling a navigatable creek without a pass, we paddled quietly up to the source of the mighty river. It was definitely not the kind of scenery you expect to see when you head out on a coastal paddle. When we got back to the shore, we all had some fun trying to make it out through what we like to think of as the O.C. version of the Columbia River Bar. You had to try to avoid the big sets that came through, navigate the swirling current and deal with occasionally being left high and dry to start the whole thing again. We all made it out and agreed we had fun doing it.

Once back out with some water beneath us, we decided to head out a ways for the paddle home. We figured with the Gray Whales in town, perhaps one would come up for a visit. We were only about half a mile out or so and we noticed one of the whale watching boats about a mile in front of us. I thought they were probable there for the conciliatory look at the dolphins after striking out on the larger game. But then we saw several spouts and a tail fluke as a couple whales they had be watching took off. Figuring the whales would head south, we paddled straight out from shore to hope to get closer. We gave the boat plenty of leeway, seeing as they had found the whale first, but we weíre still treated to a great show. I think there were probably three whales in the area an we got to see their flukes several times as they dove. It was a great way to cap off an already fun day.

We paddled home thankful for a great day on the water. Just to make sure it was fun to the very last drop, George treated us to a very fine water dance in the waves on his landing. Another great day on the water.

Duane's Photos

Mark Sanders