Ship's Log 2008
100 Days

Day #100,The Princess and the Pea
Ken was nice enough to join me on may 100th paddle today. We couldn't have asked for a nicer day. We were able to squeeze our two cars into the last parking spot near the sand and set off a little after 1pm. After a warm up paddle around the Little Isle we headed for BAR. Along the way we stopped to check out the upside-down boat moored by the channel. We're thinking it was the boat that had been floating out to sea a while back and causing trouble. It was unbelievable how badly crusted the upturned hull was with barnacles. It was hard to even make out where the keel line was on the boat and I'm sure it had to weigh at least a hundred pounds.

On our way out, we stopped at Pirate's Cove so Ken could try out his new storm paddle. It's a nice hunk of wood, hunk being the key word here. Ken has carved a fireplug of a storm paddle, but with a bit more work he'll have a keeper. He rolled with it on both sides, so he must have done something right!

We had a rather low tide with hardly any swells, so we followed my path from the other day. We snuck as close as the rocks as we could and when we got to Little Corona, there was a class out observing the tide pools. I was hanging out waiting to try to make it through a tricky part of the reef and once I made it through, I looked back for Ken, but he wasn't around. I paddled back around and found him out of his boat close to the reef. Turns out, he'd put on his mask and rolled over to check out the reef through the crystal clear water. Rolling up, he got fouled by the unusually large amount of kelp and had to bail. I helped him back in, but he realized his mask was no longer on his face. We searched the area hampered by all the kelp and the fact that we were about as close to the reef as we'd ever like to get. I got hung up on a couple rocks looking for the tell tale yellow float that Ken had added to his mask just to make sure he would lose it. I could only figure the tide had swept it away, or it was being held under by the kelp-until...Ken calls me over and as he lifts himself out of his cockpit he asks me to reach in. Turns out he'd been sitting on his mask and didn't realize it! Who knows what nook or cranny it had been hiding in in there!

We continued on to BAR and since it was too shallow to pass through, we tried some more rolls in the cove. I tried Ken's Stormy, but as I came up it slipped out of my hands and Ken had to come in with a bow. I tried two more times with the same result. The problem was the blades are so beefy, I couldn't hang on choked up a bit from the loom. I thought I needed to hold it there to get more leverage, but when I came down to the loom, I was able to roll albeit with a forward flourish at the end to help me out. We continued rolling back at PC, but the cold water quickly finished us and we head back to the cars. Ken came about as close as he could to taking a dip when he realized he can't exit on the dock on his offside, but we got him turned around and all was OK.

To finish off the day we went to Starbucks, where the lady commented on Ken's cold hands when she took his money. We told her we'd spent most of the last two hours under water in our kayaks. When she took my money, she said my hands were much warmer and I told her I usually warm up fast. She said it probably also had something to do with the age difference between me and Ken!! Way to earn that extra tip!!!

One hundred days on the year and a great day to spend it.

Day #99,BAR Hop
No one called for a paddle today, so when I hit the water I was free to do as I pleased. I got out just before the high tide, so with the calm sea conditions I moseyed on over to play around the rocks on the way to BAR. The swells were tiny, so nothing was off limits and I even found a passage through one tricky reef I've always avoided before. It was a quiet morning on the water and I never ran into anyone on the water.

I backed into BAR and took up residence inside the arch. With waves of any size, it's hard to hang out in there as you're either getting sucked one way or the other. With small waves, you can hang out, but it still stays a bit turbulent, so you have to keep on your toes. I hung out in the shade of the arch and started to wonder when Big Arch Rock might become Two Rock Point. I'd hate to die the ironic death of having the arch fall on me!

I considered doing some roll practice in the arch, but the water was a bit chilly and I'm sure it would involve some nasty paddle scraping. I did notice a new phenomenon that I'll call the BAR Didgeridoo. Perhaps it happens best with a small waves, but as they pass through the nooks and crannies, the air getting forced out sounded a bit didgeridooish. I though maybe Duane was punking me there for a minute. When I was done hanging out, I headed home through a very quiet harbor.

Day #98,Gearing Up

Whistle: CHECK
Radio: CHECK
Flares: CHECK
Chocolate Reindeer: CHECK

All loaded for bear, I headed out again today only to find benign conditions on the water. I was expecting more of the same from yesterday, so when I passed the Russian spy ship, I was already overheating in my wetsuit top. It was a pretty day, though, and the nicer weather made for a busy harbor. With the low tide and no waves to speak of, I decided to hang out at a beach I rarely stop at. Well, it was at Pirate's Cove, but it was on the seaward side where the sand only gets exposed at the lowest tides. The wind pushed me in and there I sat enjoying the busy channel. Not having to paddle, the cool wind was enough to mitigate the sunshine warming me in my neoprene. Folks were walking down the jetties and a lot of boats were returning from their fun on the ocean. On the sand, I was at the mercy of the occasional rouge 5" wave trying to upset my applecart. It seemed the proper place to make use of the chocolate reindeer.

I decided to eschew the ocean and beelined across the channel to paddle back in the lee and shade of the peninsula sea wall. I felt like I was paddling the canals of Venice. For a little more exercise, I decided to paddle around the boats moored near the Pavillion. I always like to choose which decrepit hulk might some day be my abode. Along the way, I met a man of limited English paddling his SOT for the first time. He asked me a few general questions about kayaking and then asked where the best place was to paddle. I told him it was all good!

Day #97, Glasnost
As is my usual custom, I seem to be letting my 100 day on the water come down to the wire. I long ago learned to embrace my procrastinatious nature. But I've been fighting a bad back for a month and our cold weather hasn't been too inviting, so I had to force myself down to the water.

The Island seemed unusually busy for the day after Christmas, but I was able to park right at the beach-well what there was of it! The tide was so low, the water's edge fell between the public dock and a boat on the other side, so I could barely scoot my way out. From the Coast Guard station, there was a red flag flying, deservedly so. I had been thinking about sticking to the harbor, but decided it was a good day for a channel buoy paddle.

I had to choke up on the RRidgback to counter the strong side wind and finally gave in to the call of my rudder. I figure my next boat won't have one, so I better get some use out of it while I can. The choppy wind swells were kind of heading out the harbor, so I followed along. Before the channel, I found an interesting sight. Anchored there was a red sloop with a big hammer and sickle on the bow. The name of the boat was Age of Russia out of one of the grads, either Lenin or Stalin. I'm not sure exactly what age of Russia it was supposed to represent, but it looked a bit worse for where although sea worth. They were flying a tattered American flag, though so perhaps they've found a new home.

It's been a long while since I've paddle around the buoy, but today was a good day for it. The swells got increasingly bigger the farther out I went and when I turned to round the buoy, they were getting quite large! I hung out just trying to keep my station against the wind and swells and found myself plowing through the troughs of the swells. I was having fun, but realized without radio or flares and with a sore back, I really wasn't prepared for taking on tough conditions. With no one around, even this close to the harbor it might take a while for any help to arrive should I find myself swimming. So I decided to head back in.

I took my time heading back to deal with the large swells now almost cresting on my beam. I started making a list of the stuff I should be carrying now that the weather has started to change. Global warming aside, I've been thinking it might finally be time to buy a paddling jacket, although I never seem to be able to wear one for more than 15 minutes. Mostly, I just want something to keep me warm till I get in the boat where I don't usually get too cold. But still, I'm getting old and despite wearing my wetsuit top, I was starting to feel a chill on the way home. The cold water finding its way down the back of my spine didn't help.

I paddled home close to the sea wall to get out of the wind, but with the low tide I was about ten feet down. As usual when I'm not always to enthusiastic to start a paddle, something on the water always seems to make me glad I did. With the boat still on the car, I'll gear up and hope some nasty conditions hang around for tomorrow. With procrastination always come the days of reckoning.

Day #96, Doing the Best with the Chocolate We Have
I like to make fudge, but it's best when you have others around to eat it. As good a reason as any to have a paddle. But when you promise chocolate, people can get a bit agitated when you don't deliver. So I was a bit worried last night when my fudge just didn't want to set up. I wanted a bit of coffee flavor, so I added about a cup o' joe to the mix and at the time it was supposed to turn into fudge, it was still languishing at about a heavy cake icing consistency. But with a good night's rest, it started to buck up in the morning even if it did leave a tasty residue on the fingers!

On the road, I roared by Henry and Kathy thinking they were Barb and Ken trying to steal my parking space at the Secret Beach. They headed to the CG beach and I got my primo spot by the sand. K&B soon arrived and I headed for the CGB to see who might be joining us. Kathy was on the beach, but because of the boat parade, the CG parking lot was closed, which made getting the boats down a piece of work. Carrying his boat down, Henry didn't look his usual perky self and it turned out he was fighting a bit of back pain. We figured we were it on the day, until John Clinton came hurrying down with minutes to spare.

Things went according to planned with just the low tide preventing us from getting too close to the rocks on shore. I was a beautiful day and I had removed my farmer john at the CG beach because it was so warm. The sky and water were both clear and we soon made BAR where John and I threaded the arch around the exposed rocks. Outside, Henry had decided that his back wasn't going to let him continue on to Crystal Cove, so he and Kathy were going to make a slow paddle home. Although devastated at the thought of missing the landing at Crystal Cove, Barb decided to keep them company, so just three of us paddled on. The wave being as small as they were, it wasn't easy for me to get to threatened as I paddled close in to shore, but Ken was sure one of the waves was bound to get me. I got side surfed once and got pretty wet, but it was nothing but good times.

We closed in on Crystal Cove and before we even landed, the beach loungers were already waving at us. When we landed, turns out it was George and Linda walking the beach after having a breakfast by the sea. It was nice to run into them and we chatted on the sand for a while. With the rest of our group already headed the other way, we couldn't stay too long on the sand, so we made uneventful launches and I braved in inside swells on the trip home. As I paddled along over the crystal clear water, I could see the green sea grass and the brown sea weeds and patches of barren sand. It kinda looked like my back yard!

Along the way, we ran into Howard and a couple other folk out for a kayak. I rolled a bit at Pirate's Cove, but was unable to roll my boat with the storm paddle I'd borrowed from Steve Wilson. I know it's not the paddle, because Ken could roll with it!! We continued on home and as we loaded up, Chuck and June showed up for a paddle and to take our primo parking spot. I got to unload a bit of fudge to them, then we headed to the Fireside for lunch and more chocolate.

Day #95,The Benefits of Paddling
It was an early morning for the start of the CKF benefit paddle for Lee Shurie. I was surprised at the crowd on the beach already when I showed up at 8a.m. I brought the GTS for the day, as rolling seemed the main intent on the day and I also hoped to try some of the other boats on the water.

There was lots to do to set up for the pot luck lunch and musical performance. I got my shade canopy set up to be waylaid by Barb to cover the food and left my musical gear in the shade to hit the water. There were a few new boats to check out: DeeAnn was showing off her new baidarka and Robert had a nice looking Yost folder.

Before I even got in my boat, Scott offered to let me try his Coho, so I took it out for a spin and roll. I joined the large group already rolling in boats usually other than their own! Next Chris let me take out his CLC. I'm not used to hard chine boats, but I rolled it OK, but found myself having quite a problem getting out on shore. Thankfully Steve W. and someone else grabbed me and extracted me from the cockpit.

As the social paddle got underway, I stayed onshore to better worry about my upcoming performance. Barb and I tuned up as the food got readied and then were treated to a short little guitar session from George, an excellent player. Of course, that only served to remind me of my limited skill set! Finally lunch was served and the crowd set down with their food for a bit of music.

Steve was great opening the show with the CKF song to get the crowd in the mood. Barb and Ken were next and showed they'd been busy writing and practicing a Lee inspired version of You've Got a Friend. I expected Bard to do a solo number as well, so I was off guard when she threw it to me for the next song. Despite my better judgment, I'd decided to try to play completely sober, which may have been a bad decision. My first song, Offside, didn't seem to go too bad if I ignored my shaking knees, heck I actually used them to keep time! My next song, Down by the Water, I wrote for the occasion and despite all my practice at home, I had a bit of trouble with it on the sand. I messed up the first couple verses, but despite being hazy on the rest, I think I got out most of the rest of the song.

Duane was up next strolling the sand and singing No Rudder, No Skeg, No Pick with his ukulele. He seemed a natural. The highlight of the day for me was joining Steve with my tambourine on his song Deep Trouble. Somewhere in all of this, I also brought out my uke for a rendition of the YouTube song Kayak Asshole and then Steve treated us to another song before handing things over to Steve H. to present Lee with the fruits of the afternoon. It was a great day on the water and sand and a nice testament to the friendliness of the CKF group.

Day #94, Ignoring a Bad Back
For no reason other than old age, I found myself dealing with a bit of back pain, but Ken convinced me that an easy paddle couldn't hurt and might actually limber me up a bit. So with Ken and Barb's help with my boat, we set out for a short paddle.

It was just a calm, beautiful day on the water and the paddle to BAR contained the usual chat. Barb and Ken filled me in on their Santa Cruz trip over TG and we quickly made it to BAR. Ken and I made a couple quick passes and I was surprised we all felt up to continue on to Crystal Cove.

At CC, Ken and I decided to land to stretch our legs, but Barb decided to stay out to sea. We both made quick work of our landings in the small shore break. A stiff breeze made standing on the beach quite cool, so we made our sojourn short and rejoined Barb for the paddle home.

The overcast sky made the water seem very dark, but it turned out their was a bit of a red tide as well. Ken and I both rolled to find ourselves in very brownish colored water. Still, we came back into the harbor and rolled a few more times at Pirate's Cove. Paddling home, the water got clearer and we were glad to find the dock open at the Secret Beach so we could all land without getting sandy!

Day #93, Turkey Leftovers
This Sunday, I joined a few folks for an apres TG paddle of unknown duration. Henry and Kathy planned the affair and we were joined by Ben, Pete, Dennis, George and Linda. The fog horns were blowin' and we headed in close to shore for the paddle down Crystal Cove way. Linda being a bit new to paddling, she, George and Ben decided to let the rest of us paddle on and stayed closer to the harbor.

The tide was high and as I was behind, I caught up with the group with a backwards pass through BAR. The ocean was very calm, so although always cautious, we paddled on without much worry. Pete and I found ourselves quite close to shore as we passed Pelican Point. This can be a tricky area and sure enough a big set decided to sneak up on us. Pete be out a bit farther had little trouble clearing the waves, but I got a bit drenched and caught some air scrambling over the set.

We made it to Crystal Cove and everyone seemed up to continue to Reef Point. My leg was starting to hurt, but I ignored it to continue on with the group. Reef Point in the calm high tide was barely a ripple; nothing like it can be in different conditions. We enjoyed the serenity for a while, then headed home. Our pace was quite conversational, which I don't usually mind, but my leg was bothering me more, so I left the group to sprint back home to ease my discomfort. Later, we all met up for a tasty debriefing at the Fireside.

Day #92, The Rare Barb Roll
All summer Ken and I tried to get Barb to practice rolling without much success, so I was surprised and pleased that despite the chilly water she joined us for some PC roll practice. Despite Harold's view of my suitibility for paddling a GTS, it was my boat on the day. I wanted something easy to roll and it fits the bill. Ken was in his Nordkapp with his Explorer becoming a distant memory. I was armed to the teeth with my Redondo Ridgeback, my GP, Duane's old CF canoe paddle and the worlds largest Norsaq.

Ken started the rolling early right off the beach and when we got to PC, he'd realized he'd lost his hat. To make him feel better, I decided to lose mine; it came off and decided to sink right away and despite Ken rolling upside down and looking for it with his mask, it had disappeared despite the clear water.

After a bit of conventional rolling, I broke out the canoe paddle and both Ken and I were able to roll with it. Ken and I both tried to throw out our shoulders using the giant Norsaq to no avail and so switched back to normal paddles. I did a couple offside rolls with my GP and Ken did a butterfly roll and Barb actually got some use out of her beanie with some nice rolling efforts. The chilly water finally started to find its way to our bones, so we headed out to TK Burger to stoke our furnaces!

Day #91, Big and Little Arch Rocknrolla
With Sunday spoken for this week, Ken and I decided to head out Saturday for a short paddle. My mind might be wandering, but I don't think I've paddled since the Rock Garden day in PV two weeks ago! I was glad to get away from the Santa Ana winds at home, if only to brave them down at the beach.

We headed out with the help of the breeze, but near the harbor mouth we saw what awaited our return. A group of outrigger paddlers were fighting the wind and tide and not making a whole lotta progress, but why worry about the future!

The tide was high and the ocean quite calm as we neared BAR. Things seemed mild, so I didn't bother scoping out the Rock before riding a small wave through the arch with Ken not far behind. I took up residence in the Arch when a big ol' wave came outta nowhere and I had to paddle out to meet it and caught some air on the backside. I was worried about Ken behind me, but he'd weathered out the storm. I stayed in the Arch, with the tidal surge really moving me around and some of the largest waves I've played in at BAR making their way in. Ken, out to sea, rolled around in the early forming swells. It was strange, because the waves everywhere else were small, but it seemed the angle was just perfect to funnel into the Arch and make some fun playtime.

We paddled home hugging the shore and the high tide made a Little Arch run possible. I checked it out for a while, but I promised to be nicer to the Lollygagger's gelcoat and so just tried to convince Ken to do it in his new plastic Nordkapp. The big sissy decided it was too early for his first scratch, but I kept heading in to show him how easy it'd be. All of a sudden, all the water drained out of the arch and my bow was hung up on the rock and over I went! I hurried my roll and lifted my head and blew it, but felt confident I'd make my second try, but now the tide had pushed me into the rock. I decided to just grab some rock and pull myself up, but as usual, that never works as easy as it should. Now I decided to eject and swim, mad that I'd missed my rolls when I knew I shouldn't have.

It wasn't pretty, but Ken helped me back in the boat none the worse for wear, except for a bit of gear I didn't realize I'd lost till we got back in the bay. We were real happy on the way back, because the wind had done a complete switcheroo and now was helping us get home. We stopped at PC so I could practice my missed roll and of course it worked fine. I turned out to be another great day on the crystal clear waters or Newport.

Day #90, Bumping into Rocks--On Purpose!!!
With raw sewage clogging the nooks and crannies of our intended destination, we switched today's rock garden party to the cleaner waters of White Point in Palos Verdes. Joining Jack and I were Duane, Ken, John Clinton and Jeandrew. We were joined for a short time by a couple of Sit on Toppers, but they decided close proximity rock play wasn't their cup of tea, so they opted for a shore paddle.

The tide was high and the waves were small as we set off from the cobble beach. Jack being the expert, we let him show us how best to enjoy the wave/rock combinations, but we were all soon following him. We found a nice rocky plateau getting a good wash over and we all took turns riding over it. Duane was in his Mini Benny and John and Ken were in big boats, while the rest of us were in WW boats. I had the RPM Max out for it's first rock work. Even the big boats made it over the rocks.

Most of the waves were small, but we did start getting a few big sets. On one big wave, I was fighting a couple different currents as I passed over the rocks and when I went over on the other side, I found myself upside down. The Max rolls really well and I got up just in time for a wave to wash me into another submerged rock, so I was glad to be upright.

We spent some time bobbing in the swells as they came into the rocky cliff and then just headed off to enjoy the different areas of White Point. John had a bit of trouble clearing one reef and took a swim, but Jack and I got him back in his boat real quick. Ken got swamped by a rogue ripple and had to combat up, but I didn't see any other rolling on the day as the sea took it pretty easy on us. We did have a few big waves roll in that gave us a scare, but everyone handled themselves admirably.

Can't forget to mention Jack's neatest trick on the day. He did a seal landing high up on a rock so he could get out of the boat, then carried it up higher on the rock face to do his seal launch. Depending on the where the wave was at the time, he had between a 6-10 foot fall, but I think he timed it at about 8 feet. It was quite a drop. I was thinking he might help me make one off a shorter section, but then we all saw the amount of plastic he left scraped on the rocks on his way down! I decided to save my RPM for another day where the rocks are a bit more forgiving then the sharp PV variety.

The guys in the big boats weren't shy to get into the same stuff as us short boaters. Duane handled the rock gardening chores easily with his GP. It was fun watching Ken and John fighting their braces as they traveled over the rocks. This was the first time I'd met Jeandrew and I have to say I was a bit afraid of her before I'd met her. I'd heard the stories of her leaving everyone in the dust on her paddles and figured she must be some kind of stern taskmaster with no time for fun. Guess I was wrong. I did start to feel sorry for her by the end of the day as it doesn't seem the poor girl can stop smiling!

I was glad for a short break back on shore. We chatted and chomped, but sitting around I already felt the tiredness creeping in. Duane said if we waited onshore any longer, we'd have to call it a day and no one was ready for that. We hit the water again and headed for the northern reef for more fun. The water here was washing up along the side of the rock instead of straight over, but that didn't stop Jack. He just followed it up like he was banking around a curve, but I think he made it look easier than it was. I rode the waves along side, but it was a bit unnerving to get too close. Finally, I got one ride where I got a good bump on the rocks and managed to make it out upright.

It was a short second outing before we started heading in. Of course we all decided to head over our first rocky plateau to end the day. We all made it over, although John decided to get in one more swim on the day. We got back to our cars in the almost deserted parking lot and headed out for the local Mexican restaurant. It was a great day on the water working on new skills and pushing the limits a bit. I think we all agree it's nice to have Jack around to show us the ropes.

Day #89, The Barb Special
Ken and Barb and I headed out under a beautiful sky this noon for some kind of paddle. It was a bit breezy and choppy and there were clouds in the sky as if summer was actually over. Barb suggested a harbor paddle, but we figured condition weren't so bad outside to skip the ocean.

On the way out, we ran into Chuck who was just returning from a paddle to Crystal Cove. After a quick chat, we continued on south. I sprinted out a head of my companions to make a couple BAR passes and on the second, K&B were there breaking. After a short one, Ken and I gave in to Barb's pleas and decided to head back into the channel and finish with a Balboa Island circumnavigation.

Along the way, there were assorted rolls and such. We stopped for a bit of nutrition when the sloop, Entropy snuck up behind us to moor. We chatted with it's Capt'n about the name of his boat, then continued on. Once we snuck past the ferry, things went quick and we were soon landing on the dock back at the Secret Beach.

Day #88, Quick Roll Session
Ken joined me this afternoon for quick roll session in the short boats. Ken's feeling optimistic lately and decided to stop calling his surf boat "The Death Boat". I'm not too sure just how optimistic he's feeling, as he changed the name to "Surf Coffin".

I was in my Dagger and although both boats are rather short, Ken had trouble keeping up with me as we headed to Pirate's Cove. We finally found what looked like some clean water and started rolling in earnest. Rolling the Dagger was pretty easy and I practiced some deep high braces. Ken knocked off a couple offside rolls which gave me the bug to try. My first one came up with some help off the bottom, so we headed out to deeper water and I knocked off my first true offside roll. Ken said it was best to stop with that success in the books, but he took a paddle in the Dagger for a try and then we called it a day.

Day #87, Role Model
When I made it to the Dune's this morning, there were already quite a few boats on the sand. As I signed my release form promising my third born child in case of accident, Kathy wondered if anyone else would be coming over from NAC. Right on cue, a group of at least 10 kayaks made their way under the bridge to join us. It was a big group!

There was a wide variety of skill levels represented at this Back in Your Boat event, but even the saltiest dog could glean some tasty morsel of wisdom. They say no publicity is bad publicity, so I guess I should be proud that Harold repeatedly chose ME as the role model of what NOT to do!! My recent trouble wet exiting reminded me that classes like today's still hold value to us long time paddlers and I was happy to share my travails. Chiefly, Harold thought I chose unwisely to be paddling a CD GTS High Volume boat as it was not a good fit for me, imagine his incredulity when I told him it isn't even the High Volume model! He didn't seem too placated by the good price I paid!!

Soon we hit the water and every one seemed to have a good time. There was plenty of help for anyone who needed it and it was fun to see some newer paddlers overcome their fears and get wet. The foggy morning relented and we were soon cavorting in the sunshine and everyone was busy giving advice as people worked on solo reentries. I'm glad to say, back in the Lollygagger, I had no problem falling out of my boat although my knee injury kept me from working too hard on the reentry work. Didn't matter though, as walking down the shoreline you couldn't miss finding someone trying some new trick of the trade.

The day seemed a great success and Harold and Kathy and all the helpers did a great job. The 2:00 ending time fell by the wayside as too many people were having fun to worry about the time. Amazingly Barb managed to get through the whole class without ever getting her hair wet!! It was a fun day and I'm glad my recent near death experience could be of such service!

Day #86, Just Another Day on the Water
Went out Saturday morn all by my lonesome. The tide was high, so I headed inside to paddle along the Corona del Mar rocks. While I was playing, I saw a large group of 10-12 kayakers making their way back to the jetty, probably the MeetUp.Com folk.

Finally remembered to bring my camera out to see how the new one works. The swells coming through BAR weren't real big, so I hung out and took a bit of video. Another nice day on the water.

Day #85, Stretching Out
Joined Ken and Barb for an extended paddle of all of 7NM. That's what passes for a long paddle these days! We found the Windward back in its usual spot and we didn't even stop at BAR either way! Along the way there was some occasional rolling, but mostly just straight on paddling. Still, it was a beautiful day to be on the water.

Day #84, Party Wave!!!
When I woke this morning, I walked around the house to make sure it hadn't landed on any wicked witches overnight. I wondered if Steve would still be making the long haul to San O with this wind, but a quick call told me it was a go.

A small wave forecast had me bringing the Lollygagger for this surf fest and it was real fun driving in the wind. Duane and Jack were already on the beach when I got there and soon we were joined by Steve, Dennis, Jake and Michael. Unfortunately, the forecast was correct, although there were some occasionally 2 1/2 footers.

I was the first on the water and got lucky catching a nice size outsider for the first ride of the day. We were hampered by the high tide and most people went into rolling practice mode. Rides started off few and far between. After a while, the tide went down and things picked up a bit. With the waves scarce, we tried to get as many boats on a wave as we could. As a prospect would head in, the call "party wave" would ring out and we'd line up to get a ride. Most waves had at leas four boats close together riding in. This was definitely a long boat day as you needed the speed to catch a wave, but once in it the rides were fun.

With the rudder down, the Lollygagger is fun to surf, but it was a bear to get turned around for the next wave with the wind blowing as it did. I'd pull the rudder up to turn the boat to get ready, but one time I forgot to put it down for the wave. The party almost got a little to close as my boat tried to head right into Duane. I planted a massive stern rudder and had to fight the whole way to get the boat pointed the other way. Saved Duane's life!!!

For a while, we got some nice sets and everyone tried to make the best of them. I got a nice ride and was able to keep in it as the wave reformed twice, but then found myself headed full speed right for the dreaded rocky San O shore. I bailed out at the last minute and figured it was a good time for a breather. I sat and watched the others share the party waves and it seemed like one of those scenes from a Gidget movie where she's riding in tandem on a long board with Moondoggie!

Soon the waves petered out and everyone headed to shore. We sat around eating our lunches with the beach almost to ourselves. The music portion of the day took a back seat to the conversation and sun, although Duane did bring out the uke for a live version of "No Rudder, No Skeg, No Pick" with Steve accompanying him on guitar. Everyone agreed Duane should have done the song like he did in the video-with no pants!!

No much longer and we'd all had enough sun, sand and wind. Despite the small waves, we all managed to have some fun with carnage pretty much impossible! We loaded up to fight the wind on the drive home.

Day #83, A Different Angle
It was just like old times Sunday when I hit the water around 8:30 in the morning and ran into the early paddle group coming home. K&B and H&K and George and Ben and who else all. They were in rolling mode, being as they were done with their paddle. At chatted a few minutes and headed out to put a few miles in.

I had a bit of help heading out with the Santa Ana winds at my back, although the day was cool. I was making pretty good time as I was trying my best to keep up with a surf ski ahead of me. I thought it seemed strange as I neared BAR that I could hardly recognize my favorite rock. I tried to figure out why it looked so different and then realize I was looking at if from much farther out to sea than I usually do because the SA winds had pushed me so far offshore.

I passed up BAR and headed on in to Toxic Creek Beach to hang out in the shore break. Waves were pretty small so I didn't pay them much mind-taking on a few at an angle that pushed me around a bit. All of a sudden, a rogue wave must have sneaked in and I found myself backsurfing at quite a clip. I ended up getting knocked over and found myself groveling in the sand just like old times. I took a nice break on the sand enjoying the view.

There was no excitement on the way back. I used a bit of the waves coming in the jetty to counter act the wind blowing out. I kept up a good pace and was back on the beach in no time.

Day #82, Windward Worries
I was supposed to meet Ken at the Secret Beach at 2pm, but I guess it slipped his mind. We were going to put in a few more miles than we've been doing lately to get in better shape. Without someone there to push me, I figured I wouldn't make it pass BAR, but at least I decided to pick up the pace to get a bit of a workout.

It helped that there was a stiff breeze pushing against me as I made my way out of the jetty. The day was cool and overcast, just like I like it. As I headed out, my mind wandered to a small blurb in the Register the day before. A boat moored outside the jetty in front of Corona del Mar beach had sunk! If it was my favorite, the Windward, I figured I'd have to start making alternate retirement plans. As I passed around the jetty, I closed my eyes hoping to see the old hulk in its usual spot, but when I opened them, my heart sank too! Just empty sea where the Windward used to be.

I kept up my good pace heading for BAR against the wind and a peekid quartering head sea. I got plenty of spray in my face to keep me cool. For some reason, the Harbor Patrol boat was hanging out at BAR Cove, but they turned tail and ran as I slid on back for a look see. I put in a bit of churn time and started my quick paddle home.

With the wind at my back, I made quick work of the harbor. I asked a couple Harbor Patrol people at the station whether they knew the name of the boat that sank, but they weren't sure. I asked if it was the Windward and one of them told me no, that the Windward was moored in the harbor for a couple days. I was glad to hear it and he expressed some affinity for the aging hulk as well. Still, some other intrepid hulk sailor must have lost his home to the sea, a sad shanty indeed.

Day #81, Maxed Out at San O
In more ways than one!

Ken and I planned to meet at San O this noon, so I decided to take the RPM Max out for its first paddle. I removed the thigh braces and put on a different backband, but I know it needs a bit more outfitting to fit me well, but I just wanted to give it a run.

From shore, San O looked pretty big, but Ken and I planned to hang out in the middle area to avoid the big waves. There was a mean little shore break crashing on the rocks on the shore that made it hard for me to get out, but I finally made it. When Ken joined me, we spent some time rolling in the mush and the Max seemed to roll pretty easy.

I usually find the first day back to surfing after a long layoff pretty tiring, and that was the case today. I'm sure it has something to do with the lack of miles I've been putting in lately, with most of my outings being rolling practice or leisurely BAR jaunts. I hope to get in a lot of surfing this winter, so I need to step up the training to get in shape.

Although the outsiders looked big, the waves closer in lacked the good shape to give a good ride, so I had to head out farther. The Max handled getting through the white water nicely. I caught a few nice big waves and the boat handled the way I figured it would. With the round chines, there was no way to get a line on the waves, so most of the rides were right into shore. It was easy though to get the boat turned back straight after the wave spun me around a bit. I expect to use this boat more for rock gardening, but I was glad to find out what it could do in the surf.

We weren't out a long time, but I decide to head in to try to adjust the boat a bit. With the big cockpit on the Max, I decided to forgo my usual San O wet exit landing and rode a small wave onto shore. I should have practiced my exit a bit more on the beach!!. My initial landing went well, but I still wasn't getting out as fast as I needed to. Another wave came in and filled the boat with water and right as I exited it spun the boat around. Now I was shoreside of a filled boat with a wave coming that I knew was going to take me out. Never one for graceful exits, this time I got bowled over and found myself groveling in the painful San O cobbles. It took a while to get the boat to shore, then I had to hurry over to help Ken.

I got to Ken just as he came in smartly on a small wave. With the backwash a problem, I'd hoped to hold onto his boat to help him out. But the Death Boat has no line on the front and I was powerless as the wash sucked him back out to sea. I hoped he'd head back out to wait for a new opportunity, but he hung out in the shore break and a big ol' nasty fella came along. I'm probably wrong, but it looked twice as high as Ken. Soon Ken was upside down testing the limits of his Gath helmet!!

Finally we dragged our sorry carcasses on to shore and decided that was enough fun for the day. We sat and ate our lunches, sure we'd provided plenty of excitement for the shore crowd. Not the kind of day we'd hoped to have, but every day in the surf is a learning experience. Our pride I'm sure will heal, probably sooner than my knee which took a pretty good tweaking, actually I think my first real kayak injury.

So now I plan to get out and put some mile on my boat to get in shape for a busy San O year. I imagine I'll be back in the Delfin, or maybe bring down the Lollygagger for a few rides. I think it's safe to say there will be more groveling for me in the San O shore break.

Day #80, Kayakapalooza
As the hours passed by the Campland quiet time limit, the large group gathered around the campfire refused to leave as Steve Wilson continued to sing in muted tones to keep the dreaded rangers at bay. It helped that some of the neighboring campers were still up enjoying the show as well as the rest of us!

We were in San Diego for Aqua Adventures' 20th anniversary party on Saturday and we wanted to get the festivities started a bit earlier. It didn't hurt that Steve and I had both celebrated our B'day on Wednesday. We figured this was a great night for the guitar shindig we've trying to have for quite a while. Steve and Alice hosted with their dog Sandy making new friends. Barb and Ken were on hand and brought the spicy spaghetti to feed all comers. Howard and Sharon were there and Mike and Ines showed up after dinner. So we started off small as we brought out the guitars.

Barb and I started things off with a kayak converted sea shanty called "Kayakers Holiday". After that the three of us took turn playing. Barb and Ken sang a nice duet and Steve concentrated on a lot of songs he hasn't sung for a while. Things lightened up a bit and I brought out a bag of percussion instruments for people to join in. We had maracas, tambourine, guiro, cow bell and I even got into some washboard action. Ines took a shine to the maracas and Sharon played tambo and Ken stroked the guiro while I added a bit with the bell. Steve's songs really lent themselves to the new percussion section.

We stopped for a while for a cake break, but we were still ready to play on when Jen and her dad, Jake and others from AA arrived to join the fun. Rouge Otter Jerry Sparks and his wife, Sara, even made it down. Steve had to dig deep into his endless repertoire and we all added a few more songs. I did about 10 songs on guitar in all, although I honored a request NOT to play Foul Owl on the Prowl. I even pulled out the ukulele for four songs. As the camp quieted down, we were better able to enjoy Barb's singing and playing and as the night went on, Steve's songs took on a quieter, more intimate nature. I could have stayed all night, but finally we all had to call it quits.

The next day we headed over to AA for a kayak treasure hunt. While the others were doing the hunting, I spent the morn sitting in various kayak and took a Tempest 170 out for a long trial. I really liked its maneuverability and rolling capabilities. Back at the shop, Steve was set up for more music, as tasty free burgers just seemed to appear at my table. In between songs, they had a "raffle" that really just seems a way to give out free stuff and no one left empty handed. With family coming to town, I had to leave before the party ended, but after three burger-one hand cooked by Jen herself!!-I had to head home.

I enjoyed my time on the water trying out a new boat, but the weekend was really meant to celebrate Aqua Adventures' milestone and appreciate Jen's contribution to our kayak community. Getting to play with Steve and Barb was a great experience and I can only hope my efforts were half way decent. Listening to Steve play is always inspiring and the chance to get together to play with him and Barb made for a great B'day week.

Days #78&79, An Eventful 52nd Birthday
With my better half in Hawaii, I decided to spend my birthday on the beach at Doheny State Beach. I got lucky and found an end campsite on the beach with two nights available--I think the best site at the park. The twenty or so beachfront sites all have a sand berm in front of them to keep the tide out, so you can't see the ocean from your camp, but my sight had a clear view of the coast to the south.

I arrived at about 3pm on Tuesaday and the beach seemed hotter than my house had been. I had to fight the strong wind to put up my shade canopy and then took my chair to sit at the waterside with the water lapping at my toesies. After a couple hours chilling seaside, Ken and Barb showed up to join me for dinner. While the sun went down and the fire readied for our tasty burgers, Barb and I got out the guitars to practice for this Friday's Kayakalooza Concert at San Diego. Ken joined in on a song and manned the percussion duties. Afterwards, they joined me for B'day cake a day early.

Barb headed home after dinner, but Ken wanted to stay and try out his new tent. Well he calls it a tent, I thought a better description would be a shroud! It's a tiny, diamond shape thing that I doubt would fit me, but he seemed to enjoy it. In the morning, stoked with bacon, we hit the water, me in the Lollygagger and Ken in his Wold surf boat he calls "the Death Boat". He'd had a bit of trouble with it a while back and it's been sitting in his garage ever since, so he wanted to try rolling it in some easy conditions. He was able to roll on and off side with his GP, so we made a date to hit San O this Tuesday. Back in my QCC, I was a bit worried about my rolling as well, but it seems my time and success at rolling the GTS has paid dividends with the Lollygagger. I was rolling real well, even with my Redondo Ridgeback paddle non extended, which was new to me. I also had put a new backband on the boat that may allow me to get a bit more back lean than I'd gotten before. Whatever it is, I'll take it.

After our underwater time, Ken decided to hit the road and I soon got a call from the "dog locator" people telling me someone had found my dog Otto! I'd left him at my friend Janet's house, so I called her to ask how he was doing!! She said he was just fine and I told her he wasn't even there!! Turns out he'd gotten out and headed to a neighbors house who called the number on his tags and soon he was back at Janet's with her assurance he wouldn't get out again.

I spent the day in the shade napping and playing guitar and Janet joined me later that night to help me eat hot dogs around the fire. This was going to be my last hot meal, as I'd used up all my charcoal and Ken had blown up my Coleman stove at breakfast! When Janet left, I headed for my tent and another night sleeping with the Doheny shore break crashing on one side and the Amtrak and freight trains clattering on the other and with nothing above but stars. I was a bit worried without Ken there to guard my kayak, so I tied it to a tree with a tambourine tied to the rope and put a cow bell inside the cockpit. I figured if someone tried to steal it, I wake up to the sound of a one man band!

With no one to attend to in the morning, I could sleep in till the sun had warmed my tent. With nothing to eat for breakfast, I shut up camp before taking the boat out for a final paddle. Dana Point is not my favorite paddling destination, but it was still pretty seeing the city with the trains going by. Far off the shore, I used my camp soap to shampoo my head and used my new rolling prowess to rinse and repeat. I'd just finished my jaunt and was ready to leave when I got the call and found out my dog had been busted by the Westminster Police and I headed down to bail him out.

A link to a few of Ken's Photos

Day #77, Le Petite Rolle
Hit the water for a short roll practice, so after four rolls I called it a day. Seems I've reached the third level of irony in that I now have a boat I feel I can roll anytime, but now I'm worried about wet exits!!! I decided to hold off on any more rolling till I can convince myself I can get out of this boat just as easy as I can roll it and I'd rather have some folks around as witnesses. Still, it was nice to get wet on a short paddle.

Day #76, Harkening Back
For most of my years of kayaking, I kayaked alone. Like today, I'd often hit the water around four in the afternoon and paddle a peaceful ocean. Mostly nowadays I share the water with someone. Today was the first time in quite a while that I head out after work to enjoy some solo time on the water.

I was still a bit trepidilliatous heading out with the GTS after my last sticky wet exit, but I cut off the thigh braces and figured I'd be OK. Nevertheless, I decided to try to stay upright today. The ocean was rather calm, but the occasional small swell breaking across my bow seemed to tell me the GTS is going to be a rather wet ride. That's OK, that's the way I like it! I was nice to be in a lower volume boat, seemingly more connected with the ocean while I paddled. I hung out in the arch at BAR with the small swells coming through listening to the myriad sounds of the water lapping around the nooks and crannies.

There were no theatrics on the day, just a peaceful paddled that reminded me of how much I enjoyed all my past solo paddles.

Day #75, There Will be a Day 76
Last Thursday I took the GTS out for a short spin with Ken and Barb. I had removed the FG seat supports, so I fit a whole lot better, although the thigh braces still gave me concern. It was the first time I've had the boat out of the harbor and we moseyed over to BAR.

There was just enough water to make some passes through BAR and the boat seemed to handle the churning swells pretty good. Ken and I rolled in the cove without any trouble, then we headed back in. At Pirate's Cove we continued rolling and I practiced a wet exit so Ken could try out my boat. He said it rolled well, but was hard to turn, which seems to describe it to a tee.

Back at the Secret Beach, the dock was free so K&B used it to land on. I decided to do another wet exit right by the shore. Now I'm feeling lucky to be writing this! My feet had slipped off my pegs and with my legs tight in the braces, I couldn't get them back on. Without something to push on, I found myself upside down and having trouble getting out. I think I was mostly out of the boat, but my legs were leveraged against the braces and wouldn't come out. I felt a twinge of panic starting, but was actually able to roll up enough to grab a breath and then while upside down again, concentrate on freeing my legs. When I came up a concerned Barb was watching from the dock almost ready to come in after me. It quickly made me realize how even experienced paddlers can get into trouble. Both this boat and my Delfin are tight fits for me, but at least on the Delfin, I've removed the thigh braces. That will be my next mod on the GTS before it goes out again.

I've always been careful to practice my first wet exit from a boat with people around, but once I've shown I could do it, I've taken them for granted. Might be time to consider some other possible entanglements and practice this most basic of moves more often.

Day #74, Two Timing
The lure of my new boat was too strong, so I thought I'd take it out for a bit of rolling practice. Leaving my QCC behind, I felt like a man who leaves his younger wife with a few extra pounds at home to gad about with an older woman with long lean curves. Of course, sometimes a man just wants to paddle some strange!

Squoze into my too tight cockpit, I headed over to Pirate's Cove where Duane and Bob were already practicing. Duane kept an eye on me for my first roll, being as I was shoehorned in, but I rolled up with ease. My GTS has a relatively high back deck, but not nearly as high as my QCC, so I could lean back on my rolls. Rolling became a foregone conclusion that was never the case with my QCC. I tried offside rolls and butterfly rolls; didn't make any of them, but came close! I'm sure if I had Ken's Superior cheater stick, I might have made a butterfly! But when you're sure you can roll up on your good side, you feel more confident to work on the trickier rolls.

Bob and Duane gave me a few more pointers to add to my new found success. Those two were rolling fast and furious and it didn't take too long for us to tire of rolling. I didn't plan to stay in my boat too long until I get it outfitted to fit my large posterior, so I was happy to quit. Other than the ease of rolling, I didn't do much to find out how the new boat handles. A little more work and I hope to have it ready for more sea trials.

Day #73, Low Volume Head
I was tardy reaching the Secret Beach for my paddle with Ken and Barb and they were ready to go when I pulled up. The start of school eased the parking situation for us and the day was a hot one. While Ken took to the water, Barb helped me unload my boat and soon we were under way.

Barb told me Ken was excited about his new discovery-his new Gath helmet fits in his day hatch. He was suggesting that it showed his day hatch to be of a high volume, but I thought there might be an alternate conclusion!!!

Sissies that we are, we just fell into a BAR paddle without any suggestion of paddling farther. It was a beautiful day and I paddled in close to shore despite the long period swells rolling on to the beach. Just past Little Corona, there were a couple surfers catching some nice waves-the first time I've ever seen someone surfing this area.

We continued on to BAR where I was up to my usual antics and Ken and Barb played farther out. I called Ken into the cove for some rough water rolling, but just as he showed up, a nasty wave came in and dissuaded us from playing there. We moved out to deeper water where after success rolling with my Ridgeback, I found myself swimming when I missed with my GP. Seemed a good time for a rough water T rescue and I was back in in no time. On the way back in, Barb tested out her new knee pads with a roll outside the jetty and then we headed back inside.

Back at Pirate's Cove we continued our wet work and feeling cocky, I decided to try a roll even Duane has never done. Holding both my Ridgeback and my GP, I tried a double paddle roll. It was going good until I lifted my head to celebrate and over I went. Swimming once again, Ken decided to bogart my new roll and now owns the claim to fame of being the first to master it. Once again I paddle in obscurity!

After a bit more practice, we headed home. While we were packing up, we were chatted up by a lady who used to kayak back on the east coast and is hoping to get back into it. K&B gave her all the info about the club, so we may be seeing her on the water sometime. Another nice day on the water.

Day #72, The Best Hot Dog Paddle Ever Attended by a Clinton
Ken's plan for a Hot Dog Paddle was a rather last minute thing this week, so it's understandable that most of the regulars had other plans on the day. Even the irregulars couldn't make it! So when we left the Secret Beach a bit before 6, we figured it was just me, Barb and Ken. Even so we peeked at the Coast Guard beach to look for any familiar faces, but only saw an unmanned kayak. However, the helmet on the deck suggested to me someone geared for some heavy hot dog eating and sure enough, John Clinton came running down the beach to join us.

We head out paddling under the docks with little room to spare with the tide already very high. Barb and Ken had never paddled with John before, so he was in for some intense interrogation under the bright sky. We made quick work of the harbor and with the high tide I headed by Little Arch Rock to see if conditions were right for a rare pass through. In keeping with my intent to be a bit kinder to my boat, I skipped any attempt as the tide was still about a foot low to even hope to make anything like a clean pass. The tide was plenty high to pass in through the back way at BAR though, or so I thought. I made it, but added a new scratch when a wave sucked me high and dry on heretofore submerged rock. I made a couple passes and hurried to catch up the group.

The sets rolling on shore at Crystal Cove weren't very big, but a couple were big enough to cause a bit of carnage. John and I head in together and while he landed like a pro, I did my usual groveling in the sand exit. We both head over to help Barb with her landing just as Ken tried to send her in on top of one of the biggest sets coming through. The look on our faces and our frantic signs to stay back stopped her in her tracks and she found a more manageable wave to come in on top of.

In no time we had the Hebrew Nationals simmering on the cast iron skillet as the sun bathed the ocean with an orange glow. I got the impression John might be a hot dog eating contestant, as while we all had sodas, he preferred straight water with his dog. At least he didn't soak the bun in the water and eat it separate from the wiener! When we were done, there was one last furter, wrinkled and dejected begging for a home, but found no takers. I can't say what we did with him on this forum; you'll have to attend the next hot dog paddle to find out! The sun was heading down quick, so we all got launched safely and headed home. I took the inside stealth passage, while Barb had the others heading toward Catalina. With the sun quite faded away and me with only my prescription sunglasses, the ocean looked quite dark, but I could still see the three off on my left. After a while, I worried they might not see me, so gave them a flash of my light to let them know I was OK. As I paddle right off the wave line, a dolphin came up and followed me for quite a while. I would come up to breathe right of my bow and didn't try to hurry off. I veered over the others and he followed me along, although he shied of the bigger group. Soon we made our way in through the dark harbor. We said goodbye to John at the CGB and thanked him for joining us. We were expecting a rather sedate affair, but some new blood provided a new ear to hear all our twice told tales. In the end even John had to admit it was the best Hot Dog Paddle he'd ever been on. A nice chat and paddle and most importantly, we all got our minimum daily requirement of vitamin HD!

Day #71, More Rolling
At the reasonable hour of 9am a group of five set out for rolling practice in the pristine water of Dana Point harbor. Kathy, Henry, Barb, Ken, Duane and I were all dressed for wet success and beelined to the shoals area to try to keep out of the way of most of the boat traffic. H&K did a short warm up paddle while Duane went right into his rolling bag of tricks and Ken decided to try a cowboy reentry in the shipping lane! Barb and I seemed the most reluctant to inversion. I had my Redondo Ridgeback paddle, which has never been a guaranteed roll for me, but I'd been having some success of late and it continued with the RR.

The sandbar had built up quite wide so we were forced to practice a ways from the jetty. Everyone was working and we were joined by Howard as well. I had switched to my GP and my success led me to try a few little tweaks to see what would happen. So I'm swimming and figure why not try out a cowboy reentry. It's not something I ever practice figuring with my high and wide boat, it's never going to be my go to reentry, but seemed like fun anyway. I'm used to people trying to give me advice on my roll, but I was surprised to be bombarded with advice on how to succeed with my cowboy. We only had 6 people on the water, but I think I had at least 8 people telling me what to do! I could have had more success rolling with a digeridoo! After a while, Kathy asked if she could try a cowboy in my boat. She quickly realized how my high back deck can be a problem, but was soon inching her way in from the stern and made it in. Back in my boat, I was able to get close enough to get my feet in, but fell in at the last second and resorted to other methods to get upright to continue my rolling.

When he wasn't giving Barb advice, Duane was working on his behind the back roll and on the day was able to stick 5 of them on either side. Barb finally got rolling with her GP and despite the wind blowing us all around, we were all having fun. It was about 2 hours before we'd all had enough of the wind and wet and decided to call it a day. It was a productive day on the water and we recapped events for almost another hour in the parking lot while munching on snacks and goodies. We finally departed to escape the evil eyes from the people lusting for our parking spaces.

Day #70, Easy Breezy
Ken and Barb were heading out for an afternoon paddle Thursday, so I tagged along. It was a nice breezy day and the tide was up, so I figured it would be a good day to spend some time at BAR. Along the way, Ken stopped outside the jetty to try some reentry work, but his cowboy got loose in the chop and he had to resort to a reentry roll. BAR was just about perfect to hang out at with a bit of a swell coming through on occasion and enough water to avoid the rocks.

Ken was trying to sell me one of his old paddles and gave it to me on the day to test out. All along our paddle, he said I was paddling faster than ever before, of course attributing it all to the paddle! Behind BAR I tried a roll with it and being as I didn't want to give it back to him in two pieces, I didn't try an extended roll. I came up pretty good, maybe because the paddle is a little longer that what I usually use. Of course, Ken said it was all the paddle and it even made me look ten pounds thinner!

Back in the harbor even Barb was feeling ambitious so we did a bit more rolling practice. I switched to my GP and was glad to have my roll back, for what it's worth! Barb was rolling fine and Ken was able to stick an offside roll after a few tries. We quit while we were ahead and paddled back happy with another beautiful day on the water.

Day #69, Redemption?
I donned my wetsuit top to join Duane's rolling practice at Newport this morning. Paddling to our rolling area in that straight jacket didn't help my mood any! I didn't have high expectations after my rolling practice last Tuesday, but I was sure my roll wouldn't get any better sitting at home!

The group let me join them a bit late despite the fact I'd missed the ever important safety talk before the launch. I'm sure it had something to do with the human body's preference not to breathe sea water. Duane, Bob, Barb, Ken, Henry and Kathy were already rolling when I showed up at the cove. Well, Barb was just there as an observer, as she was battling a cough and already has this rolling thing down to a science!

Not wanting to swim right a way, I settled for working on bracing and sculling strokes with my GP, while everyone else was busy with the real deal. Duane was demoing and giving advice on some of the trickier rolls he does. Bob and Duane, of course made it all look easy, but everyone acquitted themselves well. I finally took the plunge and rolled up alright, but it would take a few more tries to regain my confidence. I miss my Onno, which has always been pretty good to me roll wise, but I was having some luck with the GP today.

I was doing just fine for a while, until Henry decided to give me some advice!!! I had meant to state right up front that I didn't want any advice on the day, as it usually ends up crowding my overloaded brain. So I took my first swim, but actually later, I tried something Henry told me to do and it actually seemed to help my roll a bit, so I forgive his earlier faux pas! Several folk were trying the Butterfly Roll, but I'm not sure how many found success, but trying new stuff was the order of the day.

I was trying some Cowboy Reentries and Henry asked if I'd like to try his boat, a Tempest 165 Roto. I was surprised I could get in, although the hip pads kept me from getting all the way back in the seat. The front deck was a bit low for me, but I liked being able to lean back for rolling. Henry didn't seem interested in trying my boat, but Bob did, so Bob took out my QCC while Henry tried out his rolling machine. I don't think Henry lasted long in Bob's boat, but Bob was putting mine through his rolling routines. He didn't have too much trouble, although he did end up taking a swim and got to find out how fun it is to try to climb back into a high volume kayak. Of course, Duane decided to take up the challenge and give my boat a try too. He looked like he was paddling a battleship, but was able to do some nice rolls as well. He soon tired of my boat and as I got back in, I heard words like "tippy" and "bathtub" bandied about and a few other choice comments under someone's breath that I was unable to ascertain!

With that everyone had enough rolling and we head out to reassemble at Java City. My bad mood had disappeared with my rolling success, although I admit I stayed the whole morning with my Greenland Cheater Stick! It was a fun morning on and in the water and we never left the harbor. I sure on his way home Duane was hoping secretly someone would buy him a QCC for his birthday!

Day #68, A Conundrum
The best way to describe today's paddle is to tell that Ken begged not to have to write the trip report so he wouldn't have to describe how pathetic my rolling was today!

We finally had a day that it was hot enough that when you got to the beach, you wanted to be upside down in the water! It's been the day I've been waiting for all summer to get in some rolling practice. Fresh off our endless paddles, Ken and I were happy for a paddle that need not ever leave the harbor. We set off for Pirate's Cove and passed a beautiful new ocean catamaran called "Hula Girl" that just hit the water this week.

PC was crawling with sand urchins as we set up practice. Ken had his Superior GP and started off fine. I had my Redondo Ridgeback, which I'm not positive I've ever rolled with, but hoped some practice today would have me rolling like Duane. I also had my homemade GP and my BK freebee to back me up. On my first attempt, I realized an interesting conundrum. On hot days when you want to roll, you need to put on a lot of sunscreen. Sunscreen on you hands holding onto a slick wooden paddle tend to slip at the most inopportune moment. On two attempts, at the top of my roll, the paddle slipped out of my hands and I was soon enjoying the cool water of Newport Harbor.

A couple reentry rolls got me nowhere, so I used Ken's bow to right myself and let my pump clear out the boat. I figured I'd better get in a good frame of mind before continuing, so I borrowed Ken's Superior and knocked off a couple rolls. Of course, using a Superior GP is like doing a paddle float roll, but I was happy for anything at the time. Ready to go again, I pulled my GP out of my quiver. Once again, at the top of my roll, my paddle went flying and I was once again swimming. Ken on the other hand was having no trouble rolling in his Shadow and had plenty of advice to solve my rolling problem. Sadly, there was no answer to be had. I can only conclude that all the miles I've been putting in lately have ruined me for the true purpose of kayaking--rolling! I was one for four with the paddles I had today and my only success came on the one I didn't bring! I'm of the mind that it's easier to roll when the water's freezing cold and you have some incentive, because I felt great swimming in the water today. All in all, I'm not too worried; I guess I just need to get out on my own and do some practice. I'm still hoping to someday have an easier rolling boat, but in the mean time, maybe Jeff Libby could give me some pointers. I heard someone taught him how to roll lately!

Day #67, Concentration
I guess I've lost my short term memory. Didn't I say no more long paddles after my Catalina trip? And the Santa Barbara trek? I know I said it after last weeks Dana Point to Oceanside 23+NM paddle extravaganza. But here I was leaving my house this morning at 5am to pick up Ken to join the Rogue Otters for their paddle from Oceanside to La Jolla. Perhaps conventional otters are good with math, but the Rogue Otters seem to make up numbers willy nilly to suit there needs and so told me this paddle would be shorter than the last one. Of course you've got to have pity on poor Ken, after two weeks in Switzerland, when I told him we'd be doing 20+ miles, he thought I said kilometers!!!

I begged the ROs to give us an extra half hour this morning, so they moved the launch time to 7:30. Of course, Ken being the early bird that he is, his schedule got us there close to 6:30, so I wasted a half hour of sleep I could have used dearly. Ken and I were about ready to go when the ROs showed up chauffeured by Dennis Hyndman. My hope was after several days of revelry at Casa Hyndman, the ROs would be so bloated and out of shape, the paddle would be a slow one. Brett even assured me he was looking for a slower pace than our last paddle and Ken and I were totally up for that.

The morning started out quite similar to our last paddle. We exited the harbor glad to be greeted my glassy seas, cloudy skies and a hint of breeze to keep us cool. To the south was nothing but mist, our destination shrouded in unknown miles. Brett's short term memory seems to be a problem as well as he lead the group out at a blistering pace. When I paddled up to ask him about his burst of energy, he told me he wasn't feeling well. He said when he's feeling bad, he likes to paddle fast to burn it out of his system! I guess that's Rogue Otter logic for ya!

Ken and I took up positions to contain any stragglers and we settled down to business. We passed by a curious looking work boat with a covered deck that seemed to be missing a transom. Upon closer inspection we could see the crew was working on what could only be a miniature version of the Beatles yellow submarine. In fact, the captain did seem to have a rather big nose, it could have been Ringo. By our second hour stop, we'd logged 8NM.

Dennis and the Otters seemed to take turns in the lead, while at the back, Ken and I wondered what we'd gotten ourselves into. We put all our hopes into the planned stop for lunch at Cardiff by the Sea. If worse came to worse, we could pretend to fall down the stairs at the restaurant and bug out early. We had had to beg Barb to pass on this paddle so she could come pick us up at the end, so it wouldn't hurt to reward her sacrifice to make her drive a few less miles. CbtS was a beautiful sight, even more so with the 12NM under our belt. There were some nice sets rolling in, but I stormed the beach and the only excitement was watching an Otter that took a swim in the surf zone. Lunch was a tasty respite on a cool patio that soothed our aches and lulled us into the false notion that continuing on to La Jolla was a good idea. That decision was aided by more fuzzy math, with someone suggesting that LJ was maybe only 7NM away. Ignoring reality we all launched safely through the surf.

The next 12NM were a long slog, but I was feeling better than the first. The coast was a bit more interesting and our short walk had eased my sore legs. I paddle right outside the shore break keeping out of the way of the many surfers. Ken and I resolved ourselves to watching Dennis and the ROs off in the distance and tried not to whine too much. The sun had come out and it got a bit warm, but it at least cleared up enough that far in the distance we could finally see La Jolla. Passing the pier was a welcome milestone and the busy beach beckoned us to shore.

Despite her disappointment at missing the paddle, Barb was parked at the boat launch with a cooler full of sodas and chips and salsa for a tired crew. I say tired crew although Dennis and the ROs looked like they could have headed on for dinner in Mexico, but Ken and I were glad to load up and say goodbye. Once again it was great joining them on the water. This turned out to be Ken's longest paddle of his fledgling kayak career with his GPS showing 25NM, while my identical unit said 24. Who cares! Ken was nice enough to accompany me on this paddle despite a three week layoff from paddling, but I'm not sure he'll ever go on a long paddle again. Of course, I said that last week!

Day #66, Chillin' with the Otters
Eight of us were undaunted by an early morning shuttle or the 22NM nature of our paddle from Dana Point to Oceanside this morning. It was our chance to paddle with Rogue Otters Jerry and Brett to help celebrate the final days of their epic paddle. My vow to give up long paddles after my Catalina milestone seems to have fallen by the wayside after last weeks SB paddling and today's challenge. Still it was a beautiful morn as we headed south under cloudy skies.

Who knew otters could talk so well! We were regaled with stories non stop for the first hour. For some reason, the talk died for a short time and Duane reminded us that this paddle was too long to run out of conversation already! He was right; as soon as the talk had died, I was thinking about how many miles and hours lay before us. No worries, the chat started again and was never too far away during the rest of the paddle.

We were soon passing close by to Trestles where many surfers were out enjoying the nice waves. Although we were pretty far out, a lifeguard informed us that kayaks weren't allowed in the area and asked us to head out least a "rogue" wave knock us to shore! We figure he was just showing off for his surfer friends! We continued on to San O where I snuck in to the kayak surf area to catch a nice ride. With my fancy camera in my cockpit, I decided to limit myself to the one good ride and headed back out through the incoming sets as Duane came in for a ride. I was able to punch through a couple nice waves to get a bit of air on the back side--well worth the three hours to get there!

We continued on past the unrelenting shore. As we closed in on Camp Pendleton, we could see a Navy hovercraft way up ahead shooting up plumes of water. We paddled on thinking a patrol boat would show up at any minute to kick us out of the area, but Honorary Rogue Otters for the day, we didn't care! Ahead in the mist we could just make out the tall condos that marked the Oceanside harbor.

An hour away from the harbor, Jerry decided to head out solo for a little speed work. I don't care if he did just paddle 1200 miles, I wasn't gonna let him dis us CKF paddlers, so I headed out with him. I may have had to work a bit harder to keep the pace than he did, but we were moving pretty good there for a while. At our last break, I had asked Duane for some Advil because of some pain in my leg and trying to keep up with Jerry helped me forget it. It was nice to have Jerry alone to hear more of his amazing trip.

We decided to hold up and soon the group caught up so we could make the harbor entry together. The water around the harbor entrance was a bit messy, but the water was warm and felt great coming over my bow. It was a busy harbor as we paddled over to the dock to land and I'm sure we were all sad it ended so quickly!!! Despite their many travels and the long day, the Rogue Otters carried my boat up ramp to the parking lot and while I took my gear to Duane's car, I was more than happy when Dennis and Dave carried my boat to the car! Dave said "it sounded like a good idea at the time, but now it just seems stupid"!

It had been an epic paddle, my longest to date. Jerry and Brett were always full of stories which made the time go by nicely. I loaded up with Duane for the trip home and as we headed out, we saw the Otters, stuck till Dennis came back from Doheny with the Car. Duane gave them one last blow on the conch shell. Of course, the Otters had already made friends with some guy in an RV and he pulled out a plastic horn to give Duane as good as he gave. A fitting end to a great paddle.

Day #65, Naples Point

Don't know how I forgot to write up this paddle, but better late than never.

Tired as I was the day before after the Refugio to Gaviota paddle, I thought of heading home, but the joy of sleeping in my car one more day overcame me, so I stayed for another paddle. Duane and I were first in line when they opened the gate at El Capitan and soon had our boats down on the mostly deserted beach. We were glad to have an overcast sky on the paddle to make up for the heat the day before. We hugged the coast all the way down, toying with the waves coming in and enjoying the varied rock formations of the cliffs on the beach. Naples Point came quickly and we landed on a deserted beach for a long break. Heading back, we were each able to grab at least one ride at a nice surf spot, but the waves were running into the shore, so we had to bug out before hitting the rocks. Duane continued on hugging the shore while I headed out a bit to take in the whole coastline with the beautiful hills in the background. Now and again the train would pass by high on the cliffs. Turned out to be a prettier paddle than the day before and I was glad I stayed. An easy landing back at our cars and our Santa Barbara paddle weekend was officially over.

Day #64, Refuge for the Gulls
After "sleeping" at the Hotel Ford Focus the night before, I was ready to stretch my legs out under my kayak for our trip to Gaviota Beach. Dave, Duane and I had spent the night in our cars at the boat launch. We were pretty early getting to the gate at Refugio SB after the hour drive from Oxnard, but Mike and Patrick were already waiting for us and we were soon joined by Scott, Win and Carol.

Refugio was a nice place to launch from and this would be my first paddle anywhere above the Pond. On the water, if I didn't get waylaid by chatting with the folks, I tried to hug the coast to appreciate the varied coastline. Being that on my last paddle my boat was leaking like a sieve, I decided to keep it out of harms way in hopes the epoxy I had gooped on the most prominent holes would get me through the 16 NM trip. Still, I hung out close enough to have to avoid the occasional larger set and to dart out to avoid the occasional naked man.

Our landing went smoothly and I enjoyed this paddle for the fact that we spent a long time just hanging out on the beach. On our usual paddles, landings always seem an abbreviated affair, so it was nice to be able to relax, sit, munch and watch the folks cavorting on the beach. Gaviota Beach has a bit of an industrial vibe with the no nonsense pier and the giant railroad trestle spanning the beach. Duane, Dave and I being the speedsters that we are, we gave the rest of the group a couple hour head start for the trip home so we wouldn't have to pass them too early!

I was ready to hit the beach back at Refugio after the long paddle, when I heard some commotion back at the point. I got back just in time to see Mike jettisoning his boat out to sea before swimming out to meet it. Patrick got him towed out to where Dave helped him get back in so he could hurry on to his next carnage site back at Refugio. The beach at Refugio was abustle with people enjoying the water, but we avoided taking out any children on our landing. The ocean made a nice backdrop as we chatted, cleaned, ate chips and imbibed of various liquid intoxicants that seemed work amazingly well after an all day paddle.

One by one folks said goodbye and headed off till it was just Dave, Duane and I on the beach and then even Dave had to head home to catch a flight in the morning. Duane and I enjoyed the cooling sea breeze until the ranger came by to tell us we'd have to leave in ten minutes. I figured it was time to load my boat and head back to the Hotel Ford Focus. Sadly, no mint on my pillow.

Day #63, 2nd Non-Annual Wayne's BBQ Launch and Carnage
Well we waited till the last minute hoping he'd show up, but Wayne was a no show to his namesake event; we decided to have fun without him!

Everyone got an early start today, unable to sleep most likely with the thought of TastyQ'd Hot Dogs just waiting for all this foolish paddling to be over. When I got to the Coast Guard beach, Henry and Kathy were already out on the water getting in some early practice. Soon Duane joined me as well as Pete, George and Dave O'Connor. Pete, too, went out to practice a while and left the rest of us to chat and wait for our 8:30 start time. H&K got done and stored their wet gear and soon Carol Fallon showed up to make us eight on the water. If anything we got off a minute or two early.

The surf forecast for the day was a bit of a concern: waves 4-6 with 16-18 sec periods--that's a lot of water! Still I hoped to convince someone to land with me at Crystal Cove for bragging rights. The paddle down was a breeze except maybe for Duane who was in his Mini Benny so had to work a bit harder and also spent most of his time close into shore. At CC, I asked for volunteers and Duane, George and Pete decided to join me on the shore. With the big ol' rollers passing under us, we knew we'd better time things right. Duane went on in first to video any possible carnage.

Hoping to help Pete judge a good time better from the beach, I went in next. We already had a small spectator group watching us from the shore. Rather impatient, I don't always wait for the biggest lull and picked a medium sized wave to ride to shore. I soon had my bow planted and seemed to be watching the earth from a new altitude. I came down on my side and missed my attempt at a roll and mostly washed up on shore! George and Pete both showed how it's supposed to be done and we rested and chatted with our audience for a while before heading out.

Getting Pete out took a try or two and once I got him started, I was shouting at him through his gauntlet of waves to keep him moving. I went next and wasn't having much trouble, but a wall of whitewash was heading my way and in my attempt to get turned straight to meet it I felt my paddle blade break in half! George launched to see if anyone had a spare paddle with them, but we don't usually worry about such trivia and I was on my own. Duane said he'd go get his car and picked me up, because it didn't seem like I'd make it out with a jagged half paddle. But I waited for a lull, stayed straight in the soup and luckily made it out.

We were all waiting offshore sure Duane would show us all how it's done, so we weren't ready for what we saw. It seemed like about three big sets came in at once and despite waiting out the big ones, Duane still had some big water to deal with. The Mini Benny was getting spun around in the swirling water and Duane was getting hammered. It didn't help that he was trying to keep his video camera pointed in the right direction after each hit. Finally the surf calmed down a bit and Duane fought his way out to sea.

After all that excitement, the paddle home was anticlimactic, but we were all ready for some tasty dogs when we hit the sand. As everyone loaded up, Win and Carol drove up after their harbor practice to join us for lunch. We had a great lunch sitting by the water talking about all the fun on the day. For all the fun, I have a broken paddle (#6) and a boat with a deviated septum, but what the hey. It was a great day on the water and off and I hope to do it again soon!

Day #62, Headed Nowhere
Had the boat on the car still from yesterdays paddle, so thought I'd go out for an early paddle this morn. Sleeping till 10:00 threw a bit of sand in that plan, but I still made it by 11:30. Once again, it was a busy day on the water despite the gloomy sky. I had whale hunting on the back of my mind, but thought I'd hit BAR first while the tide was high. I hugged the coast on the way down, but some uppity surf was making the rocks a little too messy to play around.

I reached a bespectatored BAR and snuck in around back and played in some lumpy conditions. Kids were diving off the rocks and fishermen were trying their best. The tide wasn't high enough for an arch pass through, so I just hung out in the clapotis. After a rather rare and nasty set, I decided big waves would be more fun down by Toxic Creek Beach. Unfortunately a large group of surfers had already staked the turf and I didn't want to intrude.

After a while of hanging out past the surf line, I decided it was too gloomy for whale hunting and made my way back to the harbor. The only excitement on the way back was the pod of dolphins that still seem to be hang out near the harbor entrance, despite all the boat traffic.

Just a short day on the water, but they all count for the Ship's Log.

Day #61, A Blues Solo
Having watched Jaws on TV last night, I felt compelled to paddle my kayak off into the wild blue yonder to look for whales out of Newport this afternoon. When I hit the water, there was a flotilla of youngsters sailing about in wooden shoes. I was informed by a young man in irons that I'd best be careful, as I had wandered into a water fight and he could guarantee my safety. I beat a hasty retreat.

It was rather cool with a gloomy sky, but Pirate's Cove still bustled with hordes of inlanders escaping the heat. A plethora of colorful cabana tops lined the sand on the other side of the sea wall and there were several boats either coming or going through the jetty. It was a busy Friday afternoon.

The paper had been bragging about all the whales in our waters lately. Supposedly almost twenty Blues and even a Humpback or two joined by large pods of dolphins all enjoying an unusual upwelling of nutrients. So my hopes were high and only got bolstered by the pod of dolphins I could see hopping around between me and the channel buoy. Several boats were congregating to watch the show and it was still going on five minutes or so later when I finally got out there.

I headed straight out of the jetty leaving any course correction to the wind and the tide. The dolphins seemed to be a good sign and I being one of those 'the ocean is half full' kind of guys, I was feeling lucky. I always think unexpected occurrences must be an omen of whales to come, so I figured should I come across a naked mermaid, the Blues would be a foregone conclusion. I didn't see any mermaids, but did pick up a Mylar balloon, something that has proceeded all my Blue Whale sightings. Of course it's also proceeded miles and miles and miles of empty ocean as well.

I paddled out of the harbor for about an hour and without Duane to slow me down, I figured I must be six miles out! There was nothing around me and I decided to hang out and hope for the best. I could hear the distant drone of jets leaving JW airport, but I was sure I'd hear any whales that might come my way. To pass the time, I treated the ocean to a rendition of my new song, "No Blue Whale Blues" sure I'd be basking in the irony later in the day. Get me drunk some time, I might sing it for you!

I'd been out about 40 minutes and had drifted down past Crystal Cove when I figured it was about time to give it up for the day. I started paddling back, but saw what had to be a whale watching boat heading out somewhat towards my direction. They passed by me a ways off, but were moving slow, so I thought I'd follow them a bit to see if they'd get lucky. I paddled right at them, but they were still moving faster than I, but at least they seemed to be circling my position. I stayed out another 20 minutes or so before they moved on to greener pastures and I set my sights for the coast.

Turns out, the potency of Mylar balloons as a Blue Whale indicator is fading fast. I had to settle once again for a pretty nice dolphin show and a nice day on the water. I was able to sneak some time behind BAR on the way home. The tide was pretty low, but I was able to hand out in back with a bit of nasty swells coming in through the arch. Reading the whale stories again at home, they were talking about finding the whales 8 miles out, so I'm not sure I'll get out there to see them this year, but I don't find hanging out off the coast to be an onerous undertaking. Next week might have to be dedicated to offshore paddling and one more chance to sing with the Blues.

Day #60, Afternoon Jaunt
I joined Ken & Barb around two on Tuesday for a leisurely meander barely past BAR. Ken seemed to have designs on going farther, but Barb and I dug in our heels and he had to relent. I got to enjoy some arch time while Barb hung out and Ken continued his rolling successes. The tide was a bit low, but I was able to make a few passes. I elicited a few whoops from some kids climbing on the rocks when I passed through the arch just a nice sized wave started curling up in front of me. I think I got a bit of air going over it and was happy to provide the show. We headed back, once again checking out the mothball fleet outside the harbor. Inside, it was time for some rolling practice and even Barb joined the fun. We had a couple in a SOT watching our practice and asking questions, so Ken went into a rolling frenzy for their enjoyment. They were chanting for Barb to roll again, but she'd reached her yearly limit. We paddled back and decompressed at Starbucks before heading home.

Day #59, Longing for the Leviathans
The 13th was not a lucky number for the 5 of us that set out behemoth hunting this morning. Duane had called for an 8:30 launch from Dana Point and while I got there first, I was soon joined by Kathy and Henry Pilcher and Dennis Hyndman. Parking was scarce until the spaces parted to allow for Duane's last minute arrival! Soon we all had our cars ensconced near our launch site and were ready to hit the water.

Paddling out the harbor, it seemed prime WH conditions. We head out under a sunny sky and by the time we closed on the end of the jetty, everyone was sweating in the heat!! We were all glad when after rounding the jetty, we found a nice ocean breeze to greet us. Conditions were a bit choppy though, so spotting the Blues wasn't going to be as easy as we hoped.

We lost little time heading out to our usual hunting grounds. Plentiful whitecaps and an occasional breaking wave had us thinking whales were all around us. We took a couple small breaks and were just hanging out waiting for some excitement, when we were encouraged to see the Dolphin Safari tour heading right towards our location. They'd been having good luck spotting a couple Blues lately, so we figured they had the scoop. The DS boat headed off a bit west of us and seemed to stop to wait. We decided to nonchalantly try to weasel our way closer to their position. We headed off parallel to where they stopped and put a bit more distance between us and the coast. But they never seemed to find anything and soon headed out past our desired range for the day.

We decided to hang out for half an hour and hope for the best. The breeze and the sun behind some misty clouds made conditions pleasant despite the choppy water. We all kind of drifted apart as we waited and kept that arrangement as we started paddling back to shore. Kathy and I were bad, as we started heading out straight for the jetty entrance, where the rest of the group looked like they were headed right into shore. We had a large chunk of ocean separating us, but I was hoping we'd corral the Blues right in between us. No such luck.

We battled the chunky sea the way home. Off by ourselves, Kathy and I were startled by a couple dolphins that looped right in front of our bows. Then another pair came up to our side. We soon had dolphins popping up all around us heading in every direction! It was impossible to know how many, but being as they seemed to be all around us, I'd say there were at least ten. They followed us longer then either of us would have thought and then seemed to head towards the other group, so we hoped they'd get a show as well, but it wasn't the case.

The boat traffic and chop got worse as usual the closer we got to the mouth of the harbor. Our bows were plowing through the surf, which I was glad for, because one of the dolphins had got so close, it came up to do its 'morning business' on my foredeck and I was glad for the chance to wash it off!! I'm surprised it didn't bring a newspaper!

Back in the harbor, we fought the strong wind down the channel with the smell of the barbeques wafting by. We saw no whales, but perhaps clocked a bit more time in our whale hunting karma to give us hope for the next hunt. It seems most of the Blues have decided to skip our neck of the woods this year and it's always a big ocean out there. Still it was a beautiful day on the water with nice folk and the best dolphin show I've ever seen.

Day #57, 58, Soon All the Days Start to Meld
Well I'm calling this two days because I forgot I went out last week with Ken for a warm up for my Catalina paddle. Today was a Catalina wrap up paddle and much more fun! It was a warm day at home, so I didn't expect much from a paddle, but when we hit the water around 3pm, the wind had picked up and the sun was playing peek a boo. On the way out, I chatted with a couple SOTers who asked us if we were on on way to Catalina! I had to give them a brief recap of my weekend just to impress them!

Outside the harbor, my favorite derelict sailboat was still moored nearby. The wind was kicking up the waves a bit; not what I'd expected on the day. Barb didn't join Ken today and I'm sure she would have been glad considering the conditions. The tide was high and I was hoping for some fun behind BAR, although I'd have to take it a bit easy, as I'd left my helmet at home.

The waves at BAR weren't big, but they were a bit tricky. We made a few passes and I hung out a while inside the arch, but I didn't want to press my luck too much sans helmet. I was just nice to have a bit a texture mid July when things are usually rather hot and flat. There was just enough water for me to scoot over the rocks out the back way of BAR and Ken and I headed home close to shore. In front of Big Corona we checked out the couple boats I might someday consider home before finding our way back in the harbor.

Despite the wind, we threw in a few rolls past Pirate's Cove. The water was rather nice and but for the wind we might have spent more time upside down. But we figured with our big paddles out of our way, there wasn't any reason not to take it easy and headed back to the high tide back at the Secret Beach to call it a day.

It was nice to be back on the water with no important agenda pending and a fun way to spend a late afternoon on the water.

Day #54, 55, 56, Wave-Ra!
Here's my tale in pictures and words.

Day #53, Kinderockgarten
While in Denver over the last 10 day, I bought a used Dagger RPM Max that would have been just peachy for Jack's PV party this morning, but it's still in Denver and just arriving home late last night, I couldn't see myself making that party anyway. But early bird that I am, I loaded up the old log and met up with Jack, Steve Wilson, George Miller, Lee Shurie and Billy Kroll just south of the lighthouse. Although they had no gear to join us on our paddle, Steve and Vicky Brown were there to say hi and send us on our way.

I was a bit trepidatious on this paddle, glass boats not really being the proper attire for such a party, but also from the stories of the difficulty launching. There's the wicked trail down the cliff and the round, toaster sized rocks that constitute the 'beach' we'd be launching from. I started having second thoughts upon seeing the trail down, but figured it was too late to back out after everyone had seen me, so I was the first one down the hill.

Steve had his Coaster today and Billy and I had full sized boats; the rest were properly outfitted in WW boats. Billy planned to shoot pictures on the day and his boat was sporting a nifty, new, double pontoon outrigger to give him enough stability to shoot with his SLR. The WW crowd helped us glass boaters launch in the water to avoid too much damage to our boat, a sight that was worth the price of admission all by itself. Already hot, I was glad for a dunk before launching and soon we were all headed up the coast.

Conditions started out mild, which was good for a few of us rather new to Jack's style of fun. It allowed us to get wet to the level we felt comfortable with out too much worry. Even with the small swells, surprise rocks kept us on our toes throughout the day. A sneaky breaking wave hit me on a rocky stretch, but a nice high brace kept me upright. We continued up the coast playing in every playground Jack thought appropriate. At the Big Pool, the water wasn't high enough to make our way in, but we found a small cove to pull all the boats up on and took a break on the rocks.

By this time, the swells had increased quite a bit, but so had our confidence playing in it. We headed to the north end of the Big Pool to play in the clapotis of the surging waves. With my giant boat, I wasn't able to do all the others were doing, but I still managed to push myself a bit. We were all getting pretty stacked up together and on one of my passes I heard Steve yell out, "look out, here comes the Queen Mary!" Close to some big rocks while trying to get set up for a set coming in, I missed place a deep stern rudder and found myself upside down, but took my time and came up with no problem. Steve was testing himself by rolling in some trouble spots, but had no trouble. Jack, George and Lee just made playing in the rocks and waves seem effortless.

We decided to head home with enough energy to play a bit on the return trip, but we had still been out a long time. The most fun came getting the big boats back up on the shore back at the launch. And of course, there was the dreaded climb up the cliff to the cars. On the beach, there was a group of teenagers just back from spear fishing. I offered ten bucks to any two of them if they'd haul my boat up, but got no takers. I started the long slog up constantly stopping for air and couldn't refuse George when he came back down to help. I may be ten years younger, but I think George pulled my boat up farther than I did on the way up, and I was glad for the help.

It was nice to all be back at the top and everyone agreed it had been a great day. We were all thankful for Jack for calling for this paddle and sharing his skills and knowledge with us. It's clearly one of the best benefits of CKF membership. While I often hang out where rocks and waves meet, I don't often push my limits when I'm alone, so it was nice to have a group of like minded folk around to help you out just in case. It was a great chance to increase our skills and I look forward to getting my Dagger so I can play like the real rock gardeners. I'm sure Billy has some great pictures of the day and thanks again to Jack for leading us and George for a helping hand!

Day #52, Belated Whale Tale
I met Duane at the Coast Guard beach for a 5pm paddle to see if the Blues would make a visit to my usual haunt. At least we'd hoped to maybe see the dolphin pack that gave Duane such a great show on his earlier paddle. We had a stiff head wind as we set out and a head sea throwing an occasional bucket on our laps. I seemed to take the lead and I tried to keep a good pace despite the wind. We were on a schedule, so if we wanted to get some space between us and the coast we couldn't dilly-dally. Lucky we didn't have Ken with us!!!

As I write from memory from over a week ago, I don't remember much of the conversation that went on, but I know I enjoyed plowing through the swells on a rare evening paddle. We got perhaps a couple miles out and just hung out chatting and bobbing in the sea. I seem to recall the coast being a bit foggy, but clear enough for a beautiful view of the OC coast. Again we didn't see any whales, but we're glad for the opportunity to hang out for the chance.

The wind became our friend on the way home and we notched another whale hunt in our belts. I figure the more time you spend out there, the luckier your going to get, so sure on our next hunt we'll have to beat them off with a G stick.

Day #51, Still No Blues
Seven of us braved the Father's Day crowd at Dana Point to put a bit more time in the outer waters to look for the Blues. Duane, Barb and Ken were there as well as Chuck and his out of town visitors Tabitha and Jonathan(hope I got those right). It was an overcast day as we made it out of the harbor to find a derelict, old sailboat making its way out to what could only be misfortune! Besides the usual harbor chop, there was a rolling swell coming in, but conditions weren't too bad for hunting.

We were all making good time until our first break, when Chuck and his friend decided to switch boats. About the same time, Tabitha started feeling the sudden onset of Mal de Mer, so four of our group decided it was best to head back in. That left the burden of finding the Blues to Duane, Ken and I.

We paddle out to our usual haunt about 4 miles off shore under very quiet conditions. All of a sudden, right off Duane's bow there was a small boil of what looked like small flippers sticking out of the water, but they didn't hang out long enough for us to figure out what they were. Soon the head of a seal popped up close by and we wondered if he'd been rounding up some fish dinner.

There were no boats close by; nothing to suggest any whales in the area, so we just settled down for a long rest to see what my arise. Without any sun, we could enjoy just hanging out bobbing in the swells, but after about 45 minutes, we figured the Blues still aren't ready for visiting. Even without any sightings, the day seemed to go by pretty fast. As a consolation prize on the way home, a long finned tuna surprised us by leaping out of the water and I have to admit we were grateful for any excitement. We made it back to the beach with only a few more miles under our belts for our troubles.

Day #50, Those Who Can't, Teach
When I got to the Secret Beach, Ken and Barb were sitting on the sea wall looking like two beached seals--all clad in black rubber ready for our Saturday Wet Works. They head over to the CG beach while I got ready and when I joined them I found Pete and Jeff Libby there to join us as well. To the side of the beach was another, large group of paddlers getting ready to head out under the expert tutelage of George M.

We all headed to Pirate's Cove and we could see a couple yakkers already there who turned out to be the Pilchard bunch. Clearly, they were there to show off their nifty new two-piece Superior GP's and had already warmed up with a coastal paddle. The sun wasn't out yet, but the water didn't seem too cold, but I quickly had to acclimate to the chill. Barb was just getting out her face mask when it slipped out of her hands heading for the briny deep. The briny deep only being 10 to 12 feet here, I donned my mask hoping for a quick retrieval. Sans my PFD, I still was rather buoyant with just my wet suit top, but managed to make it down, but the Eel Grass in the area was too high and after a few tries we left it as a sacrifice to the rolling gods.

It didn't take long for Kathy to start to show off with her new paddle. They claimed they were still getting used to them, but Kathy showed off a real nice butterfly roll that had her looking like a pro. She gave Ken a few hints and he was able to do one too, so we already had people learning new skills on the day. About this time, Ben paddled up from his launch site at NAC and joined in the practice

Every one kind of paired up to work on sundry skills. H&K worked on more Greenland skills and Ken helped Jeff try out a paddle float reentry roll. Barb and Pete worked on reentries and I just seemed to paddle around watching. Jeff wasn't having any trouble with the paddle float roll, so I graduated him on to my kickboard paddle float. It helped him add a bit of sweep to the maneuver and soon Ken was schooling him in the finer aspects of real rolling. Off to the side, Henry was helping Kathy get set up for a nice static brace. I looked over to see Ben swimming, the victim of a broken paddle shaft on his roll attempt.

After a while, I asked Jeff if he wanted to come closer to shore where I could stand up and help him with his roll attempts. Just trying to repeat my rolling class with Jen, I had him do some hip snaps just holding my hands and he came up rather smartly. We moved on to me holding the back of his boat and letting him try to roll on his own and it wasn't taking a lot of help from me to get him up. We gave him the story of keeping his head down and after a couple more tries he rolled up all by himself like a real pro. We figured it best he stop on a high note.

Since I was already in the water, I worked with Pete trying out my kickboard paddle float. He was doing well with that and we moved on to trying some real rolling. With Henry giving advice and demonstrations, I think we got Pete moving in the right direction, but we didn't have two new rollers on the day. Still I was glad to see him doing well with the paddle float roll.

By this time I hadn't even tried a real roll yet myself. I'd done a reentry roll earlier only to find I should have recharged my bilge pump battery last night! My roll of late has been at the best, iffy. I asked Ken to borrow his boat and despite the tight fit, enjoyed rolling a boat that seems meant to be rolled. Not to be out done, Barb was showing some excellent rolling technique. Of course, Ken in my boat didn't look to have too much trouble rolling my barge.

We had had a busy, successful morning of practice and all decided to head to the Fireside for lunch. It was nice to be on hand for someone to do their first successful roll despite the weakest roller giving the advice!

Day #49, Docking Procedures
Went out for a short paddle and play day with Ken, Barb and Chuck.
The great thing about kayaking with others is their willingness to share their knowledge and abilities with others.
Docking Procedures

Day #48, San O Sol O
As I sat in my car checking out the surf, I was glad it looked smaller than predicted. It's amazing how a short walk from the car to the beach can change your opinion. I don't much like the idea of surfing solo, but what choice do I have since Duane got all respectable on me! The surf forecast was 3 to 5 with occasional 6 footers--not really that big, but at the limit for me at my skill level and all by my lonesome. And that's the way I found the beach, with no other kayaks to be seen.

So the forecast was pretty accurate, but at least the waves were of a crumbly nature, so they didn't look like they could do much damage. They were pretty stacked up though, so getting out didn't look like it was going to be fun. I took my time past the shore break to get used to the Delfin again. The closer I got to the outside, the more I was fighting over the rows of whitewater coming my way. I took a chance and got a nice ride on one of the smaller waves which added to my confidence factor. I wasn't really worried about riding the waves, it's still my lack of confidence in my rolling and that long San O swim to shore. I finally got a break and made it out through a lull and was glad to see someone in a Scrambler paddling out to join me. At last, someone to drag my lifeless carcass to shore in the event of an untimely demise.

I went for broke on a large wave and once making nice progress down the face looked to the side for a shoulder to lean on, but just when I went to take it, a board surfer showed up out of nowhere on his paddle out and I ended up broaching on some big white water. I was glad to ride it out upright and now the chase was afoot. I got some nice rides in the bigger waves with some nice shoulders to ride, but spent a lot of time broached in the white water. On one large one, stuck broached in the large white water, I was able to get turned back around straight just in time to catch the same wave as it reformed with a nice angled ride. What I learned on the day is my kayak needs something that just happens to be spelled out in its name DelFIN. Without a skeg, I can't keep the stern planted to keep a good angle on the waves. Still I was having fun.

After each big ride I'd have to deal with the arduous journey back outside through the breakers. I admit I was pretty tired. I'd say old age sucks, but heck, ten years ago I would have died on the first paddle out! I'd gotten some nice rides, so I wasn't so worried about capsizing, figuring I'd had my share of fun on the day. On a nice ride in, I got knocked over trying to exit the wash and rolled up with some help from the shallow sand bar under me. Same thing on the way out, this time going over a big wave. I picked up the next good size wave and rode it into shore. Right outside the shore break the water is pretty deep, so I punched out a couple real rolls just to prove I could.

I'm used to sandy beaches, but some of you might be more familiar with the San O shore. I stood for a while enjoying the clacking of the large cobble stones sounding like castanets as the powerful waves ebbed. I lived to tell my tale and had a nice solo surf session. The only casualty on the day was my video mast that broke when a wave upended my kayak on the shore upon landing. I'm glad I'd removed the camera already!

Day #47, Three Would-be Reef Point Paddlers
Duane, Ken and I reluctantly missed the H&K paddle to Reef Point this morning in the fain quest of spotting some Blue Whales, this being early in the season. We got an 8am start under overcast skies and started out for our usual hunting grounds off Dana Point with light boat traffic around us. With only three paddlers, we were quite free to chat about all the other paddlers that weren't along with us on the day. I can only hope we at least presented equal fodder the other group on the water!!!

Conditions were nice on the paddle out and we hoped we had improved our whale karma by picking up several groups of balloons floating on the water. After a couple short breaks, we found ourselves about 4 miles off the point, in what in the past has been prime spouting grounds. Our eyes seldom left the horizon as we searched in vain for tell-tale signs of the behemoths. We saw no whale watching boats scouring the water to give us hope of a sighting. We spent the last half hour before returning just enjoying the quiet off-shore waters lolling about in our boats. We paddled home with nary a dolphin or a seal to visit us. Still, if we didn't get to find a whale, we got to put in a nice, peaceful, 10 mile paddle and perhaps increase our chances on our next hunt. We can't come up empty every time!

Day #46, Meandering del Mar
I arrived at Crescent Bay at 7am to find Ken and Barb already with their boats on the beach. On the drive down, I had noticed the surf and it looked rather mild, but Barb was standing on the sand watching as a rather nasty set came in to mush on the beach. It was going to take a bit of timing to keep Barb happy today!

Soon we were joined by Duane, Bob and Dennis and a surprise visit from Pete, who we haven't seen on the water for a while. We had plenty of time on the sand to chat and to see that aside from the occasional set, launching didn't look to be too difficult. Bad host that I am, I had us leaving a few minutes early when Richard from Torrance showed up to join us. He was ready to go quickly and without any trouble on our launches, we were on our way.

Duane had his Mini Benny today and planned to make the whole trip in the surf line and around the rocks. The pace on the day could only be described as meandering, but it let me spend some time investigating rocks and still keep close to the group. We had soon left Duane in our wake and at times it was hard to see him still plugging away in the waves. This area has many rocky reefs spread out and the cliffs are covered in coastal homes. It makes for a pretty paddle. If the pace was too slow, no one was complaining out loud. Tide was on the low side, so we didn't get to see the blow hole we'd found on our last trip. We rounded Treasure Island and headed in to Aliso Creek to see if there was any chance to make it in, but in less we wanted to portage our way it was a no go. We figured the water quality inside wouldn't be so great without any ocean water making its way in so decided to head back to TI to land and rest.

Treasure Island was an easy stop with only Richard getting wet on his landing and that mostly because I was shooting video and didn't come to his aid! We had the place to ourselves and after a bit of chat, Duane headed out to get a head start for the trip home. Once again, the group about split in half with some plying the rocky shore and the others out in calmer water. The sun had come out for our trip home and it was a beautiful day for all. Back at our landing site, the carnage potential had risen a bit, but with a little timing things would be no problem. All landed safely and make the trek up the steep hill to our cars.

It was a fun day on the water, despite the lack of carnage and it was nice to be joined by Pete and Richard. Denise had to head home San Diego way, but the rest of us all adjourned to Husky Burger to replenish after our outing.

Day #45, Southern Migration
Saw an email late yesterday that Lee would be down to paddle Newport with Carol Fallon today. Early this morn, I called Ken and he told me he'd emailed Lee to say he'd be at the CG beach around 9:30, so I thought I'd tag along. Ken was tired from his paddle down in San Diego an I was tired from laying around all weekend grumpy from our aborted Catalina trip. Today would have been our return day and conditions were still up in the air. Just a light breeze, but the sky was gray and threatening and we felt a bit of drizzle when we hit the water. Still, Catalina looked as clear as could be, as if to mock me for my failure!

On the water, I learned that Ken had only emailed Lee early this morning and with his commute, there was no way to know if he'd received it! We head over to the CG beach, but it was mostly deserted. We paddled over in back of Balboa Island to see if we could see them paddling, but no luck and the weather seemed to be taking a bit of a turn for the worse. We figured we'd missed them and so decided for a short BAR paddle as our destination.

The harbor waters were a bit murky, but outside the jetty things looked a lot better, so we both tried a roll. I was still bummed from my Edith trip rolling difficulties and wasn't really in the mood which was probably why it took me a couple tries to get up and even then it looked ugly! Ken's roll was Superior, even though he was in his Epic. Cooled off, we continued down the coast.

BAR was crawling with pescadors and the low tide had exposed the rocky shelf, which one brave angler was using. Ken continued rolling while I snuck back to hang out a while. Catalina looked beautiful in the distance. We headed home close to shore through the kelp beds with spear-gun wielding scuba divers popping up around us. Almost back at the CG beach, we ran into Lee and Carol heading out to sea. Lee hadn't received Ken's email so they'd taken time to have tea before setting out for their paddle. We chatted for a bit, but were both ready to head home and left them to enjoy the ocean by their lonesomes. Ken and I once again availed ourselves of the public dock to land, which we're sure delighted the man who lives nearby who always complains about sand on the sidewalk! It was a short paddle, but it was nice to see one of our northern, tuiliked neighbors visiting our waters.

Day #44, Dingbat Crossing
Expansion of my horizons was on call today. Not that I haven't done a twenty miler before--heck, just did one a couple weeks ago, but today we were heading off the coast farther than I'd ever been before!

Destination Oil Rig Edith was a shake down cruise for next weeks paddle to Catalina. Before this paddle, my longest excursion off the coast was 4 or 5 miles looking for Blue Whales. Their were five, me, Duane, Ken, Bob and Steve of us getting an early 7am start from Alamitos Bay. Edith is 8 miles off shore, but with the harbor exit, we'd be puting in about twenty miles. Even at 6:30 this morning, it was already hot and we wondered what we had in store for us.

Outside the harbor we'd be using Duane's crossing procedures--a smart way to keep the group together, safe and focused. Duane took the first stint in the lead and I followed, this being my first chance to navigate using a compass with a target out to see and as yet hidden in the haze. As my turn at the lead came next, I was lucky that I could hear all the early morning chatter behind me to keep track of the group to know they weren't falling too far behind. After a while, you could see occasional glimpses of Edith, but I tried to rely on the compass heading for practice.

We rotated shifts and the mileage seemed to pass rather quickly as we passed closer rigs and large ships anchored off the coast. Many seals seemed lying about, their flipper stuck in the air either to cool off or warm up, we weren't sure which. Steve was our greyhound on the day, so when he led, I put my head down and hunkered in to keep up with him. We were glad to have a minimal breeze to at least keep the temps at bay a bit. Soon Edith was clear to see and we made our pass to the barking cheers of the seal sunning on the rig.

We took an extended break and Bob, Duane and I indulged in Duane's traditional Edith Crossing Swim. It was nice to feel the complete coolness of the ocean, but soon Bob and Duane were back in their boats leaving me as the only shark bait. I decided to do a reentry roll, but on my first attempt, I came up sitting on my 64oz water bottle! After that my roll deserted me along with the plethora of water bottle floating around in my cockpit! While Ken gave me a bow, the rest of the group collected my belongings and we had no more excuse to linger with Edith.

The first leg of the trip home seem to really drag for me. I think I was mostly PO'd that I'd missed my reentry roll! I was next in the lead and things settled down and mile came slowly but surely. Steve once again tried to show off on his lead, putting a few of us in a bit of hurt, but Duane threw a lasso on him. For the most part, it was just mind over matter as we kept paddling on through the occasional boat traffic. I think Ken and I were feeling it most at the end and since he's got at least ten years on me, I think I was the official slow poke. Be we all showed we have what it takes for next week's crossing. As I'm the only one in the group who's never made it, I guess I was most on trial. I don't have much fear of the first crossing, but I wonder how a couple nights of camping will recharge me for the twenty miler home. Today we ended the paddle with a trip for some fast food burritos. I'm hoping next week to stock up on Catalina Buffalo burgers!

Day #43, Cooling Off
We've had a bit of hot weather out here, so even with my twenty miler coming Sunday, I decided to spend some time upside down in the harbor to cool off.

Ken and Barb had left earlier with their friends Justin and Kirsten, so I had hopes of running into them. First though I ran into Read and his friend Jane coming back from an exploration of the kelp paddies. Read said he'd seen a foursome out on the water and I figured that must be K&B, so I headed out to sea. As I neared BAR, I saw the foursome returning and a Life Guard boat sitting in front of my rock. I snuck on back and ended up stuck on a rock in the low tide for a bit and when I started to head into the arch, it was inundated with green beanied Junior Lifeguards! It was nice to see the youngsters challenging my usual habitat, so I gave up my pass for their edification!

I joined the foursome already in progress and we headed back in to the harbor for some wet work. I rolled well for a while, but then found myself swimming and consternated that my pump didn't come on. Turns out I was negligent in my charging, so Ken had to dump out my boat and give me a rescue. I switched to my GP and had no more trouble, while Ken coaxed Kirsten into some rolling practice. It took a while, but finally she went for it and I wish I could report success on her first try, but she got to take her first swim at Pirate's Cove. Despite Ken's tutelage (or because?) she had another swim or two, but at least gave it the college try.

Nice and cool, we'd had enough on the day, although we were glad for the respite from the heat. We headed to the Fireside for a nice lunch and to recap the events.

Day #42, Pig Town Jig
Things seemed to conspire to sabotage our Crystal Cove Hot Dog Paddle this evening, but the desire for tasty, albeit mysterious meat products overcame all obstacles!

It started when I came across Ken and Barb on the road heading to the beach and realized I had forgotten the pan to cook the weenies. So unless we wanted to cook them over an open fire with our fingers, I had to head back. I had gotten an early start, so it wasn't too bad a set back. The Secret Beach was almost deserted which made launching pretty easy and I soon glided to a stop at the Coast Guard beach to join the rest of the group. Ken and Barb were there with Dave O'Connor and Chuck Freedman, with only one snag--Dave and Chuck had both forgotten their paddles! Only Barb had brought a backup paddle to loan to the unfortunate, so we hoped for Duane to arrive to see if he had brought a spare. No such luck, but Chuck did have half a Tooksook paddle in his car and so used it for the paddle!

We all set out a few minutes past 5pm, but Duane wanting more of a workout decided to do a lap around the island and to catch up with us on the beach. We were a motley group paddling out, but Chuck with his half paddle kept up fine. Outside the harbor, Ken and Dave went to check out an inflatable boat seemed abandoned and floating in the kelp. I made a bee line for the Arch and made a few passes through the playful water. After my last pass, I saw the group heading on down with me quite a ways behind. It wasn't till we were almost at CC that I noticed Ken was no where to be seen. Even now that Duane had caught up with us, there was no sight of Ken! Turns out he'd decided to hang out at the missing dingy to call it in to the Harbor Patrol. His good deed took a bit longer than expected because he couldn't hear the HP over the radio through the closed ear vents on his new Gath helmet!! He arrived with all of us but Barb on the shore and sent her in on the tails of a large set, which she handled with ease.

We set up hot dog camp and I brought out my surprise for the night. In my back hatch(thank heaven for QCC hatches), I had the world's second cheapest guitar. Second cheapest only because I'd just put new strings on it. I figured I had a captive audience, I might as well abuse them with a song or two. Ken got the hot dogs cooking and Chuck treated me to an overpriced beer. Duane and Barb both played some licks on the guitar and we got down to serious dog munching. After dessert of tasty brownies, I once again realized I'm not ready for an audience without a few margaritas in me, as I butchered my version of "Four Wet Pigs", which seemed so appropriate for this paddle. Perhaps I did a bit better with my two other songs, but Barb made the guitar sound beautiful as she and Ken tried to finish a duet. But the sun was getting low and Barb was itching for a surf launch, so we closed shop and headed for the boats.

I got out quickly and despite the cool temps decided to do some punching in the shore break. Barb got sent off the shore at an inopportune time and while I shouted at her to keep going, the shore crowd told her to stop and she got hit full on by a goodly sized wave and sent back surfing to shore! I missed it, but I heard there was quite a bit of carnage involved, but soon she was back out and launching over another big one. Paddles being scarce on this trip, Dave was force to launch with a GP and seemed to be stuck in neutral in some of the shore break even while his paddle seemed revved into high gear! He made it out, but it didn't help bolster his opinion of traditional paddles.

Soon we were all headed home, paddling beneath a beautiful sunset. Despite our set backs, we managed to down some tasty puppies and all return safely. It started iffy, but turned out to be a great paddle, funny how that happens. I left the group at the CG beach and returned to my Secret Spot. With high tide, I was only about 15 feet from my car. I threw my paddles an such in the back, but when I came back for my boat, it had decided to wander down the harbor a bit. I managed to corral it a few docks down before it made me take a swim. What a great day on the water!

Day #41, The Rum Runners
Despite what Steve Wilson tried to suggest, I rolled up to Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro ahead of Ken and Barb. It was only 7:35, but it appeared the Dave O'Connor was about to abandon anyone who happened to show up on time and join Steve already out on the water. They reluctantly decided to wait for the "stragglers" and soon we were all out on the water headed for Smuggler's Cove.

There was not much of a break hitting the shore, but as we passed Point Fermin, there were some nice small sets breaking. We continued on past, paddling through the abundant kelp growing in the area. After Carnage Sunday last week three of us had donned our bean caps even though rock gardening wasn't on the agenda. Barb was wearing a psychedelic colored helmet, while Ken just wanted to try out his cool looking new Gath helmet. As helmets are supposed to protect you from rocks, I mentioned that it seems ironic that they would name a helmet "Gath", which is the town Goliath was from and we all know of his experience with rocks!

At White Point I snuck in a bit close to the rocks and wished Jack Brisley could have joined us to show us a thing or two. The tide was real low though, so there wasn't much fun to be had. We continued on and found ourselves slogging our way through more kelp and made a mental note to avoid it on the trip home.

It took a while to get to Smuggler's Cove and the overcast sky and breeze kept us pretty cool. The normally deserted SC was awash with people as a local hiking club had made it down for a walk. We all landed safely and were greeted on the beach with a man walking his Parson's Terrier. The dog was a bit animated, as they are as a general rule, and the man admitted that he had forgotten to bring the dog's b.a.l.l. Only Ken didn't realize not to use the dreaded word in front of the dog, so when he did the dog got only more agitated. He ran over and tried to fetch a large limb still attached to an even larger log, so I snapped it off and he ran away as happy as he could be with the next best thing. We had a nice rest on the beach and then launched with only minor scratches.

Right south of SC, I had noticed a couple caves and convinced Steve to check them out a bit with me. Steve had now donned his helmet and despite our timidness from last weeks adventure, we snuck in a bit. Conditions were pretty mild, but with the coldish temperatures, I didn't want to risk a swim with no wet suit on, but we both managed to enjoy ourselves amongst the rocks. We continued on outside of the kelp beds maintaining a chatting pace. Back at Point Fermin, the swells had grown a bit and we contended with an occasional 3 footer hitting the beach on our landing. I managed to get soaked punching through the small waves for a while and once back on dry land we all headed to a local taco joint for debriefing.

Day #40, Finally Back on the Water
Darn, I feel like such a slacker! I haven't been on the water since Carnage Sunday, so it was nice to join Ken for a longish paddle this noon. We agreed to meet at noon thirty, but Ken was already on the water when I arrived at 12:10. I guess he just wanted an excuse not to help me with my boat!

We made quick work of the harbor and were greeted outside with a nice visit from some dolphins. Three of them were head straight for us and lazily came up right off our bow for a snort before heading right under our boats. We took our first break around BAR and conditions were squirrelly, but I managed a pass through the arch for the first time in a while to find Ken practicing rolling outside. I snuck in one more pass and we headed on for Crystal Cove. I figured Ken was in charge of this paddle; I planned to head wherever he told me to go and he figured we should at least beat out our Sunday paddle. Paddling past Reef Point, we saw the very wave forming over the hidden rock that took me out on our last paddle.

Heading on we neared Steve's reef at Abalone Point. The tide was high, so conditions were safer, but you could see the water churning over the reef that Steve danced with not so long ago. Seal Rock was not far off and Ken felt we should at least go a bit past where we turned on that paddle. I took the inside passage at SR, the rather mild conditions as they were, but I was thinking they might change the name to Stinky Rock as I passed down wind. A couple coves down, we stopped to rest before our trip home and I used the time to enjoy the beautiful view of the Laguna coastline.

It had been a muggy paddle south, but once turned towards home the wind greeted us to cool us down. I hugged the rocky coast, while Ken took the outer route. For a bit of change, I switched to my GP for the paddle home. Despite Steve's recent carnage, AP was rather tame, so Ken followed me on the inside passage there till we rested in the choppy waters to the north. The Green House at Crystal Cove was to be our next stop, but we separated quite a bit on this stretch. I like to see the coast moving by close up to show my progress, but Ken kept on an outer course. Near Reef Point things still seemed rather tame, but when I got closer a nice set rolled in. I was in a good angle to handle things and soon found myself plowing through a small set of waves. Things were going peachy until just north of the reef when an overhead wave decided to land right on my vicinity. I though I might again find myself wrong side up at RP, but made it through upright, although soaked from head to waist for the rest of the paddle.

Ken decided to follow me for a bit close to the shore and got to realize one of the benefits of inshore paddling when we passed a couple of surfergirl wanna be's prancing a bit on the shore. This part of the shore can seem a long paddle at time, but hugging the coast makes things go by quicker as you have to keep an eye on the occasional sneaker wave. I had no problem passing the myriad of small reefs, while avoiding said sneakers and we were soon back at BAR. Conditions had turned for the worse, so after a brief rest we continued on our final leg.

We were glad to hit the Secret Beach and as a salute I did a celebratory roll. We'd put in a good day of mileage, so headed home to recoup.

Day #39, Matriculating at UHK
When you get to a certain age, regular school often isn't enough for you, so some of our group today enrolled in the University of Hard Knocks!

It was an early start for what was to be a longish paddle to the Laguna environs. Ken and I left the Secret Beach early and met the rest of the group chomping at the bit at the coast guard beach. It was a nice crowd with Henry and Kathy, Dave O'Connor, Duane, BBBob McMurray and Steve Wilson joining in. The wind was quite a bit stiffer than what we were led to believe on the day and there was quite a bit of chop, so we had our work cut out for us. Of course, we were also led to believe we'd be paddling at a crossing pace, but Duane and Bob despite those skinny little paddles had everyone working hard to keep up. Dave and I were able to catch up to them just before we stopped to break at Crystal Cove to let everyone catch up and hydrate.

You could tell that Steve was itching to paddle, because he didn't rest for long. While the rest of us drank, he headed in to shore to spend some time in the waves. As we continued south, we could see him floating over the waves, his rock star hair blowing in the wind. He was waiting a bit for us inside of Reef Point and as Duane and I grew closer, we were surprised to see him paddle between the two rocks, especially as a rather large set had come in. We paddled around half expecting some carnage, but he was happy and intact on the other side. I had almost mentioned to Duane that I find the outside area around RP more dangerous than the inside, but then things had settled down a bit so we seemed fine. Until...With Duane on my left, a wave decided to appear out of nowhere right on my beam. I don't know how high it was, but I know it was 16' 10" long, as it was the perfect size to try to take out my boat. I had no time to avoid it and planted a high brace as it broke into me. Perhaps a bit too high. I found myself upside down, a condition I like to call a "Libby" in honor of one of our newer CKF members. Now I figured we were probably safe from most of the rocks in the area, but it's hard to tell at Reef Point, but I took my time and rolled up-my first combat roll in my long boat. I basked in the cheers as we paddled on for Abalone Point.

Once again Steve seemed to be ahead of us, lingering right at the edge of the reef at AP. Now this is an area I am always leery of as even in mild conditions it can be down right contrary. Duane had just mentioned that Steve was in a bad spot when a wave formed right on Steve's beam and despite a good brace sent him careening into the reef! He seemed to have been protected from his trip over the rocks by the amount of water in the wave, but now he was upside down in the churn and his roll failed him. He was now in the water with waves still rolling along each side of the reef. I headed in to the south side of reef to see if I could help, but with my hard to maneuver boat, I couldn't get close enough to help without becoming victim #2. Duane headed around from the north end and got to Steve toot sweet and held on to his boat while he did a quick reentry. But Steve's boat was still full of water and you could tell he wouldn't get far as unstable as he was. Dave headed in with his tow belt and hooked up to Duane to pull them to safety, while Steve started pumping frantically, their two boats rafted together. They were quickly out of harms way, but decided to land at a nearby cove to empty out the remaining water.

Although close to our intended destination, we all seemed to agree that the adrenalin used up in the incident called for us to start home early. Steve seemed well recovered from his play time, but kept asea of any reefs on the paddle back. I took the inside passage home, soon to be joined by Bob and Duane, with an eye peeled for any more sneaker waves to catch us so close to shore. Time flew on the trip back and Steve voiced mock relief to be back in the harbor. When everyone comes back alive, you've got to admit that's a good paddle, especially if you decide to take to heart the lessons only hard knock can sometimes provide. It was not a paddle I'll soon forget!

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Post Mortem- I figure I better point out some of our mistakes made on this paddle before those who weren't there point out the glaring facts. I hope a few others on the paddle will add some choice words. Paddling in a group today, I was lulled into not wearing my helmet in areas I would normally have it on. Although conditions weren't really tough today, that tends to be the time you start to push the envelope a bit and then find yourself in trouble. Does the term "risk homeostasis" mean anything to you? Steve would be the first to admit now he should have had a helmet on, but today wasn't supposed to be a rock garden day. Perhaps he was trying to make up for missing Jack's paddle a while back. Although there didn't seem any obvious rocks in the area of the wave that got me, I figure there must have been something under the water to make it form right on my beam. Alone, I've conditioned myself to don my helmet at the mere hint of a rock or wave and I shouldn't have let the safety of a group deter me from my usual prudence. Steve took some chances paddling and hanging out where he did, but what better time to take such chances then with a group around to come to your rescue. But you have to realize the chance you are taking and a helmet should have been the order for the day for Steve. Once out of his boat, Steve maintained his composure which facilitated an easy rescue. And he never lost his rock star good looks, even with the hair a bit plastered down after his swim. Familiarity with rescues certainly helped and who better to come to your aid than Duane. With no injuries other than pride, everyone felt today was a great paddle with excitement to share for years to come. Sometimes the dividing line becomes a bit thin.

Day #38, BAR Newbie
Although we were both still rather parched from our day of yaking and gabbing at the Fest, Craig and I planned a short paddle to BAR for the early afternoon. No more having to settle for viewings from Google Earth! But for the morning we had time to go look for a copy of Adventure Kayaking, Big Sur to San Diego that Craig wanted after seeing my coffee table copy. I thought Southwind would be a good place to find one, but they had just sold their last one, so he had to settle for the northern version of the series. All was not lost though as we checked out all the boats and found out that Harold is a secret Paddlewise lurker and had heard of Craig. They were able to talk shop while I wondered a bit more through the store. Of course, I had to show off my picture of Big Arch Rock that adorns the bulletin board by the checkout stand!

Next we headed to REI to check for the book and while there looked at the boats hoping to find the new Necky Looksha 14, which Craig heard was a bit like a coaster. We had seen one listed on the REI website, but none had made it to the showroom floor. Craig bought his book and we headed for lunch at my favorite burger joint.

Finally we hit the water and although it was a bit cooler than Sunday, the heat still slowed us down. The harbor was more quite than usual and it took a while before we could find even one sea lion floating around the bait barge. I pointed out my usual play spots in the harbor, like Pirate's Cove, which may not live up to the hype I give them in my writing. Caveat emptor! We hit the open water and Craig was a bit surprised by the derelict fleet of boats moored in the bay. We paddled in and across the kelp close to shore with BAR in the immediate future. Past Little Arch Rock, we could see a large group of teenagers mingling on top of BAR, so we figured we might be in for some cliff diving, but none of them summoned the courage to take the leap while we were in the area. I went back in for a look see, but even though we tried to go out near high tide, there wasn't enough room for any fun in the cove. Craig spent some time outside hoping to see the remnants of our gray whale migrators with no luck.

We headed back into the harbor with little wind to cool us down. With Craig's interest in Mother Shipping, we paddled by some of the moored boats to figure out which best suited such an activity. There was still enough water between the two islands to let us paddle through and then we headed back to The Secret Beach. With his bad leg, Craig was glad to have the dock to exit from his boat and once out, shot his boat to me on shore so I could take the Express out for a spin. Like the Coaster, this boat has a 15 inch wide cockpit, but unlike his Coaster, it has the Mariner sliding seat. I liked the rigid, built-in back support, but because the seat goes straight down from the cockpit rim, I had less room for my hips to expand once passing the cockpit bottle neck. It was a tight fit, but I still had a great time paddling the boat. Initial stability seemed a bit low, but I quickly gained confidence in the secondary sort and could quickly spin the boat around on edge. The boat came to speed quickly and I could tell it had more speed than the Coaster. I felt like it would be great fun out in conditions and my one roll attempt came up just about as well as I did in the Coaster and a lot better than I do in my old boat. I guess I'm just going to have to keep my eyes peeled for Mariner looking for a new home!

We headed home and after an ice cold Coke to quench our thirst, Craig loaded up his car and headed home for Moses Lake. It was nice to finally put a face to a name of someone from Paddlewise and I hope to someday make a journey to the Great Northwest to meet more Paddlewiser and ply some new waters. I hope Craig enjoyed checking out my home waters and meeting some of us city paddlers and it was great to have him at the Fest.

Day #37, CKF Fest, Alamitos Bay, Belmont Shores
Had a great time at the CKF Fest on a very warm Sunday. I think it's safe to say I had the guest who came farthest to visit, as Craig Jungers came with me after heading down from Moses Lake Washington on Friday night! Things started off well with the chance to see DeeAnn Hess' home made Pygmy Tern. And we got to celebrate her beautiful work with champagne. Sadly, I had to go back for several refills with quite a few morning teetotalers refusing France's Breakfast of Champions. Later it was especially nice to see the folks helping out Bev as she tried out her new sit inside kayak. I'm glad to report success on her first wet exit!

Craig and I got on the water and took a tour of the Naples canals. I got to paddle his Mariner Coaster and he was in his Express. We passed several stand up board paddlers, which I guess are still a rarity in the Moses Lake neighborhood. After we made it back to the beach, Craig went off to mingle and I got Peter O'Sullivan to stand by with a bow so I could try to roll the Coaster. At a bit wider than my QCC, I was worried I'd have a bit of trouble, but popped up real easy. Even went to a non-extended roll with no trouble. Peter gave me a couple tips, but actually said my roll didn't look horrible! Heady praise indeed! I was happy with my success and the chance for some relief from the sun in the cool water. The Coaster was nimble and fun to paddle and once getting past the narrow cockpit rim, I seemed to fit fine!

We adjourned to the shade of my canopy for the rest of the festivities and enjoyed the breeze that came through to cool us down as best it could. Of course we were disappointed by the obviously rigged raffle that sent a poor dejected Ken Fry home empty handed while most other folk tired of the constant rising to collect their next prize!! After a while, I think the collected UV exposure finally took its toll on the group and things folks started to head off. Craig and I figured why not fit one more paddle in and were joined by Bob McMurray and Dennis Hyndman for a nice leisurely stroll around the harbor. It was a great time and Craig was impressed with all the nice folk we have to share in our kayaking adventures.

Day #36, More Mileage
Got on the water again today with Ken in hopes of putting a few more miles under our belts. No more pussy-footing around with BAR turn-arounds for us! Hit the water 9ish on this eve of the Newport to Ensenada race and faced our first obstacle at Pirate's Cove. There we found Henry and Kathy working on self rescues. Well, we found KATHY working on self rescues and Henry paddling around aimlessly! He claims he had got wet too, but there wasn't much evidence of it!! He said he had tried a roll and his bionic shoulder let out a squeak and he decided not to provoke it anymore. Probably a wise decision. Kathy was wearing a smart looking, brimmed bootie hat that made her look like an equestrian and how appropriate as she did a cowboy reentry on her steed. We chatted for a while and then realized we ought save some for the Fest and left them to their own devices.

As we turned the jetty, a small seal greeted us on the rocks and jumped in seeming to come for a visit, but then gave us our space. On the heels of this weeks death by Grizzly story, Ken seems to have become deathly fraid of seals, so we had to make a quick get-away. As we neared BAR, I spied Reid in his tell-tale Mariner paddling with Jane visiting from Florida. Another chat session ensued and we learned Jane was a Sit on Top girl giving a SINK a try. She seemed to have the hang of it and we soon left them for greener waters.

We got down the business of serious paddling, passing Crystal Cove, Reef Point and upon reaching Abalone point decided to make the loop around Seal Rock. That made it Ken's longest paddle in a while and my shortest in my last two outings! Of course, at SR, it's namesakes were all around cavorting in what I could only imagine was wet, slimy seal procreation. At least they had the decency to do it underwater instead of on the rocks for all to see!

We passed on the thought of making a landing and started making good progress home. We once again ran into another paddler, Chuck Freedman off on our same paddle, but still a while behind. A short discussion on the dangers of seal fraternization and we were off again-me taking the inside passage and Ken hanging out farther from shore. It was a sunny cool day and I knew in the end I was going to be sorry for forgetting my sun tan lotion, but I'd have to wait till now to know how much! Soon we were back in the harbor, passing the line of impressive sailboats ready for tomorrow's launch. We were both glad to hit the beach after a good sized paddle and adjourned to a hole-in-the-wall joint for some tasty burgers!

Day #35, Chewing up the Scenery
In keeping with my desire to get in some extra miles, I hit the water at 9am today. The sky was gray and threatening and I fought a stiff head wind out of the harbor. Although I had my ONNO today, I tried to concentrate on my foot and knee placement that Duane had talked about at his GP clinic. As always seems the case at the start of a paddle, my posture was good and I made good time while concentrating on good rotation(well, come on, as good a rotation as someone my size ever gets!)

My XMAS GPS saw its first duty today as I hoped to keep track of the day. Abalone Point was in the back of my mind as a decent destination considering my sloth of late and I was glad to see it showing so clear in the distance as I exited the jetty. It was a rather chilly day with the wind and a couple contradictory swells making their way through. I remembered back in the day when just getting out of the harbor would call for two or three rest stops, but it's been a couple years since I've denied myself a break till I hit the ocean. Today I didn't stop till I hit BAR and settled alongside the churning water for a quick swig.

Continuing on, I came along side Crystal Cove and became aware of a small tingle in the middle of my upper back. That's often where I start to feel my mileage and I doubt if it's a sign of proper technique, but I ignored it and paddled on. Now I'll admit I like to cut corners, which is why we had to decide that for a true paddle to Crystal Cove, you have to be straight off the Green House. For Abalone Point, I like to think you've made your destination when you come to the first part of the cliffs past El Moro beach, but I'm sure others would argue that "point"! Once at AP, I was feeling adventurous and decided to head for one of the coves closer to Laguna. I hoped to land and rest and snack before my trip home.

Crescent Bay was rather rough and the proceeding coves not much better. There was often a lull, but it was hard to judge with two significant swell coming from different directions to cause a bit of shore break. With my long paddle home, I just didn't want to get soaked. I made a note to carry a dry bag and extra shirt and towel to remedy that situation next time. All by my lonesome, I gave up my hope of a nap on the beach, figuring with no sun out, I'd just be cold anyway! Starting home, I thought of taking the inside passage at Seal Rock, but hesitated not knowing the reef real well there. Then a large set of waves came it to dissuade me for good and I hurried out into calmer water. As I neared AP again, a bit of blue sky appeared and I saw my first shadows on the day.

A bit past AP, I met up with the ubiquitous Chuck Freedman and his friend John returning from their paddle. We paddled along together for a while, but I was sad that Chuck no longer had his hitchhiker from the other day. Even so, we were treated to an appearance from some sort of small whale who popped up not too far ahead of us. It came up to spout a few times, but gave us no spectacular views. After a while I left C&J to try a landing at Crystal Cove. I still hadn't eaten any of my munchies and the shore was calling. But after watching the shore break a while, I decided against a landing. While I sat a bit off shore, a swimmer came by and told me he was training for a triathlon and asked if I had any advice for his swim! I told him to head north so the tide would help him home and that he was probably out far enough to not have to worry about waves breaking on him. He said thanks and I turned to head off and of course a big ol' wave decided to come crash right on our location! I hightailed it out to meet it and was greeted with a full soaking. I looked back to make sure my swimmer was still alive and headed on.

I continued to head home using the inside passage. Regularly I'd have to spin my log of a boat out to meet the cresting waves coming in. The tide was getting low and showing off all the reefs that dot the shore on this stretch of water. I had more close calls, but finally made it to Toxic Creek Beach and headed in to see if I could have some fun in the breakers. As I paddled over some of the big waves, I saw Chuck and John out side joined by a whale watching boat and got to see one more spouting on the day. They headed off and I took another break farther off BAR to finally get to my munchies.

When I hit the jetty, my GPS had me at @14 miles. I still felt good-especially my feet often a concern of mine-and decided to do a bit of a harbor paddle to pad my miles. Once past the Pavilion, it didn't seem all that much to throw in a paddle around Lido Isle, so I went for that too. I had hoped that would actually put me close to 20 miles on the day, not too shabby. I came around the back side of Balboa with my GPS registering 20.1. The only problem was it was set to statute miles. I knew if I bragged about doing 20 statute miles, people would just snicker and berate me, so I figured I'd convert it over and finish off in NM. I wasn't too happy when the conversion showed I had almost another three miles to go!!! But I was in it for the long haul and once again started off against the stiff head wind to make my way out of the harbor. This little set back had a rather nasty impact on my demeanor and I gritted my teeth and decided a trip around the channel buoy would do the trick. I was a long slog and I found the buoy standing room only for the seals. The biggest guy with the best seat in the house wasn't too happy with my close pass by, but I was too tired to go out any farther. The paddle back to the beach was uneventful except for an obliging wave that lifted my spirits giving my a nice ride a bit of the way down the harbor.

It was painful getting out of the boat, but I managed to get the boat cleaned off and up on the car. After 6+ hours and 20.5 NAUTICAL miles, I was done for the day, tied with my longest paddle to date. I'm glad it's over.

Day #34, Cracking the Whip?
Ken and Barb suggested it was time we put a few more miles into one of our paddle. I couldn't argue with that, we've been a tad lazy lately and coming off a 90 degree weekend it seemed the right time for a bit of a work out. So while I was up for anything, Team KB decided for a harbor paddle when we found rather unexpected wind and waves upon our launch from the Coast Guard beach.

Barb would have been happy to never leave the harbor, but I always say you've got to at least stick your nose out to see what conditions are really like. But the constant head wind was a bad sign and when we hit the outer water conditions could only be described as FUN!!! So to make someone happy, we decided to put our miles in in the harbor.

Turning back into the harbor, we could at least have a bit of fun trying to catch the swells rolling in. We hugged the west side of the jetty trying to ameliorate the wind a bit. I paddled close by the jetty to satisfy my jonesing for big rocks, but paid the price with a grinding cross-over of a barely submerged rock. I continued to add texture to my pristine boat by paddling next to the sea wall and through the private dock pilings. Pretty pathetic that most of the scratches on my boat now come from a harbor paddle!

With the wind at our backs, we got a bit warm as we paddled down around Lido Isle. Still it was a pretty day with the occasional sun battling the threatening clouds. On the long haul back against the wind we could at least blame Barb for our predicament-had we gone even for just a BAR paddle, we'd have the wind helping us home! But at least the chat made up for the mundane scenery.

Right past Kevin Costner's house we zaggeg past the dredging barge for the final paddle back behind Balboa Island. Ken's long mileage resolve was ebbing in front of the continued winds and the decision was to head back to the CG beach. Barb went right for the beach, but Ken and I put in an extra .2 of a mile to bring us to an impressive 8 miles on the day! Not as far as we'd hoped, but we had to save our energy for the carry back to the parking lot!

Perhaps we had better intentions on the start of the day, but we still managed to have a nice day on the water. Having cut our paddle shorter than we'd planned, we realized we didn't manage to fit in all our chat and so reassembled at a local regal burger joint to fit it all in.

Day #33, Stickin' it to the Man
I wasn't sure what to expect today from Duane Strosaker and Bob McMurray's GP Stroke Clinic. Not that I questioned their abilities and knowledge-any one who paddles with them knows they are the Greenland experts for our local waters. It's just that using a GP always seemed rather intuitive to me-a big reason I like to have mine around. But as is the case for most classes I take, I came away with a couple savory morsels to consider for my future GP paddling.

We got started sitting on the sand under a hot sun and covered all the basics. I can't imagine why, but Duane seemed to be staring right at me when he mentioned how important an upright posture is to achieving a good torso rotation. Before long we were on the cool water of Los Alamitos bay to practice our bright shinny new knowledge.

There were about 15 of us, so we took up a bit of the bay as we paddled out around the buoy to try the different techniques. We had to compete a bit with some youngsters in the beginning sailing class, but there weren't any close calls to mention. During some backwards paddling practice there were some odd looks from the bystanders and bykayakers, but only enough to make us feel special. Bob, it turned out, was the only person to capsize when he misplaced an extended backwards paddle stroke, but of course his rolling ability made it looked planned!

Duane made sure anyone who had any advice to give had a chance and we ended up hearing about a few contrasting styles of GP paddling, which is something I always appreciate. It seems silly to think there's only one style of paddling no matter which kind of paddle your using and as Bob said, on a long paddle being able to alter your style a bit can help stave of fatigue on overtaxed muscles.

It turned out to be a great morning on the water and I'm sure everyone appreciated Duane and Bob's effort. Hard to complain about a group that's so willing to share and learn and provides these opportunities for all the CKF members. I hope to attend more in the future.

Day #32, Surf Boat Play
No not actual surf boat surfing, just sorta pretend. Ken hadn't been out in his Wold Death surf boat for a while and wanted to ease back into it. Not that there's any way to really ease into it--you really have to shoe-horn your way in. Anyway, we set off for the short paddle to Pirate's Cove for rolling practice.

Ken had his new Superior GP to see how well it would roll his surf boat. I can still remember his first attempt to roll this boat last year-how he came up looking like a breaching whale, but everything came up fine today. Surf boat rolls seem to come up rather slowly, we decided, but we didn't have much problem. We switched paddles for a while, but Ken seems determined to use his GP in the surf to hopefully avoid any shoulder injuries in the future.

The most fun on the day was when I convinced Ken to try an assisted reentry. He exited and although his boat lacks much in the way of deck rigging, I was able to get his boat emptied. With me holding on to his boat, he climbed over the bow of mine and tried to squeeze into his. We were both pretty much sinking throughout the endeavor, but we managed to get him back in. The water he took on while getting in made him too unstable and he quickly capsized after I let him free. I actually did this once in the surf with Duane's help and managed to continue surfing, but that's only because of my electric bilge pump and I can't seem to convince Ken he should get one!

So after a quick upside down session, we were paddling back and deciding that even a short paddle in a short boat is quite a workout.

Day #31, Getting Wet After a Lull
After what was probably my longest stretch off the water in the modern era, I went out for a paddle with Ken and Barb today. Haven't kayaked since the Symposium, so I was a bit rusty! Spent the week preparing to and then laying 1300 sqft of sod in my front yard, so it's not like I was goldbricking. But after all that real work, I was ready for a soak.

Ken had his pencil-lead boat and decided to bring his Superior pencil-lead GP to accessorize. Barb brought her Strosaker GP as well. I was loaded fer baar (BAR?) with my GP stuck to my front deck, my Redondo Ridgeback in my hands and a Strosaker canoe paddle filling out the rear.

I let K&B determine the destination, so you can't blame me for only paddling as far as BAR. Barb has a bit of a time keeping up with her GP, so I was able to go for a look see behind the arch, but the low tide prevailed. Ken practiced some rolls farther out while Barb warned him that the current was headed for a couple large rocks. As spouses sometimes do, he ignored her.

We chatted on the paddle back and landed on a beach in the harbor before starting a bit of rolling practice. I'd not had any success rolling with the Red Ridge, but hadn't really tried since I became more proficient at rolling. I missed my first try, but then was able to do my next few with an extended paddle. Ken looked good rolling with his GP until he tried his off side and just couldn't make it up without switching over to his good side. I broke out the canoe paddle to see if I could have any success, but couldn't find enough bite to make it up. Switching to my GP gave me the best rolls of the day, although a couple tries with Ken's Superior were also really nice.

We headed back after our short jaunt and hit an obscure coffee joint for a bit more chatting. It was nice to spend some time on and under the water after my absence and with my green lawn all in, can plan a bit more paddling for next week.

Day #30, Southwest Superimposium
It almost seemes that anybody who's anybody made it to the Aqua Adventures Southwest Symposium although I'm sorry to miss the few who couldn't attend. CKF folk were out in force monopolizing a whole section of the campground which made mixing, meeting and mooching all the more easier. Late from my surf class Friday, I chowed down some dinner and got my camp together to the sounds of Steve Wilson amped up in the exhibition tent right next to my site. Folks with Friday classes staggered in to meet old friends and gab about the good ol' days.

I had planned to just take the surf class and spend Saturday just hanging out on the beach taking pictures of the goings on and maybe check out some of the new boats or tent talks, but after a lazy morning decided to join a group for a paddle out to the ocean. Henry and Kathy, Duane, Ken and Ben and I hit the water against a breezy bay. Despite the chilly start we all warmed up so as we stopped for Kathy and I to take off our jackets, Duane charged ahead needing to get back to set up for his Greenland Ropes demo later in the morn. We meandered through the channels, this being my first time kayaking anywhere past the Campland shore in SD. The longer we paddled the more we wondered why we hadn't seen Duane on his return trip, but soon figured out why. As we got close enough to the end of the channel, you could see the large swells forming outside. Up close to the jetty was Duane using the swell energy bounding off the rocks to power his way back down the jetty.

We slipped out of the channel just enough to get a taste of the wind and large swells in the unprotected waters. Turning gingerly with the steep swells we headed back and I caught a couple of the rides that served Duane so well. On the way back, we met a few other folk and lost Ken to his own devices and decided to paddle home around one of the islands. I was strange at one point to see a pack of dogs running wild on the shore until we realized we were paddling next to a dog beach. Several of the water variety were bounding into the water to retrieve sticks and balls, but I couldn't entice any to chase me as I paddled close to shore. We put our trust in Henry to lead us home and though we did make it safely, we had to paddle through a couple jet ski designated area and portage our boats across a minor thoroughfare. Along the way we were also treated to sounds of hoof beats of a couple of horse riders plying the shore, a first for me on a kayak.

I landed in time to watch the closing of Duane's demo where he got a middle-aged lady who used to be a gymnast interested enough to give it a try. Wet though I was, I tried one maneuver on the ropes before heading back to stow my gear.

The rest of the day was left to socializing, although I'm afraid I forgot about my plan to immortalize the event photographically. Steve had asked for guitars to be brought for Nigel and Russell Farrow to use on the night's bonfire jam session. I just happened to have the only guitar no one was worried about getting too close to the fire. Around our dinner chatting at camp, Steve tried to get the guitar in some kind of tune and along with the chat gave us our own special performance. As an encore, Barb Tomita amazed us by playing and singing two beautiful Peter, Paul and Mary songs. I can only imagine it was my brush with death in my surf class that possessed me to offer my two song repertoire to the group and hands shaking like I leaf, I proceeded to butcher my two songs. But after downing three margaritas to settle my nerves, I got to try again an acquitted myself as well as I had hoped considering my talents.

Soon we were all adjourning to the beachside fire pit for most people favorite part of the weekend. Last year while jamming around the fire, Steve's beloved Ovation guitar got a bit singed and this year as the fire grew a slight mist began to fall. Steve, not wanting to subject his guitar to the rain started off the night playing my guitar and I have to say I felt proud that my guitar that in its life has only know three chords could make that kind of music come out of it! It was a blast to see Steve go at it with Brent Reitz blowing the harmonica. After a few songs the weather eased a bit and Steve brought out his guitar alternating songs with Russell and Nigel and Duane Strosaker played his didgeridoo and provided a short comedy skit between songs. The music went on until the mist returned and the guitars were put away for the night.

It was a great night of music and the real rain waited for most of us to be safe in our tents and even then took it easy on us. I woke in the morning to the sound of rain on my tent, but after about half an hour it stopped and we were able to get up and ingest some bacon and round up our gear. A few people still had classes on the day, but most pulled up camp and headed home. Another great weekend of kayaking music and friends.

Day #29, La Jolla Surf Shindig
Friday I drove down to San Diego for the Southwest Symposium and after dropping my camping stuff off at Campland headed to the Marine Room at La Jolla for a surf class with Sean Morley and Nigel Foster. There were about 10 of us in the class including Chuck Freedman, Patric Martin, Mike Bode. I was also happy to meet for the first time the builder of my Delfin kayak, Rafael Mier and his son Gustavo who were up from Mexico to attend the symposium. Everyone seemed competent kayakers with various levels of experience in the surf.

We spent a bit of time talking in the sand and then headed out for the hands on training. I paddled out alongside Patrick who expressed some apprehension about his twitchy new boat, but looked like an old pro heading out through the surf. The waves had seemed a bit small when we had arrived, but picked up a bit and there were some challenging conditions for us novices. I think I caught the first wave of the group and had a nice ride to shore, but the paddle back out did not bode well for the day. A large wave broke in front of me and knocked me over backwards. A bit winded already I didn't even try for a roll and was probably the first in the group to swim as well. As someone who loves puching his sea kayak through incoming waves, I'm a bit embarrassed that punching through them in my surf boat is my major cause of carnage. Back on land for a bit, I got a tip from Sean on how to bunny hop over the soup and tried to put that to good use.

A few of us moved a bit north of the Marine Room and while the waves were of a good size, they were rather closed out and after a couple rides we mingled back with the rest of the folk. Conditions seemed to get a lot better with some green water on our sides to push our rides a bit. Every time I'd paddled out I'd see Patrick out there with a big smile on his face till I decided he must have carved it into his beard!! We were a bit crowded and I had a couple near misses with Patrick that had his eyes widening a bit! Mike and I shared a wave on one ride and both of us zigged when we should have zagged for a bit of a collision, but we both stayed upright and Mike professed to be fine later.

For the rest of the three hours, I just tried to sqeeze in as many rides as I could. Gustavo, only 16, seemed relentless and indefatigable playing in the surf that he said was bigger than what he was used to. The bunny hop served me in good stead and I found myself getting through waves that I felt sure would swamp me. A one point heading out one of the big ones loomed in front of me and I was sure of another swim. Next to me, Nigel was also paddling out and I hoped that before I found myself upside down, I'd be able to at least see how an expert would handle it, but what do you know, we both made it over! My bunny hop maneuver alone was worth the price of admission!

I got some great rides and one of the best found me riding the shoulder deep into the reef area we were supposed to avoid. In trying to pull out of the wave, I got hit by another angling wave and found myself upside down for only the second time on the day. With a bit more air in my lungs, I took some time to compose myself and pulled out my first honest to goodness combat roll to add to the day's success. Still I was in some rough water and at Seans behest surfed some white water to a safer area.

There were nothing but smiles on the faces of all the students for the day and I don't doubt on Sean's or Nigel's either. I've stopped trying to rate my latest surfing sessions because it just doesn't seem possible that each on seems to be better than the last. But a handy tip and my first combat roll makes this one I'll remember.

Day #28, Not a Single Chocolate Egg!
I guess I've got to check my clocks; I was supposed to start my paddle at 8:30, but got there way too early! I thought I was running late and left without even my hot water to warm my booties! A bad way to start a paddle! Early as I was, Barb and Ken were already there with there boats on the beach waiting to go!

We hit the calm water and went searching for Henry and Kathy, who as usual were starting their paddle earlier. They fooled us by showing up from the opposite direction as last time and sneaking up on us all quite like. But the harbor was not our destination and we set out for the sea. Checking the CG station, there was no one else to join our paddle, so we were on our own.

There were a lot of kayaks on the water and as is usually the case, we wondered if any of them were people we know, but most turned out to be fishermen. There was one kayaker a ways ahead of us who was on our same path and we finally met up with him amongst the kelp and rocks off of Little Corona. It was Reid paddling his Mariner Express and he joined us for our paddle to Crystal Cove.

There wasn't a lot of eagerness to land at CC, so we decided just to paddle on to Reef Point, although Reid had to head home. It was a quite day on the water, not much wave action, so it was mostly a gab fest coming and going. I had made a tour of the squirrely water of the Arch on the way out, so Henry wouldn't let me go in on the way home for an encore. Although it was a warm day, the cold water discourage most of us from rolling practice, although Ken punched one out at the landing beach. KB had guests at home to get back to, so it was just HnK and I having Easter lunch at a convenient Carls Jr.

Day #27, Easter Eve
Decided on a little solo time today, hoping to hang out a bit at BAR. With no one to meet, I didn't make it to the beach until about 10 and as a harbinger of what lies ahead with our warmer weather, my beach was already infested with sand urchins running about. They stayed pretty much on their side of the beach and I launched without difficulty.

With my late start I was losing the high tide and made a beeline to BAR hoping to have enough water to play. It was a bit on the shallow side, but if you didn't look down you hardly noticed! I didn't play too long with the tide lessening and me all by my lonesome, but it was nice to battle a few swells coming through the arch. A bump on a submerged rock told me it was time to head elsewhere.

Over at Toxic Creek Beach, I joined a surfer in close to shore. The waves weren't very big on the day, but I managed to get a bit wet punching through a few of them. But things slowed down and I decided to head on back. Back at BAR, I spent a bit more time hanging out sea-side with the small waves washing over the point. It was a pretty small day, but I managed to have some fun. Cold water limited me to just one roll on the day, but the sun was out in force as I loaded up the car for the trip home.

Day #26, The Opposite of 15
I'm 51 and ten days paddling in the last two weeks are starting to remind me I'm not a teenager. Sadly, I really can't whine because most of the folks I paddle with are older than I, but put me to shame in activity level. Yesterday's pre-storm paddle had me tired on the night and even though the storm decided not to show up, I was tempted to call today a day of rest. But the boat was still on the top of the car and as lazy as I am I hate to miss a chance to paddle with the boat all ready to go!

I decided a lengthy upside down soak in the cool waters of Pirate's Cove would invigorate my system without taxing my muscles too much. When I hit the water, the two gale force warning flags that greeted us on our return yesterday were still flying despite the fact that the only way to describe the day was sunny, calm and beautiful. The only real clouds were the fluffy white ones separating the ocean from the sky off on the southern horizon. Reading my mind, the flags started to come down as I passed the CG station.

The harbor was dead calm, but I asked a couple returning outriggers if there was any swell left over from yesterday and they offered an enthusiastic "yes". Looking out to sea, the ocean seemed like a churning river heading south, so I thought I'd first stick my neck out to see. There were still a lot of swells rolling by, but nothing like yesterday to lure me out of the harbor. Still, while out there Chuck Freedman paddle up after a longish paddle and decided to roll with me a bit.

Rolling went well and after a while Chuck asked if I'd like to switch boats. I got to paddle his Nordkapp and had no trouble rolling it up. Without a backband to fit me, I wasn't able to get a real good feel for the boat, other than the huge difference from my QCC. Chuck in my high volume boat really showed what a big boat it is, but he rolled it without much trouble.

I had hoped that with my late start I might meet up with the group that headed out on a harbor paddle earlier in the morning and sure enough, Dave, Ken and Barb came paddling by. We met up and decide to continue rolling practice in the cleaner water outside the channel. Dave started off practicing the open day hatch roll and then proceeded on to the pumping out the day hatch drill. Ken was really diving his paddle blade on his roll and fighting to get up and the cold water wasn't making things any easier. The water was crystal clear though and my rolls all went OK.

I was ready when everyone decided to call it a day and head in. My muscles felt tight as I paddled back. The plan became to renourish at Wahoo Fish Tacos, but a car loading error prevented my appearance. Suffice to say, you don't want to get the lip of your spray skirt stuck in your trunk latch with your keys in the back. Nuff said.

Day #25, Chunky
Ignoring the Ides of March, I glided over to the Coast Guard beach at 8 this morning. Assembling their assorted gear were Duane Strosaker, Bob McMurray, Henry and Kathy Pilcher and Chuck Freedman. Joining the party late was Ken Fry, but no one seemed to mind chatting at the water's edge as we waited for him to stow his accoutrements. Weather was expected on the day, but at the CG station, I decided to take off my wet suit top as the sun was warm and the flags lay limp on their poles. Seemed I was out of luck in my hope for a monster surf paddle.

Our unusual route for the day was to head north to Newport pier in case the wind picked up so we could avail ourselves of it on the way back. Nearing the end of the jetty, you could see there was a bit of texture outside, despite the calmness of the harbor. Nosing out past the rocks, Chuck and I took the lead. As is often the case, there was some large peakid swells at the harbor mouth, but despite his nickname, Chuck didn't come through with the tsunami. He and I waited for the rest of the group to catch up, but when they did, we already had a casualty--Ken decided not to risk his mending skeleton in the surf and stayed inside for a harbor paddle.

We started at a brisk pace, but the calm wind of the harbor belied the conditions outside. We had a steady head wind and sea to fight on our trip. Every one seemed to enjoy the chance to bury their bow through a wave with the sounds of hulls slapping the ensuing troughs. Bob, as is his wont, rolled willy nilly in the swells, but never slowed down the group. I was feeling a bit of a chill in just my t-shirt, but we were working hard enough to generate some heat. The long sandy coast dotted with palm trees looked beautiful under the cloudy sky--not our usual scenery. Soon we were taking a break in front of a sparsely populated Balboa pier.

Duane said the best word to describe today's conditions was choppy, but I decided chunky was a much more apt moniker. We had a constant smaller swell that would often be peppered with some larger waves just to make sure we all got a bit salty. By any name, we were grateful to have something a little more exciting than the usual pacivity we usually paddle through. Chuck stayed mostly on the point, while Kathy did her Greta Garbo impersonation towards the rear. Quicker than I imagined we were milling about the Newport pier as the waves rumbled through the pilings.

We set home with the wind now on our team and a rear quartering sea to keep us on our toes. There were some occasional quick rides, but it was hard to judge just which swell was surfable and I spent much time chasing losers. This was the first time for Bob to get an extended test of his homemade kayak in these kind of condition and it seemed to handle them well. Bob said it was taking a bit of work to make it look so easy, but as Henry said, we were all working a bit today. As we neared the Wedge, condition picked up a bit again and unexpected braces were the order of the day. Henry and I almost did a synchronized pinwheel pirouette on one large one, but managed to miss each other and stay upright. The biggest swells once again met us at the north end of the jetty, but we were quickly back inside the harbor.

So for the folks who ply the northern waters, a day like today is probably a humdrum event, but for us who paddle this part of the pond we call the Pacific, it was a chance to have some fun and hone our skills. I'll have to wait for some other storm to make my epic paddle, the kind that makes you wet your kayak, but it was fun to be out there sharing the water with a great group of people.

Day #24, Easy Breezy
I was surprised as Barb, Ken and I started our paddle this afternoon that there was no small craft warning flag flying at the CG Station; the wind was definitely in that category. We fought the head wind out of the jetty, but there didn't seem much of a swell making its way into the harbor. Even with the sun out, it was a bit chilly fighting the wind, but not so bad.

We assumed conditions outside were going to be mild despite the wind, but then as we neared Pirate's Cove a really nice set of waves came in. Perfect surfing size and shape, but I was sure I was too late to catch one. Turned out there were about 6 waves in the set and I was able to get a ride on the last small one. It was a long wait between the big sets, so we headed out for a BAR paddle.

Outside the harbor we found conditions mildly challenging and settled in for what was a slow paddle to BAR. Everyone seemed to want to paddle off by themselves today, so there wasn't much idle banter going on. The waves were churning up pretty nicely at BAR as I donned my helmet and headed in. True friend that he is, Ken let me know ahead of time he wouldn't be coming in to save me! Tide was too low even if I wanted to do an arch pass, but at least I hung out for a bit along side. Ken and Bard didn't even want to watch so kept facing out to see ignoring me. I didn't want Ken to have to test his mended collar bone with a rescue tow, so I kept my visit short but sweet and soon we were headed back. We wondered what conditions were going to be like for Duane's Saturday paddle.

Back at PC, we hung out a bit, but the swells had calmed down considerably. Ken and I got a couple small rides, but Barb would have none of it and stayed out practicing different strokes. As we passed the CG Station again, they'd finally got on the ball and put out the SCW flag. At least the wind was at our backs and helped blow us back for a safe landing. My hope for Saturday? Four times the surf and two times the wind--I'm hoping for something Doug Lloydian.

Day #23, Question of the Day
Can a combat roll be planned?

My kayak date for the night jilted me. The only thing to do in such a case is put on your corsage and head out alone! I hit the water at about 4pm without much thought of where I was heading. I spent yesterday whittling down my GP some more so I took that with me. I was able to shave off another 5 oz and flatten the blades a bit which I hoped would help my rolling.

I figured just hitting the water was a plus today, so I thought I'd just do an easy BAR paddle, but when I got to Pirate's Cove, there were some nice swells hitting the sea wall. It looked like I might sneak a ride next to the point. I was impressed to see a man swimming right by, but my awe turned to ire when I realized he was swimming back and forth right in my surf zone! We got into a good rhythm though, where I'd catch a wave while he was away and by the time I got back for the next one he'd be gone again. I was surprised on my second ride; I really had to lean back to keep my bow from plowing under. Most of the rides weren't that great, but they made me forget about my other destination.

Things calmed a bit, so I started working on some bracing and rolling practice. I've had luck lately rolling with my Onno, but not so much with my GP, but the new sleeker model seemed to do the trick. My rolls felt sharp and with the confidence of success, I was able to take some time under water to notice the effect of my hip snap on the boat. While rolling though, I missed a nice set of waves that came in that would have given me a great ride.

I was hanging out a while and I could hear some nice sized waves pounding on the Wedge and figured my long range set was coming in again. I got a couple small rides, but was hoping for at least one big one. I figured if I caught a big one, I'd let it knock me over to see how I'd roll in more realistic conditions. It took a while, but I finally got a ride big enough to take you whether you wanted it or not. I got a good ride, but before it died out I did a quick capsize. No goggles or nose plugs, just that lovely feeling of salt water being injected into your sinuses. A bit discombobulated, my first roll only got me up enough for a quick breath, but I took my time on the second try and popped right up. Well, it wasn't a real big wave and I knew it was coming, but it stilled seemed more realistic that the usual rolling practice.

So it ended after a couple hours of fun where I never even left the harbor. 3/9/08
Day #22, Time and Tide Wait for No Man
Had I realized that the time change was on for last night, I would have started my paddle today a bit later, but there I was meeting Barb at the secret beach at 8:15--too early in my opinion even without losing an hour. When we hit the water, Henry and Kathy glided up already with a loop of the island in their belt. Doesn't anyone sleep late anymore!!!

There was talk about of some wind in the immediate future, but for now it was a great day to paddle. The paddle out was dotted with kayaks--fishermen and others, all enjoying the early morning quiet. The sky was mostly clear despite the misty fog in the distance except for a clearly discernable bank of fog that had descended on Dana Point 12 miles distant.

I used Henry's ongoing recovering from shoulder surgery as an excuse to keep a mild pace rather than admit any fatigue from my fast paced Saturday paddle. No one argued against Crystal Cove for a destination. We shared stories of foggy paddles past while dolphins passed us in the distance. To our left, 5 kayakers angled the water below the kelp beds while more out to sea, we stopped to chat with more early morning paddlers. We kept our eye out for Dave O. who was might to be out earlier to do a longer paddle than us pikers. Even at our lazy pace, we were soon abreast of the cottages where we declared that for a true paddle to Crystal Cove, you must at least reach the Green House, although I added a codicil that when on an arm rattling pace with Chuck Freedman, you can turn back at the first cottage!

It was nice to just hang out floating a while and chatting at CC, no one seeming in a rush to head home. We took the inside passage on our way home so I could visit BAR which I had ignored on the way out. With a high tide, I hurried back for a quick arch run so as not to hold up the group. BAR today seemed to be the only place anyone was sleeping late, as it was covered by a large flock of pelicans. To punish me for my early morning intrusion, they crapped on my boat from stem to stern and I paddled home smelling like the Dana Point jetty!

Inside the harbor, we saw a kayaker heading our way with the unmistakable stroke of Dave O. We wondered if perhaps he had forgotten the time change, but in a hurry to get in his paddle, we didn't get a chance to ask. With the early start, the paddle seemed over way too early, so we headed to the Fireside for our aprhs paddle brunch.

Day #21, Puttin' a Hurt on the Newbies!
We salty yakkers can be a macho lot. I joined speedster Duane Strosaker for his harbor "fitness paddle at your own pace." That's code for keep up or be prepared to be left behind. Bob McMurray was there as well, another notorious greyhound and I usually seem to be able to keep a pace these days. Stretching their wings to brave this paddle also were Chuck Fowler and Jeff Libby. Chuck, a marathoner has shown himself to be an able paddler, but doesn't get out with us much. Jeff just absorbed a battering of email advice that flattened out his left leaning tendencies encouraging him to try paddling straight for a change.

We set off giving no quarter. Bob and I took the lead; I wondering at the ease that he seems to keep a fast pace. Duane seemed off in the back, I assumed laying down the law for the upstarts who thought themselves worthy of this crew. Soon Duane joined us and three abreast we powered on through the back bay. Trouble was we couldn't lose the newbies!!! Credit where it is due, these two showed some grit and stayed right behind us as we passed under PCH. We hallowed Harold on the shore waiting for a class and continued on for our turn point at NAC.

Perhaps the pace got to Jeff a bit and to stave off dehydration, he reached behind for his water bottle. Yes, clearly a newbie mistake!!! Up a head we were alerted by an outrigger who suggest we might want to check on our entourage. Jeff was in the soup. I made a quick Uey and got his boat up and emptied. I like to rescue like I roll, unlike anything anyone has seen before. I just held on to his boat and he crawled in, but he admitted it was completely backwards from the rescues he'd learned before, but I don't like to stand on ceremony. Our slight detour allowed us to collect for the ride to NAC. I mused that in all my years of kayaking, it's not too often you have a kayaker go belly up for no apparent reason and I thanked Jeff for the chance to do a combat rescue! Good experience for both of us!

Now that we were warmed up, we were ready for the real paddling to begin--back to the main channel and around Lido Isle. For some reason, this seems the place where the pace always starts in earnest. As we made the turn around Kevin Costners house, the three of us out front seemed to be paddling alone. Half way down the island, we decide Chuck and Jeff must have headed back to the beach. Making the turn around Lido, we faced the paddle home through a brisk breeze. We chatted, solving the question of feather vs. none and countless other kayaking uncertainties. We perhaps unleashed a low evil chuckle at the thought of our lost compatriots realizing this pace would never slow down. We allowed grudging respect of their mettle, but not too secretly basked in our prowess! The wind only goaded us on, feather be demmed. We owned the bay and all seemed to part before us.

We soon landed on the CG beach and perhaps fatigue clouded Bob's thinking a bit. He suggested I try his boat, the absolute antithesis of my QCC. I had to remove my booties just to get my feet in and all the while fearing the sound of fiberglass coated plywood splintering, tried to wiggle myself in. Now Bob is a tall fellow, but my feet soon hit the bulkhead while my legs were squeezed together like a kielbasa stuffed in a breakfast sausage casing. A man on shore was taking pictures to warn his family of attempting such madness and I had to resort to my usual groveling in the mud and water to extricate myself from his shoe box. A very ugly experiment!

Up in the parking lot, we realized that our newbies were still on the water and I think we said a silent prayer! Turns out they didn't let our speed daunt them and continued the complete loop only a little bit behind us. Though I tease them a bit, these two are welcome additions to our paddling scene, able paddlers and I look forward to plying the ocean with them in the future. I certainly remember starting out where I could only recognize my paddling partners from behind! And if we gave no quarter, neither did they ask for any. A fun morning of testosterone and salty spray.

Day #20, An Even Score
My fourth day on the water this month brings me to a score for the year. Wasn't expecting much for this paddle, so I left my helmet in the car; just wanted to pad my record, but the day served to add truth to my motto: "Expect the worst; you'll probably be pleasantly surprised!"

Ken joined me again and we headed out for BAR--again!!! The tide was at zero ft and falling, but it was still a beautiful day with a wispy clouded sky. Outside the harbor, the water was smooth as glass--pretty, but not usually conducive to a lot of fun. We headed inside close to shore and found ourselves pushing our way through the unusually abundant kelp. Ken said he'd read that they had been planting it in our area; I just wondered if it was making the fishing any better for the kayak anglers.

Quickly we made it to BAR and I slipped into the cove on the side while Ken was content to practice sculling braces out past the surf line. Despite the glassy water, there were some nice waves coming in on occasion. I snuck back as far as I could, as the waves weren't breaking till they hit the shore and we continued like this for a while. All of a sudden, I found myself facing a five foot vertical wall of water looking to land right on top of me! I poured on some speed and just made it over the crest with a hard landing on the other side. It was a fun ride, but not one I expected or usually look for in the rock studded cove on a low tide.

We headed back and spent some time in front of Big Corona to see if the big swell would come in again. I saw a large fin pop up, but it was gone so quick I couldn't tell which marine creature it could belong to. We thought it may be a whale as we waited quite a while, but didn't see it come up anywhere else.

At Pirate's Cove, we landed and snacked, I asked Ken if I could try his Explorer. It was a tight fit for me and I seemed loose without my giant back band, but I learned what it's like to roll a real kayak! I couldn't believe how well my rolls were popping up. For the first time, I could really feel my hip snap having an effect on the boat. After a couple extended rolls, I switched and had just as much success as non extended. Ken gave me his Superior GP to try and I seemed to pop up even more solid with that. I was pretty amazed at the change and felt ready to take next to last place at the next rolling competition! Back in my boat, I confirmed its barge like quality with a couple more pathetic rolls. Darn I need a new boat.

Well, we'd had enough on the day and headed home. The tide was so low, there was hardly any beach for us to land on. So we rolled out of our kayaks onto the public dock and saved ourselves a walk through the sand. Another fun day on the water.

Day #19, More of the Same
Third day on the month-not a bad way to start. I met Ken at the secret beach @noon today, a beautiful day to be on the water. On my way home from my paddle on Sunday, I nearly lost my boat from the wicked wind that almost torqued it off my racks. We were lucky the wind didn't start until we were done with our paddle. Today the wind was our friend, easing the heat from a sunny sky.

I've got to be impressed with Ken. Old man that he is, he seems to have recovered quickly from his bike crash and was ready to hit the water. We had no real agenda; just started paddling. I was a bit worried with my blisters from Sunday, but they seemed no problem while paddling my Onno. Conditions were calm and the low tide prevented any excursions behind Big Arch Rock, so Crystal Cove became the default destination.

Ken surprised me by saying he was up for a landing at CC. I just wanted to atone for my adventure at Treasure Island on Sunday. I headed in for the Green House, figuring if I was going to mess it up, at least do it for the folks feasting on over priced burgers at the restaurant. There was a rather nasty shore break breaking on occasion, but I made it in without incident if you ignore my usual sandy dismount. Ken exhibited good timing as well and we were soon snacking on the sand.

Did I mention it was a beautiful day??? There's something special about standing on the beach taking a break from a paddle that gives you a chance to realize your good fortune. Snacking, chatting and watching the surf roll in--it seems the way a paddle should follow. Talking with Ken, I mention how before I started kayaking, if I saw a group of kayakers off Crystal Cove, I would be amazed! Where did they come from--these intrepid explorers braving the elements so far out to sea??? Now perhaps I am one of those people impressing the luncheoners and beach wanderers.

As is usually the case upon landing at CC, we had a nice couple walk up to ask about our boats and our trip. Even the mild surf at CC seems to impress the uninitiated! Just about then, a wicked wave unlike anything we'd seen till then pounded the beach! The couple was concerned for our exit and Ken didn't help things by mentioning the loss of our club president last year!! Ken told them that with judicious timing, we'd be out safe and sound, but added that I (me) would just punch through anything that came my way!!! They asked if they could watch and I assured them that an audience could only lead to carnage!! I launched without a hitch and just to show off, waited for one of the large waves to roll in to catch a bit of air for our fans. The waves were hard to predict and I worried for Ken with his sore ribs getting hammered by that rogue wave, but after a bit of waiting he made it out with no trouble.

Our trip home was rather uneventful. Off in the distance we saw a paddler headed home that by the cadence we discerned to be Chuck Freedman, but we never caught him to confirm. Towards the jetty, Ken seemed to be feeling the longest paddle since his return from his crash, but still had enough oomph to knock off a couple rolls at Pirate's Cove. When we hit the beach, Chuck's Nordkapp sitting on the sand confirmed our suspicions of the suspicious paddler. We had all snuck this paddle in for the day and couldn't hang out to chat, but I think we were all glad that we made it!

Day #18, Duane's Sunday Paddle
Lugged myself out of bed in time this morning to join Duane's first Sunday paddle in a long time. When I pulled in to the beach at Dana Point, Henry and Kathy were already there talking with George M. We all had our boats down by the water by the time Duane strolled in. Treasure Island was the destination, although H&K had other engagements on the day and could only go about half way.

Compared to yesterday's miserable weather, we had it pretty nice. The sun was out and the sky was clear and once out of the harbor, Abalone Point was quite clear in the distance. I was a bit worried we might get too warm, but the breeze kept us comfortable all day. The sea was mild which let everyone paddle close together and gab while keeping a leisurely pace. It seemed too early when H&K decided to turn around.

On my rolling practice yesterday, I tweaked a chest muscle, so today I decided to only use my GP. I figured with Henry still recovering a bit from his shoulder troubles, the pace wouldn't get too high. Trying to eliminate clutter and simplify my paddling style, I left my Onno in the car. We fell into a good rhythm and soon were closing in on TI. There to greet us was Dave O. who had left early to get in some extra miles and join us on our way back.

On our landing at TI, I was able to provide the only drama on the day. This was my first time landing at TI and despite George's warning earlier that things could get tricky, I just plowed right in. Those who have paddled with me know I often utilize a modified wet exit on beach landings where I just sort of roll out of my boat on shore and get all wet and sandy. I'd timed a wave just right to leave me on the beach, but found the shore to be a bit steeper than I expected. So when I rolled out, my boat and I got sucked back into the water. I was floundering about in the rocky shore, no worse than most of the indignities I have to endure, but my real worry was the new VHF radio I had stored in my snack bag in my cockpit. Sure enough, it got sucked out along with all its contents and now my radio was at the bottom of the rather shallow sea. George had a dive mask with him and lent it to me, but the search didn't go well. The water was so cold I could barely stay under to look and the receding waves would suck me past the area I was searching in. I had to hold on the copious sea weeds to keep my place. But the water was too roiled with sand and the rocks and sea weeds to plentiful to see anything and I soon gave up hope. But ladies and gentleman, Poseidon smiled on me today and George saw the radio spinning about in the shallow sand. It became a mad electronic grunion hunt as he grabbed for it in the fast moving water. George really saved my bacon on this trip.

The guys were nice enough to give me a bit more time to recover from my ordeal. We talked about every paddle always having some excitement, but I said that was most true about landings. Always seems to me there is always something to be learned in even the easies surf launches or landings and I usually always enjoy them! Soon we were heading off and the same conditions that gave me trouble on landing sucked my right out for an easy launch.

Now Dave is usually out ahead setting the pace, but today he was chatting it up with George, so Duane and I had the lead. I was soaked, but despite the cooling conditions felt warm under our steady pace. I learned something else today though--an unfinished Greenland paddle can get hard on your skin during a 13 mile paddle. I had 5 blisters on my hands that soon lost all there skin to become gaping open wounds. I figure by the time we made it back, my hands would be bloody stumps. Not something I thought of when I decided to leave the Onno in the car.

Finally Dave had had it with our lollygagging and took the lead to get us home. Even he had to rest a bit to catch his breath as we turned into the harbor, but then he had quite a few more miles in than we. My fingers held up during the slow paddle back to the beach. We loaded up and then chatted a bit and then everyone went home to get ready for the next paddle.

Day #17, A Quick Rolling Practice
Ignoring a gloomy sunless sky, I headed out at noon for some rolling practice. I had hoped a later paddle would give time for the sun to come out, but no luck. The water too looked less than inviting; a ruddy, dark, greenish-brown affair, but I decided not to let it spoil my practice.

Pirate's Cove had a tiny bit of swell rolling in when I arrived. I got to work quickly and despite the gloom, stayed relatively warm despite my immersion. My rolls came without a hitch, although the wind kept blowing we into the shallows. After a while I let my Onno float a bit and switched to my GP. I was impressed with my first attempt--a solid roll up, but the next few required a bit of forward skull to make it up. With the cold water creating a disinclination to swim, I didn't take much time underwater to focus on my movements and try to realize any flaws. I'm still waiting for some warm water pool time to concentrate on my technique.

Once again, I showed off for the large yachts that sailed by and I had no swims on the day. The swell coming in picked up a bit and I was able to get a few rides on the waves that formed around the PC reef. It calmed down quickly and I made a fast paddle back to my beach.

Day #16, Pushing it a Bit
I was supposed to meet Barb and Chuck Freedman for the Thursday Afternoon Paddle, but I was surprised when Ken showed up for the first test paddle of his crash ravaged shoulder. Of course Ken is never know to push things, so I figured he must be ready. In the mood for a new boat, I was checking out Chuck's Nordkapp as we waited for the tardy K n' B. Haven't had a chance to look one over much before.

It wasn't the ideal shoulder testing weather; there was a strong head wind that would steal and progress if you stopped your paddling. Ken felt pretty good, but felt a little pain in his ribs. Chuck convinced him to try his paddle, a narrow bladed affair and he seemed to do alright. It was looking pretty choppy outside with some swells making their way into the harbor, so KnB decided to hang out in the harbor. That left Chuck and I to make a run to Crystal Cove. That was my fall back position when Chuck suggested Abalone Point. I told him, I'm not used to real paddling!

I've heard Chuck likes to chew up the miles and he set a pretty fast pace. It was fun though, plowing through the wind and the head seas. We seemed to slack of a bit now and then to where I could find enough air to converse a bit. I quizzed him on his opinion of other boats and our pace soon had us closing in on the first cottage of CC.

I was ready for a corn-nut break which gave the wind a chance to start us on our home journey. We followed a more inshore route on the way home and Chuck gave me a heads up on a couple waves sneaking in. A choppy rear quartering sea also kept us alert. I was happy for a slower pace on the way home. Ken and Barb were still hanging out at the launch site when we landed and we all headed to a little know coffee place for more kayak gabbing.

Day #15, Eye of the Storm
I stopped along the strand at Huntington Beach this morning to see what our stormy weather was doing in the way of big surf. Things weren't massive; the waves weren't all that tall, but had quite a bit of water too them. Like Ken Fry, the waves had no shoulder and would break in a line a couple hundred yards long on the beach. There was plenty energy to chew up a kayak and spit it out. I wished I was in there, but hey, some of us have to work for a living!

By three o'clock, I was on the water back in Newport hoping to find a little energy left. As I paddled out, there was no wave action hitting the jetties. It looked like what swell there was heading south and skipping the shoreline. The paddle to BAR was a mostly calm affair.

The bathymetry around BAR always seems to scoop up a little energy and my favorite rock was getting a bit of a cleaning. Low tide closed out the back, so I just hung out on the side as the small but powerful swells rolled by. Not wanting to swim, I took it easy and enjoyed the sound of the surf crashing on the rocks.

I paddled home thinking I'm way behind on my paddling this month; if I'm lucky, I might squeeze in seven. I'll have to think of some special way to atone in March.

Day #14, Scum on the Water, Fire in the Sky
Plan today was to head to Pirate's Cove to work on my rolling. Haven't tried many lately and my success rate was dropping. It was a beautiful day with just a few wispy clouds to occasionally occlude the sun. Despite the mild temps, at least I could count on some solar energy between tries.

The paddle to PC caused me to change my plans. I was paddling through stretches of brown lumpy water. Clumps of foam would dissipate with every paddle stroke, but I had no idea where all this stuff was coming from and decided to head to open water.

I decided to head on to BAR and maybe do some rolling in the protected cove. I paddled close to the shore through dense beds of kelp. Low tide made me keep my eyes open for sucking rocks, but the ocean was very calm. Off in the distance I noticed a canoe floating unattended. I figured it must be some snorkel fisherman, but I could see no line to secure it. I headed over thinking, if something unfortunate had happened to the owner, the least I could do was see that his pretty wood strip canoe found a good home! When I got close, I notice there was a line coming over the gunnel, so I figured it was safe.

At BAR, the tide was too low for any arch time. The water here was crystal clear, but showed a plethora of kelp everywhere I looked. I hate kelp, its entwining tentacles always grasping, trying to pull you down to DJL. Plus there are all kinds of spidery bugs living in kelp and I hate spiders. I couldn't find any clear water for rolling, so just hung out enjoying the small surf rolling in.

On my way home, the canoe owner had found his way back aboard. I stopped outside the jetty to finally try some rolls. I rolled with my Onno and my GP, but didn't spend much time at it. The water was still chilly and I didn't feel like swimming out of the harbor by my lonesome. Paddling back to the beach, I contemplated future rolling practice in the warm confines of Aqua Adventures practice pool.

Day #13, TAP Dance
The folks predicting global catastrophe in our future said a high pressure system would bring sun and warm weather here today. Imagine my surprise to find rain, wind and gray skies. Very inconvenient Al Gore!

I can only surmise it was due to this being my 13th day on the water, but I didn't let triskadecaphobia ruin my Thursday Afternoon Paddle. I was joined on the water by the better half of Ken and Barb. Ken stayed ashore to walk the islands while his bones heal. Barb and I set off to stick our noses out of the harbor to see what was up.

The water was just about flat as could be, but a swirling wind had us wondering its true direction. The flags about seemed pointed in different directions than the intermittent head wind we seemed to face. We were lucky to at least have pockets of clear sky and another beautiful day to paddle in.

Chuck Fowler had hoped to join us today, but got hung up at home. Imagine our surprise as we paddled out the channel to see a kayaker heading in. None other than Chuck F., but this one was Chuck Freedman back from a paddle to Abalone Point. He warned us about a tricky off shore wind blowing outside the harbor, which started Barb worrying a bit. Still, we stuck our nose out just to see the pretty view of the coast and turned back in to tour the harbor.

Newport Harbor really is a nice place to paddle and the wind and light rain had scrubbed the sky clean to make the whole are look like a Norman Rockwell cover. We paddled under the docks dodging pylings to try to block the wind. At one point, Barb zigged when she shoulda zagged--her new nickname? Barnacle Barb! We paddled on towards the Pavilion and it got so warm I had to roll to cool off. We talked and paddled and past the ferry headed for the round about around Balboa Island. We snuck under the low hanging bridge and too soon seem headed back to our launch site.

Back at the secret beach, I decided to try one more roll, but my lack of practice caught up to me. I almost came up on the first try, but ended up swimming after the third. Barb was there to give me a bow, but I felt like cooling off anyway as the sun had come up for good. Another TAP in the books, we headed for Starbucks for the apres paddle recap.

Day #12, Whale Sighting
I don't know what it is about these warm winter days, they seem to cause kayakers to sprout like the weeds in my back yard! Took my Euro and GP out today to join Henry and Kathy for a leisurely paddle to Reef Point. On my way to the CG station from my secret beach, I ran into Reid, a kayaker who I've chatted online with, but had never met before. Running late and with Henry beckoning me from the beach, I didn't have much time to chat, so hope to run into him again some time.

At the CG beach I was surprised to find 11 kayakers ready to hit the water. With such a group, you're so busy talking the harbor paddle seems to fly by and soon we were out in open water. We hugged the shore, some of us using the calm conditions to paddle through the rocks and kelp beds. I started off with my GP even though it's still waiting for its final carve down. I wanted to get a feel for it around the rocks and took it for a spin through BAR. Some of our group suggested I was a bit addicted to BAR and maybe it was time for me to "just say no!" I just said no to them!

We meandered on to Reef Point where we discussed which of the rocks was the 'actual' reef rock. Without fanfare, we turned and headed home, a few out a way from the shore and a few hardy souls next to shore hoping in vain for some swells to roll on in. At one point I found myself in front of a pod of dolphins heading my way and got the camera out for a quick shot. Another return pass through BAR and soon I was out ahead of everyone and nearing the jetty. I heard another spout and figured it was another dolphin, but the brief glimpse I got made me wonder. I told everyone to keep their eyes open, but they just thought I was on a BAR induced high and ignored me. But to save my honor, the whale came up and gave us a couple more spouts and a nice view before it dove again.

In the harbor, I sprinted ahead hoping to try at least one roll with the GP without holding up the group. I took no time to get ready and my first attempts to roll with this paddle ended up a bust. I took a nice refreshing swim, did a reentry roll and continued on my way.

It was another beautiful day on the water improved by good company of the human and marine variety.

Day #11, Sunset at Doheny
Another slow start to the new month, but at least I picked a nice spot for my first paddle of this February. Steve Wilson and his wife Alice were nice enough to share their campground right on the sand at Doheny Beach. Duane and Dave O'Connor came and the four of us hit the water some time after 1pm.

There was no surf to speak of, but it was a beautiful warm day. We decided our goal for the day would be San Clemente Pier, which was a bit difficult to see in the haze down the coast. Steve had donned his jacket before heading out and thinking that he must know what he's doing, I put on my wet suit top as well. We both realized quickly we were over dressed for the heat and stopped so Steve could take off his jacket. My top a little harder to remove, I decided to just use Duane's bow to lean over and cool off. Duane wasn't happy with my effort and scolded me into inverting completely, but when I came up, I noticed my glasses making their way to the sea floor. As it is much more satisfying to blame Duane than to accept my own stupidity, that is what I'll be doing for the next month!

We passed along all the houses that line the coast with a small rear quartering sea as the only real excitement. We 'shot the pier' which seemed deserted of any fisherman, although the scent of fish and chips seemed to waft down to us in our boats. Steve and I had never been down south this far in kayaks, so it was all new to us. We took a short break and decided to head back to camp.

On the paddle home we had a light wind and the spray from the head sea to cool us down. We all agreed there's not much more fun than plowing head long through the sea. The wind made the trip home a bit longer and Steve and I were glad to see the life guard stand that told us we were back. I got to side surf a small wave to shore and we all headed for the camp fire.

Back at camp, we were glad to be joined by Ken and Barb--Ken making his first ginger appearance after his accident. We plopped him down in a chair and tried not to make him laugh to save him from the pain, a difficult assignment with this group!!! Steve had a bit of trouble getting the fire started and decided the best way would be to douse Dave with lighter fluid. Luckily, Dave had no immediate ignition source and we were able to corral the fire in the general area of the fire pit. We fried big fat weenies and ate pistachios and chocolate cake and enjoyed an unfettered view of the sunset. Just another great day of kayaking and fun on a SoCal winter's day.

Day #10, Month End Paddle
With Ken out of action, I was lucky to snag Duane for a paddle this noon from the secret beach. It was my tenth time out on the new year, but with the weather we've been having, my paddles have been pretty short. We decided to head for El Moro beach--a good distance considering our rust.

It is hard to find a better word to describe this paddle day than perfect. Little wind, a bright sky and 30 mile visibility made for a great paddle. We hugged the shore heading through Corona del Mar and were treated to a pod of dolphins that seemed to be hunting in the kelp. They seemed perfectly happy to ignore us as they leisurely scouted the area.

We headed south past BAR and actually got a little warm while we paddled. There was no need for rubber today, so we were just in t-shirts which was plenty under the bright sun. The ocean was calm and we had no trouble landing at El Moro, where we took a short break to enjoy the view of the coast and out to Catalina. I had some trouble launching in the tiny surf when I got held up on a sand bar as the one foot waves crashed on my immobile boat. I got broached, but found enough water to get turned around in time to straighten out into one of the larger waves hitting the beach. While the sun was still warm, the cold water was its own version of bracing!

We paddled home close to shore and inside Reef Point, were challenged by the small but confusing waves that were backed up by a couple more larger ones looking to do us harm. The tide was low, so the rocks were close, so finding a line with enough water wasn't so easy. Of course, we're here to write the tale, so things must have turned out alright. We had another sneaker set surprise us as we paddle home side by side with me, of course, right next to the sucking rock that seemed to appear out of nowhere--just enough to put some fun in a mostly placid sea.

So we once again marveled at how lucky we are to kayak in place where a winter's day can be so perfect. After my slow start on the year, I was able to squeak in 10 paddles on the month, not a bad haul. As I paddled home, I thought of the year ahead with hopes of salty adventures and more paddles with assorted kayaking friends. Let's hope everyone stays healthy!

Day #9, Eye of the Storm
Got up at 6:30 and checked my email to see today's Newport paddle was cancelled. Something about cats and dogs and gale force winds! I was happy to go back to bed. But when I got up at 8 and looked outside, the only reason I could see to cancel a paddle was too bright of a sky or perhaps the far off clouds were just too beautiful! Well, maybe I was in the eye of the storm, but it seemed no reason not to try out my new Greenland paddle.

Despite all the things I could have done around the house yesterday, I spent it whittling down a redwood 2x4 into a GP. It's still a bit heavy--a work in progress, but it was ready for a try.

At the harbor, the clouds didn't seem so far away and the same steady wind blew down the channel. There wasn't much chop, but I could see some rather large waves cracking on the ends of the jetty. Pirate's Cove was awash--a heavy peaked three or four foot swell was rolling in to slam into the rocks and wet the balconies of the houses above them. A large wave would echo back to greet the next swell and create some impressive clapotis. At the harbor mouth, I could see a 5 person outrigger and a surf ski playing in the swells. Not to used to GPs lately and this being this one's first outing, I decided to take it easy and try to get used to it in the churning water of PC. Even though the blade is narrower than I'd like, bracing seemed to go well and I had a reasonable hope I could roll with it if I wanted.

After a while the large swells were too much to resist and I head out to the harbor mouth. The outrigger was having some success riding in the swells, but I never seemed to get set up right. We were joined by 4 more single outriggers and I managed a couple pathetic rides. The waves seemed to form so well, but just never really peaked. I decided to head back in the jetty to try another area.

Half way down the channel at the outcropping of rocks there were 3 surfers. When the big swell came in and curled around the rocks, they could get a nice ride. I hung out outside of them and got one really nice ride, but headed back to PC to see if conditions had changed there. Last year, I had had a great couple hours surfing at PC with the right conditions and finally they were back. I had to slip in pretty close to the rocks to catch the break, but then it was a great ride. The only problem was that the ride stopped at those afore mentioned rocks. I had to pull out or risk dislodging a house with my kayak. It was tough fighting the wind to get set up in the right spot to get a ride and I only managed 4 waves before the conditions seemed to disappear. It was fun while it lasted though.

I headed home dodging pathogens happy so far with the new GP. Considering how bad Steve says it is to just to paddle after a rain, I thought I might as well try a roll as well, but demurred. I had hoped the rain would fall figuring it's acid nature would kill any nasty bugs, but never got a drop on the day.

Day #8, Crazy Man Calling
When I called Ken to see if he wanted to go out today, Barb announced me as "Crazy Mark". Perhaps because it had poured rain all night and most of the morning, but really I was hoping Ken would say "no" so I could get some work done around the house. No such luck.

It had actually become a nice day at my house. The sun was out; the wind had died down and the clouds were off on the horizon. It seemed like it might be nice on the water. Well, if I was crazy, turns out Barb is a bit loony too, as she showed up with Ken for the paddle. Turns out we were all wrong, as conditions in the harbor were almost the same as yesterday. A stiff wind tunneled straight down the jetty kicking up waves and the gray clouds only occasionally let through some warm rays of the sun.

Barb was all for paddling just in the harbor, but Ken told her it was my paddle and I had said I wanted to at least stick my nose out to take a looksee past the jetty. As we made our way out, a slim, two masted sailboat was ahead of us and we could tell conditions were a bit rough as the boat yawed steeply up and down as it met the outer swells. It is strange how benign conditions can look from the harbor until you get out in them. We must have made it out in a bit of a lull, but we were soon battling the large confused swells that like to hang out at the harbor entrance. We just hung out about 15 minutes working in the swells and then tried to get turned around in one piece to get back in the harbor. Once back in, we talked about the best way to handle a rescue in those conditions and decided it's best to have a roll.

We decided to finish off with a harbor paddle and we stayed close to the sea wall to avoid the wind. We talked of the lure of the scent of waffle cones as we drive home through the main street of Balboa Island. We passed the ferry and head to the other side of the island for the trip back to the beach for more protection from the wind. We managed to combine some challenging surf time with a nice harbor paddle and despite the rain that fell as we loaded up, had another nice day on the water.

Day #7, Alternative Rolling
Decided to take the Delfin out despite the threatening sky to get ready for the '08 surf season. Now, I consider this a kayaking day even though Matt Broze classifies the Delfin as a 'surf shoe'! If that's the case, its not what Ed Sullivan would call "a really big shoe"--more of a size 10 while I'm a size 13.

Loading up, the wind was already howling. Based on my latest success and optimism, I decided just to bring my wetsuit top--a decision aided by the fact that I had left my farmer john waded up in a crate since my last outing and I couldn't think of bringing myself to don the cold wet rubber. The sky was filled with various shades of gray clouds and I was surprised by the amount of chop I found at my usually protected launch site. Looking up, I could see a still bright sun hazy beyond the clouds, but they would let no heat through. I hoped that the paddle to Pirate's Cove would warm me ready for rolling, but the wind came down the channel unencumbered and I was quickly drenched by the wave spray. At the CG station, one gale flag was flying.

I was confident in my chances of rolling the Delfin, but wondered if I had the resolve to make that first capsize. I had hoped the rocks of PC would protect me a bit from the wind and at least make it seem less cold, but no such luck. After a few deep braces and a splash on my face, I took the plunge. Funny, upside down you're not too concerned with how cold it is right side up! I did about 10 rolls--a few non extended--and figured I had proved myself manly enough for the day. On my way home, a guy on the Harbor Patrol boat asked me if I was out on a polar exploration. I guess in Newport Beach, this is close as we get!

As I loaded up the boat, the sky decided to unload.

Day #6, Laguna Dreaming
Trying to catch up from my slow start on the year, I decided to join Dave O'Connor for his proposed paddle to Laguna on Sunday. It was a small group with Barb and Ken making the foursome. On our way out of the harbor, Ken was having trouble with his boat, so we landed at Pirate's Cove to try to fix it. On the beach two large water dogs were playing and as is usually the case, they figured anything that washes on shore is fair game. The big yellow lab came bounding and barking up excited about his new play toys. He tire of us and soon we were back on our way.

Outside the harbor what we had assumed would be an easy long paddle suddenly looked a little more complicated we had quite a steady headwind to face with a choppy sea--not what we were expecting. We settled in for a long paddle with the roar of the wind in our ears. We were accompanied at one point with a large pod of rambunctious dolphins, one of which came up right next to Barb. They treated us to a bit of jumping and tail wagging and were on their way.

We were mostly all spread out dealing with the task at hand, the wind making it difficult to paddle together and talk. Barb and Ken had their new GPs for their first long paddle. When we got close to Abalone Point, the consensus to push on to Laguna lagged in the face of the wind. Three of us decided to land at El Moro beach to stretch before heading home. Dave threw caution to the wind on his landing attempt and had to back paddle at the last minute right into a mean shore break that deposited his hat and shades on the beach ahead of him. It was kind enough to leave his head intact. Ken and I timed our efforts a little wiser and Barb guarded us from asea. It was a short break, the only thing of note was the dead seal on the beach near where I landed that appeared to be providing food for all the shore bird for quite some time. It was a good chance to observe the anatomy of a seal!

On our way home, I donned my helmet and stayed close to shore. It was pretty calm except for the Three Sisters who'd roll in occasionally. I went inside the reef at Reef Point trying to keep my eye out for any big ones when a wave came in refracted around the reef and started breaking almost parallel to the shore. I decided to try to surf it past the rocks and out of harms way, but on the other side a large wave quickly formed on my beam. I was in rather shallow and rocky water and just barely got turned around to make it over its crest and the next one that came in. A little while later I noticed I was way ahead of the others, as I guess Ken had his bout of excitement, but I'll have to leave that story to him.

Back in the harbor, we went for some roll practice, but for Dave and I just in tee shirts, the 52 degree water was pretty chilly. Dave impressed us being able to roll on both sides with Ken's GP, but we all got cold pretty quick and headed for shore.

We held our after paddle debriefing at Java City where we were surprised to be joined by Bob and Meri who had gone out on a harbor paddle on their own. We monopolized their outdoor table much too long considering our meager purchases and head home looking forward to our next meeting on the water.

Day #5, A Challenge for the Lollygagger III
Went out for a paddle at noon today all by my lonesome despite some rather windy weather. Anyone from SoCal can tell you things were rather blustery here last night! Regardless, I was determined to break out of my rolling mode and actually make it out of the harbor. So Crystal Cove was the target.

When I got the new boat, I actually considered removing my rudder--for all of 5 minutes. I realized that as little as I use it, it still essential when ever I try to surf this boat. Today I was glad just to have it in the harbor so I didn't have to fight the weathercocking. Outside the jetty, the world had that familiar wind blown look. I headed south accompanied by a small but constant rear quartering sea that was enough to keep you on your toes and toss an occasional wave over your lap. It was fun having to battle the small swells; I don't seem to get much chance in my waters lately.

It was low tide, so I stayed a bit off shore. As I passed BAR, I noticed the wind seemed to be increasing a bit, but with it on your back, it's hard to realize just how hard it was blowing. As I got closer to Crystal Cove, I stopped paddling for a while and realized how quick the wind was blowing me to my destination. I thought of letting it blow me all the way there to save my energy for the trip home, but that's no fun. I paddled on and landed on the shore with a smattering of tourist gawking from the beach.

Carrying the boat up from the water, I got a sense of how strong the wind was and had a moment or two of concern for my return paddle. I drank some juice and ate my half a PB sammy I was glad I brought and shivered from the cold. I donned my wetsuit top from my hatch and the mild sun help warm me. As usual at CC, several people came by to check out my boat and were a bit incredulous that I'd be trying to paddly my way back against the wind. I told them, trying to convince myself, that it would be a tough paddle, but nothing too radical, but I was starting to feel like I was challenging the Tasman Sea--with a REAL kayak!

There was no sense to hang out on the beach any longer, so I turned my attention to my launch. The one foot waves breaking on the beach were nothing except that they were breaking just about sideways along with the wind. I thought I might provide a bit of excitement for the beach crowd, but despite the wind had a non eventful launch. I tried to stay close to shore to mitigate the wind, but there seemed no respite. I was just glad to see I was making any headway, as after a while, I passed the end of the cottages. On the long stretch of beach between there and BAR, I looked for large rocks as landmarks to catalog my progress. I took solace in the beleif that the people walking along the sand would take pity on me on my journey.

I paddled on with the wind roaring in my ears and the spray against my face. I had a small but constant, plodding head sea and since I was so close to shore, an occasional larger set that would send me out to greet it. I took no rest to allow the wind no chance take back any of my hard earned ocean. I would wonder, as I came across an occasional bird floating on the water, why would they be out in such conditions! I felt a moment of elation when I closed in on the jetty and started my way to the beach.

Ready to call it a day, I was surprised to see a kayaker heading out from the beach and even more to find it was Ken Fry going out to test his new Superior GP. I was real tired, but he convinced me to head to Pirate's Cove for a little Roll Play. I figured it was probably a good idea to try a roll when you're tired to see how well you do. We spent about half an hour rolling in the cold water and Ken really seemed to like how the new paddle rolls. Even his off side roll looked good. I stuck to extended rolls, but had no problem, just not much interest in trying! Ken gave me his paddle to try and with his urging and against my better judgement I tried a roll with it. Came through with flying colors and now I figure Ken's paddle has passed the acid test.

The cold had us both ready to head home. This was a paddle I won't measure by the meager milage to Crystal Cove. It was a battle with the wind and the joy of being on the sea. As we passed the Coast Guard station, they were flying two gale warning pennants. One had half blown off the flag pole.

Day #4, Swim #1, The Karollers
I've heard of the phenomenon: expert kayaker yaks about how important rolling is--your not a real kayaker until you can roll. Then they spend all their time perfecting their old rolls and learning every conceivable variation. Of coarse they are a safer kayaker, they never leave the harbor! All they need is enough room to swing a blade--no sense paddling farther. They're not kayakers--they're karollers. Rolling becomes the end and not the means.

Spent my day in the harbor today practicing my rolling. There was a clear sun sinking in the cool sky and the water temperature was rather uninviting, so I wasn't real enthused as I started with my extended rolls at Pirate's Cove. The deserted beach seemed to suggest this is not the time of year to be playing in the water, but heck, 54 degree water insn't gonna kill ya!

On my second NE roll, I lost my hold on the paddle and some how knocked off my nose plug. A snort of water and a couple failed attempts led to my first swim in a while. I did a reentry roll and headed to shore to bail out. There was a bit of an unusual break on the secluded beach that made launching a bit tricky, but once back out in the saddle I decided to try for more. I did about 12 rolls on the day and decided to call it quits.

I promise to try to get out of the harbor on my next paddle. I'd hate to become one of those people addicted to mild hypothermia!

Day #3, Last Minute Paddle
Went out today with Barb and Ken for a last minute paddle. A beautiful day, although a stiff off-shore wind was cause for concern. Before we headed out, Barb showed me her new Strosaker GP which I think looks better than some of Beales I've seen. It stayed in its GP sock though, as Barb is still tinkering with it.

Ken was limited to a liquid diet for a medical procedure tomorrow, so we took it easy and only paddled to BAR. It was nice to have my old back band on the new boat, held on as it might be by rust and a prayer. This was actually only the Lollygagger III's first time out of the harbor and she handled it just like Lollygagger II. Imagine that!

I headed back behind BAR to check things out thinking that the tide was too low for a pass, but a surge of water came around giving me enough clearance over the big rocks, so I headed through. It was quite squirelly inside the arch and I thought for a moment I was going to initiat my pristine gelcoat with a new BAR souveneir, but managed to tame the pesky side current. On the other side, Ken was completing an offside roll and we held a short roll practice. I knocked off a couple shakey rolls and Ken had varying success with his offside, but none on the good.

We headed back for the harbor for a bit more rolling, but on the way ran into Carol Fallon paddling with Scott Hilliard. I'd never met Scott, before though we've chatted in emails a couple times, so it was nice to meet him. We spent some time rolling at Pirates Cove and I showed Ken and Barb I can do a less extende paddle roll. The water was cold though and we both decided to quit while we were ahead. On our way back to the beach, we ran into Chuck Freedman, whom Ken hit up for free medical advice on whether white wine qualifies under the "clear liquids" diet. Suffice to say, Ken came away happy.

It was a nice, easy day on the water and I got to keep up my rolling success for the year. Just think, if I quite paddling now, I could be perfect on the year!

New Year VooDoo, Day #2
I don't know what else to call my rolling success lately, so perhaps it is voodoo. I've started the year off rather slowly with this being only my second day on the water and I spent it the same way as the first. I headed to Pirates Cove for to practice my rolling. Not the best rolling weather, but I dressed for the occasion. I have to thank Barb for my new beanie and home made nose plugs that have made rolling a little less painful.

I got right to business and had no trouble with extended paddle rolls. After I'd done about ten to get my confidence, I started throwing in an occasional non-extended and still did all right. Only missed one and was able to switch to extended to make it up. It was late afternoon, so I knew I wasn't going to last as long as my last roll day. After a while it got a bit chilli, although not swimming helps! I usually do poorly when I have an audience, so for the acid test I pulled off a few rolls for the charter fishing boat as it returned through the harbor.

I wonder if some of my success is due to the ability to lie back a little further due to still using the built in seat that's barely big enough to cover the crack in my giant @$$. I also think it helps that I decided to not care if I learned to roll or not. I figure I seem to have had a bit of fun over the years without one, so why let it worry me. It would be nice for surfing though--no more long San O swims! Also, I practiced some aggressive edging and turning maneuvers that I wouldn't be doing if I knew there was no option to swimming.

Tomorrow I plan to drill some holes in my new boat to get it ready for some real paddling. Drilling that one inch hole in the deck for my electric pump is always a tough one. I've noticed already though, that both of my bulkheads have 1/8 inch holes drilled in them. I figure QCC might have thought that my seams busted due to some pressure build up and decided to install a relief valve. All I know is, after quite a bit of rolling, this boat's hatches stay a lot dryer than the last one.

Looks like things might be perking up over the weekend; might have to go out Sunday and work on my first combat roll.

Day #1, New Year's Day Paddle
Went out today for a nice start to the new year; my first paddle in the new boat. The long paddle for the day cancelled, I decided to forgo the group paddle and just try some rolling. My new boat isn't equipped yet to my liking for a long paddle: no electric pump and just the Rapid Pulse seat and back that it came with. I'm used to my rigid back band, but would like to try out the back-to-basic seat for a while and see if I can adjust.

The paddle to Dana Point was cancelled do to threat of wind, but the sky was blue and the flags hung from their poles--limp as last nights noodles. I hit the water earlier than I thought and was able to see the early CKF group heading out of the harbor. I headed for Pirate's Cove coated in slimy rubber to spend most of my time upside down. As I hit PC, I saw two or three dolphins hopping around in the harbor and wondered if the others got to see them on their way out.

I decided for the new year, paddle be damned, I'm not worrying about doing extended paddle rolls. With my new beanie on my head-thanks to Barb-I felt ready for the chilly water. Upside down, the water was clear and I made an easy roll up. I continued having good success, so decided to try an off-side roll. Once under had no idea how to move, but was able to re-set up and roll on my good side. After a while, I took a break on the beach and climbed around on the rocks a bit, but either from the rolling or the cold, I wasn't too sturdy on my feet and decided to take it easy.

Back on the water, I tried to work on my technique and pulled out a couple non-extended rolls. Missed a few as well, but was able to switch and come up. No swimming on the day other than my test wet exit on my way to the beach.

On my way home, as I passed the Coast Guard beach, I heard my name called out from no where! I stopped to look around seeing no one until Henry popped up on the dock. He was waiting for Kathy and said he could just see them entering the harbor. We all headed for Fireside and lucked out finding a couple places open to stoke our furnaces. We all chatted for at least an hour; a great way to start a new year of paddle experiences.