By Janet Koed
You never quite know what you’re going to get when you sign up for a paddle up the coast from Haskell’s Beach and that was true for the nineteen of us on a guided kayak trip on Saturday, October 3. The previous days presented ocean conditions that were a mix of calm and windy.
There were reports of possible 3’ surf which doesn’t sound too daunting but can be challenging for kayak launching. Trusting we were in the good hands of Santa Barbara Adventure Company and their experienced guides, we all showed up at the water’s edge. Excitement rose when we saw the predicted surf. Haskell’s waves can be steep and carry a good punch.
Some of us were in tandem kayaks, most were in singles. Guides skillfully timed the wave sets and shoved us off accordingly. Paddlers were skilled at punching through the waves. The sun was shining and the water was glassy once we got through the surf. Off we proceeded toward Driftwoods, Seals, Naples, and Dos Pueblos. The sea flaunted good visibility and glorious kelp beds. At one point we stopped in the water and observed a seal that seemed amused by and unafraid of our company. The glossy dark creature hung around for several minutes.
Some folks noticed the deeper water swell before others with slight signs of sea sickness. Guides suggested getting off our kayaks and floating in the water if we felt at all nauseous. With many years of seafaring adventures under my belt, I had never heard of this treatment for seasickness. Become one with the wave.
One person reported that this, indeed, helped. Others of us found the water so inviting that we jumped off our kayaks to cool down in the kelp. At this point, we watched the surfers from behind the waves and realized we would have to face some good surf if we were to land on shore. The tide was very high and there was not a lot of sand visible. As a group, we took a poll and decided it would be best to head back to Haskell’s.
The migration back to our starting point was calm and silky. We certainly lucked out with these conditions. The surf seemed to have come up a bit for our exit to shore. As we lined up outside the waves, guides were on shore giving us signs to paddle fast on the back of a wave or paddle backwards to avoid getting caught in the face of the “monster”. It certainly was fun to watch as, one-by-one, individual kayaks succeeded to land upright or get dumped in the surf. Then came our turn. I was in a tandem and thought that was to our advantage in providing stability. We got mixed messages. “Paddle HARD!” then “Paddle BACKWARDS!”
As I looked behind us, it became obvious that we were in for a good ride. The wave broke on us but we managed to keep our vessel pointing straight ahead and upright. That was a nice adrenalin rush! We only tipped over in the last 2 feet of water as we were hopping out.
A good time was had by all. Santa Barbara Adventure Co reported excellent evaluations from everybody and then made a healthy donation to Gaviota Coast Conservancy. This amazing day proved successful in increasing people’s desire to protect the Gaviota Coast. Thank you, SB Adventure Co, and all who took the trip.
See you on the Gaviota Coast!