Floating in the ocean
This morning me and my dad made our way out to Central Coast Kayaks in Shell Beach. We signed ourselves up for a 2-3 hour guided tour which cost $70 bucks a head and included kayaks & equipment, wetsuits, booties, etc. We lucked out and got the guide all to ourselves; in summer they run up to 10 people at a time.
We walked down to the beach from the shop and they had our kayaks waiting in the sand. The guide gave us a quick lesson on paddling and how to get back in the kayak if we were to fall out. We launched our boats into the surf and paddled out into the kelp forest. The kelp was really thick in parts and there were all kinds of animals floating around. We saw all kinds of birds, pelicans, seals, and sea otters. It was very cool.
The tour we chose was the “cave tour.” The coast in Shell Beach is full of all kinds of interesting caves and geologic formations. We paddled through one of the more open caves without any incident. Our second cave didn’t go quite as well. My dad we first and almost made it through but the surf had other ideas. A pretty strong set started pounding through the cave and bouncing dad’s kayak off the back wall. He fell off and the guide went in to help him. The guide did ok until his kayak t-boned the side of the cave and he fell out of his kayak. Eventually they both pulled themselves and their kayaks to shallower water and got back in. Dad promptly fell back out. We cumulatively decided that paddling through caves is an awful idea. The ocean was churning a little more than we had expected and we skipped going in the rest of the caves.
Up to this point I was still pretty dry. We made a tight turn around one of the bigger rocks out there and I got tossed into a rock and got dumped by my kayak. The shock of the cold water was amazing. It knocked the breath right out of me. I swam the kayak away from the rocks and when there was a break in the set I got myself back into the kayak.
After we all had taken an unplanned swim we paddled further from shore where the water was calmer. We made our way down the coast for a while and then paddled back to the beach that we launched from.
I had a lot of fun and hopefully I can get out there and do it again some time soon. Kayaking is excellent cross training for swimming, it uses a lot of the same muscles. Central Coast Kayaks is a good little operation and I definitely recommend checking them out. The tour guide took pictures while we were out and I put some of the good ones into this blog post. I had a waterproof disposable camera with me too and I’ll post some pictures from that if I got any good ones. (**Update: you can see the rest of my pictures here)
at the shop before we took off for the ocean
the kelp was really thick near the shore
turning into a swell
me up front, my dad in the back
I think that seal was mean mugging me
our successful cave passage
I could have floated around out there all day
happy to have made it out alive!