So although I totally had fun, yesterday didn’t exactly go according to plan… a one hour SUP adventure turned into an epic 2 1/2 hour struggle against wind and white caps going the opposite direction of where we wanted to go! I’m still smoked a day later… when the ocean decides it doesn’t want you to get somewhere there’s no negotiating with it!
Myself, Dani, and her friend Monte met up in Port San Luis for a little Stand Up Paddleboarding excursion. We stopped at SLO Coast Kayaks, which has become my favorite place to go when I’m actually in town for the weekend, to get geared up and started to paddle for downtown Avila. The water was flat and beautiful and the sun was shining, a good start for sure. We angled towards the top of the Cal Poly Pier and moved through a lot of birds and sea lions. From there we cruised down towards the Avila Pier and then turned it around to paddle back to the Port. This probably took all of half an hour.
At this point I felt a little wind brewing… not good… while turning into the wind I over compensated, leaned too far and took a tumble into the water… whoops. This apparently was a sign of things to come. We made awful time towards the Poly Pier. The water was getting rougher and we were catching all kinds of wind with our bodies that wanted to push us back towards the Avila Pier. I got down and paddled from a kneeling position from here on out since I’m such a big target. My friends picked up the same plan not too long after I did.
Instead of going over the top of the pier this time we paddled under it in the middle. For some reason we thought the pier would mellow out the water…. it just got worse. It was a total grind to get under it to the other side. We probably had 1000m to paddle back to the rental place from here and you had to fight for every meter of it. It got pretty demoralizing every time you’d pull up to a docked boat because then you could really see just how little progress you were making. The white caps that we were now enjoying were going in the opposite direction, and I think the tide was going out too. Great. If you took a break at all you’d start floating backwards and the board would start turning around to face back towards the city. I wanted to cut in towards the beach to try and find some mellower water but you just couldn’t do it. On top of not being able to make any progress, the angle you’d have to take to do it resulted in getting flipped off your board by what I would say was 1+ foot chop. I took a couple tumbles…
I got bored of not getting anywhere so I switched to laying on my stomach for a while and paddling with my arms. That actually worked a little better because there was way less wind resistance, but I was catching face-fulls of water doing it. I stopped this endeavor after I realized I had drawn the attention of some of the local marine mammals. I had a seal about 4 feet behind my board looking at me like I was the dumbest person in the ocean. I decided to get back on my knees and paddle from there so I would look so much like a flailing seal from below the water.
The 3 of us kept grinding along in solitude… we had spread out a bit, enough that you could see everyone but not hear them. Monte was out front of me quite a ways, Dani was off to the right, and I was in the back. The sun was making it’s way down and I was starting to wonder if we were going to make it before it dropped behind the mountains. I always joke that worst case paddling scenario in Avila I’ll just swim back and owe the kayak shop $1000… at this point I was starting to figure out which credit card to put it on…
Eventually a Zodiac boat came cruising out past us to see what was going on. The boat was from the Seaweed Express and they checked out the situation then went to pick up Dani. She hopped in the boat and they picked up her board. They came back around towards me and asked if I wanted a ride. I accepted without much hesitation :) We didn’t have any room for our third guy in there, but he was pretty close to making it back so he didn’t really need the ride. It was actually kind of handy that it was the Seaweed Express guy that stopped by to get us because I’ve been wanting to meet him to talk about piloting a local 10k swim for me. I told him what I want to do and it sounds like it may be a go, I need to shoot him an email later today about it…
The boat took us over to the pier/dock sort of area at the port since they couldn’t drop us off at the sport launch where we started because the tide was too far out and the water was too shallow there. I hopped on this platform below the pier and got the paddleboards off the boat. In the process I stepped square in a pile of sea lion poo… gross!
Once we had that handled we got Dani off the boat and then worked on getting the boards back to the shop. The wind was kicking and it wasn’t going so well. I think Dani was about to take flight! As an added bonus a Korean Tour Bus had stopped by and we had a gang of elderly Korean people taking pictures of us like we were part of the show. I wanted to surprise them and say something impressively ridiculous and/or inappropriate in Korean on our way through (I speak a fair amount of Korean, just not very well these days) but I couldn’t pull anything together in my head because I was way more worried about the 12 foot board I was trying to carry. We ended up giving up and putting them down on the pier. We hit the kayak shop to let them know what was up and I got my shoes and a shirt (I’d been in just board shorts this whole time) to make the carrying process easier. The kayak guy ended up driving his SUV down there to cart them back instead which was really nice because moving those things was pretty hard!
All things considered this little outing was a good lesson about what the ocean is capable of… all it takes is some wind blowing down over the mountains to wreck your whole day! I still had fun although parts of it totally sucked, and if nothing else I got a hell of a workout. My thighs are still on fire from it! I’ll definitely go back out for more paddleboarding, but I might check out the forecasted wind conditions in advance next time!