I woke up early Saturday morning to hit Morro Bay for Central Coast Stand Up’s demo day for April. They do this really cool thing where you can come out and ride boards for free and even get some instruction if you’re totally new at it. I showed up a little too early so I started my day with a walk down towards Morro Rock from Coleman Beach.
I’ve been especially curious about how the water moves around Morro Rock ever since my trip to SF for the Open Water Safety Conference. I had a conversation with somebody that wants to swim around it and since then I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to go about that without, you know, dying. So I guess this was more of a recon mission than a walk, or at least it sounds way cooler that way :)
Walking down the path to the Rock itself the signage wasn’t too promising… we started with one that warns boaters that the harbor mouth can be impressively dangerous followed by one right up against the rock that proclaims wading and swimming to be unsafe. Obviously they’re not talking about me though… that sign must be for other people, haha
Once I walked out as far as I could without feeling like I was going to get arrested for being on the rock proper (climbing on the rock itself is strictly prohibited), I looked out to sea and watched the water hit the jetty. The waves were bursting up over the top of it on a pretty regular basis. I was picturing myself getting tossed on the rocks, ouch. If I ever go about this it will be very very very carefully. It’s only a 3-3500m swim depending on where you stop/start, but very conditionally gnarly.
I talked to some local paddlers about it, and pretty much everybody thinks I’m kidding when I first explain the idea. Once I convince them I would totally do it though they had plenty of advice. The idea of a swimmer out there stresses them out because it’s cold, rough, rocky and supposedly sharky… they feel uneasy doing it on paddleboards even. I’m going to let this idea keep stewing, but I think it’s definitely on the to do list it’s just going to take a lot of planning and the right day for it to be done in a fun and safe manner.
When I got back to Coleman Beach the Central Coast Stand Up guys were still up on the path above the beach waiting for the lifeguard trainees to clear out. They had to do their 500m ocean swim that morning and were using the same spot we were about to. If I had known that was going to be going on I would have come back sooner and tried to crash their swim :) I’ve never swam in Morro Bay… I’ve fallen in it, but never swam on purpose.
Eventually we got to take over the beach and get some stand up boards out on the water. I had one in particular that I wanted to get some time on and made sure to hurry up and hop on it before someone else did. Just like the last time I went to a demo day the guys from Angulo were there and brought a DAWG which is a big wide 12 foot board that’s really stable and tracks pretty well. It’s set up for bigger dudes plus some gear so you could take it fishing and do stuff like that with it. I think it would be a rad platform for teaching ocean swim lessons from. I have to settle up with the tax man and get a few other big expenses out of my way first, but I think I’m going to buy one of those pretty soon… unless somebody wants to sponsor me and send me free boards… eh? anybody? :p
After I got some time in on the board I want to buy I perused a few other boards for fun. I rode a board made more for surfing that was way too tippy for me. I could see where it’d be awesome in the surf, it was super easy to turn, but that’s not where I’m going with an SUP. I also rode the Angulo Shaka, that board is pretty awesome. I rode it once before and totally dig it… it’s not right for what I need a board right now for, but if I had the money just laying around I’d have one of those too… time to start buying lotto tickets I guess :)
When I was all SUP Demo-ed out I ran over to San Luis Obispo to hit the surf shop. In anticipation of getting a big board of some sort I’ve been outfitting my truck to carry something 12 feet-ish. I put a new adjustable Thule rack on it last week but I still needed some pads for the rack and tie down straps. I think I’m ready now… all I need is the actual board and I’m set! Soon soon soon… I hope!
I’m really stoked that Matt over at Central Coast Stand Up puts these events on. They’re great for people like me that are in the market and need help figuring out what they want. It’s also cool because it lets people try the sport out for free and get some help from experts. There was a family that came out to try boards who had never SUPed before. Matt got them started on land but followed them out into the water a little ways. Andy from Angulo spent some time out there as well helping them get their bearings and learn to ride. It was fun to watch them have fun, I think this sport is going to keep blowing up because you can do it anywhere with enough water to float a board. I think these may also be the next big thing in open water safety craft. It gives you a great vantage point over the swimmers, and something you could actually land one on if you had to.