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MORE Short SeaKayaking Stories
by Storm Steiger


IT'S A WHALE-EAT-WHALE WORLD

On a trip to Bird Rock, we had lunch at Bird Rock lagoon, then headed on to McClure. Our plans were interrupted when Tim Green had a surf crash. Kipp Frye went in to help and promptly crashed too!

As they searched high and low for Tim's hundred-dollar hat, I noticed a crowd on the bluff oohing and ahhing. I saw they were watching whales breaching, flying almost completely clear of the water. I had to get a better look.

As soon as I started to paddle out, I saw two killer whales circling what looked like a lifeless whale. It seems that the breaching whales were trying to scare off the killer whales.

Feeling pretty low on the food chain, we found ourselves looking back over our shoulders all the way home.



kelp

KELP--THE KAYAKER'S FRIEND
Kelp should be on every sea-kayaker's altar.

On a recent run from Montara De Oro to Pt. San Luis, the wind rose and then turned to heavy chop.Scouting ahead for large breaking waves, we looked for white spray, always watchful for sneaker rocks. Inside...outside what's our passage to be? Thanks to the kelp, we always stayed inside; inside where sea creatures go for protection; inside where thick kelp beds calm the swell and soothe the wind.

Water temperatures ranged from 58.6 -70.4 just offshore from Diablo Canyon, where there was no kelp bed due to warm water outflow from the nuclear power plant. Winds hit gusts of 30 knots from NW; we skimmed ahead. Just offshore, beyond the reach of the kelp, the water looked nasty, breaking whitecaps of 2-4 feet. We hit the beach as we knew this wind was being locally created so we could wait it out with a swim (will I glow in the shower tonight?). Sure enough, the wind died within the hour.

Occasionally, swells would break right at the edge of the kelp but the seaweed stayed in control.After every point that blocked the NW wind and swell, the action decreased; one feels appreciative of the calming kelp. Thick kelp beds will neutralize wind waves but will not stop large swells. In mid-fall, the red tide kill-off clogs the NW facing coves and can prevent all but the largest swells from hitting the beach.

Without the kelp we would have tossed about like so much flotsam. Instead, we were reassured mile after mile that the kelp was our protection.



VILLAINS TO HEROES

On a recent trip to Anacapa Island, several paddlers reached the dock right at departure time. We loaded our boats and gear to the scowls and dirty looks of the delayed crowd. We apologized but some passengers remained upset. Off we went about 15 minutes late.

Suddenly, a pair of minske whales appeared and put on quite a swimming display. A massive school of dorado showed up next; the water was so churned up that the captain stopped the boat and did a little fishing. Next, a pod of at least 100 dolphins came by and circled the boat and the dorado school. Inside this circle of dolphins we could see an inner circle of baby dolphins--must have been daycare!

Just about then, a crew member fell and dislocated his shoulder. He was in pain, and the boat's first-aid kit didn't even have an aspirin. The captain informed the passengers that we would have to leave this most spectacular show and return to dock. The passengers groaned, but the fully-equipped and self sufficient sea-kayakers came up with an appropriate pain-killer. Suddenly, the captain, crew, and other passengers were most appreciative of our presence.

We spent four days on Anacapa Island. Over and over again the resident ranger told us that there was no water on the island, and that we were responsible for providing our own. Most of us had plenty, but one paddler ran out after 3 days. The ranger took pity on him and opened the doors of a little shack down by the water. There were hundreds of full water containers left by previous campers!

We were to rendezvous with our friends sailing out of Santa Barbara. Our never-tested ship-to-shore radio failed (of course), but again the ranger bailed us out. He radioed the ranger on Santa Cruz Island, who found our friends in a nearby harbor. We were able to talk to them and arranged to meet at West Anacapa Island the next day. We got up early and paddled our fully loaded boats to West Anacapa, and our efforts were rewarded by a wonderful spaghetti dinner on board that night.

.The next morning we sailed to Valdez cave, reportedly the biggest sea cave in the northern hemisphere (though a cave north of Albion seems bigger to me). We hopped into our kayaks and explored the cave, ending the day with a 6-hour sail back to Santa Barbara.



...........................................

BASK PAYS RESPECTS
TO BROOKS ISLAND CARETAKERS

When Fred and Patty McCollum left their job as Brooks Island caretakers in January '98, Barbara Kossy organized a BASK thank-you trip.

Barbara, Jim Schraff, John, Don Fleming, Mike Higgins, Tim Green, Ann Cassidy and I paddled over to Brooks Island where we surprised Fred and Patty. I recognized them as the friendly couple who came up to me once in their zodiac and apologetically asked me to move 10 feet west to be on the proper side of the fence. I was glad they didn't remember me!

We headed up to the caretaker's residence for lunch and a party. BASK gave them T-shirts and Mike gave them a framed photo of an earlier visit. My wife's pinniped pizza rolls, still warm from the oven, were a big hit.

After lunch we hiked to the highest point on Brooks on the south side, then said our good-byes and back to the kayaks to head home.

A tractor tire bobbing in the water startled us; I thought it might be SF Bessie. We portaged our kayaks to the other side, where the fence is, and I could see Mike and Don well ahead of us just south of the island. Our group paddled past Bird Rock where two seals calmly watched us go by.

I stopped at the south side beach and took a swim in the 55 degree water, though the overcast never quite cleared. Then we all rafted up and paddled to the Albany dump and watched a beautiful sunset.
kelp


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