Short SeaKayaking Stories
by Storm Steiger

One evening Scott George and I paddled out to Red Rock and got back to Point Molate County Park a few minutes before it closed. We loaded our boats quickly, then headed off to the taqueria for take-out burritos.

We got home and were just sitting down to eat when there was a knock on the door; two uniformed sheriffs deputies stood there with hands on guns. Two men had been observed carrying a body between a truck and the bay; the truck license had been traced to me. We would probably have to go downtown for questioning, but we could eat our dinner while they waited for a call from the Richmond police, who were checking out the scene of the "crime".

We explained we had just been sea-kayaking and they could see our kayaks and gear strewn around the driveway and entry--the mess didn’t seem to reassure them. After twenty tense minutes, the Richmond police finally called; no bodies had been found. We were in the clear--but somewhere in the Richmond police department, there’s probably a sea kayaker file...

Fellow BASKer Doug Wilkins and I left from our sailboat at Two Harbors about noon to paddle around the northern end of Catalina Island. As we rounded a point on the NE side, I noticed a shiny black mass bobbing in the water. Paddling over to investigate, I quickly grabbed it and pulled up; it was a scuba diver gasping for air.

Barely conscious, he was unable to even hold onto my kayak. I struggled to hang on to him; it would have been easier if he weren’t still wearing a weight belt. Fortunately, another diver swam up, and she held the diver on my sit on top. Amazingly, we didn’t flip right over despite the massive list.

The dive boat was only a quarter mile away, but dragging the two divers along made it the hardest paddle of my life. On board the dive boat, rescue workers were performing CPR on a woman diver. We barely managed to get "my" diver on board--still wearing his dive belt.

A coast guard call came crackling over the radio: "Tell the kayaker to keep the other divers away from the boat." Easier said than done; one diver angrily rebuked me: "Hey! No kayaking around here--this is a dive area!".

Like a scene out of babewatch, an L A county lifeguard boat sped up doing 25-30 knots to remove the ailing man; a Coast Guard helicopter swooped down to carry off the woman.

I went to a nearby beach and let my adrenaline calm down, then it was a long paddle back around to Two Harbors. Later in the Two Harbors bar, the sheriff told me the woman had died but her partner--the man I’d pulled out of the water--survived.

BASKers Tim Green and Kipp Frye and I were paddling a 4-day, 3-night kayak-camping expedition from the Navarro River to Pt. Arena Cove.

While eating a sunset dinner at our campsite in Cuffey Cove, a six-foot great white shark was suddenly flung up high and dry onto the beach by an outsider. We watched in amazement as this big fish thrashed in its death throes.

Fish and chips came to mind, but we still had to paddle around Pt. Arena... We agreed that for good trip karma, we would try to return the shark to the sea.

Tim chose to direct the operation from atop a 10-foot rock, windmilling his arms to show us what needed to be done. I used my paddle (the longest pole I could find) to try to nudge the 100-lb fish seaward--try it sometime. Kipp strode right up, seized the shark by the tail and dragged him 30 feet into the water.

Moments later, he washed right back onto the beach. We resumed our positions and repeated the process; but this time we told him we were saving his life and he is not to eat sea-kayakers when he grows up.

Success--he didn’t wash back in this time. Next morning, we checked neighboring beaches and found no trace of him. There’s at least ONE great white shark out there that appreciates kayakers as more than just a menu item!

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copyright Storm Steiger 1998