Apr 142012

Today the wind was gusting to 35 mph from the northwest, and the wind-swell was 12 feet every 7 seconds from the west. In other words, epic conditions for experienced downwind paddlers, however I’ve never before paddled in anything quite like it.

S. and I went to check the flag at Trump Natl Golf course, to see what the real wind direction was, only to discover they had taken it down in the high winds. So we walked out to the point at Trump and could see large waves rolling past with the chop breaking at angles to the swell, so … messy, but as good as it gets around Palos Verdes California. It was brrrrr and windy with no golfers in sight.

After a couple of errands it was time to go. I left the camera at home because i really needed to focus on not damaging my board or myself today, so you get the above buoy data instead! My plan was to paddle (or get blown) the 8 miles from TerraNea to Cabrillo, and stay a mile or so further out than usual, to pickup the larger waves that were heading more downwind. But the first challenge was finding a parking spot at TerraNea!

Once I parked and got down the rock beach, I could see 6 foot waves breaking every 3-4 seconds directly on the rocks. The trick is to get the board across the rocks and impact zone between the waves. The problem was that the ocean was sucking out horribly in between each wave and then exploding onto the boulders which you could hear loudly grinding themselves into sand. There was no gap between normal waves, so I had to wait. Eventually two waves canceled each other out and there was a 5 second lull … time to go! I made it out almost completely dry with no damage.

I paddled out a few hundred yards, turned more downwind and stood up. The wind immediately starting pushing me towards Cabrillo, no paddling necessary … unless I wanted to catch the waves. A few paddle strokes and the board was making a wake. The downwinder was on!

After about 90 seconds a wave hit me from the side and launched me into the refreshing;y cold water. Another minute or two, and a breaking wave from behind knocked out the board from under me. Another few minutes and two waves collided and catapulted the board and I into the air. And on it went, about 20 falls in all. Eventually I started to get the hang of it and caught some of smaller bumps. I couldn’t seem to get the speed needed for the bigger, more developed waves. I needed to catch the smaller ones to be going fast enough to catch the faster, bigger waves. But I couldn’t seem to get the timing right, except when the waves caught me. That was fine with me though, just getting home would be good.

I had to stop a rest a number of times and would usually turn around to see what the waves looked like. Some of the bigger waves would stretch out the bumps of the wave face and become smooth, steep, perfect walls of beautiful clear blue water. One such set of waves was significantly bigger than the rest. I shouted when the largest one of all rose in front of me. This was IT!

 Posted by at 7:38 pm
Apr 012012

sel·kie also sil·kie (s l k ). n. A creature or spirit in Scottish and Irish folklore that has the form of a seal but can also assume human form.

So I’ve been swimming more often since I moved to the beach as another way to enjoy the ocean and to exercise. One day, near dusk, I was swimming around Point Fermin and was only half seriously attempting to bodysurf the occasional waves, which were breaking onto the rocks. It was late in the day, overcast and the water was near black. After a last wave, I turned to swim back to the beach and was startled to find a sea-lion, three feet away, calmly looking at me. I reacted by making my big scare-the-stingray splash … it was completely unfazed and continued to just look. After a few moments, it slowly, almost disappointedly, slid beneath the water and disappeared.

I started swimming back and it popped up and started swimming with me. Interesting. Eventually it dove for a few minutes and popped up about 25 feet away with it’s back to me. I whistled and it immediately turned and swam towards me. This was definitely not your average sea-lion. It swam with me for a bit and dove again and was gone for several  minutes as I worked my way through the kelp. At one point I was stuck and was kicking against an unbelievably solid piece of kelp. Weird.

Finally I cleared the kelp and was was back in open water. And then my fin got stuck again. I knew it was the sea lion this time … somehow it was holding onto my right fin and not letting go. I’m comfortable in the ocean, but this felt pretty weird to me. But I relaxed and the sea lion began to tap the fin, then my leg with it’s flippers. It was lightly grabbing and letting go and it worked its way up my leg to my back and arm and back down again. It surfaced right next to me and looked at me, expressionless with it’s big eyes, so dark brown they were black. It resumed the underwater fin game again only this time I reached down and felt it’s fur, flippers and face. It’s fur felt oddly dry and flippers had hand bones and claw tips. It was motionless as long as I touched it and resumed it’s game when I stopped.

At one point it swam into my arms and I held it. It tensed when I lifted it, so that was not ok, and I released it. I was quite cold by this time and resumed swimming toward shore. It grabbed my fin again … this was going to be a long swim. I slowly worked my way to the beach with an 80 pound critter mostly attached to my fin. Ridiculous, but I didn’t want this strange game to stop. We got to the surf zone and I disengaged long enough to catch a wave. I turned around and the sea lion was looking for me, so I swam back out. Caught another, this time with the sea lion, who swam more than surfed the wave. It went all the way to the sand, but I stopped and swam back out. My legs were cramping. It was dark and time to go. I called out to a nearby stand up paddle surfer who had witnessed some of these antics and told him that she was all his. He said something and the sea lion, attracted to his voice, i guess, swam towards him.

I got out, the sea lion was still swimming around the surfer. I wondered how the sea lion had come to be so friendly towards humans and whether it had been trained in some way. I may never know, but I’m guessing that it is the same way towards other swimmers …

 Posted by at 7:51 pm
Oct 022011

S. and I recently vacationed for a couple of of weeks in Humboldt County Ca. We enjoyed camping at Gold Bluff Beach with access to surf, Fern Canyon, redwoods hiking, beach combing, and the elk wandering around. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:23 am
Sep 072011


I’ve been hiking the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy and looking at Catalina floating in the sky (see above pic) for the last 30 years and thinking that I would paddle it some day … that day was today.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:00 pm
Mar 132011

This was my first paddle on a SUP from RAT to San Pedro. It’s a little over 15 miles and can be exposed depending on weather. I went solo on a SIC 18’6″ SUP with a life vest and 2 liters of Endurox R4, and SPOT of course. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 8:09 pm
Jan 242011

S. bought me a SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger for my birthday, since I often paddle solo offshore in all kinds of weather. I’d looked at the previous gen model before but it seemed like just another gadget, and was known to have some issues. The current Satellite GPS Messenger has built in tracking, messaging and SOS functions. It works as advertised and earned it’s keep on it’s second use … Continue reading »

 Posted by at 9:08 pm
Jan 192011

Paddled over to the cove today for the exercise on SUP surf boards with R. and noticed that Indicators had a nice looking peak. So we paddled over and confirmed the same story … thick kelp everywhere! Continue reading »

 Posted by at 12:13 pm