Friday, August 3, 2007

WE MADE IT!!! 98 miles in six days

What an amazing adventure.
We wrapped up our kayak trip today with a 22-mile trek from Port San Luis to the Guadalupe Dunes – just south of the county line at the Santa Maria River.
The original plan was to camp at the Oceano Dunes and finish the final 10 miles tomorrow, but we had one more 20-plus mile day in us and wanted to avoid another sketchy beach break in Oceano.
The 22-mile leg was our third in six days, and we ended up covering 98 total miles during our trip from Ragged Point to the Guadalupe Dunes (We initially thought we would paddle 86 miles in seven days).
We began today’s leg at 5:30 a.m., which was the first time we launched before sunrise. The fog coupled with the early morning light made for an eerie scene along Avila Beach as we paddled toward Shell Beach. We paddled straight to the Dinosaur Caves, where we explored a bit before heading out to the open ocean again.
We were about a mile off the coast when we saw hundreds of pelicans, cormorants and sea lions off to the west, gorging themselves on a massive school of anchovies.
The three of us paddled over to the bait ball and witnessed one of the most amazing displays of marine wildlife you’ll ever see. But you’re going to have to wait until we publish our diaries and photos to see exactly what we’re talking about. The Tribune's print series begins next weekend, so be sure to pick it up. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this scene.
* * *
Thanks to everyone who followed the trip. You’ll be able to get a better feel for what we saw in the print series, which resumes on Sunday, Aug. 12, and runs for five days.
I also wanted to thank Kayak Horizons in Morro Bay, Good Clean Fun in Cayucos, MTI Adventurewear and Portside Marine for their help along the way. This trip also would not have been possible without all of the friends, family and coworkers who lent a hand, so thanks to everyone who met up with us on our quest to paddle SLO County.
And last but not least, thanks to Beau and Joe for joining me on this challenging but very rewarding "story." It was an unbelievable journey that has renewed my love for our precious coast, which all of us take for granted far too often.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have some sand to wash out of my ears.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Another fine day for paddling

Today was another calm paddle from Montana de Oro to Port San Luis.
The wind came up a bit in the afternoon but things went so smoothly we’re probably going to combine the final two legs of the trip tomorrow.
That means we’ll be tackling at least 18 miles on Friday, starting at sunrise in Avila Beach and ending in the late afternoon at the Guadalupe Dunes – just past the mouth of the Santa Maria River and the southern SLO County line.
I think the most memorable part of today’s paddle was the stretch between Point Buchon and Diablo Canyon, which was loaded with marine life. Just below the point, the water was filled with jellyfish, and we ran into some more blue rockfish while fishing the stretch in front of the power plant – where we had to stay at least a nautical mile off shore.
We also had a chance to explore some of the sea caves near the point thanks to the calm conditions combined with a low tide.
The winds came up a little bit in the afternoon but we had no problem getting to Port San Luis and had another easy landing near the RV camping area.
Overall, it was another great day on the water. Let’s hope tomorrow is the same.
– Brian Milne

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Day four: Calm, the way it should be.

Joe probably summed up today’s paddle best.

"This is how it should be every day,”" he said after our relatively uneventful, 10-mile cruise from Morro Bay State Park to Montana de Oro.

Day 4 was an ideal day for a paddle thanks to calm winds and a manageable swell. I don'’t think we saw a whitecap all afternoon, and we didn'’t make it out of the Morro Bay Harbor until after noon.

Our paddle south along the sandspit was a rejuvenating one after three days of challenging beach break launches and landings.

The three of us landed safely at Spooner’s Cove in the late afternoon. It was our first dry landing since the first day at San Simeon State Park.

So far in four days we’'ve covered nearly 60 miles and are re-energized heading into tomorrow's 15-mile paddle along the Diablo Canyon coast to Port San Luis.

Here's to another disaster-free day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Videos from the journey so far

Click on the links below to watch video clips of the guys before they launch each day.

When they get home, you'll find a full video of their trip here.

Welcome to Morro Bay

Our rest day turned out to be quite an adventure.

Today was supposed to be an easy, five-mile paddle from Morro Strand State Beach to Morro Bay State Park, but that pesky swell at “A-Beach” provided another challenge this morning.

The same beach break that wreaked havoc on our kayaks and camping gear the night before took some more gear from Beau this morning. After getting dumped a couple of times, Beau managed to scramble back on his Cobra Tourer and paddle outside.

I’m not quite sure how we did it, but Joe and I managed to avoid any major wipeouts on this day.

Once we bailed the water out of our kayaks, we paddled to Morro Rock and took a much-needed break at the harbor where we greeted the "Welcome to Morro Bay" with smiles and cheers. From there we picked up another paddle from Kayak Horizons (Joe snapped his on our surf landing a day earlier) and set up camp at Morro Bay State Park.

So far, we’ve paddled about 50 miles in three days and are halfway home to our final destination at the Guadalupe Dunes. If our next two days go as planned, we might combine the final two legs of the trip to avoid any additional surf landings/launches.

The beach breaks have not been too kind to us so far.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Surf's up at Morro Strand

Today’s blog entry will be another brief one thanks to a crash landing at Morro Strand State Beach. Too many repairs and not enough daylight.

The second day of our trip was a surprisingly fun 22-mile trek from San Simeon State Park.

The wind was calm. The swells were at our back. We even had time to squeeze in some fishing and were joined along the way by Steve Hennigh, the owner of Good Clean Fun in Cayucos. He showed us some hot spots to kayak, surf and fish.

It took us about three and a half hours to reach our final destination at Morro Strand, one of our favorite surf spots. Well, surf was up today.

Joe was the first one to go down, blindsided by an outside wave as we were strapping down our gear and preparing for a surf landing.

Joe got slammed so hard it broke his paddle in half and knocked a bunch of gear off his kayak. He saved most of the gear but some camera equipment was damaged in the process.

Beau and I also ran into trouble during our attempts at a surf landing. Beau lost some gear and I lost a fishing rod holder, which left a four-inch hole in the top of the kayak. That’s what we’re attempting to repair right now.

Tomorrow we do it all over again.

Day 1 grueling but successful

We made it. It took 21.5 miles and nine hours, but we made it.

The first leg of our kayak adventure is in the books, and we’re relieved that we were able to get what will probably be the toughest portion of our journey out of the way.

The launch at the mouth of San Carpoforo Creek, just north of Ragged Point, went pretty smooth considering the waves were in the 4-foot range.

Joe was the first one out, finding a seam between sets and getting out without much of a problem.

Beau and I took two of the biggest waves on the head but somehow managed to break through the set and stay on our kayaks.

We spent the next 10 minutes readjusting and bailing water out of our kayaks, talking about how lucky we were that we brought our wetsuits. We battled the fog in the morning and a grueling windswell over that latter half of the trip, the last five miles of which being the toughest conditions we’ve faced.

When we finally saw San Simeon Creek, which leads to the campground at San Simeon State Park, we were thrilled because I’m not sure we could’ve paddled much more.

Right now we’re pretty slammed, so I’m putting a period on this blog entry. Tomorrow will surely be another adventure.