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.
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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.