Well, I blew off the housework today and took my new kayak out for its maiden voyage.
Although my arms were a bit sore from hefting heavy boxes, I launched into the warm waters of Mother’s Beach in Marina del Rey. At first, I was a bit uncoordinated, but I headed out into the channel anyway. Soon I was at the main channel. I hooked a right and paddled out, not knowing how far I’d go. I set my sights on the breakwater and paddled along the jetty. Would I make it all the way to the end of the jetty? I’ll just go a little farther…
When I did get to the end of the jetty I went around it. The Venice Beach pier was about a mile off, I guess; but I didn’t go to it. Surveying the wide swath of yellow sand, I saw some kayakers putting in where the beach meets the jetty. Why not? I paddled in to say hi. After chatting for a few minutes I turned back. I’d had a headwind on the way out. Now I should have a tailwind. Where is it? Oh, well. Can’t win 'em all.
There were more swells on the way in than there were on the way out. Actually they were wakes made by the numerous boats on their way out to sea. A little under two hours after launching, I paddled back into the little laggon of Mother’s Beach. My arms were getting a little tired, but I was loth to go in.
As I approached the beach I caught movement in the water. Two little shars about a meter long were swimming away. In the next moment I saw a little ray. I drifted around a bit and saw a whole school of sharks and a multitude of rays. I finally beached the 'yak and found a lifeguard. He said he thought the sharks are lemon sharks, and that the rays are stingrays. He said he had some ice packs in case I get stung.
I walked into the water and pulled my kayak behind me as I looked for the only sea life I’d seen on the trip. I was never able to get closer than about two or three meters from the sharks. The stingrays were similarly skittish, but thought they were hidden under the sand. Moving carefully so as not to step on a stingray, I eventually saw a familiar outline in the sand (the sand has a lot of black in it that is brought to the surface when a ray burrows into it). Looking closer I saw an eye, and then another eye. I reached down into the wrist deep water and tickled the ray’s wing and it took off.
The only other critters I saw (except for the ever-present gulls and albatrosses) was a raptor of some sort that was sitting on a post at Mother’s Beach.
The kayak seemed heavier as I dragged it across the soft sand. Indeed, after sitting in it for a couple of hours I found it a little difficult to get up out of it. I’m slightly burned (not bad though) and my arms are starting to feel the rewards of almost two hours of nearly non-stop paddling.
I stepped out of my Jeep into the unexpectedly hot day. I grabbed a hose and rinsed the sand and salt from the kayak and car.
The marina has a number of interesting boats in it, but there is a decided lack of sealife. Just the sharks and rays. Paddling along the jetty I caught the stench of beach toilets, although I never saw any. Boats being refuelled vented fuel into the water. Not exactly a pristine environment.
I think I’ll try launching from the boat ramps next time. Parking is cheaper, and I won’t collect sand. I’ll need to get some scupper plugs as well, so I don’t sit in water.