Spiny Norman and Johnny L.A. go kayaking

Spiny Norman suggested we go paddling in kayaks this morning. I thought it was a splendid idea! We met down in Marina del Rey at about 09:30, where he transfered his riding gear into my Cherokee. He went off to rent a kayak, and I headed for the boat ramps/parking about a half mile away.

The boat rental place must have been more on the ball than they were last time, because by the time I paddled up the basin and then up the channel a bit, Spiny Norman was already in the water waiting for me. Last time, we had to wait for someone to show up.

I’d taken my GPS with me last time I went out, and it said the round trip from the ramps to the Venice Beach Pier was 8.1 miles. Of course, about a mile or so of that was lollygagging around the marina, but it must be six or seven miles anyway.

After meeting up, we headed out the channel. Being fairly early, there was not a lot of traffic and the water was fairly smooth. After reaching the open ocean I commented that there weren’t many swells in the water. Minutes later there were. No worries, of course. We spotted a flourescent orange bouy beyond the surf line, so we paddled over to it to check it out. There were no markings. We paddled farther north and came upon an LAFD Lifeguard boat. He said the bouy was a marker for rescue swimmers who used it as a marker in their training. He had the boat tied up to a similar bouy, and that one belonged to the LAFD as an anchorage. Interestingly, he said we were about 2-1/2 miles from the Marina channel entrance. Didn’t seem that far.

Spiny and I paddled on up to the Venice Beach Pier, then wondered what to do. We’d only been out 45 mintues. I joked that we should paddle up to Santa Monica for a pint of breakfast at Ye Olde King’s Head. We decided to keep paddling north. I’ve walked from Santa Monica to Venice Beach, and it’s about two miles to the north end of Venice Beach. I reckon it was about three miles to Santa Monica from where we were.

After we’d been paddling for a bit, I asked Spiny what he wanted to do. He pointed at the S pier and asked if that was Santa Monica. I said it was, and he said that we might as well make for it since we’d already come so far.

There’s a reef offshore of the pier, so I paddled over to it. I saw something orange in the water, but I couldn’t make it out. It could have been a sea star, or it may have been a garibaldi. Or it would have been a piece of trash, for all I knew.

Spiny brought some provisions with him, so I had a granola bar for breakfast. We headed back in, and the return trip seemed to go much faster than the trip out. We sort-of had a following sea, so that might be it. Just before reaching the mouth of the Marina channel, I realized “Hey! My shoulders are getting tired!” This was the longest trip I’ve taken to date. I’m estimating between 10 and 12 miles, round-trip; but I’ll have to take the GPS next time to be sure.

In the channel my kayak was swamped by the wake of a large boat that might have been going a little faster than is legal. I’d taped over my scupper holes to make for a dryer ride. Fortunately, I brought a pump. (Not that the kayak would sink – I don’t think it can.)

I left Spiny at Marina Boat Rentals and headed for the basin with the launch ramps at the end of it. Once loaded, I headed back to where Spiny was to return his leathers and helmet. He mentioned that the rental guy was surprised that he had been paddling for two hours and 45 minutes. Spiny told him we’d gone to Santa Monica and apparently he was impressed. (Actually, by my watch we’d been out three hours and 45 minutes – but they only charged him for the lesser amount.)

It took me several minutes to back out of the parking lot entrance (it would have cost if I had entered), but I made it eventually. I drove to the loop at the end of Fiji Way and saw a cop running code 3. He stopped in front of Shanghai Red’s. Soon I saw two firetrucks and another Sheriff coming up Fiji at a fast pace. When I turned north on Lincoln Blvd. there was an ambulance coming followed by two more firetrucks. I guess there was some drama happening at Shanghai Red’s, but I don’t know what it was.

Two o’clock and time for a proper breakfast! I swung into Del Taco.

The kayaking was a good workout today. Nearly four hours of paddling really makes you feel good! It was not too hot, the water was a good temperature, and it was just an overall beautiful day for paddling.


Nice story!

I rode around on the Divvy for 300 km’s today, alongside rivers, on winding dike roads. It was awesome! There were 8 riders in total. One of them had the most exquisite Ducati Monster I’ve ever seen. An S4, with all the carbon options in the brochure. Gorgeous bike, and WHAT a noise! Couldn’t hear my own 4 cylinder when I rode behind that guy. :slight_smile:

I’m glad I got the Bridgestone tires for the bike, they kick ass. Very inspiring in the twisties! Hell, I even put down the pegs a time or two today. :slight_smile:

Sounds like a great day for you guys. And an impressive distance. Hope you’re not flying anywhere tomorrow…your arms will be tired… :stuck_out_tongue:

Sounds like a good ride, Coldie! Must be nice to have rivers and dyke roads. Sure, we have the canyons; but it sounds as if your area is more scenic.

Salem: I’m really curious to find out how far we went. I couldn’t belive it the last time I paddled there (the time before last – last time I paddled was last week in San Diego) when the GPS said eight miles. I’d always thought it was more like five. No worries with the arms. It’s the shoulders I’m worried about! :stuck_out_tongue: Just kidding. I’m a little stiff above the shoulder blades now, but if past experience is any indicator it will wear off by the morning.

The news has been playing up the “great white” sharks that are patrolling near shore. I haven’t heard what they really are, but they could be baby great whites (2-1/2 to 3 meters long) – although great whites usually hang out up closer to San Francisco. I was hoping we’d run into them, but no joy. Wildlife sightings were limited. We saw the ever-present pelicans and gulls, of course; and some small white diving birds. We saw one harbour seal that was lying on its back and chillin’. And a large rat. After I left Spiny I saw a pelican dive into the water and come up with two small silver fish.

There is one rather unpleasant part of the trip. The breakwater is a popular place with the shorebirds and it’s covered in guano. It really reeks. (I thought of GuanoLad, not because I think he stinks – indeed, I’ve never smelled him – but just because of his name and the guano-covered rocks. :wink: )

Does your GPS come with map software? Mine came with software that let’s you set up waypoints and determine the distance between them. If your GPS came with similar software, you could approximate the distance that you traveled.

It’s a Magellan 315. It has a function that tracks your trips, but I haven’t tried to use it yet, nor have I even read the section in the manual about it. (It doesn’t seem to be very intuitive. Either that, or I just haven’t come up with the need to dig into it.) It doesn’t haf map software. I have a dividend from REI that will cover most of the cost of Magellan’s colour-display Meridian GPS, and you can get map software for that.

  • well worth a few blisters and the current feeling that my shoulderblades are trying to fuse into one stiff unit. Not too shabby for one who neglects his upper body workout. It was especially fun to hear those kayak rentsmen go “Wow - that’s hardcore!”

Man, there is something about being so close to the ocean - especially on a beautiful day like yesterday. We paddled within 5 yards of a seal that was enjoying life on the surface. Plenty of pelicans, too.

I’ll not even comment on Mr. L.A. digging out a big chunk of seaweed, holding it to his throat and calling “KELP! KELP!” - just say that I’m happy no Great Whites showed up, Lord knows what he would’ve staged with one of those :smiley:

Wearing my Interhash 96 ballcap with the integrated neck & ear cover (think Foreign Legion) I even got away with nominal sunburn only. Kayaks are fun. I wonder what a 2ndhand would cost ? (As if I didn’t have toys enough already.)

That sounds great. Where is the rental place? How much was it? I’ve done some kayaking on the east coast, but I haven’t done anything out here yet. Any info would be great. Thanks.

Spiny Norman: You can find some kayaks at The Recycler. Choose “sports & hobbies” and type “kayak” in the search box. Today there is a single-seat fiberglass kayak for $30 and an Ocean Kayak 2-person “Ambush” with a cart, motor, life jackets and paddles for $900. An Ocean Kayak “Scrambler” like the one you used yasterday is listed for $450 paddle and seat, and a Cobra “Sport” (like my friend’s) for $250 including the seat.

lightingtool: Marina Boat Rentals on Fiji Way in Marina del Rey behind El Torito rents a single-person kayak (Ocean Kayak “Scrambler”) for $12/hour. They said they can give a discount if it’s a slow day.

I wonder how many paddlers there are in the L.A. area? Maybe we should have a 'YakDope?

Spiny Norman says he’s going to look into places to put-in down in Redondo Beach, so we’ll be going there next time.

Hmm, sounds like fun!

I’d probably better take some lessons first though.

http://www.upsports.com/ in Dana Point has a deal on the Cobra “Explorer” kayak:

That’s an excellent deal. My Ocean Kayak “Drifter” was $600 just for the 'yak. Then there was another $300 for the rudder system (which is not available for the Cobra “Explorer”, but is for the “Tourer”) and installation, $75 for the seat and $135 for the paddle. So Cobra kayaks look pretty good. (Incidentally, on a previous post I referred to my friend’s kayak as the “Sport”. He does indeed have the “Explorer”, and I was conflating the model name with the distributor name.)

See also:
Ocean Kayak
Cobra Kayaks
Necky Kayak

Quantum Butterfly: It’s not that hard. You can just rent one, and you’ll figure it out in about two minutes. And yes, it’s quite fun! :slight_smile:

Spiny: I just got back from paddling the same route, only this time with a GPS. We paddled 11 miles.

A bit of a caveat here – it’s not a bad idea to take a kayak safety course before attacking anything too ambitious. This is particularly true if you’ve got a traditional kayak (sit in) rather than the practically unsinkable “sit on” type kayak. At the very least, you need to know how to do a wet exit and how to get back in the kayak afterwards. (I’ll feel a lot more comfortable in my kayak once I learn how to do a roll.)

There are also various kind of strokes (low brace, high brace) that come in handy for dealing with sudden unexpected waves, motor boat turbulence, or rough water.

But yeah, on a calm day, you can pick up basic kayaking very quickly.

Oops. A correction. It’s a half mile from the boat ramps (where I put in) to Marina Boat Rentals (where I met Spiny Norman). So Marina del Rey to Santa Monica and back was 11 miles for me and 10 miles for Spiny.

Finagle: True about the sit-inside kayaks. I haven’t tried one yet, but I did see a UCLA Extension class practiceing wet re-entries. Looked like a pain. On the other hand it must be nice to be nice and dry sitting in an enclosed kayak with a spray skirt to keep the water out, instead of sitting in a puddle in a sit-on-top.

Mr. Athena and I were out on Lake Superior for 2-3 hours today in our boats. It was glorious! Last time we were out the Lake was like glass, which is very pretty, but this time we had some small waves and rollers - maybe 2 footers or so. We’d been out for about 30 minutes when all of a sudden we hear a big CRASH that turned out to be thunder, and then a lightening strike out in the lake. We made a beeline for shore and stood under a tree for the 20 minutes or so that it took the rain to pass. We were soaked, but it wasn’t a big deal since we were both in our wetsuits and water gear.

After the rain, we got back in and paddled from one end of the bay to the other. We played around at picnic rocks and then headed down to the coast guard station. We headed back up the other way, but we stopped before we got to the breakwall, even though the water was MUCH calmer than this picture! Someday we hope to make it from town to Little Presque Isle - about a 6 mile paddle.

One of these days I’m gonna take a bunch of my OWN pictures and post 'em, so I don’t have to link to other people’s Web pages. The kayaking up here is glorious, albeit a bit cold. The only bad thing is that we had some pretty major flooding in the spring of this year, and the Lake is pretty dirty compared to how it usually is.

This morning I introduced a sea kayaker to the wonderful world of needle boats (sprint kayaks). She only dumped a few times in the 45 minutes we were on the water, and she was able to paddle about a hundred yards out and back, which is exceptional since most folks usually don’t let go of the dock for more than a few seconds in their first session.

Another convert to the dark side! Heh, heh, heh.

Hey folks, if you are into sea kayaking, you might consider subscribing to the PaddleWise list server. Many high end sea kayakers, instructors, and manufacturers participate, so you can pick up some terrific information, as well as share paddling tales and trip reports. The sign-up page is here: http://www.paddlewise.net/

Richard “Muffin” Culpeper