G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Peaceful Paddle in the Sun

It's now over a week since I've been in the water, due to inclement weather and a minor back issue. So even though it's the proverbial "flatter than a pancake" surf-wise, I knew I had to get out for a paddle. Especially since more rain and cold weather is on the way and is forecast to extend though Christmas.

I knew I was in for a good paddle session as I glided into the deeper water from the pocket beach at Sarges. The water was crystal clear with visibility unimpeded by any sediment or other contaminants. Clear, cold and clean. Air temp was slowly rising from 50 degrees to a high of 53 when I got out of the water an hour and fifteen minutes later. There was not a flicker of rideable surf as far as the eye could see. No matter, today was a paddle day.

It was pure enjoyment gliding over, and viewing the sea beds, noting the differences and similarities of the different surf spots. All have rock bottoms, but all are configured slightly different. Some are solid rock, covered with several different types of sea grasses, kelp anchors and sea stars. All are littered with the debris of empty shells, testament to the healthy population of sea otters that live in the environment. Some bottoms have long fingers of leafy covered rocks, with striations, both straight and winding, of current striped sand dunes filling in between the rocky fingers. Lots and lots of sea stars, hardly any fish at all, and of course the kelp is ubiquitous.

The upwind leg of my paddle hugged the shoreline, so I could get a good look at the nearshore sea floor. The downwind home stretch was paddled several hundred yards out to sea, so I could get a look at the bottom way beyond where the surf breaks. Again visibility was stellar and I was surprised at how shallow it was, that far out to sea. It was of course deeper, but in many places I could clearly see the bottom. Again, there was a mixture of sand covered rock and exposed rocky reefs.

There were a couple other stand up guys out sight seeing....walking on water, and about a dozen laydown surfers looking for the unfindable. (Actually there were some small peaks at one spot, but "sets," if you could call them that, were few and far, far between.) I felt particularly fortunate to be out on my stand up, getting exercise, enjoying a beautiful day, and seeing so much more than my laydown brethren could ever imagine. Once one does this (stand up paddling and surfing) can one ever go back?

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