Friday, August 15, 2014

Kayaking in Santa Cruz

Emboldened by our smashing success of kayaking in Pillar Point Harbor, Nick and I decided to venture further afield into the open waters of Santa Cruz. Unlike Pillar Point, which is basically a boat harbor protected with rock walls, and is akin to kayaking in a small calm lake, in Santa Cruz you go out into the real ocean. With real waves. And wind. And surf, which you don't want to get into. On the plus side, there's lots of cool wildlife, and the views are spectacular.

Ready to go. Please note compass, bird ID book, and
toys in a "dry bag"

After some research, I located a rental place right on the wharf, Venture Kayaks, which seemed to have reasonable rates, and didn't have the dreaded "no children under five" statement on their website. We arrived, parked, walked over, and were greeted by a hot surfer dude with an Australian accent.

The surfer dude was nice eye candy, but after I asked to rent a double boat, gave me a look of contempt and said:

"Just for you and him?"

"Well, yes, we are two people..."

"You are going to paddle a double boat all by yourself? You should rent a single. It is easier to paddle."

"Well, yes, but where's he going to sit?"

"Oh, no problem, we rent single boats to people with kids all the time. He'll just sit on the deck next to you."

Ok, I think... On the deck... On hard wet plastic with nothing to hold onto, and right in the spray line of my paddle. That'll go over really well.

I understand that we didn't present a very convincing picture, at least at first glance, so I figure the guy thought we'd paddle around in circles for 15 minutes, the kid would get bored, and we'd come back. But as we were arguing about the kayak, Nick had expertly put on and buckled a life vest they gave him, tucked his "Common Birds of Monterey Bay" book that he now insists on carrying with him everywhere under a strap, and was asking which paddle he should use. And while I am not a seven foot dad with bulging muscles, who was renting the same kind of double I wanted for himself and his kid, right there next to me, I actually do look somewhat fit. So, really, dude, give me my boat.

But no. The nice Australian surfer dude was convinced that we should get a single, so I relented. I figured if we are miserable, we'll just come back and get a different boat. We went down to the dock, I got into the cute little single sit-on-top kayak (think of a small plastic bath tub), and Nick was deposited somewhere in the vicinity of my lap. At that point, he looked at the nice Australian surfer dude and said:

"I think I want my own seat. And a paddle."

Faced with an unwavering stare of a four year old, the guy gave up and pulled out a double boat. Next time, we'll just skip all the arguing and I will have the kid rent us the boat.

Nick in "own seat and a paddle"

The views were rather awesome.

The cool thing about Santa Cruz is that you can paddle to a huge kelp bed.

Lots and lots of seaweed. Actually kind of hard to get through because
it catches the paddles.

Playing with the kelp.

Nick wanted to take some home and was disappointed to find out
that it's attached.

While there were not as many birds as last time, at least in the open water, there were sea otters (with babies! squee!) and sea lions on the rocks. 

Sea otters. The one in the back (with the white face) looked like it was napping.
The ones in front are actually mom and baby. The mom would leave the baby
floating around and dive for food. The baby let out sad little squeaks until
the mom came back. It was extremely cute. Nick was impressed.

Sea lions. We spent a long time watching them because they kept doing
fun things like yell at each other, jostle for space on the rock, and periodically
jump into the water. 

Nick finds this activity very acceptable.

We spent about two hours on the water. When we got back, the nice Australian surfer dude asked if we made it to the kelp beds. When I told him that we actually went past Lighthouse beach (which is as far as they let you go in the rental boats), I think he was impressed.

So now that we've done Santa Cruz, the next stop south is Elkhorn Slough and then Monterey.

I think next time we'll just head over to Kayak Connection (my preferred rental outfit for many years now, which does have the dreaded "no children under five" policy). I'll show them this video and then have the kid rent us a boat. Because he's apparently much better at arguing about stupid policies than I am.

After the trip, we had lunch. 

And ice cream.

And then this happened again.

1 comment:

  1. Go Nick. Laughed really hard ... Did not see a picture of eye-candy.