Sunday, August 8, 2010

Perfect Paddling Weather

The wind was calm. The whole time. It did briefly manage to stir in the late afternoons but it was with all the energy of uncle Bob rousing from a tryptophan stupor after Thanksgiving dinner to change the channel to the other football game before falling back into the La-Z-Boy. Perfect weather for a paddle. Unfortunately we were hoping to sail. Pedro and I set out in his Feathercraft tandem with a plan to sail out to the Channel Islands and ultimately San Nicholas - an island never visited by kayak as far as we know. We were rigged with a stepped mast, main and jib, and a couple inflatable outriggers to keep us upright. But without wind we ended up paddling, often using only half the paddle as a canoe blade to avoid the sail rig. It made for slow paddling and ultimately changed our plans.

Our planned route was to launch in Ventura and head to Santa Cruz Island. Then on to Santa Barbara Island for a night before heading to San Nicholas. Since it is owned by the military (part of the Pacific Missile Test Range) you are not allowed to land so we would just get as close as allowed and then turn and paddle back to SB Island for the night. Then maybe we would swing by Catalina before heading back to the mainland. We made it to Santa Cruz without problem - we were expecting to have to paddle that leg into the wind anyway. And the forecast when we set out for SB Island was promising - 10kt to 20kt from the NW - but the wind never really materialized. So after fifteen hours of paddling we crossed the 46 miles and arrived in the dark. In the dark at a 20' high dock with a ladder to exit on. While unloading the boat for the big hoist to the top we managed to flood the boat, leading to a marathon pumping session and the loss of a few unimportant items to the dark sea. Getting to sleep around 1am with a similar pattern of wind expected the next day we abandoned our plan for a 55 mile round trip paddle to San Nicholas and settled on a day of rest before heading directly back to the mainland.

The paddle back to Marina del Rey went much more smoothly. We took down the sail rig and just planned to paddle the whole way. This allowed us to make better time and mentally we were fine with the effort. When the winds finally came up around 5pm we took the time to set up the sail and cruise the rest of the way into port (though with the still light winds we didn't actually get there any faster than we would have paddling). So while we didn't quite make our goal we had a good trip and chalked it up to a training paddle for the next attempt at San Nicholas (more on that shortly).

Pictures Her
e and Route Here.

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