20.06.2013 - 20.06.2013
I grew up sailing with my dad on White Rock Lake in Dallas, and I've done white water rafting with my family in Colorado. Today, I charted a new course: I kayaked for the very first time...in California...close to the Pacific Ocean. I had seen a sign advertising kayaking while exploring the International Boardwalk of Redondo Beach's King Harbor, and I thought to myself, "Ooh, I've always wanted to do that!". Well, I came back today, and I told the nice people at the dock that I wanted to kayak.
Of course, they make you sign your life away (and give your driver's license number - why, I do not know) before walking you down the dock and giving you a life jacket. Then, the guide told me just a few simple rules: Don't get too close to the other boats, the rocks and the seals. Makes sense. Oh yes, and do not kayak into the ocean! They showed me a map, and it was easy to see that they basically wanted you to stay within the calmer waters that are protected by a barrier of rocks. You can tell you are in the ocean when you go past the rocks and get swept by the large white caps. I was perfectly happy to stay within the kayak-friendly calmer waters.
When I climbed into the small, lime green kayak, I was surprised that it felt a little bit wobbly. However, I think these little boats are actually quite stable, even difficult to overturn unless you really try. For the first few minutes, I awkwardly tried to find my paddling rhythm. It takes upper body strength - particularly in your shoulders and your wrists - in order to glide across the water with any speed in these little boats.
Once I got past the dock and rowed in a small circle a couple times, I actually started to get the hang of it. I moved slow as a tortoise, but still, I could at least clumsily maneuver the boat in the general direction of where I wanted to go. At one point when I was in the middle of the safe zone, I looked down at the water and saw a brown thing barely surface from the water and then immediately plunge back down. It was a seal, and it was only about 20-30 feet away from my boat! A few minutes later, when I paddled closer to some buoys, I noticed that one of the big, floating objects had a large brown thing on top of it. Again, it was a seal! I watched the buoy from a safe distance as the seal sunbathed and let itself be admired - its head tilted up smiling at the bright sunny sky.
I was one of only 2-3 other kayakers in the water. I actually saw more people who were paddle boarding (basically standing up on a surf board and calmly using one oar to paddle along calm waters). Occasionally, a motorized speed boat would zoom along, and also in the distance, sailboats charted their own course across the waters (even in the ocean, which scares me as someone who only ever has sailed on a lake - an enclosed body of water - in a landlocked major city).
After approximately one hour, I headed back to the dock and then disembarked from the boat. I must admit, kayaking was a neat experience. I'm still biased towards sailing since it is what I grew up doing, and also there is the excitement of making big or subtle changes to your sails to fit the unexpected whims of the wind. That said, I had a lot of fun paddling all on my own in the kayak and being able to take my time in the calm waters to look around and admire the beauty of everything around me...including the occasional seal!