This weekend was our second at New Brighton and the first using my new kayak!! Before departure however, Richard installed a nifty set of LED lights at the front of Dory in order to make nighttime hitching/unhitching go more smoothly. I take credit for the idea, but he was the executor. The strip of LEDs has an adhesive backing that got mounted right to the front of the bike rack, thus aiming the light exactly where we need it. He put a remote control dimmer switch in the wiring so we can turn it on from inside the car right when we get to our site. And he connected the whole thing to the main battery so it will benefit from the solar panels already in place. Sweet. It really did work well and we had more than enough light when we pulled in (somewhat intentionally) after dark on Friday. We laughed pretty giddily when we turned those on for the first time.
On Saturday, we had to move sites because I only last-minute-reserved Friday night and couldn’t get the same site we were booked for Saturday and Sunday. The wonderful camp host at New Brighton was very helpful and went and got our tags in her little golf cart, bringing them right to our site. Saved us a trip to the kiosk and back, so we appreciated it. The premium sites at New Brighton are super impressive and 87 had good solar. Happy campers there.
Our tentative goal Saturday was to get me in my kayak in the water. It worked splendidly, assembled on the living room floor, but I was ready to take it to the next logical step. First we tried driving out to Kirby Park on the eastern end of Elkhorn Slough. We got out. We saw what looked like a “boat launch” area. We stood there for a while, watching what looked like a rapid current moving past the dock. I pictured trying to get into the boat from the dock. Assuming I didn’t just flip over right there, I imagined myself being swept away with nothing but a farewell wave to Sweetie as my only option for executable responses. We got back in the car and decided to go to Moss Landing where I knew there was not only a boat launch, but knowledgable people in addition.
I definitely lucked out there. As it was around 3pm, and all sane kayakers were already done and packing up, we stumbled upon a huge group in the parking lot from the Bay Area Sea Kayakers organization. They had every imaginable form of rack, including hydraulic lifts, for their cars. Their kayaks appeared to be expensive, but honestly, I don’t really know that. I’m just inferring based on all the rest of their gear. I did not notice any inflatables in the gathering. I tentatively approached some of them and struck up a conversation, briefly explaining my status and goal of some day getting in the water. They were super nice and very helpful, and in the kindest possible way, said something along the lines of, “You’re not going out like that though, right?” “Hahaha! Of course not, that would be crazy!” was the response I was thinking of giving, but I really wanted to know what they meant. I got a long dissertation on how I really needed to take some lessons and get some different clothing, all said very supportively, but with the unmistakable expression of people imagining how they would be shaking their heads about me when they saw my picture on the news. So, rather than leap into the wet unknown, I walked about a hundred feet to the rental place where I was told they could sign me up for lessons. There was a store there too.
The woman at Monterey Bay Kayaks was happy to help, but had this mildly apologetic tone as she was explaining that it would need to be a private lesson, would probably be about two hours, and that it would cost $100. It was then that I realized she hadn’t seen the sign on my forehead, stating: “Newbie with a new kayak and recently lifted spending freeze.” I agreed enthusiastically to the Sunday private lesson and proceeded to purchase paddling specific clothing. Dinner that night was at a place called Haute Enchilada in Moss Landing, and that was fantastic!
Sunday’s lesson, I suspected, was going to include throwing me out of the boat and into the water. I tried thinking much less about that than about how to keep my hearing aides safe so that this maiden voyage didn’t end up costing us an extra $6k. That would surely lead to a reinstatement of the spending freeze. As for the lesson itself, it really could not have gone any better. Listen, when you spend the day having to splash at curious otters so they stop trying to get up on your boat, that’s a pretty damn good day right there. The weather was great (Sorry non-California. I know. Sorry.), the instructor was awesome and super loud so I could hear her, and the kayak handled far better than I even hoped. She showed me everything, and yes, totally dumped me upside down at the end. It wasn’t pretty, but I did haul myself back into the kayak from in the water. Twice! I turned, I stopped, I launched, and landed. All good! Many thanks to Katy, my instructor! She was extremely patient and tons of fun. I give her and this place two thumbs, way up. Oh yeah, Richard went on a bike ride while I was in the water and also had fun. I guess. I was busy.
The otter situation at Elkhorn is just nuts. They are everywhere. Infested with otters, they are. We were harassed repeatedly by two of them, who had obviously decided we looked like fun people. Or they wanted our boats. Or they were intentionally trying to get us in trouble for being way less than 50 feet from them. It’s a truly awesome kind of struggle when an otter is trying to climb on your boat, but you’re thinking you really need to splash him/her away. Crazy fun.
The last thing to touch on in this very long post is the obvious question of why my kayak is not blue. I know. But the thing is, my research informed me the Advanced Elements inflatables were high quality and very similar to hard sided kayaks in terms of feel. They are also the only kind I’ve seen that provide a “cockpit” style, where you can even attach a spray skirt if you want. I liked the cozy toes feeling from the sit inside rentals I tried. And the one that makes the most sense for my size and intended use only comes in red or green. I could get a larger one that does come in blue, but it would be: 1) overkill, 2) too long for me, and 3) 6 pounds heavier. You can imagine how long I agonized over that. But in the end, I was able to scare up a tiny bit of remaining sanity. I got the green one and decided to name him “Squirt.” That’s a trivia question for “Finding Nemo” fans. If you know who he is without clicking the link, then you are a true fan.
Together, Squirt and I are going to rip it, roll it, and punch it!! Duuude.
Total miles: 83.9, 17.7 mpg, 2 hours 47 min. Site 81 has pretty good solar but is not a premium site and doesn’t have any privacy. Site 87 is a premium site and had good solar most of the day. No hookups, LTE for ATT, sporadic for Verizon.