Friday, August 22, 2008

Off to Sea

You know the saying "Try something that scares you every day?" Well, I did. And not only did I, but I have found a new love and appreciation for something new! I'm talking about sea kayaking!

It's like me...heading out into the great big sea

I know, I know. It's not really that scary. I mean, if you really want to talk scary, let's talk about sky diving, now that was scary. But kayaking was scary in a different way. Looking out into the water, seeing the darkness below me and all the waves!

I was out there with two friends, both had been before. When we had first started talking about kayaking, I assumed there would be one 2 person boat, and one 1 person boat. And that I would not going to be alone. Not the case. I was quickly corrected and told we’d each be in our own boat. Gulp.

Then we get there. We get our life vests. We make our way down to the beach, get assigned a boat, and just as I'm waiting for some sort of tutorial or instructional portion, the guy says, "Ok, have fun out there". That was it. Umm, not ok with me. I needed more. I walked up to the guy that had just waved us off and I timidly told him “it was my first time'”, and that I wanted to see if he had any tips.

Kayak Expert Guy: Get past those initial big waves. Paddle left to go right. Paddle right to go left. And just get past those waves. Have fun!

Me: Umm, that's all?

Kayak Expert Guy: Yup! Just get past those waves!!

Me: How?

Kayak Expert Guy: Paddle left to go right and paddle right to go left!

Yea. That's all. I think I left our little conversation slightly more nervous. Big wave? Yikes.

Thank goodness for kind (and strong) friends. Bowman and Bahram were kind enough to take pitty on this scardey cat and they gave me the push I needed to get past that big wave. It was the most glorious experience!! The sense of freedom and just being out in the sea. It didn't hurt that we were in San Diego where the weather and water was perfect. We even saw a leopard shark!

Not my photo...but the leopard shark looked similar to this one!

Back up here in SF now, and as I started looking into places to kayak, I started seeing information on wet suites. Umm, no thank you! What's the fun of being out there if you're not warm? And not tipping each other over into the refreshing water? (Although I have to admit, I told the boys there was a 'No Tip' rule with me...this was still my first time after all!) It just woldn't be the same if you weren't reaching in and throwing kelp at each other. And having paddle splash wars! There's nothing refreshing, nor clean, about the water up here!

I came across this list of “10 Favorite Places to Kayak” on the IgoUgo site (also see below for the list). Guess I’ve got my list of vacation spots to hit!!

Me with my friends Bahram and Bowman post my first kayaking experience!

From UgoIgo:

We'd guess that most travelers spend more time Kayaking plane tickets than kayaking rivers and oceans. But the paddle events underway in Beijing reminded us of all the IgoUgo members who have dipped their boats into the world's most beautiful waters. Here are some of their picks for the best places to make waves.

1. Boulder City, Nevada: Black Canyon rivergirl88 says: "Below Hoover Dam sits a great little secret called Black Canyon. It is gaining in popularity due to its towering cliffs, emerald-green waters, and numerous hot springs. You can kayak into sea caves, paddle onto sandy beaches for lunch, or just watch for bighorn sheep high on the cliffs. All 745 feet of the Hoover Dam tower above you...what a view!"

2. Vieques, Puerto Rico: Mosquito Bay stomps says: "It really was an out-of-this-world experience. Adding to the glow beneath us was the glow in the sky. Looking up at the stars, we could see the entire band of the Milky Way stretching across the center of the sky. As soon as we got out of our kayaks, all of us were planning our next trip to Vieques and its fairy-dust-sprinkled bioluminescent bay."

3. Baja California, Mexico: Ensenada Caves ernieg23 says: "The most exciting moment of the trip had to be our wild kayaking through Ensenada's caves and into the ocean, where we encountered many amazing sites. A gigantic sea lion attacking a 4-foot-long tuna at about 20 feet from us was a frightening rush that turned into excitement."

4. Halong Bay, Vietnam: Surprising Cave shammiyap says: "Kayaking is a nice way to explore the secluded places, and it helps you get really close-even touch the stone. Kayak under the grottos to another heaven on earth; you will feel that life is so peaceful at once!"

5. Moorea, French Polynesia: Les Tipaniers aunty says: "Make sure you drive to Les Tipaniers resort, park outside, and walk through to the beach. Here you can hire a kayak and paddle across to two nearby motus (little islands). In between the two motus is a beautiful lagoon with crystal-clear water and lots of sea life."

6. Kauai, Hawaii: Hanalei River Idler says: "We pass under a low bridge and are now traveling through the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, home to many endangered birds such as black-necked stilts and Hawaiian geese. In fact, the best way to observe the birds of the wetlands is by boat, as access onto the refuge itself is restricted. Silently we glide along the placid river, going at my easy pace. Occasionally an oar splashes, rousting a cattle egret in a flapping flash of white."

7. Seward, Alaska: Fox Island Virtually There says: "This was an easy kayaking excursion that included instruction and a 3-hour guided wilderness paddle around Fox Island, one of the world's finest paddling locations and an interesting mix of temperate rain forest; sculpted cliffs; protected coves; and long, pebbled beaches."

8. ChiloƩ Island, Chile: Dead Tree Valley amylya says: "Kayaking at the Dead Tree Valley is a unique and astonishing experience and a must when visiting ChiloƩ. To be alone in a kayak surrounded by dead trees; wetlands; and rare, endemic birds that stay quiet while you photograph them makes you feel transported in time. Four different rivers give you alternative landscapes to enjoy. All calm water."

9. Phi Phi Le Island, Thailand: Maya Bay Ben the Grate says: "Eventually you'll come to a bay opening to your left. Enter this bay. Here in the entrance is some of the finest and most colorful snorkeling I've ever experienced. In fact, the fish were so prolific that when I dropped a cracker in the water it literally boiled and fish jumped INTO my kayak!"

10. Maui, Hawaii: La Perouse Bay Cattleya says: "Unbelievably wonderful experience-green sea turtles come up for air right beside you. Fish in all the colors of the rainbow and beautiful coral formations exist in this marine reserve area that is only accessible by kayak."

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