Feeling somewhat intimidated by the Pacific Ocean, I signed up for a Surf Zone class by California Canoe and Kayak. It's a paddling shop with a number of locations in the Bay Area, including Oakland (about 5 mins from my house) and Half Moon Bay.
I was one of three students in the class. According to the instructor, the surf was perfect for learning. The class was focused on handling your kayak in the surf zone: launching and landing safely, punching through breaking waves to get out past the surf zone, and side surfing to avoid getting flipped when the waves turn you sideways.
I'd practiced most of these things on Lake Ontario and at Sea Kayak Georgia, but the waves on the west coast are different: the waves were more frequent and the beaches are steeper, making the waves break differently. AND I was severely out of practice, so it was a very useful class!
We paddled out past the breakwater and to the east, where we practiced playing in the surf zone. I swallowed an enormous amount of salt water the first few times I rolled, which made for quite a nauseating afternoon. Once we were completely exhausted from paddling out through and into the surf, we paddled along the breakwater to some bigger waves breaking on the offshore reefs off Pillar Point. Just north of here is where Mavericks breaks. The huge waves only break here for certain long period swell, so of course we weren't attempting to paddle in 25 foot waves that often break here. It was still cool to be so close though...
I didn't get any great pictures since I was trying to pay attention, but here's one facing NW. You can sort of see the waves breaking in the distance.
After class we relaxed at the kayaker-friendly yacht club and had a beer while debriefing the day... Perfect weekend day!
Date: Sunday, June 24, 2012
Time: 3 hour