After completing our introductory classes or our popular Sea Kayak Club series, students often ask us: How do I become more comfortable in my boat and practice the skills I just learned? Our Coastal Progression and Exploration series may be the answer. Each voyage is just what it sounds like: a trip where we get out on the water, explore a different area of the central California coast, and learn along the way. Instead of focusing on skills drills, these journeys allow us to explore an area and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us while simultaneously practicing newly learned skills in real ocean conditions. Our instructors are on the water to provide feedback and offer support.
Are you a newer paddler looking to hone your skills? Do you want to become more comfortable and confident on the water? If so, check out our Coastal Progression and Exploration Series.
Progression and Exploration - Natural Bridges: Wind and Waves
The journey to Natural Bridges is a classic Santa Cruz day paddle. We’ll launch from the Harbor in the morning and make our way west along the coast before the wind picks up. Along the way, we will explore the kelp forest and look for sea otters, sea lions, and the surfers at Steamer Lane and then head northwards to see more of the amazing coastline on our way up to the last remaining arch at Natural Bridges State Park. By the time we are ready to turn around, the wind will have picked up – which means learning how to paddle in wind waves and more exposed conditions. Any local paddler will tell you, if you kayak around Northern California then be prepared to paddle in wind waves. These locally generated, short, steep waves create chop and create the perfect opportunity to practice edging and bracing. We’ll get a chance to paddle out to sea to experience the waves, and then we’ll turn towards the harbor. The wind blows from the west, and will help push us back towards our destination with a bit of wind-wave surfing along the way. Paddling in wind waves is an excellent introduction to rougher or lumpy water and offers a great chance to practice your strokes and braces. With good instruction along the way, this class will allow you to become a more confident coastal kayaker. This journey will be approximately 5 hours long and we will paddle around 9 miles. In order to rest and refuel, we will take a break at Cowell’s Beach (where there is a conveniently placed restroom) on the way out and also raft up in the kelp near Natural Bridges at our turnaround point.
Progression and Exploration - Elkhorn Slough: Tidal Planning
The Elkhorn Slough is a very special place in the Monterey Bay. It is the perfect venue to learn more about tidal currents and trip planning, all while paddling alongside some of the largest populations of sea otters and harbor seals in the Monterey Bay. The Slough hosts an abundance of wildlife and a variety of paddling conditions, but paddling the Elkhorn Slough can be tricky with the winds and currents. During our journey we will learn how to plan for a successful trip with tidal navigation and precise planning. Our journey will start out at the mouth of Elkhorn Slough which if full of sea otters and seals, and our goal is to paddle the 4.5 miles to Kirby Park. There we will take a lunch break and enjoy a huge diversity of bird life. After lunch we will plan our route back home with the tides and wind. We will be paddling about 9 miles over the course of a 5 hour trip.
Progression and Exploration - Cannery Row: Group and Incident Management
This journey starts from the beautiful Monterey Harbor and heads out to Lover's Point and back. We will get to practice in some rougher, choppy conditions, all while paddling alongside sea lions and harbor seals. This trip explores some of the most beautiful coastline on the California coast. This trip introduces group and incident management. We will discuss pod dynamics, hazard and risk assessment, and how to manage real life rescue scenarios. Our lunch is only a couple of miles away at picturesque Lover's Point. Lover's Point often has outstanding clarity and we are often checked out by some sneaky harbor seals. The trip home will have the wind at our back and will be a fantastic opportunity to hone our communication skills, as well as our bracing technique.