Sat 14/04-2018 Day 188

Pos: 36.5071,-121.9393
Loc: Gibson Beach
Acc: Hilleberg Allak tent
Dist: 44,9 km
Start: 07:10 End: 16:30

Joel paddled out with me for an hour, thanks to him and Juli to look after me! We passed a bunch of harbor sea lions, finding their rest high up in the construction of the jetty. Fascinating, how high the y can jump to get up there, and what kind of diagonal “uncomfortable” places the chose! If I were into paddling through the stakes, it might happen one of the guys would jump on my kayak…but I better left them their peace and kept myself safe in some distance.

Across the northern harbor breakwater, a huge flock of sea lions were anchoring themselves in the kelp for rest. The rocks of the breakwater were absolutely all taken! A clear case of overpopulation of sea lions here! A bit further out, some sea otters were living in the kelp, floating their bellies into the early morning sun- if it wouldn’t look like they use the kelp leaves for a “blanket”…so cute to watch!

When Joel turned back to start his workday, I felt once more the lonely peaceful freedom to look only after myself on the water…but also rather lonely not to be able to share this time with a paddling partner. But maybe it was better today…?

Conditions were seas around 2,50 m, going down, and wind around ten knots following, but gusts up to 20…I should have better believed into a continuous “gust” all day…especially around those exposed headlands of Point Pino, Cypress Point and Point Lobos. It actually started not to bad on the first point, on the second one I already felt I better had to stay far out in quite some big seas with increasing white caps on top. But still all fine!

Joel told me, instead of aiming for the white beach of China Cove or Gibson beach, I might better be off in the southern end of Carmel Bay landing in the far end of Monastery beach, but this sounded to me like a too short paddle for that day…actually, the bay I should have best looked into but didn’t really know of would have been Whaler’s Cove with it’s launching ramp. But at the end, all would have been State Natural Reserve. I should better look and prepare for landing or not in those areas…

So I decided to push on around Point Lobos for China Cove…it became actually quite big and lumpy now! I had to stay far out to feel halfway safe from unexpected trashers over the widely scattered submerged rocks, and I had to balance a lot with the wind now around 20 knots on top of what felt like massive seas. Well, this was what I chose to do! I was a bit tight in my actions, didn’t really feel relaxed today, being also a bit overtired. But all went fine without major bracing or even worse.

I kept an eye for China cove which I was hoping to show up very soon as soon as I would be around the point fully, and was hoping the sea would be calming down and I might find some shelter from the now nasty wind soon. It took a while…but the white beach of China Cove was lurking magically for rest from this very challenging paddle. Finally, I came close enough to see the beach was very sheltered, and I concentrated on the final approach in the criss-cross reflecting seas to stay upright. I only briefly thought Gibson Beach around the corner might be the better landing option, but the wide berth around the scattered rocks of Bird Island seemed too much now – I urgently needed to go in now for my own safety.

When I was in calmer water quite close to the beach, I realized too late this cove was a seal refuge, and a bunch of them were already launching on my approach. Sorry, guys! But this feels quite like an emergency landing for me here…I was waiting for the rest of the seals to launch, and made my landing in the far end of the narrow cove, feeling relieved I had made it safely in.

But I was also sensing this is not my place to stay over night here…this is “seal country”…I also checked my satellite image on my phone to see if there might be a sneaky gap between the islands to avoid the rough stuff out there once more…and what I sensed on the lumpy paddle into this cove already, there would be likely an open calmish wide gap…I regained my breath and constitution to relaunch after about fifteen minutes, hoping the seals would take over “their” beach very soon. I also did not feel very comfortable realizing there were many tourists high up on the cliffs watching me disturbing the poor seal’s peace…but no one was able to climb down the steep cliffs – and I could also not get up here. I also heard some whistling…probably the ranger…high time to be gone here!

It came even better to sneak around the corner in shelter…I could paddle through an arches and a narrow gap to emerge in front of the wide white Gibson Beach which was reserved for people’s use. The landing looked steep with a single dumper, but doable. I timed it right, and saw already the uniformed ranger approaching…yes, I am very sorry, I should not have landed at China Cove, I knew, but I felt like it was an emergency landing for my own safety…the very friendly ranger Garrison explained to me I was also not allowed to land here also – although the beach was used by many people? Ok…I really need to get better prepared in those places…but he also saw I could not get off and anywhere else again now in those sea and my own condition…even climbing up the very narrow and very steep staircase looked like an impossible thing to do with my kayak and gear. With a lot of effort and a handful of very strong men – maybe possible…I promised to be gone tomorrow very early…and he allowed me to stay for now, and he would be back to see what he would need to do with me…

I was basically waiting now all afternoon Garrison would be back with a reasonable solution, which felt actually the only one could be I could get an exceptional permit to stay over night here…

I did not dare to set up my tent before he would be back, and the people would be gone, and I had to spend a rather uncomfortable working afternoon in the quite hot sunshine with hundreds of flies and people around me, not able to relax and to stretch out my sore bones in the calm, private, shady, sand- and fly free space of my tent. Well, I could have done it different with more research prior to my launch…I looked at it as “punishment” …

I opted to sit high on the cliffs in the useless hope there would be less flies around in some breeze, and worked online all afternoon, until at about 5.45 pm I spotted a ranger climbing down to the beach. I had just packed up my laptop anyway, and hurried down to greet, him and to finally clear up the situation.

But this was a different ranger on duty now, Michael, I smiled friendly and shook his hand, asked if he was informed by Garrison, and started the conversation to explain me, my trip and the situation. Sure he was informed, but the very officially, but friendly acting Afro-American ranger insisted firmly I need to be gone here, now – and completely! We discussed options…I would need to jump back into my kayak, paddle back around the dreaded Point Lobos against the strong wind, to land at Whaler’s Cove, and to pay there my launching fee…sorry, not possible this evening due to sea and my personal condition…

I would need to get my kayak and gear upstairs, as he could impossible let me stay here tonight for my own safety, he was not sure the waves would be trashing against the cliffs at night…sorry, I was VERY sure they would not come that high this night…

Or I could leave my kayak down here and could camp with an exceptionally permit upstairs in the park (and within his easy reach of his night watch shift)…already better, thanks for this option! But what if “the waves would reach the cliffs and my kayak would be flooded away”???

We kept on talking…and talking…and talking for about an hour…all very friendly, but his personal style was just like that…discussing this exceptional complicated matter matter endless from all sides, before I finally, eventually got him with a lot of storytelling, charming and smiles to see the one and only reasonable option would be to wait to set up tent just right down here until all people would have to leave at 7 pm when the park would be closing. Thanks very much, Michael!

He was helping me to drag my heavy kayak to a sheltered corner on the highest beach spot, and was jokingly mentioning he should be back later with a sixpack of Heineken…no way man, no bribes, and not of that sort! He also saw this was not really appropriate, and stayed helpful and polite.

When there was some noisy alarm going off high up on the cliffs in the housing area just after sunset, he was back with a strong flashlight to search the beach…for what? For an escaped prisoner, or a marauding seal threatening me? But thanks for checking on my safety…and I eventually could fall into a deep sound, but too short sleep.