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Sunday, September 13, 2020

How to enjoy kayaking in “new normal” era

Enjoying nature more important than ever in these strange days

I was tempted to call this the “new abnormal” but realized… 

we don’t need another reminder that strange days are here. When I posted an item about Covid-19 in March, it was outdated a couple of days later. I had suggested that Californians should get free admission to all state parks since so many other social activities were banned.

Unfortunately, a gazillion people flocked to state parks and beaches that weekend. So much for safe distancing. Most parks were shut immediately, and I scrapped the post. Most state parks have since reopened. Except for those inside major wildfire zones. Or are inhospitable due to heavy smoke that presents a serious health hazard. Strange days indeed.

The smoke will disappear, eventually. Covid-19, maybe not so soon. So let’s focus on safe kayaking in a viral environment. On the bright side, you may not need to carry your own supply of toilet paper everywhere any longer. 

Quarantine on the water
For starters, kayaking lends itself to safe distancing of six feet or more between people. Turns out most kayak paddles are the perfect metric for that. My 210cm paddle gives me a 6-foot-8.7 inch measuring stick. Your paddle is probably more than six feet long, too. 

Paddles also may come in handy off the water. For a time, walking in a local park became hazardous as maskless runners brushed by me as they came up from behind, huffing and puffing. That stopped as soon as I took my paddle on walks and “practiced”

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

There's no otter place quite like Elkhorn Slough

A relaxed resident of Elkhorn Slough studies passersby (Click on photos to enlarge)

 This might be my No. 1 choice for a paddling trip….

…during the “Other Season,” and it’s easy to make that case with generally mild winter weather, beautiful scenery and some of the best wildlife viewing anywhere in California. But on my most recent trip to Monterey County, I noticed that the entertainment worked both ways – while kayakers were watching sea otters and harbor seals in Elkhorn Slough, those critters were gawking at us too.
Two wild and crazy young guys
Which sort of complicates things, marine mammal protection-wise. Sea otters are classified as a threatened species and protected by law. Simply put, humans should always keep their distance, especially during the pupping season in late winter and early spring. (All photos with this blog post were taken with a telephoto lens.)

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Winter paddler finds a bird storm on Tomales Bay

Waterfowl fill the sky over Tomales Bay (click on photos to enlarge)

A billowing black cloud of feathers rose above as I paddled on an ebb tide.... Tomales Bay one recent morning. Hundreds of birds – probably thousands – filled the sky in a spectacular aerial display.

Until that moment, it had been a disappointing kayak exploration of back bay marshes in search of waterfowl. Though it seemed a perfect winter morning for birdwatching, as temps quickly warmed into the low 60s under sunny skies and light breezes. The