Everyone launched off Monastery Beach
After paddling with 70 kayakers in Monterey Bay the day before, meeting only 14 other kayakers seemed like a small intimate group. We met at Monastery Beach and Maryly Snow gave a safety talk.
This mostly consisted of Maryly shaking her finger at me and telling me not to stress my back by paddling into Devils Cauldron.
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Shortly after we launched we turned into Whalers Cove, a place named after an old whale blubber rendering plant that used to be located here.
There INSIDE THE COVE we saw a whale!
Don Fleming ID’ed it as a humpback whale. This time we didn’t just see spouts at a distance, we saw the back of the whale hump up out of the water twice when it came up to breathe.
After a few sightings it disappeared back out to sea and we never saw it again.
As we rounded Pinnacle Point, the extreme outer point at Point Lobos State Reserve, four of the kayakers turned back. We continued past Sea Lion Rocks, which are on the outside of the area known as Devils Cauldron.
It looked pretty rough inside there even with the relatively mild 7-foot swell we were seeing on this day. We went between several of the outer rocks here and encountered pretty choppy water.
My back did well with the rocking, hip twisting, and thigh lifting motions to keep the boat balanced in these conditions.
Two more of the kayakers turned back and then there were only 9 of us left to paddle the calmer waters on the south side of the reserve. We paddled into China Cove, a narrow notch in the cliff with a beautiful white sand beach on the inside.
The state park rangers allow people to hike down to this beach and picnic on it, but are adamant about not allowing kayakers to land there and picnic. The rule has something to do with not giving some Other People the Wrong Idea. Also, they have difficulty extracting $5 from people who arrive without going through the front gate.
One kayaker, who will remain nameless to protect the guilty, landed on the beach and tried to entice the rest of us to join him in his lawlessness.
Instead, we explored the narrow channels between the rocks in this area, which includes Bird Rock (what an unusual name). In the spring these rocks are covered with nesting birds and I would not consider getting this close.
We found a very interesting cave/arch that had a narrow sandy beach in front of it. We were able to land on the sand, get out, portage our kayaks halfway through the cave, launch and paddle out the other side.
Don Barch led the way and talked some pretty inexperienced kayakers through the procedure with no problems. The cave was so narrow there wasn’t room to swing the paddles and we had to time landings and launchings carefully.
The paddle back was uneventful. My back started aching a little bit, but hardly more than I would expect from giving it a workout after a long period of not enough exercise. .
Mike Higgins publishes his kayak journal online and recently completed paddling every inch of the coast of California from Oregon to the Mexican Border. You can read all about it and view great pictures of his travels on his site at Kayaker.Net.
Also by Mike Higgins: Goat Rock Arch By Moonlight
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