Kayaking Across the Monterey Bay

Greg and I drove to the Santa Cruz Harbor at 5:00 AM, unpacked the car, and were on the water by 6:30AM. The sky was just starting to show signs of light. I had preset the Monterey harbor as a way point… so according to my GPS, we had 25.5 miles left to go.

We paddled straight out of the harbor into the fog. The winds were predicted to be 10 – 15 knots in the afternoon, but milder in the Monterey bay. We would be out in the open ocean, so it was hard to tell how the winds would be in our location. My primary concern was sharks. Greg’s (probably more realistic) concern was winds. We paddled consistently, making a mile every 15 minutes. I started to feel queasy around mile 12, and we took a break at mile 13 (8.5 miles off the coast). I ate a little, which finally made me feel better after about ½ an hour. We couldn’t see anything but water – due to the fog more than the distance). We didn’t see a single boat or land for the first 21 miles of the trip. We saw some birds, water and fog. We first spotted land 5 miles from the harbor – it was the tip of the Monterey peninsula – which was probably 3 miles away.

Kayaking across Monterey Bay

There is not much to see while kayaking across the Monterey bay from Santa Cruz to Monterey. You may see some wildlife like seals and dolphins, but we mostly saw water. But while we did not see much unique scenery, we were given the feeling of being adventurers in a space ship, which we discussed at length. It is a mighty feeling to be so far away from our terrestrial life support system. The ocean is a place where we cannot easily survive for a long time. The kayak is our only means of survival; we might as well be in a space ship traveling through space. That is the lure of this voyage… that feeling. If you do it on a day with just a few miles of visibility, you will definitely get that sense of isolation and independence.

Anyway, the fog was starting to lift, and we were getting closer. We saw boats and the scenery improved. We went around the outside of the aquarium, and got out on the beach near Monterey bay kayaks at 1:30PM. The trip could have been done in 6.5 hours given our pace. We took a little extra time checking out things near the aquarium. It was good to relax on land for a while once we were done – we climbed into the water and walked the kayak to shore. Our friend Gruppo rode down on his bike and met us about 45 minutes after we landed. We waited a while for Annie to come pick us up, then we drove to “The Whole Enchilada” to feast and relax.

I believed we were approximately in the middle of our trip, so I took a picture of the GPS coordinates.  We took a break for lunch on the water, and in the light fog, I had noticed the waves coming from the right.  After lunch, we resumed paddling in what we THOUGHT was the same direction.  Thankfully, we had the GPS because our sense of direction had become completely turned around!

I believed we were approximately in the middle of our trip, so I took a picture of the GPS coordinates. We took a break for lunch on the water, and in the light fog, I had noticed the waves coming from the right. After lunch, we resumed paddling in what we THOUGHT was the same direction. Thankfully, we had the GPS because our sense of direction had become completely turned around!

If you go – check your weather report, and then check it again. Go with at least one experienced partner. Have bombproof self rescue skills and a solid method of communication (i.e. VHF radio and a cell phone back-up). This isn’t the kind of trip you do for scenery; it’s more for the challenge and the pleasure of being far away on the water. I’ve heard that it’s a good route for seeing whales at the right time of year. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any.

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1 Response

  1. Hops says:

    A marathon on water. I think your pace was pretty fast. At first I was like how can get mixed up with direction, but now I see like in a white out orientation of direction can be a challenge.