Kayaking in So-Cal: Oceans & Rivers - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-24-2007   #1
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Kayaking in So-Cal: Oceans & Rivers

Looking for some good areas to hit up the surf and rivers in the So-Cal area, more specifically the LA area. Let me know if anyone is interested in coming with or knows of any good areas to paddle.

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Old 06-24-2007   #2
San Diego and Frisco, CO
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 107
Cali?? Not the best year!

Looking for some good areas to hit up the surf and rivers in the So-Cal area, more specifically the LA area.
Not the year for SoCal rivers. Last year our home river ~2000-6000cfs in May & June. This year, ~27% of snow pack, thus, the Upper Kern is long, LONG gone and the Lower Kern is running 600cfs weekends, (bony, runnable), and 800 cfs weekdays. Yeah, you read that right.
Check on boof.com and see what else folks are running. Other drainages might have stuff, but be advised, the Kern is the closest river to LA and it is still 3-4 hours away.
Surf. Well...the water is warm!
Went out today and caught some two footers.

And ummmm, while the surf is fun don't forget it is tourist season out here. Expect to work hard to find parking and plenty of folks on the breaks.
San Onofre (in Orange County ) is a great place, especially mid week. Has a kayakers only break. MId week you might be able to go right in. Weekend, expect a wait to get down to park (20 minutes +).
STAY IN COLORADO DUDE! NorCal might be better. Summer surf can be OK, but tends to be smaller than other seasons.
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Old 06-25-2007   #3
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
I would love to get out of the LA area...congestion and pollution to the max... Little do they tell you that the sun doesn't burn through the haze until 11 am! So much for an early day...

Nor-Cal and Colorado would be a great place to live, no doubt. If my job would move me out there I would be gone in a second.

Your right... It is difficult negotiating tourist and waves. They'll just stand and watch as a 9 or 13 foot kayak is barreling towards them without a care in the world. Guess they never took physics, lol. I used to live in Redondo Beach, where their was this very small area that was decent, but the waves broke way to close to the beach and some areas were rocky. Lost count on how many times I flipped over, nailed my head on the sand, before rolling back over...which is the main reason why I am looking for someone to kayak with...in the case that I hit too hard and take a "brief sleep," they can perform a rescue. Broke one helmet already in that area, which was enough for me to find a new place.

If you're ever in this area and want to hit up some waves/rivers let me know!
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Old 06-26-2007   #4
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 64
LA is tough for Kayakers

Seems like this topic comes up pretty frequent on this board. Lots of misplaced (?) Coloradan's in lala land for whatever reason, so I thought I'd do a java-fueled write up for you lost souls currently suffocating down there.

I've been longboard surfing around LA for about 10 years now during visits to my in-laws. I've tried, with some success, to find good surf kayaking spots, but the reality is that a board is a much better choice, especially considering the waves and access to be found around there.

That said, I will recommend these spots for Kayak Surfing:

El Portal: park in a metered lot as close to the power plant/refinery as possible. head northwest toward the jetty and LAX. This a wicked, hollow beach break when it's on, and then it will be crowded with LA-county's finest dickweeds and not suitable for a kayaker. But during lulls in swell, june-glooms, slop etc., I've found decent uncrowded waves for kayaking wedging along that jetty. The board surfers are beginners and so they scatter, and hopefully most of them won't have walked down that far. Your view is industrial, the summer water is clear with a hint of stank, jumbo jets blast over every five minutes, and the wave is a punchy beach-break that's deep enough to work out some moves. The board surfers during lulls are mostly beginners and so they scatter, and hopefully most of them won't have walked down that far.

County Line: where Malibu meets Ventura county. crowded, awesome right pointbreak on the n end of the beach. never seen this point not a zoo. the rest of the beach is a punchy beachbreak that is wide open and not really all that crowded
for SoCal. Best bets for not getting boxed out as a kayaker, again, are to choose small, crumbly days when the body boarders are out. This is an hour north of Santa Monica, but the drive is through Malibu so the scenery and wildlife viewing can be specatular.

Zuma: miles of OK, uncrowded beach-break in Malibu that's usually breaking too close to the sand for most boater's comfort. Spend some more time playboating in these tricky waves and you may learn to like it. It's worth a check on the way up to county line, or on the way back if you got skunked or punched out at county line.

Sunset: where sunset boulevard meets the Pacific. a good, mellow right point with several takeoffs. only good for plastic as it's littered with rocks. a zoo with longboarders most always. but they can be dealt with and paddled around--usually. I included Sunset because it's close, and it's also the break to check when conditions are bumpy and big. usually a mixed up storm swell will thin it out and leave the place empty and full of large, off-speed rollers great for butt-bouncing. if the launch from the rocks/staircase is gnarly, paddle out from the sandy, more protected beaches towards Santa Monica. Don't swim, wear earplugs, and swallow as little water as possible.

On a general note, a good bet for kayak surfing in LA county is to go check out all the primo spots when the ocean is confused. Most of the surfers down there are spoiled with clean waves, so many unreal spots have kayaking windows if you're savy and know where to look.

For whitewater options, please visit the California Whitewater Community here:
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Old 06-26-2007   #5
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 834
Hey Eternal Illusion,
If you have cracked a helmet in the ocean and/or you have nailed your head on the ocean bottom more than once then that is scary. As you probably now know, the force of even a small wave on the bottom of your boat will pile drive you into the bottom so hard you will think you just ran a waterfall upside down and landed on your head.

I was kayak surfing shore break when I broke my neck in San Clemente last Christmas on a 3-5 ft day and I barely survived. Having a friend with you might save you from drowning but your neck will still be broke. Stay away from the shallow breaks in a kayak. It is not worth it. Catch the waves on the outside where it is deeper.

When I hit bottom the force pushed my head forward with my chin to my chest so hard that my spine snapped. Yuck. I basically won the lottery by living through it without permanent paralysis.

Have fun but stay away from the inside waves in that boat. Your goal should be to never be in the position to get nailed to the bottom upside down again. It will snap your neck like a twig.
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Old 06-26-2007   #6
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 3
Hartje thanks for the spots, I will have to check them out.
Ture, I'll tell you that when I broke my helmet it really did stun me, not so much that the helmet broke, rather how quickly it happens.
Usually a decent kayaker can tell when their about to flip, but as soon as you get dragged into shallow water and the waves are breaking close, everything happens SOOO much faster, feels almost instanteously, like i am on a pin wheel.
Thus far i have been able to tuck against my yak real tight, obviously losing my paddle, and have been reasonably fine.
When I tucked and i still hit my head hard enough to break a decent helmet kind of woke me up to the concept that if I am drained from paddling or in another world and don't tuck... wow forget my head, like you said, my neck will be in pieces. My head will impact the sand, most likely get pocketed, and with my body attached to a kayak and my neck as a focal point, the force would be incredible...
Out in Michigan on Lake Michigan we would get some nasty storms that could bring in waves from 5-8 feet and I never had concerns about cracking my neck, drowning, sure but head and neck injuries nah.
Ill check out the spots over that Hartje recommended, find another person to hit the waves up if possible, and stay in the waves that break further out.
On a side not, I took my dagger crossover for a 3-4 miles run out into the Ocean at Long Beach... Overwhelming how many morons their are! No respect for kayakers, but I guess that is anywhere be it when i paddled in NY on the Atlantic or MI in Lake Michigan.
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