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The Old Woman and the Sea [Tall Drink of Nerd]

I was knocked loopy by the Pacific Ocean yesterday. But I didn’t let that big, sloppy liquid kingdom ruin my day. I got back on the horse (or the orange, plastic ocean kayak, in this case) and conquered that bitch! (By conquer I mean I managed to kayak for an hour up the coast and then realized I’d rather not do that again.)

The short back story starts like this: The first time I kayaked, it was in the Oxnard marina. We saw sea lions, rowed close to pelicans, slid under gorgeous bridges and ogled million dollar channel mansions. Kayaking is relaxing, a get-away, mellow. I liked kayaking.

When sporting good stores would advertise kayak sales, I’d eye the product, but couldn’t really justify the rather large expense for an occasional hobby. I planned on sticking to renting the occasional kayak. That plan was working fine, until we stumbled into a yard sale find.

This yard sale was held in that fancy neighborhood between Santa Monica and Brentwood, where the houses manage to be huge, stunning and still homey. The guy had 2 ocean kayaks on his lawn and as we were walking up, my husband, Seen, had stopped so short that it took me a full minute to realize that he wasn’t hearing me tell him about the waffle iron that looked interesting. He was enrapt with kayaks.

The guy was selling them both, together they cost less than the price of a normal used one. Aside from one missing a seat and hatch, they were in great condition. Even though we had no clue where to put them, or really how to even get them home, we couldn’t pass up that deal. They were now the Robinson kayaks.

Office Kayaking

Once we figured out a storage situation, (which happened 2 weeks after purchase, they lived in our home office during that time, there was much stepping and stretching, then whining and bitching) a new seat was ordered and we were ready to kayak it up!

Our first trip was to a local marina. We got up early to get our paddle on before the boat owners started stirring…and drinking. The beach where we loaded in was calm as silk, aside from a few hundred sting rays. Getting in and out of the water was easy peasey. Ninety minutes of paddling later I had a smoother attitude, a slight sunburn and three blisters on my hands.

We decided to make it a Sunday morning ritual. I was Amy, Queen of the Marina!

Yesterday, we decided, since we live a few blocks from the ocean, we should try using our ocean kayaks on the actual ocean. I knew the water would be a little choppier, but I summoned my lady courage and gave it a shot.

On my first attempt to enter the big blue, a wave hit my craft on the side. The kayak started to tip. Disbelieving the tipping, I held on for as long as I could, but within a few seconds was flipped into the ocean like an egg in a frying pan.

The noise went something like this “woah! Woah! WOAH! SEEEEN!!” Sploosh…

Seen grabbed the kayak and I lurched after my water bottle, which was quickly tumbling out to sea. Not far behind in the surf was my pink cowboy hat, it had been knocked off my head during the tumble. It was the days first casualty. I figured this was a good time to swear.

“Gaaaahhhdd dammmmmitttt” the frustration leaving me in vocal form.

So I stomped up the beach, gave Seen my best sour look, wishing we were at the glass smooth marina with my friends, the stingrays. He told me to cut it out with the sour puss and get in. Because I’m wirey, I did just that.

With the help of a wonderful man towing me 5 to 6 feet off shore, I made it without toppling again. After I got past the surf near the beach, it was much easier just to ride the swells and just row. Seen joined me in his green kayak and we headed south through seagulls, loons and a few assorted pelicans.

I was seriously trying to unclench and love up on the experience of 75° weather, a few clouds, hanging out with my side-kick and the gorgeous view of the Malibu cliffs from the ocean. After about 30 minutes and about a mile of rowing, I needed to turn around. I needed to get back on land.

And here is where I reveal my flaw, I have a weird inner ear thing. It’s caused vertigo and dizziness in the past. The ocean was actually really calm, but it was still rolling to the point where my stomach and head were lolling with it. Nausea was taking over. My head started hurting, along with my underworked shoulders from all the rowing. My limit had been reached and the whine was about to kick in.

We rowed past a drainage spot, about 200 yards out from where the city gutters dump into the ocean. I noticed clouds of brown strands floating around us. “We’re rowing through poop!” I declared. The thing about rowing in a kayak, when you bring your oar up, the water sprinkles on your legs. Getting poop ocean on my legs was pretty much the last straw.

As we got closer to our destination, I got anxious. I couldn’t shake the tumble I’d taken earlier. The ocean turned into a shiny, black, swirling goo trap. The nausea got worse, my heart started to race. I hoped that I could get back to shore without incident.

Seen rowed in first, dragging his kayak up onto dry sand and then came back to coach me in, maybe even pull me if I got close. The closer I got to the beach, the higher I sat in the water. The waves were lifting me, higher and higher. One final swell pushed me and my kayak 5 feet on it’s crest and I rode all the way to the top of the sand. That part was really fun! Like the ocean saying “Ok, you’re feeling crummy, how about a quick ride to make up for everything?”

Kayaking is one of the things I’ll still love to do in a marina, a lake or maybe even the Venice canals. Ocean kayaking, though, is something I didn’t conquer today. We kind of left it at an impasse. It’s going to be one of my braver days when I decide to head out into the Pacific again.

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featured image credit: LK-GA