Looking for a fun fitness sport now that springtime is here? Consider combining a strenuous exercise with a serene experience — buy into a paddle sport.
I see paddlers daily on the water, in or near the harbor, or near shore anywhere along our beautiful coast. They are getting in their needed workout and indulging in a close personal encounter with nature. That must be why they smile so freely and appear to be at peace.
Paddlers are on the water all year round, however now that we are getting into the warmer part of the year, their numbers swell appreciably.
Choosing which particular paddle sport to get into is a clear case of different strokes for different folks and there are plenty of paddlecraft to select from to find your own stroke of choice.
There are the long sleek outrigger canoes filled with teams of rowers working to the cadence of commands. I recognize the look of pride and team spirit, and am amazed at the speed these teams achieve.
Kayakers have so many choices of things to do. Some “yaks” are designed for cruising, and I see the paddlers taking surprisingly long treks along the coast, either alone or buddy boating with others.
I’ve talked with people who launch at Gaviota and paddle down to Goleta. Their advice is to slowly build up sufficient endurance before setting off on such a long course. There are equipment options appropriate for such adventures, such as waterproof covers in case you encounter some choppy seas off Isla Vista and Campus Point.
Other kayaks are set up for plying the calm waters of the harbor and nearby environs on a calm-water day. These small light ‘yaks are easy to paddle and maneuver in tight places. People have a blast paddling around the harbor looking at boats and cute boat names, then checking out the undersides of piers.
Fishing kayaks are most impressive fish-hunting machines. Options for the fishing enthusiast include rod holders, tackle stations, aerated live bait tanks, nets and gaffs, electronic fishfinders and chartplotters, marine VHF radios and other safety devices.
With these compact fishing machines, anglers can go right into dense kelp beds or right up next to piers, docks and boats to put baits and lures where regular boats dare not go. The result can be some great catches.
A large fish such as a white seabass, big halibut, bat ray or shark can tow the kayak for quite a distance. I admit I do worry about tying off a large dead fish and paddling around the ocean with such good shark chum in the water.
Another great option is to sign up for a guided scenic adventure at the Channel Islands, where you may see dolphins and pinnipeds, sea caves, and maybe even an island scrub jay or island kit fox. Visit www.sbadventureco.com to check out what Santa Barbara Adventure Company has to offer.
— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.