Planning and prepping

February 21, 2008 

This is not a trip for weak stomachs or soft shoulders.

While we are far from expert kayakers, we have been paddling two to three days a week in preparation for this week-long project, which could cover close to 100 miles of coastline.

We also have the support of friends and family members who will be checking in with us at each landing.

The three of us also surf two to three times a week, so we are used to the constant paddling, not to mention the tides, currents and surf-zone challenges the San Luis Obispo County coastline presents.

After talking to the Coast Guard and local kayak experts such as Robert Mohle, who wrote the book “Adventure Kayaking: Trips from Big Sur to San Diego,” and Dennis Krueger, who owns the Kayak Horizons paddle shop in Morro Bay, we agreed on the dates and the route for the trip and began our preparation.

Route details

We’ll launch at the mouth of San Carpoforo Creek near Ragged Point and the northern county line on July 29 and head south (hopefully with the wind and currents at our back) for seven days until we end up at the mouth of the Santa Maria River.

Officers in aid at the Coast Guard station in Morro Bay suggested late July or early August as the best time for open-ocean paddling because the swells and winds are usually calm. Even with the summer fog along the coast, if we stay close to the coastline we should be in good shape.

The Coast Guard also encouraged us to leave a map of our route with friends and family and recommended bringing a marine radio (Coast Guard is on Channel 16), cell phones and a marine first-aid kit with flares (see our gear list for more info.). We were also reminded of the restricted area of one nautical mile around the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

Mohle and Krueger gave us the paddling tips and let us know what to expect while kayaking the remote stretches below Ragged Point and Point Buchon. They recommended sit-on-top kayaks, which are more stable and easier to get in and out of in the surf zone, for this paddling adventure.

Camping

Because we will be paddling over a seven-day period, we will need a place to camp each night. We made reservations at some campsites and have plans to camp with friends and family at a couple others :

* San Simeon State Beach Park

* Morro Strand State Beach

* Morro Bay State Park

* Montaña de Oro State Park

* the RV area in Port San Luis

* Oceano Dunes

-- Brian Milne

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