Cashen, who lived on Oahu before coming to the Central Coast, admits he prefers the warmer waters but knows the lower temperature is more hospitable to the variety of wildlife he sees off San Simeon.
“We wouldn’t have the wildlife that we have here if we had a different temperature,” he said. “I love warm, but I’ll take the environment.”
Cashen rents out kayaks, bodyboards and wetsuits and also conducts tours of the cove. Each tour is different, he said, and he’s done more than 2,000 of them.
“I don’t have a set routine,” he said. “I base it on Mother Nature and who the client is.”
Asked what he likes most about working at the cove, Cashen said, “Meeting nice people and being able to do something outside is just nice.” But for the conservationist whose office carries a sign admonishing visitors to “Enjoy … Don’t Destroy,” it’s clear that nature is his priority.
“Wildlife has always been my love,” Cashen said. “Anything from an invertebrate up to an animal, I enjoy. I still get excited about an otter, and I see them every day. I still get excited about harbor seals, and I see them every single day.”
Cashen, who has owned the business for six years, works at the cove seven days a week during the summer and six days a week in the offseason. He’s not a salesman; he tells his customers exactly what to expect.
“If I promise they won’t flip or they’ll see an otter or they’ll see a seal, that’ll be the day they’ll flip (the boat) or we don’t see an otter or we don’t see a seal,” he said.
He recalled one stretch of days when whales were visible from the cove every day except one — and that happened to be the same day he assured visitors they’d see one.
How long is he likely to stay at the cove?
“It’s the longest I’ve stayed in one place, and I own the business, so I’m kind of committed to it for awhile,” he said.
If he were to sell it, it wouldn’t be to just anyone. It would have to be someone who shares his vision of preserving the environment, he said.
“I think we’re lucky to have a place like this,” Cashen said. “We could leave it pristine and special, but we could also ruin it just as quick.”
• State Parks and Hearst Castle
• Cavalier Resorts and other lodging properties
• Hearst Corp.
• Restaurants, gift shops and services
• Best Buddies Challenge bicycle ride, Sept. 10, 2016
• Christmas at the Castle, after Thanksgiving through the end of December, 2016