Catalina Island and Ocean Kayaking
June 3, 2012 by Bryan
On our latest foray into the wild outdoors, we found one of those niches where film cameras still thrive; underwater. While underwater digital cameras have exploded onto the market, most people still use film for this purpose because the camera can be disposable and requires only a small investment instead of a large one. We also choose film for our Ocean Kayaking and underwater portions of our trip while we kept the Canon T2i double bagged in dry bags.
This weekend Jamie and I went to Santa Catalina Island on the Catalina Flyer out of Newport/Balboa. It was a packed boat and we were near the front of the line so I claimed a couple seats near the front on the second deck. Note to self, do not make that mistake again. The whole front of the ship seems to cantilever with the fulcrum being near the back. Therefore the front of the boat bobs up and down the most. To make matters worse, the front windows are useless unless standing so needless to say this is where most people start at who end up with motion sickness. I actually survived pretty well and didn’t have to move but Jamie had to take a trip to the open part of the deck for fresh air.
Once we arrived, we had our first activity planned out pretty well. We huffed it to the other side of Avalon Bay and into Descanso Bay where we rented the “Not so early Bird Special” of a two person Kayak, wet suits, snorkel gear and flippers, a soft cooler, and a large dry bag. We quickly donned our wetsuits and headed out into the water but not before double bagging the T2i and my cell phones and single bagging the rest of our clothes and stuff. We went east and slowly warmed up to the work of paddling in the open water.
We went around a couple of points on the island and found a nice little cove which is only accessible via the water. I pulled the kayak up out of the water and sat down to eat some lunch. Kayaking is tiring work and I was super hungry and so was Jamie. Then after a short wait we put on our flippers and snorkels and headed into the cold sea. The boulders made the first couple of feet pretty difficult and we both fell over multiple times. Eventually I got in far enough to float and swam out a little. Our cove had a pretty dense kelp forest right next to it. This threw Jamie off for a moment until I mentioned that you can just float over it.
So we went out into the water until we reached the edge of the kelp. This ended up being the perfect place to be since this is where all the fish hang out. We saw schools of tiny fish I haven’t identified and we saw a lot of the Garibaldi fish. These fish whose scientific name is Hypsypops rubicundus are also the official state fish of California. They are bright orange and quite easy to spot. Once we got the hang of snorkeling, we tracked several groups of these fish who like to dart in and out of hiding.
Content with our snorkeling fun, we packed back up and set out in the Kayak again. We had plenty of time left in our four hour rental so we went further around the island. We spotted a couple more fish in the clear waters and snapped some more photos from within the Kayak. When we turned around we also saw a Seal although it vanished under water as soon as we spotted it.
It turns out that on the way back, Jamie had enough of this paddling thing and let me provide all the energy to move the kayak while she took in the scenery. I at least settled into a nice rhythm and was able to get us back easily enough. We got back almost an hour early which was fine since we did what we wanted.
Since Ocean Kayaking sapped so much energy from the both of us, we decided that we should eat again. Descanso Beach has a bar and grill right on the waterfront. We ate there and then made our way back to the center of town. On the way back what did we do? We ate some more. This time coffee Gelato and chocolate cheesecake. Finally it was time to go and we got back in line for the Flyer. This time, we sat on the back and enjoyed the panorama of the island as it grew ever smaller and eventually disappeared from view.