Whale Watch Paddle a Success

Twelve paddlers ventured out on Sunday, January 27 from Aqua Adventures on a calm ocean and perfect weather. Debbie Van Martin and Dave Beckmann led the paddle, and our thanks to them for doing that.

Three whales were spotted in the distance to the west. A few paddlers tried to catch up to them, and were able to get a little closer, but those whales were in a hurry to go south.

Our thanks to Catherine Kimball and Debbie Van Martin for these photos.

The next club paddle will be in April, launching out of the Coronado Cays to see the wildlife of the south bay. Come join us to experience the quiet openness of that area, and calm waters. There will be a picnic after the paddle. Beginners, youth 12 and up, and all boat types are welcome on this paddle.


Joe looking at a fluke

The third weekend in January is historically when the highest number of grey whales are sighted off San Diego, so let’s go try our luck. This is an open ocean paddle for intermediate and beyond kayakers.  Because of safety reasons (staying together as a group), decked kayaks and fast SOTS (able to paddle 2.5 knots/hr) only please. Here are the details:

DATE: January 27, 2015

LAUNCH TIME: 8:30 (be there at 8 am please)

PLACE: Aqua Adventures dock (best place to launch, without going through the surf)

ALL BOAT TYPES ARE WELCOME: SOT’s, Decked Kayaks, Inflatables (if rigid skin, fabric reinforced)

BOAT RENTALS AVAILABLE:  If you have open ocean paddling experience, you can rent a boat at the launch site. Call Aqua Adventures in advance to reserve equipment.  You must have prior experience in a decked kayak, or check with them if they have a fast SOT. Their number is 619 523-9577.

OUR PLAN: The round trip is approx 8 statute miles (unless we decide to also paddle further south along the kelp), and will take 3.5 to 4.5 hours. Our average moving speed will be about 2.5 knots/hr. The whales move down the coast along the kelp beds, so if you are anywhere near the 164 ft depth line (give or take 40 ft of depth), you may see them to the west or east, possibly within 500 ft of you. We have found that it is more likely to see whales near the kelp beds for some reason, and this is why the paddle out of AA has a good probability of a sighting. The Lat/Lon of the “Whale 1” waypoint on the map is:  N32 44.445  W117 17.390


EQUIPMENT: All safety equipment is required. If you have them, carry a VHF and GPS, with batteries fully charged. And, always wear your life jacket (required).  Remember to bring your water, food, hat, sunglasses, and camera. Please read the disclaimer at the bottom of this email message.

IN CASE OF BAD WEATHER: Check your email Friday night after 6 pm if the weather looks bad. We will give an update if the paddle is still on.

Hope you can join us.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a sanctioned San Diego Kayak Club or Aqua Adventures event. The announcer of this event is not the leader of such, merely a “coordinator”.

Disclaimer: We will have experienced paddlers on this trip, but they will not be responsible for telling you what is or is not safe for you to do. We watch out for one another and assist one another, but all individuals are responsible for, and manage their own safety. This responsibility includes assessing your gear, skill level, and physical conditioning relative to conditions and location, as well as making decisions about what you will or will not do. Participants acknowledge that kayaking on the open sea or bay is inherently dangerous and can lead to physical injury including death as well as property damage. Participants, on their behalf and on behalf of their heirs and assignees, agree to hold the announcers and other participants blameless in the event of such injury, damage or death. Please join us if you want to mildly stretch your capabilities, but please stay home if you would be wildly stretching them. Participants should have bracing skills, be able to self-rescue and assist in the rescue of others. They should be able to launch and/or land along the rocky bay front.

The Club’s Future and What YOU Can Do…


Some of the people who have given much of their time and effort over the past several years have recently turned over the “reins” to others. Many thanks to Jane Hardy, Teresa Boli, and Gilbert Siegel for serving the kayak community here, and we are grateful to them. They will still be involved in club activities where they can. Jane will continue to lead some advanced skills sessions, and we will see Gilbert and Teresa on the water also.


Debbie Van MartinDebbie Van Martin has become our new “Social Events Coordinator”, and will be announcing some events in the future to bring people together in fun ways. She is high energy, a great cook, very interesting to talk to, and a lot of fun to be around.



Dave BeckmannDave Beckmann has been leading a “Meet Up” group on Wednesday nights for several years, and will now be doing that for the club also. Dave is skilled in kayaking (you can see him performing a snappy “roll” on our website in Skills), and has experienced some interesting paddles back east. Come paddle with him and others each Wednesday at 5:30pm (launch at 6pm). Boat rentals are available through Aqua Adventures at a special rate of $15 for these paddles.

You can check out Debbie’s and Dave’s “Bio” on our website:  http://www.sdkc.org/club-contacts/


Starting December 14th our cool club hats (in Kaki, Chrome, and Black) will be on sale again at Aqua Adventures (AA) for $20. The hat sales proceeds will be used to pay for lessons and activities to foster club growth and events, so help us in this effort by purchasing a few. They make great gifts and will help the club in many ways. We do not have any membership dues, so this is the way we will pay for things. Please help support our club in this promotional effort. It’s a win-win: you get a new hat, the club gets a new member, and someone gets a free introductory lesson.


In order to help the club grow, each hat sale will provide one free lesson to someone wanting to experience an introduction to kayaking. In a joint effort with AA, once we have at least 6 hats sold, and 6 people signed up (and signed up as new club members), we will have a Beginner’s Lesson at AA, lasting for an hour or so. AA will provide the equipment and dock help (that the club pays for), and the club will provide instructors. The lesson will go over just the basics, allowing a person to get in a kayak and learn a few paddle strokes and basic boat handling. More advanced skills lessons will then be available through AA for those who want to pursue this sport. We need club volunteers to help teach the Beginner’s Lessons, so please reply to me if you can assist in this. It would be great to have a ratio of one-on-one. This would also help new people make friends with those already in the club. Mentoring is the way to grow our club.


We need people to help lead paddles, teach the Beginner’s Lessons, and assist with social events. Let Debbie or me know what you can do to help foster our club’s events. If you are a young person, we especially want you to help lead the club’s future with the next generation, passing on this great sport to others. Anyone is welcome to contribute an article on kayaking on our club website. 


Debi Nolan is now preparing the space where the deli was for years, with plans to open sometime in April or May. There will be live entertainment on weekends and others times and will be open during extended hours. I have already discussed with Debi having a club party there, which should be very fun. Having this next to AA should bring more people to paddling, and is exciting news for everyone. She already has a cart out front to sell some food and beverage, so stop by and meet her. I don’t know if she paddles, but we will get her in a boat… J


AA has a good variety of decked and SOT boats to rent. You can find their website by the link on the club’s home web page for their shop info. They are committed to stocking more kayak items, so stop in to give any suggestions you want to see them carry. Congrats and many thanks to Craig and Ashleigh for their beautifully renovated shop, and all the hours they put in to grow the sport of paddling. We value the club’s partnership with them, and are grateful they are doing so much for us, TRR, and other worthy organizations in this area.

The Pacific Alone: The Untold Story of Kayaking’s Boldest Voyage

For you old timers who met and paddled with Ed Gillet or those who heard of the legend (the only kayaker to cross from the mainland to Maui, in 1987!), Dave Shively, the longtime managing editor of Canoe & Kayak and senior editor of SUP magazine, wrote up his story using interviews and Ed’s journal.  It was such an amazing crossing and he barely survived.

The Pacific Alone: The Untold Story of Kayaking's Boldest VoyageIn the summer of 1987, Ed Gillet achieved what no person has accomplished before or since, a solo crossing from California to Hawaii by kayak. Gillet, at the age of 36 an accomplished sailor and paddler, navigated by sextant and always knew his position within a few miles. Still, Gillet underestimated the abuse his body would take from the relentless, pounding, swells of the Pacific, and early into his voyage he was covered with salt water sores and found that he could find no comfortable position for sitting or sleeping. Along the way, he endured a broken rudder, among other calamities, but at last reached Maui on his 63rd day at sea, four days after his food had run out. Dave Shively brings Gillet’s remarkable story to life in this gripping narrative, based on exclusive access to Gillet’s logs as well as interviews with the legendary paddler himself.

Available at amazon.com

For more about this book, the San Diego Union-Tribune has this article.

2018 June Lake Trip Report

Click on photos to enlarge

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

The annual Fall Colors Trip in the Sierras this year had great weather and new experiences, as nine of us paddled Silver Lake, then did some exploring up the Lundy Lake canyon. Eric from the Napa area joined us on the paddle, and brought his Swing EX inflatable kayak, making five of those boats on the water (the boat we will be taking to Sitka, Alaska next June). Those paddling the Swing EX were impressed with the speed and maneuverability of these kayaks. Going up the feeder creek into Silver Lake, they made the sharp turns without any problems. I left off installing my skeg to see how the boat would track, and it did surprisingly well. Pumped up to 3 psi, these boats are rigid and have similar “skin” as Zodiacs, making them very durable. The portability of inflatable kayaks was demonstrated on this trip, as we had only one hard shell boat in our group. I did not miss looking through the tie-down ropes on the drive up and back, nor the hassle of car-topping my Legend.   


(A big thanks to Kate, Debbie, Bob and Eric for these photos)

The nice thing about the June Lake trip is the village right adjacent to the campground. Some of us camped, while others stayed in motels. We went to two restaurants, and have gone to the local brewery there also in the past. There is great hiking among the Aspens, and lots to explore and do with good friends. Every year the colors have been slightly different, and this year the trees had not yet “peaked” in color, but there were some, especially in Lundy Canyon that were deep gold. The crisp fall air, the campfire, and enjoying friendships in a beautiful setting is always a rewarding experience. Come join us next year!



San Diego River Clean Up

Opportunity for Kayakers! The San Diego River Park Foundation has received special permission to enter the San Diego River Estuary in kayaks to remove trash out of the River on November 10!

If you can provide your own kayak, this is a great opportunity for a unique experience in your own backyard!

If you don’t have a kayak, but would still like to help out, they will be hosting a cleanup on shore from 9am-Noon.

RSVP is required and kayaker space is limited. To RSVP or ask a question, please email volunteer@sandiegoriver.org or call (619) 297-7380.

5th Annual TRR Fund Raiser

Saturday, September 15 at the Mission Bay Yacht Club, many people, including several SDKC members showed up to support the work TRR does for our veterans. This location will hopefully be the future site of the “Pints and Paddles for a Cause” events because it is ideal, having a private beach and good facilities for a fun day raising money. This year there was great music, plenty of tables, several donated items for the raffle, good food and beer…and lots of laughter.

Click on photos to enlarge

The day started with a Social Paddle around Sail Bay, with several participants, then the “Khaotic Kayak Races” happened with great fun of several “Heats”. After those races, the “SUP Pandemonium” races took place.

During all this the BBQ and Ninkasi Beer were supplying food and drink to those who watched the races, or just had a chance to catch up with old friends. If you missed the event, but still want to donate to TRR’s work, here is the website:


Be sure to select San Diego as the “Target” for your contribution. And for TRR, thank you for that. Also, a big shout-out to Craig and Ashleigh at Aqua Adventures for being a huge supporter of TRR for this event, and for helping in many ways throughout the year.


Kayaking around Coronado island

Call for support paddlers! The 3rd SEAL Memorial Swim is looking for some support paddlers for this event. They start just north of the rocks in front of Hotel Del and go all the way around and exit at Boy Scout landing by Glorietta Bay park.

The event is Saturday, September 15th The swim will start at 0700 and check in for the event starts at 0600.  They are looking for 2 paddlers. One to be the safety paddler to trail the group and the other to be the support paddler.

Most swimmers will be on relays and swimming for 20 minutes at a time and supported by relay boats. There will be a few solo swimmers who will all need their own kayak for safety and support.

It’s a great event and if anyone would like to help we will be having a luncheon afterward on a nice yacht right in the bay and they would be invited to participate.

If you can help out, contact Jeff Utsch <jsutsch@wrsf.com>

Alaska Trip Report

Many in our group contributed to these photos

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

Nine of us (Mary, Lois, Kirk, Gary, Debbie, Miki, Mark, Sheri, and I) ventured to Alaska in June of 2018, and Kayaked Blackstone Bay in the Prince William Sound for four days. Alaska Sea Kayakers was the outfitter, and our guides Victor and Cornelius were great. Victor is a very good cook, and really spoiled us. This bay has 7 glaciers, steep walls, and several waterfalls, making it one of the most popular places to kayak in Alaska. We were awe-struck by the beauty.

Click on photos to enlarge

In Alaska, the rain does not stop most activities. Only high winds can do that. We had both on our first day, so we were shuttled in by boat. When the wind died down, we kayaked toward the head of the bay and saw four glaciers, waterfalls, and many small icebergs, called “Growlers”, which are not more than 3 feet high from the sea surface.


On our 17 mile paddle back to Whittier on days 3 and 4, we saw several Bald Eagles up close, paddled next to many water falls, and even saw some blue sky and sunshine. At our last campsite a humpback whale was swimming close by for hours, an unexpected “gift” to us from Alaska’s bounty. The following day, as we approached the end of our paddle, we were already wishing it would last longer. That is the magic and wonder of Alaska.


From Whittier, we drove back through the narrow tunnel that is open to vehicle traffic and trains by a tight schedule that allows both to travel safely in each direction. You are actually driving on the train track, with the nagging thought “did they get the schedule right?” We then drove up to Talkeetna, the embarkation point for climbing Denali, the highest peak in North America at 20,310 feet. Our cabins were out in the woods near a 70 sled-dog kennel, with an occasional howling of the dogs sounding like wolfs. That was haunting, but very cool!

The next day we boarded a DeHavilland Turbine Otter and flew along the south side of Denali, landing on a glacier just under the cloud cover. That was one of the most thrilling experiences for all who took the flight, and one we will never forget. Our Alaska trip was amazing, with wonderful experiences (like seeing a moose up close), and we became good friends with lasting shared memories of a real adventure.


Robin Kedward – In Remembrance

Click on Photos to Enlarge

-by Jay Murdock, SDKC Safety Editor

A memorial paddle and service was held on May 26th at the Aqua Adventures site to honor a great friend and teacher to many of us through the years. Robin was also a great guy to paddle with, always optimistic and fun-loving. He often had a good joke to tell on a day or overnight paddle, and looked at the bright side of events that could have discouraged someone else. A diving co-worker told a story at the service which summed that up, of them surfacing a quarter mile from their boat, with some students in tow. Robin simply said “It is lovely day for a swim”, and that was the essence of how he approached life.

Robin’s struggle with the cancer that eventually took him on May 8 was a lesson in courage to us. The last time I saw him, he looked frail and tired, but just finished an ocean paddle that would have been a challenge to many of us. He did not complain a bit about the disease that was consuming his body, and only talked about us planning some new paddles for the club.

Robin graduated from the Royal School of Military Engineering and went on to serve with the British Royal Marines, leading expeditions to North Africa, the Middle East and to Eastern Europe. He also spent some time Salvage Diving in the North Sea. Immigrating to America, he and his family lived on their 45 ft sailboat and were able to take several trips down the Baja. After receiving his Captain’s License, he operated a number of craft including a private yacht and several Dive Charter boats. He loved Baja, and spent a lot of his time kayaking, hiking and camping there. He was also a good musician, playing the guitar and singing, or just listening to Italian Opera.


I spoke with Robin’s wife at the service, and told her how he loved to entertain us on our paddles with his many jokes, and that on one occasion heading to the Midway, the two of us were discussing the strange behavior of a certain bird, which suddenly struck us as extremely funny. We laughed so hard that we almost capsized, and that was why it was special to know him: he knew a great deal about a lot of technical things, from navigation to astronomy, and would gladly teach you what he knew. And the next minute he was telling a great joke in a clear and unbroken way with his Royal Marine swagger and dramatic presentation that made the moment very entertaining. The telling of jokes around a campfire transported him back to his military days that he loved, and which we were able to witness. I have since forgotten many of his jokes, but will forever have vivid memories of the way in which he told them. Like Herb, he was a man’s man. Those of us who were privileged to spend time with Robin will miss him, and are thankful that we were blessed to know him.