from the beach

anyway, no one hurt in that small surf
in the videos. Sure it’s possible to get hurt, but < 2’ surf with a helmet and no rocks will mostly just result in getting wet a lot and maybe a sand scrape here and there. I do very much agree that a class helps, but they do cover things similar to the videos and they don’t generally hold your hand and actually prevent you from leaning toward shore and eating sand.

Now to ensure it really is < 2’for a first time you need to know to watch sets just in case you went in between the larger waves. Also I know in LA it’s a challenge to find a beach in the summer that is free of swimmers and surfers which is important.

One last tip… stay close to shore at first both to avoid the larger outside waves and because you may swim to shore a lot at first to empty your boat and start again.

I took a surf class as part of a two day beginner class where I had only kayaked maybe four times before the class and the others were beginners too. It can be done by beginners with the right introduction.

And Why I Said…
"…lack of skills and/or thighstraps."

It’s equipment and skills to go with it (tho’ I often tend to think “skills” even over equipment in a lot of cases).


Don’t Need To Do Surf Launch
My experience is that the large majority of open ocean kayakers, especially SINKs, don’t launch from the beach. Up here they launch from Santa Cruz Harbor, or Moss Landing.

My regular spot is a pretty severe beach break. That is why I like SOTs. To be honest, gettng knocked off the boat on the landing is a pretty regular thing with me. But to me that is part of the fun.

If you don’t want to wipe out, don’t launch into the surf, because you are going to get worked, and sooner rather than later.

I was at a surf kayaking event with huge waves and some of the best kayak surfers in the country. I got knocked off the boat by a small wave in a protectd cove on the landing.

I mentioned that that was embarassing. Mark Pastick said there wasn’t anyone on the beach that had not been wiped out by a small wave. It is just part of the deal. If its not your idea of fun, find a protected place to put in.

Oh - OK
I didn’t really catch that about the video - looked at it quick but had to run out to an appt.

another video

– Last Updated: Aug-07-09 10:11 PM EST –

Interesting timing - this one about surf launches just popped up on

Beaches Directly West of LA ?
Honestly this time of year the beaches directly west of LA have pretty flat surf. The big issue is going to be crowds of people in the water, the lifeguards will kick your butt if you try to launch a kayak. LA is a pretty lousy place for kayaking. Try Newport or Dana Point harbors to get to the open water without a surf launch.

Smaller than winter but not flat.
This is where I paddle year round and my experience is that the surf is not flat, just smaller than the winter.

The big problem for a beginner is that it is dumping surf and a 3 foot wave can still definitely do some damage to both boats and people if you don’t know what you are doing.

Although, if you launch early enough, there won’t be any swimmers during your launch, the beaches will always have people on them when you try to return.

We usually have one person land, try to clear a path (and we have usually picked the least crowded place even if it means a longer carry of the boats or bigger surf to contend with) and then we land one at a time to avoid taking any people out on the way in.

That’s Westward Beach
which is at Point Dume in Malibu. It’s my favorite whale watching location, but in the winter, the surf is much worse there so we usually launch about 7 miles away at Dan Blocker Beach and paddle up to the Point.

There’s a deep (1,500 ft) channel that comes almost right up to the beach. Great for both whale watching and also great whites. There is frequently a shark pen anchored out there while research is being conducted.

Also, the rocks that can be seen going out into the water continue and there’s some fun rock playing to be had there too.

Before you head down to the beach

– Last Updated: Aug-09-09 8:21 AM EST –

You can find out how big the waves are by looking it up online.

Do not just assume that "this time of year the waves will be small" because you might show up and have it be totally flat or double overhead. I mean in less than thirty seconds you could look up a report for that particular beach or even better find a bouy near there and look up the current conditions. That way you will now if the wave you are looking at is really 2 feet tall. ;)
Check weather reports.

If you go down to the beach in a kayak, don't be that guy that makes everybody hate kayakers.

Beware of everything else in the water. If you are out of control and collide with a swimmer, another kayaker, a board surfer, you will be at fault and somebody will be hurt and pissed.
Going out is easy. Just go straight into the waves. The problems come when the waves are parallel to your boat. Bracing is something you will have to work on. Pick days with very, very, small waves at first.

As a new paddler in the surf, expect to wipe out coming back in. A roll will be useful. Without a decent roll, expect to drag your face across the sand. Expect every hot chick for a hundred miles will be laughing at you as you retrieve all of your belongings and haul them back to the sand. Even with a decent roll, you may wipe out in shallow water and not be able to right yourself with a paddle.
Expect everything that isn't secure in your boat will be floating away. Heck, expect that everything that is secure will be floating away.
Fill your boat with as much floatation as you can stuff in there. Your boat can weigh well over 1000 pounds if it is full of water. If it gets enough water in it recovery can be nearly impossible.
Expect any hatches to leak unless you have tested them.
Bring a cheap paddle as you will probably break a paddle or two while you learn.
Bring a cheap spare paddle too.

Anything on deck will be cleared by surf so don't store anything on your deck. A bilge pump under a shock chord wont stay there very long.

Never put yourself on the beach side of your boat with waves pushing it.
Don't launch around swimmers. Don't paddle around swimmers.

Respect the power of the water. A two foot wave can throw your boat hard enough to break your legs or snap your neck or somebody else's.

Protect your shoulder by keeping your elbow low. Dislocated shoulders are not uncommon. If you get your elbow thrown up over your shoulder you can separate the joint.

Remember, this is suppose to be fun. Smile each time you wipe out.

Being fearful of the ocean means you are smart. Respect the power of the water.