What The Locals Know–Where To Kayak

Kayaking on Monterey Bay is delightful! From shore, colorful kayaks add an accent of beautiful contrast against the backdrop of ocean blue and shoreline. There are many places to rent kayaks and stand-up paddle boards:

On the Monterey Peninsula, most kayakers stay close to shore between Del Monte Beach in Monterey by the Commercial Wharf, and Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove.

Moss Landing is another popular kayak spot because you have a large slough to play in. Moss Landing is home to many sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and many bird species, so don’t be afraid if a pack of sea mammals slowly follow you down the slough.

Canoeing and kayaking are supposed to be fun, but both can also be dangerous. Follow these tips to make sure the next paddle trip is a safe one.

  • Flotation is paramount to survival. Always carry a life jacket or life vest when paddling and more importantly, wear it.
  • Other essential equipment for paddlers:
  1. a whistle or air horn (whistles are easily attached to a life vest)
  2. abailing or bilge device for quickly emptying a swamped canoe or kayak, and
  3. a spare paddle in case the primary one is damaged or lost.
  • A paddle leash can help keep a paddle from being swept away in a strong current, but they should not be solely relied on or used in breaking surf conditions.
  • If you capsize, remain calm and stay close to the kayak.

Part of canoeing or kayaking is knowing personal limitations. This is why knowing proper paddling techniques like bracing or turning into a wave is so important. Canoes and kayaks can get swamped or capsized by unobservant motor boats, surf or bad weather. Knowing what to do in these situations is crucial.

Equally important is knowing how to perform a self-rescue. While it is advisable to always paddle with a friend or group of friends, bear in mind that they may lack the necessary skills to assist in a rescue or they may be involved in a crisis of their own when help is needed. Practice self-rescue in shallow water with the aid of a friend or find out when the local paddling club will be holding a kayak clinic.

Although a capsize scenario usually comes on suddenly, always try to maintain a grip on the paddle. Not only is it needed to direct the boat back to shore, but with the aid of a paddle float it can aid in re-entry into a kayak.

Tips for Planning a Float Trip

Research the area to be paddled, review local weather reports and find out what the local water levels or tides will be. Be aware of the dangers of hypothermia and dress for immersion. While it might be warm outside, water temperatures can vary drastically and hypothermia can set in quickly.

Always leave a float plan with a friend or loved one so that someone will know where to start looking if the group fails to return on time. Paddle with a friend or a group and make sure that cell phones are stored in a dry bag and safely secured inside of the boat. For extra security, consider investing in a personal emergency locator beacon as cell phones may not always be functional or in range of a signal.

Kayaking and canoeing can be fun and safe, with the proper precautions. Paddle safely and have fun doing it.

Read more at Suite101: Canoeing and Kayaking Safety Tips http://www.suite101.com/content/canoeing-and-kayaking-safety-tips-a269844#ixzz10J2yczNO

What The Locals Know–Whale Watching

October is a terrific month to go whale watching because it’s warmer here on the Monterey Peninsula and the water tends to be calmer during Autumn.

Late spring, summer and fall are the seasons to see Humpback Whales, Blue Whales and Dolphins.  We recommend every whale watching business on Fisherman’s Wharf because they’re all friendly, offer lots of education and know where to find all the whale action.

We do, however, want to give you an insider’s tip on how to get the most enjoyment out of your whale watching experience.  Here are a few things to remember and/or bring with you:

  • Whale watching takes 2 to 4 hours, depending on the tour, so plan for it to take up a big chunk of your day.
  • Wear layers because it can get cold and wet out there on the water.
  • Wear comfy shoes because high heels are less safe or fun on anything smaller than a cruise ship.
  • It is very wise to bring your own sunscreen and a hat because they’re more expensive when purchased on Fisherman’s Wharf.
  • Take your seasickness medication well enough in advance so your body’s ready for the boat ride.  (Follow your medication’s instructions on the label.)
  • If you feel ill while on the boat ride, do the following:
    • NEVER go down into the boat or the boat’s bathroom because you’ll feel worse down there.
    • Stay up on deck, get to the rear of the boat, downwind from where are the people are standing if you’re going to hurl.
    • If you’re feeling queasy but think you can manage not throwing up, stay up on deck and look out far into the horizon.  That horizontal line will give you something to look at and steady your eyes.
    • If you’re feeling queasy and don’t have medication, look up to the sky and stretch your throat.  This should get rid of any gagging feeling.
  • The boat crew depends on tips, so bring extra cash with you and pay before you leave the boat.  Let them know if they’ve done a great job!

What The Locals Know–West Coast Swing Dancing

West Coast Swing is the California State dance and is growing in popularity, thanks to Lacey Schwimmer of “Dancing With The Stars” and Benji Schwimmer of “So You Think You Can Dance”.

West Coast Swing is a 6-count slot dance that can be danced to the blues, contemporary, pop, club, and country music, and the main age range of West Coast Swing dancers is between 30 – 70 years old.

If you’re interested in finding places to dance West Coast Swing, here are some of the places where local “Westies” hang out:

Tuesday nights–Carmel Woman’s Club at the corner of San Carlos and 9th, across from Sunset Center in Carmel.  Call Jennifer at 831-324-0816 for class details.

Wednesday nights–Sly McFly’s at the corner of Cannery Row and Prescott in Monterey.  It’s a small dance floor, but Westies are friendly about sharing slot space.  Don’t be shy about asking a Westie to dance with you.  We’ve all been beginners at some point and love bringing new people into the dance.

Thursday nights–On the 3rd Thursday of each month, join the Westie community at Clint Eastwood’s Carmel Mission Ranch off of Rio Road, right by the Carmel Mission.  Dancing is located in the Barn, and the place gets packed.

Friday nights–Embassy Suites in Seaside has a lounge area where Lee Durley and Joe Indence sing oldies but goodies.  If you’re in the mood for East Coast Swing, there’s music that will satisfy both dances.

Saturday nights–On the 4th Saturday of each month, the Santa Cruz Swing Club hosts a West Coast Swing dance at the Senior Center (behind 831 Bay Avenue and Woodworm Party Store) at the Bay/Porter Exit in Capitola.  Class with a WCS dance pro start at 7:00 and the dancing goes until 11:00 PM.

If you’re uncertain about scheduling, contact Jennifer at 831-324-0816 and she’ll point you in the right direction, or consult the Monterey County Weekly newspaper or the Go! Calendar in the Monterey Herald.

What The Locals Know–Stonework and The Tor House

We have lots of rocks. Rocky coast…pebbled beaches…granite hillsides…etc. All this stone has lent itself to a crafty use of stonework on houses. If you’re a fan of looking at houses, take a walk around Carmel and notice all of the stonework.

There are also stone paths, stone walls, stone steps, stone sidewalks all throughout Carmel. The main local stones quarried around Monterey County are limestone and sandstone, and they are mostly quarried within 150 miles of the county.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the fine masonry work, take a walk down any of the following Carmel streets: Dolores, 10th, the red brick house near 2nd and Carpenter, and the beach step path near the intersection of Scenic Road and 8th.

However, the crown jewel of stonework is the Tor House, where you can arrange for a tour. The Tor House is the home of lauded poet, Robinson Jeffers, and it is a “can’t miss” if you’re visiting Carmel. The Tor House is situated on Carmel Point at 26304 Ocean View Avenue, just to the south of Carmel Village. Here is a link to the Tor House Foundation if you’d like to arrange for a tour.

If you decide to do some stonework yourself on your home, there is a local masonry consultant who sells his own “how-to” videos that are remarkably helpful. If you’re interested, check out Steven Kelley’s videos at Bricks And Mortar USA.

What The Locals Know–Why Is It So Cool Here?

Many visitors comment on how cool it is here on the Monterey Peninsula.  Like Mark Twain is reported to have said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” and since San Francisco is close by, the same can be said of our area.

Our weather is cool during the summer for several reasons:

1.  Our ocean currents run from the Arctic Circle and (North to South) and our water temperature tends to be around 49 degrees to 55 degrees Farenheit.

In contrast, the Eastern seaboard of the United States experiences water currents flowing North from the Equator (South to North) with an added bonus of the warm water originating from the Gulf of Mexico known as the Gulf Stream.

2.  We have a deep underwater canyon that begins in the Monterey Bay (at Moss Landing and Carmel) and there is a lot more water depth than eyes on land can see.

To compare, the Eastern seaboard tends to be shallower and can heat up from the sun more quickly.

3.  Water currents and wind churn the water up from the depths to the surface, which causes cooler water to circulate up.  This makes for very happy marine life because the upwellings bring food closer to the surface.

Now you know why you don’t see Sea Lions and Otters frolicking on Florida beaches.

4.  The water’s cool water temperature and wind from the ocean makes the air cooler and creates a marine layer/low cloud ceiling.  When that cooler air blends with the warmer air temperature over land, fog is created.  Our marine layer usually evaporates from the sun after noon.

We hope this helps explain why our air is cool and why we rarely need air conditioning.  It also explains why you should always keep a jacket or sweater handy when you’re visiting the Monterey Peninsula.

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