Davenport Landing to Santa Cruz, August 8th 2001.

Bryant drove me down to the beach in the morning and helped carry my gear. He assured me that I should have an easy mild paddle today. There are no surprises in this strip of coast. Except for the reef just south of the landing, and there are a bunch of point breaks along the way, and stay out of steamer lane or the surfers will get irate.

The fog was extra thick when I launched at 9:00 AM. I went way out to sea to avoid the reef and lost all sight of land. I navigated by the sound of the Davenport Cement Plant and turned back towards shore until I could see it again. Then I was able to keep my eye on shore for the rest of the day. “Keep California on you left” is my navigation motto.

The shore was interesting eroded lime or sandstone cliffs with caves carved into them. The waves broke noisily into most of these caves and I wasn’t tempted to go into them. Eventually the fog cleared up enough to see several points ahead and keep track of where I was. Konstantin and Sid camped in this area when they paddled to Monterey Bay. I checked out their spot from a distance but didn’t want to get wet in a surf landing and launch if I didn’t have to. I saw a surprising number of tents (4 or 5) on different beaches during the day. Apparently camping on the beach is not as frowned upon or as policed here as it is in other places. One of the tents I saw was on the Davenport Landing beach. I had seen a loose pile of nylon down the beach when I landed the day before, and in the morning it was a set-up tent.

I avoided waves and surfers, saw a few sea otters and generally had the pleasant day of paddling that I was promised. I drifted past a section of the city of Santa Cruz while eating my lunch. When I got to the municipal pier in Santa Cruz it was not the one I remembered landing at once before. That one is farther down and was more convenient to the roads. I went back and forth under this larger pier looking for the least used patch of beach then made a calm landing.

On the beach I met God, or the Devil, or a member of the Hells Angels, or the Vice President OF THE WORLD (God Dammed Van Damme is THE PRESIDENT), or a former TV wrestling champion, or all of these things. I’m not making this up, he came down the beach to tell me these things, and more! I gave him a drink out of my water-bag and he watched my kayak while I hauled my stuff 200 meters across the sand and up the stairs to a bench on the municipal pier. When I came back for my last load to show him how strong I was by picking up my kayak, he had completely disappeared.

I spent a couple of hours sitting on the pier bench, writing in my journal (as you can see) and drying my gear on the railing of the pier until 4:30 when the Youth Hostel was supposed to open. I rolled the kayak 3 blocks to the hostel and parked it in a dug up flower bed on the grounds. They prioritized people for check-in by asking us who were members, who had reservations, and how we got here. People who hiked or took the bus had priority. Coming by kayak (and having a reservation) got me position number three in line to check in!

All text and images Copyright © 2001 by Mike Higgins / contact