Point Arena to Gordon’s Beach, May 30th 2009.


Dörte Mann has a list of coastal areas she wants to see. Unlike me she does not plan on paddling past all of it, just the good parts. Point Arena has been on her list for a while. The ocean was calm so this weekend Dörte and Dave Littlejohn planned a spur of the moment trip to go to Point Arena. They invited me to come along.

We had the usual experience of a pleasant conversation with the harbormaster and permission to leave a car for a few days. Point Arena Cove is a working harbor with fishermen leaving really bad smells around in the parking lot. We loaded our kayaks on the gravel beach and headed out across the calm water of the cove. The water was so calm that we discovered a new cave and were able to go inside it.

I was very excited to paddle here on a calm day. Usually it is too rough here to get into the rock gardens north of the cove. The only time I was able to get in there once before I did not have a camera with me. This time I was prepared and took that picture I wanted of the Point Arena Lighthouse framed by a row of arches. The picture is nice, but perhaps I need to spend more money on a camera. Or at least a new one without a scratched up lens covered with salt water.

We lingered in the arches and then hugged the shore as we paddled north, going into every cave and arch. I took Dave and Dörte to all my favorite places here, including the Stornetta Ranch Waterfall. The water was so calm I landed my kayak in a crack in the cliff and climbed up to see what the waterfall looked like from the top. We also landed inside the “Found on Google Sinkhole” and had lunch there. Continuing north the calm conditions allowed us to get into the cave in the north end of Sea Lion Rock, someplace that has always been too rough for me on previous trips.

We paddled up to the end of Point Arena and looked at the lighthouse up close. We wanted to paddle around the point through the rock garden there but it was loaded with harbor seals hauled out on the rocks. We chose not to disturb them and turned back.

Dörte thought that the rock gardening was done for the day but I had one more treat to show her on the way south. I lead her and Dave into the natural wharf structure on the outside of Sea Lion Rock. I had stumbled into this area years ago: A rock formation with square corners, pillars rising at regular intervals, and flat rocks on top. Created by the natural tendency of stress in rock to be greatest at ninety degrees, but looking amazingly like someone had designed it. I had not been close to this formation in years. A nearby cave had collapsed in the mean time and I was happy to see the wharf was still there!

We were on a mission to find a good place to camp but took the time to paddle through the row of arches north of Point Arena Cove again. We cut straight across the cove and continued down the coast until we go to “Gordon’s Beach”, a place that I had camped at once before (with Gordon Schanck). The weather looked like it was getting a little rougher and we were happy to have a known good place to camp high above the water.


All text and images Copyright © 2009 by Mike Higgins / contact