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2017 AOTY/DOTY Entry

Topic: Smoke on the water  (Read 2215 times)

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Bill

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I had owned my kayak for a few weeks when I decided to launch out of Davenport to do some rock fishing. I was supposed to meet up with polepole and one other angler. As I headed north out of Santa Cruz the fog was getting progressively denser, by the time I hit the town of Davenport visibility was about 100 feet on highway 1.

I parked and walked down to the beach to see if anyone was there yet. It was about 6:15 AM and the beach was deserted. I made my way back up to the car and began unloading. I get unloaded and do one last fog check. It was still bad but looked like it was breaking. I was now at about 150 feet of visibility. I decide the fog is on its way to breaking up and launch by myself into the soup, no GPS, no compass and no radio.

I decide to head north towards Scott's Creek and begin paddling the the direction I believe is north. I am now in open water and can see nothing but grey fog and water. After what seemed like 30 minutes of paddling I stop and a little kelp bed. I take this as a good sign I am heading in the right direction since just north of Davenport Landing there is a nice collection of kelp beds. I hook and land a nice blue. I fish a few more minutes and decide to keep paddling in what I believe is a northerly direction. Paddle for about 30 more minutes and notice the fog is really breaking up now. I look towards the shore and can see the sun about to break through. About 5 minutes later the sun break through the fog and I am looking toward the shore at a nice sandy beach. I am a bit to far away to make out details but I decide I am out in front of Scott's Creek. I pat myself on the back for being such a great navigator in the fog.

I fish for a bit longer and land another smallish rockfish. I glance up and notice the fog is rolling back in and I can no longer see the beach. Hmmm this is getting a little scary, I think. I start to paddle back south hoping to get even with Davenport so I can make a landing, 5 minutes into my paddle I am completely socked in, about 30 feet of visibility. Now I start to panic a bit. I hear a few power boats around me but can't see them, visions of getting run over flash through my head. I stop paddling, take a few deep breathes and begin to formulate a plan. I decide I should try to get close enough to the shore to see land then just follow it down the coast to Davenport. The best way to ensure I am heading towards the shore is to follow the swell in. I begin to paddle with the swell and paddle for what seems like and hour. I stop a few times to calm down, drink some water and rest. Since this is only my third time out in a kayak I am not a very strong paddler and I would get tired quickly.

Not long after my last rest break I begin to hear a banging noise in the distance. At first I don't know what it is but as I get closer I come to the realization it is the cement plant about a mile SOUTH of Davenport. I begin to replay the events in my mind and realize that the beach I saw when the fog broke was actually Davenport beach and not Scott's Creek. I had been paddling south east for about 30 minutes from right out in front of Davenport beach. I began to feel more comfortable now that I had a pretty good idea where I was. I began paddling due east and shortly could make out the cliffs that run south along the coast. I get close enough to see the cliffs but not to close to where I think I am going to get nailed by the swell. I then point north and start making my way back to the landing

I had a few more scares in store. At one point I sneak up on a seal that was hanging out in the kelp, it is so foggy he didn't see my until I was basically on top of him, of course I couldn't see him either. It freaks out and makes this huge splashing sound about 5 feet from my boat almost giving me a heart attack. Then as I get closer to Davenport I almost get swamped by the break at the south end of the cove where all the surfers hang out. I manage to scramble over the top of a decent size wave then I spotted the surfers which brought a big feeling of relief. They where looking at me like I was crazy.

After rounding the corner into the cove and making a uneventful landing I run into polepole on the beach. He was out there as well but was smart enough to not venture as far as I did. I learned/reenforced a lot of lessons that day:

1. Never go out in the ocean alone, especially in suspect conditions. Alone does not mean you have to have another angler with you if you are in a high traffic area and have a radio. Error on the side of caution here though.

2. Always have at least a compass on board, GPS and radio are basically requirements as well. Even if you have these launching in think fog is pretty dumb since the powerboats won't be able to see you out there.

3. Following the swell will get you to shore but be aware of the swell direction.

4. It helps to know the area you will be fishing. If I had not been to Davenport before I would not have recognized the banging from the cement plant nor known the location of the plant in relation to the beach.

5. Make every effort to keep calm and think rationally. There where points that I was really freaking out and paddling as fast as I could in one direction just to make something happen. This was a waste of energy and was actually moving me quickly in the wrong direction. Stay calm and make deliberate decisions.


Freddie

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Bill-

I've been lost in the fog too. Last season at Moss. I went out alone... no GPS, no compass, no VHF, no FF. I launched in heavy fog and paddled to Pajaro. I stayed close to the shore until I hit the second bouy and then, angled out to the yellow bouy at Pajaro. I ended up making a huge circle... so huge, that when the fog broke up... I ran into Mooch, who was on the south side of the canyon... yikes. I paddled out towards Pajaro, ended up on the south side of the canyon, met up with Mooch, we paddled back out to Pajaro and he "mooches" some bait and he catches a 20+ lber. That's how that day went for me...

Freddie


PISCEAN

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I had a very similar experience at 4mile a couple seasons ago. Thought I was good enough to know where I was going, completely overshot my fishing spot, and ended up out at sea when a kelp cutter passed inside of me. Thinking he would normally be on the outside of me I turned and, thinking I was heading in, started paddling farther out to sea. Fortunately for me, fog=no wind, and when it began to break up I got my bearings & paddled back safely. Even scored a nice vermilion that day. It turned out to be a really good day since it made go straight to West marine & get a deck mounted compass. That fog can be really spooky out here.
Sean
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Randy

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Does anyone know if the radar on the average PB can even pick up a kayak? 

I won't go out in fog because I have no confidence that I won't be plowed over by one.  Offshore sailboats routinely mount radar reflectors atop a mast to make themselves bigger radar targets for large vessels in sea lanes.  And they're a lot bigger than we are.

I wonder what the chances are that a PB running 20 knots on radar would even know we were there.

Randy


Potato_River

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Randy,
That's a good question. 

Don't know the answer for sure, but unless the technology has improved in the last 20 years, I'm pretty sure the answer is no.

Back then, even larger wooden boats were difficult to pick up on radar.  Plastic is probably just as bad, if not worse than wood.

I pray that in fog, PB's should not run at a fast speed and rely solely on Radar.  Objects like say a floating log, dead whale, plastic kayak, etc won't show up, but will do serious damage.

Stuart


justhavinfun

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Does anyone know if the radar on the average PB can even pick up a kayak?

Randy

Randy,

Nope even as close as 1/2 a mile radar often will not pick up a kayak. To help you could use a pvc pipe filled with aluminum foil to increase reflection. The higher above sea level you get it the better. Here is a link to an entire study done regarding radar and kayaks and radar reflectors. http://www.seagrant.umaine.edu/extension/coastcom/raref.htm The pvc filled with aluminum was one of the better and cheaper options. I mounted my 360 white light for night and low light fishing on an aluminum shaft because the shaft provided with the light wouldn't even reach over my head, I wonder if that helps at all. I think I'll make a new light mount out of pvc and fill it with the aluminum foil, that way when I'm using the light to be seen better I'll get the added advantage of having a radar reflector without any additional setup or extra equipment.

Jeff

Originally I got into fishing to fish.


jmairey

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personally I'm ready to jump in and swim for the bottom if it looks like I'm about to be run over.

of course, if they do hit you, they probably won't stop either.
john m. airey


jselli

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Lost in the Fog.  that is a good race horse isn't it?

I caught my first salmon in dense fog at Linda Mar last summer.  we were a couple miles North of the launch at the Pacifica Pier.  Oddly enough when we launched with Mooch and Bill you could see the Farallones.  Usually a sign that no fog is coming in the next couple hours. As the fog rolled in or in this case appeared CPkayak took numbers off his compass and we headed in after a long battle with the Salmon.  I guess the Vis that days was 30ft too, not fun but I had such a rush with my salmon It didn't matter much. That, and  I knew Chris's Berkley eduction would get us home.  5 days later my wife bought me a GPS.

Jason
...The sea, once it casts its spell
holds one in its net of wonders forever.
                          Jacques Cousteau


Randy

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Jeff,

That's an interesting study, thanks.  It would seem that an awful  lot depends on the training of the radar observer. Not a very comforting thought, but forewarned is forearmed.  I agree that the foil filled pvc pipe seems a practical choice.  OR..........

...perhaps we could talk Papa Bill into marketing a line of official NCKA tin foil hats?   :smt032


Randy


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from the Mel Gibson movie "Signs"



jselli

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Mooch,

Thanks for the laugh. I needed that to get me started today>

jason
...The sea, once it casts its spell
holds one in its net of wonders forever.
                          Jacques Cousteau


mooch

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...at your service  :smt002


 

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