I’ll have what Lance Armstrong’s having

Day seven started out hard off the beach in Encinitas. I was craving some performance enhancing drugs. Then I realized that I already maxed out the family CVS card. Here are my drugs and health aids of choice.
Bandages, ointments, joint pain releif spray, Advil for the daytime, Advil PM for sleeping like a baby in a tent, B12 energy shots when I want to feel like a Russian weightlifter.

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Running from gnarly swell, great white sharks and amphibious military monsters.

Today was probably the toughest day of the trip. Things started perfectly with a picture perfect surfzone launch in San Clemente followed by visiting an adorable group of seals and enjoying my morning ocean zen on the glassy waters. Things got even more fairytale like when I paddled for nearly half an hour with a pod of dolphins.

After San Onofre the waves doubled and tripled in size. I had to go farther away from shore. Around 11 I spotted several 3-4 foot sharks near the Arcoiris Explorer. I couldn’t identify them. They looked sharky. Later on, San Onofre coast guard rescue captain confirmed that they sighted juvenile great whites swimming along my route.

After the shark incident I had to make sure that I wasn’t run over by Navy hovercrafts practicing beach takeoffs and landings. I radioed the US Coast Guard asking them to alert the Navy of my position and my peaceful intentions. 

The waves got bigger and winds gathered strength after 3PM. The boat was thrown around the swells like a rubber ducky around splashing kids. I cruised into Oceanside marina exhausted and beat. In fact I looked so ragged and worn that a fellow mariner on a sailboat offered me a beer.

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Quick update. Day 5.

After a short, but sweet 10 mile paddle from Dana Point the Arcoiris Explorer landed in the sleepy hamlet of San Clemente. Checked into a beach side hotel and looking forward to an afternoon of massages, conversations with humans, healing my wounds and feeling dry.

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Morning on the beach at Dana Point.

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Morning zen.

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Drying on the beach in San Clemente.

Quick update

After a brutally long (24mile, 34km) paddle yesterday, I landed in Newport Beach. My friend, Razvan Sabau picked me and the AIE up. It was strange sleeping in a bed.  I miss my tent, miss the ocean. I don’t miss the chaffing, the blisters and the muscle pain. Yesterday I didn’t lose anything. At least I don’t know it yet.

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Loaded the Arcoiris Explorer into Razvan’s school bus.

First Two Stages Completed

I have the magic touch when it comes to screwing things up. So far the expedition is moving along splendidly except for my waterproof solar charger. I managed to leave one of the two USB doors open on the device and now I’m with electricity. In a day or two the situation will be fixed.

I’m writing this blog entry from Seal Beach exhausted and soar. Tomorrow I hope I’ll be able to upload more photos.

Follow me live before I screw up the tracker too.

kayaking

I realize that the Pacific is not so peaceful and pissing off seals is never a good idea

As part of my kayak training program, I took the 17 foot  Arcoiris Explorer on vacation. I loaded it on top of the car and drove 500 miles (900kms) from Los Angeles to the Sea Of Cortez, where I annexed and occupied a small uninhabited island for 4 days.

It was a special off the grid vacation that only 1 member of my family was willing to sign up for. The other 3 preferred cell phone signal, electricity and indoor plumbing.
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The Arcoiris Explorer became a permanent fixture of our makeshift Robinson Crusoe camp at this pristine lagoon of Isla Coronado. Kayaking on the glassy waters of the Sea Of Cortez was pure joy. It was nothing like the rough and tumble Pacific. It was warm and inviting, unlike its so called “peaceful” neighbor. At 5AM I followed the sounds of  blue whales. With the setting sun, I paddled 2 miles to a nearby seal colony. In between sessions I was polishing my paddling style or practicing my Eskimo roll, which is still an epic fail.

On one of my afternoon outings I learned two important things about seals. One, in nature they don’t play with adorable beach balls or clap their flippers together. Two, they can be insanely territorial. Every time I approached their rock colony, 6-7 well developed males jumped into the water and swam right alongside the kayak. As soon as they popped their heads out of the water they turned to me. They kept their distance, but their angry looks spoke volumes. It was essentially their coast guard unit. Needless to say that I kept my distance as well. The arrangement worked out for both parties.

Apart from my underwater camera which got flooded on day two, all my gear passed the test with flying colors. The equipment is ready for the big trip and so am I.

I realize that I like Greenpeace better than big pharma.

After a few training sessions I concluded that for every 4 hours of kayaking I need to take 2 Advils. At this rate I might as well name the boat “Advil”. It  seemed like such a genius idea that I wrote a letter to the makers of Advil. This is what I got back:

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After Advil was out, I turned to the social responsibility message of my trip for inspiration. Fighting for ocean sustainability and tuna protection, I couldn’t find a better namesake for my yak than the legendary Greenpeace vessel, the Rainbow Warrior.

As a teenager especially obsessed with an inevitable nuclear holocaust, the Rainbow Warrior played a special role in my life. Having sailed on a mission to halt nuclear testing in the South Pacific agents of the French government sank the boat in a New Zealand marina during the summer of 85. Unable to fathom how a non-communist government can be so evil,  I was glued to my radio following the drama every night. I was heartbroken for days.

Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour after bombing by French secret service agents.

Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbor after bombing by French secret service agents.

Inspired by Greenpeace, I named the kayak the Arcoiris Explorer. Paying respect to my hosts in  Mexico, I used the Spanish equivalent of rainbow. Godspeed “Arcoiris Explorer”.

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Coming up next: How I fell in love with Phil at Greenpeace HQ who also named his yak after a legendary Greenpeace hero and climate change warrior.