Kayak Connection Rock Gardening in Pebble Beach
I have to say, working for Kayak Connection has been a blast! Recently we had a staff development day/ scouting mission to Pebble Beach. Our original intended goal had been to go to Point Lobos, but the launch cove was closed to do the park doing safety drills so we needed to find an alternative site. We decided to go to StillWater Cove instead. I have never felt so out of place at a kayak put in before… After we got past the gates and the false security checkpoints we were awarded with a lovely white sandy beach land with just about zero surf. I was a bit disappointed on the surf end since we were doing a Rock Gardening course, but at least the scenery was nice! This last February a bunch of the staff had gone to the Golden Gate Sea Kayak Symposium and had a Blast! Each of us did some sort of Rock Gardening course and we wanted to share that experience with other staff members who were manning the shop while we were away. Enter Sean Morely, we somehow managed to convince him to come hang out with us down South and put on a Rock Gardening clinic for us. We also managed to convince him to bring along one of the new Jackson Kayak Karma RG’s, of which I got to spend a decent amount of time in. StillWater Cove mostly faces directly south which blocks it from the predominate West swell we get in the area. It is an easy launch but a bit of a paddle to get around to the point where the play rocks were going to be at. There is an island in the center of the bay that looked like it would be loads of fun, but it was Harbor Seal pupping season so we could not get close to the island for fear of being harassed by pesky baby seals, or the MPA, one of the two. I like having a bit of a paddle before some fun, it really helps get the body warmed up and limber. When I am surfing it can be so brutal because there is no place to easily paddle about before you are put into the thick of things. We didn’t encounter any usable rock gardens until we got to the point, then all sorts of opportunity opened up. Padding started out fairly mellow, just feeling the rocks out and seeing how close we can be without causing any trouble. Mostly trying to scout things out to see if it would be safe to run for the group. Eventually, we found some safe gardens to play in and things just took off from there!
Sean was kind enough to lend out a Jackson Kayak Karma RG for the trip and it saw many different butts in it over the course of the day. We all wanted to try it out! I am still stunned that the Sea Kayaking world has not caught on to the comfort level that whitewater outfitting brings along. Sure it is a bit heavier, but you spend HOURS in the sea kayak. Having that extra support and comfort really goes a long way. I liked the outfitting in the boat and especially the foot bulkhead. It made the boat feel very similar to what I am used to in my Surf Kayaks and most of all gave me good comfortable purchase with my feet.
As for the stuff that most people will care most about, the boat is awesome. In rock gardens we need a fair amount of speed to be able to get over features or retreat out of sticky situations. The boat, at just under 12 feet, had plenty of speed to get over things even if you didn’t time the surge just right. There was a couple of places where I most certainly would have been stuck if I had been in a slower boat. Flatwater speed was alright. The boat tracks fairly good if the skeg is down, but not really that well if it is up. That being said, right now I spend a majority of my time in longer touring kayaks so I am used to straight lines. Compared to shorter boats the RG tracks like magic! HA!
I didn’t have any problems with it really. What mattered is that in the Rock Gardens the boat behaved wonderfully. Being much shorter than most sea kayaks I was quite pleased with how nimble I had become in this boat. I traded off with a 15.5 boat on the same day and even with a solid amount of rocker that boat felt like a TANK compared to the RG. Missing rocks and making crisp tight turns is really what the RG allows. Rock gardening is likely going to change because of this boat, it really is in a whole different class. (We have one in stock btw).
Unfortunately I don’t have the best of pictures of the trip but that was because I was playing in the rocks too! There is only so long you can wait on the sidelines while everyone else is having a grand old time! Luckily though, I had my Gopro on me so I was able to get some footage.
I’ll have to say that I should have paddled here a long time ago. This area of coast is absolutely gorgeous and the rock gardens are a TON of fun! I will mention too that this same section of coast is where the Wave, Ghost Trees, will break…
See you all out there!