Monday, June 29, 2009

Santa Barbara Surfers Paddle For A Cause

On May 12, two Santa Barbara surfers fueled by Sambazon Açaí, Nole Cossart and Chadd Konig, set out on a formidable journey to paddle from Gaviota (just north of Santa Barbara) to the Mexico boarder. Their journey, was crafted to raise awareness to the threat development poses to Gaviota – one of the remaining undeveloped and untainted coastlines left in California.

Traveling on paddleboards loaded with food, water, clothing, surfboards and camping gear, Nole and Chadd clocked an average of 15-20 miles per day – and by June 7th, after 300 miles and 28 days on the water) they triumphantly reached their destination at the US-Mexico Boarder.

Here is a sneak peak into Chadd’s journal from the voyage:

Laying upon grassy knoll. Bug just landed on the page. Sun going down behind hill. Wind blowing offshore. Paddle boards tucked away in bushes. This morning we departed from Gaviota now we will sleep at R-Beach. A few seals tagged along a wee bit. Dolphins greeted us at R-Beach. Throughout the day I got to rest me eyes open space and life. Now me belly full, warm clothes on, tarp laid out-sleeping bag as well! Make shift pillow. Water, Knife and thoughts of far off hills. Paddles were plenty today. Sun has lowered behind hills yet still lights the sands. A mushroom shaped piece of wood. Driftwood all over. Silhouettes. Warm hat on me head. Ocean sounds in me ears-will be there all night. Consistent-count on it. Wind is light at moment-cooling me sun warmed face. We arrived today at a beach of smiling folks. Laughs abundant and not a word shared. Eye contact and acknowledgement. Respect and shared space. Island outline. Birds in flight-yes the night! Sand still moving with water and light. Seaweed keeps some of the water glassy. Thank you day.

Woke wet with the sea. On wet grass. Step out of sleeping bag-wet yet warm. Collect all belongings and stuff the dry bag strategically. A wee dog begins barking at me. The ocean is moving in the direction we wish to travel. Southbound. The ocean carries us gently for the first few miles, then wind shifts and blows right as us. Bouncing us. Slowing us. Decide to head inside the kelp in hopes of calmer seas. As I navigated and clawed through the kelp I peeked over at the beach. An invited sight indeed. Dry, warm, rock formation providing a potential home. Turned board to land and beached. Immediately clothed meself, opened food bag and had at some fruit and nuts. Climb on the rocks for a bit-have a short vision a day on this hidden beach, yet decide to head south into the wind. Back in water, dolphins arrive immediately. Seal joins too. Sharing their home. I reach Leadbetter Point and the wind ceases. I look across-Hammonds Reef in sight. I pass the mile out buoy where seals bask in the sun and make seal songs. Next to the buoy are the seals who did not make the seal "buoy cut" or opted to stay in the water. They reach their flippers for the sky. One seal is persistent. Again and again propels itself onto the buoy...falls back, yelps and shamelessly splashes. Dives under, builds speed and has at it again. As I was about out of sight the seal succeeds. Positioned and ready for sun basking. Other seals snap at each other. Then I make a seal noise and they pause. Calm for a moment. Continue paddling and they continue their buoy party. As I pass a large fishing vessel three of the crew look out in my direction. One man, seems to be captain, has a hollar at me. Inquires bout my direction, "Where you headed?" I paddle closer and answer, "That beach over there-then south to the border." He smiles, looks at his crew and offers all his goods. A place to rest, food, beer, cigarette? I thank him and wish them a good day. They all wish me luck. Arrive at Hammonds-greeted again by dolphins. Unload and fill me belly.

For a complete summary of the voyage check out part 1, part II and part III.

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