Pirates ahoy and Sea caves

Ventura Pirate

Ventura Pirate

Following the heat of pinnacles it was really pleasant to head for the cool coast as we made our way down to Ventura the next day. Here we did a little grocery shopping in preparation for our 2 days on Santa Cruz Island while kayaking. We also decided to head down to the harbor to check out where the ferry would be departing from the next day. We arrived at the harbor to find a huge amount of commotion and people, it wasn’t long before we learned we were witnessing “Pirate Days” an annual event in Ventura. Numerous folks walked around dressed as various forms of buccaneers. Despite the crowd we made our way to the dock easily enough checked on the departure area and time for our ferry, then watched the pirates perform for awhile.

Ventura Pirates

Ventura Pirates

After a good nights sleep, we boarded the ferry for the hour long trip to the island, along the way we witnessed numerous seal lions, pelicans, a few cormorants and dolphins.

Sea lions

Sea lions

There were several groups going kayaking as well as campers, and day hikers on the ferry so upon arrival at the Scorpion cove landing it took awhile to sort out who was going where but before too long Dave and I had met the other four kayakers in our group and our guide Tony. Tony with over 20 years of experience kayaking the Channel Islands was a great guide and I enjoyed his stories as he led us around the island and through numerous sea caves. The other people in our group were Felice, John, Breann and Dave. We all got a chuckle at the fact that we had two Dave’s and two Johns on the trip. During the first day we didn’t paddle very far though we did get to visit some great sea caves, I especially enjoyed paddling through the green room where an opening just below the surface of the water allowed sunlight to shine in giving the water a lovely green glow. This was even more dramatic as the sun broke through the fog giving us a beautiful sunny afternoon.

Sea cave

Sea cave

After our introduction to kayaking through sea caves it was time to find the campground and set up camp for the night. The main campground on Santa Cruz Island is nestled in a small canyon where the sites are all shaded by a large grove of eucalyptus. I got several opportunities to take pictures of the endangered island foxes as they wandered near or through the campsites. By then though the fog was rolling back in and I retreated to my tent for an early night.

Island fox

Island fox

The next morning it was still foggy and a little chilly but we managed to get packed up and down to the beach for an early start anyway and beat the other groups of kayakers to the water. We traveled along the coast past a large Stellar Sea Lion Rookery and through our guide Tony’s favorite cave called back door cave, Tony remarked that he wished they’d given it a more dramatic name and I have to agree it was more impressive then the name implies. A long passage through the point, there was a side passage that led out to open sea though I don’t think I’d risk going that way, then more passage that flowed into a sheltered cove. From here we progressed to a rocky beach where we stopped for lunch. This day though the sky didn’t clear so we were getting chilly as soon as we stopped paddling, it wasn’t long before we hopped back on the kayaks so we could start paddling again and warm up. We went back past the sea lions, this time several came out into the water to check us out as we went by. We also spotted what may have been one of the island’s bald eagles on top of a point as we went by. All too soon we were back at Scorpion landing. Dave and I had brought masks and snorkels but since the sun didn’t want to come out we contented ourselves with walking along the beach and watching the junior life guards that were participating in various activities during their day on the island. After loading our gear on the ferry, we were heading back to Ventura. Next up, We check out the underwater scene at the islands…

Sea cave

Sea cave

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