Captain’s Diary: Paddle Sports for Fitness and Fun | Outside

Looking for a fun fitness sport now that spring has arrived? Consider combining intense exercise with a serene experience – buy a paddle sport.

I see paddlers daily on the water, in or near the harbour, or near the shore anywhere along our beautiful coastline. They train and engage in a close personal encounter with nature. That must be why they smile so freely and seem to be at peace.

Paddlers are on the water all year round, but now that we are entering the hottest part of the year, their numbers are increasing noticeably.

Choosing which particular paddle sport to get into is a clear case of different strokes for different people and there are plenty of paddles to choose from to find your own stroke of choice.

There are the long, elegant outrigger canoes filled with teams of rowers working to the beat of the commands. I recognize the proud look and the team spirit, and I’m amazed at how quickly these teams achieve.

Kayakers have so many choices of things to do. Some “yaks” are designed for cruising, and I see paddlers taking surprisingly long treks along the coast, alone or in pairs with others.

I have spoken with people who start in Gaviota and descend in Goleta. Their advice is to slowly build up sufficient stamina before embarking on such a long course. There are suitable gear options for such adventures, such as waterproof covers in case you encounter rough seas off Isla Vista and Campus Point.

Other kayaks are set up to navigate the calm waters of the harbor and nearby surroundings on a calm water day. These small, lightweight yaks are easy to paddle and maneuver in tight spots. People have fun paddling around the harbor looking at the boats and cute boat names and then checking out the undersides of the piers.

Fishing kayaks are the most impressive fish hunting machines. Options for fishing enthusiasts include rod holders, tackle stations, aerated live bait tanks, nets and gaffs, electronic fish finders and chartplotters, marine VHF radios and dimmers. other safety devices.

With these compact fishing machines, anglers can go straight into dense kelp beds or right next to piers, docks and boats to put bait and lures where ordinary boats dare not go. The result can be great catches.

A large fish like a white bass, large halibut, barn ray or shark can tow the kayak a good distance. I admit I worry about tying up a big dead fish and paddling around the ocean with such a good shark buddy in the water.

Another great option is to sign up for a guided scenic adventure in the Channel Islands, where you can see dolphins and pinnipeds, sea caves and maybe even an island jay or pearl fox. Visit to find out what Santa Barbara Adventure Company has to offer.

– Captain David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is President of SOFTIN Inc., a non-profit organization providing boating opportunities to those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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