I am clumsy. Tripping over mysterious bumps in the road and dropping seemingly slippery wine glasses is nothing new. So, when I decided to learn how to paddle board in the Channel Islands Harbor of Oxnard, California my first concern was how cold would the water be. My second? Would there be sharks?
A road trip six hours south from my Northern California home took me to the city of Oxnard. This is one of those towns that is lined with the beautiful SoCal beaches that residents brag about. And I would too.
This is also the location of the Channel Island Kayak Center, the company that would be giving me a private paddle board lesson in the Channel Islands Harbor.
Actually the owner himself, a professional surfer with numerous championships under his belt, would be teaching this uncoordinated gal how to ride.
Hopefully, the instruction would include a heavy emphasis on balance and paddle board gracefulness.
Mike Lamm greeted me with a tan, a laid back smile and reassurance of my safety under his instruction. The lesson began on land and covered the basics: how to paddle forward, backward, to turn and, most importantly, how to get on the board without landing yourself in the harbor.
I paid close attention to that last part.
After ten minutes I was ready for the real deal. Mike placed my blue Body Glove paddle board in the water at the edge of the dock. I kneeled on the buoyant mode of transportation, my knees straddling the center and the paddle laying horizontally in front of me. He then instructed me to pop up, which I did.
I was standing on the board and was still dry. Success.
We slowly paddled our way through the harbor, while my mentor pointed out the abundance of wildlife: Blue Heron, Cormorant birds, California Sea lions, Pelicans, a Bat Star starfish, Western Seagulls and so much more.
We were even fortunate enough to cross paths with an estimated 750 pound sea lion who they have affectionately named “Shaquille the Seal”. That’s one big boy.
It wasn’t all wildlife beauty in the Channel Islands Harbor, it was also lined with hundreds boats that donned creative names like Three Acres, Entrapment and Vanguard.
Between the birds and the boats, plus paddle boardings peaceful nature, I could fully understand why this sport has been gaining interest. It may be the one of the very few forms of exercise that agrees with me; one where I didn’t even realize that I was exercising while doing it. Why can’t Pilates be like that?
After my paddle board lesson was over, and because my clothing was still dry, I decided to have lunch right next door to the Kayak Center at Sea Fresh restaurant. How convenient.
With numerous fish options to choose from, which was fitting for the location, they recommended the fish bowl. It was a rice bowl filled with sautéed vegetable and my choice of fish, which happened to be blackened red snapper.
I sat on the large outdoor patio watching the boats pass through the Channel Islands Harbor, enjoying Oxnard’s 75 degree weather and writing this story that I did not want to end
Instead of catching a ride back to my lodging at Embassy Suites, I decided to walk the mile and enjoy the weather. The stroll was a combination of beachfront residential and a sandy shore. During the entire walk there were only two others on the shoreline and for the life of me I could not understand why. It was a gorgeous day, with an incredible mile of sandy beach in front of me and it was vacant. Good for me.
I walked along that beach for over an hour contemplating life, sinking my toes in the sand and picking out my future home.
DETAILS: Channel Island Kayak Center
is located right along the harbor and does more than paddle board lessons and rentals, they also specialize in history & wildlife kayak tours. I recommend doing your ride before the sun is in full force (SoCal can get hot in the Summer), so you can completely enjoy your time on the water. Make sure to stop and watch the sea lions!
Disclosure: I was a guest of Oxnard CVB and Channel Island Kayak Center, but all the words I write come straight from my, sometimes distorted, mind. Just as it should be.
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