October 30, 1997
Jalama, California, USA


This morning, Mike and Mary, helped me get ready to set out from Grover Beach - a mile south of Pismo. When they saw that I was safely on my way, they hopped in the truck and headed back to Oregon.

The wind blew hard from the west all day, and it was a constant struggle to keep from getting pushed towards shore. By noon, the swell had grown to ten feet. Combined with the 20 knot west wind, it made for very unfavorable seas. White caps often washed over my deck, making eating, peeing, and bailing difficult. My only relief from the misery was watching sea lions swimming along-side. At times, I got scared, and had to tell myself "You’re in control. There is no need to worry. Once you get around Point Sal, you’re home free! You have lots of time. ...Just keep paddling!"

While rounding Point Sal, I got too close to the surf zone, and was caught parallel to a fifteen foot breaking wave. It steepened rapidly as it drew closer. As I began to climb up the wave I leaned into it with a high brace. At the last second, I put my paddle on the lip and pulled my self over the top. I was freaked! If I had capsized, it could have been a disaster. There was no way out. There was no beach to wash up on. Beyond the impact zone, there was nothing but jagged cliff.

After rounding Pt. Sal, the northwest swell wasn’t nearly so bad, but the wind got much stronger and more than made up for it. A few days ago, Mike had been in to scout-out the area, and reported back to me, "Once you round Point Sal, it’s like a lake. It will be a piece of cake. You’ll have no problem landing." That was two days ago. The swell was only 3 feet then. Today, it was more than three times that. I saw no cake.

While sprinting toward the beach I carefully watched the break. Without stopping, I hit a lull, and cruised through the impact zone. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to make it through so easily, until I watched the next set hit - and man, did it hit! It was bone crushing... unsuitable for some members of the audience... raw violence.

I pulled up onto the beach just as a group of surfers were passing. One of them called out to me... "Man... I thought you were going ta bite it for sure!" I asked them if they knew how long the surf was going to be up. They told me that it was going to say big for the next few days.

I began to ponder my situation. There were several problems with staying and waiting out the conditions. I didn’t have enough water for an extra day, there was no power supply for my laptop, and I’d miss my scheduled interview with Autumn Spanne, a reporter for the Lompoc Record. The area was very remote; possibly 5 miles to the nearest house.

I ran after the surfers, and pleaded with them to take me and my kayak with them. Where...? I wasn’t sure. I was hoping for a miracle. The car owner replied "No way... I can’t do it. I’d like to help you, but there is no way my car can hold you, the four of us, our four boards and your kayak." I knew it was wishful thinking, but I thought it was worth a try.

Just when I thought all hope was lost, a Jeep rolled into the parking lot. Inside was a dude and his girl friend eating hamburgers. Ten minutes later the surfers were helping me carry my equipment up from the beach, and piling it next to the Jeep. Persuading the surfers to help me with the long steep haul was a small miracle in itself. One hour after landing on the beach, my kayak was on top of the Jeep and we were headed 40 miles south to Jalama .

The man drove two hours out of his way to help me. I am now forever in his debt. Jalama is a county beach and camping area, and I was told that I needed to pay $15 a night to stay there. I told the ranger that I couldn’t afford it, and asked if there was somewhere else I could sleep. He told me there wasn’t, and that I would have to pay. I insisted that I couldn’t pay, and that I had no place else to go. He finally gave in and said "Go talk to the head ranger about in the morning." I love it when people let themselves be human.

October 31, 1997
Jalama, California, USA


During the night, I was woken up by loud snorting sounds and found 5 or 6 raccoons rummaging through my equipment. I chased them away, but not before they sampled a little bit of everything I had and made off a whole bag of bagels. In the morning, I got the word from the head ranger that the park has a hikers and bikers camp free policy, and that I could stay for "no charge".


This afternoon, the wind picked up and a pair of surfers went out to play. Jalama Beach is famous for wind surfing because the wind is often blowing hard and parallel to the shore. Jalama, in the Chewmash Indian language, means "place of changing winds".

While working on my journal in the camp-ground store, I met a man who is starting a new magazine called Wave Rider. I told him I’ve been doing a little wave riding myself lately. Henry interviewed me on the spot, and then we went out onto the beach for a brief photo shoot. Henry also freelances for the Santa Barbara Paper, so I might get a news article out of it as well.

Tonight is Halloween, but, unfortunately, it just seems like any other night. Steve, the store owner’s son, let me use the phone to get my email. I got a lot of pleasure in replying to the email I got from Mrs. Child’s grade 3 class. They asked lots of simple, yet excellent questions about me and my ocean travels: "Is it hard traveling on the ocean?... Why do you travel by kayak?... Do you like Humpback whales?"


November 1, 1997
Jalama, California, USA


This morning, I had my interview with Autumn from the Lompoc Record, and afterward, she treated me to a Jalama Burger. The interview went well and the burger lived up to its legend.

Tonight, I hung out with two sets of folks. The first fed me supper as we sat around telling jokes in their camper trailer, and the second fed me dessert at their fire-pit where we talked until midnight.


November 2, 1997
Jalama, California, USA


I spent most of today working on my journal, but took a break and went to the beach for a swim. It was around 85 degrees - way too hot to be inside. It has been so windy here that I haven't been able to put up my tent. I use my Gore-tex sleeping shell.

As I was getting ready to go swimming, two guys walked over to me and said, "You must be MAX... We read the article about you in the Lompoc paper. Way to go man!" On my way down to the beach, a guy hollered to me, "MAX... I read the article about you in the paper. I really enjoyed it!" I swam in the waves for while, then headed back to work on my journal again. As I was walking down the road, a Corvette with the top down, pulled up beside me. "Hey, you're the kayaker." I finally got my hands on a paper tonight. I liked seeing my picture on the front page.