Maverick’s Reef, CA

Although the Tsunami Rangers, renowned for their hairboating exploits, have drawn their paddles through waters as far north as Alaska and Arctic Norway and as far south as Tierra del Fuego in Chile and Antarctica, they still consider northern California’s Maverick’s Reef an ultimate sea-kayaking destination.


How powerful is this place? A theoretical physicist/veteran Mavericks boater theorized that as much energy is expended on that exposed reef system on a big day as is contained in a good-sized thermonuclear bomb.


Pillar Point Harbor, just a five-minute drive north, is a convenient launch site for kayakers who want to approach Maverick’s. Wind speed, wave height, and tides are conveniently posted daily on a bulletin board in front of the harbormaster’s office. A single red flag flying on the flagpole there means that a small-craft warning is in effect. Two red flags signify a gale warning, a guarantee of oh-my-god conditions awaiting just outside the breakwater.


Outside the reef, where the break that earned Maverick’s its infamous reputation is located, conditions become much more dangerous. Here, massive deep-water swells come charging in with their power undiminished. When they finally break, they send explosions of whitewater and spray high into the air. Yet inside the reef at Maverick’s, there exists a relatively peaceful world rich in wildlife and pristine beauty. Pillar Point is a great place to learn and practice a wide spectrum of extreme sea kayaking activities-but definitely not a place where a novice paddler venture out alone. Stretches of rugged and pristine coastline, interspersed with protected estuaries, bays, beaches, and harbors, provide a wide range of conditions in which to kayak.


If you dare to paddle there, you will discover why the Tsunami Rangers consider it a holy place. You’ll also understand why shark repellent would be a welcome invention. All those friendly harbor seals are shark bait, as a handful of surfers and kayakers have discovered the hard way over the years. For more beta, log on to http://site.netopia.com/tsunami/ faqaboutus.

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