• Matthew Chebatoris

Earth Day Paddle to Bluff Cove, Palos Verdes

Earth Day 2017: Palos Verdes

Earth Day celebrations across the United States took on added significance this year fueled by the current US president’s casual relationship with facts and science. In order to escape the political chaos, I took to the water and hopped on my SUP for a great paddle from Redondo Beach over to Bluff Cove on the northwestern side of the Palos Verdes peninsula.

Bluff Cove, Palos Verdes, SUP Examiner

Bluff Cove, Palos Verdes


Bluff Cove, referred to by locals simply as “The Cove”, is a prominent destination in the South Bay. E.g. the southern section of the Santa Monica Bay encompassing all points south of LAX. It had been a while since I’d paddled there on a SUP and I was also curious to take a look at the kelp beds in the area. A couple of nights prior I had the opportunity to attend, Keep it Clean, a comedy benefit in Hollywood for the Waterkeeper Alliance. While there I spoke with Ian Jacobson, the Dive Program Manager for Los Angeles Waterkeeper. Ian told me they had been working on a kelp forest restoration project nearby.

It is an approximately eight mile round trip to the Cove from my starting point at the Lanakila Outrigger Canoe Club inside King Harbor. I made sure my camera was fully charged, strapped on a MTI Fluid 2.0 beltpack PFD, and buckled up my new Verve hydration pack from Source Outdoor. The Verve holds 2.0 liters of water and knew it would be a perfect pack for an Earth Day paddle over to the Cove. I was also testing out a polarized lens cap for my camera that day – a point which took on significance when I reviewed my footage later in the evening.

The skies were completely clear, the air temperature was in the mid 70s (low 20s C) with a light wind blowing from the west, and an approximately a 3-4 ft rolling swell on the bay. Just how I like it! Before I left the harbor, I paused for a few selfies wearing the Source pack for use in a soon to be written product review.

At the harbor mouth

When leaving King Harbor, the first marker is the bell buoy immediately outside the harbor. There are almost always California sea lions perched on the bell buoy and that morning was no different. I continued past the buoy steadily swaying in the oncoming rolling swell and plotted a course towards Bluff Cove. After about two-thirds of the way there I began to see signs of the kelp forest. The disparate strands of kelp became increasingly frequent. Before long the signs of a full on kelp bed began to emerge from the ocean floor.

The kelp bed was fairly dense, but not so much so that I had difficulty navigating a course on my 14’ SUP. I dipped my Quickblade paddle with an attached camera beneath the surface to get a few shots of the kelp. It was a bit of a lucky dip. You never know what you’ll capture when extending a camera into the water. I experimented with a few arty shots angling the camera in different positions above and below the water.

I drew closer to the rocky cliffs of Palos Verdes and could hear the sound of the waves crashing into the shore. A group of three stand up paddlers slowly made their way east on the inside of the kelp bed. One was wearing a spring suit and I surmised they had likely been surfing at the Cove. I made my way inside the kelp and continued west along the cliffs.

Bluff Cove, Palos Verdes

Purple-striped Jelly, sup examiner, earth day, paddling

Purple-striped Jelly. Photo: Patricia Volger


There is a rock cluster protruding from the ocean on the eastern edge of Bluff Cove where a group of sea lions was sunbathing. I made my way around the inside of the rocks over to where a few dozen longboarders were bobbing in the waves. I heard the voice of fellow Lanakila paddler Chris Harper somewhere in the line up. It wasn’t long before I spotted Chris on a prone paddleboard.

Chris and I talked for awhile as the waves rolled into the cove. It was simply a great day to be out on the water. We parted ways after 20 minutes or so and I began to make my way back to King Harbor. After just over a third of the way I encountered three guys floating offshore on their SUPs. One wore a spring suit and they were likely the same three paddlers I had spotted earlier. Their boards were all larger surf shapes and one of the guys mentioned he was interested in upgrading soon. After getting a feel for how he liked to surf, I recommended Infinity SUP’s new New Deal performance longboard shapes. I encouraged them to read SUP Examiner and keep an eye out for a forthcoming column dedicated to the aforementioned board. I then waved goodbye and continued on my way.

The swell had picked up a bit, but the wind had not. Not long after passing the mid-way point on my return journey I spotted two large purple and white jellyfish. I paused to take a few photos of the amazing creatures and the proceeded back to the harbor.

Photo review

Later that night, I synched my camera to my iPad and took a look at the footage. The initial shots taken inside the harbor came out clear, but unfortunately the remainder were fogged over. I took a look at the lens attached to my camera and noticed a few drips of water. I popped it off to take a look. There was no damage to my camera since the lens was attached to the the outside of the waterproof housing. Nevertheless, I surmised that the lens’ less than tight seal had allowed the fog to form.

I was bummed, but knew I could always go back to Palos Verdes and take pictures of the kelp. My main disappointment was that I didn’t have good shots of the jellyfish. I took a quick spin through my social media feed before powering down for the night and was surprised to see my friend Patricia had posted a great photo of the same type of jellyfish I had encountered. Patricia happily shared her photos with me and I fired one off to Marilyn Padilla, my contact at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, for a positive ID. Marilyn sent a timely response and delivered the news that they were Purple-striped jellies. Feeling good about the sighting, I called it a wrap.

What did you do this past Earth Day? Write in and let us know, we’d love to share your stories!

Purple-striped Jelly, sup examiner, earth day, paddling

Purple-striped Jelly. Photo: Patricia Volger


#RedondoBeach #PalosVerdes #SourceOutdoor #MTIAdventureWear #Stories #EarthDay

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