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Location: Mission Bay, La Jolla Shores
Board: 10’5 Versa
I had always wanted to surf since moving to San Diego, but learning to pop-up in my 40s was problematic. My wife suggested stand up paddle boarding when we saw some people doing it at San Elijo while camping, but I knew surfers were none to kind to long boarders, much less stand up paddlers. Nevertheless, I ended up getting a stand up paddle board and taking it out on Mission Bay whenever I could. Once I got comfortable with handling the board I started going out at La Jolla Shores and finally was able to experience surfing rather than pearling. I was finally catching waves rather than white water and one of my most amazing moments was actually turning my board and riding along the wave instead of going straight to shore. I finally felt like a surfer.
I surfed as much as I could, but when conditions were not good for me (waves more than knee high) I would go back to the bay to paddle and work on my pivot turns, surf stance paddling, or just goofing around with boat/jet ski wakes. One of the best things about SUP is being able to get close to marine animals, and going into the ocean there are endless opportunities to see dolphins, seals, sting rays, and whales, but I never expected to have a wildlife encounter in Mission Bay that I would always remember.
I had launched from the front of the Bahia as usual. It was a nice day and there were a lot of paddlers out. One guy was on a race board and quickly left me behind. As I was just tooling around I noticed a fin in the water followed by a second one. I quickly realized there were two dolphins in the bay and no one else in the water or on the shore had noticed. I followed them toward the mouth of the bay to make sure they were headed toward the ocean.
So, you never know what you will experience on a paddle board. I finally got the kind of surfing experience I always wanted and even in flat water just having a quiet day in the sun I had a dolphin encounter most people would never experience.
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