your paddlesports destination

Ventura to Carpenteria State Beach in California

Trip Overview

Like to Kayak? Like to go camping? ...Will your tent fit in your boat? That was the question. Here's how six of us answered it..

I pulled up to Mom's beach with doughnuts at 6:40 as the lot gates were being opened. We all test-packed our boats prior to the trip to see how best to stow everything and iron out the details and it paid off come show time. The boats were packed and wheeled down to the water with everyone running their own routine and, as this didn't seem to be a doughnut crowd, I packed them for the trip too. I was waiting to catch everyone together to make the introductions but the first chance I got was when we all finally launched.

Depart Ventura harbor ~ 8:40 AM

The skies were heavy with overcast and the water was flat and brown. The weekdays leading up to this trip were getting increasingly windier and I though for sure we would have a strong headwind and whitecaps by 11:00 lasting until we landed in Carp. but the midday winds never showed and we had flat water and mostly overcast skies all weekend.

I intentionally started off with a quick pace to try and get to ball rolling. I could hear the talking behind me and figured we were starting out pretty good but it got very quite after a couple of miles. I turned to see everyone else taking the trip description of a 'steady 3 knot pace' to heart. I regrouped before we reached the Ventura pier and we moved more like a pod.

Several times throughout the trip, I would look over to see the bows of the other boats lined up, as if on a starting line, and moving in sync. Each one cutting the water differently but moving with the same determination. The 'line up' was as follows - Cathy Cohen in her "Lemondrop" Scupper Pro Classic, John Ernst in his Current Design Extreme, Harry Fleenor drove up from Redondo Beach with his custom boat that was hand made by his son, Read Shoemaker up from Newport Beach in his Necky Arluk and me, Ralph Pierson in my Scupper Pro AKA "Torpedo #1". I was glad to literally have a level playing field for the trip as the Scuppers would have had a much tougher time plowing through the anticipated headwind and whitecaps.

We took a midway break and beached at Mondo's to stretch our legs. The surf was 3' and very manageable. As the snacks came out, I checked out Harry's GPS and convinced myself that I needed one. The break was short and the launches were simple. We were off again, still anticipating the winds to come and keeping a 3.5 knot pace.

We cruised under the dock as we passed Oil Island to look down into the shaded water. The water was clearer than usual and we had a clear view of the sea life from atop the kayaks to ten feet down along the rocks. We passed near the LP burn off stack (the 6' flame that you see from shore) and it made me wonder if anyone had packed marshmallows...

We stayed pretty close to the coastline on the way up and as we rounded one of the final points on the coast, I took my best guess at our take out target and I could sense the group 'heading for the barn'. As we got closer, I realized my first guess was off and we had another mile or so to go. I felt like I had just played a very bad joke on everyone as I think we were all ready to land for the day. (gott'a get that GPS)

Arrive Carpenteria State Beach ~ 2:30 PM.
18.9 miles traveled

On a sunny summer afternoon. I picked the spot on the beach that would put us closest to our campsite, but it was also the spot being densely enjoyed by the local beachgoers. I prearranged the plan, spot and timing with the park rangers the day before and we followed our plan. Cathy safely landed first in the 4' surf, cleared a wider path for the rest of us and waved me in next. Not paying enough attention to swells as they were building behind me, I turned to see myself in a bad spot in front of a large set and without time to back out, I thought, It's either going to look really cool or I'm gonna' pearl. ...I pearled (There went the doughnuts.) One by one we all landed without further mishap and were immediately reprimanded by a burly lifeguard gentleman that pulled up on the beach with his pickup and proceeded to tear in to us for what seemed like an hour without taking a breath. From his vantage point down the beach, we endangered the safety of the kids in the water and his frame of mind seemed to tell him that we were aiming for the beach without regard for safety. I understood his point of view and he was sure to have it extensively conveyed before he would allow any explanation. I tried to line up my rebuttals point by point but lost track of them before I was given a chance to speak. I understood the lifeguards position and explained as best I could what our plans and intentions were. Before he left, he seemed to realize that we were a competent, concerned and prepared group and he even offered to haul our gear to our campsite for us, an offer that I declined in the interest of his more official duties and recognizing that he had escalated the tension of the group well above my comfort level.

After schlepping gear to the campsite I was eager for the evening mealtime, not to try out the propane grill that I packed for the trip, but rather for what I packed to grill. I was hungry! It seemed everyone had their meals packed and we all had our fill. I once again found the advantages of freezing everything that can be frozen the night before the outing, from preseasoned meats to the orange juice, to save the space and utilize the dual purpose of the frozen food as a coolant in the cooler. Strips of steak, by the way, travel very nicely this way and prepared fresh vegetables can be abundantly transported with a little creativity. I would not suggest packing doughnuts.

Once the four tent encampment was formed amongst the boats on the grass, I couldn't help but notice the tent designs and how they matched the character of there occupants, just like the boats gathered. I, with my basic two man tent, up to the geodesic observatory style type.

After supper, the locals were having an electric light parade in town that we walked a couple of blocks over to see. It was your typical small hometown parade with the local schools, shops and rotary clubs each with there own carefully prepared floats. It seemed like a fitting evenings entertainment for the trip. Cathy and I went for ice cream afterwards and back at camp, John helped us finish it.

I doubt it was due to the late night ice cream, but in the morning John arranged to be picked up and not make the return leg, and due to scheduling that kept him from launching with us from Ventura, George Miller joined us at Carp. for the return trip and picked up the pace with his Perception Eclipse.

Launched from Carp. ~ 9:50 AM

The morning beach was nearly deserted as we formed for a group photo and launched through the mild surf. The return trip was much like the first half. We took a more direct rout overall and cut one mile off of our miles traveled. Near the halfway point we stopped at Mondo's again for a leg stretcher to find the surf in fair shape and covered with surf lovers of every imaginable type. I had a pretty long ride in with a controlled landing this time. After we all landed we walked over to check out a wave ski demo day in progress and found Pam Schlotter putting top of the line equipment to the test. After a rather long beach break, we relaunched with ease for the last leg of the trip.

Not far from Oil Island, a boat with six people on board motored over and asked for directions "Where's Ventura harbor?" We all laughed and said "follow us". They had left Ventura harbor for an afternoon outing and were lost. They were about six miles away from the harbor and going the wrong way. The overcast was low and heavy in spots, but not that bad. They could use a GPS too.

Return Ventura ~ 5:20
17.8 miles traveled

We returned to a crowded Mom's beach back inside the Ventura harbor to end the trip and all of us agreeing that it was a great one. We were all use to camping and kayaking as well, but this had been the first time any of us had combined the two and it seemed like a very natural combination.

Three things I'll try and have before the next trip is the GPS, transportable wheels to take boats and gear to and from the campsite and an on deck slate to write down times and landmarks.

To all of you that made the trip, Thank you! You really did make the trip a great weekend. I look forward to running with you again and looking forward to making more trips like this.


Harbor beach launch with campsites at first night take out.


$1.00 bike and hike overnight camping fee.


Hwy 101 to ventura harbor California.


Events are posted regularly through SBKA (SBKA.ORG) This event will be repeated this year on March 2nd, 3rd.
  • Duration: 2-3 Day Trip
  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Water Type: Open Water/Ocean
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip