We met about thirty five years ago in a small kayak store in Venice, CA. Together we slid through the water with pods of friendly dolphins and visited with sea lion harems, flocks of scoters, stately herons, little brown bat rays, brilliant red sea urchins, and lazy leopard sharks. We went out winter and summer with good and great friends to enjoy the water and good conversation. Some days we could barely see the beach for the thick fog; other days we enjoyed the crystalline views of the snow capped mountains after the storms. You helped me learn to love Southern California, which was so very foreign to a Midwestern boy and East Coast man. You taught me hard and sometimes very painful lessons on going in and out through the big Pacific surf. You and I enjoyed the coves of Catalina and their golden Garibaldi fish and the waving shimmering kelp beds. You gave great joy to family and friends willing to experience the magnificent watery world you had to offer them. Together we sometimes sang “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy” and other times the “Banana Boat song”. We met kind and interesting people in other like marine conveyances or on the sandy beach. I remember frozen feet as we walked together on the cold sands of early morning Venice Beach during the winter, washing you down after we’d traveled down towards the Santa Monica pier or the Venice fishing jetty, and the incredible joys of a hot shower soon after.
Last week I sat on you, and your deck – brittle from so many years of hard labor -- gave way and broke beneath my weight. I’m glad we were not far offshore when it happened. Thank you for our many joy-filled years together.