Kayaking in the Santa Barbara Harbor – Out n About with SBGirl
If you have $15 and some time to spare, I highly recommend renting a kayak for an hour and exploring the beguiling Santa Barbara Harbor at sea level. There is nothing quite like seeing a brown pelican up close or hearing your own laugh echo under the wooden timbers of Stearns Wharf. This is surely what Nike meant when they came up with their slogan, “Just do it”.
No matter where you are in Santa Barbara you can find postcard views of America’s Riviera. But there’s just something about the Harbor that offers the perfect blend of ocean and mountain, nature and buildings and of course, all those magnificent boats.
The harbor itself has a unique history behind it. Between 1873 and 1921, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers completed many reports concerning a possible harbor in Santa Barbara, all of them had unfavorable conclusions. You see the flow of sand along the coast would just naturally fill in any harbor. Regardless, in 1926, Major Max C. Fleischmann, an ardent yachtsman and philanthropist, offered $200,000 (some say lots more) toward the construction of a harbor project on the condition that the City of Santa Barbara contribute the balance. A harbor bond was approved in a special City election and the project began in June 1927. The breakwater was completed 3 years later.
Not long after, and as expected, accumulation of sand began to be a problem. To this day, in order to keep the harbor open, they regularly have to dredge out the sand! It is pumped into a pipeline and transported to East Beach where it is returned to the beach to continue its journey along the coast toward Ventura. Every year, about 300,000 cubic yards (that’s about 62 acres) of sand is dredged to keep the harbor open.
According to research I found from UCSB Geography Professor Ed Keller, “A positive aspect of building the breakwater… is the addition of the land west of the breakwater. At City College today, there’s a track and football field whose bleachers are constructed on the old sea cliff that was there on the beach prior to the building the breakwater. All that land in front of the old sea cliff, that includes parking lots, parks, and so on, is a result of the building of the breakwater that blocked the flow of sand from the west to the east. You can easily follow this old sea cliff all the way from the City College area to Santa Barbara Point at Shoreline Park.”