September 13, 2007
Distance paddler wages quiet war on ocean pollution
SANTA CRUZ — Tom Jones held up a little toy shovel, its
plastic colors bleached by sun and salt water, and said it was an icon
symbolizing both the problem and the solution.
Jones, left, is escorted by a local paddler as he nears the entrance of
the Santa Cruz Harbor Wednesday after paddling from Scott Creek.
"This is good news and bad news," said Jones, an extreme endurance
athlete who's paddling the length of the California coast in an effort
to raise awareness about the extent of plastics in the ocean.
The toy plastic shovel like the one he found Wednesday, as well as
tons of other plastic debris, is polluting the ocean, but the children
set to inherit the environment are the solution, said Jones, 44, of
Jones and a phalanx of local supporters paddled or boated into Santa
Cruz harbor Wednesday, after starting the day at Scott Creek and
paddling 171/2 miles.
Calling his endeavor California Paddle 2007, Jones is seeking to set
a world record and become the first person to paddle the entire
1,250-mile coast of California on a 14-foot paddleboard.
Various fellow paddlers or well-wishers are accompanying Jones for
short distances of his journey, which began at California's northern
edge five weeks ago.
"He's got determination," said local surfer Dave King, who paddled
with Jones Saturday from Pompanio State Beach to Pigeon Point and again
on Wednesday into the harbor. "I think he's capable, and it's for a
During Jones' endeavor, he's accompanied by crew members on personal
watercraft, and logistical support that also includes a motor home and
truck. Each day, he finds the spot where he stopped paddling the day
before using GPS data. So far, he's traveled 250 nautical miles, he
The rough conditions around California's remote points and
capes has made the journey challenging at times. But Jones is
encouraged by what he says is a growing momentum and awareness of his
movement as he heads south.
"I just take it one paddle at a time," he said.
Contact Gwen Mickelson at email@example.com.