Too Windy for the Gate

BASK Thursday Paddle April 25, 2019

Thursday, April 25, 9:45 am. I’m the first one to arrive at our intended launch site, Horseshoe Cove, just inside the North end of the Golden Gate Bridge. The weather prediction was for light winds and light current. When I step out of the car though, there’s a stiff wind blowing with the prediction for gusts to 25.

Our plan was to meet at Horseshoe Cove and paddle out the Golden Gate to Black Sand Beach near the Point Bonita Lighthouse for lunch. At 10:30 with several of us huddled discussing the weather we decide to go to “plan B,” which is to drive to Sausalito and launch from the public boat ramp next to Salito’s Crab House. We’re on the water by 11:30, six of us in five boats, one double and four singles.

We paddle along the shore, staying out of the wind with a little beach in mind just beyond the town of Sausalito, paddling in the direction of our original launch site. We paddle past the yacht harbor in relatively calm water, then along the Sausalito waterfront with diners on the decks of restaurants, past the ferry where we wave to the tourists and kids, and past multi-million dollar homes.

Sausalito is a popular tourist destination with many fine restaurants , shops and quaint inns. There’s also an annual Art fair which happens on the Labor Day weekend, also a number of houseboats. Richardson’s Bay has been a popular place for “anchor-outs,” but today we see few of the run-down looking boats. Tourists are out in shorts and t-shirts, many on rental bikes. I’m wearing a dry suit which is appropriate for wind and choppy water.

We find our lunch spot, but before landing several of us decide to go out to Point Cavallo to take a peek at the Golden Gate Bridge. As expected as we rounded Point Cavallo the wind hit us and we all agreed that we made the right decision to avoid going out the Golden Gate.

After lunch we paddled back to our launch point, having covered 5.6 miles. You can view more photos here and view a track of our paddle here.

Blog to Book

Not too long ago I found myself revisiting blog posts from the past year and thinking it would be fun to turn the posts into a book. To that end I asked my wife Joann if she would be interested in tackling the project. We started with a few posts from early 2018 and used those posts to put together a “proof” to see how the process would go. From there we decided to break the posts for 2018 into two volumes, each about 50 pages.

We looked at several options for creating the book and decided that Shutterfly seemed to be well suited to the task. We’ve used Blurb for past projects but the book building tools for Shutterfly are easier to use. We also looked at some of the options that let you import your blog content directly into a book, but those platforms seemed to compromise on the quality of the photos and have limited options for formatting. We wanted a book that would represent the content of the blog with high quality photos and the flexibility to deal with some complex formatting issues. Some blog posts have only one photo some have a dozen or so. Sometimes a post would just have a short paragraph and sometimes they’d ramble on.

Needless to say after two and half months of massaging text and pictures we hit the “publish” button. Two weeks later the books arrived. They are now on the coffee table, and it’s a treat so be able to pick up a book and revisit past adventures. Amsterdam, Africa, Santa Fe, Chicago, Frank Lloyd Wright, Kayaking around the San Francisco Bay Area.

I’m not sure if the books will be something the grandchildren find years from now when they’re sorting through dusty belongings, but I expect the books will outlast the bits and pixels of the blog once those have evaporated into the ether.

Surfs up on Convict Lake

I’m backtracking to December 21. The third day of my Eastern Sierra adventure. I spent a very windy night in the camper. Cozy and warm with the heater going. Outside violent gusts of wind would buffet the camper, making it rock back and forth. Reminded me of my seagoing days and recalling being seasick on a ship. Despite the wind, I manged to get a good nights sleep with my alarm going off at 6 AM. Temperature outside was 38 degrees F. My intention was to get up early to capture the early morning light on Mono Lake. Hard rain was pelting the roof of the camper, so I climbed back into my sleeping bag. At 7:30 though the light was starting to do some interesting things so I grabbed my camera headed outside. It’s common to wait for good weather to take photos. If you are looking for dramatic photos though, some interesting things can happen in a storm.

Early morning light on Mono Lake.
Clearing Storm over the Sierras. From Mono Lake

At 9:30 the sun was shining on the desert with storm clouds still clinging to the mountains. I took a short walk with Carson who was happy to roam the desert off-leash. After the walk I put the top down on the camper and headed south on Highway 395 heading for Big Pine.

Along the way I decided to stop at Convict Lake. I had been admiring photos that other photographers have been posting. A perfectly calm lake reflecting majestic mountains. Calm was not what I found. The wind was howling across the lake and through the trees, with strong gusts grabbing the tripod. I was afraid the tripod might blow over. Often times I’ll hang a weight from the tripod for stability; a bag of rocks, my day pack or some other weight. This time I opted for hand-held photos using my little Sony RX100. The articulating screen let me get the camera close to the ground to give the waves on the lake more of a sense of drama.

Windy Day at Convict Lake.

Needless to say, I think I captured an image that shows the drama of the scene.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Yellow Brick Road at the Albany Bulb with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.

January 1, 2019. A New Year. New paths to follow. My resolution for 2019 is to follow the yellow brick road, where ever that leads. Metaphorically speaking, it’s more about the journey than the destination. What do you think? What paths will you follow in 2019. Are you one to plan your every next move or start walking and see what shows up? The adventure starts with the next step.

As for me, looking back, 2018 was amazing. Africa in March, Arizona and New Mexico in June, Chicago and Pittsburgh in October, and various other local destinations, My photography business (treve johnson photography) proved to be rewarding both financially and personally. It seems I’m working less and enjoying life more.

One thing I discovered last year is how much I enjoy writing about my adventures. This blog has become a personal journal of sorts; a way of sharing my experiences. I find I have more to write than I have time to write. I still have adventures from last year to share, Mendocino in November, and more on my holiday trip to Big Pine.

Wishing you the best for the New Year.

Bodie Aborted

Returning to last weeks adventures, after leaving Emerald Bay on the morning of December December 21, I passed through South Lake Tahoe where I stopped to fill my coffee mug. Then I took Highway 207 through Kingsbury heading east to pick up Highway 395, famous for it’s scenic beauty running roughly north-south on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. When I got to Bridgeport I was intent on making a trip to the ghost town of Bodie, a former gold mining town. Several attempts to call the park for road information only resulted in a busy signal. I knew that Highway 270, the main road was closed due to snow. The park, Bodie State Historic Park, is open year round, so I thought I’d try one of the alternate routes into the park. Heading east on Aurora Canyon Road I decided to try my luck with the 17 mile drive through the Bodie Hills. A few miles into the hills the Aurora Canyon Road turns into the Bodie Masonic Road. One lane, gravel and dirt. After an hour’s driving I had logged 10 miles. The road had snow in many places but tire tracks indicated that the road had been driven recently.

It was now afternoon and as I gained elevation the snow was getting a bit deeper. I stopped for a picnic lunch and let Carson out for some well deserved off-lease time. After lunch we climbed back in the truck intent on continuing our adventure. Not far up the road though the tire tracks I was following disappeared and the grade increased a bit. The wheels were starting to slip and slide in four wheel drive as I proceeded up hill. I figured at the rate I was going it would take me another three hours to get to Bodie, if the road was even manageable. I turned around and headed back down the road. Temperatures were in the 50s, which meant the snow and ice I had been driving on was turning into slippery mud. Slipping and sliding a bit I made my way back to Bridgeport and headed south towards Mono Lake. I wanted to catch the afternoon light on the lake, weather permitting.

It was windy and chilly when I reached Mono Lake and the lighting was not as dramatic as I’ve seen on previous visits, so I left my tripod and big camera in the truck and took my trusty Sony RX100 for a few hand-held shots. I put Carson on a leash. After the walk I found a spot to camp for the night, not too far off of Highway 120, near Mono Lake.

Perfect Day on the Bay

BASK Thursday Lunch Paddle. Tiburon Yacht Club to Point Molate.

I managed to get back on the water yesterday to join some of my paddling buddies from BASK for the “Thursday Lunch Paddle.” We had flat calm with the exception of a few wakes from passing ships and ferries. We launched from Paradise Cay Yacht Harbor at 10:30, with eight of us in seven boats, two in a double, the rest in singles. The route crosses shipping channels, and we held up on the crossing to let shipping traffic and ferries go by before crossing the shipping lanes. When we reached Red Rock we gathered up to discus our options. With the calm conditions we decided to paddle on the Point Molate Beach. On the beach we found a picnic table in the shade and had a vary civilized lunch. When it was time to get back in our boats we had a bunch of inquisitive school kids eager to help us get back on the water. The return trip was just as calm as the trip out, with a slight ebb current carrying us under the Richmond San Rafael Bridge and towards our destination. I wore my dry suit, which was probably more protection than I needed for the conditions, being a warm day, but having just gotten it back from the factory for repairs, I wanted to make sure the seals fit properly.

The photos I captured seemed to demand being presented in black and white, particularly with the lighting, reflections and design elements of the bridge. Here are a few more.

At the end of the paddle we had logged 8.8 miles. You can see a track of our course here.

Rock the Boat

Most people prefer to have a boat that’s stable.  Being on a boat that is rocking can be unsettling. Kayaks on the other hand can be a bit tippy, and learning how to use that characteristic to your advantage can be a valuable skill on the water. Take for example a situation where you might get thrown off balance by a wave. Learning how to edge and brace can save you from tipping over.

On Sunday, August 5 our goal was to teach fellow kayakers how to rock the boat.  This is the second weekend of this years BASK 2018 Skills Clinic. Last year I was one of the students in the clinic. This year I’m a volunteer on the teaching side. Putting your kayak on edge also makes it much easier to turn. You have less boat in the water if it is on edge.

BASK 2018 Skills Clinic session at the Berkeley Marina on August 5, 2018.

Learning these skills takes practice, since some of the motions are counter-intuitive. As you can see our students are well taken care of with plenty instructors and volunteers. We start with simple exercises to build the basics and then progress as the students gain confidence in their skills. Part of this process is learning to trust your fellow paddlers. Knowing you’re among skilled and knowledgeable paddlers add to the fun and camaraderie.