Lock Lomond to McNears

After traveling in Spain for a month, and then jumping back into work projects, I managed to get back on the water last week, July 11, to join some of my kayaking buddies for the Thursday Lunch Paddle.

Approaching one of the Marin Islands

We launched from Loch Lomond Yacht Harbor in San Rafael and paddled out around the Marin Islands before heading toward China Camp. The weather prediction was for afternoon winds with gusts to 25 knots in the afternoon. When the prevailing wind is up, paddling along the Marin coast can provide some protection with Mt Tamalpais and the Tamalpais ridge blocking the wind when it’s from the west. There were six of us on the water: Bill, Susan, Danny, Alan, Joann and myself.

Contrary to the prediction though, when we launched we found ourselves paddling into a SE wind, but once rounding the Marin Islands and heading North the wind gave us a bit of a boost. The Marin Islands are part of the National Wildlife Refuge and they are closed to the public, but still interesting to paddle around.

We rounded Point San Pablo, and paddled past the quarry towards China Camp, but upon reaching McNears Beach we decided it was lunch time and we landed there and found a picnic table for lunch. When it was time to get back on the water we had a group of kids from an outdoor education program that were curious about our boats and our gear, and they were eager to help us get our boats back on the water. You can see a couple of kids helping Joann with her boat in one of the photos above. The predicted wind never materialized so we had an easy paddle back to our launch site with a bit of an assist from the ebb current. Our track out and back covered seven miles. You can see the track of our paddle here.

Up the Creek

Jumping into the middle of the thread of posts about our desert trip, here’s an on-the-water adventure from yesterday’s paddle with my fellow BASK members.

February 21. We gathered at Buck’s Landing in San Rafael for a paddle up Gallinas Creek. With the prediction of wind and a very high tide, exploring one of the sloughs around the Bay made sense. Many of the tidal sloughs are only accessible by kayak with high tides.

Six of us were ready to launch at 10:45 AM, and after a brief safety talk and a radio check we were on the water. Radios weren’t really called for on this paddle, but since we have them it’s good to make sure they are working. As we paddled up the creek we were entertained by shore birds; avocets, herons, egrets and a variety of other shore birds. At one point we decided to explore a side channel that headed off in the direction of the Marin Civic Center and that took us as far as a culvert under a bridge that was not navigable. Returning to the main channel we continued up the creek to Highway 101. There the creek disappears in dark tunnel under the road. Pitch Black. One of our intrepid paddlers disappeared into the darkness, followed by another. Half-way though the tunnel it makes a turn, and once around the bend, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Soon the six of us were on the west side of the highway, looking up at a road sign that read “Marin Co. Civic Center Next Exit.”

Somehow, with the narrow creek we managed to get our boats turned around to head back through the tunnel. Then it was back down the creek to Santa Margarita Island Preserve where we stopped for lunch and took a short walk around the island. Our adventure covered a little over seven miles. You can view more photos here and a map of our route here

Elkhorn Slough

BASK Elkhorn Slough Paddle

On Monday January 21 I joined my fellow BASK members for a paddle on Elkhorn Slough. Elkhorn Slough is one of the largest tidal estuaries in California. It’s about 90 miles south of San Francisco and a popular spot for hiking, bird watching and kayaking. Tidal marshes make up a significant part of the slough, and more often than not the marshes are off limits because they are too shallow to paddle or exposed. We had an extremely high tide on Monday, with a high of 6.4 feet at 9:44 AM. We launched from Moss Landing North Harbor. Just off the launch site we saw dozens of Sea Otters. We then paddled south and under the highway bridge, past harbor seals and more sea otters. With the incoming current we had a bit of a boost paddling up the slough. We took a detour up a creek that’s normally not accessible. Paddling under oak trees and through fences, looking out for the occasional barbed wire. We saw plenty of Harbor seals as well as sea otters, and towards out lunch site at Kirby Park we saw Osprey. We paddled 10 miles over the course of the day. You can view a track of our route here

Monterey to Lover’s Point

BASK members landing at Lover’s Point Beach. Pacific Grove

With a three day weekend last weekend, Monday being a holiday, honoring Martin Luther King Jr., we decided to join our fellow BASK members for a weekend trip to Monterey. On Saturday morning we congregated on the Municipal Beach for a safety talk after which we launched our boats for a paddle to Lover’s Point Beach in Pacific Grove. Our paddle took us out past the harbor. We passed hundreds of Sea Lions on the breakwater and a number of sea otters on our way out towards Lover’s Point. We paddled past the Monterey Bay aquarium and around Point Cabrillo where we kept our distance from the crashing surf. Turning into Lover’s Point Beach we found the beach quite protected from the swell which made for easy landing. The clear, turquoise water at Lover’s Point Beach reminded me of something out of the Mediterranean

Lost in the Fog

On Thursday January 10, I joined my BASK paddling buddies for the weekly Thursday Lunch Paddle. We congregated at the northeast end Loch Lomond Marina where there’s a small beach that provides a serviceable launch site when the tide isn’t too high.


Paddling in the fog. BASK Thursday Lunch Paddle on 1/10/19.

When I arrived at 9:15 everybody was in a huddle discussing the fog. Boats were still on car tops and it looked doubtful whether we would get on the water. Our original plan was to paddle to Red Rock Island across the bay from our launch site. Given we would be crossing shipping lanes and ferry traffic, and with the challenge of navigating in the fog, we opted to paddle along the coast keeping the land in sight. We paddled along the shore, paddling under the Richmond San Rafael Bridge and then past San Quentin State Prison to a little beach that is a frequent launch site for windsurfers. After lunch we retraced our route, but for the last mile or so we decided to follow a compass course that would take us directly back to the marina. There was a point in the last leg where we were out of site of any landmarks, surrounded by fog. It was an eerie feeling to be paddling in the fog without any visual reference point. It wasn’t too long though when out of the fog loomed the entrance to Loch Lomond Marina. We were back on the beach by 3 pm having paddled 9.5 miles. You can view the track of our paddle here.

Lunch at the Albany Bulb

On Thursday, December 6, I managed to sneak away from my usual work routine for a paddle with some of my BASK buddies. We launched from Ferry Point in Richmond and paddled inside the breakwater of Brooks Island. 

Then after letting some shipping traffic pass we crossed the channel and paddled through a break in the breakwater.

It’s only possible to paddle through the break on a very high tide.  High tide was 6.5 feet at 10:30 am, perfect for us to take a short cut. Once we were through the breakwater we paddled on the inside of Bird Island, where we were entertained by harbor seals and birds.

Once we were passed Brooks Island we set a course for the tip of the Albany Bulb landing at the end of the bulb under the watchful eye of the dragon, a public art sculpture. One of our members managed to stumble on a rock in the shallow water and banged his head on his boat. 

After lunch we explored the artwork on the bulb. 

When we got ready to launch our boats again, what had been a sandy beach was now rocks. Our boats were left high and dry with the receding tide. We ended up carrying our boats a short distance to a better launch point and paddled back by way of the Richmond Inner Harbor to check out the new ferry terminal.

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.