Cake and Champagne Paddle

March 5 marked my 70th birthday. So what do I do on my birthday? I go paddling with friends. What better way to celebrate than being outdoors in the fresh air, doing something active with the camaraderie of good friends. I volunteered to be the trip initiator, and after reviewing the tides and currents with some knowledgeable fellow paddlers, I opted to plan the paddle from Emeryville to Point Isabel. With a strong ebb sucking water out of the bay for most of the day, paddling along the east shore of the bay would avoid strong currents. The announcement I posted on the BASK club bulletin board read “Thursday Paddle: Cake and Champagne.”

We met at the the boat ramp at the Emeryville Marina and, contrary to the signs that said “Paid Parking” and the a warning that parking might be an issue, we were able to park close to the boat ramp for free. It seems the signs are out of date.

We were lucky enough to have our good friends Danny and Susan show up with a double that they had just acquired; a very long boat. It took four people to get it on the water.

After a safety talk and radio check we were on the water at 10:30. We had calm water and overcast skies when we launched, with a prediction for winds of 8 knots with gusts to 12 knots in the afternoon.

Our paddle took us north along the east shore of San Francisco Bay. As we approached the Berkeley Marina, we were beginning to feel the effects of the wind as wind waves kicked up a bit. Everybody seemed to be comfortable with the conditions so we paddled on, past Berkeley, past the Albany Bulb and on to Point Isabel. The landing at Point Isabel only accommodates one boat at a time on a rocky beach, so we took turns bringing our boats in.

As we were breaking out the cupcakes and champagne, who should show up but our paddling buddy Tom, on a bike, decked out in a PFD and spray skirt. The best way to explain this is to share Tom’s post from the club message board:

At breakfast this morning, Ellen is perusing Buzz and says “Oh, Treve’s having a birthday pedal today to have cake and champagne at Point Isabel. He says you have to wear a PFD and spray skirt to attend.” She caught me at “cake”, and I replied “When will they be at Point Isabel?” The answer, “probably around noon.”

Now I’ve never ridden my bike wearing a PFD and spray skirt, but Treve’s an interesting fella and might know something I don’t about this.

So I got OTB [on the bike] around 11:15 and had a smooth pedal down to the bay and along the bay trail, no ferry angle needed. Approaching Point Isabel I am astonished to see Treve and his buddies not on bikes, but paddling kayaks! Huh?

Oh well, at least they did let me have one of Joann’s homemade cupcakes and a sip of bubbly.

How was it pedaling with PFD and spray skirt? Not recommended, but if you do, best to secure the grab loop to a buckle on your PFD to prevent tangling (thanks, Susan, for the tip). I didn’t attempt a roll.

Happy birthday, Treve! And it was great to see Danny and Susan on Danny’s Thursday paddle. As it should be.

Tom C.

After lunch it was back in the boats for the return trip to Emeryville. The wind which had been threatening to build moderated a bit, and we found ourselves riding a bit of chop heading back around the Albany Bulb and into Berkeley. As we approached the Berkeley Marina we opted to duck inside the marina. It seems Susan’s legs were going numb from sitting in the back cockpit of the double. Susan swapped places with Steve and we were back on the water. From Berkeley it was an easy paddle back to the Emeryville boat ramp, returning at 3:15. Our paddle covered 9.9 miles. Not a bad day for a 70 year old. You can view more stats on the tracklog here and more photos here.

Track of our Thursday Cake and Champagne Paddle

Why Drive when you can Paddle?

Thursday evening, January 23, provided an opportunity to paddle from Berkeley to Sausalito. The motivation was the monthly meeting of our kayaking club, Bay Area Sea Kayakers (BASK). The meeting was being held at the Presidio Yacht Club at Fort Baker, just inside the Golden Gate Bridge. I teamed up with a fellow BASK member, Tom. We put our boats in the water at the South Sailing Basin in Berkeley. We were on the water at noon, paddled out past the defunct Hs Lordships Restaurant and headed north towards Richmond. We had flat calm water and no wind. Our plan was to paddle north to Richmond, then paddle around Brooks Island and up the shipping channel to Ferry Point where we planned to take a break.

As we approached Ferry Point we were feeling pretty good and we decided to cross the bay directly before the ebb current got strong. Anticipating the current we set a ferry angle of about 30 degrees north of our intended track and found that the angle carried us directly towards Angel Island. Mind you, we did have to paddle a bit to keep our course.

Nearing Raccoon Straight my thought was that we would pick up a current that would carry us up the Straight. I was surprised to discover that all of the water seemed to be going around Angel Island on the bay side and not moving up the Straight.

We stopped momentarily to see if we could raise some of our paddling buddies on the radio, knowing that there were more people on the water heading to the meeting. As we dallied I was watching the shoreline and noticed that we were drifting significantly with the current. We dug our paddles in the water and headed to Ayala Cove. Along the way encountering some interesting whirlpools and eddies that played with our boats turning them this way and that.

At 2:30 we landed at Ayala Cove and had a late lunch. A park ranger wandered by while we were eating lunch and informed us that there was a $5.00 fee to land a boat, something I had not been aware of on previous visits. After a leisurely lunch we were back on the water.

We continued up Raccoon Straight to Point Stewart, a point that’s noted for some wave action on ebb currents. It was quiet today. By this time the ebb current was kicking us along and we were logging eight knots, making for a quick crossing to Sausalito. The ebb at Yellow Bluff was kicking up some wave action so we stopped to play in the waves. The last time I was here it was a white-knuckle experience where I found myself paddling for my life, or at least that was what it felt like. Today it was not so energetic and I manged to grab my camera and take a few photos of Tom in some white water. It was 4:30 when we landed at the yacht club. There we met a number of other paddlers who were coming to the meeting by boat and we watched the sky go ablaze with color as the sun set. Our journey covered about 13.5 nautical miles. More photos are available here.

Global Cooling Event 2019

Global Cooling Event at Dance-A-Rama 2019.

It remains to be seen what effect our Global Cooling Event will have on global temperatures. If nothing else, we raised some awareness of global warming and had some fun in the process.

The event took place as part of Dance-A-Rama 2019, an annual open studio event with free dance performances. While I do not profess to be a dancer, I have been involved with Dance-A-Rama since 2003. I had been working with dancers on a dance photography project for several years and one of the dancers suggested that I do a performance piece.

At 2:45 this afternoon, I stepped out into the middle of the performance space and invited the audience to join me. After a few minutes assigning roles to the willing audience members, we had one person holding a large inflatable globe, three people with fans cooling the earth, two people holding a scroll with the words of Brother Eagle Sister Sky, an excerpt from a speech by Chief Seattle, and three people with cameras capturing images. At the sound of a chime, the earth begins orbiting the room. The fans, and photographers follow. A reader begins reading the words on the scroll. I continue to use the chime to direct the motion of the earth. When the reading ends I thank the participants and they return to their seats. I have yet to compile the video and still images into something presentable, but here are a few stills from the event.

Dance-A-Rama is sponsored by Terrain A Dance and Performance Collective. I would like to thank fellow Terrain members Mary Reid, Ruth Botchan and former Terrain member Ann Swigart for their help with today’s piece. I would also like to thank the members of the audience that were courageous enough to leave their chairs to join us on stage. Dance-A-Rama marks a 20 year anniversary with today’s event.

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.

Paths of Berkeley

If you like to walk, the hills of Berkeley offer some interesting opportunities. Winding road and paths meander all over the hills. The Berkeley Paths website lists 137 paths. Plenty to explore if you just have a few hours or a few years. We’ve been here over 30 years and we’re still finding places to explore. Our adventure this day, July 25, took us to Remillard Park where we had a picnic dinner to celebrate Joann’s birthday.

Joann's Birthday at Remillard Park. BerkeleyWe ended up playing tourist in our own back yard deciding to walk some of the paths close to Remillard Park. Some of the paths seem like hidden get-aways, meandering up and down the hills between houses.

As we were walking down one path I wondered out loud who maintained the paths. It wasn’t long before we ran into “Joe Cool” with his broom, taking care of business.

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I found myself pulling my camera out every few steps being amazed at the gardens, architecture and interesting details, for example the sign that read “Beware of Dog … And Two Giant Cats.”