Paddling Big Break

 

While tradition seems to support ringing in the new year with a celebration as the clock turns over on New Years eve, I prefer to wake up to the New Year well rested with an early start, a clear head, and an opportunity to get out doors.  So today we strapped our kayaks on top of our rig and headed east to one of our local regional parks, Big Break Regional Shoreline. Local is a relative term, since it’s a 50 mile drive, but having recently heard that this is a good spot for a flat-water paddle we decided to check it out. We had very calm weather with mild temperatures and no wind. Big Break is located in the delta region of the the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, an area that is noted for rich farm land, with farming established at the time of the California Gold Rush. As time progressed, farmland that was originally above the level of the river has subsided and levees were built to protect the farms. In 1928 a big break occurred in the levee and the resulting flooded farmland is now a waterway with a variety of islands and wildlife. On today’s paddle we saw seals, otters,  egrets, herons, ducks and scoters. There were thousands of scoters scattered in a number of flocks and as they took to the air, flying in formation, they produced a sound like a loud wind, with thousands of wings flapping the water.

At one point in our paddle, I spotted a flock of ducks and I was curious to see how close I could get in my kayak. They seemed unperturbed as I approached, and I was paddling stealthily hoping not to upset them. As I drifted close I was surprised to discover that they were decoys. I had been sneaking up on some fake birds! A duck blind not far away should have been a clue.

We had hoped to land on one of the islands for lunch, but with the extreme high tide and the thick reeds we found that landing was not feasible, so we rafted up and ate on the water as we drifted lazily with the current.

If you plan on paddling here bring a dolly for your boat. The kayak launch is 1/4 miles from the parking area. We paddled a little over six miles over the course of the afternoon. You can view a track or our course here. You can view additional photos from our trip here.

 

 

 

BASK Thursday Paddle

Thursday November 10. Seven of us launched our kayaks from Paradise Cay for a paddle to Angel Island where we landed at Immigration Cove for lunch. This was the first time I had my new boat on the water, a Pygmy Ronan. We had a perfect paddle with light winds, slack current and an amazing display of clouds overhead. We paddled about 10 miles round trip. You can view a partial track of our paddle here. Unfortunately, the battery in my iPhone, which I use for keeping a track log, died before I completed the track.

Wind in the Rigging

Being a sea kayak, my boat doesn’t have much rigging, just a few deck lines. And today as we rounded Brooks Island a gust of wind hit, creating a howling sound as it raced over the deck. Earlier, at our appointed time of 10:30 the five of us were contemplating the weather. Small craft warnings (isn’t a kayak a small craft?), steady wind of 17 knots with gusts to 25. We decided we’d launch at Ferry Point and paddle along the Richmond waterfront, protected from the northwest wind. With the wind at our backs we paddled up the shipping channel, and across to Brooks Island where we followed the shore. We rounded brooks Island, and it became clear that we had two options, paddle back to the Richmond waterfront against a strong wind, or paddle along the south side of Brooks Island and the breakwater hoping to find a little protection from the wind. Paddling along Brooks Island was a chore, but not too intimidating. We eyed several beaches hoping for a place to stop for lunch, but Brooks Island being a nature reserve, is off limits to visitors, so we continued paddling. After rounding the jetty we headed for fellow kayaker’s house in Brickyard cove, having lunch on Gordon’s new deck, overlooking the yacht harbor.  As we were finishing lunch we noticed that one of our boats had taken off on adventure of it’s own, so we promptly jumped back in our boats, rounded up the rogue boat and paddled back to our launch point. Overall we paddled seven miles, starting out with a wind which eased up a bit as the day went on. More photos here and you can view a track of our paddle here.

Gone Paddling

A welcome opportunity to get away today. The last three weeks have been quite intense with clients working hard to meet a deadline for a local design competition, but with the deadline come and gone I strapped my boat on the top of the car and joined a few fellow BASK members (Bay Area Sea Kayakers), and headed for the Coast Guard Station at Horseshoe Bay, just inside the Golden Gate. Paddling out the gate is not something you do without paying attention to the wind, the tides and the current. We had good conditions with light winds and a slack tide in late morning and an incoming current in the afternoon. We paddled out past Point Diablo and then returned to Kirby Cove for lunch. Back on the water after lunch we had a fast ride with the current and wind with us for our return. I returned feeling refreshed and restored from the trials of the past few weeks. Nothing seems to charge my batteries, so to speak, more than getting out in nature. You can view more photos here and view a track of our trip here.