On June 26, seven of us launched our kayaks from Marconi Beach not knowing quite where we’d end up for lunch. Shortly after 9 a.m. we launched on flat calm water, paddling across to Hearts Desire Beach where one of our fellow BASK members was assisting at an Environmental Traveling Companions kayaking event.
From Hearts Desire we noodled southeast along the Point Reyes Peninsula, taking our time and exploring all the nooks and crannies and even some caves. Paddling through eel grass beds we saw hundreds of jelly fish. Since my Olympus TG5 camera is waterproof I popped it under the surface and started snapping pictures more or less at random. I was amazed I got something useable.
Paddling on, before you know it we were at Chicken Ranch Beach. It was just a few minutes after 11 a.m. and, though it was early, we decided it was lunch time. Our plan was to get an early start and get off the water before the wind came up.
Sure enough, as we were eating lunch the wind started to build and not as predicted. The prediction was for WSW winds 9 kts. What we had was coming straight down the bay. We launched into a stiff wind that was raising whitecaps. Fortunately, we did not have a great distance to travel so we slogged it out powering straight into the wind. We were back at our launch point at 12:30, having logged 5.8 miles. You can view more photos in an online gallery.
July 15, 10:00 AM. We were climbing in our boats at Hearts Desire Beach. Four of us. Hearts Desire is a lovely beach on the Point Reyes Peninsula, part of the California State Park system. I chose Hearts Desire as our launch point because the weather prediction was for wind on Tomales Bay. Hearts Desire and the west side of Tomales Bay is protected from the prevailing wind, so it provides a good launch site when the launch sites on the east side of the bay are windy.
We were launching on a low tide, and while some beaches can be muddy at low tide, we found firm sand. Paddling north along the bay we stayed close to shore. We saw racoons foraging along the shore as well as Great Blue Herons, egrets and osprey. Overhead we had pelicans reeling about and, in the water, jellyfish. With the low water, the eelgrass would occasionally grace our our boats.
Our intended lunch stop was Tomales Beach about three miles from our launch site. When we got there we decided to continue on to a more secluded beach. There were a handful of campers on Tomales Beach. We landed at a beach just south of Pelican Point. True to it’s name, we saw several White Pelicans on the point and opted to land far enough south so as not to disturb them.
After lunch we returned to our boats. We were back at our launch site at 2:30, having logged 9.2 miles. You can see more details about the track here. A beautiful day on Tomales Bay, one of my favorite places to paddle. You can see more photos here.
April 1. Our adventure today includes a paddle on Tomales Bay followed by a party at Heidrun Meadery to celebrate David’s birthday. Seven of us were on the beach at Marconi Cove ready to get on the water at 10:00. We launched on a low tide and paddled across the bay to the Point Reyes Peninsula and then north paddling in flat calm without a breath of air. Temperatures were predicted for mid-70s so I opted to leave my dry suit behind. The calm water gave us a view of thousands of jellyfish just below the surface.
I stuck my waterproof Olympus TG-5 under the surface of the water and snapped a bunch of photos hoping my might capture some of the moon jellies. Low and behold, I actually captured a few images that were worth saving.
Once across the bay we paddled north along the peninsula landing at Tomales Beach for an early lunch. Then it was back to our launch site. Our paddle was just shy of eight miles. You can view the track of our paddle below or click here to see more details. We were in no hurry, but anxious to go taste some wine.
We packed up or kayaking gear and drove the short distance to the Heidrun Meadery for a wine tasting with wines made from honey. These are sparking wines made with the Champagne method. Who knew there could be so many flavors of mead, with the flavors based on the source of the honey. Buckwheat, sage and wildflowers were among the flavors we tasted. Once we were lubricated with bubbly we broke out the cake.
Since we were all sufficiently vaccinated we opted to enjoy the camaraderie sans masks. The last time I was without a mask in this large a group was March 14, 2020, when we had a party to celebrate my birthday. Plenty more photos to share. Go here to see them.
The object of this game is to pick up the “dead fish” without using your hands and toss it. Who wants to touch a dead fish?
The other kayakers then scramble for the “fish” and repeat the process. In this case the “dead fish” is a pair of socks tied together with a tennis ball in each toe. Sounds like an easy game. Right? Let me tell you, picking up the “dead fish” with your paddle is a challenge. It’s a great game for practicing boat control. Forward stroke, back stroke, draw stroke, sweep strokes, bracing, leaned turns. It all comes into play in this game. And then trying flinging the thing without capsizing a tippy boat.
This was a week ago. While most of the Bay Area was sweltering in a heat wave. I headed for Tomales Bay to join a few of my BASK paddling buddies. We launched from Marconi Cove Put in, just east of Marshall and paddled across the bay to Marshall Beach, taking our time to explore the coast. Calm weather and quite warm. I don’t recall when the last time I paddled with just a t-shirt and swim suit; not my usual “dress for immersion” gear. Too hot for dry suits or wet suits.
After lunch we got back in our boats and had a friendly game of Dead Fish Polo.
Over the course of the day we paddled 6.4 miles. Here’s a map showing the track of our paddle. Click on the map for more details about the track.
Moving a kayak loaded with gear. Four people with two webbing straps.
A perfect day on Tomales Bay
Boats loaded with camping gear. Ready to launch.
Waiting for the sun.
Our camp on Marshall Beach.
Our final exercise in the 2017 BASK Skills Clinic was an overnight kayak camping trip on Tomales Bay. We gathered a Miller Boat Launch on the East side of Tomales Bay, loaded our camping gear into our boats and paddled to Marshall Beach where we set up camp; a distance of three miles.
Part of the exercise was to learn what it takes to plan and execute a kayak expedition. Once we had set up camp we were off on a treasure hunt, using our navigational skills to locate clues that led us on a four mile treasure around the bay, were we finally found our treasure; patches to sew on our PFDs indicating we had graduated and chocolate.
I the evening the students hosted a feast for all the BASK campers; coordinators, volunteers and students, with tamales, tacos, Spanish Rice and following a campfire, we launched our boats again, in the pitch dark to to look for bioluminescence. Quite an experience to dip your paddle into the inky black water and see sparkles and ripples of light. Here’s a link to some additional photos.
Ready to launch from Heart’s Desire Beach on Tomales Bay
Lone Tree. Tomales Bay.
Native American huts. Indian Beach.
With clear skies, calm wind and a mid-day high tide we decided to head for Drake’s Estero, one of our favorite places to kayak. We loaded the kayaks on the car, and headed for the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station where we had breakfast. The Morning Bun Coffee Cake is something you won’t want to miss.
After a quick breakfast we headed to the Estero, only to find the gate was closed and locked. Drakes Estero is undergoing habitat restoration while the National Park Service removes the remains of the oyster farm; some seven miles of wooden racks.
So Plan B was Heart’s Desire Beach. The beach was deserted, save for a park maintenance truck. It was almost surreal having the whole park to ourselves. Without delay we launched our boats and paddled towards the ocean, stopping at a little beach for lunch, and then continuing to Marshall Beach, exploring some of the side passages that are not normally accessible at lower tides. Our journey covered six miles. You can view the track log here, and view more photos here. My wife Joann tells me that paddling a kayak on Tomales Bay is something everybody should have on there bucket list.
This past Thursday, July 21, found me once again, taking the day off of work and joining several BASK friends for the “Thursday Lunch Paddle.” We launched from Nick’s Cove. When I arrived at 10:45 the weather was looking grey, chilly and windy. I opted to wear my dry suit for a little added protection. Once we were on the water though, the wind seemed to let up a bit, and paddling across the bay put us in more protected waters. We paddled past Hog Island over to White Gulch, where paddling along some of the cliffs felt like we were in an exotic garden. Plenty of white pelicans and cormorants on Hog Island, and plenty of harbor seals in the water. From White Gulch we headed to Pelican Point where we landed for lunch, enjoying some fleeting sun light. The return paddle found us battling the wind back up the bay Hog Island, with the skies darkening a bit. Finally returning to our launch point. You can view additional photos here and a track of our paddle here.
With the tides looking good and Drakes Estero open following the spring seal pupping season we thought we’d go for a paddle. When we arrived though, there was a stiff breeze and fog, and it just looked like slogging into the weather was not going to be much fun, so we headed for Hearts Desire beach, which while only a few miles away is more protected. We had sun and blue sky when we launched our boats, and we paddled South East along the Point Reyes Peninsula, stopping on a small beach to eat lunch. It’s always a pleasure to paddle along the rugged coast. You can view additional photos here, and you can view a track of our paddle here.