Nick’s Cove, Tomales Bay – Jan. 9, 2011

Only loons and lunatics braved the daunting NWS weather report for Tomales Bay:

Sunday: Cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 52. Breezy, with a northwest wind 7 to 10 mph increasing to between 20 and 23 mph. Winds could gust as high as 29 mph.

Clearly, you’d be nuts to try paddling in those conditions.  But the loons and lunatics were well rewarded for their bravery.  The fog was lifting as we arrived, clearing to a  brilliantly sunny day with hardly a breeze at all.  You really couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.  Ok, so it was a little chilly at the start, but hey, it’s winter.

The ten brave lunatics would be Ray, of course, and then another Ray (the more Rays, the better), an Alan, Christina, Joe, Gail, Chocolate Larry, Mike, Dick, and Liz.  Larry’s wife was taking the corgi’s to a dog showin hopes of a top award, and who knows what flimsy excuses everyone else had for missing such a beautiful day.    We launched from Nick’s and headed north, swinging through the oyster beds at Hog Island to spy on a white spot on a brown lump up in a dead tree.  A bald eagle, having a lazy Sunday.  Crossing the bay to the Point Reyes side, we saw a bobcat sitting in the rocks along shore just 30 to 50 feet away.  It seemed fairly calm for a few minutes, and then ambled up the steep slope.   Shortly thereafter a light-colored grazing blob was spotted on the ridge and we added “Tule Elk” to our list.  Around the next bend were a couple turkey vultures feeding on a bloody piece of something we could smell, so we just kept paddling over the pretty red starfish.  To the north were lines of surf breaking across the eastern half of the mouth of the bay.  Several people headed north towards the western, less surfy part of the mouth, and three of us headed across the bay for a better vantage point for spotting whale spouts.  Nothing.

So we took the fall-back option:  lunch on a nice warm Point Reyes National Seashore beachette. There was soup, salmon, Gail’s wonderful cheesy frittata, hummus, potato-leek sludge, crackers, a Brazilian melon, sliced oranges with cranberries, gingerbread muffins, brownies, a few bottles of wine, brie, crackers, and some oranges.  On the way back we stopped at White Gulch to admire bluffs of diatomaceous earth and, more importantly, to look in vain for Ray’s lost pocket knife in the tidal deposits of eel grass.  To make sure we covered the ten miles required for an Official Paddle rating, we continued south to a pelican-less Pelican Point which hosted a small flock of sanderlings.  Ray pointed out a Glaucous Gull, the largest of the gulls, readily distinguished from the other varieties by its grey pinions.  I showed Ray a flock of black quacky things, which he correctly insisted were cormorants.  Also present were willets, buffle head ducks, a cute green finch, more turkey vultures, a couple seals, et cetera.

The takeout was so warm that Ray wished he’d brought his bikini.  And I was dreaming of the Swedish Ice Breaker the Thurseve lads had ordered for my chilly birthday.

In the end, the “lunatics” proved to be a very sensible lot.  Who in their right mind would do anything BUT paddle on Tomales on such a beautiful day? !

  • Launch: Nick’s on Tomales Bay, 10 a.m. OTW, no violations
  • Paddlers: 10
  • Greenland sticks:  4
  • Swells:  2″ average
  • Wave size:  1/2″  average
  • Notable waves:  23   4″ to 6″ wake waves from passing boat
  • Furniture:  2 chairs
  • Conversation range:  paddle and boat talk, to lipid balls crossing the brain blood barrier being tracked by MRI. Contacts with The Law:  Dick was quizzed by NPS about whether we’d been camping, USCG boat passed by.
  • Return time:  Who cares?  Maybe around 2:30 or 3  p.m
  • Miles paddled:  just over 10
  • Safety equipment:  couple radios, unused compasses, spare paddles, paddle floats, pumps, knives, and lights.
  • Hair:  mostly white or dyed, some brown, some blonder
  • Thanks: to Ray, our faithful, dedicated, consistently excellent trip planner and bird expert

Liz H.

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