Archive for the '2010 Trips' Category

Cassini’s – Feb 6, 2011

Well, 20 PPers showed up at Cassini’s on a beautiful, sunny morning. We could see that the current was pretty strong but not too bad as we got our boats ready for the big adventure. Most of us got in the water and just drifted along waiting for the slowbies to get their stuff ready. We were almost to the bridge by the time the beauty sleepers got in the water.

The paddle downstream was nice and easy and we saw lots of birds. C. Merganzers, GB Herons, BCNHs, a Green Heron, C.Goldeneyes, Ospreys and right before the Hiway 1 bridge a Bald Eagle sitting on a snag out in the river with two Harbor Seals on rocks nearby.

We paddled past the bridge and Joe and I looked at the mysterious lumber pile in the water. He thinks a barge or schooner must have capsized or sunk back in the day to leave the wood the way we see it today. We had paddled about six miles by now and decided it was time for lunch. We headed back upstream to our favorite lunch beach right across from the Willow Creek Campground.

We spread out our food on two blankets and proceeded to chow down. The food was amazing and we had fun sitting in the warm sun, chatting away. Nobody was in a big rush to leave so we stayed there quite a while enjoying the day.

Gradually people started started climbing back into their boats for the paddle back up the river. The current was very weak in the big wide areas but from the Duncan’s Mills Bridge to Cassini’s you had to work pretty hard. There were several fly-fishermen wading in the water at Cassini’s as we paddled to the launch.

While we were debriefing, Liz brought out a couple of her oxygen pillows and ’splained them to a few of us. Barb and I each got one and I must say the darn thing seems to work. The temp had to be 80 or so and nobody seemed to be in a big rush to leave to see a football game.


A Whale of a Day on Tomales – Dec. 12, 2010

Well, 10 PPers showed up at Nick’s and were ready to go before the 10 am OTW as usual. We weren’t the only ones as Scott Derryberry had a group as did my old paddling buddies celebrating Jayah’s BD.

Off we headed towards the mouth enjoying the overcast, windless conditions. We thought we spotted some mist or maybe a flock of shorebirds but soon enough we saw the ummistakable spout of a whale. Scott’s group were closer than we were but soon we had all converged in the area near Tom’s point. We all drifted along as this young Grey Whale swam leisurely along. We were off to the side of its path and hadn’t seen it for awhile when it surfaced about 15ft in front of Scott’s boat. Much excitement and arm waving ensued. Then our curious buddy decided to check out all the yakkers and did a big old spyhop right in front of us. Satisfied that we were friendly he proceeded with his business.

We paddled out to Avila’s for lunch and a beach hike. We keep looking for our whale but he never came out to the mouth. After a nice lunch and beach walk we headed back knowing the whale in the bay somewhere. Sure enough, right near Tom’s Point, he was swimming around as before. We spent some more quality time in his vicinity until he finally started heading towards the mouth.

We finished up our paddle and loaded the boats and debriefed about our close encounter of the Grey Whale kind.


Paddlers in Tomales Bay were treated to viewing a whale yesterday.    I just posted my first attempt at a video of the whale.

I will try uploading in higher quality when I have a little time.  Overall it’s a bit shaky, but for a point and shoot – that’s about as good as I can get from a kayak.

Dick M.

Drakes Estero – Nov. 26, 2010

Policy dictates that the new kid has got to write the trip report.  After reading an entire book of BASKer John Boeschen’s Thursday Night Paddle reports as well as viewing his comix, I’m well prepared to take on the task.  I understand fully the types of information required for the report, and have no fear of fiction.

Location and Participants:  The Petaluma Paddler’s Drake’s Bay paddle started at the Oyster Farm in Point Reyes, and was led by Ray, who is a testament, nay, an entire monument to PP’s eating and drinking practices.  Joining him for the day were 14 cheerful souls.

Itinerary and Events:  After lunch and intermediate destinations were discussed, various clusters of paddlers headed west across the oyster beds, seaweed, and shifting sands of the bay and headed for Dinosaur Point.  Newbie Liz parked on one of the oyster frames and was kindly tugged backwards off the frame by Ray the Rescuer.  A few rusty-colored jellyfish were spotted as we approached the southern side of the bay, and then we swung over to the north shore to avoid the shallow waters in which the egrets were standing.  At Dinosaur Beach at the mouth of the bay, we landed to see the fossilized whale bones. Several large concretions, about 3 to 5 feet across, were perched in the eroding cliffs, and others had fallen onto the beach and were in various states of disrepair.  One irregularly split boulder displayed a whale bone on  one side and the mold on the other part. When we wandered back to the boats, there was Flo in a dry set of borrowed clothes, on account of a beaching boo-boo of some sort that left Flo in the flow, and there wasn’t much of it.  Don’t ask me how she did it.  Under the circumstances, the original lunch plan was modified to “Here and Now”.

Lunch:  Topnotch Seaweed Salad with edamame, two green garden salads, chicken, pork, some little sandwiches, assorted veggies, mystery dip, hummus, exceptional brownies, assorted crackers and yummy cheeses, oranges, mandarins, tinned oysters.

Beverages:  Water bottles seemed to stay on the boats (is there a rule about this?), and onshore beverages included several bottles of reasonably priced red wine and a cheap white Chateau Le Box (Hey, there was only one left so he figured it musta been popular!), and a couple thermoses of hot water (one with weird drink mixes and Yerba Mate, but nothing normal).

Itinerary and Events (continued):  The initial feeding frenzy, absent leopard sharks, took place around a picnic tarp.  Appetites sated, a few people wandered or paddled off and the serious drinkers got to work draining all the wine containers to ensure compliance with the Open Container law.  No tickets for this crowd!  When they were sufficiently tippy, various members practiced rolling their camp chairs.   Having completed the paddling and eating/drinking requirements, we headed for Home Bay to satisfy the final requirement for a Good Day on the Water:  wildlife viewing.  The expected leopard sharks, seals, and otters were mostly having a day off, but the birds were on the job.  The opening act was provided by a couple hundred Synchro Birds . . . the ones that turn all at once on the wing and appear alternately as a black or white flock, depending on whether you’re seeing the sunny side or the dark side.  Ray, the birding whiz, says they were Lesser and Western Sandpipers. The big show was a glorious flight of maybe 1000 Garbled Madwits and some avatars.  Oops, it was Marbled Godwits and avocets.  Several great flocks swooped over and around us for a few really good minutes.  Then we made good use of our paddles and no use of torso rotation to return to the Oyster Farm about the same time as the last of the good weather.  Clouds building, breeze stiffening, night falling . . . time to buy a nice jar of fresh oysters to share with the unfortunates who missed out on a beautiful day on the water.

Distance Paddled:  9 miles round trip

Weather:  Marbled blue and white sky with gentle breezes, mostly sunny.

Clothing:  Colorful array of paddling jackets, rubber boots, tall neoprene boots, a pair of cute patterned galoshes, caps, gloves, appropriate shirts and pants, jeans, and a sexy midriff length top (stays dry in semi-immersion).

Furniture:  rolling camp chairs, picnic tarps, cocktail table, rocks, driftwood board

Safety equipment:  lots of radios (used frequently), pumps, paddle floats, sunglasses, spare paddles, Ray

So thanks to all for a lovely day on the water.


Walker Creek – Nov. 25, 2010


Only 2 showed up (with one boat) at Walker’s Creek early this morning.  There was ice on the puddles in the parking lot.

We launched by 9, and were no more than a mile up the Creek when we saw a family of 6 otters, sunning themselves on the left bank.  They showed no fear as we slowly went by.

Before the picnic spot we saw another family 0f 6  big, healthy, skeek otters, then we saw why: one had about a 30″ salmon, which he was noisily eating .

We went up as far as we could, then back; same two families were still there.  The salmon was gone [fully consumed].  Both sets appears much larger than the EA otters, and looked to be in great shape.

Also saw–4 deer, 5 GBH, 4 quail, and some very small aquatic birds I need to look up.

There was no one else at Walker’s.  The tide was coming in and it was cloudless.  We spent a good deal of time staring at the otters, and they stared back.  They were mildly interested in us.

Marilyn and I, having cheated death (there was zero wind) celebrated by retreating to Nick’s for a nice lunch.


Cuttings Wharf, Napa – Nov. 21. 2010

Sunday morning, November 21. Cuttings Wharf, Napa.
Imagine beautiful clear air, a light breeze, with puffy white clouds on a sapphire blue sky.
And 48 degrees.

Only two of us showed up; Bill and I. The weather satellite showed lots of little clouds amid clear air, so it was a crapshoot as to whether we’d have Fall sunshine or get wet and cold.

As it happened, it was really nice; cool, but the sun was on us most of the time and it was warm, it never rained and the wind didn’t come up much.

We left from the Wharf, staying in the shoreline’s wind shadow to avoid the nippy breeze. Quick stop at Kennedy and then up to the downtown basin – 3rd St.

The beach at the basin looked great for landing, but the access is all fenced. Yes, there is a gap in the fence under the shoulder of the bridge, but it looked really tight. Easier to go over. If you were willing to walk, you could go around to the left following the shoreline, go under the bridge and there’s street access there at the end of the fisherman’s path. Or so it looked.

There’s a nice spot for lunch just opposite Copia. It’s got a pretty steep bank but it’s sandy. You’d have to tie off to shore trees/brush. On top of the bluff is a great spot for a picnic. Big stone blocks perfect for sitting. I couldn’t find out what this area was, but we saw fisherman on the shore so it probably wasn’t somebody’s back yard.

Bill and I continued way up the river, out into the vineyards along Silverado Trail about a mile and a half past the Lincoln Ave bridge. It was at the top of high tide and there was plenty of water. It was very cool. The BASK trip planner calculated the distance at 8.25mi, making the round trip
about 16 (it’s not that accurate). No wonder I feel sore today.

On the very pleasant ride home on the outgoing tide we spotted a small sea lion having lunch in the middle of the river. Sea lions tear at food they can’t swallow whole, and this guy was thrashing his fish on the surface to rip it apart, with a flock of gulls picking up scraps. It was great to watch. It was really pink; a salmon maybe?

Time out: 10:20 Return: 15:10 Distance: 16mi est.

Another great day.


Drakes Estero – Nov. 11 & 13, 2010

Veteran’s Day with Joanne. We had the Estero to ourselves! Hard to believe. Perfect conditions. Outgoing tide in the am, incoming on the return; mild winds; brisk, but pleasant. Lots of harbor seals on the shore and on sand shoals. Piles of white pelicans at the mouth. Wild surf on Drake’s Beach and choppy at the opening. We saw many hawks – ospreys, a gorgeous rough-legged hawk, and several ferruginous hawks. We saw two red-shouldered hawks hopping around and flying after one another on a hillside – clearly courtship behavior. Gorgeous sea nettles drifting through the eel grass and washed up on the beach. The densest aggregations of cormorants, godwits, dunlins and shorebirds that I’ve ever (see photos). At one point the godwits and dunlins and sandpipers flew in separate surging ovals that flashed different colors as they changed direction. It was like pink, gray and white daytime fireworks! We even saw a barn owl perched and then flying to his cliffside burrow. As wonderful a paddle as I’ve had in CA!


Well C. Larry and I launched at 10 am unto some smooth, glassy type water. The weather was beautiful the water was excellant and the marine life was awesome! Everything Lyrinda saw and took pictures of for her outing Thursday, we saw and heard. We did slow paddle but still had time to go out to mouth where some peligans were hanging out. We saw scores of seals (sea lions) basking on a shallow area in middle of the estero on way back. Arrived back around 2 pm for 4 hour paddle as desired.  We loaded our kayaks and said our goodbyes and then I bought some oysters and BBQ those beauties for the end of a great day. Thanks for the company Larry……

Don H.

Heart’s Desire – Nov. 13, 2010

A total of 7 folks paddled from Hearts Desire to Chicken Ranch on a most gorgeous autumn morning. We figured we traveled a total of 4-5 miles. The Bay offered full sun, mild air, quiet gentle waters & some wildlife. We traveled in two groups, following is what we saw and heard: over fifty Moon Jellies (9 inch diameter) dancing, somersaulting, and just hanging out; over 20 Leopard Sharks (some 5 foot long) basking and sunny on an underwater sand bar; 2 Great Blue Herons; a friendly Brown Pelican, who followed us back to the beach; a Cormorant resting in a low growing tree; an Osprey, just cruising overhead; closeup views of the orange Marine Algae growing on the cliffs, along with gurgling sounds coming from the various caves; Lush, Healthy Eel Grass beds, a Western Grebe; a pair of floating Loons, 5 adorable Least Grebes; Hollow, wooshing sounds of ducks taking off as we approached.

We debriefed as we munched our lunches at picnic table on Hearts Desire. Ahh! another day on our Beautiful Bay.


Tomales Bay and Giacomini Wetlands – Nov. 7, 2010

Hello all you dry sensible Sunday homebodies. Dick M. sure knows how to plan a trip just right. It rained good and hard on the drive out to Inverness and very nearly drained the clouds completely. After a little drizzle at Chicken Ranch Beach launch (where Don F. joined us) , it quit raining while we three paddled south and watched birds following a school of fish around and feeding. A few more drops fell while we were riding the nice tidal current past a bald eagle and a distant swan into Giacomini Wetlands. Then we actually got patchy blue sky and a little sunshine while bushwhacking up Lagunitas Creek as far as you could possibly paddle on a very high tide. We tried hard to suffer but the weather wasn’t miserable enough. We beached on a handy gravel bar for a bachelor style lunch, and rode the receding tidal waters past the sunning turtles (saw 6 of them), and headed across the wetlands again. The drippy clouds advanced on us the last few minutes of paddling to remind us what a miserable day we were supposed to be having. An arc of rainbow on the way home put a nice finishing touch on the day.


Actually it was 4 turtles, we saw a pair of them twice, once going up, and again on the way out, on the same log. Going upstream we made it past several old bridge pilings and fresh water diversion intake, but hit the end of the road when we came to a willow thicket that had fallen into the creek. On the way up, through the marsh the bald eagle was a 10 point sighting, as well as a flock of at least 30 Lessor (Fairy?) Terns, that were diving in around the large flock of feeding cormorants. Never saw the minnows they were fishing but there must have been a lot, because about 300 birds – cormorants, pelicans gulls and terns, were all following the school. We made it much further up the creek than I thought possible. Much of the bush roadblocks must have been pushed out in last winter’s storms. I will post a link to some photos shortly.

Dick M.

Walker Creek, Tomales Bay – Oct. 23, 2010

Well 5 PPers showed up at Nick’s ( Allan, Phil, C.Larry, Bill and I ) to find conditions not too bad and highly doable. We figured the big storm would hit Sat eve and Sun, at least that’s what the NWS said.

We headed off for Walker Creek figuring it would be a good place to go on a rainy, breezy day. The tide was with us and we flew along with a nice tailwind. We got to our usual lunch spot in short order only to find the area completely overgrown with Alders. We had to bushwhack to get to our usual spot and decided to just eat on the beach. Marilyn sent Phil with a hotpot full of chicken, rice and pork. Allan made a beautiful salad to which Bill added some nice cherry tomatoes. There was the usual multi-cheese and bread deal happening.

The weather was getting pretty interesting as we piled back into out boats just as the ebb started. It was getting rather gusty amd the rain was increasing as we paddled back to Tomales. By the time we were in sight of Tomales Bay it was apparent that we were in for an interesting paddle.

We decided to exit the creek and skirt the marsh and head for the Marin shore. The waves were breaking close to shore so it paid to get a little ways out where the waves were big but not breaking. Allan was paddling with Bill and got hit by a big wave which dumped him. The water was shallow but it took he and Bill awhile to get regrouped and underway.

We headed for the old oyster colony to regroup. The old Necky’s with their sweet rocker and rudders handled the conditions admirably. Larry’s boat with high ends and no rocker or rudder sure made his paddle interesting. He got lots of practice bracing, correction stroking, making little headway and cussing.

We finally all arrived at the oyster colony and while we could have continued paddling, some were more than glad to call it quits. Bill and I walked to Nick’s to get our trucks. We drove back, parked on the shoulder and proceed to lug our boats up to the road. Thankfully Bill ( today’s hero ) brought his flatbed so we were able to get his, Phil’s and Larry’s boat loaded. Phil rode in the back of my truck. We drove back to Nick’s, tired and wet. We regrouped and sorted out our gear.

I would estimate that the wind at the mouth of Walker Creek was about 30mph. The waves were big and the rain was intense. So much for the storm coming in Saturday evening. I think I’m going to subscribe to iwindsurf as those boys understand forecasting and wind.


Drakes Estero – Oct. 17, 2010

From what I have read this evening most of the PPer’s get on the computer early and figure out what kind of weather to expect for the day. I had already made up my mind last night I was going to paddle today and woke up early after a late night then braved the wet oil slicked roads with all the crazy drivers on a Sunday morning.

It was just light sprinkles part of the way from Santa Rosa to Invernes,then it got a little stronger once I neared the Oyster farm coming down the hill then the blue water kayak trailer was heading back over the hill. Noticed one suv leaving with a sea kayak. Then I talked to a PPer from Sebastopol just leaving the oyster farm road and was informed Ray wasn’t there and the paddle was probably canceled? What Ray cancel the paddle just because it was sprinkling? I figured by the time we got on the water the skies would part and it would be partly cloudy.

Got to the parking area and Danny was sitting in his suv waiting for the rain to stop or ray to show up? Talked to Danny and decided to wait out the rain in our cars as we were getting pretty soaked. Waited 15 to 20 minutes then walked out to check the water, not bad just a light two to three mph breeze from the west. Danny came out and just when I thought I had him talked into just going anyways it started to pour and he passed on the paddle. I waited another 15 minutes and what do you know it stopped raining and was still just a light breeze with semi glassy conditions.

Against my better judgment I decided to paddle by myself it wouldn’t be thefirst time and not the last. Took off at 10:30 am and made a swift paddle to the mouth in an hour with the ebb starting. Paddled to the mouth and to my surprise it has moved a 1/4 of a mile to the south and the old channel is just a deep water channel that dies into the sand bar beach. I had to get out and check the surf then started back to home bay.

I hadn’t made it to one of our normal lunch spots on the left in home bay when I noticed a few boils on the surface and turned around to see if they were leopard sharks. No they were about five small 12″ skates/bat rays.Made the loop at the end of home bay and not one leopard shark. Paddled back to the oyster farm in an hour and packed up with dry skies. Paddled just about 10 miles in under three hours.This made my for days of paddling this week a total of 38 miles in four days.

I brought a whole dozen fresh donuts for the paddle — I guess I’ll have to eat them all myself?

The normal characters were spotted on the paddle:  seal, cormorants, loons, etc. Quote from Don F, I cheated death once again and kept the HEARTY in the Petaluma paddlers name.