Archive for the '2010 Trips' Category

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Marconi Cove – Oct. 10, 2010

It was a rare and superb day on Tomales Bay! Sun was shining, air was warm and the water was calm! Ray said that the forecasts were all over the place, but that winds as high as 29 mph had been forecast, so it would be better if we launched earlier than the stated 10 am time so that we could return before it really breezed up. I had been out on the SF Bay the day before to see the Blue Angels and it really got ferocious late in the afternoon.

So eleven launched just after 9:30. (Good thing most arrived plenty early!) Two left early, leaving a core group of out-and-returners at the gravel beach at Marconi Cove: Ray, Gail, Chocolate Larry and Ellen, Joe and Sue, Kris, Laurie, Jeff and me. The light wind was from the NNW, so we struck off across the Bay to reach the lee of the far shore. We stopped for a brief break at a small beach and then headed north to Tomales Beach to watch the BASK Rodeo.

Just after hauling up the boats to keep them from drifting away in the quickly rising tide (it was just after the very high new moon tides) we saw at least four river otters swimming close by our point, out by the drifting kelp. They quickly disappeared to the north.

Some saw a great blue heron, otherwise most of the wildlife had probably scattered under the onslaught of the huge flotilla of boats!

At about 11:30 the rodeo started. Floats had been set up to define lanes and three boats at a time did an out and return trailing a line with a water-filled gallon jug. One fellow “cheated” (for apparent lack of clarity in the rules) and did an out and a – backwards! – return, which saved a lot of time by not having to turn around! The rules were quickly modified to even the playing ”field”.

We saw paddlers standing up in their boats as long as they could. And we saw floating boats stacked on top of each other, perpendicular.

Rolls were, of course, the highlight of the competition. The eleven-year old champ rolled fast with arms only – no paddles! The apparent winner (I do not know his name) looked like he did 8 or 9 rolls in the allotted time (30 seconds?)

We ate another superb PPer lunch. The broccoli salad was a big hit, as was the selection of Laughing Cow cheeses – which included a delicious blue soft cheese. The potato-&-egg salad was delicious, and we enjoyed premade sandwiches. There were snacks galore. No one left hungry!

Dick Mallory was there in combined PP and BASK capacity – and made a horn out of a length of bull kelp by cutting off half the bulb and making a mouthpiece of of the narrow end. The many wannabe brass players (and the one real trumpet player in the bunch!) took turns making surprisingly good tones and tunes from the kelpenhorn. The eleven-year old, in particular, loved to play.

At one point a gust of wind lifted our beach umbrella and set it upside-down atop the Bay. It was funny to see it drifting away – fast – before it was retrieved, signaling time to go before the winds increased.

The return was uneventful – but full of conversation and cameraderie.

See the attached link for some photos taken at the beach.

- Lyrinda Snyderman

Estero Americano – Oct. 3, 2010

On Sunday, 12 enthusiastic PP’s paddled 12 miles on a beautiful, overcast day on the EA. Boo counted as the 13th but he enjoyed the scenery even though he didn’t paddle. The water and the cows were calm and friendly. Good conversations. Lunch, as always was great. We sat behind a large rock near the waves. Ray built a fire and a BBQ and put on some fine sausages. Also served was Tofu Larry’s famous tofu, chicken, cole slaw, pork, cookies, hamburgers and of course, wine. Neckys were well represented, including my own new Arluk IV. I bought her from a woman who paddled with the PP two years ago. The kayak sat in her garage for a year and now is back with us. Very ironic and wonderful.

Sunrise with the elk at Point Reyes – Sept 1, 2010

Last Sunday at Tomales Beach Don mentioned he had seen the elk and they were bugling. This reminded me of one of the many reasons I live here so this morning I was out at Tomales Point before sunrise. If you have never been out to Tomales Point (aka Pierce Point) you should go now while the elk are still in rut. You can see the elk up close (and hear them bugling) without even getting out of the car. This is cowboy TV at its finest.

The best time to go is sunrise and sunset when there are few people around (like none) and the elk are most active. If they are near the road just park and shut off the motor but don’t get out. Within a few minutes you will be part of the scene. Can the elk be dangerous? Yes, I think so. I keep my distance and have never had a close call.

There is an 8 mile round trip hike to the point. On a clear day this is one of best hikes in the bay area. About 20 minutes out notice the old rock wall that traverses the point. To the south the rocks point to the Farallon Islands and to the north Mt. St. Helena. No one seems to know the origin. Was it the first settlers? Perhaps the Miwoks? Aliens?

A few photos from this morning:

If I have enough energy it’s sunset with the whales tonight at Bodega Head.


Full moon paddle, Tomales Bay – Aug 24, 2010

Only three paddlers (Cathleen, Joe and Mike) showed up on the best night of the year on Tomales Bay. It was balmy at 7:00 as we paddled away from Marconi Cove heading north along the eastern shore against the slightest breeze. Apparently we were the only ones that thought this was a good idea since there were no other boats on the water. We eventually crossed over to Duck Cove.

Along the way we saw pelicans diving, we heard fish as they surfaced, sort of a crackling sound. We watched the setting sun and then rafted up on the mirror-water to watch the moon rise. Cathleen told a moon themed story and then recited a moon poem as we feasted on brownies she had just baked…yummie. Venus, Mars and Saturn made a triangle in the western sky.

We arrived back at Marconi just before 9:00. Then, thanks to Laurie’s tip*, we saw the International space station go over. Impressive it was.




*Laurie’s tip: If you are going out tonight for the moon or inspiration, at 9:06 p.m. this evening, southeast going east northeast, the space station will be going by…full light …four minutes of visual.  Check it out………..max altitude is 66 degrees.

Drakes Estero – August 18, 2010

Well I had a nice paddle at Drake’s yesterday. It was overcast and cool when I started and I decided to paddle the entire shoreline and try to find critters. I went part of the way into Creamery as it was pretty shallow and there wasn’t much to see. In Barries I saw a few Batrays scattered around. On the way from Barries to the Drake memorial I came a upon a family of 5 river otters. I spotted them up ahead and stopped paddling and drifted right up to them. They were so busy playing that they paid no attention to my kayak.

I crossed the mouth and stopped on Limintour spit for a spot of lunch. Lots of Harbor Seals and AW Pellies shared the beach with me. The sun came out making the paddle to Home Bay nice and warm. Home Bay had tons of BRs and a few sharks. I also saw BRs and sharks all the way back to the launch.

The conditions are really good in the estero these days. With the light winds the water is crystal clear and the paddling is easy. The GPS said the paddle was 13 miles.


Bioluminescence Paddle from Nick’s Cove – August 12, 2010

Nine intrepid paddlers gathered at Nicks Cove for an evening of kayaking and bioluminescence. In attendance were Joe, Sue, Jeff, Brigitte, Jeff, Bonnie, Mike, Gail and Sig. The launch was leisurely, but eventually we got all the glow sticks distributed and we were on the water by 8:15 PM.

The fog was in when we started, but not too bad. There was no wind to speak of the whole trip. From Nick’s, we headed across to the North side of Hog Island. There were plenty of harbor seals there to keep us company and the usual assortment of birds making a racket and a stink.

From Hog Island, we headed straight across into White Gulch. Elk were heard calling and someone also heard a night heron. Owls were spotted on the wing close to the cliffs at the water’s edge. We paddled way back into the bay at White Gulch as the sun was setting. By the time we regrouped, the biolume could just barely be seen. After a short rest, we headed further North up the Tomales coast.

By now the sun had fully set and the plankton were really doing their thing. Every time you put a paddle in the water, it struck sparks and stars spinning in the water. We saw fish illuminated in the shallow bay, streaking past us as we startled them. The eel grass was especially spectacular. You could slap your paddle on top of it and light up a big mat, maybe three feet square. I was
shocked by how dark it was on the water. There was just a sliver of moon, but even that was hidden by the fog. This made for some great biolume viewing, but it was a challenge keeping the group together when we couldn’t see more than a couple hundred feet (at least I couldn’t). The glow sticks were perfect, thanks Joe!

The return trip took us back to White Gulch and then around the South end of HogIsland (aka Piglet). Again, the bioluminescence was spectacular. Some folks saw a diving cormorant lit up by the plankton. We followed the lights back to Nick’s Cove and were all safely ashore by 11:00 or so.


Bodega Bay – August 10, 2010

Kris and I hit the water at Doran at about 9:45. It was calm and overcast (what else is new?) and we headed for the mouth. We practiced ranging between two channel markers in the stiff flood. We fought a 3 knt current to get out of the harbor. We poked around outside for awhile and then had a nice ride back into the harbor. We saw the usual suspects including an early arriving C.Loon still in full breeding plumage. We paddled all the way around the harbor including a tour of Spud Harbor (which seems emptier than last time). By now there was a 5knt SW wind which had a nice cooling effect. We paddled 8.5 miles by the time we got back to the launch.

We decided to go out to the headlands for lunch since Robin H had told us last weekend that four or five Greys were hanging around the area. Sure enough, no sooner did we get out sandwiches unwrapped than we started spotting them. They appear to be feeding in the area and are quite close to shore.


Drakes Estero – August 3, 2010

Only two paddlers showed up on one of the best no-wind days this year at Drakes Estero. We launched with no mud from behind the store but it was not really necessary as two other paddlers launched from the usual spot and got on the water with no difficulty. A state employee walked out on top of the firm mud to get a water sample and had no problems with sinking or getting stuck.

We started out with high overcast skies and glass-like conditions on the water. Near the end of the wooden oyster racks we began to see many bat rays with their floppy wing tips just peeking out of the water and swimming slowly about in the eel-grass. Ray saw a single leopard shark just poking out above the water.

Keeping to the left, we were able to avoid the shallow spots and then made the traverse across the channel to the beach where the Sir Francis Drake marker is and where we got out for a brief stop. The opening to the estero was very flat, wide and calm. As we proceeded, we noted the mouth was split by a shallow sandbar which was occupied by dozens of seals. There was little current so we continued to the south to explore Limantour Estero stopping only when we hit shallow water. We saw a few bat rays but not so many as in the first part of Drakes Estero.

For lunch we stopped at the spit at a hillock that protected us from the onshore breeze.  Ray made a two-match fire which burned for two hours as we ate our wild salmon-sliced egg with wasabi mayo sandwiches downed with plenty of red wine in the Petaluma Paddler style.

Our paddle back was easy, again no wind. If these conditions hold, we are in for a very fine day on Sunday.


Heart’s Desire – August 1, 2010

Well 20 or so PPers showed up at HD with various agendas. The weather was cool and calm as we headed out on our various plans. The main one seemed to be to paddle up to Tomales Beach take a break and return for the BBQ. While we were breaking several of us took advantage of the new permanent solar powered toilets. The heated seats were especially nice. On the way back we picked up the stragglers and had a happy group enjoying the beautiful conditions.

Allan brought the double and stayed in the Heart’s Desire area giving his sister and niece rides. I’m not sure where P and JC went but we all arrived back at the beach at about the same time. The charcoals got lighted and the chicken and brats were soon sizzling away.

We had a great lunch, the sun was out and we were living large. Don H showed up still nursing a bad wing, he says he’ll be paddling soon. As we were winding down, Colleen showed up with her family and took over our table and still hot BBQ and Christina helped them cook their oysters.

Not sure about next Sunday yet, any bright ideas? Don F has suggested a great paddle for the 15th from China Camp to Red Rock. The tides are perfect and the weather should be fine.


After the delicious oyster BBQ (thanks, Christina!) and our afternoon paddle from Heart’s Desire we loaded the kayaks and drove over to Nick’s Cove for an evening paddle.  Our boats were back in the water by 8 pm as the fog settled over the bay.  A compass kept us on track so we found Hog Island in the mist and then continued on to explore the white cliffs while listening to elk on the ridge and waiting for darkness.  Finally, when it was dark enough that it was hard to see the other paddlers, the magical luminescence became visible.  With Hog Island blocking the lights from the shore we delighted in the sparkling eel grass, the fire balls behind each paddle stroke, the shimmering schools of small fish and the ghost-like images of rays and larger fish swimming by.  It’s definitely an excellent time for a night paddle from Nick’s.


Drakes Estero – July 25, 2010

Eight paddlers made their way from the Drakes Bay Oyster Farm this morning to join two other guests from BASK to have lunch at the mouth of the Estero. Numerous sightings of Leopard sharks and bat rays in the morning with only a few seen in the afternoon. The shared lunch was spectacular but made getting back into our kayaks a little more difficult.  Ray wore his pointy italian shoes on the paddle in case anyone needed to urgently open a bottle of wine. A light breeze, calm seas and a great group of people made the 12-mile paddle a very enjoyable day.

Bert (New member)

Drakes Estero

Drakes Estero is an expansive estuary in Marin County on the Pacific coast of northern California in the United States, approximately 25 miles (40 km) northwest of San Francisco.

Located at 38.047°N 122.942°W, the estuary provides the main drainage for the Point Reyes peninsula. Seen from the air, Drakes Estero resembles a human hand, with Barries Bay, Creamery Bay, Schooner Bay, and Home Bay as the “fingers” and Limantour Bay as the thumb. The waters of the Estero flow into Drakes Bay between Drakes Beach and a narrow strip of land called Limantour Spit.

Drakes Estero is protected as part of the Point Reyes National Seashore.