Get In Shape Paddle, March 8th 2008.

I found a day when the tides might make the Gonzo Paddle possible late in the winter, but it was going to be more work than normal. That day was coming up soon and I had to be in the Bay Area anyway, so I decided to get in shape by doing a practice paddle on The Bay. I announced it on the BASK email list-server and only one person, Dave Brown, was interested in showing up. This was “only” an 18 mile paddle, about half what the Gonzo Paddle was likely to be.

We had similar tides and had to launch at oh-dark-hundred-hours in the morning to catch them starting from Horseshoe Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge. We paddled up Raccoon Strait with the flood and went straight for the end of the spit from Brooks Island. Dave wanted to stop for lunch so we paddled up the inside of the Richmond Harbor Channel until we came to the break in the breakwater. (Brokenwater?) Here sand had collected and we had a beach to land on and enjoy our lunch.

We dragged our kayaks over the sand to the outside of the breakwater and started back. Since we had started a mile farther west, it was no farther out of our way to head straight for the South Hampton Shoals. This is a place where there used to be a lighthouse built on pylons. N now only the pylons and a new navigational light remain. I was surprised to find a small concrete shack under the nav light and considered coming back to ninja camp here. The terrible smell of the guano from all the birds that hang out here make this an un-appetizing thought.

As we approached Angel Island from the northeast, a super tanker came up behind us. I assumed the shipping channel was far from shore here but before we could get safely up to the island this behemoth of a ship cut between us and the island. I had not realized how close these ships go to the island!

We rounded Point Blunt and headed straight into the afternoon breeze blowing in the Golden Gate. This was just a warm-up paddle for me but Dave apparently needs to get into better shape. He was tired on this last 4 mile stretch of the paddle and discouraged by the wind slowing us down. I offered to tow him, if only I had remembered to bring my towrope. He says he would have refused a tow even if I had the equipment. Then he made it back to Horseshoe Cove under his own power anyway!

All text and images Copyright © 2008 by Mike Higgins / contact