Sponyaking = Spontaneous kayaking
Imprompaddling = Impromptu paddling
It's my favorite kind of day on the water. Never planned more than a day in advance. Simple logistics, slow pace, and good friends (none of this organized crowd-yaking with strangers nonsense). It's the kind of paddle when your PFD is the perfect beer holder. There is no purpose, destination, or expectation, so only pleasant surprises remain.
The day after Thanksgiving I made the trek from North Berkeley to the Kayak Hotel in Oakland. Sadly, it was the first time I've seen my boat since moving to Berkeley two months ago. On this warm sunny morning, I rolled Big Purple down to the docks, dropped her into the water, and took off for CCK. With my iced coffee (not beer!) strapped to the front deck with bungee cords, I looked like a true city girl.
Ten minutes later I arrived at California Canoe & Kayak, the local kayaking shop where I was meeting Doug and his family (bother, sister, and 8-year old nephew). I bobbed about, sipping on my coffee and enjoying the kayak shop atmosphere. When Doug & co. arrived, they loaded into two red tandems and we headed west, towards San Francisco.
Somewhat surprisingly, paddling in the heavily developed Oakland Estuary is never boring. While it's not the sort of isolated outdoor adventure some might desire, it's always fun to gawk at the massive cargo ships, stacked high with shipping containers from across the ocean. Even with the holiday, the cranes were working hard, dangling the packed containers perilously over our heads (ok, not quite over). Three crowded ferries plowed by us, filled with happy consumers excited for the Black Friday deals awaiting them across the Bay. Their wakes reflected from both sides of the channel and lifted us high in the air. In lieu of any photos, here's an awesome link where you can see real time locations of ships in San Francisco Bay.
8-Year-old Daniel and I embarked on a garbage-collection competition. It didn't take long before Big Purple was stacked with 50 cans and potato chip bags. When I offered my stack to Daniel to make the competition more fair, he didn't fall for my trick. So I guess I won?
We made it all the way to the mouth of the Estuary, between the airfield and Middle Harbor Shoreline Park, which apparently hosts concerts in the summertime (on the to-do list). We applied sunscreen, ate some snacks, and turned back towards Oakland.
|The route, starting in the estuary and paddling out to the Bay. In this map you can also see Lake Merritt. I lived on the east side of the Lake for two years before moving to Berkeley two months ago.|
Time: ~2 hours
Distance ~ 7.5 miles
Thanks to Jeff for a much needed kick-in-the-pants to update the blog. I've skipped quite a few wonderful paddling trips, but it's always easier to start with a simple one :). Stay tuned for a guest post from Jeff in a week or so!