Starved of salt water and kayaks longer than 10 ft, Colorado Jeff flew to San Francisco for a weekend of bingeyaking (my second favorite verb, after sponyaking). The bingeyaking was certainly not spontaneous, as we spent two weeks planning our routes and finding ways to squeeze as many miles into one weekend as possible.
We had planned to paddle Estero Americano (i.e. Americano Creek) from Valley Ford Road to its confluence at Bodega Bay. Unfortunately, the weather forecast was looking pprreeettyyy miserable for Saturday, with heavy rains...
Alice and I made reasonably spontaneous plans to paddle yesterday (no cancellations and only planned 2 days in advance - that's real progress). Since we were both tired of driving, we decided to meet in the middle, at San Quentin. Yes, San Quentin State Prison. There's an easy launch spot called Jailhouse Beach that's sheltered by the prison on one side and by the Richmond bridge on the other. There are only a few parking spots along the side of the road, but we had no trouble. It's 1-hour parking, but in Alice's last 3 visits she hasn't gotten a parking ticket. Shhhh!
I've always loved the graceful aspects of kayaking: wake-less drifting, a perfectly-carved turn, an effortless roll, a silent lake. Kayak polo throws elegance out the window in favor of aggression, throwing, tackling, and yelling. But it's different, it's fun, and I'm hoping to stick with it.
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a Berkeley Kayak Polo Meet-up group. Okay, I didn't stumble - Google is just good at advertising. It seemed too good to be true: young kayakers, $8, all gear included (makes logistics much simpler), 10 minutes from my apartment (a rarity in this crowded/spread out Bay), and not already filled to capacity (also unusual for outdoorsy meet-up groups). The sessions are run by the Bay Area Kayak Polo Club (BAKPC) and meet at the Berkeley Marina, in a sheltered area (see photo above and map below)...
Alice, Stijn, Johnny, and I met at the Berkeley Marina at 9am for a very "unplanned/casual" paddle. I use quotes because it took us a week of rapid-fire emails and changing plans to reach this point. Most of us (except Johnny) had abandoned our boats for far too long. For most of us, this was our first sea kayaking trip out of Berkeley. We launched from the docks near Cal Adventures on the south side of the marina. The parking is free and the launch works well at most tide levels.
[This post has been in draft form for 1.5 months, so I figured it was time to accept its imperfections and wrap it up. Lindsey, my fellow king-tide tour-guide also wrote a post, available here]
Choose inundation over inebriation** and celebrate King Tides because it's much more exciting than celebrating the New Year. Why? [Thanks to Lindsey for helping brainstorm this list]
So... what are King Tides...?
Today I'm digging into the archives to recount my first true overnight kayak camping trip in California (sad, I know). Beth, Sara, Eddie, Joel, Christina, Brian, Alice, and I camped overnight at Tomales Beach in Tomales Bay. Dane + 2 friends joined us for the Saturday paddle and lunch.
Chiddling = Chill paddling
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...
Clear Lake, in Lake County, California, has been on my to-paddle list since I discovered it on a map and learned about its fascinating history a few months ago. More than a few friends responded with apathy at visiting the lake, alluding to its reputation for motorboats, rednecks, and water quality issues. While I certainly love a remote, undeveloped lake, I also enjoy exploring other flavors of paddling! Alice agreed to join the long day trip. We left the Bay at noon, drove about 2.5 hours (after accidentally "meeting up" at two different park-n-rides in Novato), and put our boats on the water around 4pm. Within 5 minutes we jumped out of our boats to refresh, ignoring the algal bloom that filled the water around us.
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
In addition to the blog, check out the Water Nerd section, where I write about coastal engineering and hydrology.
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Click the "Read More" link at the bottom of each summary for more photos, to see an interactive map of the route, and to read about the adventure.
Maps in each blog post: Click the icons to learn more about the launch site (amenities) and destinations. Click the square in the bottom-left corner to see an aerial photo behind the route.