Saturday, August 20, 2016

Kayak surfing fulfills a paddler's longtime dream

Update: Slideshow from "Bodega Bash" 

Blogger puts lessons into practice at "Bodega Bash" kayak surfing meet on Sept. 17 (photo courtesy Mark Boyd)  

The kayak instructor’s question was an easy one for me…

Earlier surf session in "Maytag zone" (photo courtesy Kelly Marie Henry) 
Why did you want to take an introductory kayak surfing class? My instant reply: “In the early ‘60s, when I was a kid living 800 miles from the ocean and I heard The Beach Boys on the radio….”  Everyone laughed, but true. “Surfin’ USA” in 1963: ”If everybody had an ocean…” Ha! A kid in in the Appalachian Mountains could only listen to the radio and dream.

But 50-some years later, my dream finally came true with a recent “Introduction to Kayak Surfing” class at Dillon Beach, near the mouth of Tomales Bay.  My first run, from 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Paddle over to see a Tomales Bay icon while you can

Despite appearances, the "S.S. Point Reyes" was no shipwreck -- it was going to be a fixer-upper 

“Picturesque derelict” sounds like a contradiction...

But any kayaker who’s ever paddled on Tomales Bay knows what I’m talking about. It’s a nautical hulk known as the “S.S. Point Reyes” or the “Tomales Bay shipwreck.” In fact, it’s no shipwreck at all, but an icon for the West Marin County community that became its final resting port. Just step or paddle back a bit and observe the scene, on or off the water.
A suspicious fire last February nearly destroyed the old girl

Tomales Bay rises and falls dramatically with the tides, from shimmering salty expanse to stinking mud flat. Many structures near the waterline are a bit rough and ragged but as full of character as some of their inhabitants.

Everything is precariously situated – the “Reyes” rests on a sandbar, which in turns sits atop a major fault line that at some future date could make flotsam and jetsam out of Inverness, Point Reyes Station, Marshall and all the hamlets in between.

But hey, no hurry on Tomales time.  Whether you’re on the geologic clock, checking tide tables for a kayak trip, or driving on Francis Drake Boulevard, slow down on the approach to Inverness and that strange relic just behind the general store.  Like its surroundings, the “Reyes” has for decades conveyed a sense of dignified, gradual decline – at least until recently.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Reservoirs and kayaker fortunes finally rise again

BEFORE: Rolling down the hill to launch at Rattlesnake Bar last October.
AFTER: Fishing boat at about the same spot, March 18

Our long-term drought may not be over yet.... 

But these days, the view from a kayak looks pretty good around Northern California. Consider this before-and-after comparison at Folsom Lake Recreation Area's Rattlesnake Bar. 

It was just last October 30 that NorCal Yak pal Dale and I drove to the launch

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Use tie-downs on every kayak trip -- or risk disaster

At the scene -- and time definitely did not stand still 

You know you’re in for a hair-raising kayak story when it begins...

"Miraculously, no one was killed or injured." 

This is one of those stories. Not to sound melodramatic, but it’s a paddler’s tale with lessons that could save lives. And off the water, at that.    

It happened last Nov. 27, Black Friday. While most folks were already stampeding into the shopping malls or sleeping off their turkey dinners, I headed toward Tomales Bay with paddling pal Trudy on I-80.