Jailhouse to Dynamite Beach, July 10th 2008.

My Thursday evening meetings for work in the South Bay have been moved to Wednesday. This means Iím missing out on some social events on Wednesday but I can join John Boeschen on his Thurseve Paddles now! John announced the launch this time as Jailhouse Beach, so I brought all my camping gear hoping for a trip to Red Rock. I looked at the weather forecast and saw something strange on the wind map: The wind was supposed to be 4 knots everywhere, except on the San Francisco Bay where it was 20 knots! How can the wind on the water be that strong if it has no place to go?

I left calm and warm Sonoma County and sure enough when I arrived at Jailhouse the wind was blowing strong from the south and the sky was overcast. Several of Johnís regulars gave up and went home. In the end only five of us were brave enough to go out on the bay. John decided to be conservative, hug the shore of the bay and paddle north with the wind. We went under the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge, under the Gun Club Pier and surfed wind-waves to Chard Island. We ducked behind the island to get out of the wind and waves for a minute and collect ourselves together again. Then we paddled the remaining distance to Dynamite Beach.

The tide was very high and there wasnít much beach to land on. We pushed our kayaks up as high as we could and sat down around a piece of old barge that became our table. There was the usual too much to drink and too much good food. We had pasta (from Trader Joes ĖTJís), sausages on bread, turkey sandwich rolls and more. I brought ripe peaches and chopped them into TJís Mediterranean style yogurt, YUM!

The wind was too strong to light a campfire at first but it died down some and we lit one after dinner. Three kayakers launched and headed home after dark. Like me, Jonathan Purcell brought some camping equipment to stay the night. The tide was going to be low all night long and we could camp almost anywhere we wanted. So the two of us stayed up late around the campfire talking philosophy most of the evening. When we became too tired to talk, Jonathan opened up his drybags and discovered that he forgot to bring a sleeping bag. With an overcast sky and a cold wind blowing he decided to paddle back to his car and go home. I helped him launch and then got into my own tent.

As I set the alarm on my cell to wake me up I discovered that it was 2:00 in the morning! If I had known it was so late I would have just paddled back with Jonathan! He had a similar thought when he made it home after 5:00 AM. He figured that he should have stayed up around the campfire for just a few more hours until dawn started lighting up the sky. Then he would not have had to paddle into the wind in the dark.

I got up in time to launch just after 6:00 AM in the morning. The wind was still blowing directly from the south and I made slow progress. I hid behind Chard Island for a few minutes out of the wind. Then I turned a little west to get into the wind shadow of the first hills of Point San Quentin. This really didnít work until I was under the Gun Club Pier. I ducked under the Richmond San Rafael Bridge and fought my way into the wind for the last stretch to Jailhouse Beach. It was disappointing to have to paddle into the wind, in stormy weather with overcast skies, in a month when we had been having record breaking hot days most of the time! But it was good practice for a paddle in Oregon that I am starting next week.

Jonathan called me later to verify that I had survived. John sent out his comic book version of the outing, http://web.mac.com/jboeschen/LCM/7.10.08.html, but it does not mention anything about the return trip being arduous!

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