We launched with no problems and paddled northwest towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Jamie claimed that there was a strong eddy current here and we should have an easy paddle. The eddy would swing us out and around, then the flood tide would start and pull us along the Lands End area back to the beach. But then he told us that the low tide was an hour ago, which confused me: The eddy current should be strongest during the maximum ebb tide, which should have been around an hour before the low tide. If we were there when the flood tide started, the eddy would be going in the opposite direction from our intended course. However, Peter and I deferred to the local expert and followed him to the bridge and out behind the south tower pylon.
Here we discovered a strong wind blowing into The Bay, at least 20 knots by my measure. If there was any current it was totally overwhelmed by the wind. We hid behind the pylon for a few minutes then turned into the teeth of it and headed out to sea. Jamie told us that after a few minutes we would find the eddy current and the wind should die down. It never happened. Jamie admitted later that perhaps we should have done this trip an hour earlier to catch the eddy. We worked hard to fight the wind and managed to complete a big circle out and back towards Lands End. Peter and I ribbed Jamie about promising an easy eddy paddle and delivering a workout instead. We had hopes of going around the Lands End lighthouse, south to the sea lion rocks and paddling back along the coast. However, the flood tide started before we got to the light house. The water rose up into some large standing waves, perhaps two meters tall. We rode back to shore as soon as it started getting scary. Then the waves helped push us the short distance back to China Beach.
Jamie immediately went to get his car and drove home in his wetsuit (to prepare dinner for us all). Peter and I changed first and were still up in the parking lot with our cars when the ranger arrived, shortly after 9:00 PM. Peter convinced him to wait for us to get out boats, and the ranger roared off in his cop-car. We drove straight down, got out boats, and came back up and the ranger was back waiting by the gate to chain it shut.