Sausalito to Mill Valley, June 13th 1998.

Penny Wells and Joe Petolino initiated this trip in Richardson Bay (a lobe of the SF Bay). We launched from Dumphey Park in Sausalito. The park has a lot of lawn and a very small beach, but we launched from a different sandy spot near the parking lot where the low tide exposed a little more beach. We paddled out around the Sausalito Yacht Club, past the Bay Model Visitors Center, and past a bunch of houseboats and marinas for yachts. When we passed west of Strawberry Point there were signs warning that this was a sea-plane landing area. We had seen one sea plane fly by earlier when getting ready and several of the paddlers were nervous about this. I replied that the probability of being hit by a plane in all this water was low, and the excitement of seeing one land would be so cool that it would be worth the small risk. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, no planes landed while we paddled across this lobe of the bay.

We paddled under Highway 101 and started up the Pickleweed Inlet. But before we got to the next marina we stopped behind a small public dock behind an office complex off the frontage road. One of the buildings in this complex is a Japanese Restaurant but most of the buildings were empty this time of the evening. That was fine with us as many of us were wearing wetsuits and needed to change into street clothes. The sun had not quite set yet so I left my wetsuit stretched out to soak up the last few rays and hopefully get dry.

I had originally considered plugging the scuppering holes in my old Frenzy kayak and wearing street clothes on The Bay. Penny was wearing rain-pants over her street clothes but she was paddling a sit- inside kayak for this trip. There was a lot of discussion beforehand via the phone and email about whether or not to wear a wetsuit. I referred to this as searching for “fashion advice”. When Maryly Snow reported that she had gotten fashion advice from me, Penny and several of my other “friends” made a lot of noise in mock horror: “You got fashion advice from Mike Higgins”! Joe was paddling his double Tsunami X2 with Mary-Marcia in the front and they both put on wetsuits. Joe said that trying to stay dry in a kayak is not worth the trouble. This was the best advice I heard on the subject, so this is why I wore mine.

After getting dressed, we made it into the restaurant a little late only to find that a bunch of other BASKers had arrived by car to join us for dinner. Jean Severinghaus among others had arrived on time and nailed down our reservation and held down the table. The couple across from me were introduced as expert surfers. Since they lived in the neighborhood, they had experience with surfing the wakes of the Golden Gate Ferry boats in the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. It turns out that a quite nice kayak surfing ride can be had in the wakes of these large boats. Apparently the local surfers study the ferry schedules to decide when to paddle out into the bay to catch a wave. It was amusing to hear a surfer talk about catching a wave on a time schedule. Apparently you get only one chance to catch one of these waves. So if you miss the 4:15pm wave, for example, you have to paddle back to Larkspur and sit in a coffee shop until it is time to paddle out to catch the 5:15 wave.

We had a wonderful meal although it was a tad expensive. I had felt a little guilty when the Russian River Campout meal at the Sizzling Tandoor had come to $22.00 per person. Well, that guilt melted away when my meal at this Japanese restaurant came to $34.00 with tax and tip. Well, it was good and I did have an entrée (BBQ’ed freshwater eel over rice), soup (miso) and salad (sunomono) a large hot sake (shared with Maryly Snow), a spicy tuna sushi roll, and dessert (ginger ice cream).

After dinner we all wandered back to our equipment which had not walked off without us. My wetsuit even felt reasonably dry (it must finally be summer). We got back into the water and paddled back to Sausalito by the lights of the surrounding cities and marinas. The Moon was not scheduled to be up until very late in the night but in the middle of The Bay we didn’t need any natural light. Occasionally we saw the red-and-green running lights of a yacht heading towards us so we huddled behind a moored yacht or buoy until it was obvious that the boat would miss us. We quickly made it back to our launching spot ( it was only four kilometers from the restaurant) and soon had all our boats out of the water.

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All text and images Copyright © 1998 by Mike Higgins / contact