Vista Point to Diablo Point.
Just east of the Golden Gate Bridge, there is a Coast Guard
Station with a
and boat ramp. I got in the water here, and
headed out towards the bridge. The Coast Guard has a pier there, with a
bunch of people fishing off of it. It was a sunny morning, and I felt a
little overdressed in a wetsuit and life vest as I passed the pier. The
bridge maintenance crew was sandblasting on the north bridge support
somewhere, and a plume of sand was blowing into the bay. As I came up
to the pylon, the plume blew over my head, and I never even caught a
smell of it. They stopped soon after, and were not blasting when I came
in. I had planned this trip on a morning when the tide was coming in at
maximum flood so that I could not get washed out to sea. When I came
around the corner of the pylon, the water was flowing very rapidly into
the bay. So fast that there were
standing waves around the pylon, and
as I approached the far corner, I went slower and slower and finally
came to a complete stop paddling as fast as I could. Under the
(mistaken) assumption that the water would be moving fastest where it
was constricted against the pylon, I turned and moved farther out into
the channel. I tried resting and paddling as hard as I could, paddling
slowly but steadily, but slowly lost ground and got a better and better
view of the bridge. Since I had gotten so close to making it when near
the pylon, I turned back to shore and made a second attempt. A giant
cargo ship was going under the bridge just then, and I wondered if this
was commonly done AGAINST the tide. I felt like I was escorting it
under the bridge. This time, I went as close to the pylon and the rocks
as I could get and still paddle. Paddling as hard as I could, I made it
around the pylon, and there was an idle pool behind it before the first
shore rock. I rested for a bit and then went around the point of the
rock. There was a lot of current here as well, but it seemed a little
easier this time. There were a few other points near the bridge past
this that had noticeable current, but nothing to work hard against.
From here on to
(about 1.5 miles west) it was uneventful,
but had interesting cliffs, rocks and a few small beaches. One beach,
Kerby Beach, has a group campground that you can reserve at the GGNRA
information center. For the return trip, I cut straight across from the
point to the bridge pylon. I was looking forward to being sucked back
into the bay by the current, but when I got there, it was too late, the
tide was slack, and I had to paddle myself into the bay.
When I entered the water, I wondered about the Coast Guard and
what regulations they have about very small craft (VSC) in the bay. I
decided as I left that I would not ask, since the answer would probably
be no. But when I got back, I walked over to their office and asked.
The guy who came out to see what I wanted got interested in the answer
because he sometimes goes out to Bonita Point (farther than I went!) in
a rowing shell. He gave me a pamphlet that was aimed at owners of
power boats, with things like registration, numbers on the hull, running
lights, and safety vest requirements. It was unclear about VSC. (I made
that up, they didn't have an acronym for Very Small Craft) So we asked
some other guards. Eventually, someone copied two pages out of a big
fat book of regulations that said if you are in a human powered hull
under 17 feet long, you don't need to register, number, or even carry
life vests(!?). But if you go out at night, you have to carry "an
electric torch or lantern of sufficient brightness to prevent collision".
I considered asking them how many megawatts it takes to produce enough
photon pressure to push two boats apart, but thought better of it.
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All text and images Copyright © 1994 by Mike Higgins / contact