BASK Skills Clinic Day 6

 

Today marked our third weekend and day six of our BASK (Bay Area Sea Kayakers) skills clinic. The amount of information the instructors and coordinators have packed into the clinic is amazing and almost overwhelming. A great experience to be learning from some very skilled instructors and volunteers. Today, the eight students broke into two pods of four paddlers. Each group of four students was accompanied by four instructors. Our assignment was to prepare a float plan to paddle from McNears Beach to Point San Pablo. With the prediction for light winds in the morning and a flood current, we formulated a plan to paddle out to The Sisters, two rocks just off of McNears Beach, assess the wind and current conditions there and then set a course for The Brothers Light House, which would angle us into the wind and current with the expectation that our true course would be towards our destination. At that point the wind was blowing more than we expected, but a survey of the group indicated that the consensus was to follow through with our plan. As we made our way across the Bay though, it became apparent that the wind and current were setting us back and we decided to abandon our plan and return to McNears Beach.  The wind and current had set us well north into San Pablo Bay, and we were now continuing to struggle into the wind and current. With some paddlers starting to tire,  tow ropes were put into service to tow the tired paddlers, and we broke into two groups of four paddlers. Four of us managed to paddle to China Camp, not too far from our original launch point,  and four hitched a ride on a police boat back to our point of origin. One of the lesson I learned from this experience was the importance of good communications. From the use of handheld VHS radios, to paddle signals and hand signals. A tiring day. Four hours of constant paddling into the wind and current without event a break for a snack bar. To stop paddling, even for a moment, would mean loosing ground against the wind and current. You can see a track and stats for our paddle here.

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Gray Day on the Bay

There were just two of us today, Danny and myself, for the BASK Thursday Lunch Paddle.  We launched from China Camp State Park Beach in a light rain with little wind, and headed south around Point San Pedro, past the quarry, paddling inside the pilings to avoid the stronger incoming current  further out.  We ended up at a little beach just off of San Pedro Road near the brick kilns. There we found a couple chairs and a table and broke our our lunches. A cool breeze and the overcast created a bit of a chill, so we were happy to get back in our boats to paddle back to our launch point. Back on the beach we were intrigued by a couple of guys that were arranging pebbles in various locations and taking photographs of them; reminiscent of an Andy Goldsworthy installation.  You can follow a track of our paddle here and more photos here.

In Celebration of Independence

The eve of the Fourth of July found us at the Craneway Pavillion in Richmond, picnicking with friends and listening to the Oakland Symphony. Given the divisiveness of events recently it’s a pleasure to come together in celebration. And no shortage of emotion on my part when the orchestra started to play the national anthem and the thousands of people stood and sung “Oh Say Can you See…” in honor of this place in which we live.

Rather than brave the traffic and parking for the event, we put our bikes on the car and drove to a convenient location just off the San Francisco Bay Trail, a yet-to-be completed 500 mile walking and cycling trail around the bay which passes through 47 cities and nine counties.

The entertainment started with the Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra playing some rousing music starting with Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein and ending with a selection of suites from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. Quite an amazing group of talented young musicians. They are off to Cuba shortly.

Then the Oakland Symphony came on stage, opening with our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Where else can you hear a free concert with a full orchestra ? And as the orchestra played we watched the fire works barge chug by getting in position for the evening pyrotechnic display.

The evening ended with the orchestra playing Souza marches as the fireworks exploded in all manner of colors over the harbor. Not to go unnoticed where a couple of dozen kayakers on the water. Perhaps I’ll try that next year. You can see more photos of the evening event as well as photos from our local City of Albany 4th of July celebration here.