I was down in Oakland on Friday for another screening of 'Paddle California' and figured I would stay over and get some paddling in on the Bay. A couple folks reminded me that Saturday was the annual Gonzo paddle of the Bay Area Sea Kayakers. The idea is to visit as many islands in the San Francisco Bay as possible in one day. The current route hits 14 islands, covers 37 miles and took about 7.5 hours. The day is chosen to get as much assist from tidal currents as possible, but with all the little detours to islands it is hardly a free ride.
21 kayakers launched from Horseshoe Cove under the Golden Gate Bridge at 7am (actually a couple were a little late and had to catch up to the group). By the time we got to the first island, Alcatraz, we were already spread out across the Bay. To cover such a distance with a large group of folks in a variety of boats it's impossible (and not necessary) to stay tight. So the group broke into smaller pods based on speed and who you most wanted to talk to. We all regrouped at China Camp for lunch where a number of folks joined the fun for a one-way paddle down to Horseshoe Cove. By this point we had covered the majority of the distance (23 miles) and islands (only 3 left).
The afternoon went fairly quickly with a strong current at our backs for most of the way. The final homestretch through Raccoon Strait had a bit of a headwind that made the paddling seem hard - but if you looked off to the side you realized the current still had you moving at 4+ knots. After a short stop to play in the tide rip at Yellow Bluff it was back to the beach with some lovely chocolate chip cookies waiting at the finish line. And after loading the boats and cleaning up it was in to the yacht club for a beer and burgers and the immediate recounting (and embellishing) of a very successful day on the water.