Monday, December 10, 2012

The joy of knowledge and skill

I went for a nice little paddle on San Francisco Bay the other day. Launched from Horseshoe Cove, went out to Angel Island, circumnavigated, then back to the start. Very pleasant paddle with nice weather and nice views. Thing is, the tides/currents were completely unfavorable.

We launched as the ebb was staring. That means Angel Island is directly upstream. Most people plan their trips trying to use the tidal currents to their advantage. That's a good idea and I use it often. But sometimes I have a free day and want to take a friend to the island and the moon and stars (literally) don't align. I don't like letting such pesky things like heavenly bodies limit my fun, so I do what I want anyway.

If you don't want to be at the mercy of the elements you have to understand how things work and have the skill to work around them. We couldn't paddle direct to Angel Island, but instead we ducked into Richardson Bay where the current is minimal and worked our way up to Belvedere Pt. Then we ferried across Racoon Strait. This takes some harder paddling to overcome the current, and the water can get rough because of the shelf the water flows over, but we had the speed and skill to handle the conditions. We worked our way around the island by hugging the shore as tight as possible, often get a boost from the eddy current as the main current flowed past us just a few feet away. We even went in the worst direction which meant we had to fight the current longer (but arrived at the desired lunch spot right on time).

The point is, if you don't really understand how currents work, if you don't understand eddies and ferry angles, if you can't handle rough water or paddle hard for short distances, then your options are limited. If you stay within those limits you can have a great time. That's great. If you expand your knowledge and work on your skills, your limits will grow with you. Don't we all like more options? I know I do.

And yes, the rumor is true, I used a Greenland stick for part of the paddle. Wasn't the first time and won't be the last.

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