“What’s with Beatrice?” says Gandalf.

“Yeah,” echoes Dragon, “what’s wrong with Beatrice? I’ve never seen her behavin’ like this.”

“Who’s Beatrice?” says Julia, new to the harbor and first-time Thurseve paddler.

“That big white egret mopping around our boats,” say I. Beatrice also is the lead singer for the Black Crowned Herons. A harbor celebrity, Beatrice has an ego, isn’t usually into moping, her typical stride purposeful, her head held high at the end of her long, graceful neck. 

Beatrice tends to keep her distance from humans who aren’t woke to her fame, who don’t see her as a shining star among egrets. But not this evening. 

This evening the celebrity egret can’t get close enough, follows us from the macadam parking lot to the concrete launch ramp. We try to ignore her, but our behavior just draws her closer. 

Before we can escape her needy presence, paddle outta the harbor, Beatrice corners the Wizard’s Daughter, pressures her into doing a photo shoot. 

The Wizard’s Daughter shoots an entire roll of digital film before she can break free, the Black Crowned Heron’s lead singer fussing through a long set of starlet poses, most in profile and featuring her long, elegant neck.

Despite her desperate need for our attention, Beatrice doesn’t follow us out the harbor. We raft up outta the wind in the lee of Buckwheat isle—of course, the wind’s blowing—Gandalf divvying up a box of Lula’s Sea Salt Caramels among the five of us.

“Gosh,” says Julia, “I feel sad for Beatrice, even though I don’t know her. She really seemed outta sorts.”

“Ya know,” says Dragon, “I didn’t see any of the other band members at the harbor.” Pausing to pop a sea salt caramel in his mouth, “I wonder of that has anything to do with her behavior?”

Gandalf listens, cocks his head to one side, looks thoughtful, says, “D’ya think maybe the band broke up? That’d explain a lot.” We all nod our heads in agreement, finish the box of Lula’s Sea Salt Caramels, then paddle through the channel separating Buckwheat and Chard isles.

Rounding the east end of Chard, we point our boats toward The Sisters, catch a 1.5-mile hydroglide ride on the arched backs of a stampede of wind-whipped ponies, paddle through Grindle’s Needle. Backside of the Needle, we reverse course, paddle past Pt. San Pedro to Party Beach.

Party Beach says it all for tonight’s outing, a celebration of Gandalf’s b’day. Lots of real estate to park the boats, the tide not too intrusive, ample rocks to sit on around the cookfire.

Our only lack is bright sunshine, the sun already hiding behind the hills of China Camp when we land. The summer solstice 3 days past, the shade is a reminder that daylight is taking a hit each day, giving way to the dark of night.

Gandalf’s b’day feast has a good start, tiger shrimp and accompanying sweet ‘n sour dipping sauce. The following Mediterranean salad gets off to a slower start, the salad dressing MIA. Improvising, remnants of the sweet ‘n sour sauce plus a splash of red wine combine for a fine spur-of-the-moment dressing.

Between the salad and the main course, the Wizard’s Daughter pops a bottle of champagne, the dense cork flies across the beach, smacks the tandem kayak she and Gandalf paddled in. After confirming the kayak suffered no unsightly blemishes, we toast Gandalf, his age indeterminate, wish him many more years.

Our lot a mix of carnivores and vegetarians, we have a choice of main courses: a pampered and seasoned New York steak grilled over the cookfire or a burger-sized pad of pretend meat (might be an Impossible Burger or might be a Beyond Burger, we aren’t sure).

Festivities over, we shove off Party Beach. Sensing our departure, June’s full moon, a bright orange, climbs over a fog bank that’s encircled the bay all day and lights our way back to Bruno’s. 

At the harbor, we look for Beatrice, don’t see her. We hope she’s found her band.


Date: Thurseve, 24 June 2021.

Distance: Five point six nautical miles.

Speed: One point one knots.

Time: Five hours.

Spray factor: Yes.

Dessert: Fat Apple chocolate chip & oatmeal w/ pecan cookies and b’day cakes in small jars.

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