“You guys ready for this?” she says.

“Ready?” I say.

She looks at me, questioning, then looks up, points to the tumble of gray clouds. “Rain. You have a tent?” We don’t have a tent.

I consider a moment, say, “I suppose we could go under the big tented canopy on the other side of the harbor.”

Don’t Follow Don turns his head in the direction of the canopy, says, “We’d have to haul all our gear over there.” He doesn’t sound enthused about that. We’ve already unloaded the boats on Pet Sematary Beach, the wood stacked for the cookfire, but not lit.

Rain does fall, but doesn’t reach the ground, dissipates soon after precipitating outa the gray clouds. We light the cookfire, the lady wanders back down the beach to her houseboat in Pt. San Pablo Harbor.

The lack of rain is convenient for us, we don’t have to port our gear across the harbor, but rain would’ve been welcome, it in short supply in this part of the country. Many of our reservoirs are sucking dust. 

No rain on us, but those gray clouds do put on a light show for our entertainment, sunset in full swing. Gray morphs into fuchsia, which slides into hot pink, then into dark orchid, which transitions into indigo, which mingles with dark purple, night’s dark curtain closing out the show.

Our little camp, our cookfire, stay dry, but the four of us—Gandalf, Dragon, Don’t Follow Don, and me—we’re sopping wet.

Our paddle from Bruno’s to Pt. San Pablo Harbor is on lumpy water, nothing to write home about, a mild breeze at our backs. Not much spray, a fairly dry crossing … until the East Brother lighthouse.

The gap between East Brother and the point is roiling with standing waves. Big standing waves. Spray flying off their breaking crests. 

Standing waves are fun to surf, but they don’t take you anywhere. You feel like you’re going somewhere, but you’re pretty much standing still, staying in one place. A wet treadmill.

You may be at a standstill, but the spray isn’t. Nonstop, blowing off the standing wave you’re bound to. It smacks your face, works it’s way underneath your paddling togs, into your cockpit. Devious, unrelenting. Wet.

We’re soaked when we reach Pet Sematary Beach. Once the lady heads back to her houseboat, we do a striptease on the beach, change into dry clothes. You had to be there, but I suspect you’re glad you weren’t.

A special occasion on Pet Sematary Beach tonight, a birthday celebration. Mine. In addition to salad, corn-on-the-cob, chopped veggies, Afghan bread, pumpkin b’day muffins, Dragon brings lobster tails and Gandalf champagne. We celebrate.

This birthday advances me into my fourth quarter. Lots of potential plays ahead, lots of potential 1st and 10s. Just don’t want to rush ahead too quickly, get to the end zone with time still ticking on the clock. If I play it cool, there’ll be dancing under the goal post.

We play it cool tonight, time our leave-taking just as the ebbing tide exposes the first few inches of knee-deep mud. A clean launch off Pet Sematary Beach, we paddle into a dark bay, our crossing to Bruno’s lit up by frequent bursts of dry lightning, the strikes, like the rain, never touching ground.


Date: Thurseve, 9 September 2021.

Distance: Seven nautical miles.

Speed: One point four knots.

Time: Five hours.

Spray factor: Oh yes.

Dessert: Pumpkin b’day muffins.

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