There’s some thought that goes into planning a paddle. My initial thoughts start Tuesday morning, and by Tuesday afternoon my final thought goes out in a paddle announcement.

I’m thinking about Thursday evening currents Tuesday morning. The tide log says there’s gonna be a stiff ebb the first part of our outing. I don’t feel comfortable crossing shipping channels in stiff currents. That eliminates Pt. San Pablo Harbor as a destination, but leaves Party Beach, Full Moon Beach, and Rod Reck in the running.

I’m also thinking about Thursday evening tides Tuesday morning. I see there’s a good sized negative tide sucking up lots of water, leaving plenty of mud at Party Beach. Mud is not our friend. Now I’m down to Full Moon Beach and Rod Reck as destinations, both mud free at any tide.

Rod Reck’s my choice, the evening’s stiff ebb’ll carry us there straightaway from Bruno’s, plus we’ll have slack water crossing the shipping channel on our way back. I’m about to email the paddle announcement when . . . 

I get wind of a just-happening oil spill at the Chevron refinery. A stretch of the East Bay shoreline’s a definite no-go, Rod Reck in the thick of the mess. Only viable destination left is Full Moon Beach. To get there, we’ll launch from Danny’s Secret Launch.

Here’s the paddle announcement I email Tuesday afternoon:

Danny’s Secret Launch 4:30 PM OTW.

(OTW’s short for “On The Water.”)

Thursday rolls around, and only Gandalf and I show up at the Secret Launch. There’s a reason for the poor showing: rain. Rain was forecast Tuesday for Thursday, but what kayaker pays attention to rain? Apparently a lotta kayakers do.

Thursday’s rain isn’t a drizzle, either. It’s a downpour. The parking lot at the Secret Launch is fast becoming a reservoir, growing deeper by the minute.

“Didcha bring a rain tarp?” I ask Gandalf.

“No,” says Gandalf. “Didn’t you?”

We look at each other through the heavy raindrops, quickly arrive at the same conclusion: We won’t be able to get a cookfire lit. No reason to go paddling if we can’t light a cookfire.

The two of us wade across the spreading parking-lot reservoir through a wall of water, find shelter under an overhang, set up our small camp, minus the cookfire.

Midway through the salad, Gandalf looks over at me, says, “If we were younger, we woulda paddled, figured out a way to keep the cookfire going, right?”

“Yeah,” says I, “right. If we were younger. Now, could you hand me that bottle of salad dressing?”


Date: Thurseve, 11 February 2021.

Distance: 0 nautical miles.

Speed: 0 knots.

Time: 0 hours.

Spray factor: Substantial.

Dessert: Chocolate-dipped peanut butter cookies.