“We got time for tea?”

I often bring tea, my small contribution to our outings, the drink, if my thermos is sealed tight, hot at the end of our beach meals. Routine has me asking before we pack up and shove off. Most times, the answer’s “yes”. But not tonight.

Tonight’s a high tide, the bay gobbling up the narrow stretch of sand that’s Party Beach. The water’s already licking around the edges of our cookfire, the three of us trying to finish off our last dish, king salmon on a cedar plank.

No trace of the salmon left, the plank clean, we make haste, start to gather together our kitchen stuff when Doc, on his first-ever Thurseve paddle, says, “Doesn’t Gandalf have bread pudding?” Gandalf does, has bread pudding. 

Well, that bread pudding changes everything. Turns out the tide’s not THAT high; it may have doused our cookfire, but the bread pudding doesn’t need a cookfire for us to eat it. 

But the bread pudding does need tea to wash it down. We delay our leave-taking a few more minutes, drink my thermos of tea, cleanse our palate of that fine dessert, then resume prepping our boats for departure.

Fine as the tea is, it does make our launch somewhat precarious. While we drink, the tide claims all but the last foot of beach.

The double’s way too long for a straight-in bow launch. Doc and Gandalf try to launch sideways into the bay, but the uppity water keeps pushing them back ashore. The key to a successful launch? Me.

I wade into the shallow water, angle their boat so the stern’s pointing 30 degrees offshore into the bay. A good shove off their bow sends the double over a bump or two in the water and Bob’s your uncle.

My single’s 7’ shorter than Doc and Gandalf’s double, but she’s still too long for a proper put-in. The bay’s up to the beach’s tidewrack, a mound of stuff high tides often deposit on the hindquarters of beaches. 

I twist my boat half a corkscrew turn, her stern now up and above the mound, my bow nosed a foot into the bay. Getting into the boat’s easy, gravity sliding me right into place in the cockpit. A quick shove with my paddle against the tidewrack sends me and the boat into the bay, lickety-split. A baby seal launch.

When earlier we left Bruno’s for Party Beach, a work crew’s anchored in the harbor by the launch ramp, just back from inspecting the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. “Nasty water out in the bay, lotsa wind,” they tell us.

They spoke true. Our original destination was Rod Reck, but that’s a no-go, conditions and all. Instead, we work our way out to Chard Island, then turn the boats toward The Sisters.

The next 2 miles is a delight, wind and waves working in our favor,  free-range wave riding our fare. However—there’s always a however—the single mile from The Sisters to Party Beach is a shoulder ache, not a delight.

All of that’s in contrast to what we launch into after drinking hot tea. The wind, formerly on steroids, is sedated; the bay, formerly belligerent, is well-behaved. Once we’re on the water, off the beach, we get a free pass to Bruno’s. No wave riding, but no shoulder aches, either.


Date: Thurseve, 19 August 2021.

Distance: Five point six nautical miles.

Speed: One point five knots.

Time: Three point seven five hours.

Spray factor: Yes.

Dessert: Bread pudding.

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