Last few months, I’ve been paddling with Gandalf in his double. Shoulder issues. Gandalf’s the captain, sits in the rear cockpit, controls the rudder. I’m the stoker, sit in the front cockpit, don’t do much, just paddle when the mood strikes me.

What I just said isn’t the whole truth. Sitting in the front cockpit, I also get wet, soaked. Pretty much every outing. But not tonight going from Schoonmaker to Potsticker Beach, Potsticker 500 yards up the Golden Gate Strait west of the Bridge.

A contingent of big, slow open-water rollers near the Bridge looks like they could splash, but don’t. Times past, paddling under the Bridge has been an adventure, a perfect storm of confusion. Doesn’t happen tonight.

Tonight, Gandalf and I come ashore onto Potsticker, biding our time between moderately distanced 3’ breakers, sliding up on the beach riding gentle water. Outa the boat, I’m as dry as the sand I’m standing on. Hardly ever happens, that level of dry.

Don’t Follow Don comes in next, lickety-split up on the beach, no problems. Dragon follows, waits for several waves to roll under him, then goes for it. He waited too long. A troublesome 3 -footer crashes on top of him, his boat rolls over, Dragon face-plants in the surf.

Don’t Follow Don and I are close by, run into the surf, grab Dragon’s boat before the receding water swallows it back into the Strait. I have hold of the grab handle at the bow; the receding boat tugs at my arm, I dig my feet into the sand, resist the tug, and …

I fall on my keister. The good news is the water’s heading back into the strait. The bad news is it doesn’t matter, I’m already soaked up to my armpits. Dragon and Don’t Follow Don are in no better shape. 

The fallout from our misadventure is that we stand around our camp’s fire pit the entire evening, ignore the available picnic tables, eat on our feet, steam pouring off our clothes. 

Before launching from Schoonmaker earlier in the evening, we bump into a young Frenchman named Cyril Derreumaux. Says he’s gonna paddle solo from Monterey to Hawaii this May. 

He shows us his boat, specially designed for his 70-day crossing. Twenty-eight feet long, his boat can be paddled or pedaled, allowing him to alternately rest his tired limbs and still power on. Smart by way of my thinking.

Another feature I find impressive, particularly after our Potsticker upset, is the enclosed cabin in the kayak’s stern. You wanna stay dry on the open ocean, this is how you do it. 

The cabin also serves another useful function: it’s size/volume prevents the kayak from capsizing, rolling over, troublesome waves less troublesome.

Here’s a link to Cyril’s upcoming adventure, includes photos of his boat:

“That’s one bad boat!” I say, adding my two cents to our standup fireside chatter about Cyril and his boat.

“You mean good, right?” says Dragon.

“Yeah,” I say, “bad as in good.” That diverts chatter to words that are their own opposites. Some of us are up for that, others are down for it, too. For more of the same, go here: 

I can’t remember what prompted Don’t Follow Don to ask this question, but he does: “Do squirrels farm oaks for acorns or do oaks farm squirrels to spread acorns?” We aren’t of a mind on a single answer, rather agree it’s probably a little bit of both.

One deep question leads to another, Gandalf asking, “Why is soccer so much more popular than frisbee?” We all find that puzzling, hands way more evolved and creative than feet, feet lacking opposable toes. Some questions aren’t meant to be answered, and we let this one go.

We feed our chatter with green salad, lamb chunks with baby potatoes, and spiralized veggies with eggplant, salmon, and shiitake mushrooms. We’re still on our feet, but tiring. Paddling back to Schoonmaker seems like the thing to do.

We do, paddle back to Schoonmaker, no need for a boat like Cyril’s. All’s calm and flat.


Date: Thurseve, 11 March 2021.

Distance: Seven point eight nautical miles.

Speed: One point seven knots.

Time: Four point five hours.

Spray factor: None.

Dessert: Chocolate-covered peanut butter cookies.