Been awhile, paddling to Pallet Beach. Must be a couple years since our close encounter with a park ranger, the ranger citing us for cooking food over a campfire. Haven’t been back till this evening.

We cook our food on the beach citation free, use a new portable single-burner camp stove, Don’t Follow Don’s. I know it’s new ‘cause it’s dent- and scratch-free, no scorch marks. Any camp stove a month past it’s purchase date won’t age that well if it belongs to Don’t Follow Don.

Last time we were here, the beach was flush with whale bones, one set of bones still assembled, an immense skeleton. Up till our last visit, three whales had been brought to Pallet for necropsies, the whales victims of ship strikes. The whales were left to decompose. Several more have been rendered to bleached bones since.

This evening, only a few bones remain, scattered up and down the beach. The likely thief is tidal action, the tides carrying some into the bay, burying others in the sand. Other than bone loss and several giant tires deposited on the beach’s west end, Pallet has aged well.

Pallet Beach wasn’t our first choice for a destination, that honor belonged to Red Rock. Once outta Danny’s Secret Launch, a withering wind and an ebbing current heading south changed all that, and Red Rock became Pallet Beach.

Our outing is most pleasant, wind and currents favoring us. A couple notable absentees add to that pleasure. Temperatures that would soar to 107° F in 2 days are in the low 80s and smoke from the Woodacre fire that would blanket us Friday morning is a light monk’s tonsure blurring the horizon.

Gandalf’s salad and Don’t Follow Don’s spiralized veggies—all the veggies from two local gardens—are capped off by 1-of-3’s baby bear claws. Accompanying the meal is a bottle of champagne from 1-of-3’s cellar, the champagne in celebration of my Labor Day birthday.

A recent great white attack on a kayaker in Shelter Cove sparks talk of sharks, us sitting around Don’t Follow Don’s camp stove, scooping spiralized veggies from his hot wok, sipping champagne. According to a documentary 1-of-3 watched, Saving Jaws, sharks kill an annual average of seven humans worldwide. In the same period, humans kill an average of 100 million sharks, primarily for their fins.

As for the Shelter Cove attack, both shark and kayaker survive. The kayaker’s boat does not fare well, its hull bitten clean through. Here’s the whole story:

The evening ebbs toward dark, and the last of the monk’s hair falls out. His tonsure gone, our view of San Francisco’s skyline is crystal clear. 

The top of the 1070’-tall Salesforce tower that dominates the skyline catches a reflected ball of the sun’s rays 30 minutes before sunset. With each passing minute, the glowing fire ball makes like an elevator, eeks down the tower till it reaches a few floors above ground level. 

Daylight dims with the descend, becomes full dusk when the elevator’s lights go dark.

We hang on Pallet well past dark, paddle back to the Secret Launch, riding on the shoulders of a flood tide. No whales or sharks to report.


Date: Thurseve, 3 September 2020.

Distance: Ten point eight nautical miles.

Speed: One point nine knots.

Time: Five point seven hours.

Spray factor: Not much.

Dessert: Infant bear claws.

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