Well now. A most memorable evening on the bay, that despite the fact nothing worthy of a headline happens. A few sidebars, but no headlines.

The absence of things is what’s memorable. 

We paddle from Bruno’s across the bay to Red Rock, roughly 3.5 miles as the seagull flies. First thing worthy of a sidebar is the lack of water, a very low tide, maybe 9”, our paddles scrunching against bay bottom as far as a few strokes past Chard and Buckwheat Islands.

The lack of wildlife could fill up another sidebar. No birds of any kind, no seals, harbor or otherwise. No fish, either, that according to fishermen we chat up at Bruno’s.

The entire evening, we see no big ship traffic beyond the Larkspur ferries and Cujo. Not a single giant, spooky shadow aiming for us while we paddle back at night. That’s another sidebar for you.

I say “big ship traffic” because we almost do cross paths with a much smaller vessel, a yellow surf ski, the ski 50 yards west of us. About to raft up for snacks—cherry strudel and shortbread cookies with almonds—1-of-3 calls out to the woman in the ski, “Wanna join us for snacks?” She declines, graciously, and paddles on. If not a sidebar, maybe a footnote, that brief encounter.

Compared to the last month of outings, tonight’s sunset is lackluster, the show swallowed up by a thick haze of gray atop mt. Tam. Some color, muted gold, but not what we’ve become accustomed to, sunset snobs the three of us. A footnote.

I may have been too harsh, my earlier claim about no headlines. A lack I haven’t yet mentioned is the wind: she’s nowhere to be seen, heard, or felt. That’s where a headline could appear, the bay’s surface untouched by wind, unruffled. Polished to a high sheen, flat, her surface is  sharper, more perfectly reflective, than a high-priced vanity mirror.

We could’ve been paddling through clouds, through blue sky, that’s how crystal clear the reflection under and around us is. Truth to tell, the bluest I’ve ever seen the bay is while paddling over those blue reflective patches tonight.

Mistaking sky for bay is easy, especially going through those blue patches. Paddling over the clouds not so much, particularly big lumpy ones. What should’ve been a rolly polly paddle, up and down, over the clouds, isn’t, the bay flat. That mismatch adds a touch of cognitive dissonance that puts our heads squarely back on the water.

The sidebars, the footnotes, the headline ... they hold steady, unchanging, from Bruno’s to Red Rock. 

Lots of beach when we take out on Toilet Bowl, max low tide 30 minutes past. The usual flurry of seagulls on the beach’s northeast corner is absent, the birds sticking to the evening’s script, their sidebar. No seagulls, but a Canadien goose couple do a brief flyover, might’ve been the grandchildren of Red Rock legends Ricky and Lucy. Hard to tell.

The evening’s menu’s a familiar one: green salad with all the trimmings; breaded shrimp; sweet potatoes hard-charred black on the outside, pudding soft inside, slathered in sour cream, onions, and mushrooms; mixed fruit flambé.

The cookfire’s in its usual spot, in the middle of a 7’-square corral closed in by washed-ashore milled timbers and planks. The timbers and planks also serve as hard benches. Gandalf finds a blue boat cushion next to the corral, softens his square of bench. 1-of-3 has a small, collapsible three-legged stool. I make do.

The evening on the cool side, we hunker close to the fire, eat, chat. Exclaim over the outing’s conditions, the lack of this and that, the mirrored water, the stillness, the calm. Out of character, that’s this evening, more early summer, maybe late spring, less middle of winter. Something to do with climate change? Dunno.

We return to Bruno’s the same way we came.


Date: Thurseve, 20 February 2020.

Distance: Seven point nine nautical miles.

Speed: One point five knots.

Time: Five point two hours.

Spray factor: Nilch.

Dessert: Mixed fruit flambé.