Another Thursday, calm at my house despite the forecast. Three miles to the put-in, how could it be that much different at Bruno’s?

A 4-4.5 knot difference for each mile I drive, that’s how much different, the wind blowing 12-15 knots at the put-in. Don’t Follow Don, 1-of-3, and I weigh our options, decide on a short paddle to Party Beach.

Here’s our reasoning: the wind blowing outa the west-southwest will only be a handful of degrees shy of a helpful tailwind pushing us to Party Beach; if the wind doesn’t die down when we head back, we’ll only have to suffer a headwind for a couple nautical miles rather than a buncha nautical miles.

I’m an enthusiastic supporter of this itinerary. Two reasons for my enthusiasm: I can’t imagine anyone—especially me—opting to spend hours paddling into a strong headwind and, on an even more me-centric note, my shoulders refuse to paddle any other course, the two outa whack.

1-of-3 and I navigate the shortest, most direct course to Party Beach, 1-of-3 shadowing me should I need assistance. One shadow plenty, Don’t Follow Don takes his an extra 1 nautical mile around Chard and Buckwheat Islands, meets up with us at Party Beach, arrives the same time as 1-of-3 and me. 

We’re not the only boats come to Party Beach, a 20-foot sailboat already aground on the sand. Big difference, though: we chose to come to Party Beach; judging by the ragged hole in the beached, unmanned sailboat’s stern, she may have had other destinations in mind. That’s all I know about that.

Not satisfied with only Chard and Buckwheat under his paddle, Don’t Follow Don adds The Sisters; meanwhile, 1-of-3 and I social distance on the beach not far from the sad sailboat. A strong paddler, Don’t Follow Don speeds out to The Sisters and returns almost as fast as 1-of-3 and I savor, put away, a fine bottle of Pinot Noir.

We three eat our separate snacks, share an unopened bag of Milano mint chocolate cookies. No cookfire, no food prep, our time on the beach is curtailed compared to our pre-virus outings. 

Chatter’s less varied, only one topic this evening, leastways only one I remember. Something to do about Capitalism devolving into earthworms. Truth be told, I’m self-medicating for my shoulders and my memories are a little fuzzy. Could be a connection.

Nothing insightful to add to earthworms, words at a loss, we shove off. The wind, she’s still blowing. Pretty much the same, except she’s shifted a handful of degrees westward, now a confirmed headwind, slapping us across our faces.

My medication’s helping. Somewhat. Trying for more shoulder relief, I experiment with different forward strokes, finally settling on a combo of 75% torso rotation and 25% shoulders. The combo’s enough to squelch my bellyaching, but slows forward progress. 

More time on the water, my mind wanders. In my 20 years on the bay, I can’t recall a windier summer. What’s causing the increase? I ponder, and I fantasize. 

Here’s the most satisfying explanation I come up with: a tsunami of fire-breathing locusts has descended upon and created a permanent hotspot in Central California, the region’s super hot air furiously sucking the Bay Area’s cooler air lickety-split across the bay. Almost makes sense.

I figure more self-medication will help me refine that explanation, calm my shoulders.


Date: Thurseve, 9 July 2020.

Distance: Depends.

Speed: Depends.

Time: Three hours.

Spray factor: Yes.

Dessert: Milano mint chocolate cookies.

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