Don’t Follow Don, Gandalf, 1-of-3, and I paddle to Mystery Island, settle down on Toilet Bowl Beach for the early evening.

I’ll prioritize a Clif Notes version of our chatter now, seeing as how our chatter touches on a topic that may benefit readers local to Marin Co., California. 

Here it is, the topic: Antronico’s supermarket in neighboring San Anselmo is having a sale on Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône. According to a qualified sommelier known to a member of our group, that wine is the best red-wine value you’ll find locally. 

But you won’t find Kermit Lynch Côtes du Rhône on Toilet Bowl Beach. The best wine value on Toilet Bowl tonight is a 2015 6 Degrees Pinot Noir. Though that wine lacks a recent sommelier endorsement, the four of us give it a top rating.

Just so happens the sommelier in question also rates as a professional cicerone, beer’s equivalent to wine’s sommelier. He recommends a specific Belgium lambic beer as the best: Gueuze Lambic.

I looked up the price of Gueuze Lambic, the numbers I find explaining why that beverage also is missing on Toilet Bowl tonight. What we do have is an assortment of cans and bottles of commercially recognizable brews. We’re not complaining.

We also discuss the pros and cons of robotic vacuum cleaners, specifically the Roomba vs. Roborock. Not to bore you with the details, I’ll tell you both work, the best deals currently on eBay, if you’re so inclined.

Fortunately, our chatter is not disturbed by the evening’s raucous wind, a pleasing circumstance, Toilet Bowl Beach in the lee of Mystery Island. The beach is not windblown, but the paddle from Danny’s Secret Launch to the island most certainly is.

Gandalf and I paddle his double, the wind working to our advantage, the wild lady pushing hard against our stern. Her assistance plus Gandalf having upgraded his paddle from 400-hp to 500-hp equates to a lickety-split crossing for us.

Don’t Follow Don and 1-of-3, both in singles, aren’t as blessed. In shorter boats than our 20’-long double, they can’t surf the windwaves as well as us. 

Fact is, they can’t surf them at all, constantly bumping into the back of the wave in front, stalling out. Our long double spans the tops of each set of narrowly spaced waves, no stalling out. If we do happen to smack into the back of the wave in front, well … Gandalf’s 500-hp paddle.

Tuckered out, exhausted, 1-of-3 and Don’t Follow Don hydrate soon after taking out on Toilet Bowl. Gandalf and I are nowhere near as spent, but that’s no reason not to hydrate, which we also do, hydrate. Our rush to liquids may be why our early chatter turns to sommeliers, cicerones, beer, and wine. Makes sense.

While we do dinner prep, the tide rises, snatches all three of our boats, tugs them out into the bay. We may be getting long of tooth, but we surprise even ourselves by our rapid response to the departing boats, by our race into the water, by our expertise in saving all three with minimal effort.

Truth be told, if the boats had slipped away, gone beyond our reach, we probably would’ve got them back anyway. At the same time the boats are departing, a small runabout full of 20-year-old something’s is heading for Toilet Bowl. I suspect they would’ve rounded up our boats, eager to help.

But maybe not. A small boat full of young people packed tightly together shouting and screaming during a pandemic? Who knows what might’ve played out? Common sense? They could be contenders for a Darwin Award. Just speculating.

Speaking of Darwin, I’ve never seen a harbor seal on Mystery Island, that compounded by the fact that the largest harbor seal haul-out site is a quarter mile away at Castro Rocks. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen a selkie on Mystery Island, either.

I’ve given it some thought, come up with a reason why: Russian hunters hung out on Mystery Island in the early 19th century. Did some damage to the seal population. Probably scared off all the selkies with rude behavior.

I figure that terrifying experience caused a chemical change in both species’ memory genes, those altered memories still haunting them, broadcasting a warning to stay away from Russian hunters and Mystery Island. 

For those of you who pay attention, we have salad, homemade pickles, salmon paddies mixed with non-spiralized veggies (the spiralizer broke), pulled pork with yams, and chocolate chip studded scones.

The wind dies down after dinner, after sunset. No one has a special advantage paddling back to the Secret Launch.


Date: Thurseve, 30 July 2020.

Distance: Five point six nautical miles.

Speed:One point one knots.

Time: Five hours.

Spray factor: Quite a bit.

Dessert: Chocolate chip studded scones.

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