Must’ve been a good reason for the incredible sunset we see from Horseshoe Cove, red engulfing the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond. Atmospherics can explain it, but I don’t think atmospherics alone can do the evening’s sunset justice.

Here’s what I think: Up until sunset, the sky’s been in a funk, frumpy with thick blotches of gray, streaks of gray hiding her true blue. Otherwise, the day’s been more like early spring than winter, warmish with minor, insignificant hiccups of wind. Come sundown, the sky reflects on her frumpish behavior, is embarrassed, blushes a deep red.

I’ve got corroboration. On our return paddle to Schoonmaker from Horseshoe Cove, Don’t Follow Don—without prompting from me—says, “Spring’s right around the corner,” him referring to the warm, calm, crystal clear conditions that have held steady since sundown. If that doesn’t prove me right, I don’t know what does.

For photographic proof of our close encounter with a spectacular sunset and an early spring, check out the comiX. I might exaggerate, but photos don’t.

Conditions aside, tonight’s outing’s somewhat unusual. We’re paddling from Schoonmaker to a Bay Area Sea Kayaker meeting at the Presidio Yacht Club in Horseshoe Cove. We won’t have time for a cookfire on a beach, we’ll be inside and sharing boxed pizza with BASK club members.

Launching from Schoonmaker are Gandalf, Don’t Follow Don, Dragon, Chief, and me. Joining us are Danny and Susan, the two having left hours before from near Jailhouse Beach to meetup with us at Schoonmaker. Theirs a long paddle, ours not so much.

A lazy ebbing current carries us the 2.75 miles from Schoonmaker to Horseshoe, frumpy skies above, early spring-like conditions below. The evening’s raft-up snack’s dried shiitake mushrooms, courtesy Gandalf, our regular sweets supplier, 1-of-3, under the weather, recuperating at home.

Only noteworthy event on the water is a large confusion of birds and harbor seals stirring up the bay. We suspect herring the cause, but can’t be sure. When we get closer, the bay’s settled, the birds gone, only a remnant of harbor seals left, their heads poking above the surface, eyeing us.

Further on is Yellow Bluff, a stretch of bay just before Cavallo Pt. If the ebb’s fast enough, Yellow Bluff goes off, explodes, a conveyor belt of big standing waves. The ebb’s not fast enough when we pass through tonight. I’m not disappointed.

Rounding Cavallo Pt. puts the Golden Gate Bridge directly in front of us. Two hundred seventy-five yards further along toward the bridge is the entrance to Horseshoe Cove and the Presidio Yacht Club. A nice beach sits in front of the club, but it’s for kayaks, not cookfires.

A number of other BASKers have paddled to the meeting, their boats on the beach, but most attendees have driven or carpooled. 

Upstairs from the meeting room is a bar, where we find familiar faces, some of whom once upon a time paddled with us. Hands are shook, backs padded, beers downed quicker than the sun, some faces flushed.

Downstairs in the meeting room we eat pizzas, salad, chocolate cookies for dessert. 

For the meeting, we sit in chairs arranged in an elongated circle. First up are new member introductions, then old timers telling stories. 

I’m asked to tell a story and do. About an encounter with the Contra Costa County Sheriff just off Red Rock’s Toilet Bowl Beach. Something to do with a bonfire and terrorists. This happened in 2003, a long time ago, so I fill in the gaps I can’t remember with what you might call creative filler. There are a lotta gaps I can’t remember. I don’t think everyone believed my story.

Telling a more believable story is the evening’s guest speaker, a research scientist from the US Geological Survey. She talks about dam removal and how their removal can, in some cases, help restore environs both upstream and downstream from the dam site. 

Interesting tidbit is that in the current economic and political climate, dams that are removed most often are for economic reasons (too expensive to maintain, no longer generating power efficiently, and so on), environmental benefits accruing after the fact.

Another interesting tidbit: A number of scientific methods can determine the extent of environmental rejuvenation. She tells the story of a researcher studying bird feathers before and after a dam removal. After removal, the amount of nitrogen he finds in feathers increases significantly, nitrogen good for the environment. The nitrogen increases because salmon can now swim upstream, bringing the nutrient with them.

I think the USGS guest speaker has a good memory, isn’t filling in missing gaps with creative filler. Leastways, everyone in the meeting room likes her story, and she gets a standing ovation at the end of her presentation.

There’s more to the meeting, but those are the highlights.


Date: Thurseve, 23 January 2020.

Distance: Five point seven nautical miles.

Speed: One point one knots.

Time: Five hours.

Spray factor: None.

Dessert: Chocolate cookies.

comiX —>