Gandalf, Don’t Follow Don, and I do a Qayassiq this evening. For you polyglots, Qayassiq translates from Yup’ik to a “place to go in a kayak.” The Yup’ik people are indigenous to southwestern Alaska.

Our Qayassiq isn’t in southwestern Alaska, it’s closer to home: Pt. San Pablo Harbor in the East Bay. We’re heading across the bay ‘cause the harbor’s doing its Live on the Waterfront music venue, two live acts on its portable outdoor stage this evening.

Ours isn’t a direct shot from Bruno’s to the harbor, a detour to Party Beach part of our itinerary. The detour’s so Gandalf can retrieve his favorite kayaking jersey, the jersey abandoned on the beach last week.

An aside: Accompanying each paddle report is a link to that outing’s comiX, the link at the end of the report. The first page of the comiX always shows a map of our paddle. You wanna see our route, that’s where you’ll find it.

The crossing’s on calm, flat water, summer warm the air. The sky’s a few shades of a thin gray marine layer + wildfire smoke short of a dazzling blue. Same conditions on Pet Sematary when we beach our boats.

Our plan’s to first cook our meal, then wander over to the other side of the harbor where the music’s playing. 

First course is Gandalf’s salad: avocados, tomatoes, blue berries, walnuts, apples, butter lettuce. All but the apples are store bought, the apples fresh off a neighbor’s tree.

Don’t Follow Don goes Gandalf one better, all the ingredients of his chopped veggie dish—except for two sweet peppers and wild-caught haddock—plucked fresh from his garden: chard, basil, tomatoes, squash, peppers, and eggplant.

Both Gandalf and Don’t Follow Don chop what needs to be chopped on the beach, their chopping  backgrounded by the wistful sounds of the music venue’s first act, Lila Nelson, her voice butterflying across the harbor.

We would’ve seen the last of Nelson’s performance but for the three ears of corn-on-the-cob roasting in the fire. The ears, still dressed in their full length green coats, took longer to cook than anticipated. By the time we picked the last of the toasty kernels from between our teeth, the second act, the Deltaz Band, is on stage.

Let me set the scene. The band’s on the portable stage, the stage lit by bright lights, darkness settling over the crowd on the dirt field in front of the stage. Up close, Gandalf looks fabulous in his retrieved paddling jersey, blends right in with the bespoke crowd, but he’s hard to see, the night full on.

Don’t Follow Don’s on the same playing field, but he’s easy to spot. He’s juggling three clubs, the clubs a kaleidoscope of blinking and changing colors and patterns. 

You had to be there.

Lots of kids are there. They flock to the high flying clubs like bubblegum to the bottom of your shoe. Don’t Follow Don’s a juggling Pied Piper, though he doesn’t lead the kids anywhere, stays rooted to one spot. 

He’s asked and hands his clubs to the kids, teaches them a thing or two. A couple girls are naturals, get two clubs in the air. The boys, when it’s their turn, clutch the clubs to their chests, zig zag hurriedly through the crowd, caterwauling to the music, might’ve been in Yup’ik.

The band takes a break, Don’t Follow Don collects his clubs, parents approach him, thank him for babysitting their kids while they danced to the music. The tide on its way out, we head back to the boats, manage to shove off before mud lays claim to Pet Sematary Beach.

Conditions on the water are steady state, calm and flat. Temperature is still summer warm, the kinda warm where you stop mid crossing to take your jacket off. Stars are visible, the planets Jupiter and Saturn the main players.

You had to be there.


Date: Thurseve, 26 August 2021.

Distance: Seven point one nautical miles.

Speed: One point four knots.

Time: Five hours.

Spray factor: Nope.

Dessert: Chocolate-coated sugar cookies.

comiX —>