You gotta ask.

On our way outa Schoonmaker, a 60’ sailboat slides by, 20 yards out and paralleling the bunched-together harbors lining this end of Richardson Bay. The boat’s brimming over with young people, in their 20s and 30s.

“Hey,” shouts Gandalf to me from the back of our double, “let’s check out that sailboat.”

The long sailboat’s ambling along, staying within the shoreline’s 5-knot speed limit. Gandalf and I catch up to the boat, paddle up to the bow. We chit-chat with several of the youngsters, learn it’s a party boat, one of the young ladies we’re talking to, her birthday.

Thinking the same thing I am, Gandalf shouts up to the crowd, “Got any extra birthday beer you wanna share?”

Almost too fast, a young fellow standing behind the seated ladies shouts back, “We don’t have any beer onboard.” Deflated, Gandalf and I ship our paddles, and the sailboat moves on.

Not more than 30 seconds later, Gandalf says, “That’s not right. A birthday party! They gotta have beer.” That said, we give chase, catch up to the boat, but don’t pull ahead, stay at its stern. 

We look up at a buncha guys leaning over the stern railing. They look down at us. Foregoing formalities, Gandalf cuts to the quick, says, “You got any beer to share?” 

No hesitation, “Sure,” says a tall fellow, who turns around, rummages in a big ice chest, returns with two craft beers, tosses them down to us. We thank them, ship our paddles again, this time to drink our beverages.

“What!” says Don’t Follow Don when he, the Czar, and Bo paddle up to us. “You only got two?” 

“You gotta ask ‘em yourselves if you want any,” say I, but the sailboat’s long gone. Gandalf, big-hearted guy that he is, offers Don’t Follow Don a sip of his beer. But just a sip.

The five of us plan to paddle under the Golden Gate Bridge to Potsticker Beach, but the wind …

The double really shows its stuff in adverse conditions, four strokes powering it forward as opposed to the two strokes of a single. Gandalf and I four-stroke our boat through the wind, reach the north tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. None of our buddies are in sight.

“Wanna see what it’s like under the bridge?” I don’t, but Gandalf’s curious. We last 10 seconds, maybe 15, in the turmoil, turn around, retrace our route. We find Don’t Follow Don a few minutes later, join Bo and the Czar on Pontificis Beach 10 minutes after that.

Pontificis is 100 yards of fine white sand, a good takeout beach. We set up camp, build a cookfire, do our usual, Gandalf his salad and Don’t Follow Don his chopped/spiralized veggies.

The Czar, his first Thurseve paddle in some time, does curried lamb. There’s a moment when I think there’s gonna be a confrontation over whose curry sauce is better, the Czar’s TJ’s Thai Yellow Curry Sauce on his lamb or Don’t Follow Don’s TJ’s Thai Green Curry Sauce on his veggies.

Harsh glances are exchanged between the two. But in the end, like those two  Olympic high jumpers who choose to share a gold medal rather than battle it out, Don’t Follow Don and the Czar reach an accord, agree that both their sauces, regardless of color, are excellent.

Bo’s absence from Thurseve paddles tallies up close to the Czar’s. I look forward to both of them on our outings, though Bo’s presence by itself does make our evenings much easier for me.

More often than not, I’m the oldest Thurseve paddler. The weight of aging—of bellyaching about hearing loss, reading glasses, brain fog, arthritic joints, back pain, shoulder aches, hair loss, gaseous eruptions, wrinkles, and wattles—all these complaints and more fall on my tender shoulders, are my responsibility.

Bo’s older than me. The responsibility to begrudge aging is his tonight. And he does. What a relief! I feel like a kid again, like I’m 65. Thanks, Bo.

Feeling like 65’s a good thing this evening. Before shoving off Pontificis, we decide to swap boats for the paddle back to Schoonmaker. I end up with Don’t Follow Don’s rudderless Looksha.

Mind you, the wind’s settled down for the evening, the water’s flat as my sore feet. Ideal conditions, but I still can’t paddle that boat in a straight line. Must’ve gone twice the distance to reach Schoonmaker.

Only reason I make it back is ‘cause I’m 65 tonight.


Date: Thurseve, 5 August 2021.

Distance: Six point one nautical miles.

Speed: One point five knots.

Time: Four point two hours.

Spray factor: Yes.

Dessert: Carrot cake muffins w/ plum rum sauce & chocolate peanut butter cups.

comiX —>