SUPs Everywhere

Regular Estuarian readers may have noticed a summer-long hiatus in my posts to this weblog. The reason? This little guy, our first grandchild.

Upon resuming my estuarian activities, I’ve seen Stand Up Paddleboards, (SUPs) everywhere I paddle.

The Russian River,

Corte Madera Creek

Spring Lake

Tomales Bay

Riverfront Park in Windsor

I’ve talked to many of them and learned that many used to paddle kayaks, but chose SUPs to get a better workout. I get it: kayaking does nothing for you from the hips on down. Because of that, I often take a walk after paddling, as I did yesterday at Riverfront park.

I talked with Doug, the paddleboarder who is just barely visible on the far shore of this lake, below. He’s about my age, admirably fit and vigorous, an experienced white water and sea kayaker, and an enthusiastic SUPer.

Doug got me thinking about becoming a SUPerman. My birthday is coming up.

Teatime on Tomales

Autumn weather around here is perfect for paddling: warm and not too windy.

Right after my morning coffee, I packed a small lunch and a thermos of hot black tea and headed for Chicken Ranch Beach on the west side of Tomales Bay.

Not many others were out there today other than a trio of women on StandUp Paddleboards.

Hearts Desire Beach was almost empty.

So was Indian Beach.

I paddled beyond Sacramento Landing to Fruit Tree Beach where I stopped for tea.

I had the whole beach to myself


I enjoyed the peacefulness of the bay and the solitude it offers on weekday mornings. On the way back south a Northwest wind blew straight down the bay. Luckily I had my Windpaddle Sail along.

The winds filled the sail and urged me down the bay.

A map of my journey:


Salmon Creek Scoot

Salmon Creek is known mainly for its beach, popular with surfers and notorious for shark attacks that occur there from time to time.

No one I know has ever paddled up Salmon Creek. It’s such a small creek that it doesn’t seem worth the bother to launch a boat.Yesterday, while walking in the area with my wife, I got curious about what it might offer despite its small size. My curiosity got me out there this morning with my kayak and camera, and I was rewarded with a lovely outing.

My journey began at the “Salmon Creek Yacht Club” along the edge of the estuary of Salmon Creek. It’s sole facility is this aging sign, partially hidden in the reeds:

The “Yacht Club” serves the small community of Salmon Creek, a collection of modest seaside cottages and homes in various states of repair.

When I arrived, coastal low clouds spread across the sky. I had no idea how far inland it might be possible to paddle. I wanted to find out. Soon after passing beneath the Highway One bridge it got quiet and peaceful.

A half hour later, after passing some beautiful steep hillsides,

the trees and bushes growing along the banks began to impede further progress inland. Eventually I came to a tire swing near a gravelly pull-out spot where a trail led up a bank.

The short trail led to a campground of some sort. There was a fire ring, some firewood, and plenty of room to pitch some tents.

Beyond this place further progress would require portaging.

I turned around and paddled all the way down the estuary to the ocean. About a half dozen surfers were enjoying the knee high waves and I watched them,

enjoying a thermos of hot tea while sitting on a Douglas Fir stool.


A map of the outing:


Protecting the Planet

Protecting our planet is not a partisan issue. Almost everyone wants

  • clean air,
  • clean water,
  • wholesome, delicious, and nutritious foods,
  • healthy natural surroundings,
  • cheap clean renewable energy, generated locally.

There is plenty of scientific evidence that we need to make changes if future generations are to have these things. But so far scientists have not been particularly effective in the public discourse on these matters.

There is a minority among us who don’t want these things. Among that minority is a very influential few who are getting richer and richer under the regime we currently have. They spend a lot of money to persuade others among us not to make the changes that must be made to save the web of life for the generations to come.

The following video talks about why the changes we need in public opinion have not been coming as quickly as they should. It suggests how we might become more effective in protecting our earth for future generations.


Dining on Heart’s Desire Beach

Sonoma County is in the midst of a record-setting heat wave for early May. It’s always cooler at the coast—a good place to escape the hottest weather.

Trimaran sailing past Heart’s Desire Beach

Because my favorite estuary, the Estero Americano, has so little water in it, I decided to try to paddle on Tomales Bay, my second-favorite estuary. In the spring, though, it’s often unpleasantly windy on Tomales. Heat spells sometimes attenuate the winds and I hoped that would happen yesterday.

When I arrived in the morning the wind was already up enough to keep me ashore.

Heart’s Desire, though, is about as nice a beach as one might wish for. A dozen families, most with preschool children, set up for a midday sojourn along the shore near the parking lot and bathrooms.

I ventured a short way south the better to see what wild animals might be up to.

Soon a turkey vulture flew over head.

The ebbing tide revealed a dead leopard shark.

The vulture had become aware of the carcass before me. Turkey Vultures can detect ethyl mercaptan, a gas emitted by decaying flesh, from the air.

Soon it landed on the beach and began to disembowel the leopard shark.

It concentrated on a slit in the underside of the (female?) shark.

The turkey vulture stayed for some time and was eventually joined by other TVs. Taking turns, they worked for about an hour on the carcass, but didn’t get a whole lot of entrails out of the body cavity. Their efforts were interrupted from time to time by humans walking by. They finally flew away leaving the carcass pretty much as they had found it.

Later a seagull flew in for a look at what the vultures had abandoned. It went right to work.

I didn’t expect the seagull, who worked alone, to pull much out of the shark. It was surprisingly successful.

The seagull managed to pull a great deal of food from the leopard shark’s belly.

Such was the show on Heart’s Desire Beach on May 2, 2017.