Serene memories of a kayak tour of Tomales Bay I took five days earlier have reverberated in my mind all week long.
By Saturday a compelling impulse to return became irresistible. The opportunity arose this morning—so I went.
When I arrived the bay was smooth as glass. All was quiet. Fog limited visibility to about 1/8 mile.
I made my way up the eastern shore of the bay.
As I passed alongside a 29’ sailboat moored in the cove south of Marshall Boat Works, I came, unknowingly, within ten feet of large, probably male, sea lion who had been resting at the surface on the other side of the sailboat. He became aware of me before I knew of him. He startled, let out a surprised sea lion bark, and hurriedly dove underwater with a splash. Half a minute later he resurfaced and watched me as I paddled away.
I made my way along the eastern shore past the little hamlet of Marshall to Audubon Canyon Ranch before heading west into the fog to cross the bay.
For about ten minutes I could see nothing but fog. With no compass to point the way, I kept an eye out for Laird’s Landing on the National Seahore side of the bay. Soon it appeared. I veered over to Marshall Beach and stopped for a break.
As I enjoyed my tea on the beach I had a moment to consider: Paddling solo is so pleasant. The solo paddler can fully immerse in the natural world. No effort to engage socially with companions is required. The natural world is sufficient company. Pelicans, gulls, cormorants, loons, grebes, harbor seals, bat rays, and even startled sea lions are welcome companions on a Saturday morning like this.
After tea on Marshall Beach, I paddled a mile further north to Tomales Beach before turning around and going several miles south. The fog began to melt away.
With the sun, Saturday morning paddlers began to appear everywhere on the bay. I passed Tomales Bay State Park’s popular Heart’s Desire Beach and continued along just a bit further to Pebble Beach where I stopped once again to stretch my legs.
On weekdays Pebble Beach—accessible only by foot or boat—usually offers solitude, but even there midday Saturday can be busy. A group of hikers and two groups of kayakers were enjoying the beach with me.
I didn’t pack much of a lunch—just a can of kippered herring. Somehow canned fish seems appropriate food on a saltwater beach.
The fog had burned off completely by the time I finished the fillet. A pleasant northwesterly breeze sprang up, just enough to put some texture on the water. Sailboats, a reefed O’Day Daysailer and a Laser with Power Head Radial sail (new to me), appeared on the bay. Somehow sailboats make the bay prettier.
I had promised to be home by early afternoon, so it was time for me to venture back across the bay to Marconi Cove where my days adventure had begun.
A map of my journey: