Norcal Paddling

Thanks to my benevolent benefactor and intrepid guide Chuck Freedman, I was able to paddle not once, but twice on what would normally have been a land based trip to San Francisco.

Chuck made a long drive from Reno Nevada with gear to paddle with me.

We decided to head out to Santa Cruz and paddle north along the coast. We were treated with sea stars, pelicans, a hoard of sea lions, and after some searching, sea otters. As a great lakes paddler, I am used to an inert sea, a sea teeming with life sometimes bigger than the kayak is a real treat. The sea lions were not very wary of humans and let me get quite close. The sea otters were quite jumpy about me. I tried to gauge distance, but found that I drifted too close, the sea otter turned and hissed at me in anger and then dove.

Chuck and I proceeded along the coast followed by sea lions and pelicans. We ducked into coves, caves and around sea stacks. Can’t top that.

The wind was up around 20 knots and gusting to thirty, so we turned around and sailed back into the harbor.

The paddle under the Gate and along the Marin headlands was nothing short of magical. The wind was up again in the bay, around 25 knots. We ducked behind the headlands and followed the coast tucking in and out of coves. We hurried past gay nude beaches, and then finally saw some harbor seals. They were quite nervous about us and all nipped into the water once our kayaks were within a few hundred yards. But they continued to be curious about us until we rounded the Marin Headlands and saw the lighthouse. The seas were very lumpy around the outside. I managed to squeeze off a few shots, but the clapotis off the rocks was pretty intense while my hands were not on my paddle.

Chuck and I surfed back with the wind and the tide. Two and a half hours out, 45-50 minutes back. It was the sort of sea state that brings joy to my heart. White caps as far as the eye could see, green frothy seas whipping along. A few good sprints carried me along at a terrific pace. It was one of those days where you wish you could go on forever, and then off the edge of the map.

Once again, I am surprised and given faith in human kind when you meet someone as generous and kind spirited as Chuck. He didn’t know me from Adam, but dedicated his time and his effort to bring me out onto the sea in one of his favorite places. The world seems a brighter place for this sort of person.

“Check out the Santa Cruz Gallery”:

“Check out the San Francisco Golden Gate Galleries”:


  1. That’s cool that Chuck drove out to paddle with you. He’s a great guy and I had the good fortune of paddling with him on Lake Michigan a couple summers ago when he was in Wisconsin.

  2. You suck – I mean it. You deserved nothing less than to have been maytagged in the surf, stripped of most your gear and washed up spread eagle upon the gay nude beach wearing only your oversized bicycle purse. Phooey on you!

  3. What are you guys doing out kayaking when you should be home posting on PNet. Looks like you hand a great time. Two Trips in a few months, are you going to turn into a Californian Keith? We had some suprise waves today, very good session this morning, still smiling when thinking about it.