Follow the Light: A Full Moon Paddle

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by Katie Cook

It was 5:30pm as we approached the Golden Gate Bridge. The sunny day had turned cold and a blanket of fog covered the city. Thick fog rains on the car’s windshield and swallows the red towers of the bridge. For a single moment I think about turning around and heading home. Am I crazy to spend a night kayaking in cold Bay water surrounded by heavy fog and howling winds? As we continue to head North and pass Mt. Tam the fog begins to clear and the setting sun appears from behind thick clouds. It looks like there is still hope for my moonlight cruise after all.

We arrive at SeaTrek and meet our guide, Edgar. He takes our group of four down to the beach and gives us a quick paddle lesson before we launch our kayaks into the Bay. It is now twilight and we have just enough time to practice our paddling skills before we crack the glowsticks attached to our paddles and set off into the night. Our first stop is Richardson Bay to visit the Sausalito houseboats. We paddle around the docks and check out the eclectic houseboats while Edgar tells us stories of boat rescues on stormy nights and entertains us with salacious gossip about a houseboat overrun with cats.

We exit the houseboat community and follow the silver moonlight path out into the middle of the bay. Aside from the moonlight reflecting on the water, the single glowstick attached to our paddles is our only source of light. Our goal is to catch a glimpse of San Francisco, but all we can see is a sea of glowing fog. It is then when I realize that the weather on the Bay is absolutely perfect. The water is still, there is only a light breeze, and the skies are clear.

Since there’s no hope of seeing San Francisco we had back toward shore and paddle to downtown Sausalito. We take the opportunity to practice our superb kayaking skills as we navigate under piers and have fun spinning the kayak around in tight circles. We glide under two piers successfully.  Now overly confident we increase our speed, take a swooping right turn, and crash into the side of the pier’s pile. Thank goodness for our sturdy rental kayak!

After more than two hours on the water it is time for us to head back to the SeaTrek headquarters.  On our way back we stop to check out the Taj Mahal and we pass my favorite boat of the night- a hulking red iron monster-of-a-boat that looks like it is straight out of a Popeye cartoon. We land on the beach and pull our kayaks to shore. I’m a little wet, I feel a blister forming on my palm, and I can’t believe that our three hours at SeaTrek is already up. I have the next full moon marked on my calendar. Who wants to go for a paddle?

Want to go? SeaTrek’s last full moon paddle of the year is on Saturday, October 27. If you want to check out Sausalito’s floating homes, but you’re a bit of a landlover you can explore the docks on foot. The area’s largest floating home community is located off of Bridgeway and Gate 6 Road in Sausalito.

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