Marvin Feldman scheduled a “Turkey Day” paddle the day after Thanksgiving to work off some of the extra calories that most of us took on. But the weather did not co-operate. On the day before Thanksgiving the swell at sea rose to 23 feet off Bodega Head! By the day after it had only calmed back down to 12 feet so most of us gave up on going out into the ocean. A few of us decided to plan a replacement trip on Tomales Bay instead, and that is where we met at 11:00 in the morning. There were supposed to be only four of us, Maryly Snow, Ellen Stefaniak, Roger Lamb and myself. But at the parking lot of Miller Park we ran into a half a dozen other BASK kayakers starting out in the same direction.
The new group left early, so the original four of us tried paddling up the east shore for a change. We found out why this side of the bay is rarely visited by kayakers when our boats practically ran aground in the shallow water and we had to turn farther and farther out into the bay. From out there we could see large waves breaking at the mouth of the bay. Roger became excited about this and took off ahead of the rest of us. By the time we caught up with him, he had landed at Avalis Beach (just inside the mouth of the bay on Tomales Point) to eat lunch with the earlier group of BASK paddlers. Soon Roger was ready to hit the waves and I wolfed down part of my lunch to join him.
Several people were talking about paddling over to the waves breaking around Sand Point on the other side of the mouth of the bay, but Roger lead me directly out the middle of the channel where the 12 foot swell was breaking as it approached the sand bars. He kept going and paddled out into the midst of these monsters. I saw him catch quite a few wild surfing rides. He also reported later that the waves had “creamed” him 5 times but he kept rolling back up and going out for more. I was feeling a little fragile and didn’t want that much excitement. So I stayed inside of the big break and tried to catch some rides.
Catching rides inside the break turned out to be a lot of work that was usually frustrating. The waves broke and gave Roger rides, then lost a lot of energy and reformed inside. Trying and failing to catch rides on these waves was overheating me in my fleece and nylon, so I had to do a few rolls to cool off. I started working my way over closer to Sand Point and Dillon Beach where it looked like the smaller waves were getting steep again. Eventually when large sets came in I was able to catch three incredibly wild surfing rides down the waves. But when Roger was exhausted and ready to quit I was ready to head back as well.
Ellen was off on a short hike so while we waited for her to return to her boat we crossed over to the mild waves around the end of Sand Point. Maryly was over there braving he choppy water of the growing flood tide to try out her new boat in rough conditions. She managed to catch one of these small waves and get a ride on in. Then we let the flooding tide help push us back to Miller Park. But before we landed there Maryly practiced a few rolls successfully and practiced getting back in her boat without assistance a few times. Roger had dismissed my roll practice out in the mouth of the bay because I had not kept count and wasn’t sure if I had done 6 rolls yet. So I yelled at Roger (who had landed early) and did 4 more rolls while he watched to make sure he knew I had fulfilled “Rogers Rule” of doing 6 rolls every trip.