Joan Wiener suggested this trip to celebrate her birthday. Because it was on a weekday, only three people (besides Joan) were able to attend. Don , Bill, and I. Joan was trying out a boat that belonged to a friend so she wanted to take it to Bolinas Bay and do some surfing through the Duxbury Reef. Three of us met at the boat ramp, (the same ramp that I had discovered for myself accadentally several years ago), in the town of Bolinas. The first time I paddled out of this boat ramp the tide came in and I ended up surfing directly up the boat ramp. This time there was a large sandy beach in front of the ramp with lots of people sunbathing and surfing. Don heard the directions wrong and unloaded his boat at the mouth of the Bolinas Lagoon and had to paddle out to meet us. We all made it over the slightly dumpy surf and paddled accross the bay to the reef.
The last time I had paddled over the Duxbury Reef it had been almost completely under water. The tide was low this trip and we could not find an easy place to paddle through it. There were a few places that looked possible, but they were rough, surrounded by rocks, and became too rough when larger sets of waves came through. The punishment for poor timing was too great so we kept looking and ended up running into water too shallow to paddle where the reef met Bolinas Point. The water had been murky up to this point, but there at the base of the reef the shallow water was clear and we could look down into it and do some tide-pooling. We paddled around for a while trying to find the deepest places where we could paddle without scraping the bottom of the boats, then we went back along shore to a little beach to stop for lunch. Bill had baked a little cake for Joan's birthday which we shared after lunch!
The tide came back in while we were eating and the water raised significantly. All the places we had previously found too shallow to paddle were now at least a foot deep. The waves were also breaking in through the reef in several places where we could now paddle out to sea. However, Joan discovered that this new (to her) boat was a lot less stable than her own and decided not to paddle out to sea in it until she was more familiar with it. One large opening in the reef had waves comming all the way through it and breaking over a pair of rocks on one side. Joan sat behind these two rocks and practiced bracing into the breaking water. Bill paddled almost out to sea through the opening in the reef and surfed back in a bunch of times. Don and I stayed mostly behind the reef, tried plowing over some of the breakers, and did a little bit of surfing as the waves rose up in the shallows.
We then paddled back accross Bolinas Bay to our put-in spot. Along the way Bill and I paddled close to shore and tried to surf in the waves crossing the bay towards the beach. I would see waves breaking far from shore and get a little nervous. But when I got to the place where I saw this happening, a little wave would start to break but fail to give me a ride. Behind me I would see waves breaking where I had been a minute ago. Then I would see large breaking waves in front of me. This repeated all the way accross the bay without getting one ride. I determined to do some surfing on the beach when we got there.
Don went back to the lagoon to get back to his car and the rest of us landed. Then Joan let us all try out the boat that she was trying out. It was a Tsunami Rangers X15. This is the boat that Santa Claus will give me when I have been VERY VERY GOOD! It has absolutely everything I could want in a kayak. It is a sit-on-top boat but it is a rigid kevlar fiberglass boat. Rigid fiberglass boats glide through the water with less resistance than a plastic boat and move faster for the same effort. It has a rudder, and the leg pockets are made so long that the rudder pedals can be moved down to make room for my legs and perhaps a little farther. It comes standard with a quick-release seatbelt to keep you in the cockpit even when plowing through waves or learning to do the eskimo roll. The cockpit is this wierd alien shape that has bumps and lumps but somehow wraps around you and feels very secure. The X15 has 3 hatches, a large one in back, a smaller one in front, and a third very small one between your legs. The fore and aft hatches allow this boat to be used for kayak camping and touring. The middle one (one of the organic bumps in the cockpit) is for storing lunch, drinks, or small pieces of equipment. This is the type of boat that the Tsunami Rangers used when they were filmed by the National Geographic for the show called "Wave Warriors" where we see kayakers blasting through caves and bouncing off rocks.
I was afraid that this boat would be difficult to balance, especially after paddling around in my Scupper which is very stable in the upright position. But after only a few minutes of paddling around I found the balance points of the X15 and was able to surf it out in front of a wave, brace into the wave when it broke, and surf sideways all the way up the sand. I did this without even strapping myself in with the seatbelt. Joan says you are supposed to attach the belt before you paddle out through the surf, and it will allow you to stay in the boat when punching through large waves. I was unable to give myself time to do this and just paddled over the waves on my next attempt, then attached the seat belt when I was past the breakers. I surfed in a second time, then got the boat turned around in the soup (something my Scupper is too cumbersome to do). The next set of waves was pretty large but I was able to punch out through them since the seat belt was still on. It works! When I surfed back in on the next wave my paddle got pulled over sideways on the seaward side of the boat. In this posistion I was unable to brace hard enough to hold the boat upright, although I was able to hold my head above water as we surfed sideways towards the beach. Half way there it occured to me that this would be a good excuse to try out the quick release on the seatbelt. I let go of the paddle with one hand, and the boat immediatly turned upside down and dragged me allong the sand. Then I popped open the belt and poped up out of the water behind the boat. Joan told me that I looked good in an X15.
Joan gave us 15 more minutes to play while she put some equipment away. Bill used this time to do some body surfing, and I took my own boat out to do some surfing. I got a bunch of fun rides sideways in the breaking water, but everyone told me afterwards that I was moving backwards more often then frontwards. This is because the Scupper is so hard to turn around that I am often still cocked a little bit out to sea when the breakers hit me. This slight angle to the wave is enough to make the boat start to move backwards as it runs sideways towards shore. I caught one incredible ride, surfing the face of a large wave, pulling ahead as it broke, then bracing into the white water to make it carry me half way up the sand towards the boat ramp. I quit after this ride and packed up my equipment.