This is the second half of an overnight camping trip from Bolinas Bay to Wildcat Beach in the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Everyone slept so well that we didn't get the early start that I had hoped for. The ocean was calm, 3 foot swells according to my weather radio, which got excellent reception. Looking out to sea from camp, there were no whitecaps to the horizon, although there was a slight breeze from the northwest at 9:30am when I got in the water. Two kilometers north of the Wildcat Beach campground, is Millners Point, with some large rocks offshore. The map says 'arched Rock' here, and I was looking forward to that. But when I got there, all I found were s few arches in the rock on the shore. Nothing I could paddle under.
Another two kilometers north was a point called Point Resistance. From far away, it looked like it had an arch in it. When I got closer, it had some interesting rocks, small coves and caves. One of the caves had some light shining up it from another exit. As I started around the point, I found a larger cave that lead into the point, and might be the source of light. It turned and had its own source of light, looked mild, so I paddled in. When I got to the center, I found myself in a cathedral! There were two arms of rock pointing out to sea, each of which had several large caves or arches large enough to paddle under. Directly over the middle, the red clay cliffs were very tall, 30 meters, and had eroded down into the gap between the two arms of harder rock at the bottom. The result was a tall chimney of red eroded soil rising up in a half cylinder. The breeze was blowing in off the sea and was apparently blowing directly up the half cylinder. Hovering in the updraft was a Red Tail Hawk, with the early morning sun back lighting her and making her tail glow brightly red. (The bird books will tell you that red tails do not "kite", but Marty and I have seen it before). I paddled out one of the other caves, and got roared at by a crack in the wall as a wave came in and forced air out. It boomed inside the cave and echoed around as I explored. I went around one of the arms and back in through another arch. I went out the central channel and around the second arm. One of the smaller arches had a group of pelicans that allowed me to get pretty close and take their pictures with the arch and the central chamber in the background. I went back in the way I came in and out the other side again, heading for Limantour Beach.
After that, the last 4 kilometers of the trip were anti-climatic. Actually, it is a beautiful stretch of shorline with fantastic carved cliffs, lots of small arches close to shore, and small inaccessable sandy beaches. I'm going to come by here one day without my camping equipment and just spend the day landing on every beach! The wind came up and I started to see whitecaps across Drakes Bay. But the waves in the bay were milder than the ocean the day before, and even with my jacket off, I felt comfortable. I paddled hard, and felt like I was getting somewhere for my efforts. Unlike the day before, I was traveling close to shore, with cliffs above the beach, and hills behind those. The cliffs moved rapidly backwards against the hills and the beach flew by. It occurred to me that the only other time I had been at Limantour I had been leaving so I didn't pay attention to the look of the beach. I would not recognize the correct place to land near the trail. The cliffs got lower, turned into dunes, and then there was a notch in the dunes leading to a marshy area. But I recalled climbing over dunes to launch from this beach before. I kept my eye on the people on the beach, figuring the highest concentration would be where the trail was. Then I saw a family come out of the dunes carrying a picnic cooler: That must be the trail. I turned closer to shore, and glancing down I saw spots before my eyes in the water. At first I though I was looking at dark spots in the water from my own shadow, but they moved in the wrong directions. Then they locked into focus, and I found I could see patches of seaweed growing on the sandy bottom, and my own shadow. Like Drakes Beach, the water was so clear that I could see the bottom even though it was still probably 4 meters deep. Looking up, I could see the parking lot for this beach, and my bus was not in it. I calculated that Marty would take until 2:00pm at the earliest to hike back to the car and drive here, and it was only 1:30pm. I had made excellent time, even with the sightseeing and the head wind the last 4 kilometers.
Most of this trip the waves had been mild, but with an occasional set of large waves crashing on the shore. I figured I would wait for one of those, and go in after them. But when I got to the beach, the water was calm to shore and behind me as far as I could see. Even the wind and the whitecaps had calmed down. So I headed in right away, missed surfing on a wave and paddled in behind it until the water was only up to my ankles when I stepped off. The triumphant conclusion of my Quest to see the entire Marin County Coastline, and nobody there to welcome the returning hero. It was an hour and a half before Marty arrived in the bus to pick me up.
So this was it! I have now paddled past every inch of the coast of Sonoma and Marin Counties! What will I do next? Well, I still intend to start fishing from the kayak one day soon. There's all that beautiful coastline I saw recently driving up the shore of Mendocino County. I like it out there on the ocean near the shore, so I'm going to continue returning to favorite places to see them in different light, tides, and weather. It's still unlikely that my kayak will sit around idle. And there are still a few places I have to go back to take some pictures for my WEB page.