Every year someone in BASK organizes a Halloween paddle to go trick or treating from the houseboats in Sausalito. This always sounded fun to me but until now I have never been organized to participate. But something has changed in the last year: I bought a set of riot armor. This is a black ABS plastic vest with elbow and arm guards attached. It was originally made (and used in Germany) for police to wear when confronting an unruly mob. Armor like this is also used by the Tsunami Rangers when kayaking in rough waves in caves and rock gardens. I'm not sure I want to get myself into a situation where I will need this armor yet, but I got a used set of it at a great price. My brother Ralph bought himself a set to wear while dirt biking. In the mean time, it is a wicked arrangement of black armor panels with diagonal gaps in it. I figured that if I wore it over a yellow shirt it would sort of look like the black and yellow stripes on a bumble bee. My helmet is yellow and would complete the exoskeleton. To dress up the kayak I added an aluminum foil stinger to the stern and a set of black and yellow stripes on the side made out of contact paper. On my helmet I added a pair of wire insect antenna with aluminum foil balls on the ends. Some of my friends said that the plastic armor made me look like a cyborg bee, so I called the costume the Killer Bee. But strangers in boats that we stopped at recognized that I was dressed up as a bee of some sort, so I guess the costume worked.
Other kayakers showed up as a rubber ducky (in a yellow kayak); a "ranger from hell" inspired by my recent posting of hassles with park rangers; a mouse with a tall tail curling up over the kayak (complete with wiring to light a bulb at the tip of the tail). A garden with tools an plants sticking out of all the hatches, and more. When we were ready to go at around 8:00 Saturday evening we discovered that none of the seven people trick-or-treating this year had ever done it before. We tried trick-or-treating the yachts in the marina with no luck. Most of them were dark, and the ones lit up didn't answer our calls, or were not prepared for Halloween.
Over by the Bay Model in Sausalito there was a pair of "Pirate Ships" that we stopped to check out. This was apparently a "haunted house" on the water in two real old sailing ships. A group of volunteers were on deck in pirate costumes with rum bottles and other props. From inside the boats we could hear spooky noises and see strobe lights flashing, so I assume there was a scary tour inside. A large crowd of people could be seen wandering around on the boats, and I figure it was a fund raiser for the Bay Model or perhaps for the restoration of the very boats it was taking place in. The pirates on board didn't have any candy or rum to give to us, and on the return trip we actually gave them some of ours!
From the pirate ships we made a beeline (especially in my case) to the houseboats. We had been told that the people living in these floating houses would be expecting kayaks. Since the kayak crowd was usually adults we heard that wine was offered in place of candy and we should bring a cup. But we found no-one pouring wine and few houseboaters home and answering calls. We ran into another group of kayakers who had done this before and they said this was s poor year for it. They blamed the weak response on the fact that Halloween fell on a weekend this year and all the houseboaters were probably out at parties. Including going to the pirate ship next door.
There were a few people home and some were ready for us. At some houses we would see them inside and shout "Trick Or Treat" only to see them jump up to look out their front door onto the dock. Usually we got their attention and they came around to the back door. One guy wasn't ready with any candy, so he gave me a 5 pound bag of money to share with my fellow kayakers. Five pounds of mostly pennies that is, with some foreign coins mixed in to make it interesting for us all to paw through later. One house told us they were just about out of candy because 20 kayakers came by earlier and wiped them out. Then a woman across the water said we were the first ones she had seen and was beginning to wonder if she should throw out the candy.
The morning had started with rain, but by the time we were out on the water the sky had mostly cleared. The moon was close to being full so even though we didn't get a large haul of candy or drinks we had a wonderful evening on the water and an interesting excuse to explore the alleys between the houseboats in Sausalito.