Dash Point Pier to Dick Gilmur Public Access (& back)

We’ve had a slower start to our training season than normal. Our household tackled both the flu and COVID during the time we normally would have started paddling for the year. And then we took that cross-country road trip that took some time to get ready for. We’ve had just a few opportunities recently to get re-acquainted with our kayaks.

Paddling Wind and Waves

This weekend, we got a really good training session in just about 6 nautical miles. We launched from Dash Point Pier and headed towards Browns point – into the spicy water we could see. We crossed a small bay with quartering wind and waves as we continued around the point.

The popcorn waves near the log buoys that are normally filled with California Sea Lions made us a little queasy, so we decided to take a break at the Dick Gilmur Public Access area.

We added some layers to keep warm while we snacked and watched as the sky and water shifted from pearl grey to slate. The waves grew larger and started breaking against the shore. We all thought back to the last time we launched into changing conditions and were not excited about our prospects. While we knew that conditions weren’t going to be entirely calm, we weren’t mentally prepared to practice surf launches, either.

Weighing our Options

We could call our safety team. We always have a rescue plan, and that’s always an option. But conditions weren’t bad enough that we couldn’t launch; it just looked unpleasant. And waiting the 30 minutes for our rescue to arrive didn’t sound like any fun.

We could go for it. The beach there is mostly round rock, but with a number of large, jagged rocks sprinkled in. Just enough that it didn’t seem like a great plan to try to launch while the wind and waves seemed intent on pushing us into the shore.

We could wait it out. The layers we’d added weren’t quite keeping up with our stationary situation and the chill in the wind. We had more layers, but not enough to stay warm indefinitely through a storm. If we had to wait several hours for conditions, we might as well call in our rescue now.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.
~ Alfred Wainwright

We checked the weather forecast on a phone. It showed that we were at the peak of the storm. Within the hour both wind strength and wave height were predicted to drop significantly. So we added a few more layers, hunkered down in the driftwood, and tried to distract ourselves with conversation.

After a relatively short wait, the wind and waves calmed enough that we were ready to try our launch. We got ourselves ready, packed away our lunch bags, and watched for a break in the surf. Our fiberglass hulls are relatively sturdy, but floating launches were the right choice – no reason to test how sturdy in the face of waves and rocks.

Off We Go

Although our experience last June had our adrenaline pumping, we all managed our launch without incident and paddled quickly into deep enough water that we weren’t concerned about rocks. We settled into our kayaks and started the return paddle towards Dash Point Pier. Once we were fully underway, the waves felt like nothing. It’s amazing how much different the same wave is in deep water, compared with at the shore. I kept turning around to assure myself that the shoreline still had crashing waves, and they hadn’t all disappeared once we launched.

Almost right away, there was a break in the clouds. A bright pink cargo ship came into view around the point. It’s in shadow in the image we were able to capture, but it was the brightest pink ship we’ve ever seen.

The rest of the paddle back was filled with sunshine and laughter, and we even caught some calm waters at the end. All-in-all, a wonderful day on the water.


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