Thursday, January 12, 2012

Round Alameda

Last Saturday I had the day off and felt I deserved some time to myself.  I decided to paddle a standup board around Alameda to challenge myself and do a route I've never done before.  My goal was to make the complete loop in 5 hours.  It's 15.5 miles around the island and I was hoping to ride the current around half of it.  I launched at Jack London Aquatic Center in Oakland just after 8am and headed north up the channel.  Within an hour I made it to the northernmost point of the island with a crystal clear view of downtown San Francisco, the Bay Bridge and Yerba Buena Island.  Paddling into the flooding current, I felt the wind at my back, dropped to my knees and took my first quick break while drifting in the right direction.   I chugged some water, removed a layer and snapped a few pics.  5 minutes later I was back underway.

San Francisco, The Bay Bridge & Yerba Buena with cranes

Alameda is on my left and I've moved into the bay far enough to pickup a ride from the flood tide.  This entire section is new to me and I'm trying to picture it back on the google map.  After passing CG ships, nesting grounds and breakwaters, I'm quickly down to Crown Beach.  All of a sudden it feels like San Diego with harbor beaches and palm trees, bike paths and lots of people - quite a nice stretch to paddle.  The air is starting to move a bit more and I'm happy my heading is downwind.  Along the way I take a 2nd break for a quick bite, more water and a few more pics.

I round the corner and continue to ride the flood up into the backchannel.  Wind is now at my side so I tuck in tight to the shore.  It means losing the main flood, but also allows me to paddle in glassy waters and check out the homes along the shore.  I turn again, to the north, waving to people on their boats and continue to ride the flood - but now I'm heading straight into the wind.  From here till the end I'd be slogging into the wind paddling hard from wind break to wind break.  It's exactly like eddy hopping up a river and I really enjoy the challenge.  The wind easily outpowers the current assist and it means lowering my stance, my grip and quickening my cadence.  Every stroke is critical and powerful.

Nearing the end of the route I see my finish point in the distance, glance at my watch and realize I could possibly finish in 4 hours.  This prompts me to paddle harder and increase my speed to try and finish by noon.  Another 20 minutes passes and land back at the dock.  In the end I finished the 15.6 miles in 3hrs, 49mins.  I averaged over 4mph and finished an hour faster than anticipated.  Nice.

No comments:

Post a Comment