Sunday, January 28, 2007

Got that monkey off our backs

Last year for my birthday, my girlfriend and I decided to paddle around Alameda Island. We thought it was 12 miles or so, but turned out to be 16 miles. Some winds and waves added to the challenge. We completed the trip, but we felt like it beat us. I think I heard my girlfriend say something about never again...

Brian and Janet, who we paddle with a decent amount, also had attempted it at some point in the past, and their trip ended up worse than ours (something about Brian running, while wearing his wetsuit, through a tunnel back to their car)...

So we had monkeys on our back. We were more experienced paddlers now, so decided this weekend to get them off. So we planned a trip around Alameda, and did some preparations this time (checking tides, checking currents, considering where to start from, etc.).

Based on tides, it looked like a start from the Airport Channel on the San Leandro Bay (marked as 1 on the map above) and going up the Tidal Channel (2 on the map) would be best. The current would pull us along at between .5 and 1.5 mph (which is a lot, considering we normally average 3 to 4 mph in the boats). If we took as long as we expected, we would get back to the south end after the tide had turned and the current would pull us back to the start.

So, right at 10 am we hit the water. And the currents definitely pulled us through the channel - looking at the GPS track, we had a stretch of over a mile where we averaged more than 5 mph. After about two hours, we rounded the northern end of the island and started back towards the start.

After passing the aircraft carrier museum, we stopped for lunch at the beach near Encinal Launch Ramp (3 on the map), the continued on. All continued well and our timing was working out such that it looked like we would hit the southern a the right time for the tide to suck us in and back to the cars.

But, after we passed the beach and started in to the channel in to San Leandro Bay, we found that the current was coming out. Brian and I mused about what could cause this (like whether our tide charts were wrong). But we continued on and fought the currents. Definitely slowed us down, as our average speed was about 2.5 mph.

After we passed the bridge and started in the final stretch to the car did we realize what had happened - we had a wrong assumption. We assumed that on an incoming tide, the water would go under the bridge towards San Leandro Bay (the direction shown on the arrow next to 4 on the map). But it turns out that the currents comes down the Tidal Channel and goes out at this bridge on an incoming tide. This doesn't seem logical when you look at a map, but this was what we found.

Overall, a good paddle. Stats are 17.44 miles, average speed of 3.4 mph, 5 hours 7 minutes moving time, and 6 hours 2 minutes total time.

And now the monkey is off our backs!

Brian's trip report is on his site http://gotoes.org/.

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