Sunday, January 31, 2010

Berkeley to Treasure Island

Summary: Easy access, great parking, a great sandy beach put in (near high tide), very little boat traffic, many options for exploring. Don't try to put in or take out at low tide due to long mud flat. I covered over 10 miles!

Paddle Map: (Click on the map to interact with it.)

View Berkeley to Treasure Island in a larger map

Pictures: (To see bigger pics at your own pace, and to read the captions, just click on the slideshow once it's playing. The Picasa album will open in a new tab/window)

The Story: I commute past this spot every weekday, and I've long wanted to explore this coastline from the water. Once Kevin and I were exploring the bike trail that parallels the frontage road, and it was then that I scouted out this parking and sandy put in. I much prefer the sandy beach put in. It's very safe, and you can rock yourself into the water after you get your spray skirt on. By the way, don't miss the Kite Festival that we stumbled onto.
So, from Highway 80, exit at University and head for the water. Then turn left onto the frontage road. The parking's on the right. There's a rocky slope between the car and the beach, but it's no big deal to carry your kayak over it and back. From the car to the beach, there is also a bike path to cross with care. It's used by joggers, bicycles, kids on roller skates, people with dogs, strollers, etc.
I put in and paddle toward the point created by Powell St Marina Park. This is a nice park to explore on foot, by the way, it's not bike friendly. As I passed the park there were many families, and the kids love to wave at the kayaker. That was fun. :) Yes, I always wave back.
I paddled into the bay created at the Nimitz Freeway junction, but there were hundreds of shorebirds at rest, and I honored the rule not to disturb. Each morning as I whizz by, I see the interesting channels through the shore, and I wanted to explore them. But since there were so many birds that are not usually there, I put it off. The wildlife on this trip was amazing by the way (all birds).
I paddled by the radio towers, and to the foot of the new bay bridge. I have some great pictures of the new bridge. It looks really great from the water. Check out the pictures, and read the captions to find out about the buoy that revealed the speed of the current. The current increases the closer you get to Treasure Island's yacht harbor.
About then, I started to worry about low tide, and getting stuck on the mud flat, so I made a straight shot back to the car. This was a long crossing, but really magical. There was almost no wind, or a slight wind was at my back. The sun was warm, but not hot. The water was glassy, and the sky filled with towering cumulus clouds. This made for amazing reflections. My favorite thing this day were the reflections of the clouds on the water. Check out the pictures, and please let me know if you'd ever like to join me on a paddle.

The Wildlife: On this trip, I saw:
American Coot - I love the way the fly just above the water with their feet running on the top of the water making a funny sound.
Cormorants - I saw these swimming with their bodies submerged, diving and hunting. I also saw them roosting, some with wings spread, a fine sight! They spook very easily. I kept my distance, but a group flew away at my presence.
Curlew - I saw an entire row of these guys on a wire. I stayed back not to disturb them, but they're identifiable by their curved bills.
Snowy Egret - This is in the first picture near the sunken house in the foreground. They are somewhat approachable. You can get close enough for a picture with zoom. You can tell when they're getting nervous when they start to turn their head back and forth. That's time to back off, and they'll settle down.
Brown Pelican - This guy is on top of the sunken house in the background. He was occasionally nodding his head and exposing his orange throat. Are these mating colors?
Buffelhead Duck - I saw quite a few of these males.


Kevin T - Inflatable Kayak Report said...

Hi Shamus,

Nice blog!

A friend and I are planning to paddle to Treasure Island later this month, putting in at the Berkeley Marina. We've never done this route before and only have limited exposure to bay waters.

You mentioned that the current is strong near the island. Which direction is flood current? From Photo 7 in your slide deck, it seems that flood current goes from north to south. Is that correct?

Your route to the island was along the Bay Bridge. Was that to view the bridge, or out of tidal current concerns?

We plan to cross to Treasure Island during slack water in the late morning, and return during a 1 knot flood current in the afternoon. We'll also each have a down wind sail to help. Do you think we our plan will work?

Thanks in advance,


Shamus Thornton said...

Hey Kevin,

I'm very sorry that I didn't see your post. The blog got so little attention, that I stopped writing it, and just starting enjoying my paddles. I plan to take it down since I'm not maintaining it any more.

Did you do your paddle? I hope it went well. Your plan made sense to me. At flood the current is going south to north. I was facing west when the picture was taken. Not sure which way the wind would be blowing, but sails are a great idea if it happens to be going your way.

Sorry again for the lack of response.

All the best,