TRR Palo Alto & American River at San Francisco Fleet Week
By: Carlisle Landel – Palo Alto Chapter Co- Coordinator
Fall in San Francisco brings Fleet Week, the city’s largest annual civic event and a week-long celebration of the US Navy that culminates in an air show along the waterfront each day of the closing weekend. Fall also brings sparkling weather and perfect conditions for a sea kayak tour on San Francisco Bay.
For the second year in a row, the Palo Alto chapter of Team River Runner organized a kayak outing on the Bay that coincides with the airshow. On Sunday morning, October 13th, twelve TRR members from the Palo Alto and American River Chapters met at the Sausalito base of operations of Environmental Traveling Companions, a Bay Area organization dedicated to providing outdoor opportunities to people with disabilities and under-resourced youth. After getting outfitted with sea kayaks (a mixture of double and triple boats) and gear and receiving the requisite safety talk, the 11 TRR members and 5 guides (including TRR American River Chapter Co-Coordinator Chris Farris doing double-duty) set off on a 3 mile paddle to Sea Glass Beach, a small, secluded rocky beach across the Bay from the City’s waterfront that provides an excellent lunch spot with a great view of the air show to come.
The weather was gorgeous as we paddled out from Schoonmaker Beach, calm, sunny and 69 degrees, as we paddled past yachts and houseboats moored in the various marinas, restaurants and bars, and the Sausalito ferry terminal and waterfront . Boat traffic was steady but we were well out of the shipping channel and we easily avoided boats entering and exiting their moorings. Arriving at the beach, we landed safely through small, wake-generated surf and settled in to enjoy lunch, the sunshine, great views and the show. Harbor porpoises and sea lions frolicked offshore while kingfishers, raptors and sea birds soared overhead. The air show began about half an hour late due to a little low clouds over the middle of the Bay, but then it was a go as the US Navy’s Leap Frogs Parachute Team dropped from an orbiting Air National Guard C-130. Flybys and demonstrations by numerous aircraft and aerobatic teams followed. Unfortunately, we had to head back to the marina before the headliners, the Blue Angels, began their demonstration, but we could see them in the distance and they overflew us at low altitude many times as we were cleaning up and stowing gear back at the base.
After a closing circle and dinner at a local restaurant, we all headed home happy after another excellent outing with the following resolution: next year, we will try to reserve a trip to paddle to Angel Island in the Bay for an overnight camping trip—we want to be able to watch the entire air show!