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.

Team TRR (l to r) Sandy Sproch, Laura Harker, David Pratt, Stephen Harker, Kent Harker, Chris Farris, Reese Lavasseur, Lester Howard, Mike O’Meara, Margaret Hetherington, Carlisle Landel, Gail Matthews

Stephen Harker (Palo Alto) and Lester Howard (American River) get acquainted while Doug Pratt (Palo Alto) gets organized

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.

Kent Harker, Mike O’Meara and Laura Harker (l to r) watch a United Airlines Boeing 777 head for the San Francisco waterfront.

To the beach!

The Put-In: An exercise in organized chaos

Kent Harker, Margaret Hetherington and Mike O’Meara assist Chapter Co-Coordinator and disabled vet Reese Lavasseur (in white) out of his kayak.

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.  

On the one side: Angel Island, the East Bay hills (in the distance), Alcatraz, The Bay Bridge, and the San Francisco waterfront (just out of frame on the right)….

While on the other is the Sausalito waterfront.


Lunch time! (l to r) Stephen Harker, Sandy Sproch, Lester Howard, Chris Farris

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!

Vanessa Jones

Committe Co-Chair

Vanessa A. Jones is a dynamic force dedicated to fostering
inclusivity, encouraging discussion, and promoting a culture of
belonging in the outdoor sports community. Hailing from
Washington, DC, she brings a wealth of diverse experiences and
perspectives to her endeavors.
As a US Army veteran and ordained Chaplain with a focus on
seniors and caretakers, Vanessa is deeply committed to serving
others. Her work as a patient-caretaker advocate reflects her
passion for supporting vulnerable populations and ensuring their
voices are heard.
Currently, Vanessa is employed by a resettlement agency, where
she confronts challenges head-on with resilience and
compassion. As a single, Black woman veteran, she embraces
the unique hurdles she faces, viewing them as opportunities for
growth and empowerment.
In her downtime, she wears many hats, including that of a
missionary, spreading hope and positivity wherever she goes.
Weekends are spent paddling, immersing herself in West African
dance and finding solace and joy in nature’s embrace.
Vanessa is committed to equitable principles, ensuring that
everyone’s opinions are valued and heard. Through her
unwavering dedication and inclusive leadership, Vanessa is
paving the way for a more equitable and diverse outdoor sports