This is a tale of two locations and two bodies of water, in addition to a group of really awesome and adventurous paddlers.

In the early morning hours of Sunday, March 3rd, this long-distance paddle began with everyone meeting at 101 Surf Sports to begin the tedious process of unloading watercraft from their vehicles onto the shuttle that was going to take everyone and their gear up to their put-in spot at the Petaluma Marina. This location is how the paddling adventure took on the name given by Mary Ann King since it is near where Highway 101 crosses the Petaluma River with the finish at 101 Surf Sports.


The group of seven paddlers headed down the Petaluma River in various styles of watercraft that ranged from single surfskis that were paddled by Adam Briggs, Paul MacIntyre, and Vio Popa with Elaine Baden and Mary Ann on a double surfski, a traditional Polynesian Va’a outrigger canoe that was captained by Dan Hammer along with one brave soul, Chris Spencer, on a stand-up paddleboard for the 26-mile journey from start to finish.


Early Spring weather in the Bay Area can be rather tricky to predict. Dark, gloomy, and blustery mornings can blossom into stunningly sunny and warm afternoons. In this case, the prior was the end result, along with a dash of 20-knot headwinds to add a little color to their cheeks later in their journey.

San Pablo Bay wasn’t as mild and friendly as the Petaluma River was to the paddlers when they were enjoying the solid ebb tide, the trickling run off and mild winds with blue sky peeking through the clouds while surrounded by green hills on each side. The bay presents a different landscape of conditions as well as challenges to a paddler’s ability to traverse it comfortably.

The stand-up paddler in the group, Chris Spencer, originally planned on paddling to China Camp to finish his trip, only to be denied not once, but twice by the wind and conditions with a return trip (and a LOT of EXTRA MILES) to Blackpoint so that he could get picked up by his friends after they made it to San Rafael, loaded up their gear and followed a pin drop of his location for their eventual rendezvous.


If you ever spend enough time on the water you will see curious things that make you ponder to yourself and sometimes exhale an audible “huh”. A moment like that happened at some point on the water when Elaine Baden had later reminded Mary Ann about the HUGE fish that jumped out of the water in front of her, most likely breathing to evade a predator. Let that last bit sink in for a moment. Sometimes one can conjure up all sorts of fun scenarios in their head, especially on a large body of water. However, in this case, that fish was probably trying to get an above-the-water glimpse at this curious group of paddlers that were passing through his neighborhood. Surely that fish wasn’t being chased by anything that wanted to eat him…

Once the final paddlers arrived at 101 Surf Sports, an offer of hot tea was made and it was eagerly accepted to warm up their hands and bodies as their mission was accomplished, for now. When you get a taste of adventure, especially while on the water, it can sometimes become highly habit-forming as well as turn into a full-blown lifestyle. If that’s the case, these people are on to something and probably having way more fun than most people can possibly imagine! Maybe it’s time to turn on, tune in, and paddle out…