tomales bay, drakes estero paddling

i’m going to be staying at the local hostel, completing some work related reading, and training for a half marathon and doing some trail running the 4th of july weekend. i’d also like to kayak one day, and i’ll have the option of paddling either tomales bay or drakes estero. any norcal paddlers have favorite launch spots and day trip recommendations?

here is some info

– Last Updated: Jun-17-08 9:38 PM EST –

Drakes is closed until end of June for seal pupping, so looks like you will just slip in. I have only done the launch point shown here - if you paddle out to the sand bar separating the esterro from the ocean, then hang a left, you get in an area where it seems it is very common to see bat rays and leopard sharks. Here is a write up and some photos from when I did that:

2 Launch points for Tomales - Chicken Ranch (Inverness) and Nick's Cove (Marshall). Probably Nick's Cove is better for a short paddle (few hours to half day), as you can go straight across to Hogg Island and the Point Reyes Side (take a longer paddle to get there from Chicken Ranch). Hogg Island is covered with birds, and sometimes you can see other animals of interests (last summer, there was a juvenile gray whale that took up residence in that area of Tomales). Here's info on the launch sites.

Pay attention to tides, particularly with Drakes. Currents aren't huge, but you have to deal with them the whole way.

Heart’s Desire Beach
From Marin County’s summary -

“Heart’s Desire Beach is part of Tomales Bay State Park. It is a nice sheltered cove on Tomales Bay that is excellent for families with small children. The ocean water tends to be a little warmer at this beach.”

I paddled Tomales Bay 2 weeks ago. We planned to go out from Nick’s Cove. However, it is summertime, and that is the exposed side of the bay. Wind, even in the morning, was 30 mph with big gusts, and it got stronger. I arrived early and saw a number of kayakers take a look and turn back - just too much wind to make any reliable progress.

We drove to the other side of the bay - Heart’s Desire Beach. A very pretty park - nice for a picnic. The water is warmer there and it was an easy beach launch. The Beach itself is fairly sheltered and we made some progress into the wind.

Be aware of the wind at this time in the Bay. The conditions were exciting - especially on the return with the following sea. We did have a couple rescues, as some of our group had not been out in that kind of wind/waves before. The Bay can also be very peaceful and calm - check the forecast. But even in high winds, you have an enjoyable paddle around Heart’s Desire Beach.

Hi Pam
You could also launch at the Golden Hinde B&B – right on the water in Inverness. Blue waters kayaking is right next door if you want to rent a kayak – and not have to schlep yours.

I would paddle with you but have relatives visiting that week…

thanks for the responses
and howdy carl!

i am not paddling so often these days and really miss being on the water. you and the other flatwater rangers need to head over to santa cruz. it has been soo beautiful!