Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Seaward Compass SR-140 & Angel Island

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of paddling with 21 other members of Sacramento Sea Kayakers around Angel Island. I chose to paddle my Compass SR-140 from Seaward Kayaks. I wanted to test this boat to see how it handled in multiple conditions for a fairly long distance and I wasn't disappointed.

The thermoformed Compass is about 14 ft. in length and just under 50 lbs. with ample storage capacity. It is equipped with a good sized bow and stern hatch with plenty of room for a weekend camping trip. It also has a small day hatch on the foredeck for small items you would like to grab while on the water without having to release your sprayskirt. A rudder comes standard but I found I didn't need to use it even in brisk wind. Its roomy cockpit only added to my comfort. Its 24 inch beam makes it an incredibly stable boat without sacrificing speed. The roomy cockpit along with the wider than average aft deck makes for easy rescue with or without a paddle float.  I was able to keep up with much longer boats without much effort. The ride itself is amazingly comfortable. The seat has multiple adjustment capabilities which makes it a joy to sit for long periods of time without breaks. Technically there are no knee braces but the padded underside of the foredeck provides a good gripping point for edging and even rolling. I haven't nailed my roll yet but my son actually learned to roll in this boat. At the end of the day, after nearly 5 hours on the water, I can honestly say I could have paddled much longer especially since it was such a gorgeous day on the San Francisco Bay.

Angel Island in background
We launched with a flooding tide just after 10:00 a.m. from the Presidio Yacht club in Horseshoe Bay in Sausalito. The temperature was extremely warm for this time of year, upper 70"s, with barely a breeze when we started. We left Horseshoe Cove and headed east toward Yellow Bluff. We regrouped after reaching Yellow Bluff and checked for traffic before we began our two mile crossing to Angel Island. Our plan was to stay together as a fairly tight group and keep to the left of the green channel marker to stay out of the shipping lane.

Once the coast was clear we began our crossing over the glass like water toward our destination. It was such a beautiful day and we encountered an enormous amount of seals or sea lions as we paddled. Many seals would look at us with curiosity and some would approach within a few feet of our kayaks. As we approached the green buoy we spotted a porpoise swimming a few yards ahead of us. A ship soon appeared through the haze and seemed as if it was heading straight toward us. We double checked our position and made corrections to our course to stay well left of the green channel marker. At times ships can appear to be moving very slowly but be aware that they are travelling faster than you think and always know where you are and NEVER try to pass in front of a ship. It's best to wait for the ship to pass before you continue.

Once we reached the channel marker we pointed our kayaks toward the nearest shoreline and followed it to Point Blunt. We passed through the rocks at the point and headed north toward Quarry beach where we would have lunch. Above Quarry beach is a nice grassy area with picnic tables and restrooms. Thankfully there was a great spot in the shade of some big trees to get out of the sun.

Quarry Beach
We departed the beach re-energized and continued heading northeast around Angel Island. We soon passed Point Simpton and paddled past a couple of sailboats that were anchored with many smiling faces aboard. We continued paddling past Ayala Cove through Racoon Strait to Point Lone.  We made sure our group was tight before we crossed another shipping channel to Peninsula Point. As we came upon Point Stewart the Golden Gate bridge appeared and it was an awesome site! There must have been a regatta near Chrissy Fields because dozens of Spinnakers could be seen sailing in front of the City. There were hundreds of boats dotting the waters as many were out enjoying the fabulous weather. Ferries chris-crossed the bay and fisherman were soaking their lines. As we crossed the channel the wind picked up and the water became choppy but the Compass handled it with ease.

While crossing the channel we spotted another porpoise swimming ahead of us. Seals continued to appear throughout the entire journey. After reaching Peninsula Point we waited patiently for a ferry to pass in front of us. We continued on to Sausalito paddling against a stiff wind but we had the ebbing current helping us along. The Compass sliced through the large ferry wakes pushing the water to the sides without spraying me with the salty water. We reached the shores of Sausalito and proceed south back to Yellow Bluff where the tide rips were getting bumpy. A couple of paddlers in the group decided to play for a few minutes in the rough water as the rest of our group paddled for home. Not far from Horseshoe Cove a seal poked his head out of the water not 5 feet from my port side. It was the icing on the cake to end a spectacular day on San Francisco Bay!

If you would like to demo the Compass 140, and see for yourself what a wonderful craft it is to paddle, please contact Delta Kayak Adventures. If you are interested in any of the Seaward thermoforms or would like to order one for yourself give me a call at 925-642-5764.  Contact me if you would like to find out how you can get your hands on any of Seawards line of kayaks.

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