Friday, December 9, 2016

Martinez to Eckley Pier

Earlier in the week I had the pleasure of paddling from Martinez with intentions of landing at Port Costa but conditions were so good we kept on paddling and ended up at Eckley Pier.

We launched from the Martinez Marina about 45 minutes after low tide and caught the remaining ebb for a ride to Port Costa. There's no charge to launch kayaks if you don't have a trailer but make sure to load gear away from ramp as not to block others from launching. Wind was forecast to be 4 knots or less from the west.

After launching we headed west on the Carquinez Strait and pointed our bows toward the Ozol pier which used to be a jet fuel storage and transfer station. The pier is highly visible being over 800 feet in length and 270 feet offshore. We made our way closer to shore and paddled under the pier. Just past the pier, we encountered a beautiful tugboat, the Delta Billie. She had her engines idling while waiting for her ship to come in.

We continued paddling close to shore as we made our way to Port Costa. The shipping channel is extremely close to shore so we were careful to stay out of the channel and keep our eyes open for approaching ships. We reached Port Costa after an hour of paddling which meant we were moving quickly averaging over 4 mph at a leisurely pace so we decided to continue and head for Eckley Pier.

We reached Eckley Pier in no time and landed on a gravelly beach on the west side of the pier. Eckley pier is part of East Bay Parks Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline and is a beautiful park with miles of hiking trails. We enjoyed a snack at the park and there are restrooms available with flush toilets on the other side of railroad tracks. According to this was "the site of a small village, brick-making plant, and the famous Garden City Ferry, the area now features a park with an open grassy area, a half-dozen picnic tables and the remnants of an old brick structure."

We departed the park and paddled around a huge structure in the water that looked like some sort of kiln, presumably left over from the brick-making plant. We caught the flooding tide and paddled on glassy water taking time out to watch a seal swimming close to shore looking for an easy meal from fishermen on shore. We also witnessed a large fish jump clear out of the water going after something on the surface.

Before heading back into the marina, we took a detour up Alhambra creek. After a little exploring we noticed it was getting dark quickly so we returned to the marina in fading light. There is a fishing pier very close to the entrance of the marina so be watchful of fishing lines to avoid getting tangled. It was a lovely paddle and I could hardly believe the calm water conditions. I look forward to returning!

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