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Touring San Francisco's Kayak.

Touring San Francisco's waterfront . . . by kayak

One of the most unusual ways to tour San Francisco's waterfront is by ocean kayak. Two kayak centers and one tour company offer half- and full-day excursions and twilight paddles along 6 miles of city waterfront. In preparation, novices will need a beginning class (for details, see page 46B of the October 1984 Sunset). One operator includes beginning instruction in the tour cost; others teach them separately.

On most tours, you launch one of the company's double- or single-cockpit craft near Pier 66 or at Aquatic Park, depending on the direction of the tides. One tour starts at Sausalito's Sea Trek and heads across the bay, past Alcatraz, to the park for lunch, then continues along Hyde Street Pier and Fisherman's Wharf; at tour's end, a shuttle takes you back to Sausalito.

As you skirt docks and piers--and occasional Dolphin Club swimmers--you'll get a paddler's perspective of the city skyline while cruising close to anchored historic ships, sturdy pilot boats, and colorful tugs. On one recent trip led by Reg Lake's Paddle Sports, a new ocean kayak center, we drifted past giant dry docks, peeked into portholes of a cruise ship, and frolicked with resident seals and sea lions near Fisherman's Wharf as delighted tourists watched.

Tours are often shaped by the whimsy and interests of the group (usually limited to 10 or fewer people). You paddle in a pod, staying close together for safety and keeping a sharp eye out for oncoming boat and ferry traffic, as well as anglers' lines. Day tours stop for lunch at Aquatic Park or the Promenade south of the Ferry Building; you store your food in watertight compartments or bags in the boats.

Sunny winter days, which are generally calm, are fine for kayaking on the Bay. Occasionally whitecaps may make the going tough, but snug-fitting spray skirts and lightweight life jackets keep you dry and safe. A combination of warm, waterresistant clothing and constant paddling should keep the chill out of your bones.

Here are tour operators and upcoming tour dates. Call for reservations at least a week ahead. Trips are half-price if you bring your own ocean kayak. On all-day tours, bring a lunch and liquids. Photographers should bring waterproof cameras and film boxes.

Bluewaters Ocean Kayak Tours, Box 1003, Fairfax 94930; (415) 457-9983 or 456-8956. All-day tours start near Pier 66, end at Marina Green. Dates: January 25; no trips in February. Cost: $25, beginning instruction included. Double kayaks only; groups limited to 8.

Reg Lake's Paddle Sports, 671 Illinois St., San Francisco 94107; 558-8111 (taped message), or 341 Visitacion Ave., Brisbane 94005; 467-2800. Half-day tours between Pier 66 and Aquatic Park; twilight and fullmoon paddles between Pier 66 and Ferry Building. Dates: January 26, February 1, 2, 8, and 23. Cost: $39. Beginning class required ($39). Single and double kayaks; groups limited to 10.

Sea Trek, Schoonmaker Point (foot of Spring St.), Sausalito 94965; 332-4457. Allday tour across San Francisco Bay to city waterfront, January 26, February 16, and March 2. Cost: $45. Beginning class required ($30). Single and double kayaks; groups limited to 10.

Photo: Paddlers glide by bow of cruise ship docked at Pier 35 near San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf

Photo: Lunchtime on Promenade lets kayakers stretch their legs, enjoy view of Bay Bridge
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Feb 1, 1986
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