As another Drake's Estero paddling season closes, I thought I would take the opportunity of my first blog post to offer some thoughts on what makes this such a special place to explore. It is true that the estero lies further afield than other potential paddling venues, deep in the heart of the Point Reyes National Seashore. It is also true that the prevailing northwest winds can often present a challenge to those paddlers making the return trip up Schooner Bay in the afternoon.
However, those willing to brave the extra drive and afternoon workout are rewarded with one of the most amazingly vibrant and gorgeous waterways on the west coast. Drake's Estero, along with the greater Point Reyes Peninsula, is a region of unparalleled beauty and, though it be located a mere stone's throw from the bustling, burgeoning hum of the San Francisco Bay Area, it is one which seems almost unmolested by the steady march of modern urban development. As many will know, this was very nearly not the case; for the late 1950s and early 1960s saw the possibility of a highly urbanized West Marin. It was the alarmingly voracious appetite of this potential development which secured the region's future; eventually placing about it a nearly unparalleled bulwark of protection before which the plans for an urbanized West Marin crumbled like the breakers upon its massive sea cliffs.
It is for this reason that those who paddle on Drake's Estero or explore along the towering white bluffs of Drake's Bay can quite literally see for themselves what their namesake saw in 1579 when he became the first European explorer to set eyes on the region. As the great historian Samuel Elliot Morrison writes “Because Californians have foresightedly made this shore into state parks or reservations, the coast Drake examined has escaped “development.”
One can gaze on a Drake's Bay almost as untouched by humans as when the “Generall”[Drake] passed that way.”1 Add into this context the sheer amount of wildlife which inhabits the estero; with harbor seals, leopard sharks, bat rays and a multitude of different seabirds and raptors existing in abundance, and it becomes one of the most rewarding places to kayak on the entire West Coast or indeed the world. Because of the estero's importance as a harbor seal habitat, the waterway is closed to recreational boating from late February to early July. This means that we will now patiently look forward to another great season of paddling Drake's Estero, as well as the prospect of being able to explore the changes which take place during our absence. If you want to experience this awesome place for yourself, don't hesitate to sign up for one of our paddles. See you in July!
Point Reyes Outdoors Guide
1. Morison, Samuel Elliot. European Discovery of America: The Southern Voyages, A.D. 1492-1616. New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. Print.