Where to Go Boating

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Where to go kayaking with a 5 year old

Sept 2010

Went kayaking for the first time on a recent trip to Vancouver island. Parents and a five year old, and we loved it. So where are good options to rent a kayak and go out in the Bay Area? Or outside of the bay area? Thanks. Bryan in Oakland

I've been on a full-moon paddle with Sea Trek (www.seatrek.com) out of Sausalito and it was really fun (and I'm a newbie who's terrified of deep water, so that's saying a lot). They do paddles and longer treks all over the Pacific Coast, I think. There's also kayaking at Jack London Square (www.calkayak.com) and even at Lake Chabot (www.ebparks.org/parks/lake_chabot) - you can rent there or they also do classes - check the most recent 'Regional in Nature' program guide (in local papers or at www.ebparks.org/activities) for details. Once and Future Kayaker

You can rent sit on top kayaks, singles and doubles, at Cal Adventures at Berkeley Marina. Even better, take one of their kayaking classes. Then you can rent the kayaks with sprayskirts. There is also a great full moon paddle where you don't need to have experience. Google CAL Recreational Sports and you will find the link under adult programs. kathryn

Try Sea Trek Kayaking in Sausalito. http://www.seatrek.com/

Overnight Kayak Trip with kids 6 and 8

July 2010

We are considering taking an overnight kayak trip with our kids (6 and 8). Any suggestions on where to go? We want to bring our camping gear attached/packed in our kayak and paddle to our destination. This would be a one night trip for our first time. Love the Outdoors

We recently did a small overnight kayaking trip with our 3 year old daughter in Tomales Bay. It was a great experience and a nice easy trip. You would need to get an overnight permit from the Point Reyes Station. We launched our kayak (with all the o/night gear) from Marshall. You can camp at any of the beaches and there is great kayaking/exploring around. Michelle

try Lake Sonoma. we just took our 3&5 yos on a 3night canoe camping trip there to Thumb camp. The canoe paddle took us about 90 minutes. the campsites are nice, water clear. lots of bird watching. quiet. just lovely! camper

Hearts Desire Beach at Point Reyes, on Tomales Bay http://www.nps.gov/pore/planyourvisit/kayak.htm R.K.

Canoeing with a young child

June 2009

We had a great time canoeing on the Russian River last year when our son was 3. Any other good options in Northern California for canoeing and swimming (not rafting)? Somewhere that would rent boats and pick you up and, hopefully, also have camping? Thanks. Bryan

I enjoyed canoeing with my young kids at several lakes in the Lassen National Park area: Butt Lake, Juniper Lake, and Willow Lake (which was my favorite). Expect to drive in on gravel roads and there is camping at the latter two sites (but you have to walk in a bit to the Willow Lake campground, which means not too many people go there).

We also canoeing in Elkhorn Slough, the estuary area near Oakland Airport (off Swan Road?). I think you can rent boats at Lake Mendocino, which also has some nice camping.

Check out Ann Dwyer's Easy Waters of California: A Guide Book for New and Novice Canoeists and Kayakers. ISBN 0-9672880-0-2. kl

Place to go boating with 2-year-old

Oct 2008

hi- we're looking for a place to take our 2-year-old boating in Oakland or Berkeley. any suggestions are appreciated. thank you. Shari

You can try Lake Merritt in Oakland. The water is calm but a bit smelly at times. You can rent a paddleboar or a sail boat. They even have a gondola ride like the ones in Italy. LT

How to go sailing out on the Bay

June 2007

My husband and I would like to go out sailing on the bay, but aren't sure who/what organization to contact. We want to go out for a few hours during the day and maybe have lunch included. Any good recommendations? Thank you!

OCSC Sailing (go to: http://www.ocscsailing.com ) My husband surprised me for Mother's Day w/a catamaran sail around Angel Island - it felt like a vacation :-) We're going again for the 4th - WooHoo! (I'm not supposed to know, but *I'M* the one who does the Quicken in this family... ;-D I can't wait... anon

Sacramento River Delta/Other Boating Destination

April 2005

Does anybody have recommendations about where to boat, stay or have fun in the Delta? After years of delayed gratification, my husband finally got a (small) fishing/ski boat and (a year later) a used Suburban to pull it. We're trying to figure out where to go with our three kids besides San Pablo Reservoir (close and fishable), and Lake Tahoe (too far for a one day trip). The 1000 miles of waterway in the Delta sound great, but are a little daunting - where should we start? Any recommendations for family friendly locations? Which yahoo-filled sloughs should we avoid? At this point we mostly fish or tube, though the kids would like to learn how to water ski or wake board someday... Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions! Trying to be a supportive boating wife...

Having grown up in Rio Vista, I can attest to the fact that there is no shortage of places to hang out for a day between Antioch and Sacramento and Stockton -- the Sacramento & San Joaquin Rivers. There is a pretty good website at http://www.californiadelta.org/ that has maps and ideas about where to go on the Delta.

A great place to start may be Brannan Island State Park -- it is very family friendly but, like all places on the Delta, will get crowded in the summer. However, it is very easy & quick to get to from the central Bay Area (about 45 minutes to one hour from Pinole). Brannan Island is right outside of Rio Vista (across the river) but its sloughs are a little more protected. Rio Vista has a city dock and county park from which you can launch right out into the Sacramento River but the main river is very daunting and not the best place for a small boat (it is a main shipping lane and the undertows are treacherous). There are also many places off of Highway 4 -- between Stockton and Antioch/Oakly but I'm not as familiar with those places.

I don't think there's anywhere you can really go to in the Delta where you won't find some crazies on any given day but the smaller sloughs that are more dead-ended will be the best for beginners -- rather than the main rivers. There are so many fun things to do all along the Sacramento & San Joquin Rivers that it is difficult to pinpoint the BEST places. The best thing may be to start at the outskirts,Brannan Island and Rio Vista, and work your way up to Sacramento or vice versa. VA

Canoe Camping

June 2004

I would like a recommendation for a camping spot for this summer that has a lake so that we can go canoeing (we don't have our canoe yet, just hopeful, have one to sell?) and swimming. We have a 2.5 year old and are meeting up with 2 more people coming from LA, so therefore, we would like to choose a place between the Bay Area and LA, inland or near coast, either way. (We would also like to get some recommendations for camping spots for canoers anywhere in No. Cal. for future reference.)We are tent campers and like a peaceful place to relax and enjoy. Thanks.... lindsay

Wouldn't necessarily work for this trip, but we had an AMAZING canoe camping experience at Juniper Lake on the east side of Lassen National Park a couple of years ago...wow. We went mid- week and pretty much had the place to ourselves. Easily one of the most fabulous places we've camped, and since they don't allow motorized boats and have no launch ramps, it's pretty much all canoes on the water. That's if there's anyone else on the water, which there usually wasn't....

The water is so blue and clear that people think we've Photoshopped our trip photos. In fact, my only hesitation about recommending it is that I'd hate for too many people to know how amazing a place it is.

There are some dismal warnings on their reservations web site about the road conditions getting in, but we had no problems in my 96 Mercury Sable station wagon (not exactly an offroad vehicle...mind you, the noisy, arrogant jerks in the campground next door got their SUV stuck and had to get a tow out, but that's because, in addition to being jerks, they were also dumb enough to park in the wetland...fortunately we only had to share the campground with them for one night!) I would still call ahead and ask the rangers if there are any road problems getting in with whatever you're driving. Sara

I haven't gone there for a few years (thus pre-baby), but Lake Sonoma - north of Healdsburg - is a good place to go camping and canoeing. Since it's a little drive to get there, we usually reserved a car campsite for the first night, then a boat-in site for the next few days (you can rent canoes there as well). There are some nice wineries along the way, so you can stop along the way for wine tasting too. The lake has a lot of finger-like sections that make it feel more river-like and private, which is nice. The only drawback is that motorized boats can also use the lake (at least until you get to those finger-like areas) so that is a bit annoying. Still, totally worth checking out! Good luck! http://www.spn.usace.army.mil/lakesonoma/camping.htm Anon

We have camped for 7 years (since my younger one was 2) at Lake Eleanor, in the Yosemite Wilderness. It is a dammed lake near Hetch-Hetchy. You can either hike in over the ridge or, as we do, canoe in to several camp sites. You will need to get a permit from the Ranger Station on Rte 120. You also have to portage your canoe 1/4 mile up& down a hill, so having a light load and wheels is a huge help, if not essential. With the appropriate planning, we still have wonderful meals and more than enough of our wordly goods. Each trip has certainly been an adventure-- bears once, canoeing to our site at midnight another time, etc. I think we finally have it right. Once we get to the site, we stay put, canoe, hike, find pristine swimming holes, etc. If you are willing to put in a bit of effort to get to this wonderful place, you will love it and want to go back for more--our kids look forward to it every year. Good luck and happy camping! canoe camping family