|Photo Credit Etsuko Stone|
Richardson Bay Sausalito, California
Richardson Bay in Sausalito, California has something to offer all levels of kayakers; from spectacular scenery to sweeping vistas of the San Francisco skyline as well as wildlife viewing of the many harbor seals, sea lions, pelicans, cormorants, and herons that live in the bay’s relatively calm waters.
You might even catch a glimpse of a gray whale that has meandered into this arm of the San Francisco Bay on its way north in the spring. Richardson Bay is also on the Pacific Flyway so winter migrations bring big flocks of water birds including cormorants, grebes, ruddy ducks, scaups, and buffleheads.
The northeastern section of Richardson Bay is a 900 acre water bird sanctuary, The sanctuary closes to all watercraft beginning October 1st through March 31st of each winter. The area is marked on the south and west with seasonal buoys and by three permanent cement pilings on the southern boundary.
Looking out across the harbor is a panoramic view of Mount Tamalpais' hillside homes will leave you breathless. Gliding along the waterfront, paddlers get a close-up view of Sausalito’s houseboat communities. Richardson’s Bay is also home to historic ships like the Hindeloopen and the Go-Getter. With the soft sound of clanging sails on their masts and seagulls' calls above, you could swear it's a scene from a postcard.
Novice kayakers can paddle along the shoreline or confine their exploration to the back of the bay, while more advanced level kayakers can venture out toward the Golden Gate Bridge. The sandy beach inside of a protected cove right on the bay, is perfect for novice kayakers.
You can launch from Schoonmaker Point Marina. On any given day, especially when it's warm, lots of parents take advantage of this play area. It’s safe and very clean stretch of sand is great for sitting back in the sun while letting the kids have some outdoor fun. There are other several excellent paddling destinations from Schoonmaker as well. You can veer to the left as you leave the cove and paddle toward the sea plane launch toward Mill Valley. Keep in mind once you leave the cove at Schoonmaker, you are in an active boat channel so be sure to stay to the sides of the channel to avoid being run over.
Parking can be limited at Schoonmaker with only six parking spaces available to the public. Do not park in any spaces that say “permit parking only,” they ticket violators. You can unload your kayak and park outside the marina parking lot if no public spaces are available.
WHERE TO PUT IN
Schoonmaker Point Marina– (Located at the end of the parking lot past 85 Libertyship Way) you’ll find a nice public sandy beach not far from Sea Trek. Drop off your kayak and gear and then go park. Parking is restricted in the main lot. On weekends you can park at 30 Libertyship Way because the businesses here are closed on the weekends. For weekdays park in the far southern corner of this lot or you can park up on Bridgeway (Sausalito’s main drag) to the right. Upside is you have a nice beach and easy launch. Downside-the hike back to the beach from the parking areas.
Additional Launch Accesses:
Dunphy Park: Located just south of Sea Trek at Napa and Bridgeway. There are a few 'no charge’ public parking slots. This is a public park with its grassy lawns overlooking the Richardson’s Bay.
Turney Street Public Boat Ramp: Another put-in access is located at Turney Street public ramp located at Turney and Bridgeway. This ramp is right next to Salito’s Restaurant. Public parking is a block north on Bridgeway at Locust (1st three hours free) and Bridgeway.