Bay Crossings Article

Summertime Play on the Bay

Deb Self
From the July 2012 edition of Bay Crossings

With San Francisco Bay’s summer recreation season in full swing, let’s hear from those who love to play on and in the Bay.

Ben Patton, kiteboarder: "Kiteboarding has a kind of freedom to it. It’s like sailing, but even closer to the water. When I’m out on the Bay, I enjoy seeing the mix of people, economic activity and nature, all at the same time. Mostly I kiteboard at Crissy Field. One day, I kited out a little past the Golden Gate Bridge, and surfed back in on beautiful, large, rolling waves. I looked around and saw some harbor porpoises doing the same thing. We went back and forth together on those waves for half an hour."

Tracy Corbin, open water swimmer: "Aquatic Park in San Francisco is the best place to swim. Some mornings, the light is just right. I swim out and see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin headlands, and Alcatraz, with a beautiful glow on the Bay. I have a close connection to the Bay because I’m literally immersed in it, and I also live on the water in Sausalito, where I see a lot of wildlife. To help keep pollution out of the Bay, I don’t use chemical fertilizers on the plantings around my house. And if we work on the house, we make sure no waste gets into the Bay."

Deirdre Reilly, Hawaiian outrigger canoe paddler: "Outrigger canoeing is a loving, friendly, ‘aloha’ type of sport. At the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club, we’re all a family and new people who come to try it out are welcomed like family. We paddle in six-person canoes. It helps to have power, because you’re pulling a 400-pound boat. Our practices are 8 to 15 miles, in the Bay and out the Golden Gate. It’s magical being out on the Bay together. But it’s also sad to see the results of people disrespecting the Bay and causing harm to wildlife. When we see animals in distress, we try to help."

Doreen Gounard, sailor: "Sailing is the greatest escape without having to go very far. Once you’re out on the Bay, you’re somewhere else immediately. My family often sails ‘in the slot,’ the big wind tunnel at the center of the Bay in front of Golden Gate Bridge. What I love most about the Bay is that it’s ever-changing. It makes you pay attention to what’s going on around you. A perfect sailing day is when we bring along some good friends, the wind is just right, and we all kick back together."

Gary Groff, surfer: "I sometimes surf at Fort Point, right under the Golden Gate Bridge, hearing the hum of traffic above me and seeing San Francisco, the Presidio, and the headlands. Interacting with the water in this way is kind of like my church. It’s hard to see it polluted. Clean water is important to me so I can surf without getting sick, and it’s also an imperative for all the animals in the Bay. I support nonprofits like Baykeeper who make an impact on keeping the Bay clean, and nonprofits working to make surfing more environmentally friendly. The Bay is a gem we have to protect. I want my 18-month-old son’s generation to be able to do things I love, like surfing, without getting sick."

However you enjoy playing on the Bay, Baykeeper’s new, free smartphone app can help you find out where the water’s clean. Swim Guide provides up-to-date water quality information from government authorities on more than a dozen Bay and ocean beaches in the Bay Area. Download it today or visit