On January 24th, I paddled alone from Glen Cove Marina in Vallejo to Bay Front Park. It was right after the storm and although there were still some left over wind, it was a gorgeous morning. Paddling out of the Vallejo Bridge was a breeze with the Delta current and I managed to put on after the morning ferry traffic. The wind was coming out of NE so I actually had some small glides paddling along the refinery. It's a bit surreal to paddle next to the refinery - reminded me of early 20th century industrial revolution in a way.
The scenery in the north bay can be amazing in the winter with the clouds. The juxtaposition between the refinery on the east side and the rolling green hills on the west side shows how the economy differs between Marin County and Contra Costa County. Occasionally you see the Amtrack trains rolling along the east bay waterfront - definitely one of the best views on the train in the bay area!
After the lyft ride back to Vallejo, I was off to find a place to have lunch. It turns out in the sleepy town of Crocket, there's a great little place called Judy's Place! My wife's name is Judy so I had to go check it out. Judy was at the counter and I ordered some great fish tacos. She does the shopping herself with mostly organic and healthy ingredients which is kind of rare for a little Mexican/Salvadoran restaurant. Highly recommended!
Hazards: Vallejo bridge can be intimidating. Stay close to the pillars and be aware of boat traffic in front and behind. The ferry between Vallejo and San Francisco can be very fast - so watch out for them as well. One cool thing is that the ferries don't actually kick up big waves, which is a plus for paddle boarders. The refinery can also be a little tricky with piers falling apart so be careful if you want to ride underneath them.
Put in: There are multiple places to take out in Vallejo. Lots of Marinas and even more public ramps in Benicia. The Benecia Outrigger Club is a great resource around there. I'm not sure whether it would be okay to take out in the summer time at Glen Cove Marina, but in the winter there was no one there so the guest dock was open to the public.
Take out: This section of the bay is rarely mentioned by other paddlers. I'm not sure why - maybe because it's a bit further from the population centers and also perhaps there aren't any paddling clubs outside of Benecia. There are also not that many access points, so when I found Bay Front Park in Pinole, I was really excited! This little gem is nestled next to Pinole Creek. The winter flow was ample on the creek and plenty of winter birds are nesting. It is situated next to a PG&E station but they have put in some good infrastructure in the park. I was able to find a nice little beach to take out and Lyft was easy to find as well!