Voyage up Redwood Creek

Last weekend we went out in the Daisy, with its little electric trolling motor, for a voyage up Redwood Creek. We put on sunscreen, got hats and sunglasses and some water, and took off. It’s so nice that it’s as easy as stepping from my living room into the boat, already in the water!

It was a perfect day, sunny and calm, and the timing was perfect too – high tide, slack water, not much wind or current for our tiny motorboat to deal with. The electric motor is almost completely quiet. Captain Moomin was at the helm.

Captain Milo

We all took turns steering and lounging, trailing our feet in the water,

Redwood Creek

I felt really lucky to be out there on the water. For weeks I had not been feeling well, and didn’t stay on the boat because I couldn’t quite manage. I stayed with Oblomovka in San Francisco where I had help and could get around. It sucked to be sick and in pain and to be homesick for my boat and dinghy and kayaks and the creek in gorgeous weather. On the other hand, I had as nice a time as it’s possible to have while hurting and not able to take care of myself or anyone else. In any case, this voyage was like a fabulous confirmation that life was looking up again!

We passed Boring Bay, Ghost Town Bay (where Peninsula Marina with 300 boats used to be), and turned right up the creek to go past Docktown, a neighboring marina that’s very interesting with a strong community and its own “yacht club” which isn’t what you might think – more like a DIY neighborhood bar and community center with potluck dinners. Across the narrowing creek there is a big old vacant lot and parking lot where the school district, or maybe the county, parks its buses. In one tree along that bank we saw a great blue heron perched, a bunch of night herons higher up, and a lot of egrets. It must be a nice shady spot for fishing if you’re a heron. The great blue herons are taller than Moomin.

Great blue heron on Redwood Creek

You can see the school bus parking lot here. I’m just trying to be realistic here. It’s not like unsullied Nature over here in Redwood Creek. But right at this spot, we cut the boat motor and drifted while we watched a huge rabbit drink from the marshy creek. “I can’t believe I’m looking at a bunny, drinking!” (stage whisper)


We went under the little footbridge that mostly bicyclists use. There are some nicely organized camps under the bridge. Both the tent kind of camps and the kind that swallows build out of mud!

tents under the footbridge

swallow nests

Highway 101 looks very sturdy from underneath. There are some more tents and a strange little shrine built out of rocks, bottles, and a flag. It would be an ideal place to go do some street art as it’s very peaceful, easily walkable or bikeable but not accessible by car, and there are big expanses of smooth, sheltered concrete.
underneath Highway 101

Just past the 101 bridge we went under Main Street and came out by the Toys R Us. There are a lot of grassy reeds here. I’ve marked this on the map as a place where trash collects. Lots of plastic in these reeds, so if you kayak here at high tide you can really make a difference by picking it up and packing it out!

I think going under the bridges creeped Moomin out a little bit – it was dark and echoey with the sound of cars whooshing overhead. He started nervously talking about going back home where he could go to bed and read his books about the Melendy family. I think bringing a book on long voyages would be a good idea. Still, he had fun!

Milo leans out

You wouldn’t think that the place out back behind the Toys R Us and about 10 other big box stores would be so pretty. It really is! There are some wooden pilings along the edge as you get further upstream, and benches that must pre-date the big boxes on Veterans Blvd. We passed more semi-permanent tent camps, some well organized and others a bit chaotic. A guy who was clearly on his break from work at one of the big boxes stared at us in astonishment. “You can get a BOAT up here? Where did you come from!?” We tried to explain that he wasn’t just looking at a ditch – this creek connects to the Bay, and just a little ways around the bend there’s a huge boating community, where people actually live! This often surprises people who have lived here for years. The creek is across the highway, so they never see it – and they don’t know it’s so pretty and unspoiled – not like the concrete-and-fence bits of creek you can glimpse downtown by the Safeway. I like to imagine what downtown Redwood City would be like if we daylighted the covered-over creek, dug it up, put nice paths by it, and let it grow some plants – treat it like a creek, not a sewer. If we did, this is how it could be:

behind the toys r us

Or like this, the hidden and underappreciated part of “Creekside Plaza” back behind the Carls Jr. and the new In-n-Out:

back of the in-and-out and the carl's jr.

It would be easy to build a little guerilla boat ramp, mooring, or pathway right here, under Veterans Boulevard by the Sizzler, even if it was only boat-accessible at high tide:


This post is getting long — so I’ll save our return voyage, with photos of the houseboats and giant floating homes of Docktown, for tomorrow’s blogging!

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