Low tides at Marina lead to impromptu clam bake

The Cal Sailing Club and the Berkeley Racing Canoe Center held a clambake on the Ashby Shoal due to the low tides on Dec. 13. Photo: Paul Kamen

The high tides on the San Francisco bay — part of the annual King tides phenomenon — also bring with them extraordinary low tides.

On Thursday, while many locals were out documenting through photography the impact of the King tides, others were planning on taking advantage of nature’s effect on our shores with more recreational ideas in mind.

On Thursday evening the Cal Sailing Club, the Bay Area Sea Kayakers, and the Berkeley Racing Canoe Center held a clambake on the Ashby Shoal, the muddy sandbar that only becomes an island when the tide is very low. Paul Kamen (who happens to be chair of the city’s Waterfront Commission) was there and took the photos.

Participants huddle around the clam bake fire on Thursday evening. Photo: Paul Kamen

Canoes were used to reach Ashby Shoal for the clam bake. Photo: Paul Kamen

Nautical chart shows location of Ashby Shoal, a muddy sandbar that only becomes an island when the tide is very low

Kamen said the appearance of Ashby Shoal has prompted activities for the past 30 years or so. In the past the tides were at their lowest in the mornings so an Ashby Shoal breakfast was organized. This year, he said, an event around the cocktail hour was called for given the timing of the low tide.

Today is the last day of a three-day high tide period. King Tide events for the 2012-2013 season take place in four periods: November 13-15, December 12-14, January 9-11, and February 7-9.

The highest tide of the year for the San Francisco Bay — 7.2 ft — was yesterday at 10:34 a.m. See photos taken by Berkeleyside readers of high waters and breaches in our story and in our Flickr pool, and check out the California King Tides Initiative (on their websiteFacebook page and via Twitter), a project that aims to document  the impact of the tides in the hope of raising awareness of how rising sea levels will impact coastal regions in years to come.

Next year’s Ashby Shoal Holiday Clambake is scheduled for January 1, 2014.

King tides initiative raises awareness of rising sea levels [12.13.12]

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  • So bummed to have missed this! Do we really have to wait until 2014 for the next one?

  • Will Rohrer

    This was a real nice clam bake…we’re mighty glad we came…the vittles we et were good, you bet! the company was the saaaaame.

  • Katrine

    It was quite special to paddle out on one of the two dragon boats who made the voyage to the Ashby shoal and meet the kayakers and sail boat. Fire on (almost) water was a first for me. The party felt surreal in the best way possible. Come and experience the bay on the dragon boats. Monday-Thursday 6pm for an hour or Saturday morning at 9. Berth M. No special anything needed. Just good humor.

  • You will get another chance! Next year we have about the same tide situation on New Years Day. That’s New Years Day 2014, a little more than a year from now.

    Meanwhile, two more ops to paddle a dragon boat around the Berkeley Marina and maybe out in the Bay at night: This Thursday, 12/20, is the dragon boat team’s annual Carol by Paddle event. We leave from M-Dock at 6, and serenade the live-aboard yachts and the houseboats ’till someone makes us stop by inviting us aboard for hot drinks.

    Then on Christmas day, 12/25 (not Christmas eve) it’s a midnight paddle, 11-12 pm, to make up for the regularly scheduled practices that will probably be cancelled on 12/24 and earlier in the evening on 12/25. If the wind is calm we will be out in the Bay under a full moon at midnight. Maybe not as much fun as clam bake, but still worth staying up late for.

    No cost, paddles and PFDs provided, kids welcome.

  • Oh man I wish we were going to be in town! Keep us posted about future stuff like this…is there a mailing list I can join for updates on clam bakes and the like?