There’s something magical about the Big River estuary near Mendocino—and something ingenious about the “canine cruiser” that transports two- and four-legged visitors down the calm and inky river to the sea. Catch A Canoe & Bicycles Too, which has been outfitting paddlers on an 8.3-mile section of the river since 1972, added the cruiser to its fleet of handmade redwood watercraft several years ago. It features a large, stable deck centered in the middle of the boat between paddlers, allowing canine passengers to sit, stand or lie down at will as the scenery slides by.
The popular Mendocino outfitter, which operates on the grounds of the dog-friendly Stanford Inn by the Sea (its Ravens Restaurant is also dog-friendly), offers other types of canoes and kayaks, too, including several models that can accommodate pets and some that have sails. The Big River flows into the ocean and is tidal and brackish, so bring fresh drinking water for you and your pup before setting out on the 8.3-mile journey.
Be aware that not all dogs are strong swimmers. Even if yours is, a life jacket is a good idea any time you’re navigating a waterway with current.
Photo Credit: @haystackbird