Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Delta_Locke to Willow Berm

Dust Storms while in Potato Slough

Sitting at anchor with sandstorms going on around us. I'm reminded that Mother Nature doesn’t always give you the trip you want. But you have to deal with what she gives you. Last night was another example…I was exhausted from not sleeping well in Locke because it was so so hot…. We had a great slow paced day meandering down the Georgia Slough – which is gorgeous.Pretty Georgiana SloughBreakfast in Bed

We bypassed a few marina’s while deciding back and forth whether to go in or anchor out again at Potato Slough. Eventually we opted for Pirate’s Lair…but a couple hours after being settled in, they informed us that we just couldn’t stay – there was a big organized cruise coming in and they needed the space. Fortunately we had a little time to catch up with Cynthia and new Beau Mark – from BYC. Mark not only made a run in for a favorite fishing lure for us, but also told us of a hot spot so we could check it out in the morning.

Cindy and Mark

So after one false start where we left the marina without our dinghy…..I cannot explain the disappointment and embarrassment at that one….. we were off just around the corner to Potato Slough. While checking out the anchorage, a nice fellow pointed out his friends mooring which was tied to the Island for us to pick up and tie to….. I’m not the biggest fan of other people’s moorings….but well….I’m human and succumb to laziness of setting my own just like anyone else….. And we had a tough run that morning getting our stern hook up – at least we weren’t dragging …. We’ve been moving so much and needed a break. It’s hard work this here cruising stuff….. J

Matey getting ready to romp on the levee

So we picked up the mooring and chatted with a couple of the locals…there are currently 3 boats here plus us. The other 3 are regulars….they bring there boats here every year for the summer. We are on a mooring of a fourth – who we did get to meet today as he was dropping off supplies for the Island. So I mentioned I wanted a good night’s sleep last night….well, didn’t get it. The wind started to pick up and I started worrying about the mooring. We were only tied on by a smallish line and we weren’t sure how old it was.

Overnight the wind started to pick up…. Peaking today with gusts to 35 kts. Just a bit ago, we took Matey to shore. She’s been taking a hiatus from using the Astroturf this trip. On the return I mentioned she was pampered and I think she can speak English with the look she whipped around at me. Maybe it was me…but she’s not pampered…as she approaches 10, she’s allowed to go to the bathroom on land whenever we can…. She’s been through a lot in her 10 years so far. Not many doggies have crossed oceans and been succumbed to as many coastal trips and overnights as we’ve made her do. But she also got to play on a lot of beaches and chase fish in wonderful swimming water. Not to mention spend a year traveling with us.

Swing bridge on the way to Pirate’s Lair

I think the wind is finally settling down. Ahhh… . I hope it’s a quiet night. And…there’s another gust. We’ll see. Tomorrow we’re heading into a marina. Some friends are coming to visit and it’s too difficult to make it happen out here at anchor – and we’re overdue to spend some time onshore…hoping to find a little store to top off provisions.Yep – -we did go aground. 🙂 oops…..

Delta_Willow Berm….Eden Isle…..Home

Patrick and Sharon came up to visit us and have dinner. We picked a nearby restaurant which was a converted old ferry. The place also featured a local bar band…..yes, music so loud we couldn’t talk while it was going, complete with 50yo groupies dressed in black dancing around…only in the Delta (hopefully). We had a good time hanging with Patrick and Sharon anyway…..

We were staying at Willow Berm Marina which seemed like a resort for cruisers. marble showers with calming music and fountains inside. Free bikes to borrow, continental breakfast and little shady oasis pods all around the park – one complete with hammock, sand and palm tree. It was the perfect mid vacation “break” from the hook.Ducks of Willow BermBathrooms

A little rain that passed throughrelaxing oasis within the marina

We stayed for two nights. We also had time to do some fishing – and found a hot spot just across from the guest dock – so an easy quick dinghy ride to get our fill of bass.Guarding or plotting to take one for herself?

The delta is full of little islands that are privately owned by groups of people. Some are elaborate like the one owned by the St Francis Yacht club and have docks/ water/electricity/and plenty of shore amenities. Pura Vida’s previous owners belonged and she used to come up there every summer for a few years, but she’s keeping mum on the stories….. Others are barely a bit of dry land at high tide….. some have moorings which you can easily tie to…some have elaborate decks and lounging areas for parties. some have shore boats at local marinas so members can easily get to the island. One island is mainly owned by members of the Berkeley Yacht Club, so we’ve heard many stories about it through the years and wanted to check it out. Getting an invite wasn’t a problem and after a quick phone call to our friend Bob Gray, we got a good description…look for the island with two palm trees. Done…there’s only one.Eden Isle – two palm treesPath a bit around the islandMt Diablo from the mooring

We picked up a mooring, took an initial walk around the island and enjoyed the swing and patio before heading back to the boat for dinner. The next day we went exploring for ice cream to go with our freshly made brownies. Surprisingly, this is a hard things to find, but we managed to find “birthday cake” flavor…that’ll work. We also tried out fishing, but were spoiled by our previous hot spots. After exploring a creepy abandoned houseboat section, we returned to Pura Vida for more lounging.

Pura Vida at anchor

After two more nights, it was time to start heading back in the direction of home. Returning from the Delta is the hard part. Because you want to go with the tide out, and since that’s usually also upwind, you hope the Ebb happens in the morning when wind is usually lightest and ideally if you have the time, you’d want to be anchored or snug for the evening by the time the current changes around. So we planned on two days to get out to Glen Cove – just East of the Carquinez Straight.

We dropped the mooring early in the morning, and took off down river to Frank’s Tract. Now this is one weird area – at least I thought. I’m afraid of heights…and the levee here is about 40 feet above the ground. So I was sitting in the cockpit, looking sideways and getting that nervous feeling in my stomach. Fortunately I quickly switched sides so I didn’t have to look down anymore. Rumor has it the levee broke at Frank’s Tract so fast that there is still a lot of farm equipment in the flooded field area, so although it might look like you can sail in it, you want to stay in the original channel.

We made it to a new harbor to us (Driftwood Yacht Club) in Oakley. Then had a nice shower and walk to Carl’s Jr. It was kinda fun/freaky getting into the marina – we had to go over a shoaly area and with direction from the harbormaster – turn at the red bouy and head for the house on the corner…you should be fine, but watch your depth. Since most of the marina is small powerboats, a 47 foot sailboat is a little odd, and they aren’t used to our 6 foot draft. We had the only mast in the whole place. Another freaky part was the next morning when the wind which hadn’t let up all night, was still blowing us directly onto the dock. Now we are tied along a dock that is the far end of a narrowish fairway, maybe the length of our boat – with boats lining both sides. Greg used a spring line on the bow and the power of our propwash to pivot the stern out, then backed us out perfectly even while we had an audience.

We charged along with the current and confidently under the Antioch bridge….

So remember when I said the wind was already up and had been all night? Remember also when I just said we were charging along with the current…..well, strong current going out against a good wind/chop coming in….means choppy ugly seas across Suisun Bay.Beating to Suisun BayMatey hiding…this is literally how I found her….Her bed even slid down from the step it’s usually on.

Super glad to have Pura Vida which is a good heavyish boat…and this is where her bigness also adds value. Lots of water, but she made good progress of it. And with relative comfort for her crew. I have never once questioned Pura Vida’s ability to take care of us…this has to be my favorite thing about her. And why she will always get the best of what she needs.

After a few hours of slogging, with growing confidence we passed under the 70ft railroad bridge again, were were pulling into Glen Cove in time for a hike to the grocery for lunch. I love that google maps when giving directions, takes into account if you are on foot – then gives you a nice hike through the trees instead of roads to walk down….if one’s available 🙂Welcoming Glen Cove Marina

One night in Glen Cove, then up early for an easy trip across San Pablo Bay to complete the remaining trip hope to Berkeley.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Delta_Suisun to Decker Island

A very uneventful departure in the morning…Greg didn’t let me sleep in this time :-)… Beautiful picture taking opportunities as the light was stunning on some of the turns along the slough.

As we headed out Suisun Slough and crossed over to the Sacramento river, we were again thanking our GPS. All around is water- but not water deep enough, so we had to be sure to watch the chart to stay in deep enough water as we crossed over – there weren’t any channels to be marked.
Chart – us coming out of Suisun Slough. We are heading to the Sacramento River in the bottom righthand corner

It was warm, and lazy – not many people around. Peaceful and quiet. We weren’t totally alone, there was lots of wildlife..it was truly stunning and I was happily snapping pictures most of the time.

view along the river

There was wind at this point to sail, though as we got closer to Decker Island it lightened. As we rounded the corner, we surprised two fishermen. I think people used to powerboats don’t understand just how quiet a sailboat can be. I could hear them exclaiming their shock in our approach. We were so big and they didn’t hear a thing as we came up upon them. Well, not really upon them, we just passed them while rounding the back side of Decker Island.

~~~ I love that about sailboats…their silence.
Barge moored along the backside of Decker Island

We had little drama as we dropped our stern anchor, then motored to the Island, Greg jumped off the bow and tied us to a tree.

But we are wishing for a windlass for our stern anchor. Greg more so than me, since he does the actual work of pulling up the anchor. But I do the fretting of him getting his fingers crushed by the weight of the current pushing our 32K LB boat onto the chain with his fingers in between. Ahh, a stern windlass…..One day 🙂
Lamb steaks with Glen Cove Rosemary

Had a nice swim yesterday, walked a little on the island…. Even dunked a protesting Matey off the side of the boat for a swim and play on the beach. Funny that after all her protesting about going over, later after coming back, she was at the bow talking her head off about wanting to go again. Silly girl.

The next morning we were surprised by a herd of goats (and one llama) guided by their 3 dogs coming down to get water. The dogs were quite cautious of us. It was funnythat when we would walk around our boat’s deck they would get spooked, and with a series of barks, call their goats (and one llama) out of the water and up the hill….then when they felt better, they would send them back down. Matey could care less – maybe she was moping because we still hadn’t delivered on that fishing we promised her.

Today, we’re heading to the town of Locke…to check it out….

Delta_Decker Island to Locke

The back side of Decker is something to see – the birds were gorgeous, green wetlands and yes, it reminded me of South Louisiana. If it weren’t for the highway, I would have been happily ensconced there the whole time. Not really true, I would have gotten itchy feet to move on to explore 🙂

Our time there was spent swimming, reading and just hanging out by ourselves. Exactly what we wanted.

I don’t even remember now how long we stayed, or when we decided to head on for more…..

We untied ourselves and wrestled our stern anchor from the bottom, pointed our bow up the Old Sacramento River to the town of Locke. This would involve 3 bridge openings….at this time, it was exciting, but by the end of our Delta trip – we’d be old hands and it would be no big deal…

Luv the flowerpot pilingsThese little private docks were everywhere.

We meandered along the river – enjoying the windmills and yes, isolation – passing the occasional small boat. I should mention that by this time we were fully immersed in the Delta rats M/O….we had a deck chair set up on the back deck, fishing poles hanging off the back and our anchor line piled on the aft deck ready to be deployed.

Is it wrong to take note of all the cars waiting for you?Delta rats…… Move on, nothing but class here…..

When we got to Walnut Grove, the bridge tender decided to play a little with Greg and only opened the bridge a scoot-ch and asked if that was enough for us to fit through….she intended for us to thread our mast between the opening. Greg did it – as I guided us from the mast… And we got accolades on a job well done from the bridge tender after we passed. I wonder if she does that all the time – of if she was just feeling playful?Maybe a little to the right……hold it right there…….And the highlight…looks like we’re gonna make it!

Ahh…Did you see that…Ice Cream….I NEED to go back there…..

Fortunately we spotted a ice cream shop that had our name on it as we passed by, so made a mental note to come back after we got settled.

We checked out the marina in Locke – but there was nothing available. There was a public dock in Walnut Grove, but with no power or water or bathrooms, we thought the $35/night a little steep. So we anchored bow and stern in the river. It lended for more opportunity for swimming anyway.

After pumping up the dinghy, we went into Locke for a look around and scope out Al the Wops for a nice steak dinner tonight.Main Street

Famous for Peanut Butter Steaks

So for the record, Locke is small…cute…darling even…but small – did I mention SMALL? Good for a day…. Oh and by now, I should mention, it was HOT HOT HOT…like over 90 degrees. so moving around in the day is a good thing, because it was also NOT breezy and well – if the air can’t move around you, then you can move around the still air.