Monday, May 22, 2017

Memorial Weekend Guided Tours & Rentals

I've been doing lots of paddling and have a lot of blog updating to do but wanted to let you all know that Delta Kayak Adventures will be at the Antioch Marina this weekend offering kayak & paddleboard rentals. We also have scheduled a few Intro to Paddling the Delta guided trips at a special price that will focus on paddle safety in the Delta and where you can find some great paddling destinations launching from Antioch. Contact us for more info or book directly online.

Happy water trails!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

San Joaquin River Trip #3 - Antioch to Big Break Regional Shoreline

If you're looking for a half day or longer trip, this is a must do paddle. You'll definitely want to plan ahead taking tides and weather, wind in particular, into consideration. Launching from the Antioch Marina and landing at Big Break kayak launch/landing is approximately 6 miles one way. If you paddle at a steady pace without stopping, and with the flooding tide, it will take you about 2 hours one way. There are a couple of ways you can do this trip: one way with a shuttle or round trip with incoming and outgoing tides.

Antioch to Big Break

Big Break to Antioch

Either way, you'll want to launch from Antioch within an hour of high tide so you will have the current to help you along. Generally, especially during the summer, winds blow from the west and typically come up in the afternoon. Always check weather/wind report just before launching and if winds are predicted to be 10 mph or above reconsider launching. Only you know your skill and comfort level but beware that winds along this stretch of the San Joaquin can produce 3-4 foot waves and confused seas with 10 mph wind against an ebbing tide. That's where a one way paddle can be a great option.

For a one way trip, leave a vehicle at the takeout, Big Break. You'll need to pack wheels into or on your boat to transport your kayak from the landing to the parking lot because it's about a quarter mile walk on a paved trail. Big Break Visitor center has wheels you can borrow but depending on when you arrive, may not be open. This is a great option if winds are predicted to come up later in the day.

If you decide to do the round trip paddle make sure to pack a lunch or hearty snack to enjoy when you land at Big Break. There is a shaded picnic area with tables and restrooms are available near the landing. If you time your trip right you'll catch the outgoing tide back to Antioch.

There are a few other things you want to be aware of on this stretch of river. Beware of the shipping channel and stay out of it unless you're crossing and if you do cross make sure it's all clear and do it quickly. There are lots of aps for smartphones that show real time ship tracking. I personally like FindShip. There are a few fishing piers you'll pass by so make sure you're far enough away from them that you don't get caught in their lines or yelled at. There are many scenic stretches including Rogers Point, Fulton Shipyard, the Antioch Dunes, Antioch bridge, Little Break and Big Break. Be careful when paddling close to shore to watch for submerged wrecks or pilings.  There are some places to stop where beaches may be exposed at certain times but refrain from walking inland as it's mostly private property and the Antioch Dunes is off limits due to endangered plant and animal species.

This trip, as well as many others, are available as a custom tour with Delta Kayak Adventures with me as your guide. Pick a date and I'll do all the planning and provide boats and gear! Happy Paddling!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Recent Delta Paddles

Rock Slough Brentwood- Snow Geese fly over

The majority of my paddling has been close to home. I've been doing extensive exploring around Sherman Lake and the San Joaquin River between Pittsburg and Big Break. I'll be publishing a "San Joaquin River Trip #3 soon, so stay tuned. The storms have done a great job of clearing out many weed clogged channels, making them accessible to kayaks which adds to exploration options. It's a good idea to bring a gps to assist in finding your way around and help you get back home safely.

Sandhill Cranes and many other migratory birds have departed

I'm amazed at how many of the sloughs and channels have opened up. For awhile we were experiencing high water which was made even higher with the king tides. The Antioch Marina boat ramp parking lot completely flooded along with other areas adjacent to the marina. The San Joaquin River came up over the levee and made it possible to paddle around the Dow Wetlands trail opposite the harbormaster's building.

I've been spending a lot of time paddling to the Dow Wetlands Preserve and have enjoyed watching otters and beavers play around and hunt. I've done a little fishing and the bite seems to be picking up as I caught and released a couple of small striped bass this past week. I've explored Sherman Lake, Kimball Island, West Island and paddled to Big Break from the Antioch marina.

Three egrets and a gull

I'm really looking forward to nicer weather and sharing this amazing place with you! Rentals are currently  available in Antioch and Brentwood so contact us to reserve a kayak and do some exploring for yourself. Contact us to book a custom tour for your group with as little as two paddlers.

Ship slowly making her way through a debris field on the San Joaquin River
Holland Riverside Marina sunset

Enjoying the view of Mt Diablo from the San Joaquin River

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Paddling Between Storms

Paddling San Joaquin River near Antioch

This winter has definitely been the wettest I can remember. I'm incredibly thankful for the rain; all these storms and rainwater are providing the Delta with a much needed flush. Much of the water hyacinth has died and been blown out of many channels, pushed down river and out to the San Francisco Bay. Many sloughs and channels that were impassable are now open and begging to be explored.

Red wing blackbirds take flight over Dow Wetlands

I continue to paddle when the weather permits and I look forward to sharing the California Delta with paddlers who want to explore all the Delta has to offer. We have some great tours planned and as usual we continue to offer kayak and SUP rentals. Keep your eye on our calendar and sign up for our newsletter which we try to send out once a month with information about upcoming tours and other events. Delta Kayak Adventures also offers custom private tours tailored to what your group is interested in - whether an intro to recreational kayaking class, intro to sea kayaking, custom tour to a specific location or help with planning your own trip using our boats- contact us and we'll get you set up.

The water has been high with all the rain and dam releases but with careful planning, many parts of the Delta are safe to explore via kayak with appropriate gear and attire. Below you'll find pictures of recent trips.

Night heron hanging out in a flooded Antioch Marina parking lot

Cargo ship San Joaquin River

Dow Wetlands sunset

High water at Big Break

Antioch waterfront sunset

Homeward bound

Working our way through debris on San Joaquin River

Abandoned barge cabin Big Break

Old River Brentwood

Breaking through fog San Joaquin River

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Waiting out the Storms

The forecast for the San Francisco Bay area predicts rain 11 out of the next 15 days. Many Northern California Rivers are expected to rise above flood stage. The Mokelumne has already risen above its' banks closing launch facilities between the Camanche Dam and Lodi Lake. The dam is currently releasing 5000 CFS into the Mokelumne and the Cosumnes River Preserve has water nearly reaching the parking lot. Nimbus dam had been releasing 35,000 CFS which is 10x the rate it normally releases but is planning on releasing 75,000 CFS beginning Monday. With these kind of flows it's best to stay off the water and stay safe!

I was able to get out and paddle Friday on the San Joaquin River before the storms started to roll in. It was the "calm before the storm" and was absolutely beautiful. It was very chilly at 44 degrees at 2pm when I launched but wearing appropriate gear makes all the difference. I always dress for immersion and on Friday that meant 2 layers of thermal pants under my dry pants another two layers of synthetic shirts under my drytop, neoprene socks and booties, hat and balaclava.

I launched from the Antioch Marina ramp at 2pm and paddled east against the 2 knot ebbing tide. It was slow going but I managed to make it to the eastern end of West Island with one rest stop near the Antioch Dunes. I paddled close to shore as much as possible to take advantage of slower current. I paddled for about an hour and a half before crossing the river to reach the shore of West Island. I knew the return home would be easy paddling and take less than half the time to get back.

It really was an amazing afternoon. The light seemed to change by the minute, beginning with blue skies dotted with clouds and shifting to highlights of yellow and orange mixed with blues and grays. I wasn't alone while paddling because I had the company of a river otter, great blue heron, many cormorants and an emotional encounter with a beaver. I saw the beaver when I made it across the river close to West island. At first I thought it was just another beaver swimming along until I noticed he wasn't doing much swimming and seemed to be struggling to stay above water. As I got closer I noticed something poking out of his back, not through the fur but some sort of deformity. I think he may have been struck by a boat. He obviously was injured and couldn't move his tail or rear feet. I floated helplessly next to him wanting so much to just pick him up and put him in my kayak. Those big teeth of his kept me from doing so and I kept him company and prayed for God to relieve his suffering. He graciously answered my prayer and the beaver passed on before we reached the end of the island. I was saddened to see this beautiful creature die but I was also thankful for the encounter as it reminded me of how fragile our lives and our environment are and how important it is for us to be good stewards caring for our neighbors, neighborhoods and the critters that live among us.

My paddle did end on a melancholy note but it was a unique experience I will always remember.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

So Long 2016

2016 was a wonderful year for paddling! We explored many tributaries, sloughs and islands within the Delta like various sections of the Mokelumne, Beaver slough, Georgianna, Sherman Lake, sections of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Opportunities for paddling within the Delta are endless along with limitless destinations in the San Francisco Bay area. Trips to Angel Island, Richardson Bay, San Leandro Bay, Oakland Estuary, Brooks Island and the Carquinez Strait were just some of the paddles I enjoyed this past year. Highlights included paddling with bats on Lake Del Valle, observing baby sea otters with their mom's on Elkhorn Slough, watching dozens of river otters frolicking on the Sacramento River, viewing a bald eagle at Big Break and witnessing a sea lion consume salmon just feet from our kayaks.


A big thank you to all who joined me on the water in 2016, I truly appreciate your business and I'm super excited for 2017! We have lots of exciting new adventures planned including adding an introduction to sea kayaking class which will include self and assisted rescues, an adventure camp for youth and specialty tours that will include food from local delta farms. We're excited to work with the city of Antioch by providing classes, tours and rentals from the Antioch Marina. Don't forget to mark your calendar for September 16th, 2017 and join us for Coastal Clean up day where we'll pick up trash that can only be reached by kayak.

What better way to end 2016 than with a paddle on the Delta! We had a beautiful day on Old River paddling around many islands. We were surrounded by the sounds of hundreds of Tundra Swan, Sandhill Cranes and multitudes of snow geese as they  soared overhead. We were fortunate to catch a glimpse of 3 river otters foraging for food and other than a lone duck hunter and the sheriff, we had the river all to ourselves. It was an amazing day on the water with great company.

Happy new year! See you on the water in 2017!

Join us for a tour or reserve a kayak or paddleboard rental in 2017

Friday, December 9, 2016

Martinez to Eckley Pier

Earlier in the week I had the pleasure of paddling from Martinez with intentions of landing at Port Costa but conditions were so good we kept on paddling and ended up at Eckley Pier.

We launched from the Martinez Marina about 45 minutes after low tide and caught the remaining ebb for a ride to Port Costa. There's no charge to launch kayaks if you don't have a trailer but make sure to load gear away from ramp as not to block others from launching. Wind was forecast to be 4 knots or less from the west.

After launching we headed west on the Carquinez Strait and pointed our bows toward the Ozol pier which used to be a jet fuel storage and transfer station. The pier is highly visible being over 800 feet in length and 270 feet offshore. We made our way closer to shore and paddled under the pier. Just past the pier, we encountered a beautiful tugboat, the Delta Billie. She had her engines idling while waiting for her ship to come in.

We continued paddling close to shore as we made our way to Port Costa. The shipping channel is extremely close to shore so we were careful to stay out of the channel and keep our eyes open for approaching ships. We reached Port Costa after an hour of paddling which meant we were moving quickly averaging over 4 mph at a leisurely pace so we decided to continue and head for Eckley Pier.

We reached Eckley Pier in no time and landed on a gravelly beach on the west side of the pier. Eckley pier is part of East Bay Parks Carquinez Strait Regional Shoreline and is a beautiful park with miles of hiking trails. We enjoyed a snack at the park and there are restrooms available with flush toilets on the other side of railroad tracks. According to this was "the site of a small village, brick-making plant, and the famous Garden City Ferry, the area now features a park with an open grassy area, a half-dozen picnic tables and the remnants of an old brick structure."

We departed the park and paddled around a huge structure in the water that looked like some sort of kiln, presumably left over from the brick-making plant. We caught the flooding tide and paddled on glassy water taking time out to watch a seal swimming close to shore looking for an easy meal from fishermen on shore. We also witnessed a large fish jump clear out of the water going after something on the surface.

Before heading back into the marina, we took a detour up Alhambra creek. After a little exploring we noticed it was getting dark quickly so we returned to the marina in fading light. There is a fishing pier very close to the entrance of the marina so be watchful of fishing lines to avoid getting tangled. It was a lovely paddle and I could hardly believe the calm water conditions. I look forward to returning!

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