Sunday, May 22, 2016

Memorial Weekend Paddling Opportunities!

We have a great weekend planned for the upcoming holiday at Holland Riverside Marina in Brentwood!

Kick the weekend off with a Sunset Paddle Friday May 27th
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Kayak & Paddleboard Rentals available Saturday, Sunday, Monday 10:00am-5:00 pm; all rentals must be returned by 5:30pm
Single Kayak rental $18 per hour or $40 for 4 hours
Tandem kayak rental $28 per hour
Paddleboards $23 per hour or $40 for 2 hours

Saturday, May28th
Introduction to Kayaking 8:30am-10:30am
Begin the summer paddling season by learning proper stroke technique, safety, boat control, tides and currents in the Delta

Sunday, May 29th
Kayak Fishing 6:30am-12:30pm
Grab your fishing pole, tackle and license and experience fishing from a kayak. We’ll give tips and techniques for targeting Delta bass. First 3 hours includes guide, additional 3 hours on your own.

Monday, May 30th
Old River 7:00am-9:30am
We’ll launch shortly after dawn and paddle Old River towards Rhode Island and Little Mandeville exploring sloughs and channels in search of critters that call the Delta home.

Reservations suggested but not required for rentals
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Saturday, April 30, 2016

3rd Annual Bay Parade

In support of a healthy San Francisco Bay I want to inform you of a fun and exciting event coming up May 22nd!

The Bay Area's Premier On-the-Water, Multi-Sport Event
Celebrating a Clean and Healthy San Francisco Bay

Swim  |  SUP  |  Kayak  |  Boat

The Bay Parade is an annual celebration of Baykeeper's successes in making San Francisco Bay safe and enjoyable to recreate in. Join hundreds of other participants on Sunday, May 22, 2016 for a fun and active day in San Francisco Bay. You'll make it to the big screen when the parade's finale is broadcast on the Jumbotron at the start of the Giants home game.
New! The Golden Rivet Award recognizes the fastest solo swimmer, fastest swim team, and biggest parade fundraiser from each year's Bay Parade. Winners' names will be engraved below a Golden Gate Bridge rivet cast in solid gold. Winners will be invited to join the home plate ceremony opening the Giants evening home game on May 22. See the Golden Rivet.
The Bay Parade swim is 6.5 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge to McCovey Cove. Participate as a timed solo swimmer, timed four-person relay team, or open relay team. $100 registration fee, plus $200 fundraising minimum.
The Bay Parade stand up paddleboard course is an easy paddle from Pier 40 to McCovey Cove and back, ½ mile each way. $75 registration fee, plus $75 fundraising minimum. Includes board rental.
The Bay Parade kayak course is an easy run from Pier 40 to McCovey Cove and back, ½ mile each way. $75 registration fee, plus $75 fundraising minimum. Includes kayak rental.
Sailboats and powerboats are needed as escorts for solo and relay team swimmers along the swim route. No registration fee or fundraising requirement.
Join us aboard the Bay Lady schooner to sail the Bay in style as we cheer on swimmers, kayakers, and paddlers in the Bay Parade. Tickets start at $275. Find out more about the VIP Sail.
Join the Bay Parade party on shore after the finale, hosted by Anchor Brewing. Registration includes one free ticket per participant. Additional tickets will be available for $50 purchase or with $50 donation to a participant's fundraising page, until sold out. Registration opens soon.
For information on becoming a Bay Parade sponsor, click here.
For information on sending a company team, click here20% discount for 5+ registrations.
To explore either of these options, contact Eliet Henderson, Baykeeper Development Director, or (510) 735-9700 x101.
All proceeds benefit San Francisco Baykeeper. For over 25 years, Baykeeper has worked tirelessly to stop pollution in San Francisco Bay using science, litigation, and advocacy.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Middle River to Mildred Island

I've been paddling quite a bit and haven't had a chance to do any write ups. I suppose that's a good problem to have. I'll start with one of my most recent new trips - paddling Middle River to Mildred Island.

This paddle was 9 miles round trip but could have been much longer with so many smaller islands and sloughs to explore. We launched from Cruiser Haven Marina and headed north with the outgoing tide and chose to turn right before going under the Orwood bridge owned by BNSF railroad. We made our way along the south side of the 7,000 plus foot bridge which protected us from the strong winds blowing from the north.

Once we reached Middle River we turned north and did our best to use the tule and marsh covered islands to keep us from paddling into the wind. We reached the Bacon Island bridge and we encountered hundreds if not thousands of swallows building their nests under the bridge. They were very busy as they darted back and forth with mud for their homes.

Mildred Island flooded and was abandoned in 1983 and is now home to many fish species. It's also a very popular anchorage for pleasure boaters throughout the summer months. There appears to be many beaches available for landing, at least at low tide. We only explored a sliver of this special island and were very pleased with what we found. There's definitely more to see here and I look forward to returning soon!

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Monday, February 22, 2016

South Fork Mokelumne

We had great weather for today's paddle on the South Mokelumne River. Low tide was predicted for 12:59 at New Hope Bridge and wind was supposed to be 5-7 knots. We launched from Wimpy's Marina at 1:00 and cruised with the downstream current. Wimpy's charges $5 to launch or $10 if you have a trailer.

The Mokelumne is such a beautiful river to paddle and this stretch of the river doesn't disappoint. There was less than a 3 foot swing in tides but this part of the river is fairly narrow and the current can really get moving. We didn't work very hard as we made our way a little over 3 miles to Beaver Slough. There were many different species of hawks who accompanied us along with a number of coots. We spotted a mink and several turtles on our journey.

After a little over an hour of floating, we reached Beaver Slough and found a small island with a sliver of beach to get out and stretch. The tide was changing so we took advantage of the incoming tide to help us home. We ended up paddling against a stiff headwind with a bit of chop in a few places. This area is definitely worth exploring and I look forward to returning soon!

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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Old River to Mountain House Creek

For the first time in many days, the sun broke through the clouds and bathed us in its' 55 degree warmth. We launched from Rivers End Marina at  12:15 and paddled south on Old River. High tide was predicted at 12:29 at Grant Line Canal. Rivers End charges $10 to launch but they do have very nice facilities, including a little store and clean restrooms.

There are multiple directions you can paddle from this starting point but we decided to head south on Old River. There is a discrepancy on Google maps about which river runs south. Google has labeled it Middle River but according to NOAA chart 18661 it's actually Old River. Caution must be observed shortly after launch because this is where the intakes are for water sent to So. Cal., and the currents can be extremely dangerous near the gates. We were told they were pumping 3500 CFS Friday. There is no need to pass directly in front of the gates as you can make your way around Hammer Island and proceed in any direction you wish.

I was concerned with flow direction because the pumps can reverse flows but on this day, paddling with what was left of the incoming tide worked in our favor. We made our way at a leisurely pace while checking out the numerous little islands. Once on Old River we observed lots of tule lining the banks of the levy interspersed with many trees. We reached Mountain House creek about an hour after launch. We spotted something moving in the distance and paddled slowly towards it only to discover a duck decoy with movable wings on a some sort of mount. We promptly announced our presence and were jovially greeted by a hunter camouflaged in his aluminum boat. We apologized for our intrusion and he said that he was just getting ready to leave and asked if he could take our picture with his decoys. We were happy to oblige and then continued our exploration of this small creek.

After dawdling around the creek for awhile we made our way back to Old River and began our paddle home. We were accompanied by dozens of buffleheads and coots. Three unidentifiable owls swooped beside us gliding inches above the water before ascending into nearby trees where they were quickly chased from by a couple of agitated hawks.

We decided to attempt to paddle around the north side of Hammer Island before heading back to the launch. We soon encountered immense pockets of hyacinth and then were alerted to a large danger sign warning us of fast water. We decided to go back the way we came and followed a small boat through the thick invasive weeds back to the put in.

This is a lovely area to paddle with many exploration possibilities. I look forward to returning soon!

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Steamboat Landing

We had a wonderful paddle yesterday that actually turned into quite the adventure by the end of the day. Steamboat Landing, located on Sutter Island, lies directly across from the northernmost tip of Grand Island. Its' shore sits on Steamboat Slough, one of my favorite paddling spots on the Delta. Steamboat Landing is opening an eatery/deli/bakery this spring and I can't wait as I have reliable sources who tell me the food is amazing. They currently charge $5 per kayak to launch from their beach but will be raising prices in 2016. It's best to contact them before arriving and check their launch policy.

High tide at Snug Harbor was predicted at 10:10 am so I guestimated high tide to be approximately an hour later at Steamboat Landing. I knew the outgoing tide was going to drop about 3 feet which meant the water would be flowing at a pretty good clip while we were paddling. I had intended this to be a leisurely paddle, which it was for the first hour. It was a partly cloudy with rain in the forecast and a bit breezy at times. We paddled into a pretty stiff headwind the first hour and I thought it would be great to have the wind at our backs for our return.

Within ten minutes of launching we spotted a seal hunting for his lunch. The loud exhale of his breath broke the silence as we floated downriver. Not long after, we came across at least fifty goats grazing along the side of the levy. About a dozen Common Goldeneye floated about 100 yards in front of us and would take flight when we paddled closer. We were tempted to turn around a couple of times knowing we would have to paddle against the current to get back to the launch but we were entranced by the beauty surrounding us and decided to paddle until we reached Sutter Slough. We encountered a second seal making his way up the slough towards the Sacramento River. We had paddled just under 4.5 miles in approximately one hour of leisurely paddling by the time we reached Sutter Slough.

We turned around and headed to a beach hidden beneath some trees to stretch and refuel. We got back on the water with renewed energy and realized we were in for a workout. The water was now moving at least 2 knots downstream so we paddled close to shore and took advantage of eddies to assist our progress. We began to hear owls hooting as we paddled quietly next to the bank when suddenly a large splash a couple feet from my boat startled me. I didn't see the beaver until I was almost on top of him but he let me know of his presence. We paddled hard for the next 45 minutes knowing it would be dark in 30 minutes. For a time, I felt as if I was paddling within an oil painting. With the light growing dim, water like glass and the serene beauty surrounding us, it almost felt otherworldly.

Thankfully, we made it back to the beach about 5 minutes before it was pitch black. I always carry a strobe and flashlight with me but I had failed to check the batteries before we launched and had we needed the strobe we would have been out of luck.  This trip turned out to be a great reminder for me to not become complacent about my kit and to make sure I keep fresh batteries in my dry bag that I take on the water.

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Donlon Island

We had a wonderful paddle earlier this week. One of the things that I love about the Delta is the endless paddling opportunities available so close to home. This past week we took some time to explore Donlon Island which is basically a small lake just north of Antioch.

We launched from Lauritzens with the ebbing tide and paddled across the San Joaquin River under the Antioch bridge to the easternmost tip of West Island. We waited for a tug boat pushing a barge upriver to pass before we crossed the shipping channel and found the entrance to Donlon Island. There is more than one entrance to the submerged island via the San Joaquin River but we chose the closest to the bridge. After entering you can choose your water trail. We veered right and were able to paddle most of the inner island without having to turn back. We had at least a 2 ft. tide and we encountered a couple of spots that were very shallow, probably impassable with less than a 2 foot tide.

I was struck by the lack of water hyacinth and lack of migrating waterfowl. I'm happy about the hyacinth because there are many  places on the Delta that are unboatable due to hyacinth. Usually by this time of year I'll be spotting lots of Sandhill Cranes, snow geese and coots. There are a number of coots but I have yet to spot any cranes. We did see a few egrets and blue heron and a seal kept a watchful eye on us as we made our way back home.

After exploring Donlon, we paddled across Mayberry cut and into the edge of Sherman Lake. The currents near Mayberry can be very strong. We found a water trail within Sherman Lake that brought us back to the San Joaquin where we finally caught a glimpse of an otter. We crossed the shipping channel once again to West Island where we found a nice sandy beach to stretch our legs.

By the time we got back in our boats the breeze had died and we were left with glass like conditions for our journey back to the put in. It was another amazing day on the Delta!

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