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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Friday, October 30, 2015

Broad Slough - Antioch

I haven't updated my blog lately but that doesn't mean I haven't been on the water! The Delta provides endless paddling opportunities and below you'll find a recent trip report.

Last week was perfect for paddling Antioch, Broad Slough in particular. The San Joaquin River that flows past Antioch can often be rough and intimidating, especially during the summer months. It doesn't take much of a breeze to get 2-3 foot wind waves generated in this area but last week the wind was at 1-2 knots so we hit the water and paddled northwest.

High tide was predicted for 12:54 and max flood at 12:17 with a 1.62 knot current. We launched from the Antioch Marina at about 9:15 am and paddled against a gentle incoming tide with no particular destination in mind.

There was lots of activity on the bank as we paddled by the now closed Humphrey's restaurant. Fishermen were out in force targeting the salmon now moving upriver. We actually saw someone reel in a beautiful chrome salmon as we made our way past the piers. The tall ship, Lady Washington, was in town and taking visitors aboard the amazing vessel.

We crossed the river to Kimball Island and slowly made our way up Broad Slough with barking seals or sea lions being heard in the distance. The rumble of industry on the south shore filled our ears but the stark contrast of the quiet songs of birds among the tule won our attention. As we approached Sherman Island we stopped to watch a couple of otters hunt for their breakfast. We continued to paddle and eventually reached Point Sacramento, the northwestern most tip of Sherman Island. There, we spotted at least 6 more otters diving, eating and playing.

After a short break we turned around to catch the height of the flood tide to help us home. We made it back in less than half the time it took to get us to the Point.

I find there's nothing better than getting out in God's creation with a good paddle, great company and beautiful surroundings to lift your spirit and clear your mind.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Sacramento River - Long Island

We had a great adventure paddling the Sacramento River! We were on the water by 7:15 a.m. after launching from Rio Vista we crossed the shipping channel and  headed east up the Sacramento River. We caught the end of the incoming tide but the wind was picking up against us.

After entering the Sacramento River we glided at about 3 knots without even dipping our paddles. This part of the river is really beautiful, with the levees lined with all different types of trees. We paddled past Vieira's Resort and noticed some waterfront homes that we never knew existed. After passing Vieira's we crossed the river and entered a channel that runs behind Long Island. It's a beautiful and peaceful spot.

We almost made it around the entire island but water hyacinth hindered our progress. We turned around and made our way past the homes on Long Island via the Sacramento River. The wind picked up so we decided to start making our way back to the put in. We found a nice beach where we stretched our legs and fueled up on snacks to prepare for our adventurous return.

We had the outgoing tide in our favor but the headwind made for slow progress. Once we reached the main shipping channel the ebb tide and opposing wind made the upcoming crossing daunting. We waited a few minutes while three powerboats pounded their way through the swells. We decided to go for it and I wish I had my GoPro with me because it would have captured some great footage. We encountered 3 foot rollers with a few 4 footers thrown in from different directions. We all made it across without swimming but you wouldn't know that by how soaking wet we all were. 

Another great adventure on the California Delta!

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Canoe & Kayak "Dream Your Adventure" Contest

For some time I have had a desire to explore the Delta more in depth and share what I find. I'm planning an expedition for 2016 where I intend to paddle as much of this vast area as possible. Canoe & Kayak magazine has a contest that ends July 21st that will award someone $10,000 to complete an expedition of a lifetime. I would appreciate if you would vote for my entry! You can vote once a day until July 21st. The Delta is a wonderful place to paddle and I want the world to know how beautiful it is so we can protect it. You can view my entry and vote here: 

Sunset Paddle

We had an amazing paddle Friday evening! We launched from Holland Riverside Marina and paddled around Beaver Island and then made our way up Rock Slough.

The wind was blowing above 12 knots but with the high temperatures the wind was refreshing. We saw Egrets, Heron and one beaver. The best part was watching the golden sunset lighting up the water with brilliant warm colors.

Join our Meetup group to get exclusive discounts on many of the tours we offer, including our sunset paddle!

Our next Sunset Paddle is July 10th.

See you on the water!

Offering kayak rentals, tours & classes on the California Delta!

BASK Delta Paddle

If you are a sea kayaker or an aspiring sea kayaker and would like to paddle the greater San Francisco Bay Area and beyond then you need to join BASK. Bay Area Sea Kayakers is a club made up of volunteers who have a passion for paddling and sharing their knowledge and skills. The club promotes skill development and offers opportunities to hone your kayaking skills. All members are encouraged to contribute in whatever way they can. One way BASK members can contribute is to initiate paddles and the paddles can range from rock gardening to flat water trips around the bay area.

Last week I led a BASK paddle to Sherman Island and seven of us paddled approximately 8 miles from Antioch to Sherman Island County Park. We started out on calm waters at slack tide and headed to the maze of sloughs and marsh covered islands that make up Sherman Lake Waterfowl Management Area. After a stretch break on a sandy little island, we headed to the park for a restroom break. As we headed back to the launch the wind came up and made for a bumpy but fun ride home. It was a great day and I'm looking forward to initiating more Delta paddles!

After the paddle, six of us headed to Hazels for some grub. Hazels is a great little diner that offers old fashioned sodas and milk shakes. If you order the Willy Burger I can guarantee you won't leave hungry!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Middle River & Little Mandeville Island

I've been paddling quite a bit lately but this is the first chance I've had to post in over a month. I love the Delta! You can paddle the same area every day and each time you're on the water it's a new experience.

After launching from Holland Riverside Marina, we spent some time paddling around Little Mandeville Island and Middle River today. Our intentions were to make it to Mildred Island but we were doing more chatting than paddling and soon realized we weren't making much progress and the currents would soon turn against us. We reversed course and headed back on Middle River where we discovered a shady sandy beach where we could stretch and cool off. It was in the mid 90's today and the water felt great!

This area has so many small islands and coves that offer endless exploration. We saw a couple of flocks of White Pelicans, Great Blue Heron, Snow egrets and lots of turtles. The beach we stopped on was alive with the chatter of what sounded like hundreds of birds.

We made our way back paddling the southern edge of Little Mandeville until we reached Rhode Island. There's a small entrance on the north shore of Rhode Island where you can enter the center of the submerged island. I've paddled here several times but today it was a rather unpleasant experience. I'm not sure if it was due to the low tide or not but there was a really bad oily smell in the air and the current leading into the island was literally black. I've never experienced anything like this before and wish I knew what was the cause. We quickly departed the inner island and made our way back to Old River where we rode the tide and small wind driven rollers home.

Another awesome day exploring my backyard!

I've been kayak fishing here the past couple of weeks and the fishing has been great. Last week I caught nine stripers in  under three hours! They were all shakers and released for another day but two or three were nearly 18 inches and all of them put up a great fight.

Check our calendar for upcoming tours or contact me to book a custom tour including kayak fishing tours. We also have rentals available with advanced reservations!

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