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!

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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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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

San Joaquin River Trips #2 - Point Sacramento

Trip #2 in our series on day trips from Antioch is a paddle for more experienced kayakers. It's a minimum of 3.5 miles one way to Point Sacramento which can be done in an hour if timed properly with tides but you'll want more time to explore on the way.

Things you want to consider before launching are tides, weather/wind and water temperature. Always dress for immersion, do not wear cotton and wear a PFD. Check wind forecast and if wind is forecast 10+ MPH reconsider launching. It doesn't take a lot of wind to create 3-4ft rollers on this section of the San Joaquin. Launch a minimum of an hour before low tide to get the most help from the current. There aren't any places to bail out or stop and stretch until you reach Point Sacramento.

Cabin Slough

After launching from the Antioch Marina, cross the San Joaquin and head northwest along the shoreline of Kimball Island. You'll be crossing the shipping channel so be sure there are no ships in sight. This area can be busy with other boat traffic so make sure to be alert and make yourself highly visible. Once reaching Kimball, stay within 15 feet of shoreline to stay out of shipping channel and follow until you reach Point Sacramento.

Your first possible detour is Cabin Slough. There's usually raptors hanging out in the trees at the entrance and there are a couple of openings that beckon exploration within a half mile. If you continue to head northwest you'll reach another large inlet that leads to Sherman Island. You could spend all day exploring a fraction of the passageways within Sherman Island. Make sure you have a GPS and be cautious at tides 1 ft or lower to avoid getting stuck in mud. It's easy to get lost in here so keep track with your GPS.

Approximately 1.25 miles northwest from the inlet, you'll reach Point Sacramento. There is a sandy beach although it can disappear with a high tide. Be cautious here as the current can be very strong. If you time your paddle with the tides and reach Point Sacramento at slack or just as the tide begins to flood, your paddle back to the Antioch Marina should be an easy one and you could potentially do very little actual paddling and just ride the tide home. Remember to keep an eye out for ships before crossing the river back to the marina.

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Save 10% on Gift Cards - Limited Time


Get 10% off your purchase of gift cards now through December 14th! Gift cards do not expire and can be used towards any tour, class, kayak or paddleboard rental. Click HERE to purchase gift card and use save10 for promo code.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2016 ACA Paddlesports Conference Sausalito

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to participate in this years ACA Paddlesports Conference held at Seatrek and the Bay Model in Sausalito California. It was an amazing weekend with lots of paddling opportunities and educational sessions.

I began the weekend by participating in the "Fun Paddle on Sausalito Bay" led by co-owner Galen Licht of Sea Trek. It was an amazing start to a great weekend. The weather was unbelievably warm and water like glass. We spent a couple hours exploring the waterfront with Galen sharing a little history and culture about the area. It was wonderful paddling with so many kayak and SUP enthusiasts from all over the globe.

After the paddle, the Conference welcomed us with words from the ACA executive director and others including Lynn Sadler, Deputy Director of the Division of Boating & Waterways- California State Parks. It was very encouraging to hear Lynn speak of her own paddling experience and how she truly wants to support and encourage paddle sports in our state. The DBW has produced a safety video for ocean and flatwater kayaking, which if you are new to the sport, I recommend watching.

I also attended Friday's educational sessions  "Waves,Wildlife and Wonder of Mendocino" and "Using Skills Routines to Improve Demonstration and Assessments". Cate Hawthorne and Jeff Laxier did the presentation about Mendocino and it persuaded me to put it at the top of my bucket list of places to paddle soon. They own and operate Liquid Fusion Kayak and offer tours and classes for all paddlers.

Saturday was the day I was really looking forward to and it certainly did not disappoint. I took the "Practical Navigation" class with Richard Lee Smith and Peter Donahue. I won't share all the details but I learned quite a bit and was able to put it into practice on the water. We started on land going over basic navigation such as how to read a nautical chart and discussed currents and planned our trip route to Angel Island. On the water, students took turns leading and using ranges to complete each trip segment in a straight line. We crossed Racoon Strait about an hour or so prior to max ebb which was predicted to be a little over 2 knots. We crossed the channel and rested in an eddy behind a buoy before we made our way to the Garrison. During lunch we discussed what we learned and planned our trip back to Sea Trek. We would be crossing Raccoon Strait at maximum ebb and the water was sure to look a lot different than we crossed the first time.

With the large swell coming in through the Golden Gate,
powerboats galore and the ebb flowing at more than 2 knots, the water was anything but calm. The crossing got my heart rate up a little but was fun and challenging to paddle. We all made it safely back to Sea Trek and finished our day reviewing what we learned. Richard and Peter were awesome instructors and I'm so glad I participated in their class.

I finished the weekend with a session on social media and implementing adaptive kayak programs which I found to be very informative. My friend and I couldn't resist another paddle on Richardson Bay so we hit the water and did a bit more exploring. We paddled to the houseboats which are definitely worth checking out. Very eclectic mix of homes on the water. We paddled along the Sausalito waterfront and got to listen to some opera in the park before we headed in. All in all it was a great weekend and you should add Sausalito to your bucket list.

The American Canoe Association is an organization that supports all paddlesports and its' website includes a wealth of information.

Paddle safe!