Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hogback Island to Antioch

I had a great adventure with my friend Mary yesterday as we paddled a little over 20 miles from the Hogback Island Recreation facility in Walnut Grove to the Antioch Marina. I plan on participating in this years California 100, which takes place Memorial Day weekend, and I want to get some longer paddles in before the big race. It's not so much of a race for me but I consider it a challenge I'd like to conquer for myself. You can visit their site to get more info about the 2nd annual California 100.

We met at the Antioch marina at 7:30 a.m. to leave a vehicle for our return. We then headed to Hogback Island where we entered the water at 9:00 a.m. Before leaving the house, I checked NOAA weather and also turned the news on TV and both predicted that the skies would clear by 8:00 a.m.. Both were wrong! We chased sunny skies the entire paddle but never caught up. It rained on us for the majority of the journey but it didn't hinder our progress or our enjoyment for the day.

I thought I would track our progress with an ap I have on my droid and it worked great until it drained my battery after 2 hours and 22 minutes on the water. I was able to save the data before my phone completely died. The ap said we paddled 9.6 miles with a top speed of 6.4 mph with an average speed of 3.7 mph. We had reached Windy Cove on Brannan Island when my phone died and we found a nice beach to have lunch.

We were back on the Sacramento River after a brief lunch and continued with our journey feeling good about our progress. We paddled at a leisurely pace for the next 7 miles until we reached Sherman Lake. This area is well known for kiteboarding and windsurfing and they would have loved the conditions we encountered. The first 17 miles were completely flat with barely a breeze but when we came upon Sherman Lake the wind must have been blowing at least 15-20 knots from the southwest.

We paused in the lee of a small island to refuel with a snack and some liquid before tackling what lie ahead of us. To get to the other side of the lake where there would be shelter from the wind and waves we needed to cross 1.5 miles of 2-3 foot wind waves hitting us broadside. About half way across I turned to Mary and asked how she was holding up and she said "we're going to finish this thing!" With our take out so close, we paddled with determination and made it to the other side without incident. As we turned and looked at where we had come from the wind suddenly died down and the water was much calmer than it had been just moments before.

We still had to cross the San Joaquin River before we could call it a day and with less than 2 miles to go, our goal was in sight. We were both tired by this time but seeing our take out gave us new energy. Paddling Mayberry Cut was rough in the sense that we now had a pretty good current against us and I was beginning to worry that I had made a mistake with the tides. I feared that we missed the slack tide and we would have to paddle against the current for our final stretch. Thankfully, when we left Mayberry Cut and entered the San Joaquin, we still had some current to help us westward but the wind had picked up again and was hitting us head-on.  We crossed over to West Island and paddled close to shore until we reached its tip. We began to cross the rest of the river but we hit a sandbar and ended up having to drag our boats about 50 yards before we could re-enter them.

We finally reached the Antioch waterfront and made it safely to the marina but not before witnessing a crime taking place before our very eyes. We witnessed two men in a powerboat and a man in a truck unload and  throw 5 sturgeon, of which at least 2 were over 60 inches, into the back of the truck. The limit is one and they must be between 40 and 60 inches. It breaks my heart to see such blatant disregard for our natural resources. I'm sure this wasn't their first time as it looked like something they do often as the truck sped away and the boat motored off in a hurry. It makes me wonder how many others take fish illegally.

The adventure was a success and I look forward to paddling longer distances and participating in the California 100!

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