Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chipps Island

Wednesday my Son and I made a quick jaunt to Chipps Island. I had planned on a much more in depth exploration but I'll be putting that on my calendar for another day. The weather has been incredible and it was great to get out on the water even for a couple hours.

Chipps Island lies a little over a half mile northeast of Pittsburg and is bordered by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin River to its' south and Honker Bay to the west. We launched from the Pittsburg Marina at 1:40 pm with low tide predicted for 2:45. The current was predicted to flow at just over one knot. The water had a few ripples with barely a breeze blowing from the southwest.

Once out of the protection of the marina we picked up speed rather quickly with the current pushing us along at a good clip. I had planned on paddling to Mallard Island before making the crossing but with the water moving faster than I expected I decided to cross when we reached the Power Plant. The crossing was just over a half mile but it turned out to be one that required our full attention. Before crossing we made sure the coast was clear, that there were no ships in the distance heading our way. We passed a huge sea lion resting on the red navigation buoy and proceeded quickly across the shipping channel. We encountered a huge eddy, a couple of boils and even a whirlpool forming. I must say I felt much more relaxed when we reached the shoreline of Chipps Island.

When we reached the shore of Chipps Island we discovered an opening that led to another opening to a long slough. We kept an eye open for a beach or somewhere safe to land as I was having some issues with my kayak seat and wanted to readjust it. All we found was mud so we turned around and headed east along the shore to see what we could find. We paddled to Spoonbill creek but still had not found any kind of beach. We did find a small cove with the edge covered in a thick grass like plant that my Son was able to climb and bring his boat up to rest. I decided to stay in my boat and attempt to fix my seat. We sat around for awhile waiting for the tide to change or at least slow down some so we wouldn't have to paddle against it.

As the current subsided we paddled back to the Pittsburg marina enjoying a much calmer river on our way home. The same sea lion was still resting on the red buoy as we passed by, looking like he was enjoying his nap in the sunshine.

Chipps Island has many sloughs and inlets to explore and I look forward to returning.

Contact us for more info.
Many people think of the Delta as purely flatwater and that could be a dangerous thought to assume. Some areas of the Delta are more protected than others. Wherever there is moving water you must use caution and be prepared to deal with changing conditions. The sheer volume of water that passes through the Delta is mind boggling, then add tidal influence and wind and you can experience some extremely challenging conditions. I strongly suggest kayak instruction including self and assisted rescue techniques. Know the area you'll be paddling and check tides and weather before leaving your house.  Carry a cell phone in a waterproof case and/or a VHF radio. Dress for immersion or at the very least carry a spare set of clothes in a drybag and always leave a float plan with family or friends. The Delta is a wonderful and beautiful place to paddle but be sure to show it respect.

Delta Kayak Adventures offers Introductory Kayak classes and private instruction and leads tours all over the Delta region.

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