Saturday, September 29, 2012

Discovery Bay Part 2

I had a wonderful paddle this morning. It's been a few months since I last visited Discovery Bay and today was perfect. We arrived at Discovery Bay Marina at 9:00 a.m. with the temperature 72 degrees and not a stitch of wind. It is free to launch your kayak if you carry it from your vehicle to the ramp otherwise it's $10 to launch. I noticed they had porta potties available this time, with a sink to wash up right next to the ramp.

After launching during the ebb tide, we paddled one mile to Indian Slough and observed some egrets resting in a tree on a marsh covered island. A -.29 foot low tide was predicted at 12:54 p.m.. Before deciding which way we would go, we checked to see which direction the water was moving and how fast. There was barely any current and we decided to paddle west, against the current, towards Orwood Resort.

We stayed very close to shore because of the power boat traffic. Even though it was Saturday, the traffic from ski boats wasn't bad. We did have a minor incident when a couple of ski boats passed by one right after the other at a high rate of speed and I was washed into the rock levee. I was busy taking pictures and hadn't realized how close I was to the levy. No damage was done and we continued westward. There were lots of fishermen lining the shore of Orwood Tract and we saw a couple people catch either small blue gill or bass.

 We were about a mile from Orwood Resort when we decided to turn around. We would have liked to continue but we both had things that needed to be done at home. Instead of returning the way we had come, we decided to paddle closer to the homes on the water where there is a no wake zone. We saw some more Egrets and a couple of Herons. We even witnessed a large fish try to eat a three inch blue gill. Overall, we paddled a little over 5 miles in two hours. I think I found some great fishing spots and can't wait to go back and try my luck.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meeks Bay - Lake Tahoe

Our family and friends had a fun filled three days this past weekend at Meeks Bay in Lake Tahoe. Headwaters Kayak and Headwaters Adventure Company hosted the weekend with demos, day trips and clinics. They even served an awesome meal Saturday night and a pancake breakfast Sunday. There were at least 100 paddlers who took part in the weekends festivities.

We arrived at Meeks Bay Resort around 3:30 Friday afternoon and after setting up camp we put our boats in the water for a quick paddle. The weather was great all weekend, mid 70's, although it cooled off quite a bit at night.

On Saturday some paddlers drove to Baldwin Beach and paddled to Emerald Bay while others headed north to do some exploring. Our little group decided to paddle south from the resort and check out Rubicon Bay. The weather was perfect and the water inviting with its many shades of blue. Beautiful homes lined the shore of Rubicon Bay and varying types of watercraft were anchored just offshore. We paddled leisurely about 2.5 miles before returning to Meeks Bay.

I was unable to use my Capella Saturday because I was having issues with my seat but Joe from Headwaters Adventure Company came to my rescue. Joe was very busy as one of the hosts of this great event but he was very gracious with his time and effort to fix my seat and get my Capella back on the water.

While my Capella was out of commission, I was able to demo the new Eddyline Raven. I found the Raven to be a fun spirited boat. The primary stability was very tippy but it proved to move quickly and effortlessly through the water. After a full day of paddling, everyone was treated to a delicious meal with BBQ tri-tip, ribs, and chicken, courtesy of Headwaters Adventure Company.

Sunday morning we awoke to a pancake breakfast and when everyone finished eating we headed to the beach for a game of kayak tag. Duct tape was placed on the end of each persons kayak and the object of the game was to retrieve as many pieces as possible from other people's boats. The person with the most pieces at the end would win an Emotion Spitfire SOT Kayak. Dan Arbuckle and Rowan Gloag of The Hurricane Riders were the referees, making sure everyone stayed in bounds and adhered to the rules.   I didn't last very long. My tape was taken within the first three minutes of the game. My daughter Amanda and friend Tim, actually lasted until the end but didn't have enough pieces to win. Even though my son got whacked in the head with a Greenland paddle, he thought this was the funnest part of the weekend. Needless to say, we didn't win the kayak but it was a joy to participate.

Next on the agenda for Sunday was rolling clinics. Dan, and his Mom Terri Arbuckle demonstrated rolling techniques using a Greenland paddle. Meanwhile five others, including myself participated in a clinic taught by one of The Hurricane Riders, Marty Perry, using Euro paddles. Marty was great! I was a nervous wreck but he was very encouraging and patient. I'm anxious to practice what I learned but I will definitely use ear and nose plugs when I do.

 That evening, my friends and I decided to paddle north towards Sugar Pine Point. The water inside Meeks Bay was calm and a gentle breeze was blowing. When we paddled just past the north point of the bay the wind came up and the water was no longer calm. It actually felt like we were paddling on the ocean with swells breaking over the bow of our boats. We decided to turn around and paddle to the marina where we watched a beautiful sunset. A perfect end to a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Big Break Update

My friend Mary and I headed out to Big Break this morning to test her new boat and to paddle some stress away. I checked the wind forecast at before I left and the forecast was for winds under 10 mph. There was a small craft advisory issued for after 1:00 p.m. but I figured we'd be off the water in plenty of time.

We met at Big Break Regional Shoreline so we could put her boat in the back of my truck and share the cost of launching at Big Break Marina. UPDATE: Big Break Regional Shoreline is closed right now due to the ongoing construction of the visitor center. I spoke with East Bay Parks and I was told the visitor center will be opening this weekend so I assume we'll have access to the launch at that time. I'm waiting to hear whether they will allow boat drop offs when they reopen. Otherwise keep in mind it's a quarter mile haul to the launch.When I arrived I noticed the wind was blowing more than I expected but we loaded up and headed down the road to the marina.

We launched at low tide without incident and headed northeast. The wind was picking up but due to low tide the grass was more of an issue than the wind. Once we reached open water the wind really started howling and after checking the wind report, it must have been blowing 15-20 mph from the northwest. Whitecaps were forming where there was more depth and it was a challenge to stay on course. We were probably about 75 yards from Dutch Slough when we decided to turn around and head back towards the larger island to find some shelter from the wind.

We reached the island and decided to stretch our legs for a few minutes. Mary had a little mishap getting out of her boat and got a little wet but she was a trooper. We decided to head back to the marina and poke around and check out all the boats. We stumbled upon a boat with her name on it and snapped a quick photo and then headed back to the boat ramp.

After I landed on the ramp I turned around and saw that Mary had decided to go for a swim. She actually had slipped on the moss covered ramp while getting out of her boat. I advised her she would probably be more comfortable swimming in hydroskins than jeans and she agreed. It was a great paddle and I think we both were able to paddle some stress away!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Bethel Island - Dutch and Sand Mound Slough

My daughter and I had a great day on the Delta exploring Sand Mound slough near Bethel Island today. We arrived at Sunset Harbor at about 10:30 and launched shortly thereafter. Sunset Harbor is located on Dutch Slough Road just east of the Bethel Island bridge. There is a nice boat ramp with docks on each side. It is $10 to use their launch but that is per truck/car load not per boat. There is a little booth where you pay your fee and if there is no attendant you can put your money in an envelope that is provided in a box next to the booth. Be sure and write your license plate number and vehicle description. When someone is there you can use their restroom facilities but you will need to get a key from the attendant.  

A 2.35 ft high tide was predicted for 12:11 p.m. with only a 1.56 ft. low tide at 4:48. Winds were predicted to be under 10 mph but when we launched the wind was blowing between 10 and 15 mph out of the west and the current was moving probably between 1-2 knots towards the east. Of course when I got home and checked the weather I noticed they had posted a small craft advisory beginning at 1:00 p.m.. I think the wind came up a little sooner than predicted!
We headed west on Dutch Slough towards the Bethel Island bridge to warm up and see how strong the wind would be paddling against it. We stayed towards the right and paddled up Taylor Slough a couple hundred yards and found a little break from the wind so we could decide where we wanted to go. We really wanted to explore Sand Mound Slough, so we talked it over and decided to head east and we'd deal with the wind on our return. With the wind at our backs we didn't need to paddle much. We averaged 3-4 knots without even paddling!

We paddled past the San Joaquin Yacht Club and reached Sand Mound Slough after about 3/4ths of a mile. We turned to our left to the northeast and paddled to the first opening to our right. We entered that little slough and we were treated with some beautiful wild flower scenery. I stopped to take some pictures of the water hyacinth and just admire the beauty.

We paddled out of the small slough and entered another large channel where we decided to go northeast and see if we could find any beaches where we could eat lunch. We passed Emerald Point Marina and didn't see any possible landing sites ahead of us so we turned around to see if there was anything to the south of us. We continued for about 20 minutes or so when we stumbled upon the first beach which looked promising except for the sign that said locals only and on closer observation there was quite a bit of garbage left there. We were hungry and it didn't look like there were any other nearby options so we beached our boats and ate a peaceful lunch.

After lunch we paddled our way home against a 20 knot wind for one heck of a work out. Awesome day with great company and great scenery!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cowboys, Cowgirls and Paddle Float Rescues

This past week I've been practicing self rescues with my sea kayak in our backyard pool. Our pool isn't very big but it's large enough for me to do a wet exit and try to reenter my kayak. I started out by watching YouTube videos showing the cowboy rescue and while searching I discovered the cowgirl rescue. This is a good video comparing the two: Cowboy vs. Cowgirl Rescue. I practiced with and without a PFD and also with and without a wetsuit. I found the Cowboy to be easier with a wetsuit as I was able to slide without sticking to the aft deck. The Cowgirl was quicker but I found it more difficult to get past the back of my seat.   YouTube is a great resource for all sorts of info related to kayaking. PaddleTV has some great instructional videos.

After getting the cowboy and cowgirl down, I worked on the paddle float rescue. I ended up buying the foam paddle float because I thought it would be more convenient to not have to inflate something while swimming. I like the foam but it is quite large and will take up a lot of room. Definitely too big to store on deck so I'll probably keep it between my feet although I'm not sure how safe that is. The paddle float rescue is so much easier knowing you have more stability.

I'm having a blast trying to learn different rescues and such. Tomorrow, if the wind cooperates, I'm hoping to explore somewhere I haven't been before. I'll keep you posted. :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Blue Moon Paddle

Friday August 31st, the Lodi Paddle Club met at the Mokelumne Beach RV Park to paddle the "Moke" for the appearance of the last "blue moon" until July 2015. Typically a blue moon is when there are two full moons in a month, the blue moon being the second to appear. Apparently there are other definitions of "blue moons", so if you'd like more info click here

There were more than 50 paddlers who showed up for the paddle by moonlight! Someone reported counting 64 paddlers but there were people still coming. 

Friday nights paddle gave me the chance to paddle my new, to me, boat. A group of friends and I arrived about 7:45 and actually got on the water about 8:15. It was just beginning to get dark and a large group proceeded to paddle east, up the Mokelumne. When we started out it reminded me of an amusement park boat ride, where everyone is bunched up and boats are bumping into one another just before the ride actually begins. It didn't take long for us all to spread out and paddle at our own pace. 

As we continued to paddle the moon began to rise over the river, lighting our way just enough to see the river boundaries. The moon was quite bright but not bright enough to see submerged logs until you were on top of them. My friends and I paddled at a leisurely pace for a little over an hour and we traveled about 2.5 miles.  Many paddlers returned before reaching the farthest point for the night which appeared to be a beach that I don't know the name of. A small group hung out at the beach while I decided to stay in my boat and refuel with some Gator Aid and a power bar. After our break, my friends and I headed back down river to the launch. 

There was no wildlife to be seen or heard, probably due to the large number of people on the water. It was a very beautiful and peaceful paddle and a lot of fun to be out with so many paddlers enjoying the river. I'm looking forward to July, 2015.