Monday, December 23, 2013

Pittsburg to Antioch around Browns Island

What a beautiful day today on the Delta. I spent the afternoon paddling my Whisky 16 around Browns Island to the Dow Wetlands Preserve and onto Antioch. I launched about 2:00 from the Pittsburg Marina about 15 minutes after low tide. It was 63 degrees with a gentle breeze coming from the southwest.

I crossed New York slough and paddled north around Browns Island towards Middle slough. I made note of a few beaches I passed for future reference. The water of Suisun Bay was very calm with only a couple small boats anchored and fishing. It only took me 15 minutes while paddling against a gentle current to reach Middle Slough. I was surprised at the lack of wildlife today but it was incredibly peaceful out there.

I paddled south on Middle slough closer to Winter Island until I reached New York Slough once again. I passed by what looked like an old wreck and about three barges loaded with debris. I reached the southeast tip of Winter Island at about 3:00 and stopped for a snack in some shade. I continued on to the Dow Wetlands Preserve where I finally spotted some waterfowl enjoying the sunshine. As I was leaving the Preserve an otter spotted me and we watched each other for a few minutes. He would hide behind some tule as he stretched his head about 6 inches above the water to check on me. He was so cute and encountering him was a wonderful treat to end the day.

It was great to get on the water and escape the hustle and bustle of the Christmas rush. Being alone on the water gave me the chance to "recharge" and think about the true meaning of Christmas.

May your Christmas and holiday season be filled with love, peace and joy!

Luke 2:11: "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Delta Meadows

Today I finally had the opportunity to explore Delta Meadows. The tides were perfect and the weather was a bit chilly being in the mid 40's but there was no wind which made the water like glass. We launched from Walnut Grove Marina a little after 1:00 p.m. with high tide predicted for 1:47 p.m..

The marina itself is very nice with a little store, clean restrooms and friendly people. They normally charge $10 to launch per vehicle not per boat but check their policy as sometimes they won't charge if you carry your kayaks to the ramp. Be sure and bring a chart and pay close attention to landmarks as it could be easy to get lost in the myriad of sloughs and channels.

After launching, we headed north on Snodgrass slough with what was left of the incoming tide. As we passed many beautiful houseboats a few ducks made their presence known as they flew back and forth across the slough. As we paddled up Snodgrass slough we passed many entrances to various channels and sloughs just begging to be explored. This area has a multitude of options to choose from for paddling quests. We chose to paddle the main channel of Snodgrass slough for about 3 miles until we reached the Meadows Slough. Once we reached the Meadows Slough we paddled southwest for another mile taking in the beautiful scenery. We discovered what had to be over a hundred turkey vultures perched in the numerous trees lining the levies. We were fascinated by just how numerous they were.

While we were investigating the Meadows, we lost track of time and soon realized almost an hour had passed and decided we should head back to the put in. I had hoped we would have a strong current in our favor to help us home but was surprised at how little current there was. We continued at a brisk pace not only to make it back before dark but to help keep us warm as the sun disappeared behind the many trees bordering the various small islands we passed.

I'm putting this paddle at the top of my list of best places to paddle on the Delta. I see myself spending a lot more time exploring the nooks and crannies of this magnificent area. I'll be adding this to the tours Delta Kayak Adventures offers so be sure to check our calendar or contact me for a private tour.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thank You!

It's hard to believe that a year has passed since I officially started Delta Kayak Adventures. I have been blessed to meet so many wonderful people with adventurous spirits. More than 300 people have paddled the Delta with me and most were amazed at the beauty of the Delta and its' inhabitants. Many were bitten by the paddling bug and have purchased their first kayak and continue to join me and others in exploring the Delta.

I couldn't have started this venture without the love and support of family and friends. With their support and God's blessing, I've paddled nearly 1,000 miles this past year and have barely scratched the surface of what the Delta and greater Bay Area has to offer. I'm also very grateful for the support of my customers, without them I cannot continue.  I'm looking forward to exploring more of the Delta and beyond, increasing my skills as a paddler and sharing this journey with others. I hope you'll join me.

To celebrate one year in business Delta Kayak Adventures is having a sale for a limited time on gift certificates. Two people can join a local tour for the price of one!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sandhill Cranes and Sycamore Slough

I have to say that today's paddle ranks as one of the best paddles ever! The temperature was 72 degrees when we launched at 1:30 from Tower Park and high tide was predicted for 2:38. We paddled with the current to Westgate landing where we hung out for awhile and watched at least a dozen Night Herons take flight from the trees. One Night Heron was very vocal as a hawk circled close to their tree. We continued on towards Sycamore slough and didn't encounter any other boats along the way.

We arrived at the entrance to Sycamore Slough around 2:30 and paddled approximately 2 miles when we spotted our first Sandhill Crane sitting on the levy by himself. As we watched him, more flocks flew noisily above us and appeared to land nearby which I believed to be Woodbridge Ecological Reserve. We spotted a couple more hawks and a White Heron while we rested in the Tule. We decided to head home around 3:15 and as we paddled west we spotted what had to be thousands of Sandhill Cranes heading toward us. We stopped paddling and gazed at the amazing sight before us. As far as the eye could see, the sky was dotted with cranes flying in. I shot some video from my phone which isn't very good quality but you can hear the cranes as they fly overhead.

An absolutely amazing day with great company! If you get the chance to paddle this area do it now before the Sandhill Cranes leave in January!

All the little black dots are Sandhill Cranes!

Crane drying his wings maybe?
Beautiful end to a wonderful day!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Kayak Fishing Contra Loma

Happy Veterans Day! I'd like to thank all the men and women who are serving or have served our country. In particular I'd like to thank my Grandpa, my Dad and my husband for their service in the Navy. Our country is blessed to have so many who are willing to sacrifice their lives for our freedom.

Today I took my Jackson Coosa out for a spin on Contra Loma Reservoir and fished the afternoon away. I didn't catch anything but it was great just being on the water. It was so peaceful out there today and the water was so still it seemed you could walk on it. To my surprise, there was only one other kayaker on the lake today. Lots of people were fishing from the bank and the docks and I spoke with one who said he caught a couple of bass. I know there is fish there because I saw them jumping all around me. I tried everything from powerbait to jigs and lures but I didn't even get a nibble.

Contra Loma is an East Bay Regional Park and you can paddle the lake between 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. everyday. The fees add up but it is a really nice park to visit. You want to make sure that your kayak and all your gear are completely dry for the quagga mussel inspection. They charge $3 for the inspection but it's good for 30 days which means you can go to any East Bay Regional Park and will not be charged for the inspection. They charge $4 to launch and $5 for a daily fishing permit. I  purchase a yearly membership so I don't have to pay the parking fee each time I visit. I was told today that you can also purchase a yearly inspection permit for $40. The facilities are very nice and include a boat ramp and picnic area nearby. For more info you can visit their website.

If you would like to paddle Contra Loma but don't have a kayak, Delta Kayak Adventures would be pleased to bring one or more out there for you! The Coosa is also available for rent!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cosumnes River Fall Paddle

Yesterday was one of the best days I've ever had paddling the Cosumnes River Preserve. My daughter and I led a wonderful group of five paddlers on a tour exploring the preserve. It was unbelievably warm for November, making it hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

The foliage along the river displayed its' fall colors loudly as we paddled quietly through the water. We traveled up the Cosumnes, entered Tihuechemne slough  and paddled as far as possible before we had to turn around at the pumping station. Back on the Cosumnes River, we paddled east to the "Tall Forest" where we stopped for a stretch and a snack.

We continued our exploration into Woodchuck Slough where it soon was choked off by overgrown trees and other plants of this riparian forest. As we exited Woodchuck slough I witnessed the largest fish I have ever seen personally, leap out of the water and nearly land in a kayak! I'm not sure what type of fish it was but it had a reddish tint which makes me think it may have been a salmon but I'm not sure if they're known for leaping out of the water like bass.

We all were reluctant to return to the put in after such a lovely day on the water so we meandered at a leisurely pace soaking in our surroundings. I'm amazed each time I finish a paddle at how refreshed and rejuvenated I feel. I'm truly blessed to have the opportunity to share my passion for paddling with others and meet some extraordinary people at the same time.

Photo by Amanda Bunton

If you would like to paddle the Cosumnes River Preserve or other parts of the California Delta, contact Delta Kayak Adventures as we would be happy to guide you!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday Wanderings - Steamboat Slough to Hogback Island

Today was the first paddle in the series of "Wednesday Wanderings." Every other Wednesday during fall and winter, Delta Kayak Adventures is offering a chance to paddle different locations throughout the Delta in a small group setting at reduced tour prices.

Myself and two other paddlers, one of them being their first time in a kayak, launched just north of Rio Vista just before 2:00 p.m., crossed Cache Slough and headed up Steamboat Slough. High tide at Snug Harbor was predicted at 2:24 p.m. at almost 3.5 feet. There was barely a breeze and in most places the water was like glass.

The incoming tide helped us along as we paddled past Hidden Harbor and onto Snug Harbor. There wasn't much wildlife to be seen today other than a couple of beautiful white Egrets and a Great Blue Heron. We did see a couple of fisherman catch a couple of fish. It was so peaceful as we paddled toward our destination.

We reached Hogback Island a little over an hour from the time we launched. Hogback Island is a Sacramento County park with two launch ramps, grassy picnic area with BBQ's and porta potties. There are no beaches or gentle landing spots besides the launch ramps with docks. While we stretched our legs and enjoyed a quick snack, we met a couple who fish commercially for crawdads and have been doing it for the past 25 years. It was very interesting talking with them about how they catch and bring the crawdads to market.

We returned to the water and paddled with the outgoing tide back to our put in for a total of 8 miles. It was an absolutely gorgeous day on the Delta. If you would like to explore the Delta on one of our "Wednesday Wanderings," check our events schedule on our Facebook page or join our Meetup!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sycamore Slough

Another beautiful day on the Delta! My daughter and I launched from Tower Park about 45 minutes prior to high tide. The temperature was 62 and a light breeze was blowing from the northwest. You can view a previous post and get more info about Tower Park here. Our goal was to paddle 3 miles north on the south fork of the Mokelumne River to Sycamore Slough and see what we could find.

Not long after we launched, we reached Westgate Landing and paddled slowly past the tule and incredible amounts of water hyacinth. We spotted a Great Blue Heron resting on the levy and shortly after that we heard the unmistakable sound of a flock of Sandhill Cranes. We looked to the sky and there were at least 200 cranes flying overhead! We continued to paddle when I noticed something moving just below the land side of the levy. I saw a couple of heads that from a distance reminded me of Ostriches. Soon another head popped up and another and another. It turns out that there were about 8 Sandhill Cranes checking Amanda and I out. We paddled on and another two flocks of cranes noisily passed overhead.

We reached Sycamore Slough about an hour after we launched while paddling at a leisurely pace. We paddled into the slough another a mile searching for a spot to land and eat lunch. There were no convenient places to land so we rafted up and ate our lunch next to some tule. There are some possible landings where the levy isn't too steep but it can be slippery and we didn't want to risk getting wet. While we ate, we watched an Osprey circle above the slough looking for his own lunch. We also spotted a Red Tail Hawk and a few Coots.

The river was quiet today as we only encountered two fishing boats the entire time we were on the water. We paddled almost 4 miles back to Tower Park with the current in 45 minutes. It was wonderful to see so many Sandhill Cranes back in the Delta. Make sure and paddle the Delta while they are here! They usually leave sometime in January. Delta Kayak Adventures offers many tours that will give you an opportunity to view these magnificent birds in their habitat.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Moonlight Paddle

I love October! The weather the past week has been beautiful and it looks like it will continue at least for a few more days. Yesterday I spent the afternoon leading a tour on the waters of Discovery Bay and then headed to Holland Riverside Marina to paddle under the moonlight.

There has been barely a breeze blowing in the Delta lately which has made lovely paddling conditions. There were lots of people, especially fisherman, out enjoying the water Saturday. I started the afternoon leading a tour in Discovery Bay where we spotted Heron, Egrets, Coots and even an Osprey enjoying lunch.
We couldn't have had better weather for last nights moonlight paddle. More than a dozen paddlers launched from Holland Riverside Marina's new beach into a beautiful sunset! We paddled west and headed to Rock slough where most of us gathered near Becky's bridge to watch the moon rise. The fiery moon rose slowly from the east and shone its light on the quiet slough. We gazed at the moon and stars before leisurely heading back to our put in.

It was a great group of paddlers and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing the evening with them!

Kevin, owner of Holland Riverside Marina, is currently working on upgrading the marina and has created a beach near the launch which is perfect for kayakers. When launching kayaks he prefers we use the beach and is currently charging $5 per boat to launch. There are clean restrooms available and he is also remodeling the little store next to the launch. This is a great place to start your paddling adventure with many destinations to choose from. Be sure and check tides and plan your paddle before you launch.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Steamboat Slough

Today was a beautiful day on the water. A couple of friends and I launched about 1:45 just north of Rio Vista off of River Road. High tide for Snug Harbor was predicted for 1:16 today.  There are lots of places to launch off of River Road but there are no facilities. Hogback Island is about 4 miles upstream in Steamboat Slough where you'll find restrooms and picnic areas. You can also launch from Hogback but there are day use fees.

Our goal was to paddle to Hogback Island and do a little fishing along the way. We got a little bit of a late start and headed across Cache Slough past Hidden Harbor into Steamboat Slough. We took our time and tossed our lines in the water and on Tim's first cast he pulled out nice smallmouth bass and quickly released it. That was the only catch of the day but Steamboat Slough is a lovely area to paddle. There are lots of sandy beaches where you can stop for a break and for the most part is pretty well protected from the wind.

Once we reached Snug Harbor we decided to turn back and head for home as it was getting late. There were lots of fisherman out and a wake boarder enjoying the afternoon. I was amazed at the water clarity. This part of the Delta has the best water visibility I have encountered! We reached our put in after paddling about 6 miles and had another awesome day on the water!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Holland Tract and Rock Slough

Tuesday afternoon my daughter and I headed to Holland Riverside Marina and paddled Holland Tract to Rock Slough. High tide at Orwood was predicted at 3:16 p.m. and we were on the water by 3:45. When heading west from the launch, there is very little current in the area which makes it a great place for beginners. To get to Rock slough paddle about a mile west from the marina and stay river right until you enter Rock Slough. Rock slough is a little over a mile itself as it dead ends just past Becky's bridge.

My daughter started the afternoon paddling the Seaward Halo while I paddled another addition to my fleet, the Point 65N XP18 Pro Lite. I personally love the XP 18 and plan on using it for long distance paddling and camping trips. The XP18 is sleek and fast with lots of storage. I was amazed at it's primary stability and how easily it turned for such a long boat. This version has both a rudder and skeg. With the skeg down a couple of clicks the boat tracks well and the rudder is easy to operate. There was barely a breeze and the water was like glass so I'm looking forward to seeing how this boat performs in rougher conditions.

The Point 65N XP18 is also available for demo or use on one of our tours! Contact Delta Kayak Adventures for more info.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hurricane Skimmer 116

Today I paddled another addition to my fleet; the Hurricane Skimmer 116. It was an absolutely gorgeous day on the water. I paddled the Skimmer 116 while teaching an Intro to Kayaking class at the Discovery Bay Yacht Harbor. The temperature was in the low 80's and the water was the glassiest I've seen.

The Skimmer 116 is an awesome boat to paddle! Though on the shorter side at 11'6" it paddles like a much longer boat as far as speed goes. This boat is easy to maneuver and turns on a dime. Like the Skimmer 128, it's made of Trylon and weighs in at 39 lbs., making it a breeze to load and unload. It comes with a hatch in the bow and a day hatch in front of the seat. The rear tank well is designed to hold a 5 gallon bucket for your fishing needs or ample rear storage for other gear or goodies you want to take along on your paddle. I'm very impressed on how this kayak handles and believe it would work well for beginners or experienced paddlers alike. This boat is also available for demo or you may request it for use on one of our tours. Contact Delta Kayak Adventures for more info.

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Hurricane Skimmer 128

This afternoon I had the pleasure of paddling a recent addition to my fleet, the Hurricane Skimmer 128. This afternoon was absolutely gorgeous with not a stitch of wind and glassy water. The only waves present were those produced by the many pleasure boaters out today and a very large tanker.

High tide was predicted for Antioch at 3:26 so I launched at 3:00 from the Antioch Marina with a gentle current pushing me eastward. My first impression of the Skimmer 128 was that its initial stability felt a little tippy. This boat was designed for touring which I believe will do well with experienced paddlers. The new Airstream Seat is easy to adjust and was pretty comfortable once I got it dialed in. It comes standard with a bow hatch and a day hatch directly in front of the seat and in the stern. The day hatches are nice and deep to store smaller items.  The skimmers are constructed of lightweight Trylon and this boat weighs in at 43 lbs. which makes it much easier to load and unload than rotomolded plastic boats. The boat is definitely a cruiser and sliced through the waves generated by boats with ease.

Overall I'm very pleased with the Skimmer 128. If you would like to paddle it yourself, contact Delta Kayak Adventures to schedule a demo or you can request it for use during one of our tours.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

West Island

I couldn't let a beautiful day like today get away without getting on the water! The temperature was in the low 80's with absolutely no wind until I was almost home. Low tide was predicted for 5:26 p.m. and I launched from Lauritzen Harbor at about 4:20 p.m.

I paddled with the outgoing tide under the Antioch bridge and headed northwest towards West Island. There were lots of pleasure boaters on the water and the Antioch fishing pier was crowded with people soaking their lines. It took about 20 minutes to reach the eastern tip of West Island and another 25 minutes to reach the westernmost edge. From there I paddled directly south towards the Antioch Dunes Wildlife area where I stopped for a few minutes just to enjoy the scenery.

There wasn't a lot of wildlife to view today other than a Great Blue Heron and thousands of swallows flying back in forth over the water. I noticed a couple of small airplanes that drew a heart in the sky. I wonder who that was for? Sweet.

After a brief rest and a granola bar, I began my paddle home. It was now slack tide and I didn't get any help from the current nor was there the usual wind to push me homeward. I could see the bridge in the distance but it seemed after awhile that I may not make it back by dark. Within a few minutes of that thought a strong gust of wind came up behind me and to my relief, assisted my efforts to make it back before nightfall.

I paddled almost 7 miles in a little over 2 hours. It was a great workout and great to be out on the water! You can view more photos on my Facebook page.

Beginning of paddle

Almost home!