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!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Old River with Point 65N Whisky 16 and XO 16

I'm excited to announce that I added a couple Whiskey 16's, XO 16's and a XP18 Pro Lite from Point 65N to my fleet!

Today my Son and I launched from Holland Riverside Marina a little
over an hour before high tide. The weather was in the upper 70's with winds below 10 mph. This was our first time visiting this area and definitely won't be my last.

Holland Riverside Marina boasts 2 launch ramps with docks and they charge $10 to launch. The owners are working on upgrading the marina including adding a beach which will be available to launch from sometime in the future. There are restrooms, lots of parking available and a small store whose hours vary. This is a beautiful area with a very friendly marina and many paddle options available.

If you enjoy paddling calm water with little current or you are new to paddling, I suggest heading west from the launch ramp toward Rock slough. After 3/4 of a mile if you stay to your right you'll be paddling Rock slough and can paddle another 2 miles just past the Delta Road bridge where the slough ends. If you decide to go left 3/4 miles west from the launch, you'll paddle Indian slough towards Orwood and Discovery Bay.

If you would like a longer more challenging paddle, head east from the launch and enter Old River. From here you can head north towards Little Mandeville Island or South towards Cruiser Haven and Discovery Bay. Make sure and plan your paddle with the tides and use a gps or chart to navigate so you don't get lost in the many sloughs and marsh islands.

Today we paddled south with the incoming tide towards Cruiser Haven to the Orwood Bascule Bridge. Once we entered Old River we stayed river left for a more direct route which was a little over 3 miles one way. You can paddle 6 plus miles one way if you decide to explore river right with the multitude of side sloughs and islands. The route we took today offered no landing sites or beaches, so be prepared to stay in your boat awhile.

I'll briefly  share my experience with the Whisky 16 designed by Nigel Foster and more thoroughly reviewed in Sea Kayaker magazine's latest issue. I seriously love this boat!  It fits like a glove, accelerates quickly and is effortless to put on edge. It comes standard with a skeg which I used for most of this paddle primarily because I forgot to put it back up after testing the mechanism. With the skeg not in use the stern unlocks and I was amazed at how easy the boat maneuvers. I'm not a sea kayaking expert but this boat will help me improve my skills and allow me to grow into the kayaker I'd like to be. The only thing this boat needs is a little padding on the seat which is an easy fix. If you would like to try this boat out for yourself contact Delta Kayak Adventures to set up a demo.

If the weather cooperates I'll be paddling the XO16 Sunday and write up a little review.
Sam paddling the XO 16

Fall can be the best time of year to paddle and explore the Delta! The winds die down and there tends to be more wildlife to view. The water temperature also cools down so it's best to always dress for immersion. If you have questions about where to paddle, what to wear or anything related to kayaking, I'd be happy to try and help! You can contact me here.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sherman Lake Paddle and Lunch

The weather forecast for Saturday, September 28th is looking great! Delta Kayak Adventures is hosting a paddle at Sherman Island Waterfowl Management Area, also known as Sherman Lake. We will also be providing fixings for sandwiches, potato salad and chips. You can bring your own boat and gear for $25 or we can provide a boat and gear for $45. Invite your friends and join us for what is sure to be a lovely day on the water!

You can view more details and RSVP here:RSVP

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kayaking Van Damme Sea Caves

The Mendocino coast is such a spectacular area to explore with many possible paddle destinations. I only had a couple of days to explore the coast and Van Damme was a must paddle on my list. Though my time was limited, my time on the water was incredible and I can't wait to go back but I think I would need at least a week to do all the paddling and exploring I'd like.

Van Damme State Park boasts a campground and easily accessible beach which is in a protected area. Sea caves, arches, coves and secluded passages await kayakers.This makes a great spot for beginners or novice kayakers new to the ocean. If interested in more challenging conditions it's always best to get instruction from experienced outfitters and instructors. The ocean is awe inspiring and powerful and conditions can change in the blink of an eye.  There are several outfitters in the area including Liquid Fusion Kayaking who have a great reputation for their instruction and guided tours. There is also Kayak Mendocino that guides tours for beginners right from the beach at Van Damme.

We arrived a couple hours after low tide which was a little under 3 ft. at 12:04. It would be best to paddle here at or as close to low tide as possible to be able to get into the caves and paddle through arches safely. We launched from the beach which is less than a hundred feet or so from the parking lot and headed north. We entered the closest passageway and found three caves. We could hear the surf plow into one of the caves which made a deafening sound when it reached the end of the cave. We left that passageway and continued northwest along the shore where we soon discovered a tunnel large enough and safe enough for us to enter. I was able to capture a decent video of this particular area.

We stayed within the reefs just offshore and paddled south to do more exploring. It's amazing the houses that are built on the edge of cliffs. We explored many passages and discovered more caves that could be explored at low tide. A couple of us paddled up to an arch, climbed out of our boats and took some pictures. The wind started to come up from the northwest and we decided to head in. I could have spent the entire day there exploring but was satisfied that I got a taste of the Mendocino coast.

Paddling Anchor Bay

 I recently returned from a trip up the coast where I was treated to some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. Anchor Bay is located about 5 miles north of Gualala.

We arrived at Anchor Bay Campground Wednesday afternoon and the weather was unbelievably beautiful. The seas were calm and barely a breeze blew. We stayed in the Crows Nest which is a little cabin on a cliff overlooking the bay. I couldn't wait to get on the water and start exploring but not having much experience on the ocean kept me onshore until some friends arrived who had paddled and dived this area for many years.

The following morning brought the same conditions as the previous day and my friend and I launched from "chicken cove" which is a couple hundred yards north of the beach in front of the campground. Many brave souls attempt to launch directly in front of the campground which provides great entertainment for campers because few succeed and most launches end in spectacular fails. It's actually quite humorous to see how fast the word spreads through camp that someone is preparing to launch. It doesn't matter if people are eating breakfast or dinner, everyone grabs their plates and heads to the beach for a show. What's really cool is that when people fail there's always someone there to help gather lost items that weren't lashed down.

"Chicken Cove" provides a safe launch with gentle swells lapping the shore and no serious breakers. We launched around 10 a.m. with low tide predicted at 10:20. Tim brought his fishing gear and let me borrow a couple of jigs to try my hand at ocean fishing. We paddled a little over a half mile out towards Fish Rock and Tim dropped his line on the edge of a bed of kelp. Within 30 seconds he had a fish on the line. He pulled in a nice blacksmith also know as a "blackie". I continued to watch Tim catch two more "blackie" until I finally decided it was time for me to give it a try. I dropped my line outside of another bed of kelp but I had issues getting my line to the bottom because I didn't have enough weight. After fixing that issue I tried again but no bites for me. Tim wasn't having any luck either so we moved to another location to no avail. I ended up snagging my line and had to cut it loose. I really didn't have the proper rod and reel for saltwater fishing but it was fun to try. I paddled around the area for awhile longer while he continued fishing. It was great being on the water on such a beautiful day!