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.