Sunday, March 30, 2014

Discovery Bay UPDATE

I had a lovely tour today in Discovery Bay.
UPDATE: The marina is now charging kayaks to launch. It is $5 per kayak and YOU MUST LAUNCH FROM RAMP. You can use the docks at the ramp to launch or take out

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sutter Slough

Yesterday a small group of paddlers including myself set off to explore Sutter slough. Sutter slough lies in the heart of the Delta just west of Walnut Grove. The Department of Water Resources currently has plans to dam this slough, Steamboat slough and False River supposedly to keep out saltwater intrusion. The rock dams are supposed to be temporary but I fear they won't have money to remove them once installed. Installing these dams will have major impacts on local farms, local marinas, recreational boaters and possibly migrating fish. For more information about the dams and the proposed tunnels visit Restore the Delta or Save the California Delta Alliance.

I wanted to explore the waters surrounding Sutter Island and document what the area is like before the dams are installed. We launched just before noon under grey skies from a levee road on Sutter Island. High tide was predicted around 3:00 for Snug Harbor/Steamboat slough and the incoming tide produced a pretty swift current which helped us on our way north.

The water clarity in both Steamboat and Sutter slough is incredibly clear even after recent storms. This part of the Delta is one of my favorite locations not only because of the water clarity but because of the natural beauty surrounding the sloughs.  Various types of oak trees and eucalyptus line the shores of the levees. Many types of waterfowl and birds of prey inhabit this area. We spotted several hawks, an owl and many blue heron while on our journey.

After 15 miles of paddling around Sutter Island we explored part of Steamboat, Sutter, Miner and Elk sloughs with a couple miles on the Sacramento river. These waters are extraordinary and hopefully will not be destroyed when the dams are put in place.

Paintersville Bridge

Fabulous spot for lunch

Sutter Island orchard

If you would like to paddle this area you can book a custom tour with Delta Kayak Adventures.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Clear Lake

I had a wonderful weekend with my daughter and the Sacramento Sea Kayakers at the Clear Lake Campout which SSK hosted. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and paddle another outstanding location in Northern California.

This trip provided a chance for my daughter and I to test some new camping gear and evaluate whether this type of trip is something Delta Kayak Adventures should offer. We learned a lot from this brief trip. For example, we discovered our new sleeping bags are nowhere near warm enough to sleep in a tent in 40 degree weather. Also, your tent will be a little warmer if you remember to close the vents. I learned that I'm not a huge fan of freeze dried food but that it does fill you up. I also found out that if I drop my fishing line into a school of about 100 large fish, they still won't bite. Despite the disappointments this was a great trip that I will surely do again!

We arrived at Clear Lake State Park early Friday afternoon and we were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the park was and how friendly the rangers were. I had read Yelp reviews and they were very mixed.  Blue oak, foothill pine, California black walnut and numerous other trees dot the landscape and many animals call this place home. On a short hike my daughter and I counted over 30 turtles, a dozen squirrels, half a dozen deer and hundreds of lizards. That night we discovered racoons are also present and a couple of them tried escaping with my deck back which contained a half bag of Doritos. Thankfully we were able to retrieve my bag and it was undamaged.

In the evening Amanda and I paddled Kelsey slough and explored the edges of the lake that surround the entrance to Kelsey slough. We spotted about a dozen white pelicans resting on a gravel bar. We discovered another slough and paddled into it and saw many turtles and a couple of deer walking through the dense foliage. It was a lovey start to the weekend.

After thawing out Saturday morning our group headed to Rodman Slough, located in the northern area of Clear Lake. We launched across the road from Rodman Slough County Park. The weather was perfect with temps in the mid to upper 70's and a very light breeze at our back. We headed north until we could paddle no further then turned around and found another branch to explore which led us through an amazing rookery of Blue heron. We stopped for a few minutes and watched in amazement as a Mommy and Daddy heron brought something to eat for a baby heron. I'd never seen anything like it except for on TV.  We ended up paddling a little over 9 miles for the day and went back to camp to enjoy a potluck dinner.

On Sunday some of the group went on to paddle "the Narrows" but I decided to hang out at the park and paddle Soda Bay and do a little fishing while Amanda went for a hike. The water was like glass except for the spots close to the rocky shore where carbon dioxide bubbled to the surface. Clear Lake has a lot of history and there is much to learn and explore. I didn't catch any fish but really enjoyed the peaceful surroundings and Amanda got some amazing photos while on her hike. She even had a spider photo bomb one of her pics.

Can you spot the spider?                                                                                         Photo by Amanda Bunton

I would highly recommend visiting Clear Lake for a paddling adventure, especially during the Spring when the water is clear. The water does get very green with algae in the summer and it is busy with lots of skiers and other visitors. Konocti Regional Trails has a great site with maps and descriptions of some water trails they have developed. Keep an eye on my calendar as you may find a Clear Lake adventure on it next spring!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Lost Isle, Spud and Hog Island

Today's "Wednesday Wandering" took us to Lost Isle , Spud and Hog Island and it was an amazing adventure! The Delta offers endless possibilities for exploration and today we discovered another jewel. We launched under the warm sunshine from Tiki Lagun at 2:30 with low tide predicted for 3:18 . Tiki Lagun Resort and Marina has a launch ramp with a couple of docks that kayaks can launch from for $3. Be sure and check in at the store to get a guest pass and a code for the restrooms. They also offer camping and will soon have their own kayak rentals available.

After launching we headed northeast on Turner cut toward Acker Island. Acker Island is the location of the infamous Lost Isle and they are actually working on opening it up to the public again. Spud Island and Hog Island are privately owned and Discover the Delta Foundation is also working on plans to open it up for camping and exploration.

Lost Isle
We continued past Lost Isle and turned to the northwest on Twentyone mile cut and Haypress Reach where we soon came up Hog Island Cut which is actually part of the San Joaquin River and is an active shipping channel. This area has a reputation for being a great anchorage for power boaters during the summer months. When paddling this area be aware of the shipping channel and stay close to shore while paddling. If you decide to cross the channel keep aware of boat and ship traffic.

This lovely area is lined with nice sandy beaches where you can stop and stretch under the shade of one of the many tall trees on shore. While paddling through Hog Cut we came upon a seal doing some fishing and it looked like he was having some success. He soon disappeared before us and then reappeared about 50 feet behind us. We decided to take a peek around the east side of Hog Island.

Hog Island is also a private Island and we soon came upon a beautiful spot where there appeared to be a home and multiple boats docked. We spotted a small slough and thought we could pass through to the other side of the island but the tide hadn't risen enough for us to pass. Next time.

Time seems to pass very quickly when I'm on the water. The sun began to creep lower in the sky and we reluctantly decided we should head back to the put in. Another wonderful day on the water with great company!

Join Delta Kayak Adventures for tours offered throughout the Delta!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Seaward Compass SR-140 & Angel Island

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of paddling with 21 other members of Sacramento Sea Kayakers around Angel Island. I chose to paddle my Compass SR-140 from Seaward Kayaks. I wanted to test this boat to see how it handled in multiple conditions for a fairly long distance and I wasn't disappointed.

The thermoformed Compass is about 14 ft. in length and just under 50 lbs. with ample storage capacity. It is equipped with a good sized bow and stern hatch with plenty of room for a weekend camping trip. It also has a small day hatch on the foredeck for small items you would like to grab while on the water without having to release your sprayskirt. A rudder comes standard but I found I didn't need to use it even in brisk wind. Its roomy cockpit only added to my comfort. Its 24 inch beam makes it an incredibly stable boat without sacrificing speed. The roomy cockpit along with the wider than average aft deck makes for easy rescue with or without a paddle float.  I was able to keep up with much longer boats without much effort. The ride itself is amazingly comfortable. The seat has multiple adjustment capabilities which makes it a joy to sit for long periods of time without breaks. Technically there are no knee braces but the padded underside of the foredeck provides a good gripping point for edging and even rolling. I haven't nailed my roll yet but my son actually learned to roll in this boat. At the end of the day, after nearly 5 hours on the water, I can honestly say I could have paddled much longer especially since it was such a gorgeous day on the San Francisco Bay.

Angel Island in background
We launched with a flooding tide just after 10:00 a.m. from the Presidio Yacht club in Horseshoe Bay in Sausalito. The temperature was extremely warm for this time of year, upper 70"s, with barely a breeze when we started. We left Horseshoe Cove and headed east toward Yellow Bluff. We regrouped after reaching Yellow Bluff and checked for traffic before we began our two mile crossing to Angel Island. Our plan was to stay together as a fairly tight group and keep to the left of the green channel marker to stay out of the shipping lane.

Once the coast was clear we began our crossing over the glass like water toward our destination. It was such a beautiful day and we encountered an enormous amount of seals or sea lions as we paddled. Many seals would look at us with curiosity and some would approach within a few feet of our kayaks. As we approached the green buoy we spotted a porpoise swimming a few yards ahead of us. A ship soon appeared through the haze and seemed as if it was heading straight toward us. We double checked our position and made corrections to our course to stay well left of the green channel marker. At times ships can appear to be moving very slowly but be aware that they are travelling faster than you think and always know where you are and NEVER try to pass in front of a ship. It's best to wait for the ship to pass before you continue.

Once we reached the channel marker we pointed our kayaks toward the nearest shoreline and followed it to Point Blunt. We passed through the rocks at the point and headed north toward Quarry beach where we would have lunch. Above Quarry beach is a nice grassy area with picnic tables and restrooms. Thankfully there was a great spot in the shade of some big trees to get out of the sun.

Quarry Beach
We departed the beach re-energized and continued heading northeast around Angel Island. We soon passed Point Simpton and paddled past a couple of sailboats that were anchored with many smiling faces aboard. We continued paddling past Ayala Cove through Racoon Strait to Point Lone.  We made sure our group was tight before we crossed another shipping channel to Peninsula Point. As we came upon Point Stewart the Golden Gate bridge appeared and it was an awesome site! There must have been a regatta near Chrissy Fields because dozens of Spinnakers could be seen sailing in front of the City. There were hundreds of boats dotting the waters as many were out enjoying the fabulous weather. Ferries chris-crossed the bay and fisherman were soaking their lines. As we crossed the channel the wind picked up and the water became choppy but the Compass handled it with ease.

While crossing the channel we spotted another porpoise swimming ahead of us. Seals continued to appear throughout the entire journey. After reaching Peninsula Point we waited patiently for a ferry to pass in front of us. We continued on to Sausalito paddling against a stiff wind but we had the ebbing current helping us along. The Compass sliced through the large ferry wakes pushing the water to the sides without spraying me with the salty water. We reached the shores of Sausalito and proceed south back to Yellow Bluff where the tide rips were getting bumpy. A couple of paddlers in the group decided to play for a few minutes in the rough water as the rest of our group paddled for home. Not far from Horseshoe Cove a seal poked his head out of the water not 5 feet from my port side. It was the icing on the cake to end a spectacular day on San Francisco Bay!

If you would like to demo the Compass 140, and see for yourself what a wonderful craft it is to paddle, please contact Delta Kayak Adventures. If you are interested in any of the Seaward thermoforms or would like to order one for yourself give me a call at 925-642-5764.  Contact me if you would like to find out how you can get your hands on any of Seawards line of kayaks.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Browns Island

We launched under gray skies from the Pittsburg marina today at approximately 1:00 p.m. Low tide was predicted at 12:36 so the majority of our paddle was during slack tide with little to no current.  Today's Wednesday Wandering took us through and around Brown's Island.

It was a great day for a paddle with the temperature around 70 degrees and water like glass. After launching we made sure no ships were approaching and made our way across New York Slough and headed east along the shoreline of Browns Island. Within 15 minutes of paddling, we reached a narrow opening to a channel that leads directly north through Browns Island. Not long after entering the channel, I spotted a black and white fuzzy face staring back at me. It turned out to be a raccoon, the first of two we spotted today. As we got closer he scurried away into the thick tule. We continued on and soon spotted something swimming ahead of us. We couldn't determine whether it was a beaver or otter before it disappeared under the murky water.

As we exited the channel on the northern part of the island we entered Suisun Bay. It felt as though we were paddling through clouds as the glassy water reflected the sky. Not long after entering the bay, we came upon a harbor seal. We stopped paddling for a few minutes and enjoyed watching the seal check us out. He would stretch nearly half of his body out of the water to get a better look at us. He soon became bored and headed west as we paddled east toward Winter Island.

We reached the northern tip of Winter Island and found a beach which at first glance looked very muddy but it turned out to be quite firm dark sand. We landed on the beach, stretched our legs and had a quick snack before heading home.

Since it was such a beautiful day, we opted to take the longer route home through Middle Slough. We paddled south until we reached New York Slough and turned west toward the marina. As we glided past USS Posco Steel and Koch Carbon it made me think of the stark contrast between the industrialized riverbank and the wilderness setting of Browns Island and the area north of the island.

Wednesday Wanderings take us to different locations throughout the Delta region. If you would like to join us for a wandering or any other tour we offer make sure and check our calendar to see upcoming trips. You can also schedule a custom tour with a group of three or more and a destination of your choice. The Delta is a beautiful place to explore via kayak and the scenery changes with nearly every paddle stroke!