Thursday, October 30, 2014

Southern Delta Paddling Salmon Slough

Yesterday was another gorgeous fall day on the Delta. This weeks "wandering" took us south to explore the multitude of sloughs and islands that encompass the southern delta near Tracy. We launched from Tracy Oasis Marina at 12:30 pm with high tide predicted at 1:58 pm. The marina charged $13 to launch two kayaks and they had friendly service, ample parking, clean restrooms and a nice little store next to the ramp. After launching we headed west a couple hundred feet to a small opening leading to Grant Line Canal.

Once on Grant Line Canal we turned east and headed toward Salmon Slough and Old River. There is currently a barrier in place east of the Tracy Blvd. bridge that must be portaged but there is a state employee there to help. After crossing the rock barrier we encountered another one that has plagued the Delta, hyacinth.

The current helped us along our paddle towards Salmon Slough but we encountered an incredible amount of water hyacinth that nearly blocked our passage. While making our way through the weeded mess we came upon another small power boater trying to make his way in the opposite direction. He informed us that the water opened up at the entrance to Salmon slough and was mostly clear.

When we reached Salmon Slough we were treated to a beautiful scene. This area reminded me of both the Cosumnes River preserve and Steamboat Slough with the natural riparian habitat and each shore lined with an abundance of oak trees. As we paddled south we were surrounded by golden colors bursting from the shore and dozens of egrets resting in tree branches. Not long after entering the slough we spotted something in the distance that looked rather odd.

To our amazement, as we got closer we discovered  several sheep up to their chins in the water chowing down on the water hyacinth that lined the shore. We sat there for several minutes watching them as they ate the leaves of the plant when we noticed on the opposite side of the slough about a half dozen goats doing the same thing.

After our encounter with the farm animals, we continued south on our journey towards Old River. There are many small islands and sloughs to explore but we stayed river right as it seemed to have the least amount of hyacinth. We entered Old River and paddled another mile or so before taking a break for lunch. We couldn't find a safe landing spot so we parked ourselves under an old oak tree, rafted up and enjoyed our meal with the sound of woodpeckers knocking on trees nearby.

We soon left our shady spot and continued heading east on Old River for another mile before deciding to head back the way we came. We wanted to circumnavigate an island to the south of us but not knowing whether the slough would be navigable we didn't want to risk getting stuck. We made a wise decision because not long after turning around a Department of Boating and Waterways boat met us on the river and told us that the section of river we were thinking of paddling was choked by the hyacinth and that they were on their way to check to see if their spraying the day before had any effect on the relentless plant.

Meeting up with the DBW boat got me to thinking about the sheep and goats eating the hyacinth. If they were eating plants that had been sprayed, could the weed killer harm them? What about the herbicide in the water being used to irrigate our food supply and our drinking water? I was glad to see the DBW trying to do something to rid the horrific plant, but could there be a better way? What about aquatic weed harvesters? I'm sure it would be a huge investment but it could provide jobs and might keep us from poisoning ourselves.

Paddling back to the put in we encountered many more egrets, otters, heron and jumping salmon. The tide had turned and pushed even more hyacinth into Grant Line Canal, making our return difficult and a little nerve racking not knowing if we would be able to pass. We made it to the barrier where we portaged with help from the gentleman manning the station and continued back to the marina. This was a beautiful spot to kayak and it felt like we were a million miles from civilization. I look forward to returning soon!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Destination Collinsville

Delta Kayak Adventures has begun offering "Wednesday Wanderings" again. It's a chance to explore and paddle areas in the Delta we don't normally offer. Today's destination was Collinsville which is located north of Pittsburg and Antioch across where the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers converge.
Scene upon arrival
We arrived at the Pittsburg Marina at 9:30 and the water looked like glass. High tide was predicted for 10:08 so we would have some help heading northeast. Wind was forecast below 10 mph the entire day. We were on the water by 9:40 and glided across New York slough with some foreboding clouds to the west of us. Within 10 minutes the water changed from flat to choppy 2 ft rollers with wind above 10 mph coming from the northwest.

Planned trip
 We paddled along the north shore of Brown's Island and made our way across Middle slough. Unfortunately the wind grabbed my map from my deck and I was surprised at how fast the laminated chart sank. The wind seemed to be picking up so we found shelter behind a small island where I pulled out a similar map from my cockpit and reevaluated our situation. While we were rafted up a nice bass fisherman pulled along side us and asked where we were headed. When we told him Collinsville, he strongly suggested we save that trip for another day. With the tide turning and the wind blowing against the current it would create 3-4 ft rollers and breaking wind waves. We heeded his warning and headed east towards Broad slough where we would paddle the lee of Winter Island.

Actual trip
The water was indeed much calmer on the east side of Winter Island so we paddled leisurely south taking in the beautiful scenery. We spotted a couple of otters, Blue Heron and lots of Egrets. We kept an eye open for potential landing spots but found none. After 20 minutes or so we were surprised when the wind suddenly changed direction. Now the wind was blowing from the Northeast and hitting us broadside again. Fortunately we were near New York Slough so we ducked into a cove for lunch and we rafted up near the Winter Island Duck Club.

After refueling, we headed west on New York Slough where the wind changed yet again and we found ourselves paddling into a fairly strong headwind. Soon after crossing Middle Slough the wind suddenly disappeared and we made our way safely back to the launch ramp.

Though we didn't reach our original destination it was quite the adventure and gives us another reason to plan another paddle to Collinsville!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Used Kayaks for Sale

If you happen to be looking for a new to you kayak to paddle the Delta be sure and check out our recently updated website. We currently have fishing kayaks, recreational kayaks and a couple sea kayaks available for purchase.

Delta Kayak Adventures also has access to many specialty kayaks including Point 65, Riot, Boreal, Tahe, Zegul and Seaward. If you have a boat in mind contact us to check availability. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Antioch Rivertown Jamboree and 1st Annual Gary Agopian Memorial Delta Thunder Race

The weather conditions couldn't have been any better for this past weekends Jamboree and Delta Thunder races! With temperatures hovering in the mid 90's it felt great to be close to the water and even better to be on it. Flat calm water conditions made it perfect for racing although Saturday's races were cut short due to the amount of Hyacinth and other debris choking the race course but Sunday's races went off without a hitch and made for some exciting action on the San Joaquin!

Soon after Saturday's opening ceremony, it was wonderful to witness Cory Agopian accept a plaque on behalf of his family in recognition of his father, Gary Agopian's contribution to making Antioch a better place. Gary Agopian, for which these races were named after, served the city of Antioch tirelessly until he lost his battle with brain cancer in late July.

Over the weekend my kids and I manned the Delta Kayak Adventures booth and shared information about upcoming tours and kayaking the Delta. It was wonderful meeting people who have similar hopes and dreams for Antioch's waterfront. Antioch's historical waterfront provides an incredible backdrop to many water sports activities and also offers a multitude of dining opportunities.

Saturday we launched from a slip inside the marina and paddled across the river to watch the races with many other boats anchored just outside the channel. It was great to cool off and just enjoy the view. We actually spotted a jelly fish swimming between our kayaks. It was neat to see but probably not a good indicator of the health of our beautiful Delta.

Unfortunately no one signed up for our Sunday tour or took us up on our offer of kayak rentals but I didn't let that stop me from getting out there and taking advantage of the great weather. Hopefully, we'll be back next year and the event will get more exposure and advertising so that more people can discover what a great place Antioch truly is and meet the wonderful people who make it great.