Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2016 ACA Paddlesports Conference Sausalito

This past weekend I was fortunate to be able to participate in this years ACA Paddlesports Conference held at Seatrek and the Bay Model in Sausalito California. It was an amazing weekend with lots of paddling opportunities and educational sessions.

I began the weekend by participating in the "Fun Paddle on Sausalito Bay" led by co-owner Galen Licht of Sea Trek. It was an amazing start to a great weekend. The weather was unbelievably warm and water like glass. We spent a couple hours exploring the waterfront with Galen sharing a little history and culture about the area. It was wonderful paddling with so many kayak and SUP enthusiasts from all over the globe.

After the paddle, the Conference welcomed us with words from the ACA executive director and others including Lynn Sadler, Deputy Director of the Division of Boating & Waterways- California State Parks. It was very encouraging to hear Lynn speak of her own paddling experience and how she truly wants to support and encourage paddle sports in our state. The DBW has produced a safety video for ocean and flatwater kayaking, which if you are new to the sport, I recommend watching.

I also attended Friday's educational sessions  "Waves,Wildlife and Wonder of Mendocino" and "Using Skills Routines to Improve Demonstration and Assessments". Cate Hawthorne and Jeff Laxier did the presentation about Mendocino and it persuaded me to put it at the top of my bucket list of places to paddle soon. They own and operate Liquid Fusion Kayak and offer tours and classes for all paddlers.

Saturday was the day I was really looking forward to and it certainly did not disappoint. I took the "Practical Navigation" class with Richard Lee Smith and Peter Donahue. I won't share all the details but I learned quite a bit and was able to put it into practice on the water. We started on land going over basic navigation such as how to read a nautical chart and discussed currents and planned our trip route to Angel Island. On the water, students took turns leading and using ranges to complete each trip segment in a straight line. We crossed Racoon Strait about an hour or so prior to max ebb which was predicted to be a little over 2 knots. We crossed the channel and rested in an eddy behind a buoy before we made our way to the Garrison. During lunch we discussed what we learned and planned our trip back to Sea Trek. We would be crossing Raccoon Strait at maximum ebb and the water was sure to look a lot different than we crossed the first time.

With the large swell coming in through the Golden Gate,
powerboats galore and the ebb flowing at more than 2 knots, the water was anything but calm. The crossing got my heart rate up a little but was fun and challenging to paddle. We all made it safely back to Sea Trek and finished our day reviewing what we learned. Richard and Peter were awesome instructors and I'm so glad I participated in their class.

I finished the weekend with a session on social media and implementing adaptive kayak programs which I found to be very informative. My friend and I couldn't resist another paddle on Richardson Bay so we hit the water and did a bit more exploring. We paddled to the houseboats which are definitely worth checking out. Very eclectic mix of homes on the water. We paddled along the Sausalito waterfront and got to listen to some opera in the park before we headed in. All in all it was a great weekend and you should add Sausalito to your bucket list.

The American Canoe Association is an organization that supports all paddlesports and its' website includes a wealth of information.

Paddle safe!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

San Joaquin River Trips #1 - Point Beenar

Point Beenar

I plan on writing a series of day trips that are possible when launching from Antioch. Antioch has been designated a San Francisco Bay Water Trail Site and there are many choices of where you can paddle from this location. Antioch sits along the San Joaquin River and is very close to the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin. When paddling this area make sure to observe safe paddling practices. Always dress for water temperature not air temperature. While planning your trip, evaluate your skills and when in doubt don't paddle. Become familiar with nautical charts and how to read them. The San Joaquin River contains shipping channels that over 300 ships a year use to travel to the Port of Stockton and ships move a lot faster than they look. Never cross the river when a ship is in view. Be patient, enjoy the sights and sounds around you while waiting for the ship or other vessels to pass. Always check tides and weather forecast before heading out. It doesn't take much wind, about 10 knots against the tide, to really stir up the river with 2-4 foot swells and chop. If paddling during the fall and winter make sure to pack dry clothes and towel in a dry bag or if paddling for a short period leave dry clothes in your vehicle. Bring along a communication device such as your phone in a waterproof bag or VHF radio. Always wear a PFD, personal flotation device. For more safety tips check out the ACA website.

If you're a beginner, take an intro class to learn how to maneuver your boat efficiently. Start with small trips, under 2 hours to get your feet wet so to speak. There are some great spots within an hours paddle to explore. If you would prefer a guided trip contact me at Delta Kayak Adventures and we'll plan a custom trip designed for what you want to see or learn.

The following is a trip that can be paddled within 2 hours when planned in accordance with the tides.

Antioch Marina to Point Beenar: 3.5 miles round trip from Antioch boat launch

I love paddling in the fall. The weather was perfect today with fluffy clouds dotting the sky, not a stitch of wind and glassy water. I launched with what was left of the outgoing tide and made my way towards Winter Island along the south shore of the San Joaquin. I brought my fishing gear and trolled while paddling at a leisurely pace. My goal this year is to catch my first Salmon from my kayak but I have yet to succeed.

After paddling about a half mile past the entrance to the Dow Wetlands, I crossed New York Slough and pointed my bow towards Point Beenar. Sea lions barked in the background as I made my way across the channel. When I reached the Point and Winter Island a White-tailed Kite flew over me and landed on a tree at the edge of the water. I also spotted a Belted Kingfisher today. This time of year is awesome for viewing birds you don't often see on the Delta.

The fish were jumping all around me but none made it to my boat. I hung around the point for a while before turning my boat homeward and letting the current bring me back. The scenery was amazing and I noticed the sea lions were quiet. I floated past them without making a sound and two of them were sound asleep while another swam around the channel marker. The current was moving at a good clip and before I knew it I was at the Dow Wetlands so I decided to try my luck within the wetlands. Fish chased my lure but none took a bite. The sun was fading fast so I reluctantly paddled back to the marina.