Thursday, February 22, 2018

Infinite Paddling Opportunities

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, AKA the California Delta offers some exceptional paddling opportunities that are unique every time you get on the water. With a thousand miles of waterways, where do you begin? Today I'll share ideas that are within a 3 mile radius of the Antioch Marina.

Antioch Marina

Let's begin with safety. Before you head out for some time on the water there are items you need to consider before you leave the house. This is NOT a comprehensive list but a good basic starting point.

  1. Weather conditions: When paddling the San Joaquin river from Antioch, it's imperative to check wind conditions. It may be dead calm when you arrive but winds can pick up at any time and change the paddling environment drastically. Check forecasts frequently as they can change often. Use aps like Windfinder and compare with NOAA forecast. Weatherbug ap has live windspeed readings from the Antioch Marina.
  2. Tides: The water flows of the Delta are tidally influenced. The river actually flows backward with an incoming tide. Plan your trip so that you will have tides in your favor for your paddle home. Do the hard work first. Wind speed and direction of water flow are very important to consider. When winds blow at a direction opposing the tide it creates a more dynamic sea state. The river can turn into ocean like conditions with winds above 10 mph blowing against the tide.
  3. Gear: The Delta can be paddled year round so consider dressing for immersion, in other words dress as if you are going to swim. Fall and winter offer some of the best paddling but if you don't own a drysuit or wetsuit be sure to pack dry clothes in a dry bag to bring with you in case you do get wet. Other safety gear include cell phone or vhf radio, whistle, snacks and water. If paddling a sea kayak make sure to bring bilge pump and paddlefloat. If you are paddling a sit inside kayak with no bulkheads make sure to bring float bags to place in bow and stern of boat. MOST IMPORTANTLY WEAR YOUR PFD - PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE
  4. Float Plan : Have a plan and stick to it as best as possible. The US Coast Guard has blank plans you can download as does Boat-ed. Let friends or family know where your going and when you plan to return. File float plan with harbormaster or leave on dash of vehicle.
Kimball Island

Now let's go paddling! The following are some possible trips within 3 miles of the Antioch Marina. If you like to explore or paddle at a leisurely pace I'd allow 2-3 hours for a 2-4 mile round-trip adventure; 4-8 hours for a 4-6 mile round trip paddle. I suggest using a nautical chart or topographical map to plan. There are some aps such as USTopo that allow you to track your route and websites like Routebuilder that measure distance. Bay Area Sea Kayakers have an incredible resource known as the trip planner that includes tide information. It's also a great club to join!

Paddling West:
  1. Dow Wetlands - half mile from marina; has lots of sloughs to explore; offers protection from wind
  2. Winter Island - approximate 1.5 mile paddle to southern tip of Winter Island; use caution when crossing shipping channel; multiple sloughs to explore
  3. Browns Island - approximate 2.5 mile paddle to eastern edge of island; Middle slough can offer protection from a westerly wind; multiple sloughs to explore
  4. Broad Slough - Point San Joaquin - approximate 3.5 mile paddle; exposed to northwest winds
  5. Broad Slough - Point Sacramento - approximate 3.5 mile paddle; convergence of San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers; tricky currents at point
  6. Sherman Island - approximate 2 mile paddle to entrance of Sherman Island Waterfowl Management area; hundreds of sloughs to explore; watch depth for low tides; bring gps to keep from getting lost if exploring inside island
  7. Kimball Island - just under a half mile across the San Joaquin River; use caution crossing shipping channel; lots of shoreline to explore
Cabin Slough

Paddling East

  1. Kimball Island - just under a half mile across the San Joaquin River; use caution crossing shipping channel; lots of shoreline to explore
  2. Cabin Slough - approximate 1 mile paddle to entrance of Cabin Slough; currents can be strong
  3. Mayberry Cut - approximate 2 mile paddle; southern entrance to Sherman Island Waterfowl Management Area
  4. Donlon Island - approximate 2.5 mile paddle to entrance; offers protection from wind; lots of sloughs to explore
  5. West Island North -  approximate 1.5 mile paddle to north westernmost shore; some sloughs and sandy beaches exposed at low tide
  6. West Island South - approximate 1.5 mile paddle to south westernmost shore
  7. Antioch Dunes - approximate 1.5 mile paddle; sandy cliffs; EXTREMELY SENSITIVE HABITAT DO NOT  land unless emergency
  8. Fulton Shipyard; approximate 1 mile paddle to historic shipbuilder; use caution with boat traffic from public launch
  9. Rogers Point - just under a mile paddle; historic ship wreck Solano can be viewed here; caution with boat traffic and underwater hazards such as rebar
Sherman Island view from west shore

All the paddle trips listed above are one way measurements, make sure to double length to get round trip distance. These are just a sampling of what is available from the Antioch Marina. There are multitudes of sloughs and channels that beg to be explored and offer a true wilderness experience next door to the city. 

If you prefer someone else do the planning contact Delta Kayak Adventures to book a guided tour to the destination of your choosing. We also have  kayaks and paddleboards available to rent.

Dow Wetlands

San Joaquin River

Winter Island Turkey vultures

Wind and tides can create dynamic conditions