Saturday, March 21, 2020

Coping and a Trip Up River

I'm currently at home doing my best to maintain social distancing. The past few days have been filled with anxiety, depression but most of all hope. I have hope in my Creator and Savior and know that He cares for us more than we can understand. Even though I'm frustrated at not being able to work and worried about what that means for my family I need to sit back and be still and let Him work. I'm comforted knowing He is with me and will provide what is necessary both mentally and physically.

Some ways I've been coping with being somewhat physically isolated and fighting the anxiety, is getting out on the water. Thursday was a beautiful day and I took advantage of the sunshine and light breeze and paddled 15 plus miles up the San Joaquin River. Yesterday I hit the river again with a shorter paddle to do some fishing. I had two good bites but lost them both close to the boat. I also ran into a couple of paddleboarders out for some fresh air so that was a nice surprise.

If you have your own kayak or paddleboard and proper safety equipment, I strongly suggest taking advantage of the time off, weather permitting, to get out there in creation and enjoy your surroundings. Remember, the Delta is influenced by tides, so plan your trip accordingly. Always do the hard work first. If timed just right, you can use the current both ways for an easy paddle. That is exactly what I did Thursday.


I launched at 11:50 am from the Antioch marina. I packed lunch, some snacks and plenty of water for the trip. I figured I'd be out there 5 or 6 hours but always bring extra items just in case. My safety equipment included paddle float, bilge pump, extra clothing, phone and VHF radio. Water temperature is currently hovering between 57 and 59 degrees so I wore my dry pants, synthetic layers and paddle jacket.

As I left the marina I noticed more boats on the water than usual. There was also a large ship coming up river so I floated with current to let the ship pass and made my way across the river to paddle close to the shore of Kimball Island. High tide was predicted at 12:32 pm in Antioch so I knew I would have a couple hours to paddle with the tide helping me. I really made great time with the current. By the time I reached the entrance to Gallagher Slough, I had paddled 7 miles in 1 hour 35 minutes with an average speed of 4.4 mph and that was against a slight headwind.

The first half of the trip wasn't all that exciting. The northern shoreline is scenic until you get past Mayberry Slough and then it turns to rip rap until you reach Gallagher slough, a little over 3 miles away. It is always fun paddling under the Antioch bridge but other than that there isn't a lot to see until you reach Gallagher slough.

When I entered Gallagher slough I was greeted by 2 river otters swimming happily back and forth across the slough. There were also a couple of dozen coots and a few ducks keeping me company. The slough itself is about 1.5 miles in length and Eddos is located in the middle of it. A variety of trees lined the shore, some of them quite large. I made my way to the end of the
slough just as another ship was heading down river. I also noticed hundreds of snow geese and Ross geese flying above Bradford Island across the river from me. The Ross geese decided to fly to Sherman Island so I was treated to a spectacular show as they made their way across the river and over my head.

Eddos, located on the southeast side of Sherman Island, is a private RV campground and marina with a boat launch and small shop. I normally inquire within to get more information about the marinas I visit so I can share with you their offerings but it didn't look like the shop was open and I wanted to maintain social distancing. The one downside to this trip is there is nowhere to get out on the north shore, especially on an incoming tide, for nearly the entire 7 miles. I was able to land at their ramp to quickly grab my lunch out of the hatch but couldn't stay long because the ramp itself was busy with motor boats. By this time the tide was changing so I ate my lunch on the water as I floated down Gallagher slough.

I debated with myself as to which way I wanted to return to Antioch and decided to cross the river towards Big Break and follow the south shore of the San Joaquin home. With the breeze at my back and the current in my favor, I made good time once again down river. The wind had been coming from the east so thought I would have even more help getting home but it basically decide to quit so I had quiet waters and glass like conditions for this part of my journey. The return trip was uneventful but very peaceful. I didn't encounter a lot of wildlife other than some more coots and cormorants along the way. I made it back to the Antioch marina at 4 pm and felt refreshed and energized even though I was a bit tired.

This is a wonderful trip for those who enjoy long distance paddles and don't mind being stuck in your kayak for hours. I could have found a beach on the way back on West Island but decided to keep paddling. If you have questions about this trip or any others within the Delta, feel free to contact me. Hope to see you on the water soon! Keep paddling.

Please remember to support your local outfitters and shops during this time. I know many have had to close their doors and lay off employees. You can help us out by purchasing gift cards. I am currently offering 33% off gift cards that can be used for rentals, classes and tours. Enter save 33 for promo code. Gift cards never expire and I truly appreciate your support!


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