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Doin' The Delta - 2001
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Follow our adventures as we navigate the unforgiving waters of the Sacremento Delta!

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Heading west towards Mt. Tam on a beautiful day!

So begins the story of our trip to the Sacramento Delta. Arnie ,Tex, Craig and Sierra (my golden retriever) set off to points unknown on September 25th and returned on the 30th, 2001. The adventure began on Tuesday evening with an 8:30pm meeting at the boat. After an extensive loading of the Addiction we motored over to Jack London Square for a great jazz show at Yoshis . The Alvin Jones Jazz Machine was on at 10 and we were determined to be there. The show started with out us but we found some great seats and settled in for some classic jazz by a master drummer and his quintet. Then it was back to the boat for a quick trip back to the slip. We had a good night sleep in the safety of Fortman Marina. At 4:45am I awoke and took Sierra for a walk. We departed at 5:15am for the Delta. After a lazy 45 min. motor up the estuary, dawn was about to break and the first light of the day crept through on an amazingly clear morning. The crew was still in a deep slumber when a ferry rumbled thru. I turned the boat in to the wake and POW a huge drop off and we bury the bow into the water. Now the crew knows why they call it a wake. Because now they are wide awake. We press on towards the Bay Bridge and shortly, a spectacular sunrise. I turn the reins over and start making the coffee. We motor on towards Carquinez Strait and the Delta. After a cheese omelet, we approach the Richmond Bridge and continue heading east towards the Delta. We are still motoring and enjoying the beautiful morning. Soon we are in the strait and the wind starts to rise so we don the sails and continue with a favorable tide. Next the Benicia Bridge and we are thinking lunch. After a few more hours, the Antioch Bridge comes into view and we decide to take a break in Antioch and check out our slip for Saturday night. We meet Karen and she assigns us to D6. We tell her we will return and pay our slip fees at that time. Little did we know, we werent headed very far. We motored on to our intended destination of Potato Slough. A favorite spot for delta cruisers. Beautiful anchorages and friendly folks. We head up the channel and there is a sand bar below our keel....STUCK. Not two minutes before the unintended stop, I had said to my crew, They say you haven't done the delta till you get stuck!. Oh boy , how prophetic. What to do, we tried motor, sails, and praying. Nothing worked. I swam under to see how stuck we were. The mud was soft so I ran my hand down along the keel. Not able to touch the bottom of our 5 keel, I determined we were really stuck. The cool part was that nobody lost their head or started getting angry. We thought of remedies and tried them however nothing got us out. Nightmare on the San Joaquin! I mentioned we should call for a tow. That was going to bee a very expensive tow as our closest tower was 30 miles away. I mentioned kedging. My crew looked at me like I was asking them to go Snipe hunting or something. What the hell is kedging???? I had researched our trip and this was one of the things I read about, however I had never put it to use. Basically you take the anchor out as far as you can towards deeper water and winch the boat into it. We tried the bow anchor but that would take us the wrong way. I suggested the stern anchor. That would take us the direction we want to go. I jump in the kayak and take the anchor out. Then I jump back aboard and we begin our arduous task of dragging the boat . Our almost 5 ton boat, however we are still floating so the weight is much more reasonable. Arnie starts cranking, then Tex then me . We are inching our way out. We go another round and then another. One more round of back breaking work and we are free. Hallaluya brother and thank-you lord!!! We had won the battle. Lets get the anchor up. We pulled ourselves closer and realized it was deep, very deep in the mud. We all pulled but with tide and wind it was difficult to keep the boat in the right spot. Not only that, we were close to where we got stuck and the tide was falling. I asked Arnie to swing around for a better spot to pull from. Low and behold the rope is now arc welded to the prop. I dove below and began unraveling as fast as I could after several desperate tries I was slowly getting it lose. After several more tries I yelled up, prepare the knife!. Just then I could see the end and was able to release the rope. After several more tries we gave up an dropped the rope never to be seen again. We had to. We had won the battle but lost the war!! I looked at my watch and that turned out to be a two hour ordeal. We decided we had had enough adventure for one day and we headed back to Antioch for the night. But wait, the wind is up, there is plenty of daylight, lets go sailing. What a nice way to relieve the stress!!! We sailed upwind in about 16-18 knots of wind with our genoa and full main. We are having fun now! At about 6pm we head back to the docks. We head for good old D6 and she is waiting. What a full day! Now its time to start marinating those pink salmon filets and get ready for dinner. They turn out perfect and we have a great meal onboard with red beans and rice, asparagus and salad. After dinner our neighbor Renee comes over. He agrees we made the right choice to come in and not get stuck again. He tells us of a marine store in town and they have anchors. He also gives us some good advice on where to go and what to avoid. Finally a local, as we need all the help we can get. We bid he and his friend good night and get ready to hit the hay. Little did we know, the marina is right next to the train tracks and they rumbled thru with horns a blazing all night long. Good thing we were exhausted and slept pretty good. I am in the cockpit with Sierra, Tex is in the starboard berth and Arnie is in the v-berth. How cozy! In the morning I got Sierra out for a walk and a look around. The wind is up and it looks to be another gorgeous day. We have some bagels then head to the store to replace our anchor. On the way we see the Clydesdale Horse team. They must be here for the same reason we are. The Antioch Rivertown Jamboree. We will be back to enjoy some of the music and food on Saturday. We get to the marine store and begin making our anchor selection. We are looking for a second anchor so we dont need to go overboard (pun intended) on the purchase of a big hook. Just a lunch hook. We settle on one, get the chain and rope and pay our dues. $124 later we are out the door. The store manger offers us a ride back after we tell him what happened yesterday. Wow these folks are friendly. We decline as its nice to see this old time town close up. I stopped by the harbormasters office to let her know we ended up spending the night and why. She said there would be no charge and hoped we had better luck today. Im starting to like this old town! She tells us that we went on the wrong side of the island and we thank her and tell her we will be back on Saturday. We shove off at about 11am and begin n our journey up the mighty San Joaquin. The tide and wind are with us on this Thursday and we are moving well. Our destination is Potato Slough and we are determined to get there safely. We follow the markers and the charts and everything is going well. Arnie is at the helm and we are looking for the slough. We pass a familiar point (I had seek some pictures of it) and I get out our book on the Delta. I compare the notes with the map and oh no.....we passed it by several miles. We look at the map again and see another good looking slough up ahead. She is called Disappointment Slough. We agree to head there especially since it is right across from a major yacht harbor..... we shouldn't miss it. There she blows on our port side. We pull in to a lovely slough and head down. We are watching the charts and being careful not to ground. Around a bend we see masts up ahead. Sure enough its a little anchorage behind an island. Lets anchor....its almost Happy Hour! As soon as we are anchored we deploy the kayaks and explore. Also the hammock comes out and now we can relax. We are actually tied up to a mooring buoy and life is good. Its a lovely afternoon for fish tacos! I fix them up and we have a very late lunch. No mater. After lunch we swim and relax. Later its time for a gourmet meal of filet mignon and fine wines! We ate in the cabin as it was our first dinner at our table in the cabin. Things are going great and we have a fine meal, then off to a very good nights sleep. In the morning I get in the kayak and take Sierra for a much needed walk. Boy did we hit the weather window or what!! I head back over to the boat and Arnie has the motor going. That's odd, why would he do that? I paddle close and see the look on his face, STUCK!!!! Here we go again. During the night the boat had swung around and landed in some very shallow water and very deep mud. Dont ya love this adventure??? Nobody is happy, so I slip over the side and realize its very soft mud and we are a boat length away deep water. We try a few things but it looks like another kedge. This time we work from the mast wench as we need to got forward. Works like a charm since the mud is so soft this time. . The we move into deeper water and pull the anchor from the side using the boat motor. Thank goodness we get our brand new anchor back on board! We head back to the river and head towards our destination of Lost Isle. In about 45 minutes we are docked and cool at Lost Isle. The most famous watering hole in the county. Lots of history here as well as a nice place to dock for the day. Its Friday and everybody is at work as we are the only boat in sight. The only way to get here is by boat. We call our friend Ray and let him know we are there. We plan to hook up later. After a quick Hot Links lunch and some chores we meet up with Ray and Greg. Ray has a very famous Frisbee dog show that travels the country. He is just back from 5 months on the road. He has a beautiful ski boat and takes us to 14 Mile Slough for one of the Deltas finest ski runs. I go first and finally get up after the boat almost pulls my arms out of the sockets. The ski is too small for my back foot and I have some trouble. Should have just skied with two skis....oh well. I take a tumble and try again. Next Arnie goes and he is flying. This boat is fast. Greg's up next with a great big smile on his face! Then its Rays turn. He jumps in and shreds the place. Everyone one on the slough is checking him out as he dips his shoulders almost in the water. He is GOD like out there! Heading back to the boat we spot another Newport. I bet that's Larry E. Hawkins on Cha Ching! Hey Larry is that you? Why yes it is! He and Kathy are sailing to meet us at Lost Isle. He has a beautiful N28. He gave me some good tips on the trip and said he would sail by. We meet them back at Lost Isle and he mentions he has never been to Lost Isle in his 5 years of doing the Delta. Nice I could introduce him. We talk Newports for an hour or so and check out each others boats. Very nice folks! Thanks for all the help Larry. Next its on to dinner. I fire up the barbie and in no time we have dinner for six in the salon. What fun we are having Ray has another friend join us and we have a great time. After dinner its time for Sierra to explore the island and get a good walk. We play Frisbee and relax. More fun back on the boat and Ray tells us about the conspiracy between pet food makers and vets. Did you here about this? 20 years ago there was no cancer in dogs. Then the dog food makers starting using some bad stuff In their foods. Now about 60 % of the dogs die of cancer. Why do all the vets promote their food. To get more work. Say it isn't so Ray. Some truth rings from his story. We have a great night and by 11pm they are on their way back to Stockton. Next morning we are up and out by about 9 am. As we are leaving, the Delta bites again. We didn't follow the exact route and we are ...you guessed it STUCK. Arnie moves the boat around using the rudder and motor and after a few minutes we are free. This is getting very old fast.. We have to be more careful! We motor up a while as I am fixing strawberry pancakes and coffee. All our meals were really good as I wanted the best for our first trip. Cleaned up, we hoist the sails and we are making some good time up the river. The tide is falling so watch those markers. I pop up from the galley after cleaning up and notice we are close to the a wall of rock sailing at about 5 knots. Should we be this close? We tack and head towards the middle of the......STUCK!!!!!! Oh no not again. I jump over and we are in 3 feet of water. The deep water is far from us and the tide is dropping more. We try the motor and move 1/2 inch. Lets not panic....lets party. We crank up the Rolling Stones -Exile on Main St.- and go for a swim on this beautiful day. We all had a real good attitude and nobody got mad, we just hung out and had a beer or two. Its a funny scene though, our sails are up but the boat is standing still. We know that the deeper water is about 40 yards away but we just cant get there. After about 1.5 hours a friendly fish charter boat Ologg lll comes by and offers assistance. We gladly throw a rope his way and he pulls off from our bow cleats. We are moving!!! He pulls and pulls and pulls. I am about to say lets give up as we have only moved a short distance. He says one more try and gives it all hes got. Finally after about 10 minutes we are in deep water. That will be the last time we say! Thanks to you , we would have been there another two - three hours. We sail and the wind dies abit so we discuss our route. Franks Tract will save us almost an hour. But wait, if we get stuck again we wont save anytime and my crew will probably jump ship! Arnie say lets go. Hell navigate and Ill drive. What a nice stretch of water. We make it thru and on to the Antioch Marina for the entertainment portion of the trip. The Rivertown Jamboree is happening just a few blocks from the boat. Music, food and beer. What more could a kedging sailor ask for. We hit the first stage and a band is playing some death rock. Lets keep going. We find the beer garden and we fill up with Anchor Steam. Arnie reports that there is a blues band called MOFO Party Band around the corner. We head there and this is it! The band is from Fresno and they are killer. We dance and party and have a ball. Then Ray and Greg show up for more fun. It took us 6 hours to get there and they did it in 30 minutes. We had a ball and the folks were real nice and the band was incredible. On the way back we picked up some noodles and tempura so I wouldn't have to cook. Ray and Greg met us and we chowed down. Then we took a little motor out on the river to enjoy this gorgeous night. What a great trip and Ray and Greg are having fun too. We head back after and hour or so but didn't realize how far the current had taken us. We find the docks and hit the hay pretty quick. I stay up to watch 3000 Miles to Graceland and enjoy the movie in the cockpit on my Mac with headphones. We are up at 5:30 and hit the water shortly after 6am to catch the tide . We have a great run up the river with coffee and french toast. With Mimosas too. We hit the bay around 11am and the wind is behind us due to a warm spell. The wind and water sure lined up for this trip!!! At 4pm we are near the Bay Bridge and almost home. One more swim in the estuary in Craig's Cove and we have had one great adventure to the Delta. We learned alot and will do much better navigating next time. Thanks to my crew and my boat (1/4). And thanks to all who made this such an unforgettable experience. I hope to do many more and have much more fun on the water!!!

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Arnie and Tex livin' la vida loca!!

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