Friday, June 16,
Jen was doing sleep-over with girl friends in Santa Rosa; so instead
of making the Concord 150 mile round trip twice in as many days, I
decided to take Lazy Ka along and spend the night at Lake Sonoma some
30 miles north.
I arrived at the launch
ramp a little after 2:00 PM. After checking in at park headquarters, paying
my fees, and being assigned a lake side "Boat-in" campsite, I was directed to the launch ramp. I
found that the ramp is separate from the parking lot by about 50 yards and
an overhead bridge with a 16' vertical clearance. A fact that means trailerable
sail boats of any size must "rig" on the ramp. The good news is that there
is plenty of room on the ramp to allow temporary parking to rig.
The prevailing afternoon
winds from the north-west were a total surprise as I moved from behind the
protection of hill where the ramp is located into the Dry Creek Arm of the
reservoir. I was greeted by conditions that were more characteristic of San
Francisco bay than my expectations for Lake Sonoma. Winds were easily in the
12-15 knot range with frequent gusts. My course up the canyon required
frequent tacks, but constant head way was made to the windward. By the time
I had covered the estimated 3 miles to my assigned campground, winds had
increased to a very gusty 15-18 knots driving consistent 2 foot swells. In
these wind conditions, the blow comes down a canyon framed by steep
hillsides of over 1000 feet; variations on the canyon walls generate eddies
and constant changes in
wind direction requiring complete attention to duty at all times. There were
very few power boats
on the lake by this time, and I was the sole sailboat.
A bit after 7:00 PM, with
winds still building, I've safely put into a protected inlet, secured Lazy
Ka, and set out to explore. My assigned campsite was located in the
Falcon's Nest campground; 7 sites total on a peninsula framed by two
sheltered inlets on the south-west side of the canyon. I first sailed beyond
the peninsula in search of the best protection from the winds, only to drop
back to the leeward as it offered better shelter and had a soft beach as
well. I broke out my easy chair, a snack, and consumed copious quantities of
was a gentle climb from the beach. At the top, some sites were exposed, but
all were sheltered for the winds
still evident by the numerous whitecaps on the reservoir. Not since a family
camping vacation to Oregon in the 1950's have I seen a
park where the gathering of "downed or
dead" wood for fires is
At Falcon's Nest there were large piles of kindling and sawn rounds ready to be split for burning.
Each campsite has a Fire Ring, table, garbage
can and a fixed pole for hanging a lantern. Faculties consist of his and
hers chemical vault toilets. except for a deer that paid me a visit, on this
night I had the whole
campground to myself.
As dusk settled in, so did
I, to a meal of barbecued Polish before going back aboard Lazy Ka for the
June 17, 2006
I awoke at 5:00 AM to the sound of several high speed fishing
boats headed up the reservoir for the shallows. I got up, did a little
housekeeping, and scouted around the area a bit more while water came
to a boil for my morning coffee. The winds had reseeded to a very
comfortable 4-6 knots. Wit breakfast finished, I was on the water by
plan for the day was to Sail on up the reservoir to check out some of
the other campgrounds further along. By 11:00 Am I was off the
Rustler Campground, within sight of the York Creek swimming and
picnic (Day Use) area some six or seven miles above the boat ramp.
Shallow waters sheltered from winds make this part of the reservoir
attractive to canoes and kayaks, but not my li'l Potter. Some slow
sailing in these upper reaches allowed brief conversations with a
camper onshore, and former Potter owner turned canoeist, and a couple
of kayakers who paddled by.
The only challenge in
getting to Rustler with the light winds was the ever-constant
changes in direction and intensity encountered as I tacked back and
forth up the valley. The upper reached of the reservoir offer several
tributary creeks and valleys that feed the lake. Morning winds were
coming down the through these valleys creating an change in wind
direction around each bend. This all made for regular changes in tack
and sail trim from one side of the narrowing reservoir to the other.
most other man-made lakes, the Army Corps of Engineers chose to leave trees in
the reservoir as it filled (see picture). While this decision is beneficial to
creating a great Bass fishery, it complicates Sailing. The skipper
must be on constant alert for submerged obstacles. I found I was able
to sail into close proximity to evident trees without mishap; the
exception being one brush of my keel with a submerged tree branch.
The locations of the
campgrounds seem to be selected with protected shore access a
consideration. Each has one or more sheltered coves for easy access.
The beaches that I observed are boat bottom friendly being
mostly silt rather that sand . . . they seemed very soft.
My return to the ramp
was slow and steady until I arrived about a half mile out at which
point the winds died away to not return for me. I motored about in
search of a breeze for a short time. Giving up a little after 1:00 PM,
I headed in to pack up and return to Santa Rosa to pick Jen up.