Date: Friday & Saturday June 16 & 17, 2006
Event: I skipper "Lazy Ka" (solo) Lake Sonoma Reservoir, Sonoma County, CA.
Friday: 3:15 PM to 7:00 PM (3.75 hrs on the water.)
Saturday: 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM (7 hrs on the water.)
w/ Just me and Lazy Ka
Winds: Winds for the two days were excellent overall. From a high of 15-20 knots Friday afternoon to a lighter 4-6 knots Saturday morning falling off to dead-calm a little after noon. 
Weather: Clear as a bell! Temperatures in the mid 60's (Saturday morning requiring an added layer) to low 90's by early afternoon.
 

Friday, June 16, 2006
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 Lazy ka settled in for the night at Lake Sonoma, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)apparent 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 water. The Falcon's Nest campsite #7 with woodpile and visitor, Lake Sonoma, CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)campground 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 Wind  blown whitecaps on the afternoon waters of Lake Sonoma. CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kerganpermitted. 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.

Lazy Ka viewed from the plateau/campsite of Falcon's Nest Campground, Lake Sonoma. CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)As dusk settled in, so did I, to a meal of barbecued Polish before going back aboard Lazy Ka for the night.

Saturday, 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 6:00 AM.
Early Saturday morning waters of Lake Sonoma. CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

My 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.

The windward side of Falcon's Nest campground (with snags & obstructions,) Lake Sonoma. CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)Unlike 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.

Lazy Ka Close-up, on the "boat friendly" beach of Falcon's Nest campground, Lake Sonoma. CA (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)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.