The idea for this
glorious weekend came to me during a phone conversation with my
sister, Jo Ann, earlier in the week, I learned that she and my brother,
Jim, were going to spend a beat-the-crowd weekend at their favorite
camping destination, Bucks L lake, the weekend
before the big Labor day weekend. So I simply invited myself along
with the promise of bringing "Lazy Ka".
Bucks Lake is a
PG&E managed power generating lake located in the Feather River
country of the Sierra, central Plumas County, at an
elevation just above 5,000 feet. Whether you drive the 50 miles east
from Oroville, or the longer scenic route up the North Fork of the
Feather River, then back-track the 20
miles Southwest from the town of Quince, you can expect a spectacular
drive getting there.
My first lesson this
outing: Do NOT trust the computer trip planner! The DeLorme
"Street Atlas USA" program that has served me so well for several
years chose a "fastest" route that took me up the Feather River Canyon
then over the Southern ridge, by way of East Four Trees Road, to within
a few miles of Bucks Lake. The downer, East Four Trees Road is
a poorly maintained, washed out, dirt road that dictated shifting into
FWD to negotiate the six miles up and over the ridge to the summit road
(Hwy 162) that runs from Oroville to Bucks Lake. It took me a couple of passes
to decide that taking the slow six-mile option was more time-efficient than the 80
mile route through Quincy town.
I arrived at Bucks
Lake a little past 4:00 PM, found my siblings campsite, and promptly
set out for the boat ramp a little over a mile up the road. After
paying my $7.00 fee--good for one launch and one recovery, on the
authority of the camp host, regardless of how many days the boat is on
the lake--I set to rigging and launching. While I sailed back to the
campground, my brother returned with my trusty Explorer tow-car.
I made the most of my
afternoon sail, taking a little over two hours to make the mile plus
back the the campground. The truth is, I sailed well past the
campground, out into mid-lake, then back into the campground beach.
The lake offered wonder vistas and gentle afternoon breezes in the 2-4
knot range. I stayed out until a bit after 7:00 PM.
Saturday morning found no real breezes until a little before 10:00
AM. Then, as if a switch was thrown, the blow started up. I wasted no
time getting aboard Lazy Ka and setting out. My plan for the day was
to sail to the north end of the lake and the two marinas there in
search of some quality firewood to burn with the ground-fall that we
were allowed to collect around the campground. The morning winds on
Bucks Lake come out of the north, the direction I had to go to make
the marinas. The next two hours
spent tacking into the 4-6 knots coming down the lake. The sailing was
great, but my secondary mission was a failure; no firewood is sold on
the lake due to the "free" wood competition in the area.
The good news is that
I found several sailboats of various sizes berthed at the
marinas--everything I had seen on the lake as I coming out this
morning, amounted to several Hobbie Cats and a couple of Sunfish and
Sunfish-like day sailors, leaving me with the impression that the Cats
are the boat of choice for local sailors.
Back out on the lake,
the morning winds, died as quickly as they came on. It seems there is
a bit of a lull in the early afternoon as the winds make a shift from
the North to the southwest, coming over the damn. This made for some
very good light-air sailing practice.
Back in the central
lake off the damn, I found the Hobbies represented in bigger numbers
than when I was outbound. There were at least a half-dozen beached at
one picnic beach, with a Montgomery-15 thrown in for good measure. Two
O'Clock-ish, I put in at the campground for a lunch-break.
After lunch, it was
back on the water for a bit more light air practice. I stayed in and
around the central lake, close to the damn; until the afternoon winds
began to build once more, around 3:00 PM. From that time, the sailing
was absolutely great! Sailing back and forth through the center of the
lake teasing the Hobbie Cats with my cutter rig.
Sunday morning's conditions were a replay of Saturday with very light
winds as I put out at 9:00 AM. The need to leave for home by noon
dictated getting on the water early if I wanted to get in any sailing
at all. The light morning air made for a slow, but pleasant sail back
around to the ramp for haul-out.
I had the lake to
myself save one ski boat who insisted on towing his skier inside the
confines of the Mill Creek arm of the lake. This made recovery a bit
tricky as I needed to time my recovery between the passes of this
inconsiderate a--hole. Once out of the water, Lazy Ka was rigged for
the road in no time, and we were back at the campground for our final