Date: Sunday May 13, 2007
Event: Out of Pittsburg, a Solo sail on the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. (9:45 AM to 5:00 PM, 7.25 hrs on the water.) Covered an estimated 16 miles over the water.
w/ Just me on Lazy Ka.
Winds: light winds in the morning (2-4 knots) building steadily into the mid afternoon, reaching 25-30 knots by 5:00 PM
Weather: Clear; 10 mile visibility, temperature to the mid 80's.
 

Course of the day: Pittsburg Municipal Boat Ramp, Sacramento River, San Joaquin River, and Privateer Lynx off Antioch.I woke to gentle breezes at my Concord home on Sunday morning. On the chance that it was much the same over the hill at Pittsburg, I decided to drive the seven miles, the nearest option to my home, and sail the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. Since I had my ego bruised a bit by being blown off the Oakland Estuary yesterday, I had hopes that I would find mild conditions for a little more leisurely day. Looking back at the Pittsburg Municipal Boat Ramp.  (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

After installing the replacement stern light bought yesterday, I set out for Pittsburg Marina at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers. I was rigged and launched before 10:00 AM into light winds, and pointed North toward the Yolo County shoreline. Winds were light, 2-4 knots, but strong enough to allow me to hold a good course against the incoming tide. Collinsville on the Sacramento County shoreline. (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)Once across the river, I turned Northwest towards Montezuma Slough and Collinsville. Near Collinsville I decided that I would spend the rest of the day tacking West into Grizzly Bay on the consideration that I would be able to ride the expected afternoon blow, against the outgoing tide, back to the Pittsburg ramp.Fresh water Sea Lions . . . A face only a mother could love! (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

Sight seeing opportunities along the way were plentiful: The rolling hills that define the western Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys; Sea Lions sunning on a buoy; the port facilities at New York Landing (Pittsburg); the many little nooks and crannies along the shoreline, and a single sailboat, and a Beneteau, that sailed close enough for snapshot or two.A beautiful Beneteau! (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

The Beneteau passes and holds my attention as she sails easterly up the Sacramento. My eye is attracted to another set of sails visible in the distance over the low terrain of Winter Island. I watch for a couple of minutes before it comes to me that it's the sails of the LynxSails of the Privateer Lynx on the horizon over Winter Island (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan) which is visiting Bay Area ports through early July.

This calls for a change in plan! If I can cover the four or five miles to the other side of Winter Island I might be able to position myself to get some pretty good pictures, but now I have to consider the return trip to the boat ramp. By the time I start back I will be driving straight into the afternoon winds. This will offer me quite a challenge as the winds could be very strong by that time. It only take me a moment to throw caution to the wind, and chase after Lynx.Lynx coming out of Antioch on Broad Slough (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

I've got a good breeze at my back, blowing at 15 knots or so, and the tide is slack. I estimate I will make Point San Joaquin on the north end of Winter Island in 40 to 50 minutes. Lynx comes out from behind the islands into full view, she sails into the Sacramento, then turns 180 degrees near Chain Island, returns into Broad Slough, and back toward Antioch. I continue my pursuit on the hope that I will be able to catch her and find a good position for pictures. My best guess is that she is on an excursion cruise. Lynx passes Lazy Ka on Broad Slough (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)By my experience, cruises of this sort run two to three hours; I expect that Lynx will do another 180 degree turnabout near the Antioch shoreline, and retrace her course to Chain Island and return once more.

I make Point San Joaquin and turn South following Lynx into Broad Slough; she is now about a mile ahead of me. I continue into the slough holding close to the Eastern shore of Winter Island. Lynx behaves just as expected, she turns at Broadside of Lynx on her return course to Antioch (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)Antioch, and is now headed back in my direction. I continue toward her. As she nears, I heave to, the wind gently carries me toward the Lynx's course, and I'm able to snap many of pictures on the hope that one or two will be worthwhile. I catch her coming and going, but at her closest point she's too close.

I recover from heave to to follow Lynx to the north for a while. I plan on positioning myself a bit better for her return so that I don't get too close for good pictures. Disproving the adage "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is found in the broadside photo of Lynx as she passed inbound for Antioch . . . I CAN learn from my blunders.

Time had come to leave Lynx behind; to call it a day, and head back toward the Pittsburg ramp. At the South end of Winter Island I turned into the Stockton shipping channel that shortcuts the natural course of the San Joaquin River. Just around Point Beenar I am greeted to 25-30 knot blow coming up the channel from the west. During my photo session Winter Island had offered some protection, but now I was exposed to the full strength of the afternoon winds. Punching through three foot wind-driven rollers into the ship channel  (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

As I cut a series of tacks down the channel, I was able to make good headway. Both shorelines that define this channel are low in elevation and have few structures along its two miles length. This means that the winds blow unrestricted and consistent. It has been my experience that the apparent wind direction is frequently changing along shorelines with hills, tall trees and/or buildings. This can make it difficult to hold a constant tack from one shore to the other, and make it difficult to make reasonable headway in a windward direction.

I had determined to my satisfaction that I could make the ramp in a little over an hour if I continued my tacks. But I didn't want to work that hard this late in the day. In addition to the winds, the surf was up as well . . . I was dealing with wind-driven swell of two to three feet. As much fun as this was, I fired up my motor and pointed into the waves, making the ramp in about 15 minutes. As I approached the marina I found several Personal Water Craft taking advantage of the swell in the channel. Conditions that would bring some of us in seem to be ideal for others.Crew doing housekeeping on Lynx at Antioch Marina (PHOTO: Jerry kergan)Lynx at Antioch Marina (PHOTO: Jerry Kergan)

With Lazy Ka hauled out and secured for the road, I drove over to Antioch for one more up-close look at the Lynx. When I arrived I found her young crew making her secure for the evening. Though not open to the public she was attracting plenty of attention from folks who were coming and gong to Humphrey's Restaurant . . . named after the migrant whale that entered San Francisco Bay and swam up the Sacramento River to Rio Vista in 1985. I spoke to one of the senior crew members who said he enjoyed the Potter pursuit. He made points with other crew because he knew what a West Wight Potter is!

Great day!