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
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.
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.
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.
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
which is visiting Bay Area ports through early July.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!