Date: Saturday June 23, 2005 (9:00 AM to 3:15 PM, (5 hrs on the water.)
Event: Pittsburg to Antioch by way of Collinsville/Montezuma (Yolo County) for lunch at Humphrey's Restaurant at Antioch Marina.
W/: Mark Erickson as crew.
Winds: Strong blow all day. 15-20 knots outbound, 20-35 knots on the afternoon return.
Weather: Beautiful!, lots of Sunshine. Temperatures were in the mid 70's to mid 80's. Never needed to cover up.
  Track of the day: Pittsburg to AntiochIn early May I sailed out of Pittsburg's municipal boat ramp for the first time. This trip had taken me across the confluence of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Rivers and up the San Joaquin toward Antioch town. I then motored into a strong blow down the ship channel and back to Pittsburg. In effect making a "triangle" circuit around Browns and Winter Islands. On this trip I realized that this is one of those great sailing locations where the prevailing winds would allow one to sail to Antioch with the wind across the beam, more or less, and return in much the same way. All that is needed is a good restaurant for a mid-day lunch stop.Today's sail was to be a test of my theory.

Along as crew this day, my friend Mark Erickson who is fast learning the advantages to small boat sailing on the P-15. Mark took the first two ASA sanctioned keelboat classes with a friend in a Club Nautique buddy deal earlier this year, then joined me for a day with the Potter Yachters on the Oakland Estuary, March 3. Mark put in a little time messing around lake-sailing on small day-boats in his youth, and now wants to take on the bay. His recent experience has been on 25-35 foot boats for his sailing classes, and a couple of bay outings with his buddy. But Mark sees all the preparation time of larger boats as detracting from time on the water and concludes a small sailboat that is easy to rig and sail means more sailing . . . what a concept! It's fun for me to watch Mark standing on the dock, staring at Lazy Ka, and saying, "It's got all the part of  real sailboat." I have to remind him that it is a "real" sailboat, just small.

I arrive at the Pittsburg ramp at about 7:30 AM to be rigged and ready for a 9:00 AM launch time. The lot was full of activity from a couple of dozen high-power water ski towboats that were gathered for a speed-skiing competition. It boggles the mind to imagine the investment that some of these folks make for what amounts to a hobby. In evidence consider the two 18-wheel highway rigs with apartment sized sleepers and trailer space for boat, fixing's, and a tractor for launching.

I learn that the speed course was set up in the ship channel, so our plan for the day would prevent us any conflict with the go-fast boats. In talking to a few towboat pilots, I find that they routinely his speeds in the 75-90 MPH range. Conditions looked better for good sailing than waterskiing. At the early hour there was considerable swell from the westerly 15-20 knot morning winds. From experience it is reasonable to expect the winds to pick up as the day progresses.

We are launched and away from the Pittsburg dock promptly at 9:00 AM as planed. 100 yards off the dock puts us across the ship channel headed for the Collinsville/Montezuma vicinity on the North shore of the Sacramento River. At this point the river is some 2.5 to 3 miles across making for some great unobstructed sailing on the crossing. The temperature differential between the hot Central Valley and the cool of San Francisco bay produces seemingly constant winds that blow up the river from the West. These prevailing winds are the strongest at low spots in the California coastal mountains and hills; like the Sacramento Delta, at near sea level; Altamont Pass; and Pacheco Pass, some 90 miles south. The former two offer such regular winds as to be populated with significant electrical generating wind-farms.

The crossing to the Yolo County side is uneventful. We were 45 minutes to Collinsville/Montezuma; learning along the way that on this wide part of the river, tides and currents seemingly have little effect on the sometimes hull-speed challenged P-15.

Mark and I, being longtime fans of the Kingston Trio, enjoyed the music of the first generation of the band on Lazy Ka's onboard sound system as we talk of sailing big boats vs. small. Our conversation occasionally turns to the music as well. Just South of Chain Island we make the only change in tack needed on our outbound leg.

Humphrey's Restaurant, our destination for lunch in view, I am surprised to find that the guest dock on the San Joaquin River side where the Lynx was tied up on my visit of May 13 was missing. We quickly adjusted our plan and enter the marina proper to inquire of berthing for our visit. Safely inside the protection of the harbor jetty, we were directed to a guest berth by the Harbormaster who was conveniently working at the fuel dock just inside the entrance. I learned that sail-ins are warmly welcomed and are encouraged to take advantage of the protection of the marina rather than use the exposed riverside dock. Visitors are offered prime berths up front near the gate, just a few steps away from the front door of the restaurant. Lazy Ka is secure in her berth just after 11:00 AM.

Humphrey's Restaurant is named for the wayward humpback whale that received national attention when he journeyed up the Sacramento River in 1985. Coincidentally, on our outbound leg, Mark shared that he was big-boat sailing on Raccoon Straight when the bay area's latest whale invasion, Delta and Dawn, started their well publicized misguided migration upriver to Sacramento city. These whales surfaced just off Mark's boat to the amazement of all aboard. 

Entering the front door of the restaurant I am treated a decor festooned with plush carpets, oak furnishings and fixtures of brass all around. The dining room offers a panoramic view of the delta to the North, the San Joaquin River and the Antioch bridge to the East, and the marina to the West. This leads me to expect a menu with prices commensurate with the extravagance of decor. To my surprise, this is far from the case. Typical lunch entree's run between $8.00 and $12.00 and include soup or salad, and a choice of ice cream for desert as well.

Humphrey's cuisine is what might be labeled something like California-Italian. The meal started with the obligatory basket-o-bread; in this case focaccia dipped in garlic-butter and dusted with a topping of fresh-grated Parmesan Cheese . . . delicious! We passed on the wonderful selection of pastas and sandwiches in favor of the all-time Potter Yachter favorite, Fish & Chips. I don't claim to be a gourmet when it comes to F & C, but I know what I like. Mark and I both enjoyed our Humphrey's Fish & Chips.

With the bill paid, Humphrey's staff opened the marina gate allowing us back to Lazy Ka for our return trip. We motor out beyond the jetty, set sails, put gen-two Kingston Trio on the stereo, and make a half-dozen changes in tack to position ourselves on the windward side of Broad Slough (The main river channel of the San Joaquin.) This bit of maneuvering sets us up to make the remainder of the of our days sail with minimal course adjustment. It was near the junction of the San Joaquin River and the ship channel that we catch views of the water-skiers making their high-speed turns at the East end of the channel.

The ever-constant winds on the delta make it popular with windsurfers and kitesurfers as well as sailboats. At the intersection of Broad Slough and the Sacramento River we encounter several of the latter taking full advantage of the day's blow. Sailing from behind the relative shelter of Winter Island into the full force of winds, that are now in the 30-35 knot range, lets us see first hand why the local is so popular.

We continue North to the waterfront at Montezuma before changing tack one last time for our final run back to Pittsburg. We are now sailing in winds that are blowing up the river unobstructed for a half-dozen miles or more. With the resulting swell reaching three feet, I am thankful for the added ballast provided by crew today. This final leg would have gone really well had I not found a bar west of Browns Island. To my embarrassment, Lazy Ka dragged centerboard enough to require motor assist to make it back to the safety of deep water once more.

Securely tied at the Pittsburg dock again, Lazy Ka is hauled out and packed for the road over a cold beverage from the convenience store adjacent to the parking lot. This is a sail I would do again in a heart-beat. By my twice-times experience at Pittsburg, the winds are dependable. With Humphrey's in the mix as a lunch stop, and the added hospitality of Antioch Marina, it don't think it could get any better.