Delta 5-Day Mini-Cruise

Delta 5-Day Mini-Cruise

Thursday August 16, 2018

Departure: Clipper Yacht Harbor
Arrival: Benicia Marina, Benicia CA
Distance (nm): 26.3 nm
Engine Hours: Start: 22.2
Crew & Guests: Julian, Colin, Marley
Weather: Cool, then warmer, winds pretty light (but enough)

screenshot_2018-08-21-18-32-25-836052226.pngLog: Wednesday:  We managed to get to the boat and provision in anticipation of our maiden voyage to the Delta. We scoured all of our sailing books and found a few tidbits of information here and there but no definitive sailing guide for the Delta that was written in the last 20 years! And we had a problem…. The windlass motor had packed it in and we were getting a new one shipped overnight so that we could anchor. It was to be delivered by 1030 am on Thursday, to our home so we settled into a quiet evening on board at Clipper Yacht Harbor.

Up early doing the last-minute prep and Julian headed to our house to meet the Fed Ex delivery person by 1030 am. only to find out the package was not being delivered until Friday am. WHAT! Ok plan “B”. We headed off anyways and decided we would go as far as Benicia and stay the night there. We departed around noon and set sail out of Sausalito, down Raccoon Straight and across San Pablo Bay with a great 10-12 knot wind abaft. We managed to deploy the spinnaker and have a nice sail until we headed more easterly and the afternoon winds picked up and we settled back into wing on wing.

The entry to Benicia Marina was interesting as we had easterly winds, with waves of 1-2 feet being pushed by the wind and current, and the entrance is a narrow channel. Julian managed to keep us mid-line with the entry and despite our depth sounder warning us of shallow water we entered without incident and then … we saw a Passport 42 tied up right at the end of the dock. So excited to see another Passport in the Bay. A quick exploration of town and a cold brew made the day!

Friday August 17

Departure: Benicia Marina, Benicia
Arrival:  Pittsburg Municipal Marina
Distance (nm): 16.3 nm
Engine Hours (trip end):
Crew & Guests: Julian, Colin, Marley
Weather: Cool Start – Warm and windy later

screenshot_2018-08-21-18-33-19-1130296267.pngLog:   Up early as it was windlass delivery day. Colin jumped in an Uber and did the trek from Benicia to our home in Novato and met the delivery guy at 10am. With new motor in hand he returned to the Benicia Marina and set about installing and wiring the new motor up. With the job accomplished we set out for the Delta.

The next challenge was trying to get the Benicia Martinez railroad bridge to lift for us. On the radio we spoke with a very nice lady who said she would look out for us and when we were there (after several radio communications) she realized that we were at a different bridge than she thought.  A call to the Coast Guard and several more calls to bridge operations ( Channel 13) we finally got a response. That was after almost an hour of circling outside the bridge. Once the bridge lifted we had enough clearance for our 65 foot mast to go under and we were in Suisun Bay.

After clearing the bridge, the trip across the bay was downwind sailing.  The great part was that we began to shed layers of clothing and managed to sail with t-shirts and shorts and not get hypothermia. Half way across the bay we saw…. another Passport sail boat going the opposite direction. This time it was a quick hello on the radio as it was Anthony (whom we knew) and he suggested that we stay the night in the Pittsburg Marina. We did a quick call to the Marina and got a slip for the night with the caveat that we had to be out of the marina by 9am as he was expecting several  (100) boats the next morning for some boating event (the Poker Run?). We arrived at the marina and settled in, did some exploring and had the best cold beer in the 90 degree heat we have ever had.

Saturday, August 18

Departure: Pittsburg Municipal Marina, Pittsburg
Arrival: Potato Slough, Delta
Distance (nm): 19.5 nm
Engine Hours (trip end): 29.5
Crew & Guests: Julian, Colin, Marley
Weather: Warm start, the Hot Hot Hot! – light winds

screenshot_2018-08-21-18-34-08-337113840.pngLog:  Up early for the day. We left Pittsburg Marina and headed down the New York Slough to join the San Joaquin River. It was a hot day with blue sky and light wind. Up the San Joaquin River past Jersey Island then onto False River and around Franks Tract.

This was an amazing journey. The scenery was beautiful and many of the power boaters did a double take as our big old sailboat, jibing the main back and forth with the turns, ghosted along the channels. It was amazing to think that the depth there is as deep as it is in many parts of the San Francisco Bay, yet you are more conscious of it because the channel is only 40-50 feet wide. We rounded the top of Mandeville Island and headed north of Venice Island and into an area called “Potato Slough”. Once there we found a nice area and dropped anchor. It was about 100 degrees, so we set up a “ghetto” Bimini to block some sun and went exploring with the dinghy. We enjoyed a magnificent sun set that evening with a great BBQ . The wind picked up in the night and our anchor alarm went off but we realized it was just because we had actually swung back over the top of our anchor.

Sunday, August 19

Departure: Potato Slough, Delta
Arrival: Delta Marina, Rio Vista, CA
Distance (nm): 16 nm
Engine Hours (trip end): 32.4
Crew & Guests: Julian, Colin, Marley
Weather: Just Hot Hot Hot! mostly light wind, but breezy later.

screenshot_2018-08-21-18-35-09-1033304180.pngLog:  A nice leisurely morning on anchor with a bit of a hike/dog walk for Marley and we pulled up anchor… and the windlass worked, woohoo! We had decided to head back out of the slough onto the San Joaquin River and follow it north. This meant that to connect with the Sacramento River we needed to take the Three Mile Slough cut through. The scenery and the weather could not be more beautiful on this leg of the journey. We found the entrance from the river to the Three Mile Slough and headed into it. The charts were showing good depth and then…. we ran aground!

It is the strangest feeling when that happens? The boat just comes to a stop yet the engine RPM continues. Julian immediately put us into reverse and powered off the sand bar. The charts showed a depth of 9ft then 7 ft, but in a small area it was 3 feet and we managed to find it. No harm and we were again on our way. We rounded the last corner of the cut through and there was a bridge with a 10-foot clearance. But it was a lift bridge. A quick call and an immediate response from the bridge operator and the bridge lifted and let us through and we were in the Sacramento River.

A quick check of our guide books suggested a stay in Rio Vista so we found Delta Marine on the banks of the river.  A tense moment entering the marina (depth of 5ft) but our forward-looking sonar told us we were ok and we were in. This is a quaint clean Marina with friendly staff. We decided to have dinner at the Marina restaurant and had a nice quiet evening with walks into town with the heat of 98 degrees.

Monday, August 20th

Departure: Delta Marina, Rio Vista, CA
Arrival: Benicia Marina, Benicia
Distance (nm): 26.6 nm
Engine Hours (trip end): 38.0
Crew & Guests: Julian, Colin, Marley
Weather: Warm and sunny, light, strengthening breeze (on the nose all day)

screenshot_2018-08-21-18-35-371796952537.pngLog:  We left Delta Marine around 930am heading down river towards the SF Bay. Unfortunately, the wind was off our nose and we had some currents against us so we were motoring again. The river was amazing to travel on as we made our way west. We had a great day enjoying the scenery and taking a ton of pictures. We were going to try and get to the Vallejo Marina, but a call to them ended that plan. The marina staff said that at our arrival time there is a small “bump” at the entry that is about 4ft depth. We draw 6ft!  We decided to not take his advice to try and take a run at it and made a decision to head back to the Benicia Marina. Many hours of motoring into the wind and waves and we settled in for the night on the guest dock in the sweltering heat. A nice walk along the water front, a walk to get some provisions and we relaxed for the rest of the evening, trying to stay out of the heat.

Tuesday August 21st

Departure: Benicia Marina, Benicia
Arrival: Clipper Yacht Harbor, Sausalito
Distance (nm): 25.7 nm
Engine Hours (trip end): 42.3
Crew & Guests: Julian, Colin, Marley
Weather: Grey, 10 – 15 knots, Cold!

screenshot_2018-08-21-18-36-42-334226274.pngLog:  Up early and…. Its cold, grey, overcast and 20 degrees colder that the day before. We pumped out our holding tank at the Marina and head out the marina entrance and turn west across San Pablo Bay. Wind of course is off the bow so no sails up today. A long day of motoring, playing with our navigation system, making soup and hot coffee and we arrive back at our slip at Clipper Yacht Marina in Sausalito. It was a great trip and we are already planning our next Delta adventures!


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