Wednesday, March 29, 2017

2017-04 Up into the California Delta, Just Barely.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017:

Today our goal is to get up into the California Delta, just a little bit.  Not having cruised the area, Alex is curious as to the currents, depths and passing room in some of what the chart seems to show as narrow waterways.  Having spent the big bucks to purchase Hal Schell's 27-year-old "Guide to Cruising California's Delta" ($80 on Amazon for used 1995 Edition), we are eager to see if the book is still relevant.

After a brisk morning walk along the Vallejo waterfront with hundreds of other folks, we eventually get away, exiting the marina, turning south and bucking the flood tide into Napa River through Mare Island Strait.  At the bottom of the Strait, we turn to port into Carquinez Strait and ride a nice tidal current push eastbound.  On the left side we pass MV Golden Bear, the training ship of the California Maritime Academy.  Next it's under the twin Zampa Memorial Bridges (aka Carquinez Bridge, or Vallejo Bridge) doing over 9 knots with 1+ knot of push.

Ship traffic is light: a few sailboats, a freighter, an ocean tug and a tug with large tow.  All commercial traffic broadcasts AIS so we see them miles ahead or behind.  Commercial traffic stays in the shipping lane, but since the depth and bridge clearance is sufficient for us, we stay to one side or the other.  Not needing vertical clearance above 33 feet, we pass beneath the Benicia-Martinez Bridges some 300 feet north of the shipping lane and into Suisun Bay.  Eventually we near Pittsburg-CA and bear left up the Sacramento River.  This part of the river is lined with hundreds of wind generator towers, with large propellers turning slowly in a 15-knot breeze.

By 2:30PM or so we're still riding the tidal current up river at 1.5 knots and ready to enter the Delta Marina just south of the town of Rio Vista.  We videoed our entry into this cozy and well keep stop.

California Maritime Academy training ship MV Golden Bear in
front of the Alfred Zampa Bridges supporting Highway I-80.
Hundreds of large props generate electricity
 from this breezy section of the Sacramento River.

Rio Vista is a nice clean town.  It has just a few restaurants and is known for the regional favorite: Foster's Bighorn.  We found fine dining at great prices in The Point Restaurant located in the bright blue building next the the marina entrance.  We liked it so much we dined there two nights, although the majority wanted to try Foster's but were vetoed by the Admiral.

Foster's Big Horn Restaurant has a
nice bar and dining room adorned with
the heads of many large animals. Needless
to say, Admiral Pat refused to dine there.
Wild Blue's spot at the guest dock at Delta Marina, a gem of a marina.
Sunset at the guest dock.

We enjoyed the Delta Marina.  The staff was quite accommodating and totally customer driven.  When Alex reported our dead dinghy battery, employee Lenka called the Napa store and had a new battery delivered within 30 minutes! You can tell the owners take great care of their employees.  After a year working at Delta, each employee is awarded with a professional artist's portrait.  It hangs on the wall in the main lobby, and there at least eight on prominent display.

On Thursday we plan to motor back down the Sacramento to Pittsburg city Marina.  The fuel price there is reported to be the best around.  Looks like this is as far into the Delta we will get this trip.  Were looking forward to spending more time and getting further up the river in April.

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