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Old 14-06-2010, 10:47   #1
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Sacramento Delta Guide

Hi All,
I am trying to plan a 3 day (Friday-Sunday) trip up to the Sacramento Delta in mid July. I will be coming from San Francisco. I am hoping a few veterans could give me some pointers and tips on where to go:
Good areas to anchor out
Fun spots to eat, that have docks
Where do I get fuel?
I have never been up there and I have only found limited info on line, I have not been able to find a real cruising guide.
Thanks.
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Old 14-06-2010, 11:24   #2
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I spent four days "doing the delta" two years ago, and it wasn't nearly enough time. Two weeks would have been better. We had ten people aboard a 47 foot sailboat, and we anchored near Rio Vista at Decker Island right next to the rope swing. I would have liked to have gone upriver farther and eaten at "Al the Wop's". But we didn't have enough time. We stayed a night at Benicia Marina on the way home, and walked around in the morning. The museum there was pretty cool. We bought gas and ice at Rio Vista, but the marina seemed too small for our boat, so we took the dinghy there. You should plan on a full day to get where you are going, and at least a full day to get back, maybe two days, especially if it's really windy, or you leave late.
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Old 14-06-2010, 12:10   #3
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Hopefully some SF cruising veterans will chime in. When we went up the delta a few years ago, we also had very limited information. Another cruiser gave us a copy of Hal Schell's 'Delta Map and Guide', which was helpful. Really enjoyed the trip... we went all the way to Old Town Sacramento. Had to cut a 66# spade anchor loose near Rio Vista after the chain snagged on a log. Can give you the coordinates if you are diving and want a really neat anchor....
Steve
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Old 14-06-2010, 12:29   #4
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I do a lot of research up in the Delta. The Delta is divided into two sections, the San Joaquin River side which is the southern side and the Sacramento River side. To go from one side to the other you have to go pretty far west, almost back to Rio Vista, through Three Mile Slough. To see the most of the Delta, plan on spending about half your time on both sides.

Places to definitely see, Old Sacramento, Hogback Island and perhaps Tower Park Marina...that's if the busy places don't bother you. Or find a nice shady slough to tuck into such as Steamboat slough, just west of Steamboat Slough bridge and spend a day or two kicking back. Be sure to bring all the inflatable water toys for playing around in the water when it gets really hot. Bug spray at night is a must although the bugs are not all that bad.

Having relatively recent electronic charts is a big plus. Its easy for those who are not familiar with the area to get temporarily lost or to run aground.

The farther East you get, the lower the afternoon winds are..and the hotter the afternoons get. Planning your trips around the currents will speed up transits and save fuel, especially if you are in spring tides. A full moon up there at night is always a nice benefit. Transiting at night is fine so long as you have enough light to see hazards. Spring is horrible for logs and deadheads in the water although late summer is much less of a worry. There are lots of bridges so plan your transits around when bridges are available for openings. Transiting at night on a full moon is a great experience with the extra light and the warm but not hot evenings.

The bridge heights on the charts are not accurate. You have to read the bridge heights directly off the bridge height scale on the bridge itself or call the bridge tender and ask what is the current vertical clearance. Be sure to get their hours of operation as well. Not by what the guidebooks say but by calling the bridge tenders directly by phone or VHF. They are open longer in the evenings during the summer months.

There are a number of guides to the Delta which are an easy look up on Amazon. The late Hal Schell used to be THE authority on the Delta. His books and guides are great but may be getting a little dated by now. There are still plenty of things though about the Delta that have not changed in many years.

If you need any more specifics then please ask and I will try to help.
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Old 14-06-2010, 12:37   #5
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Yeah 3 days are not enough. When I headed up there I took a right past rio vista and went toward Isleton and then on to Walnut Grove and then took left and anchored near Ryde Mansion across from sutter island. great anchoring and swiming.
Watch your depth and look out for submerged pilings (Dont ask me how I know this).
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Old 14-06-2010, 12:53   #6
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Three days is indeed not enough. It takes one day to transit up there from the San Francisco Bay. If all you have is three days, not including transit time to get up there, then pick one side of the Delta or the other. I like the Sacramento side slightly better. I would start in the West Delta perhaps from Isleton and work your way up to Sacramento and back, stopping along the way at a few choice spots like Steamboat Slough or Hogback, or both.
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Old 14-06-2010, 13:12   #7
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hi john. thanks for the info. Do you know if there are areas a little closer than decker island that would still be fun, maybe i dont need to go that far up the delta?

Totally diferent question; If you had three days and a 29 ft sailboat in san francisco where would you go with a few friends?
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Old 14-06-2010, 14:04   #8
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This article describes Decker Island and whats near.
http://www.examiner.com/x-7657-SF-Boating-Examiner~y2009m5d5-Favorite-beaches-in-the-Sacramento-Delta-Decker-Island

If you stop over in Rio Vista, be sure to see the animal bar (Fosters Bighorn). Not the patrons, there are hundreds of what were once alive animals on the walls. This is not to be missed. Ask any local where it is. Its few blocks from the public dock.

For a couple days around the central Bay, do the SF Bay Tour. Latitude 38 has a description in their website. Its basically a counterclockwise loop around the Bay starting around the Bay Bridge.

For overnight or day visits, I would consider Ayala Cove for picnic or a trek around Angel Island, Paradise Park for anchoring and its beauty, Clipper Cove for anchoring and relaxing, Hospital Cove for the same, Jack London Square for its shops, restaurants and movie theatre, Sam's in Tiburon for lunch and the view of the Gate, South Beach Harbor as access into San Francisco or China Camp for anchoring and going ashore for picnicking and seeing a little history..

I would also consider taking a trek a little bit outside to Point Bonita if the swells or heavy wind chop is not up. At least get them under the GG Bridge which is always a thrill for first timers. The foggier the better.
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