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Sailing the California Delta
Stories of a new sailor exploring the California Delta on his 1982 Catalina 25
Racing on sail day, drifting on Race Day!
Orrin Cool and breezy, then sunny and calm
04/24/2011, San Joaquin River, Ca

So the new company I'm working for gives everyone Good Friday, I took advantage of the time to get down to the boat for an overnight, since ACYC was having their Spring Series race #1 on Saturday followed by the monthly board meeting (which I had to attend anyway).
I was hoping to get down to the boat Thursday afternoon but because life tends to get in the way of sailing, that didn't happen. I was able to make it down on Friday mid morning, do some projects at the clubhouse and sailboat one of them was getting the outboard back on the boat and testing it, this time it worked great.
The wind was light, and weather was overcast but by 2pm the wind was building.
I got the boat out on the San Joaquin around 2:45, and headed down river towards Antioch, it's been a while since I've sailed there just for the hell of it.
The wind was blowing straight out of the west at about 15-20 mph I was running my 110 jib and new (to me) main off of the pearson 26. the boat was doing great I was able to make it from our marina on 7 mile slough to the entrance to 3 mile slough in 3 tacks it is usually a 5 or 6 tack trip, unfortunately the trip between False river and the Antioch bridge wasn't as easy but it was a fun sail with the boat leaning past 45^ several times and of course everything ending up on the cabin floor. I was getting boat speeds of 7 knots pretty regularly and having a fun time by myself. by about 5pm I finally crossed under the Antioch bridge turned around and headed back on a downwind run. This was nice but I also had a following sea of about 2' causing the boat to pitch like a drunken sailor, meaning I had to spend even more time at the tiller to keep the sails filled.
It took me a 1/2 hour to sail downwind the distance it took me over 1 hour to sail while tacking. Once I had arrived at False river I was able to get below and clean up the mess, I found that my refrigerator had shifted around and had been open for most of the trip, something I will have to work on to correct in the future.
I decided to not return to 7 mile slough the way I had come, but to take false river around the other side of Bradford Island and Webb Tract. While sailing back to the marina I saw an interesting site on the San Joaquin, apparently while moving a very large houseboat/boat house, actually it looked like a small two story apartment complex on floats, the tug operator lost control of the beast, which then got caught up on a shoal, and partially sank. So here is this large two story building listing at about a 30^ angle with the entire first floor on one side under water, with pumps spraying a steady stream of water out of the windows on the other side. The delta never fails to amaze me, in one way or the other.
I made it back to the marina about 7:30 where I hooked up with a sailing friend who had come down for the races the following day. Had something to eat and watched a movie with Larry, Jim and Allyson in the clubhouse till after 9, then headed to bed, big day on Saturday.

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Dinner Cruise
Orrin Hot and windy 25-30mph gusting to 40
07/21/2009, San Joaquin/California Delta

Well I've been telling my parents about how great sailing is for a couple of years and when we were power boating we took them out for a couple of evening runs which they really enjoyed. So when my Mother who will turn 70 next month said that she was going to be spending a week at a genealogy convention in a small town about an hour from where I live I invited her to an evening of sailing.

She told me that she would love to and asked if she could bring a friend, of course I replied the more the merrier. Well the appointed day came last night and my Mom and her friend Caroline showed up about 2 in the afternoon we stayed at the house and visited for a little while then caravaned down to the boat.
I got to the boat a little earlier than my Mom, her friend and my wife Pegirae, the first thing I realized was that it was really blowing and there weren't any other sailboats out.
Well I went about washing the dust and spiderwebs off of the boat, and getting it ready for the trip. One of the first things I did was to get the 80% storm jib out and get it hanked on, I also put the reef in the mainsail. I figured the worst thing that would happen was that we would poke our nose out of the harbor and turn back, then have dinner at the dock. Not quite what I had in mind, but I wanted my mom to have a good time.
While we were visiting I explained to my mom and her friend the physics of a sailboat, how it is normal for them to lean over (a lot sometimes) and how if everything is working correctly the weight of the keel will bring the boat back up every time, I'm sure glad I did that.

We motored out of the harbor into some pretty fierce winds, but with the smaller sails the Catalina took them in stride, she leaned over and took off. I didn't have the sails trimmed for best performance I had them trimmed for decent speed and the comfort of my guests and it seemed to work. we stayed at about 20% lean most of the night and while we had some interesting tacks (4 people in the cockpit while trying to single hand can be interesting) we had a good sail to Fisherman's Cut where we dropped anchor and had a great dinner of warm sourdough bread and pasta salad.
The only hitch of the evening came when I tried to pull the anchor, and ended up pulling up about 70lbs of sea grass, and mud. The anchor was so heavy and the wind was blowing so hard that I had to leave the anchor tied off just above the chain rode, and motor out into the middle of the San Joaquin river to keep from being blown onto the rocky side of the levee.

Well once out in the relatively open river I had to pull the anchor up while trying to balance on the bouncing bow of the boat, I finally got it on board fully engulfed it's green muddiness. I pulled the sea grass off in hunks and was finally able to extricate the anchor, get it into it's locker and shove the rest of the crap into the river. At that point the sun was starting to set, so we headed back to the harbor, the wind at our backs doing 7knots SOG at some points in a beautiful sail. My mother and her friend left very impressed with sailing and hopefully the have a good memory that will stay with them for years. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures from last nights sail.
But after the last couple of sails it was nice to have a sail where most everything went well.

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03/14/2011 | ab
Your blogs are fun to read. We are beginners, and looking at purchasing a Macgregor 26 M, a sailboat but with a bigger engine 50-70 hp. Wish us luck!
Finally Sailing!
Cool, winds 15-25mph
06/02/2009, California Delta

So it looks like I'm finally getting some sailing in!

Last Weekend Memorial Day, we were still pretty much recovering from the scorching weekend before and while Pegirae (my wife) had started out with wanting to spend the entire weekend out on the boat, we ended up just going down Saturday and doing some small projects. I finally rigged the Reefing lines on the Mainsail and put in the Mast Gates that I had purchased at Catalina Direct a couple of weeks ago. Also my friend Bill had given me an old Horse Shoe style throwable PFD and rack that I rigged up to the stern railing. I finally changed out the old rusty Honda 3 gallon gas tank for a new plastic 6 gallon tank and new fuel line and priming bulb. Toward the end of the day Pegi decided that she was ok with going out, she had spent the day keeping me company and reading down in the cabin. So I rigged up the 80% storm jib, put a reef in the main and motored out. The wind was blowing at about 30+ mph and Pegi is still recovering from the head injury I gave her back in April so the Dr's have told her they don't want her sailing because of the way the boat will heel. So I try to keep the boat flat while she is on board. Well the wind was blowing so hard and we picked up about 1000lbs of sea grass with the keel on the way out that when I tried to tack the boat went into Irons then jibed around. I just couldn't keep enough forward momentum to complete a tack. So after several failed attempts I turned and ran with the wind so that I could figure out how to clear the keel in the high winds without being blown aground while I was raising and lowering the keel. While I was trying to get a grip on the situation the boat had several accidental jibes one that about swept me over the side. I decided that it was just to wild to be out there pretty much single handing, so I dropped the sails and motored back into the marina. Praise God the motor seems to be working reliably now and that the P.O. ran all of the lines back to the cockpit.

So Sunday came with no time on the water, just relaxing at home. My friend Mike called and said he was moving his Chris Craft Commander (35' sport fisher) back from Glenn Cove marina down at the Carquinez straights to Sacramento. He asked if I wanted to come and help.
I told him sure but we had plans to meet up with Bill and the other guys in my "Brotherhood" (a church men's group that meets at my house every week) at the sailboats in Isleton at 3pm to spend the afternoon evening sailing. He assured me that the trip would only take about 4 hours (actually took a little over 7). So we met up at 8am, then drove down to the Vallejo. We got the boat out of his slip at 10am at the bottom of low tide, we were actually dragging the boat across the mud bottom on the way out. Once out in the strait's we headed upstream through Suisun bay, and up the Sacramento river, we finally got into Sacramento at around 5pm. The guys had been calling me throughout the day to make sure we were still on for sailing, I finally told them to meet at my house and carpool down and that Mike and I would head down as soon as we got to Sacramento.
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Mike on the Bow of the "River Otter"

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A shot of the "Robert E Lee" a paddle wheeler that the owner has been trying to restore for the last few years, looks like he sank at the dock. The had pumps going trying to refloat the boat.
We finally made it to Isleton about 6pm, and had the boat out on the water in about 20 minutes a new record.
Bill had 3 other guys out on his Ericson 36 and was headed back to the Marina to meet us when we caught up with him. The wind was blowing around 25mph and Mike and I had the Catalina smoking, however once bill and the guys turned around and got their Jib up, the passed us like we were anchored. We spent the next hour chasing them back down to Fisherman's cut where they had dropped anchor, we rafted up next to them, then while tying lines between the boats one of them caught on my winch handle, pulled it out of the winch and into about 15 feet of water - crap. Oh well the sea grass was too thick and the water to deep to try and swim for it, so I wrote it off and just another sacrifice to the River. We had a great time hanging out, made dinner then split back up and headed back to the marina. Once we found the marina in the dark (no moon) and put everything away, I had to drive Mike back to Vallejo to get his car, I finally got home about 1:30 Tuesday morning.

This Last weekend I didn't even try to get down to the boat, just kind of chilled for the weekend, but I finished up a big project Monday and my job for today canceled so I called my employee John and asked him if he wanted to take the day off and go sailing. He enthusiastically agreed (he had been sailing with us the prior Monday for the first time) and brought his younger brother along. We took off to the boat and got on the water about noon, the winds were sweet, at about 25-30mph. I put up the 110% working jib and the main with no reef. The boat was heeling pretty well, got the rail wet a few times but it was a lot of fun, running at between 5-6 knots.
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John leaning over and running his hand in the water, the water line is usually a good 3' below the rail, gives you an idea of how far we were heeling.
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Johns Brother Alex, enjoying the amenities of a cruising sailboat. even if it is only 25' long!
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John relaxing as we were enjoying the day.
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John and Alex at the helm with the Antioch Bridge in the background, the winds were starting to kick up over 30mph at this point.

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A ferry that we were chasing down as it moved between the islands.

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Yours truly at the helm on our way back into the marina.
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A great shot of John as we sailed into Owl Harbor after 5 hours of sailing and almost 26 miles logged.
John and Alex sail 6-2-09
We worked our way down river toward Antioch as we got closer to Antioch the wind and waves got bigger, finally about 3:30 with the bridge in sight we turned around and headed back. The wind was on the beam so we were on a nice broad run the boat was still heeling pretty far, so I got up and put a reef in the main. I really like the way the rigging for this is run, I can pull both ends of the sail down to the boom from the gooseneck at the mast. we were almost pulling 7 knots on the way back, what a ride!

We decided to go down False river instead of heading back up the San Joaquin, then up Fisherman's Cut. We had a great sail day, and I'm totally sun burnt, just to exciting to slow down and put the sun screen on:)

Here are some pic's from the day.



Technical notes:

The outboard is running great, changing the tank out and rebuilding the carburetor seems to have done the trick.

At one point today the boat was heeling so far over that there was water about an inch up the cabin windows!

about that time I noticed water coming from my newly rebuild faucet! Apparently the boat was leaning so far over that the water tank (on the starboard side) was actually above the sink and faucet and was pushing water out the faucet into the sink where I had stored our wallets and other items we wanted to keep dry, thankfully we didn't have our cell phones there.

Only a couple of things ended up on the cabin floor this trip I think I'm finally getting the hang of where to store stuff so that it doesn't fly all over the cabin when sailing in decent winds.

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On the water again
05/16/2009, California Delta

Well I know I haven't been posting much lately, I did get out sailing a couple of times since April, but not much. The winds have picked up for the most part, this weekend however they are supposed to be light and it is supposed to be HOT! over 100^. This is Pegirae and my 17th anniversary so we are going to do our first weekend on the boat anchoring out. Wish us luck and I promise to update when I get back.

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05/16/2009 | BH
Hey! Happy A' day.... Hope you have a great weekend...

Curiosity has gotten the better of me, looking at your pic... With the sails down, and in the lee of the docks, I am trying to ficure out the rather extreme list on your Cat there...
05/17/2009 | nathaniel frost
what did you do now??? to make the boat heel so much?
05/17/2009 | Orrin Anderson
Redneck hull cleaning,
We tied an extra line to the mainsheet halyard and pulled the boat over to about 30^ from the other dock, if you look in the top right corner of the picture you can see the line. Then I took my pressure washer and sprayed most of the gunk off of the bottom of the boat. Saved $300.00
05/20/2009 | nathaniel frost
thats a good way! iv seen running the boats up on land...
First evening sail
Orrin/ Cool, winds 10-15mph
04/12/2009, San Joaquin River

Well after heading down to the boat early on Saturday and spending the day cleaning it up. I pulled the old brown carpet out to shake it out, then decided that the white fiberglass floors look so much better, so I took it up to my car to save as a future template if I want a different type of carpet.

I got the boat cleaned up but my wife decided that she was going to drive her own car down and meet me right before my client and her boyfriend were due to arrive, as it happens she ran out of gas and arrived about 45 minutes after my client Kimberly and her boyfriend Vince.

Now let me make myself clear, I become friends with some of my clients/customers it is one of the things I love about my job and I became fast friends with Kimberly, she is just that type of person, very open, friendly, funny, etc. So when I bought the Catalina and was telling her about it she asked if I had considered renting it to make up for the loss of income from the slow down in home remodels. I pretty much said that I would never rent the sailboat, and the list of people that I would loan her too was very very very short. Then I asked her why and she told me about how she wanted to surprise her boyfriend on his 40th with some kind of cruise. I told her I would be happy to take her and her boyfriend out for a dinner cruise.
That was two months ago, she has been so excited about the evening that she was willing to go out if it was raining (the weather report was iffy).

But as it turned out yesterday was beautiful and even though the winds were light, it was going to be a nice sail day.

Kimberly and Vince showed up at 4, they brought the food and drink and we spent the next hour just kind of hanging out at the dock. I hanked the jib on at the dock so I didn't have to worry about it on the river, warmed the outboard up (still finicky) then after my wife showed up we cast off and motored out of the marina. I raised the sails going out of the harbor as the wind was on the beam and kind of motor sailed out. Just at the entrance to the harbor the wind picked up and the boat started healing lifting the outboard out of the water, so I shut it off. As soon as the outboard shut off the wind died a little and I think we were dragging half of the underwater weeds in the harbor off of my keel and rudder. the wind started to push us into the marsh at the entrance to the harbor and of course the outboard did not want to start.
I asked my wife to grab the tiller while I messed with the outboard, then turned facing aft grabbing the starter rope and giving it a hard fast pull. I felt my hand hit something hard and turned around to see my wife kneeling in the cockpit holding her head. Rather than move to the other side of the cockpit, she leaned over and without thinking of what was behind me I nailed her good. She was seeing double and had a horrible headache but did not want to go back in, and actually soldiered through the night, without showing how much pain she was in.
Here is a picture of our route. The first push pin is where we ran aground and I hit my wife, the second is where we dropped anchor, had dinner and watched the sunset.

bohanon sail

Once we got the outboard running, and out of the mud, we motored/sailed over to the floating channel marker that the local sea lions call home and let Kimberly and Vince say hello and get some pictures.

Then we headed down wind and up river with the returning tide, considering we were still hauling a small forest on the keel I think we made decent time, the temp was dropping fast though, so I put the pop up camper canvas on, and actually dug out the propane tent space heater I keep on board and Pegi (my wife) Kimberly & Vince went below while I manned the tiller. We arrived at potato slough dropped anchor and had some awesome chicken wraps that Kimberly had prepared, hung out, talked and enjoyed each other company. Then watched the sunset, hung out some more, then I hauled the anchor and motored back home.

Of course the moon did come out last night, just not until about 10:30, and it was dark, luckily I brought the GPS and the channel is well marked. The new lights worked great though, and I really really love the new deck light. It made hauling anchor and putting the boat away a lot easier.

Here are some pic's from the sail.

Pegi and Kimberly coming down to the boat.

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Kimberly at the tiller.

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Kimberly and Vince at sunset.

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Sunset at potato slough.
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Mount Diablo in the distance.
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Pegi and I in the Cabin.

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Kimberly and Vince in the cabin.

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Well hopefully this is the start of a great season, the outboard still needs some fine tuning and now a new spark plug and wire since I had to take the motor cover off on the way back (to tap the carb and get it to start) when I was backing into the slip the dock caught the outboard and broke then end off of one of the spark plugs and wire ends, not a big deal I need to change the plugs anyway, and I got the new timing belt so I will probably do that repair at the same time.

Well until next time.

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06/28/2010 | Jay Bernard
Hi I have been reading your posts, how often are you on the boat do u ever sail to the bay??
08/20/2010 | JAY
DIDYOU SELL YOUR BOAT OR FORGET ABOUT THIS POSTING
Scheduling conflicts!!!
Raining and cold
04/08/2009, Sacramento, Ca

April 5th was the Berkley Yacht club swap meet, the first one of the season, I've been looking forward to going to the swap meet for like 4 months. I was hoping to find a cheap Boom Vang and whisker pole, plus who knows??
Was I in Berkley at 6am on the 5th to take advantage of all of those great deals????
NO I had to be in church to push for the missions trip I am heading up to Mexicali.

Apr. 11 - Encinal YC's Nautical Flea Market, the largest in the East Bay. Breakfast, lunch and beverages available. 6 a.m.-1 p.m. Info, (510) 522-3272 or www.encinal.org.

Where will I be on April 11th? Not in Encina, checking out those great deals, no I will be having breakfast with some of the men of my church going over the changes in the leadership of our Men's ministry.

Apr. 15-19 - Strictly Sail Pacific & Power Boat Expo, Jack London Square. As the West Coast's really big all-sailboat show, this is a must-see for sailors. Info, www.strictlysailpacific.com.

Apr. 18 - Emeryville Marina's 2nd Annual Boaters Swap Meet, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Info, (510) 654-3716.

April 15th -19th will I be in Jack London square drooling over all the shiny new sail boats, or in Emeryville checking out their swapmeet deals? No I will be in Mexico building a storage shed for a Clinic serving the poor.

Apr. 25 - Opening Day on the Delta Boat Parade. Starts at noon in front of San Joaquin YC on Dutch Slough.

Apr. 25 - Stockton Sailing Club's Boaters Swap Meet, 8-11 a.m. Info, www.stocktonsc.org.

Apr. 25 - Sail a Small Boat Day at Lake Washington Sailing Club in West Sacramento. Info, www.lwsailing.org.

Where will I be on April 25th? Possibly in Stockton first thing in the morning for their swap meet, but I will not be at the Lake Washington sail a small boat day (my own sail club), I will not be taking part in the Opening Day on the Delta Boat Parade. Starts at noon in front of San Joaquin YC on Dutch Slough, no I will be playing some bastardized version of survivor the home game all afternoon at our church. Have I mentioned how much I hate Survivor the TV show? I don't think I've ever even watched an entire episode, now I have to waste a perfectly good sail day with all kinds of sailing events going on all around my area, while I play the poor excuse of a game based on a TV show I hate? Have I mentioned how much I love my wife and want to make her happy? Have I mentioned how much she likes Survivor? Have I mentioned where I will be the afternoon of the 25th for 5 miserable hours?

I might as well just write April off as a sailing month, and start looking forward to May.

May 2 - Napa Valley Marina Nautical Flea Market, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Info,

May 9 - 10th Annual Marine Flea Market at Anderson's Boat Yard in Sausalito, 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Benefits Sausalito YC Junior Sailing Program. Info,

May 17 - Nautical Swap Meet at Marina Bay Yacht Harbor in Richmond, 8 a.m.-noon.

May 23 - Peninsula YC Marine Flea Market at Docktown Marina in Redwood City, 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

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04/08/2009 | nathaniel frost
wow! man, have fun! you know the last show of the "bad show" i cant call it its name as i hate it soooooooo much! was in gabon west africa! that is were i stayed for a month in a hammock!

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California Delta Sailing
Who: Orrin & Pegirae Anderson
Port: Isleton, Ca
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