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Sailing the California Delta
Stories of a new sailor exploring the California Delta on his 1982 Catalina 25
Probably for the best
Cold, rainy and really really windy
02/15/2009, Sacramento

Well being sick and not being able to go sailing this weekend was probably for the best. Looking at the wind speeds for today (the day we would have been sailing back from Benicia. Yeah pretty freaking high, the stations that measure and store wind data are showing winds as high as 47mph along our route home with pretty steady winds between 25-35 mph, add rain to the mix and cold weather and if I hadn't already been sick I probably would be after this weekend.

I guess everything works out for a reason.

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Sailing on Martin Luther King's Birthday part II
Orrin, 70^, clear, no wind
01/22/2009, San Joaquin River Northern California

Ah the Monday of the 3 day weekend. We had decided that after spending the entire day on the water on Sunday that we would chill out at the Dock for Monday. I had a meeting at my house that we had to be home for at 7pm, so I thought we would leave around 3pm.
Well it turned out to be such a nice day that we went out anyway, and threw the to-do list in the trash can.
This time we headed up the Mokelumne river headed toward a restaurant that we had gone to years ago that we really enjoyed. Well we found it, and it had banners stating that it was under new management, but alas it was closed on a mid-winters Monday afternoon. So we took some pic's of the boat from a different angle than at our dock and headed back for the marina.
Again the water was mirror smooth, and I was able to take some pictures. January 21st in Northern California, temp 70^ or so.
My first mate in her customary cruising station.
Hidden Harbor marina
Some of the private homes with their own docks along the rivers Levee's
Looking up river towards Stockton.
Another Marina called Korth's Pirate Lair, Turns out the Harbor Master's wife was our waitress at the Spindrift.
The Tiller handle on my outboard will start to fall forward because of the engine vibration and rattle against the transom, causing a sound like a drum roll. This was my quick fix when I finally got tired of leaning over the back and pushing the handle back in place. It now has a bungee cord holding it in place. Bungee cords almost as good in your tool box as Duct tape and velcro.
The Lighthouse Marina, a lot of very expensive stink boats in there.
Pictures from the Lighthouse Restaurant dock, notice the sail cover is on, never took it off that day.

On the way back there are 2 or 3 marina's along the edge of the San Joaquin river, they sit on a channel with some marsh land protecting them from the rest of the river. We hadn't checked these marina's out yet, turns out that 2 of them have restaurants and gas docks. We decided to stop at the "Spindrift", it looked nice and had an empty guest dock.

Well the restaurant had just opened and the kitchen wasn't fully going, so we just ordered a couple of drinks and an appetizer, turns out our waitress's husband was the Harbor master of Korth's Pirate Lair and was able to give us some info on the neighborhood, we had a nice time, then headed back to our slip.
We got in about 4:30, got everything thrown into the car and headed home.

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Sailing on Martin Luther King's Birthday
Orrin sunny, warm, no wind
01/20/2009, California Delta

Well my first mate had another 3 day weekend and the weatherman was forecasting wonderful weather for the delta so we went to Winco, did a little provisioning, loaded our bags, and headed to the boat for the long weekend.
But first I had some stuff to do with the youth Awana group at the church Saturday morning. Every year they do a Pinewood derby race and several years ago a friend and I were talking about how when we were young and it we did the pinewood cars in cub scouts how bad our cars turned out because we didn't get a lot of help from our dad's. It's not that they didn't care, just that they didn't have the time.
So we thought it would be cool if we took our woodworking tools and roughed out the cars for the Awana Kids. We wouldn't finish the cars for them, just use a Band saw and Belt/Disc sander to get the rough shape, then the kids could do the final sanding, painting etc. So every year we turn the foyer of the church into a wood shop and about 15 kids and parents show up, draw their ideas onto a block of wood, and we cut them out and sand them to about 80 grit. Well because of a change of schedule the Awana build day landed in the only 3 day weekend in January. Oh well I had a good time and it gave the first mate a chance to run some errands before leaving.

Well we hit my goal of leaving the house by 2pm, but of course we had to throw in a stop at the grocery store, a drive through and then we were on our way. We got to the boat about 4:30 and started to unload.

We were having friends down for dinner so I had brought down a rotisserie cooker to cook tri-tip for dinner. The thing is pretty large, but fit in the cockpit just fine, and after about an hour and fifteen minutes we had a perfect cut of meat, some instant rice, homemade gravy and Broccoli, some wine, voila! a perfect meal.
We spent the evening with our friend Alexis talking politics, about old jobs that she used to work with my wife, etc.. The sky was clear and while it was cool out, it was not the weather that you would expect in January in Northern California. We sat out on the cockpit looking at the stars and laughing.

After a late night with friends it was tough to get up to a chilly Sunday morning, but we rolled out of bed about 9am, I made something simpler for breakfast this trip, instant Quaker oatmeal & Coffee I have a hard time functioning without a morning pot of coffee. The sky was clear and it was warming up, but there was not a breath of wind in the air. We decided to go ahead and just motor around so we headed out by 11ish. Wow what a beautiful day!

We headed east out of Seven Mile Slough up the San Joaquin river toward Stockton, on the way we were passed by a freighter headed toward San Francisco and the Pacific.

Shortly after that we came upon "Old River" and turned west toward a place called "Franks Tract" this is a section of water that has an interesting history, it used to be a man made island that was used as agricultural land until it's levee failed in the late 30's, they repaired the levee but it failed again a couple of years later and the water district decided it wasn't worth pumping out again so here is this large lake area in the middle of all of the rivers and sloughs of the delta, and it's average depth is 6-8 feet. We have never been here and this was one of the places that I wanted to go in the sailboat. Well there was a light wind so up went the sails and we were moving along at about 2-3 knots when I noticed what looked like pieces of the old levee sticking up out of the water, they were covered with brush and had a single orange light on each one. Then I noticed that each of these little islands had a bunch of ducks floating around them, but they didn't seem to be moving..... Doh, it's currently duck season here in Northern California and these "little Islands" were duck blinds and we were sailing right into the line of fire!
About that time what little wind there was went somewhere else, so we fired up the Iron Jib and headed for less dangerous waters, headed northwest we found a break in the old levee (now just marsh) letting out onto "False River" and got back onto the network of sloughs and rivers.
We saw a lot of what looked to be Pelican's apparently they got the memo and knew they weren't in season, and were happy to hang around watching the fireworks.
Here is one of the many ferries that criss cross the network of man made islands that make up the Delta
After stopping for a nice lunch of hot soup and cold sandwiches (ah leftover tri-tip!) we headed back up the San Joaquin toward our home marina.

That is mount diablo in the background. The Coast Guard keeps their radio repeater there so if you listen to channel 16 you can hear the calls out to sailors on San Francisco bay, but unfortunately you cannot hear the Sailors so it's kind of like eavesdropping on only one side of the conversation.
My first mate taking her navigators post down in the cabin.
We got back into Seven Mile Slough just as the sun was setting, that is Mount Diablo in the background
A shot of the marina as we were pulling in, notice the mirror smooth water,,,, yeah no wind.
Well it's late here and work comes early tomorrow, so I will post pictures from our sail on Monday tomorrow.
Oh yeah in case I didn't say, it got up to 70^ on Sunday!

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02/03/2009 | nathaniel frost
how did you post all the photo? is this the blog thats not free?
02/03/2009 | Orrin Anderson
I have a webshots account - which is free, they have an option to copy the source for the picture so that I can paste it into my posts, they also give me the options of the size of the picture thumbnail. I have a huge number of pictures that I can upload, something like 1000 pictures. You should try it.
I've got a boat, now a motor...
12/30/2008, Owl Harbor Marina, Isleton, CA

O.k. so now I have a boat, great boat at a great price, but the only motor I have is an Evenrude 4.5 hp 2 stroke motor from my other sailboat
And while this motor will move the Catalina around the marina and actually out onto the delta, I really don't think it has the power to move the boat against a strong wind or current. Well as it turns out the same Harbormaster (shawn) that told me about the Catalina, said he had a line on a Honda 10hp 4 stroke motor, for $600.00 I jumped at the offer, and told him I was definitely interested. Later that week he called me up and told me he had the motor in his shop and that it looked to be in great shape. We made arrangements to meet at the boat on Saturday and I came down, money in hand, I was also going to fix some other little problems that I had found. All of the toggle switches on the original power panel had fallen apart when I tried to use them.
Saturday came and my friend Brian met me at the boat to help me with the electrical, installing switches and troubleshooting the nav lights.

Shawn showed up with the motor, we mounted it on the boat, and fired it up, seemed to run great, $600 changed hands and I now had an older Honda 4stroke 10 horse motor for the boat! Success!

Well things are never that easy for me and boating.... It took Brian and I the rest of the day to work out the lighting issues (still some left), and by the time we were done he had to go. About that time my wife had driven down from Sacramento and I wanted to show off the new boat (she hadn't seen it yet) so I cleaned up the tools, made sure we had a full tank of gas and headed out of the marina to catch the sunset on the San Joaquin river. The motor seemed to run like a champ until the sun had set, then suddenly the "green" oil pressure light started to flicker then died (all in about 3 seconds) before I could reach the motor to shut it off, the engine died. Now this is the California delta in mid November not a breath of wind to be found, the ground tackle was still in the lazerette where the previous owner had left it, it was very dark and there was no one else out on the water. I tried to get the motor running with no luck, once it started but only ran for a few minutes before dying again. Finally I saw a power boat leaving the mouth of our marina harbor and started waving at it with a flashlight. Luckily they spotted us, turns out it was a neighbor of ours from further down the marina, he and his friends were going out for some night fishing. Well we threw him a line and he towed us all of the way back to our slip, probably a 25 minute ride. When we got back we thanked him, offered him money and beer for the tow, both things he declined. Boating people seem to have a great sense of courtesy and charity, they will help out a total stranger and when you offer to reward them they refuse (usually) stating that they know they will need help someday and they are just kind of paying it forward.
So to make a long story longer, I am now out $600.00 and have a dead motor :(

We pack our stuff off of the boat and drive home kind of despondent. The next day I drive down after church and look the motor over, I'm able to get it to run for a very short time if I fiddle with the choke, but not more than that. I decide to pull the motor off of the boat and take it home so that I can work on it in my garage.

Well I get the motor home, and start looking online for help, I don't find much but there was a great marine motor tech site that gave me some areas to look.

Meanwhile I found an identical parts motor on Craigslist for $150.00 but since I had figured that I was probably looking at a dead bad cdi unit which honda no longer makes I figured it was a good deal because I could take the one off of the parts motor.

The holidays came roaring up and I had to sideline the boat projects until last weekend.

I finally took motor A (the $600.00 one) down, pulled the bottom end off and checked the water pump impeller, one of the problems was that after a couple of minutes the motor would stop flowing water. I found that the impeller shaft, and housing were shot,
and I was able to replace them with parts from motor B (the $150.00 one). I also found the rectifier had a broken wire at the box so I pulled the rectifier off of the parts motor. Put everything back together, loaded the motor into my 50 gallon trash can full of water and started it up.
I had purchased a oil pressure test gauge from Harbor Freight for $15.00 and it showed a stead 40 lbs of oil pressure at any speed so it confirmed my suspicions that the oil pressure light problems were electrical in nature and not actually a problem with the engine oil pressure.

Well I put the motor completely back together, put the cover on and let in run in the shop for about 30-45 minutes at different rpm speeds, the motor seemed to run great, nice steady stream of water, it had a rattle but other than that no problems.

Needless to say I wanted to load the motor up in the car, drive down to the catalina, and go boating. But since it was about 8:30 on Sunday evening I didn't.

Well I had a very short day and decided that I needed to take the motor down and test it, the advantages to being self employed. I loaded the motor up, drove the 45 minutes to the marina, hooked the outboard onto the Catalina, fired it up - good. I left my little evenrude onboard just in case. Then I headed out to the Delta, outside of the Marina which is on Seven mile slough, I turned southeast upriver toward stockton. The motor ran great, I run under just motor for the next two hours all of the way up past the old river flats and the backside of franks tract, which I'm hoping to sail on next summer.

I was also able to calibrate my knotmeter to my GPS turns out it was reading almost 2 knots slow, this is probably because of the excessive growth on the underside of the boat, something I hope to deal with in the early spring.

Well so the details are:

Used Honda motor $600.00
Used Honda Parts Motor $150.00
Honda Shop Manual $10.00
Oil Pressure Test gauge $10.00
Refund on original motor -$100.00

Total cost of 4 stroke (tahoe legal) 9.9 hp motor $670.00! I think I can live with that.

More on my boating adventures later.

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Orrin 40-50^ light and variable winds
12/27/2008, Isleton/Rio Vista, CA

Well Here it is my first Sailblog entry.
Let me introduce myself, I'm a 44 year old general contractor here in Northern California, my wife of 16 years and I have always loved the water and after almost 18 years of being power boaters with all of the problems and benefits associated with buying all of the boat you can afford and living with the mechanical problems that entails. We had given away our last power boat, a 1978 18' Sea Ray open bow runabout. It wasn't a bad boat, just very old, and had a lot of rot in the wood components, and multiple mechanical problems.
Well we gave away the Sea Ray after owning for about 6 seasons, and found ourselves boat less for the first time in quite a few years. That wasn't that bad since it was fall and I was confident that I would find a much better boat by summer. Well summer came and because of several circumstances one of them is that I'm in construction and the market collapse has definitely hurt my business.
My lovely wife was definitely jonesing for the river and was talking about just getting an aluminum fishing boat or zodiac just to get out on the water. About that same time a friend that I go to church with invited me and some other guys for an evening out on his sailboat.
brotherhood on bills boat 004
Well needless to say I had a great time! I had only been out on one other sailboat a ranger 32 on the San Francisco Bay, and it had been a short trip. This was a great ride about 6 hours on the water, dinner, awesome sunset, needless to say it had me considering a sailboat after so many years of being a stinkboat pilot.

The next day I was doing some work for one of my regular clients a retired Coast Guard commander when he asked me if I knew of anyone he could give his "old boat" out back to? My interest piqued and I asked him who he was looking to give it to? I mean did he need a tax receipt or ?? He said that he hadn't used the boat in almost 20 years and that he didn't want strangers traipsing through the property, he didn't want to haggle price or have to teach someone to sail, and he just wanted the boat, and trailer gone. At this point I said I would be happy to take the boat off of his hands. It turned out to be an 1982 17' Vagabond "daysailor" that came with a 4.5 hp Evenrude and a trailer that needed tires.
Well after a slow start we finally got the legal paperwork taken care of with the DMV (he had lost the title and boat hadn't been registered in years). We took the boat out sailing, while it was more work than power boating, it was definitely more fun, and satisfying.
We have sailed the Vagabond for about 1 1/2 seasons, Taking the boat from the California Delta up to Lake Tahoe and points in between,
while it is a fun little boat, it's not what I've been looking for. I've been wanting a boat that my wife and I could spend weekends on, have as a real get away, for instant vacations.

For the last year or so I have been scowering craigslist, ebay, the local papers etc. looking for something between 23-27 foot, with a cabin, for the right price (cheap) and haven't had much luck finding something that fit my criteria. One of which was that I didn't want a project boat, I wanted something that I could hop in and sail away. Many of the boats I looked at were really not much better off than the Sea Ray that I gave away!

Then one day in November while helping my friend Bill work on his Ericson 36, I happened to be talking to the harbor master at his marina about what he might have on lien sale of coming up for sail. He said that he didn't have anything coming up but there were several boats for sale in the marina, one of which was a Catalina 25. So Bill and I wandered down to the dock shawn the harbor master told us about and checked out the Catalina.

She wasn't in bad shape, but you couldn't tell much either, the mast and boom were bare, the sails were below decks, a weathered and tattered blue canvas cover, covered the hatchway to the mast, so you couldn't see in the cabin. There was no motor, and not much else to look at so I gave the number on the for sale sign a call and let my information on his voice mail.

Several day's went by with no return call, and I began to think that maybe the guy had already sold the boat or given up and decided to keep it, then after about 3 days the owner called me back. He told me about the boat, he was the original owner and he just didn't use the boat anymore. He was asking $1200.00 for it, but there were no motor or trailer. I countered his price with a much lower price and after a few minutes he decided that my offer of cash right now was better than paying slip fees until summer and possibly getting a higher price then. So we made arrangements for me to meet his adult son that Saturday, look the boat over and if everything looked good do the deal.

I spent the entire week researching Catalina 25's on the internet looking at any blogs I could find etc. I felt I had a pretty good idea of what the boat was when I got there on Saturday, and for the price I wasn't expecting much more than what I had seen, maybe some good sails but not much for the interior. Boy was I in for a shock.

Saturday Bill, and my other sailing newbie friend Tom showed up to check the boat over, before buying, Bill who is also a scuba diver was going to dive the boat and make sure that the swing keel was fine before the son showed up and let us get a head start checking the boat out. Well we got there 45 minutes early and the son was already there. He had the boat opened up, and had pulled his dads personal items off of the boat, so we decided to pass on the dive, and just really go over the boat. I stepped into the cockpit and looked into the cabin, boy was I shocked, it looked new! there were cushions in the cockpit, no tears or rips, the upholstery in the cabin was in great shape, it obviously came from 1982 motor home decor, but it looked new. The boat was the dinette model meaning on the port side of the cabin there is a dinette style table with seating facing fore and aft, not side to side. The kitchenette was small but complete and clean, there was a porta potty, nice v-birth, and a good sail inventory which consisted of a Main, 60% storm jib, 110% working Jib, and a asymmetrical spinnaker. There were life jackets, ground tackle and everything else I would need to sail the boat that day.
Here are some pictures of the boat from that day.

Needless to say we spent about 1/2 hour going over the boat with a fine tooth comb, making sure there weren't any hidden problems but it would have had to been a gaping hole in the hull to sour this deal. I had made up my mind. So The owners son and I walked down to the harbormasters office to transfer the slip and to trade paperwork and cash for the boat. About 15 minutes and $700 later I was the proud owner of a 1982 Swing Keel, Standard Rig Catalina 25' sailboat!!!

I felt like a kid at Christmas, needless to say I had brought my 4.5 Evenrude down with me and we actually got the boat out on the delta that afternoon There wasn't much wind and with about 2 years of bottom growth the performance wasn't awe inspiring but I didn't care, this was the boat that I had been looking for for the last 20 years.
Here's the pictures from that.

Finally I had a boat that would be fun to use, I could take just about anywhere, I can put it on a trailer and haul it all over the country, the keel swings up and I can float her in less than 3' of water, and she is big enough to spend a weekend or longer on, with friends!!

Well that is my introduction, in my next posts I will keep you up to date on our adventures, mis-adventures and projects on the boat. She doesn't have a name yet, we are leaning toward something like "the lords blessings", "the lord provides", answers to prayer, something like that, because I truly feel she is an answer to prayer, you just don't find boats like this for the price I paid.

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