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Sailing the California Delta
Stories of a new sailor exploring the California Delta on his 1982 Catalina 25
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!
No one posting anymore?
07/11/2009, Sacramento

Does anyone else notice that not very many people are posting? Must be because of the summer weather we are all out sailing instead.

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07/12/2009 | Jennifer Clarke
You have a beautiful boat. The cabin looks huge!!! Sunscreen is a must and my husband usually wears a large brim .Having a good time so far.
07/13/2009 | nathaniel frost
i just got sailblogs to work again!!!!!!!
07/13/2009 | Orrin Anderson
The cabin is designed so that it actually looks bigger than it really is, I think it is built to 3/4 scale. but we do really enjoy it and actually had 4 adults sleeping overnight on July 4th with relative comfort.

Hey Nate good to see you I was wondering what happened to you, how was the time on the Tall ship?
06/16/2011 | Larry
Hey dide//googled the Island to Island and fund this! Nice
02/20/2014 | Jay Bernard
Hello, has this thread died?!? Orrin you still check in here? I spoke with you last year you were going to do the Island to Island. You doing it this year? You might remember I have a Catalina22. I was thinking of participating in the race. I acquired an Oday 25 last summer want to do it in it. Anyhoo, Mandiville Island for July 4th is always fun:) It will be on a Friday so might be a good crowd! Well we will see if anybody sees this???????? _/)_
07/30/2014 | Orrin Anderson
Jay, Sorry i missed your post. I finally got my boat back in the water after almost two years out. I got it in just in time to see the fireworks at Mandeville, hope you made it. We rafted up (about 8 boats) on Potato Slough at Bedroom 1.
Great show again this year.
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.

Mike on the Bow of the "River Otter"

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.
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.

Johns Brother Alex, enjoying the amenities of a cruising sailboat. even if it is only 25' long!
John relaxing as we were enjoying the day.
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.

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

Yours truly at the helm on our way back into the marina.
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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Sailing through Hell
Orrin, Triple digit heat and no wind
05/20/2009, California Delta

Well after a late start on Saturday we made it down to the boat. Pegirae and I were set to spend a great 17th anniversary on the water. Well we didn't make it down to the boat until late afternoon, and I decided to just motor up to Potato Slough our destination for the weekend. We arrived and found another sailboat there, we anchored nearby and chatted with "charles" for a while before I went below to get dinner ready. It was already hot in the cabin even with the front hatch open and the companion way open. I had finished my propane conversion of the old alcohol stove but could'nt find the gas line for the stove before we left so I ended up using the cheap "wall-mart" camp stove which was a little scary because the grate was not flat and the hot pots kept wanting to slide off any time the boat moved.
After a nice Italian (spaghetti) dinner with a celebratory glass of wine to toast our 17 years together in marital bliss, just the two of us and about a million mosquito's and other flying bugs (they got in before the netting went up) we settled down to our first night at anchor. Even at eleven pm it was still about 80+^ on the boat thank God for the forethought to get insect repellent because I was not sleeping under the covers that night.
About 3am I changed my mind because the boat was finally cooling down to around 30^ below, actually about 60^ but laying in bed with no cover at 3am it felt like 30^ below. We woke with the sun, this has not been a problem before because when we spent weekends on the boat over the winter the sun came up at a respectable hour, and the cloud cover usually enabled us to ignore it and go back to sleep. Not so Sunday morning we were up at six, hit the air pump on the mattress, answer natures call and sneak back to bed for another hour of sleep, by then the cabin was warming up to a nice high 70's temp wise.
I do have to admit this was the earliest we actually got up and got sailing. We had a light breakfast of Honey Do Mellon, I got out the cleaning bucket and cleaned the bow decks, then pulled anchor, pulling up all kinds of mud all over my newly cleaned decks (perfect). After breaking out the bucket, rinsing off the mud, then motoring out of the anchorage (the Honda worked flawlessly this weekend). We headed over to Franks Tract, the winds were very light and I pulled out the asymmetrical spinnaker we got with the boat. I had only used this sail once before and the winds were so light then, it was useless. I've been Leary of using this sail because of the reputation spinnakers have if you are single handing, but the sail worked great, the winds were just light enough that I was able to tack without going forward and "chuting" the sail through the tack, I just tacked, let the sail lightly shift sides, then when everything was clear adjusted the sail, and off we went. We were pulling a steady 3 knots in about 7mph of wind
We sailed around Franks tract for about 1 1/2 hours, I was able to actually use a bungee cord on the tiller and go below for visits (escapes from the sun) for up to 5 minutes without having to go above and adjust course. There were only power boaters out and we had the open areas of the tract to ourselves.
To make a long story less long, oh yeah too late. We got off of the tract and I pulled the chute down over the spinnaker leaving the main up, but pretty much just motored down false river, and up fishermen s cut, then accross the San Joaquin, dropped anchor and went swimming because it was so freaking hot, over 100^,
after finding out how badly the boarding ladder and railing were designed we headed back to Owl Harbor and home. When I was loading the boat up at the end of the day I looked at the digital thermometer and it read 111^ in the cabin, I would have taken a picture but I was too busy sweating and trying not to pass out.
Here's a Google earth track of our weekend sail,
anniversery cruise
the kicker was that on Monday my friend bill went sailing with a couple of other guys and the temps were in the mid 80^ and winds over 30mph, wtf???? Oh well here's hoping for a better sail this weekend with memorial day and all.

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05/20/2009 | nathaniel frost
you may want to do what i did for the tiller "stay" i cant wait to try it.
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.


Kimberly at the tiller.


Kimberly and Vince at sunset.


Sunset at potato slough.

Mount Diablo in the distance.

Pegi and I in the Cabin.


Kimberly and Vince in the cabin.


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

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