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Thread: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

  1. #1
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    Default Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    The TSCA gunkhole cruise of the Sacramento Delta was on again this year. After last year's shut down of almost all the outings people were itching to get out on the water. A dozen sailors rolled into Korth's "Pirate's Lair" marina on Sunday to launch 8 boats and celebrate with a cookout on the lawn. The group was planning almost a week afloat, but I had to be back in the office Wednesday so decided to go with them the first day and return alone Tuesday. I hate being the only one not retired yet....

    The Delta is a maze of connected waterways where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet in the middle of the central valley of California. This forms an unusual inverted delta, as the rivers drop their silt inland before flowing out through a slot in the Coast Range at the Carquinez Strait. This chart shows the area near Frank's Tract where I spent my 2 days:


  2. #2
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    7 of the craft were sailboats, but I had spent the shut down adding solar electric drive to my row cruising Welsford Walkabout and wanted to see how it would handle a long trip and rougher conditions. There's a building thread on this thing here, http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthre...amping-rowboat, but the main components are:
    - EP Carry electric outboard, modified by removing tiller arm, cockpit mounted motor controls, rod tilt control, and software power boost to 250 W.
    - Pintle mounting bracket connected to rope steering and forward wheel.
    - 26 V, 22 Ah LiFePO4 battery.
    - Sunpower 170 W solar panel on folding mount.
    - Genasun boost MPPT charge controller.
    - All electronics in a sealed plastic case, including current meters, VHF charge cradle, 12 V and USB charging ports.

    Picture of the setup. The added parts do not interfere with the original slide seat rowing.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Not the only one...

    I canít say I really missed out, though, as my prior commitment was doing stuff with Daughter, but still.

    Well, maybe by the time I can make one, Iíll actually have Orange boat done. Ha.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    One of these days we will get on the water together Rob

    I am still using an old Garmin handheld GPS 76csx as my "chartplotter". I have paper charts and Navionics on the phone, so the Garmin is mainly to show speed over ground which is very useful for finding favorable shore currents and letting me know when the prop is clogged. It also saves the trip track. In the past I used Garmin's software to download the track and plot it, but now I could not get any Garmin support for the old unit. Finally got a track plotted by doing this: downloaded the free version of EasyGPS - selected the device from a drop down menu (still supports the 76csx) - connected the Garmin by USB and downloaded the track .gpx file (free version shows the track but no map) - saved the .gpx locally - opened Google Earth Pro and imported the .gpx, selecting convert to .kml - saved a view of the track. So, this was my path, in blue:



    This is looking southwest toward Mt Diablo, which is the main landmark on the Delta and can be seen from almost anywhere.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    We slept aboard at Korth's Sunday night. I was last to arrive so my boat was at the far end of the dock, and I put up the tent mostly to keep off the expected morning dew. Apparently, late in the evening, a swarm of small black bugs hatched in the water next to my boat and dropped dead before morning. My entire boat was covered with the corpses, no one else had any bugs on their boats. I was glad the tent was up...



    The black spots are the bugs. My cook table with holder for a Jetboil stove is visible inside.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    The fleet departed Korth's around 9 am Monday. I started out rowing (needed the exercise). My usual tactic in the summer winds on the Delta is to row straight to windward until I hit the windward shore, then stay close to the levee in the wind shadow to move along whatever channel I'm in. This was on the San Joaquin River, so I crossed the river and went into a side channel behind the tules lining the main channel. After about an hour and 3 miles covered, I changed over to the electric motor to see what it could do. The battery had been full charged since sitting in the sun Sunday afternoon, so I set the motor to run at 6 A (out of max 9.5 A) and was making over 4 kts with a slight current assist.

    By motoring instead of rowing, I was suddenly free to do other tasks while underway. One thing which was much easier was taking photos and video, so I decided to copy Tom Pamperin and document the trip by means of short video clips. Following will be a series of videos, trying to capture some of the sense of Delta cruising. I have not added any extra audio or special effects, just trimmed and spliced and added titles. I tried to keep around a minute each, I know that is about my own attention span for this kind of thing. They should play in the forum, or click to YouTube for a bigger screen. Let me know what to do to improve any future trip videos.

    First up is motoring along the San Joaquin side channel behind the tules. This is much calmer and greener than the main channel, with lots of birds and a few odd boats moored along the side.

    Last edited by rgthom; 06-18-2021 at 06:05 PM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post
    I decided to copy Tom Pamperin
    Almost always a bad idea...

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Indeed Tom!

    After a few more miles the side channel ran out. I had to cross over the main channel again in any case, so this is motoring into the W wind with some chop from current flowing W.


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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    By the time I turned into Three Mile Slough I was well ahead of the sailboats which were still beating into the wind on the main channel. I decided to stop at the public docks at Brannan Island state park, which was eerily empty and may in fact have been closed. I tried to wash the bugs off the boat, but by now most were well glued in place (should have done this right away at Korth's). After about 45 minutes the 2 lead sailboats made the turn at the top of the slough.

    Bob Hall was sailing his newly acquired Menger catboat. He had been looking for such a boat for a while, and finally found one with a nice reliable diesel engine for sale in New Jersey. Transport to the west coast was arranged between two rail cars, so Bob was pleased to be sailing it today. Some earlier radio traffic between Bob and Jake led me to understand that the diesel was not running well, and it seems it was shutting off after only a short run. The plan had been for all the sailboats to gather on this side of Three Mile Slough bridge, but when Bob notified the bridge controller that an engineless sailboat was approaching they started a lift right away. So, it was go time for the two sailboats beating up the slough. I thought they had 3 or 4 tacks to go before the bridge, but with a favorable current they made it in 2. Here's my video of their approach up the slough, and passing the bridge out into the Sacramento River:


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Very nice! We have some sloughs up here similar to that area but nothing as extensive.
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Yes Chris. There are some nice sloughs on the Snohomish near Everett, very strong tidal currents as I recall so fast rowing if you time it right. This was with my brother, on a Whitehall.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Heading up the Sacramento River toward Rio Vista was with the wind, so the sailboats started passing me. Here is a reefed Core Sound 17 catching a gust and zooming past:


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Yes - exactly. I’ve sculled there in a quad with cox. That was a lot of fun.
    - Chris

    Any single boat project will always expand to encompass the set of all possible boat projects.

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Monday night's stop (my last) was at the Delta Marina south of Rio Vista. The catboat's motor was still kaputt, so Bob engaged the parking brake at the entrance by sticking the board down in a weed patch, and hailed a tow.



    Later that afternoon the motor was fixed by Jake (of course), apparently a fuel filter was leaking air into the line.

    Fleet docked at Delta Marina:

    Last edited by rgthom; 06-18-2021 at 08:05 PM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Looks like a lot of fun! Thanks.

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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Here are two photos of Rgthom’s clever boat. The first shows him leaving Korth’s on the first day.

    48E3A019-0C70-4C86-B5B6-FA429F4D901E.jpg

    The second was taken during his departure from Rio Vista before the rest of us headed up the river.

    1FE39857-4CEF-4904-8B43-663DFCB7C7A3.jpg

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Looks like that electric motor works a treat! Good job.

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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Thanks Mike and Alan!

    Tuesday I was on my own to get back to Korth's. Heading back down the Sacramento River with wind on current was the roughest bit of the trip. After this video I was getting close to the lee shore while approaching the bridge. The wind picked up some more, and I found the motor was not able to turn the boat due to cavitating when the stern rose. Had to quick grab the oars and spin the boat before hitting.



    BTW I posted a link to this video on the Welsford Facebook group. Immediately got a notice that it violated community standards and I was banned from posting for longer than my expected lifetime. So there's that...

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Quote Originally Posted by rgthom View Post


    BTW I posted a link to this video on the Welsford Facebook group. Immediately got a notice that it violated community standards and I was banned from posting for longer than my expected lifetime. So there's that...
    What's that all about? Must be some kind of glitch, I'd assume.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    www.tompamperin.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    I don't know Tom, the algorithm did not like something. If I cared what FB thought of me this would be pretty annoying.

    The "islands" in the Delta are tracts of land where levees were built around them and the water pumped out to create farmland. Most are below sea level, especially after over a century of settling and wind erosion. If an island levee gets breached, purposely or not, the tract floods and becomes a lake. Frank's Tract is one such lake, 3500 acres flooded by accident then turned into a state park. It is fresh water, but also tidal due to the connection through the strait. The south shore has marinas, restaurants and is lined with boat docks, but the north shore is more natural. I decided to go back by way of this north shore, only a bit farther than the route out.

    To get there I needed to pass through a channel called False River. This channel was dammed a few years ago by a rip rap levee to prevent saltwater intrusion into the lake, but it is partially opened now. I arrived at ebb tide, finding that the usual 1 - 2 kt current was accelerated through the gap in the levee. This video is of me motoring through at full electric power, this would have been tough to pass by oar:


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Georgiana Slough - 106į

    15AA7613-0777-4E6F-A766-DB0C966B2CF5.jpg

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    That looks great Jake, nice to cool off. Weather was OK for the two days of my trip, but went to well over 100 the next few days. I think the group cut the trip short a day.

    Next video is motoring through a levee gap into Little Frank's Tract, a small lake adjacent to the bigger one. There's a raft up of white pelicans on the far side, but hard to see in my phone video. Right after this the prop clogged up because the lake is full of weeds, so I rowed the rest of the way through both lakes.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Last video. I found a way to wedge the phone in the dodger, so this is rowing the last bit into Korth's. Out of the wind this is typical Delta, nothing but the sound of the egrets nesting in the trees and other birds flitting by.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Outdoor dining on the boardwalk in Locke, a Chinese village listed on the historic register. Composed largely of small shops supported by tourist traffic and two restaurants, it is a marginal existence at best along the old Sacramento river. Locke appears to have suffered greatly from the Covid lock down. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locke%2C_California

    CB0B8DEF-8489-460B-9314-075F8612AEA2.jpg

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Thanks for sharing, it's always fun to see what other people are doing in small boats.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Cool stuff, just drove through the Delta yesterday with my son on the way back from camping in the mountains. It sure beat the traffic and tailgating on 80, but being on a small boat up there looks even better!

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    What with this being such a dry year, I wonder if the False River levee will get rebuilt.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan H View Post
    What with this being such a dry year, I wonder if the False River levee will get rebuilt.
    Looks like the answer is yes, Alan: https://water.ca.gov/News/News-Relea...truction-Delta

    That crane barge was busy as I passed by.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    Snug Harbor at dusk after a very hot day and everyone jumped ship heading for a shade tree on the levee. Hot dogs for all on the grill at 5:30 with snacks and lies spread liberally around the community table. About 48 hours ahead of the summer solstice this day ended with a refreshing shower after the sun eased behind the levee.

    F261B2D4-C6E1-4ED6-9228-5D32AFB99CB5.jpg

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    An unauthorized modification, a slightly stretched and beautifully built Bolger Catboat, we have seen this boat before...

    FA27E84E-410E-40E6-BFD3-F554402312E0.jpg

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    A fellow traveller taking a friendly tow into port as the wind died near the end of a long day.

    9B00F44C-FB9C-4BC3-89D8-1FDD3E22632D.jpg

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Sacramento Delta cruise, on a solar powered Walkabout

    We should not forget to mention the ultimate trailer sailor that was on last week's adventure on the Delta.

    Reduced sail.jpg

    This beautiful yawl is ramp-launched like it was a 12-foot skiff.

    IMG_E3105.jpg

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