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A DIY West Delta Doo Dah

Max Perez of the Pearson 303 Olive filed this report on his solo Delta Doo Dah cruise this summer:

I had far too brief a trip to the western part of the Delta this year in late June.

I made 48 miles under sail from Emeryville to Pittsburg Municipal Marina in nine hours, thanks to catching the flood tide at dawn and getting a favorable WSW wind. I had enough wind and current in my favor to take a slight detour in Suisun Bay to check out what little is left of the Ghost Fleet. Even keeping a 500-ft distance earned me a security escort, who tracked me on a parallel course as I passed. Good charts and a keen lookout will save a lot of trouble routing through Suisun Bay, over Ryer Island and under Honker Bay.

Ship Cape Fear
Cape Fear was among the remains of the mothball fleet in Suisun Bay this summer. Max used a telephoto lens. “I was more than 500 feet away. I like the rounded bridge a lot.”
© 2018 Max Perez

Pittsburg Marina was great, with clean and warm bathrooms, and within walking distance of a variety of nice restaurants and cafés in town. The prices for the slip and fuel were very reasonable.

The next morning I realized I would have to cut the trip short. While I had planned to head farther east, I would have to make new plans to head west toward home. The wind and current were against me at this point, and I was getting beaten up while making little headway. In an effort to just get out of the wind and think about the best course of action to take, I looped through Middle Slough, where the wind was howling, and then stumbled into Spoonbill Creek. This was not the weeklong frolic to Mandeville Point I had hoped for, but suddenly I looked around and was pretty happy. Spoonbill is not a destination, but it was quiet, and there was a lot of bird and fish activity. After a bit of kayaking around, I decided it would do for the night.

Max on a kayak
Kayaking in a slough.
© 2018 Max Perez

I initially tried to anchor to the bottom, but my anchor kept getting fouled in loose roots, making me worried about both drifting and getting my anchor snagged. Somewhere in the Delta Doo Dah website it mentioned that the locals just toss fore and aft anchors onto the tules, which worked well for me. I raised a little mainsail to keep from bumping into the reeds, and slept securely.

Anchor in the tules
A 25-lb Mantus anchor was probably overkill for this application, but it has near-infinite scope!
© 2018 Max Perez
Olive at anchor
Olive at anchor in Spoonbill Creek.
© 2018 Max Perez

On my return I stayed at Benicia Marina, where the Benicia Yacht Club welcomed me with hospitality and good food. Wandering the town was very entertaining. I caught the ebb through Carquinez Strait almost all the way to the Richmond Bridge, where I was able to sail to Angel Island for a dramatic orange-tinted sunset due to the fires up north.

It was not really much of a proper Delta cruise, but next year will definitely receive a longer schedule and a more thorough exploration — I hope.

Lessons learned include spending less time in marinas now that I know some more techniques to anchor in the cuts and sloughs, and a renewed respect for timing the winds and tides to one’s advantage.

Pass up-current of moorings; you never know what might be trailing off them.
© 2018 Max Perez

For more on the Delta Doo Dah, see, and the October issue of Latitude 38. We’ll have another Doo Dah story in the Sightings section of the November issue, out tomorrow.

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Master Mariners
  Cruising sailors know that if you stay close to the water, you’ll regularly cross tacks in harbors anywhere in the world.