13 miles up the Sacramento from
Rio Vista. The good municipal
dock in town provides access to
the Chinese town of Locke and
Walnut Grove. Do take the time
to visit Locke, which is a short
walk upriver. Locke was home
to the Chinese immigrants who
contributed so much to building
California’s early infrastructure.
While visiting Locke, quench your
thirst at Al the Wop’s, which is
housed in a building dating back
to 1915. Al opened his joint in
1934, becoming the first non-Chinese business owner in town.
He was an eccentric character and
started a continuing tradition of
pinning money to the ceiling. So
look upward, check it out, then order the grilled burger on
buttered Texas toast with your favorite brew.
Following lunch, we began a meandering traverse to
the San Joaquin River by requesting a bridge opening at the
northern end of Georgiana Slough and heading south. This
part of the trip has a bit of the feel of the Jungle Cruise at
Disneyland. In place of rhinoceroses, you will see turtles along
the shore, river otters, blue herons, green herons and egrets.
Just past the Tyler Island Swing Bridge and 8 miles from
Walnut Grove, we stopped at Oxbow Marina, our base of
operations for the next couple of days. In particular, we like
the various bike-ride loops that originate there. The Delta
Loop takes you past many of the local marinas, for instance,
each one providing shaded grassy areas to picnic or lounge.
Upon returning, we always cooled off in Oxbow’s swimming
pool prior to barbequing dinner.
This center part of the Delta is fun to explore by dinghy.
We tow a 13-foot Boston Whaler and use it to make day
excursions to wherever the spirit moves us. It also provides
access to those areas we don’t feel comfortable taking the
trawler. We often use it to scout new routes or anchorages
prior to taking the big boat there.
The next several nights we anchored out at various spots
off the San Joaquin, first just 7 miles away in Little Potato
Slough, accessed in the vicinity of green channel marker 51,
and finally at Mildred Island, just 10 miles away, south of
the San Joaquin River on Middle River. Both anchorages
offer good swimming and a starting point for epic dinghy
explorations of surrounding areas. Midweek, you are likely to
have these anchorages all to yourself. On weekends, they fill
up. Depending on conditions, we sometimes used bow and
stern anchors to control our swing.
Too soon, the day came to head home. Benicia, 40 miles
west, was our one overnight stop on the return journey.
Leaving Mildred Island, we rejoined the San Joaquin River
just after a large freighter passed. We followed the freighter
all the way to Benicia. The freighter continued out the
Gate, while we stopped at Benicia Marina. We arrived early
enough to bike and enjoy the vistas from the Rim of the Bay
trail to Glen Cove Marina and back. Upon returning, we
showered, ate dinner and headed to the park for the Friday
“Movie Night under the Stars.” This is a great local tradition,
and the park fills with families who come to enjoy a picnic,
popcorn and a movie on a warm California evening.
Stopping in Benicia also set us up for a smoother crossing
of San Pablo Bay, as the winds are lightest in the morning.
They typically build to about 25 knots in the afternoon, so we
were up at sunrise to cover the final 21 miles back to San
Rafael. We experienced moderate wind chop on the return
voyage as we chased the fog back toward the coast. East
Brother’s Lighthouse came into view, indicating we were
almost home. Safely back in our slip before noon, we began
the process of cleaning up but also updating our wish list of
where to cruise next.
Trawler: 140 miles
Dinghy: 80 miles
Diesel Used: 70 gallons at
$4.04/gal = $282.80
Rio Vista, Delta Marina
Little Potato Slough
The author lives up to the spirit of Hal Schell’s old cruising guide
to the region Delta Dawdlin’. Below cruisers buddy-boat on the
Sacramento River between the city and Isleton. That picture was
taken by Bill Wells of the Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau.
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