Tuesday (August 12th) we spent at Decker Island mostly just relaxing and enjoying the sunshine, it was a nice uneventful day. There were only a few other boats in the anchorage, one was a pretty large sailboat, a CT 50-something I believe, so we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We just enjoyed not doing much of anything as the boat swung at anchor. The most excitement we had was when the owner of the CT and his daughter stopped by on their dinghy to chat. Wednesday morning we relaxed and enjoyed the sunshine. In the afternoon we decided to launch the dinghy so we inflated it on the foredeck and use the spinnaker halyard to hoist her over the side and used our Garhauer crane to deploy the outboard. When we tried to fire up the engine it didn’t run very well. We had made the mistake of storing it with gas in the tank and carburetor so Devon removed the carburetor and gave it a good cleaning. It wasn’t a complicated task but a little nerve wracking knowing that a small slip could result in a critical piece ending up at the bottom of the river (which is what happened the first time we cleaned the carburetor in our slip). Once that was done we had some fun exploring the anchorage and stopped by the CT for a quick visit. At about 4pm we raised the anchor and headed to Rio Vista, we wanted to top off the diesel tank and get a few supplies before proceeding to Franks Tract.
The trip to Rio Vista was uneventful except for a little stress when we had some trouble finding the deep water on the way back to the main river, a little frustrating considering we had no trouble on the way in. We got to the marina at about 5:15, after the office was closed. We had called ahead so we knew there was room at the guest dock and had the codes to the restrooms and showers. As we were preparing to take on fuel a woman came down from the office saying she had forgotten to give us the codes for the wifi, I felt it was very nice of her to go out of her way. Every time we have been at that marina we have been impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff. When we topped off the tanks we had a nice surprise, we had only used 5.6 gallons since leaving Alameda! We have a Hart Tank Tender to monitor the fuel level but we haven’t calibrated it yet so it doesn’t provide any quantifiable data. This was our first longish trip motoring in this boat and we had no idea how much fuel we would burn, but considering the engine is a 66hp turbo we were afraid it would be a lot! We had motored 10.3 hours so that averages out to 0.54 gal/hour. That is similar to the 3ym30 we put in ‘Imi Loa. At first we thought the fuel vent was clogged but we verified it wasn’t. We were able to see the fuel level in the fill hose because the hose is (non ABYC approved) vinyl so we knew the tank was really full.
Wednesday evening we walked across town to Lira’s market to get some more salt (for the electro-scan, we were going through it faster than we expected) and a few other items, including better marine TP – the stuff we got at West Marine was really lousy. Thursday we left Rio Vista at approximately 8:30am. The route to Franks Tract took us through 3 Mile Slough which has a lift bridge at the entrance. We were impressed with how quickly the bridge tender got the bridge up for us, and that we could actually understand him on the radio. When we got to Franks Tract we were surprised to see it emptly and were happy to anchor in the same spot as last year. The only trouble we had was getting our (new) Fortress anchor to set in the weedy bottom. It took three tries (using the dinghy) but eventually it was well set and we relaxed into a beautiful evening. We inflated the pool toy from last year and had a nice time just lounging and drifting around in such a beautiful setting.
Friday we tidied up the cabin and prepared for guests, my sister Priscilla and her husband Reza were going to come stay a night with us. We took the dinghy to meet them that evening at Sugar Barge, a restaurant / marina / RV park on Bethel Island across Franks Tract from where we were anchored.
The trip back to Casita was slow due to a bit of chop and the extra weight of 4 people vs 2, plus the water was pretty choked with weeds that would catch on the outboard’s skeg and cause it to cavitate. The weeds were a problem with just the two of us in the dinghy too, but at least with only us on board we could plane and for the most part avoid catching the weeds. We have a tiny little 6 horse outboard so no chance of planing with 4 of us onboard. We would catch weeds every few minutes requiring us to reverse to get them off the skeg. Unfortunately my favorite sun hat blew overboard on the way back and sank before we could retrieve it. Eventually we got back to Casita and had a really nice dinner and a very relaxing evening hanging out on the lounge.
Saturday was fun and the weather was perfect, mid to upper 80s and a little bit of a breeze. We all spent some time playing in the water and on the pool toy we brought. After lunch Priscilla and Reza relaxed and napped on the lounge while Devon and I did some unsuccessful fishing from the dinghy. We had neglected to bring our dinghy anchor so with any wind or current it was almost impossible to stay in one place long enough to catch a fish, we will definitely be bringing that anchor next time. That evening we made the trek back across the water to Sugar Barge. The only excitement was Priscilla’s hat blowing off just as I snapped a photo, fortunately we were able to retrieve her hat before it sank.
Sunday was spent mostly fishing. We got a rock from the levee for an anchor, it didn’t really improve our success but we had fun even though we didn’t catch anything. Monday we took the dinghy over to Potato Slough and explored it. We were considering moving the boat there but decided against it. We did see a couple of good spots further in than we had gone last year but nothing better than where we already were. We made plans to take the dinghy over to a restaurant near Korth’s Pirates Lair for dinner Tuesday night, so Monday afternoon we took the dinghy over to Sugar Barge to top off our gas cans. Monday was windier than previous days and parts of the ride were pretty choppy and bumpy, Devon was at the helm and I was in the bow bouncing around with our rock/anchor trying not to get beat up!
Monday night the wind continued to be 15 to 20 kt and it did not die off overnight like the pattern we had been seeing. Tuesday was also pretty windy so we decided to skip our planned dinner and to raise the anchor and go to Rio Vista. We had some troubles getting our stern anchor up. We ended up tying the rode to a buoy and casting at off, then after we got the primary anchor up I stayed at the helm keeping us in one spot while Devon retrieved the stern anchor. It was dug in very well and it took quite some effort, but eventually he broke it free. Then we hoisted the outboard motor onto the rail while motoring slowly out to the main channel and towed the dinghy to Rio Vista. Next time we will do it differently! The trip to Rio Vista was uneventful except it was very windy and pretty choppy once out on the San Joaquin River. Three mile slough was calm and the bridge tender was once more very quick to get the bridge up for us. As we made our way across the Sacramento River there was quite a bit of chop and we rolled a fair amount. It must’ve looked pretty dramatic because the bridge tender hailed us on the radio to make sure we were okay. Devon did his usual spectacular docking job and we got tied up at Delta Marina/Rio Vista, then we walked into town for dinner at Lucy’s (really not very good). Wednesday was spent doing laundry, walking to Lira’s for more salt, stowing the dinghy, etc. in preparation for the trip home. Devon also got the radar wired (something that had been on the list since we put the mast back up). It continued to be very windy and we were happy with our decision to leave Franks Tract a little earlier than planned.