Delta Cruise 2014: home again

We departed Rio Vista on Thursday, August 21 (my birthday). To ensure enough depth at the entry to the marina we left at 5am, which felt really really early (wasn’t this supposed to be a vacation?). It was a very smooth departure and thankfully the winds had drop down 10kt so we had a very smooth trip down the river, as opposed to last year when we had nasty chop with the wind against the current. We had contingency plans to stop at Glen Cove Marina or Benicia Marina if the going was slow or uncomfortable, but we made good time all morning and decided to push on to Alameda. Devon had wired up our ancient (circa 1984 or so) radar while at Rio Vista so we had some fun trying to identify targets. As a sailboat you never know what kind of return you have on radar so it was interesting observing a sailboat exiting the Napa River and tracking him on the screen. It is amazing how the physical size of a object can have very little relationship with it’s radar signal. The navigational buoys look huge (by design) compared with a lot of boats much bigger in size.

Our dinosaur radar display.

With light winds on the nose we motored all the way past point San Pedro, at which time we had 10 to 15 kn from the southwest so we raise the sails. We really need to work on the mainsail system, too much friction and to many lines getting snagged. It was way too hard to raise the main. We had run into the flood around Carquinez Strait area so it was pretty slow going, but we had a nice sail across the bay. We ended up putting a few turns in the jib and the first reef in the main in anticipation of crossing the slot, but the winds were mostly 20 to 25 kn so it was pretty comfortable except for the swell, once it gets aft of the beam it really pushes the stern around and it takes some effort to steer.

Making a nice 6 knots as we leave the lee of Angel Island.

Just after crossing the bay under the bay bridge Devon spotted dolphins. What a nice birthday treat!! As we entered the estuary the wind was dying and becoming flukey so we decided to drop the sails and motor. Normally we enjoy the slow downwind trip back up estuary but it was around 4pm, we had been underway since 5am, and we wanted to get home in time to go out for dinner for my birthday. For the first time ever we took showers underway, not at the same time of course, somebody needed to be at the helm. All freshly showered, we were tied up at our slip by 5pm and went to the Rusty Pelican for dinner (not a great place but very close and we were tired).

So that was our second Delta Cruise, much more enjoyable than the first. The following are some items that may not have been mentioned earlier.

Power: Unfortunately we had no solar panels or wind generator so our only options to keep the batteries charged were running the engine or running the Honda 2000 generator that we had recently purchased. We have not yet converted our lights to LED so our DC usage is higher than it should be, but we can be pretty frugal with our light usage. The bigger problem was our refrigerator, it is an AC cold plate system which requires an inverter and lots of battery power, or an AC power source. We had to run the generator 2 to 3 hours each day to refreeze the cold plates and top the batteries off. Despite what they say about the Honda 2k being a quiet generator we both found it to be very loud, at least at the high rpm required to run the fridge. This was a major PITA, we only endured it by watching movies while it was running. Of course we will be installing solar panels and maybe a wind generator but double-ender boats make both challenging so we haven’t rushed into it.

Showers: It is awesome having a shower on board, we used the shower daily at anchor and we also used it while at the marina in Rio Vista. They have pretty nice showers for a marina, but it was still much nicer showering onboard. If we had AC power or if we had been motoring (which provided hot water), then we used the onboard pressure water system. If we were at anchor, we warmed a kettle of water on the stove and used the bug spray shower. Either way it was great to have a dedicated shower onboard, instead of showering in the cockpit or improvising an enclosure in the cabin like we used to do on ‘Imi Loa.

Electroscan: In freshwater the electroscan needs a lot of salt, ~1/2 cup per flush!! We really need to stock up better before any future freshwater trips. Here in the estuary it only needs a tablespoon or so per flush. We went through about 25 pounds of salt on this trip. We started out with 10 pounds, next time we’ll buy at least three times that much. Last year when we went to the Delta we made all sorts of calculations about how much salt was needed per flush to simulate ocean seawater salinity and how many times per day we would flush, but it seems like we hardly went through any of our stock so this year we didn’t really worry about and ended up needing much more salt. According to Peggy Hall, the “head mistress”, the best kind of salt is solar salt because it dissolves easily. Last year we bought our salt at Home Depot and it was solar salt too very coarse (for pools and spas, I think), and did not dissolve fast. This year we bought our salt on Amazon (at least our initial supply), and it was much better because it was a much finer grain and dissolved better.

Meals: We froze meat with dry ice before the trip and that work quite well. We vacuum sealed individual portions with our foodsaver vacuum sealer. The meat was much more deeply frozen than food from the frozen isle in the grocery store (or from a home freezer) and it kept really well even though we don’t have a freezer. We brought steaks, hamburger, chicken thighs, and chicken breasts. We kept the meat in the coldest part of the fridge and used it as it thawed.

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