Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Up the Napa River...

This past week the club had a cruise scheduled to go to Drake's Bay and then on to Bodega Bay, Friday through Tuesday. Getting offshore in June is problematic because of the thick coastal fog and sea conditions. On Thursday it looked like it was a go for the four boats involved.

By Thursday night Mike, the skipper of Nova, the boat I was catching a ride on, decided to abandon offshore and go up to Vallejo and the Napa River. The others - Mitch and Kim in Circe, Randy and Ken in Time Out, and Jim in Any Day Now followed along. We decided to call it the Mystery Cruise, since we didn't know where we were going really, how long we'd stay, or what would happen next.

We had a nice sail up to Vallejo in glorious weather, where my friend Bruce at the Vallejo Yacht Club had reserved us space on the guest dock. I joined Bruce and his wife Gail for dinner at their condo nearby, and everyone else had dinner on the boats. The next day we dallied about the docks until the tide made it too late to go up river.

Randy slipped out on Time Out and then came all the way back down the river just before the bridge closed at 19:00. He should have told us he was going, but he just disappeared while some of us were at the grocery getting last minute stuff.

We had brought potluck to join the club in their "Hootenanny" - some great old timers doing blue grass and folk music. A great time by all!

Sunday morning, Randy and Ken left for home (they couldn't do the whole time), and the rest of us headed up river about 10:00, getting the Mare Island Causeway Bridge to open for us. The Napa River has nine feet or better in the channel all the way up to Napa, but it's notorious for shoals on some of the bends. We kept a good eye on the chart and the depth meter all the way.

Small houses with docks appear in places along the river. Vineyards, grazing land, and occasional industry dot the landscape. We found an anchorage above the Napa River Marina along the west side of the river in an area with eucalyptus trees blocking the wind. And we settled in for a two night stay.

We ate on Nova one night, on Circe another, and on Monday Jim taught us novices how to use his ATN Topclimber. Mitch and I made it to the top of Any Day Now's mast. It takes someone in pretty good shape to do it easily, and I'm still sore two days later. But what a fine experience to climb a sailboat's mast.

That afternoon we dinghied up the river the rest of the way to Napa, about a 40 minute ride. The city is redoing its riverfront, putting in a new dock and a quay, but there was nowhere to safely leave our dinghies and go into town, so we motored a bit further up the river and then floated on the city front drinking a beer before returning.

On the way back we noticed the Napa Valley Yacht Club (closed on Monday), and thought it would be a good place to come for a couple of days and tie up. We'll have to check with them on depth and such. Then we motored through a waterfront development called the Napa Yacht Club (not a club at all), and on back to our boats.

This was a decadent weekend - lots of over-beveraging, food, sun, lovely scenery, and good fellowship.

Photo Album


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an absolutely wonderful extended weekend the "Mystery Cruise" turned out to be. Kim and I, aboard "Circe", had waay too much fun, especially Kim as the only gal on the cruise. Good sailing! Good food! Good friends! The only downer was the inclination to make reservations at the Betty Ford Clinic on the way home. This memory will be a keeper.

7:05 AM  

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