Always do what you fear most! Emerson
PART 1 OF 3 – West Coast Watercraft Club, Golden Gate, California Delta
I can’t begin to explain it here now but, some people are just born for adventure. Some hear the calling, and are immediately compelled to get off the home couch and onto the watercraft couch; to see what’s around the corner, or the island or inland waterway. This week, Lewis, founder and President of the West Coast PWC Club called, and a select few members responded to ride the waterways of Northern California.
Talk of riding to Sacramento, Napa, the Delta and Golden Gate bridge quickly fires up the imagination. The California Delta is an inland waterway in Northern California that stretches for something like 1,000 miles. The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers feed it, as does the Pacific ocean. This delta region sits just below sea level, behind levees that somewhat resembles Holland, minus the windmills. In the olden days a dike system was in place, today a safer option is planned levee construction. And like most anything else in California, once started, it never stops. I ask Carlos, our delta guide, how long it took him to become comfortable with delta riding and not getting lost? He says roughly seven years!
A twenty year stretch between the youngest and our oldest rider; with yours truly representing the aged ones. Before both these rides I really did sport more grey hair! Join me now, as I share with you, only a small part of our story. First, some of the rules, or guidelines if you will, if you ever plan on any future riding with this group: Expect the unexpected. Start time for the rides are just a number. If you think you might not be able to keep up, you probably can’t. Best to stay home or go out and train so you can.
On any ride, someone always has to pay the piper! Just don’t always let it be you. Fuel and Eco mode are your friend. Two of the most important things you need to ride with this group; plenty of cash or credit card(s) and a smart phone. With an emphasis on cash or credit cards.
Error on the side of caution, but, only after the ride. Before the ride, you might easily hear yourself mumbling; what the hell am I doing here? During or after the ride; you might easily find yourself saying, it just doesn’t get any better than this or I don’t see how a ride could get any better. (Written the day before day two’s ride on the Delta)
Honest, I’ve never entered these waters before. Sure, I brought my boat, a 41′ Trawler down from Portland, Oregon to Los Angeles, California, but, pulling into San Francisco bay, frightened the hell out of my crew. And now here I am riding out past the golden gate bridge; on a seven-year old Seadoo GTX, LTD with 269 hours on the hull!
Who knew! The following day, on Friday the 13th, one hour into our delta ride, the engine would finally give out. What luck, says the guy who always views the glass as half full. Think about it. Were I dead in the water anywhere near returning back under the golden gate, in those ebbing waters, while running on fumes, this story would’ve turned out quite differently.
Arguably, one of the most dangerous locations that a small boat, like a watercraft without power, can be located is in, is the jaws of an ocean inlet with a strong onshore wind and an ebbing tidal current. Ever hear of rip currents, undertows and rip tides? Add to the thrill 54 degree water, a little more wind, and allot of high testosterone PWC riding confidence. A full tank of fuel and no flat tires to worry about. Who could ask for anything more.
What happened! First casualty. My Seadoo’s front hood explodes on contact with a large wave. Flew right off and into the wind and surf. Second casualty. Lewis’ spare gas can unhooks itself and all those loose lines suddenly look like an accident waiting to happen.
The third, fourth and fifth spare fuel tanks on other ski’s did the same. A little rough you might ask? You bet. Now if we could only freeze frame everything, stop for some margaritas or chips and dip. No way. These guys were on a mission. Out the golden gate come ebb, floor or high water.
Somewhere at the end of the day and today’s ride there will be drinks with our names on them. Probably more food than we need to consume but, hey we need the calories for tomorrows delta ride. Unbelievable! The amount of water energy that we found ourselves bashing through. Just look at my duct taped hood that exploded. Inside our hoods used to be a well packed sandwich and chips, plus our favorite drink. This mornings goal: Just get past the golden gate bride, shut her down, sit back on those comfortable couches, in somewhat calmer waters and enjoy our lunch.
Doesn’t get any easier or better than that. Take a few pictures and then ride back in. Another item to check off our bucket list! We watch those cruise ship balloons float right by. A ways out we see a whale spout blow. It really doesn’t get any better than riding with friends. This is a special place to come and see, and ride. Yes, maybe once is enough. But then again, there is a whole lot of riding to be had in Northern California.
A special thanks to Lewis, West Coast Watercraft club and Jason who enlisted our local expert Chris as our guide. This is as good as it gets when it comes to extreme pwc riding. Certainly not Catalina island type of riding but, a whole lot more going on where it counts – the water!
HOW TO PACK – Like I said earlier, a credit card and cash goes a long way plus a smart phone. Ocean riding gear and a dependable watercraft. Our guide Chris walked us around and away from Alcatraz, to the fuel dock, out golden gate bridge and out. Almost no need for gps when you know the area.