West Coast PWC Club Ride Report – California Delta Adventure Day 1
Our West Coast PWC Club Delta River ride is now another one for the books. The eighteen riders that showed should all be safe and home by now. I for one feel totally spent and recharged at the same time – in a good sort of way. To say we partook in two days of pure unadulterated joy of world-class PWC riding adventure is possibly an understatement. Final tally for two days of river riding fun is well over 250 waterway miles; day one is 133 miles, followed by day two at just over 134 miles.
GROUP PHOTO HERE – Please forward to me!
So how does this ride compare to say any of my other PWC (personal watercraft adventures)? Let’s just say that riding the California delta for hundreds of miles on one day and riding San Francisco Bay on the same trip up to Northern California qualifies as possibly the greatest PWC riding adventure around. And not for bragging but, for comparison purposes let me add that I’ve jet skiied Alaska!
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Yes, since 2009 my personal watercraft adventures include riding down the Kenai peninsula from the port of Anchorage, Alaska to Homer, across to Kodiak Island (with friends John Lang, Petr, Ron and Gina). On the USA east coast I have also jet skiied my way from Key Biscayne, Florida down the Florida Keys to Key West (with thirteen friends who I never met till the start of the ride); and back to our west coast, from Los Angeles around Catalina Island and down the coast into San Diego bay (also with friends). There seems to be a common theme here!
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Group photo above – 2009 – Down the Kenai peninsula – Alaska
Once again YES, the best riding and racing waters hands down in my opinion is now the California delta! And if you feel like exploring a little further to confirm if I know what I’m talking about then just google PWC and trawlercat or Wet Dog race and trawlercat or Bahamas PWC ride and trawlercat. Those aforementioned rides were all thoroughly discussed before hand on PWC rider forums. Someone on the forum may start the conversation with possibly their vision of a future PWC adventure ride. Others contribute. Soon it takes a life of it’s own. People like John Lang conceived a 2,000 mile jet ski ride around Alaskan waters. Another friend Brad Rice asked the question, is it possible to jet ski from the US mainland to the Bahamas?
Add to the above West Coast Club President Lewis who with the last two California Delta rides just placed the California Delta and Golden Gate bridge ride on everyone’s PWC riding bucket list. If you have yet to ride Catalina island then stay local.
To do what we just did this past weekend you and your friends need to trailer your personal watercrafts about 400 miles north on the five freeway to a friendly and historic town called Brentwood, California. One of our members (West Coast PWC club) came from as far away as San Diego for this ride. Him and I both truck pooled our way up to our meet up location at Orwood Resort where some of the club members camped while the rest stayed at the Hampton Inn, Brentwood, California. This hotel is a perfect home base from which to start your California delta riding adventure and Orwood Resort is the perfect launch, dine and camp location. Their signature steak and lobster at $21.95 is their claim to fame. Now that we’re done exploring the delta waterways I just may return soon to do a motorcycle adventure by also exploring the beautiful area by road.
Eighteen riders showed up for this ride, most from Southern California. The best question posed to the club’s leadership?
We trailered our watercraft about 400 miles, is this ride really worth the drive?
West Coast Club President Lewis once again totally delivered. No, not by personally guiding any part of the ride but, by setting the stage for us adventure thrill seekers of the water world. The kind where half the fun, like in the mountain climbing world is summitting and in the snow skiing world is spotting that red diamond snow ski run and saying the hell with the risk of avalanches or moguls and going for it.
Most of what we got served up on this ride we honestly can’t find back home. Several of us in the group are current and former racers. We know and have possibly already ridden the best offshore and inshore waters around.
Hector, son and Jay
Lewis, Club President
Riding towards the Mothballed Fleet – former site of the USS Iowa.
Everyone in this group on this trip got to ride their own ride. No compromises were made based on the wide range of watercraft riding experiences and abilities.
Either by design or fault, Lewis seems to find a key person or persons in the area willing and able to provide the resident expert guiding service that our riders are looking for when traveling to a new area.
Our day one guide on this trip is Chris on a flawless and fast Honda Turbo. Chris starts his ride briefings the way any briefing should be started. First by orienting riders to the area by actually using a boating chart of the area we intend to ride. Chris then randomly shares local knowledge while underway to anyone willing to listen like for example, the town of Locke, California is just two blocks from where we are now enjoying our waffle cones. This town was built at a time when Chinese people were not allowed to own land in America.
This town is a perfect example of a historic Chinese American rural community. Only one person (Tony) chose to walk the two blocks to actually see the two block long town. The rest of us stayed in an air-conditioned ice cream parlor munching down home-made waffle cones loaded with locally grown fruits like bing cherry.
If you think that waters back home (SoCal and Catalina) are great then you should ride the California delta and Golden Gate bridge to see what real river and bay riding is all about. Possibly because of all the offshore riding some of us have done, we love the rough stuff. The nastier the better. We got that! Some in our group did not but, after this ride you could see it in their proud smiling faces. They came, they endured, they conquered. Most are now better riders for it.
Also in our group of eighteen today are personal watercraft riders with not even a dozen hours; a father and son; boyfriend/girlfriend; amateur riders. Our group can easily compare in range from a recreational runner to an Olympic marathoner. Once again, everyone in the group got to ride their own ride. No ones watercraft was sunk, blown up and no one was lost or hurt.
Well, let me quantify. One person that shall remain nameless did strike a bridge with the bridge not sustaining any permanent damage. No damage done to the bridge and yes, his brand new watercraft may now qualify for a salvage title. Another rider somehow managed to snag a fishing line at 60+ mph and lure that nearly ripped off his spandex top starting from his left bicep. And yet another was feeling so overcome with the adventure of riding the California delta that he simply rode out into the sunset almost never to return. Thanks to google maps and a smart phone he was able to return to civilization.
So, once again to recap: Why drive so far to ride those waters when we’ve got great water just down the street? 1) To join our like-minded friends. 2) Because NorCal does have possibly some of the best PWC riding waters in the world. 3) No other place in the world can possibly compare to the California Delta.
Also, the waters inside and outside the Golden Gate Bridge offer up the best possible chance of possibly getting killed in a good sort of way; similar to climbing Mt. Everest. Only more people have climbed Everest than done what we’ve just done in the past two days!!
You want to risk the chance of icy crevasses, or killer moguls, or risks of avalanches coming down on you, in a water world sort of way? For some of our riders, this is now half the fun. Sort of like riding off into the sunset and not knowing where the next fuel stop is. We really don’t get that feeling back home unless we’re on say, the 405 freeway during rush hour.
Yes, there really is something magical about riding out the Golden Gate bridge and coming back on ay an ebbing tide and running on fumes; and conquering the ride. Yeah, we done that. So, what is all the fuss about going out as a club?
To non personal watercraft owners or just plain boaters the idea of hauling butt across some wild and crazy windy wavy waters at warp speed may not be what some people have coursing through their veins. For some of us riding today, it’s sort of why we ride. If someone today placed a buoy out on the water with a black diamond gnarly looking sign on it, you can bet your television remote control that Tam, Tony, Darrell or Fadi will fight to be the first to round it. You want locally scary? How about the backside of Catalina on a not too pleasant of a day.
How about getting a late run back from San Diego bay to your launch ramp at either Los Angeles or Long Beach. Yes, all in one riding day, of course. More scary? How about waiting for your jet ski buddies just outside the Oceanside breakwater while they finish fueling up and having a big old whale come up and take a good hard look at you. Been there, done that! Or how about flying off your ski just past Dana Point, in the area known for it’s great white sharks. Wait! You haven’t yet experienced any of these PWC riding adventures? Then maybe you really are better suited to staying within eye sight of that television remote or tablet.
That personal watercraft of yours is more than capable of taking you places that you didn’t think possible? Once again, this is why we ride. These little boats can go the distance and now we’re also finding out that so can we.
No, we don’t have avalanches to worry about. And unlike other sports that take their crafts to other countries to race, we don’t really do that sort of thing. I’m now thinking more like the Iron Dog, Baja 1000 or Dakar Rally done on specialty machines like snowmobiles, trucks or motorcycles. Besides us getting lost or maybe running out of fuel before our next fuel stop it’s really not that bad for some of us weekend warriors. Also, no avalanche gear or any of the other required equipment needed. Just don’t forget to put a whistle on it.
Riding our personal watercraft also ranks up there with family time. Besides the cost of the fuel, lodging, food and other unforeseen events like say a blown engine; it’s actually cheaper than going to Disneyland or taking a cruise. And you also get way more exercise and lose weight at the same time. Just ask some of those on this ride. Your back may not enjoy it as much on the ocean as on the delta but, if that is what is being served up then, just take it and ride. Tomorrow is another PWC day and there are plenty of pain pills around the group to keep you going.
Delta PWC Adventure Day 2 – The sign said, “Eat at Joe’s” and so we did! But first we had to ride there. Hector on a 310 Kawasaki Ultra and his 11-year-old son became our Day 2 ride leaders. With local knowledge available and most of our group from SoCal; we had no clue as to what direction Sacramento lay but, like they say, it is always easier to follow than lead.
And so Hector takes off like a rocket. Pretty soon the group keeps spreading further and further out for miles and miles and miles. One, two, or three riders soon caught up to Hector and quickly told him to slow it down! I on the other hand witnessed the small admonishment; rode over to Hector and further informed him that we were behind schedule and to speed it up. We both laughed it up a bit and continued counting up the rest of the miles to downtown Sacramento. The rest of the miles were pleasant and enjoyable as we snaked our way up the California river delta for miles and miles; until finally reaching the rather large open part of the delta where the wind whips up the water consistently to a froth, developing four to five foot waves that totally drench everyone. Some of our watercraft now became near submersibles. Bet you didn’t know this hidden feature?
Our start point for day 2 was also the Orwood Resort. A mere 134 river miles down from downtown Sacramento, California. Along the way we experienced periods of calm flat water intermixed with grand canyon type rapids, tidal inflow, outflow, ocean type five footers, fast and slow flowing river water and some amazing scenery. Off in the distance we could see beautiful golden brown wheat fields, groups of happy cows and white picket fenced windmills atop hilltops.
If you are reading this story and do not yet fully comprehend what riding 100 miles on a watercraft is then I can’t help you. For the rest of us our arms probably still ache. The good, the bad and the ugly of the group are all better riders for the experience. No whiners! Not much in the way of time separated the racers in the group to the recreational newbie riders. I would say about the time it takes to eat an ice cream scoop or possibly two.
Once fueled up after eating at Joe’s Crab Shack the faster of the two riding groups parted ways. We headed downstream for about 25 miles for dessert. Of course it was for some home-made ice cream. The way it’s done on the river is you tie up to the floating dock, walk up several floors of steps, cross the country road just up from Locke, California and enter historic Mel’s Ice Cream parlor. Original and old-fashioned. Hurry before it all changes.
“I’m into the law of attraction and quantum physics. Like cosmic ordering. It’s all about thinking lovely things that you would like in life, and feeling good about them before they manifest, so that by the time they do, you don’t want them because by then, you’re onto your next desire.”
– Julia Sawalha