Friday, August 22, 2014

Hog Slough Anchor Out


Ten Caliente Cruisers made it out to Hog Slough for a three-day anchor out August 15-17. We were joined by other CIYCers (Steve Flowers, Bonnie Galanet and Terry Leavitt) for short visits and a few non-members some of us have known from our days on the Delta.  Take a look on's Photo Album tab to get a sense of all the action.

Our scenic anchorage for this event was directly across the San Joaquin River from the still- closed Lost Isle.  We got word a few days earlier that another club was planning on anchoring in the same slough so Happy Clown and Stevara went out a day early to make sure we got the best location (more on that below.)  Thanks, Steve Kling for helping us save this space.  The thing is that the other club (Delta Bayliners) had about 5 boats and that slough could easily take a hundred boats.  But we had saved the best spot and all got anchored by Friday AM (more on that spot below as well).

The weekend was full of swimming and floating, hors d'oeuvres, sunset dinghy rides, fizzes and special martinis.  These gatherings were on the top deck of Rally Time, a really big houseboat, as well as on Jack and Rosalie DiBartolo's Equal Justice.  A scavenger hunt commenced, with multiple winners:  Gary and Janice Page on Delta Moon, 1st place; Joel and Colette Curtis-Brown on Dream Catcher 2nd place; Dane and Honorfel Holweger on Delta Pearl 3rd place; and new members Eric and Tammy Slabaugh on What A Ride, 4th.  All received such coveted CIYC items as tee shirts and coffee cups, offered up to draw down inventory from CIYC Ship's Store warehouse.  The Holwegers received bonus points on this hunt for coming up with a statue of a monkey for the "monkey's fist" item on the list and a June, 2004 issue of Bay and Delta Yachtsman for the "June B & D Yachtsman" item -- yes, you read that correctly -- they had a 10 year old copy of that publication on board.  Very clever folks!

Onto about "more on that below."  This anchorage is a common enough one.  We've personally  anchored there several times and we've always seen boats in there every time we pass on the river.  But it wasn't common on Saturday morning about 8 AM.  A ship came by headed downstream--uncommonly large, close and moving fast.  It sounded his horn twice--maybe he was close to us because he was about to pass a ship coming up river.  No one knows for sure because when he went by, those of us up having coffee on aft decks started to notice that the hyacinth and everything else in the slough was moving out toward the river, including our boats--everything being sucked into the hole left by the ship's displacement.  Many of our bow lines were tied into huge tree falls on the shore.  Some of these weren't about to hold some of the boats, but Ted and Patty's Rally Time and Happy Clown's bow lines were around a very large tree and they did the job to avert disaster.  Long story short, most boats saw movement of about 20-30' or so.  Most anchors held (more on that below,) but we were all being spun crazy like.  We quickly got to work and got things straightened out and then went for our second cup of coffee.  It was really weird.   The man who lived across the slough told me later that "these events are rare, but they do happen." As experienced boaters we all know that there's always something to learn in the Delta. 

One of the skippers near us did some quick calculating and came up with the gallons of water displaced by that huge hull as it went past the slough.  I forget the number, but something like 10's of thousands of gallons rushed to fill the hole left as the ship headed downstream. A fair amount of that water came from around and under our boats. Why did this happen? Probably just a confluence of conditions, tide, current and a fast moving monolith way too close to the edge of the channel.

When it came time to pull anchor on Sunday morning, you might imagine what we were up against with all of the strain on those anchors. We tried the gamut  of our de-anchoring tricks.  Nothing worked.  Finally our newest member, Eric Slabaugh, suggested that his 28' Formula was both small enough to maneuver around and strong enough (475 hp!) to put some real grunt on the stuck anchors.  An hour later, all but one anchor was up and it was time for 8 boats to start heading back to home bases while Rally Time and Happy Clown stayed for a few more hours.

All in all, it was a really fun time.   I look forward to seeing those of you that are cruising to Commodore Island over Labor Day weekend --- tied to the dock.

Ted Lyman