Cruising with Playpen
Leg 1 - Portland to San Diego
Installment 3

9/15/02 OYC to Benecia, CA (38 02.72N 122 09.36W) 30nm 4 hrs.
We cruised in warm sunshine to a very nice 300 slip marina in Benecia. We enjoyed a stroll through the town with lots of Real Estate offices, Victorian homes in various states of repair, new $400,000 condos, and views of brown, scrub covered hills and refineries.

9/16/02 Benecia to Andrus Island, California Delta (38 06.49N 121 36.16W) 37.4nm 4 hr.
We cruised through the Navy Mothball Fleet in Suisun Bay and counted 80 ships of various eras. The USS Iowa was the only one labeled.  It was an awesome sight if those ships could talk& Then we headed into the California Delta up the San Joaquin River through a slough (rhymes with through) to the Delta Bay Marina. The geography reminds us of the Carolina ICW; the little bars and marinas remind us of Pine Is FL, the Keys, and Pete's Pub in the Abacos. I had a little bike mishap on the way to dinner ended up in the hospital 40 miles away for 20 stitches in my arm. Everyone was super-nice, and the whole adventure only took 3 hours.

9/17/02 Andrus Island to Stockton, CA (37 57.21N 121 17.89W) 18.8 nm 3 hrs.
We threaded our way through some narrow, shallow sloughs to the deep-water channel to Stockton. It was an easy ride up the channel, using dead reckoning and paper charts, to hot, sunny Stockton. We passed cement plants with ships, palm trees, lots of birds and reeds, before securing at the Waterfront Yacht Harbor in Stockton. Vincent & Kathy, LRC wanabes, met us at the dock with champagne, caviar, and San Francisco sourdough bread to christen our addition yum!!

9/18/02 Stockton to Potato Slough, The Delta (38 05.19N 121 33,61W) 16.6nm 3 hr.
We had a hot (95), windy (20kt) ride down the San Joaquin to a popular anchorage in Potato Slough. There were several sailboats anchored in bedroom1 ; so we went to another section of the slough. The sloughs are very similar to bayous in LA. There are even crayfish. While we were outside watching a beautiful sunset and moonrise, a swarm of mosquitoes moved in for dinner. Throughout our travels we've marveled at many of God's creations, but we sure can't figure out a purpose for mosquitoes! The whole flock of Purple Martins couldn't keep up with them, and neither could we. They literally kept us awake all night. They even savored the Skin-So-Soft. Fred ended up sleeping out on the bow in the breeze until he got too cold.

9/19/02 Potato Slough to Walnut Grove, CA (38 14.46N 121 30.92W) 26.6nm 4 hr.
The mosquitoes went to sleep, fat & happy, with the sunrise and heat. We won't be anchoring in anymore sloughs. We transited 3 Mile Slough from the San Joaquin River to the Sacramento River with farmed hills on the west and levee-protected below-water farms on the east. Then the Sacramento narrowed down to slough status and filled with fishermen, very picturesque. Walnut Grove and Locke provided interesting pictures with old wooden homes setting down from the levee. Dockage was $18.75 with no water or electric (higher than we were used to). Dinner at the much-advertised Al the Wops was nothing special. We ate with a cruising couple in search of endless summers: retired and sailing til they get tired. The heat subsided with the sun, and we had a comfortable, though noisy traffic, night.

9/20/02 Walnut Grove to Chain Is, CA (38 04.34N 121 51.05W) 23 nm 4 hr.
A pretty, hot ride down the river found us unable to locate moorage for the night. Sausalito, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Benecia were all full. So we stopped early and anchored behind Chain Island just off the river. There was a windmill farm, a small grass island, and all but abandoned settlement around us, and we had a delightful afternoon reading on the back deck. I sure have a lot of respect for the early explorers! Sunset was exquisite, setting the mountains aglow, and then the full moon rose over the water, beautiful!

9/21/02 Chain Island to San Francisco, CA (37 46.79N 122 12.08W)
We secured at South Beach Marina, Pier 40, end tie - very good berthage - no surge even in 25kt winds. We strolled about 2 miles to Honky Tonk Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. Pier 39 would be terrible berthage with enough surge to snap lines! We ate at Joe's Crab Shack (it was Bobby Robino's in 95 when we were there) overlooking street performers, a marina, and the foggy sea, great! On the stroll home the full moon came up over the lit up Bay Bridge - so romantic! We even saw a couple on the Embarcadero taking full advantage of the romance.

9/22-26/02 San Francisco-Ballena Isle Marina, Alameda, CA
We secured in our home for 3 weeks at Ballena Isle. It felt good to be put for awhile. I gave the boat a thorough cleaning inside and out, and Fred worked on lots of projects. The last one broke the camel's back , and he's ready to go home for a change of pace. We flew out 9/26 and will return 10/8.

Along the way to Stockton we noticed our new Nobeltec 6.0 doing strange things. It flipped buoys, put them on land, and had them crossing our path. We were very distressed and felt we could no longer trust it. After several calls to Nobeltec we were given the sales manager, David, who promised to make everything right. He sent an update to 6.5, which he said would take care of jumping buoys and our printer problem. He also gave us his cell number and said to call if we have any more problems. We did.. I spent most of Monday in a borrowed office with my computer on the phone with Nobeltec trying to get place names to show up on the 6.5 charts. The charts seem to work ok (although they've not been at sea yet), but you can't see where you are! The names show up on some scales, but don't quilt to others. I was transferred to Seth, the head tech, on Tuesday, and we spent a few hours working on it. He couldn't get it either. On Wednesday I called David Neal, sales manager, and told him we wanted our money back. He said he couldn't do that; we would have to get it to work. I told him I'd logged 22 hrs this week on this and spent all day on the phone with Seth. He insisted that 6.5 does what it is supposed to do it just doesn't do what we want it to do. He promised the new 7.0 update would include more land labels.

He suggested he'd send us Maptech raster charts as they are duplicates of NOAA and work better than Nobeltec rasters. When we agreed he changed his offer to Soft Charts  instead of Maptech. We'll try the Soft Charts from home, and hopefully they'll be satisfactory; and I'll be finished wasting Nobeltec's and my time and money. We will have to buy Maptech Mexico charts as Soft Chart doesn't make them, and David thinks Nobeltec vectors are sufficient. David promised us a voucher for a free 7.0 update.


CAPTAIN'S THOUGHTS: Upon talking to Bill, a 48 LRC owner in Stockton, I was reminded of a near fatal accident on our boat caused by improper installation of the old style Pipewelder's davit. In 1989 our Pipewelder's davit went crashing into the Whaler (while coming up) along with the captain. It sounded like a cannon went off. Fortunately the davit did not hit me. The standpipe extended 16"  above the deck, and the davit extended 16"  into the pipe. The 16"  of pipe above the deck was supported by 3 gussets. Time and use fatigued the pipe and gussets. While anchored at St. Augustine, midnight, it snapped. I was really lucky I wasn't killed. Both Hatteras and Pipewelder's said they did not install the davit in this manor. Between St. Augustine and the Wye River I found another 48 LRC with the davit installed the same way. I learned the proper method of installation is for the standpipe to extend about 3"  above deck. When the davit inserts 16"  into the pipe, the load is supported by the deck and the standpipe and will not shear off. I urge anyone with the improper installation to change it immediately. Pipewelder's was very helpful to me, and I am more than happy to speak to anyone interested. The Pipewelder's davit is a fine product and many are still giving good service (including mine); but some were improperly installed and remain so.


We used Nobeltec 4.1 with Maptech charts in the N.W. for 4 seasons with great success and trust. Then we updated  to 6.0 with Nobeltec charts. It was an inconvenience when Sharon could not print the track charts as part of our daily log. When trying to get into the harbor at Bodega Bay in the fog and dark, we anchored outside because I couldn't make sense of the buoy locations as shown on the Nobeltec compared to the radar images. In our 25 years of boating, which has included a lot of night arrivals, it was the 1st time we could not safely enter the jetty or harbor. I thought I was losing my touch. A couple days later my confidence was regained. In the Delta region I discovered the buoys as shown on Nobeltec would do strange things like be on the wrong side of the waterway or take off across the dry land. This infuriated me! When talking to David Neal at Nobeltec he said that was a problem with 6.0 and was corrected in 6.5. He gave us a 6.5.  What about all those 6.0s sold to trusting captains who could really be put in danger, jeopardizing the very lives of those on board not to mention the possible damage or loss of the vessel? They are overlooking the very reason people buy computer navigation. Nobeltec needs to realize the seriousness involved with navigation and that lives depend on them doing their job right. They need to realize that these systems are not computer games.



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