Kathy and I spent ten days cruising the Sacramento River with a trip up the Petaluma River on the way home. Both rivers are easy to navigate and there is plenty to see and do along the way.
We stopped at Pittsburg Yacht Club on the way up. This was a sheltered refuge from the prevailing winds of Suisun Bay. Pittsburg has a revitalized downtown about a half mile from the harbor with plenty of good food and a car show every summer Thursday evening. Nana's, at the harbor is great for breakfast or lunch.
We took a short trip up to Rio Vista and stayed at Delta Marine. The Diesel was about 30% less than in San Francisco Bay. You can walk to town or eat at the harbor. Carnivores should make the trip to Foster's Bighorn on Main Street.
There are five bridges along the Sacramento River (not the deepwater ditch) between Rio Vista and Sacramento (about 40 miles) and four will likely need to be lifted. We used both channel 9 and a cell phone to hail the tenders and found channel 9 worked better. All bridges were opened on request with minimal delays. We made the upriver trip in just one long day with a lunch stop in Walnut Grove. Park at the dock upstream of the bridge and go to Mel's for sandwiches and ice cream.
There are two marinas in Freeport that have guest docks. both were unattended on the Monday we made the trip. Call ahead if you would like to break up the day.
We stayed at Old Town Dock adjacent to the Tower Bridge in Sacramento. $1/foot/night and $15 flat fee for electricity. I recommend using the stub of the dock downstream from the bridge to avoid the restaurant noise closer in. While the shade is tempting, do not stay under the bridge as the birds will make a mess of your boat. There is currently a cleat shortage at the very end of the dock. There are four blocks of old town shops that are largely interchangeable. But, we had a great lunch at 10/22 and a fun but very noisy dinner at the crab shack with mediocre fish and chips. Perhaps we should have ordered the crab? The nearby Crocker Museum is full of California art. At the other end of town, the Train Museum is full of trains. Both worthwhile. We never got to the car museum.
Returning to the Bay, we stopped at the Walnut Grove public dock for the night. No power or water but only $30/night. There are two docks, each about 250’ long, one on each side of the bridge. There is a smaller public dock further along at Isleton. The steak house was recommended. Lastly, the Ryde Hotel just downstream from Walnut Grove has a local favorite Sunday Brunch and a parking dock.
We stopped at Pittsburg and then at Benicia. We joined up with the Benicia Yacht Club for a trip up the Petaluma River to the downtown turning basin. This is one of the prettiest trips in the Bay Area. The lift bridge in Petaluma asks for 24 hour notice. If you plan to enter the channel on a rising tide (a good idea) you can figure just about two hours to the D Street Bridge. Add 20 – 30 minutes for going against a tide. There is no real problem with depths but we squeaked out on Sunday when the tide in the turning basin was at about 1.5’. For the first mile or so we saw depths below 6’ in the 5 mph section just down river from the bridge. There is substantial shoaling opposite the dock. Heed the markers.
Petaluma is full of restaurants, has a good market and a small town collection of shops. We highly recommend Hallies for Breakfast, the Waterfront Bistro at the top of the dock for Lunch, and Le Bistro on Petaluma between E and F for dinner.
We made the run home across San Pablo Bay with the wind and current aligned, the benefit of leaving Petaluma on a rising tide. This can be a miserable trip when an ebb opposes the prevailing wind. But, we had just a little water on the deck and drove from the flybridge.
This was a great trip and unlike “real” Delta cruising, the anchor stayed dry and the dink never left the deck.
Enjoy the photos.