2012-08-18 Lake Berryessa

Friday night, Charlene picked me up at work and we drove over to Chaparral Cove on Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Lake Berryessa is a water storage reservoir, fairly large, and we hoped that we could sail up the northwest arm.

Friday night there were a couple of jetboats on the lake drag racing, it was loud, but we took it in stride. One of the boats was parked across the way and the guys camping there were asking to borrow lighter fluid and charcoal from the folks next to us. Fine, I like sharing campgrounds, but in conjunction with the loud sparkly boat it kinda left a taste.

Camp site was sparse and utilitarian, no water, portapotties.

  Saturday morning we woke up, decided we weren't hungry yet, took a short sail, came back, had breakfast, and then started up the west arm. The wind was light, but as we toodled slowly up the lake we saw only two other boats, small runabouts with small outboards. Quiet, serene, and as we approached the "5MPH No Wake" warning buoys, we thought "great, we're here, no powerboaters, this is awesome". Pulled over to look at some flowers and pee, and here came the powerboats.

  We kinda knew how the day was going to be when one of 'em started cutting 8s around the 5MPH buoys, dragging a tuber (yes, that's a person on a tube, not a potato. Sometimes it's hard to tell).

  With a fork on where to go further, we went left. It turns out this was the shorter branch, it quickly dead-ended in to something we later saw on a map called "Junk Creek", a small stream running into the lake, lots of scat from something, the remains of an old narrow road along the hillside above (no clue where that goes).

It was wonderful. Quiet. Nobody else. We heard from the people in the yellow boat (more in a bit) that they saw at least 3 boats go up the other branch, so we chose well.


About 12:30 we paddled out of the cove, raised the sail, and started sailing back. It was hell. We hit the point, and the wind started coming at us from all directions, with PWC and ski traffic all over the lake. One moment we'd be hauled close trying to tack upwind, the next ducking a jibe as a gust caught us from behind and pushed us hard forward. The nice people in the yellow boat saw us struggling and came by to ask if we needed help, we said "we think we'll make it", and we did, but it wasn't fun sailing. At some point the wind vane that I'd just made sheared off the end of our spar and sank (not a fan of threaded brass rod right now, that's twice I've had it fail when I thought it shouldn't), eventually we ended up back under the bridge, where we discovered that it was jet boat/hydroplane weekend or something. The roar of the engines was deafening.

We drove down to Spanish Flat to spend almost ten bucks on two bottles of cold water and two ice cream sandwiches, although there was a cool "what the place was like before floods" exhibit there. Then wandered back up to the camp site, Charlene fell asleep in the back of the truck while I cooked dinner, and then we decided that this wasn't relaxing and it was time to go home.

So we probably won't be headed back to Lake Berryessa, but now we know.

Category: Dan Lyke life