Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Cruise Aboard the SSS Compass Rose

The following is the chronicle of the SSS Compass Rose and her crew as they made their way up the Sacramento River and back this past week.

Day One: Departing Petaluma

I'll admit that I planned my day poorly, but after the salvage ordeal I helped with in the morning, the brightwork overhaul aboard the Heart of Gold, and helping a friend with a few things in the workshop, when a last-minute task came up my finally schedule burst and ended up leaking all over the place.  As a result I ended up missing the first leg of the voyage and had to meet the ship at her first stop in the Vallejo Marina.  There I reported aboard with the ship's grill in hand.  But that was...

Day Two: Six Flags Discovery KingdomI arrived on board bright and early in Vallejo.  As it happens, this was hours earlier than the scouts were to wake up that morning.  So I sat in the forward cabin and chatted with the Skipper over a cup of coffee until there were stirrings in the crew's quarters aft.

Once everyone was up and moving, we wandered down to the ferry terminal where we boarded a bus bound for Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.  We got there shortly after noon and ended up running around the park, checking out the various animal displays and roller coasters until well after dark.  Then it was time to catch the bus back to the waterfront and call it a day.

Day 3: Carquinez Strait and up the Sacramento River

We cast off from the Vallejo Marina surprisingly early.  There was a low overcast, but the water was glass calm and it was a smooth sailing all the way up Suisun Bay.  After passing through Carquinez Strait, we spotted a ship unloading alongside the pier at the C&H Sugar terminal.  The ship was named Cinnamon.

Once we were past Rio Vista and headed into Steamboat Slough, we cast off the ski boat and I took the two newer crewmembers out to drive fast for a bit.  After I tired of crashing through wakes and dragging the scouts in the innertube, I turned the wheel over to the new girl. 

Even though she'd never even driven a car for any distance, she took to it pretty quickly.  We started with some basic slow-speed maneuvering and slowly increased speed as she gained confidence.  Within half an hour it was back to me reminding her to slow down a bit and ease off on the throttle.

By now you've probably noticed that there's a shortage of pictures attached to this post.  It's not because I wasn't taking pictures.  In fact I had dozens of great shots of the crew at the Killer Whale show, getting underway from Vallejo, in the innertube, driving the ski boat, and so on.   Sadly, they were all saved to my digital camera which apparently found a watery grave at the bottom of Steamboat Slough during all of this crashing around in the ski boat.  So it goes.

Please excuse the few cellphone pics I took like this one:
SSS Compass Rose in the Delta
Or this one of the Bosun driving the ski boat:

Monica driving the ski boat

She took the wheel when I took the first pair of scouts back to the ship and picked up the two veteran crewmembers we had on board.  After that we were all over the place at high speed, skipping across every wake we could find and having all sorts of fun.

As the day wore on we were all pretty well parched and many miles ahead of the Compass Rose.  That's when we pulled in at one of the marina/RV resorts to grab some root beers and take a break.  When we were tired of waiting, we got underway again.  Just then the Rose came around the bend:Ship spotted astern

Since we had the ship in sight, we ended up bringing the ski boat alongside so that we could have dinner on board. Then we rounded the last bend, passed through the last drawbridge, and moored the ship at the public dock in old Sacramento. At that point it was already pretty late in the evening, but it didn't stop anyone from going ashore and wandering around the local shops getting a preview of what the place had to offer.

Day 4: Old Sac

Everyone got a pretty late start, but they were out and about right after breakfast.  While everyone else went to see the sights of old town, Dad and I walked down to the California Automobile Museum to see what had changed since the last time he'd been there.  Walking around that place was uncannily like walking around his house, but that's another story.

The plan was for all hands to return to the ship for a late lunch, but when they came back they'd all succumbed to the siren song of the nearby Joe's Crab Shack and changed the plan to lunch ashore.

This was another time I really wished I'd've had a decent camera:
Eatin' at Joe's

As we were leaving I spotted this sign:
Free Crab Tomorrow

Clearly we'd arrived on the wrong day.

The rest of the day was spent wandering around town.  I'm proud to say that even though we wandered through some really amazing candy stores, toy stores, and costume shops, I bought nothing.  I'm still shaking from the restraint.

Still bubbling with energy after a very full day, I went with the crew late that night to see a movie at the theater in a nearby mall.  We arrived early and had to come up with creative ways to pass time while waiting for the show:
Pain for the Sculpture

Day 5: Old Sacramento to Rio Vista

The day started with everyone else setting out in the ski boat to amble up the American River for a bit while I stayed behind to get caught up on some reading.

Somewhere around three in the afternoon we got underway, leaving the SSS Challenger at the public dock:
Challenger in Old Sacramento
At this point I'd been going through photography withdrawals and decided to break out my DSLR and catch a few candid shots of the crew:
Makayla on the Flying Bridge

Jacquie Navigating

Gabe Steering

The only challenge was catching the Bosun who was behind the wheel of the ski boat again:
Monica Ski Boat
Once we were clear of the dock and the first drawbridge, we took the ski boat in tow again and headed back down the river:
Ski Boat in Tow

Along the way to made a brief stop at the Walnut Grove public dock:
Compass Rose Moored in Walnut Grove

The main reason for stopping in Walnut Grove was to walk up the road a bit to visit the historic town of Locke
Locke Sign
Historic though it may be, it's small enough that they don't even bother writing the the size of the population on the sign.

Locke is a quaint little town comprised mostly of 100-year old buildings built by Chinese immigrant laborers who settled their in the early 20th century.  The entire town is an historical site, but the crew mostly turned out to be interested in its inhabitants: 
Locke visit

Most of them were friendly:
Locke cat

And everywhere you looked, there were lots of them:
Locke Cats

Intriguing as it was, within fifteen minutes we'd seen all there was to see in Locke and it was time to move on:
Locke Portrait

I did get one more good shot of the ship moored in Walnut Grove:
Moored in Walnut Grove

A couple hours later we arrived at the public dock at Rio Vista under cover of darkness.  I set out in the ski boat so I could get to the dock ahead of the ship and serve as linehandler.  It'd been a few years since the last time I'd visited Rio Vista, but I distinctly remembered the dock was floating then.  This time it was not.

As I turned back to the ship, the crewmembers were lining the rail and telling me that we were going to head to the marina, pointing across the river.

This was not the day to try crossing that river in the ski boat.  As soon as I turned into the waves they started crashing over the windshield, soaking me through and through.  After battling my way halfway across, I noticed that the ship was not following me.  When I turned back I found out that the crew had mistakenly pointed me in the wrong direction.


Heading into the very sheltered Delta Marina, I found plenty of room at their guest dock, tied up the ski boat, and then helped tie up the ship before changing into dry clothes and calling it a night.

DAY 6: Rio Vista to Petaluma

The next day broke bright and warm:
Compass Rose Moored in Rio Vista

Once everyone was awake and moving, I went ashore with the crew.  They were so anxious to see downtown Rio Vista that they didn't even wait to set up the accomodation ladder:
Gabe Going Ashore

Wandering into downtown we passed some really pretty houses:
Rio Vista House

As we turned the corner down the main drag, it was pretty clear how little there really was to see there:
Downtown Rio Vista

We did stop at Foster's Bighorn for a moment, but it was too early to have lunch.  Instead I just took a picture of the moose:
Bighorn Bar

After a brief stop for sodas, it was time to shove off and head for home.  We ended up catching the tide wrong and had to fight the current all the way.  It was also a little choppy coming across San Pablo Bay:

So after we'd figured out exactly how much gear wasn't properly secured for sea, we were pretty happy to finally be heading back up the Petaluma River:
Heading Back up the River

After an uneventful river transit, all that was left to do was stow gear and conduct a thorough freshwater washdown of the ship and the ski boat:
Washing the Ski Boat

So after almost a week worth of bobbing around the delta, everyone returned triumphant and it was time to go their separate ways:
Returned Home

Until next time...


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