Paddling Around the Russian River Estuary at Flood Stage in the Wind and the Waves

Friday December 16, 2016 Jenner CA.

It was going to be a windy day

They predicted that the river would crest at Guerneville around noon today, just below flood stage. The rain had stopped and the sun was out as I headed for Jenner this morning.

I could see the river water was real muddy and the wind was up as I drove into Jenner today. The river was flowing a bit faster than normal too.

I can handle most conditions at Jenner

The water didn’t look too bad and I knew I could handle most any water conditions at Jenner as I’ve been doing it a long time down here by now, but it still pays to be cautious.

I also knew the wind was expected to get worse, but it was going to high tide around noon and it was a 6.6 foot tide a high one for this area. High tide usually slows the river’s current in the estuary, so I was counting on that as I knew the wind would pick up.

Up the river before crossing over

Anyway, I put my boat in the water. With the current flowing a bit faster than normal, I paddled up along the shoreline a ways before crossing over to Penny Island as I knew the river current would take me a ways down stream as I crossed.

I’m paddling up along the shoreline in front of the café to cross over the river to the island. Things look pretty good right now, about a ten mile wind and the waves weren’t too bad yet.startday


Down along the island’s edge

I pulled out into the river’s current and crossed over to Penny Island and decided to go down along the island headed for it’s bottom end along here.islandside


I stayed along the edge to stay out of the wind as much as possible and out of the current out in the middle.

I’m going down along the island here.islandstuff


Paddling onto Penny Island

When I get to the island’s end I see the water is high enough for me to paddle into the island. It looks like just barely enough water to get me through the grasses.

I’m headed into the grasses on the end of the island.grassy


There was just barely enough water to get through the grass. I knew where a game trail was and followed that to get into the island this far, looking back out.island


No respite from the wind on the island

Usually there is some respite from the wind inside the island, but not today, so I didn’t stay long and paddled back out working my way through the grasses. I lost the trail in one place and had to work pretty hard to move the boat through the grass.

The wind and the current has picked up

When I got back out, I noticed the wind had picked up and so had the current and the waves in the water, so I headed back up along side the island.wind


When I put in, there wasn’t much debrie coming down the river, but now there was a lot of stuff.debris      


And eventually, I knew I would have to cross back over to the boat ramp by the visitor center where the waves seemed to be the highest.rivercross


Penny Island upper channel

But  for now I paddled up to the upper end of Penny Island where the little channel there is usually out of the wind.                                  channel


I paddled into the little channel  and sat for awhile studying what the river was doing as the spot was mostly out of the wind which I’d say was blowing around fifteen miles an hour now.

Too much current to go up the river

I thought of going up the river a little further, but looking across the island’s back channel it looked like I would have to work pretty hard at it as there was a lot of current and a lot of wind. I didn’t cross.nocross


All kinds of trees and logs and stuff were coming down the river now. They aren’t really too  much trouble as the boat and the debrie move at the same speed, like on a freeway. So as long as one doesn’t get too close to them they aren’t a problem while paddling.logs


Hey, there go the river otters

I paddled back along the island’s edge for a bit and was surprised to see these otters swimming by. Somehow they were finding something to eat, but they swept by fast as the current carried them down river. There were four of them.otters


Low tide is coming so I need to do something

I was sitting around in the little channel of the island and I knew it would eventually go to low tide and the current would pick up even more, so I was thinking I better get back to the boat ramp before that happens.

But I wasn’t’ sure how to cross . Should I go down river and let the wind take me across and back up, or is the current too strong and I should go down river against the wind but with the current. I decided to try a little current on the island’s upper end and went out in it and decided the current was stronger than the wind and I should cross going down with the current.

Push into the current and let the river take me across

So, I decided to push off the upper end of Penny Island into the current and ride the waves across hoping I wouldn’t end up too far down river past the boat ramp.

I’m just starting across here and the camera is being  put away for the ordeal as all my time is concentrating on keeping the boat right with the waves to keep the water out of the boat.waves


It was quite a ride, but I made it

I was careful and made it across only taking a few splashes. I missed the boat ramp as I knew I would. But now that I was across I only had to work my boat up along this edge, around that tree and into a good back eddy that will push my boat right up to the boat ramp without too much


I made it to the boat ramp and got my car to load the boat.ramp


Monte Rio boat ramp is flooded

On the way home, I stopped at the Monte Rio boat ramp to have a look. The boat ramp is about 25 feet under the water in front of the car. That should really pile up the mud on the boat ramp and be a bit messy. At least the wind wasn’t up here. rio


Got the firewood in for the night

I headed on home and got some firewood in and stoked the fire as it was cool out, maybe 45 degrees F. or so.

Of course that just meant I should have a little nap after all that hard work paddling around the river.

And that was my day.

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5 Responses to Paddling Around the Russian River Estuary at Flood Stage in the Wind and the Waves

  1. Dennis Olson and Sharon Murphy says:

    Bob , the estuary looked pretty sporty yesterday with the wind and downcurrent. Bet you had it pretty much to yourself?


    • Bob says:

      Hi Dennis,
      Yes it was snarly yesterday and no one else was out on the water. But today, it was nice and no one else was out on the water, just the way I like it.

  2. Dwayne says:

    Hi Bob. The seal in the pep boys link is much different than the one you have on your van. I am having difficulty finding anything close to yours on the pep boy site. If there is any way you have a receipt with model number on it I would much appreciate it. I will continue to look. Thanks so much. I really enjoyed going through your whole van project. I wish I had some of your ingenuity and knowledge to make things work and modify. I paid mechanics to do a lot of my work and not pleased with most that touched my van. Wish i would of put a new engine in with fuel injection instead of having mine rebuilt. I was just up in your neck of the woods last summer. Beautiful days spent off the California and Oregon coast. Wow you take beautiful photos at the right time. Thanks Dwayne

  3. Bob Noble says:

    Hi Dwayne, I know the problem. I got that weather strip off the shelf at Pep Boys Auto and tires.
    I think I got this one.
    It’s ten feet long and just fit my Chevy barely, but works pretty good. The clip is pretty big and will fit over most stuff. There are also some bulb clip on’s on that page that might work for you.

  4. Dwayne says:

    Hi my name is Dwayne. I noticed your van engine posted pic. I have a 1966 ford econoline van. I have been searching for an engine compartment cover seal. While searching I found your site. Yours looked like it was new. Do you know where I could get one. Not sure if a chevy would fit. But willing to try anything. I have been looking for several years. Been using soft rubber and foam stick on seals but they flatten out after short time and I get fumes badly. I travel all over the nation and live in my van. If you know where I might pick one up please let me know. Thanks Dwayne.

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