Sacramento River, July 4th Weekend on a Raft To San Francisco

Goal: Sail Down Feather River, Sacramento River To San Francisco On a Raft!

Laying out basic raft structure to float down the Feather River into the Sacramento River, into Deep Water Channel (ocean-going ships) then thru the Delta into San Francisco Bay...
Laying out basic raft structure to float down the Feather River into the Sacramento River, into Deep Water Channel (ocean-going ships) then thru the Delta into San Francisco Bay...
Placing cut-to-length logs over basic raft frame.
Placing cut-to-length logs over basic raft frame.
Tent is secured to raft frame. 20' teepee goes over tent. Huck Finn Would be Happy here...
Tent is secured to raft frame. 20' teepee goes over tent. Huck Finn Would be Happy here...
Teepee framework completed and secured to raft. With Tina, an adventure loving friend...
Teepee framework completed and secured to raft. With Tina, an adventure loving friend...
Captain Dallas with his dagger in his mouth with Tina standing in front of completed tie-dyed 20' tall teepee in Sacramento River at Freeport Boat Dock.
Captain Dallas with his dagger in his mouth with Tina standing in front of completed tie-dyed 20' tall teepee in Sacramento River at Freeport Boat Dock.
Captain Dallas steering with a 3hp outboard motor down the deep water channel into the Delta.. San Francisco is only another 50 miles...
Captain Dallas steering with a 3hp outboard motor down the deep water channel into the Delta.. San Francisco is only another 50 miles...

Walter Mitty and Huck Finn Holiday!

I was dating an adventuresome lady and enjoying her cabin cruiser floating down the Sacramento River enjoying life with a glass of wine.....

As I enjoyed the effects of the “relaxing” wine, I told Tina about building a 50’ ocean-going raft and attempting to sail from Fiji to Sydney, Australia. I knew I had her attention. She enjoyed boats and owned two large ones.

Tina suggested since the recent floods had increased the flow of Sacramento and destroyed many of the boat docks, why not salvage some of the large sections of foam that floated by and build a raft…

The “wine talk” became a serious topic. I agreed to build a raft that we could connect with nature and build the raft only from materials available. She was a pure free-spirit “tree-hugger.”

We agreed to enjoy the experience through the eyes of the characterizations that is a combination of Huckleberry Finn adventures as characterized by Mark Twain and Walter Mitty in the book, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" (1939) a short story by James Thurber. The Walter Mitty story depicts a man whose extremely mundane life is constantly interrupted by the character's escapist fantasies. Whereas the fantasy Mitty is not scared of anything, the real one protests feebly, if at all, at demands that he behave cautiously. Twain wrote a novel that embodies the search for freedom. The combination of the two characters defined my mission “Dare to sail in a manner no one has….”

Build a 20’ Raft from “Trash”

It was just before the July Fourth Weekend. She knew I could do anything as “Mr. World Traveler,” and suggested I build a raft to go from as far up the Feather River you can go, and then float all-the-way-down into the San Francisco Bay. “Wouldn’t that be fun?” she said with a warm glow of wine wafting through her hair… How could I say no?

I am licensed to build in the state of California anything: Including, but not limited to: nuclear reactors, oil refineries, shopping centers, single-family subdivisions, high rises, dams, freeways and etc… This process requires rigid specifications and constructions techniques. Building a raft from “trash” is a new challenge. I love challenges. The materials that were available would dictate what and how I constructed my raft.

Tina and I became scavengers. We collected as much of the huge chunks of foam material the boat docks used for flotation (they put boards on top) as my truck could haul. We drove as far up the Feather River (North of Sacramento, California) as we could and unloaded. I used a chainsaw to cut dead trees to size to build a frame for the raft.

Local Sheriff Says, “You Cannot Build a Gold Dredge”

We are in the middle of nowhere and this sheriff drives over the Feather River Bank, saunters over to the raft where I am working, with his hand on his pistol holster and says slowly, “You Cannot be here and be building a Gold Dredge.” I told him I was building a raft to float to San Francisco. I then realized I needed something better to say… He thought I was smoking dope and was one of them “city-slikkers.”

I put down my chain saw and smiled. I knew everything in life involves relationships. I knew this was the time to create one with the sheriff. I told him the truth. I asked him his name because I was scheduled to meet a TV crew in Sacramento at Freeport Boat Marina tomorrow at 5pm. I would be sure and tell them what a nice sheriff I had met.

The sheriff took the easy way out and said, “Since you are not building a Gold Dredge and will be leaving tomorrow, I’ll let you go.” I thanked him profusely. He smiled, scratched his head and left…

I did have a TV news crew on standby notice at 5pm the next day. As the above pictures indicate the construction process, it was completed early the next morning and I agreed to meet Tina at Freeport Marina to pick her up and begin our journey into the San Francisco Bay.

All heads stared as I drifted down into the Sacramento River. Traffic almost slowed to a stop as I drifted under the Interstate Freeway 5. I did not have my teepee covered with Tina’s special “tie-dyed” sheets. Upon arrival at the Freeport Marina and constant answering questions, “What is THAT?” I struggled to complete.

Raise the Drawbridge!

Floating and using the 3hp outboard engine for steerage down the Sacramento River is not for the faint-of-heart… There are bridges that must be raised to allow my 20’ teepee raft to pass under. On a raft with a puny three horse motor does not give you any leeway or the ability to turn into the river, or slow down and wait for the bridge to be raised. You must get it right the first time… After a couple of successful bridge under crossing, I became calm…

Stopped by Boat Patrol

“Got a boat license?” the stern-faced uniformed person asked from his idling boat… as we floated down the river. I acted surprised and said, “A license required for a raft?” Again, I struck up another relationship and he too thought perhaps this one time would be OK…

We stopped at the Tower Marina, on the Sacramento River near Lodi, California and spent the night. We created a treadmill of people asking, “What is THAT?” Eventual the darkness drove them away…

The next stop was Helen’s Marina. I had made friends there before and it was fun to hug everybody. They knew I was nuts now… It was a great short time spent there. Out in the Delta there is over 1,000 miles of shoreline with the Sacramento River and many sloughs crisscrossing. At times, we had flotillas following us… We spent a second night tied to a remote tree where nobody would find us.

Our goal was San Francisco Bay

It was now July 4th weekend and today was July the Fourth. There were too many boats on the Sacramento River. Our raft was constantly being rocked by huge yachts and speedboats. The raft had a plywood floor. I had planned to dance on it, but not dance to boat wake waves.

Out in the Deep Water channel where the ocean-going ships sail is a nail-biter… They are huge… Passing them never was something you get used to. Nearing the Hilton Gun Club there were a huge amount of boats anchored for his annual July 4th fireworks over the water. I was beginning to feel like a monkey on a football. We tied up to some friends we met and watched the fireworks.

I decided, no way was I going to continue to San Francisco Bay with all of the huge boats. It was not fun. We decided to spend the rest of our time at one of Tina’s friend’s island they owned in the Delta. It took forever to get there. Who would think the tide would have such an effect on Sacramento River flow? The Sacramento River in Sacramento has “tides.”

July 4th Fun With Blood Centrifuge Making 5 gallon Margaritas!

Docking at the small island was a hoot. It was filled with about 100 people. A good times was enjoyed by all. I donated my raft to the island owners to use as a dock.

We joined friends to ride the six hour trip back up the Sacramento River to our own boat. While enjoying the comfort of a nice, large cabin cruiser, we heard and felt a jarring jolt. The owner yelled, “Check below,” I went below into the engine room. It had oil all over and water was coming in. The boat was vibrating now. The owner shut down the engine to an idle. The shaking stopped. Apparently, something was damaged. It could be the prop, rudder, or the shaft…

In the Sacramento River there many submerged "things." Often times it may be a tree, logs and etc. Some trees could be seen floating down the Sacramento River that were slowly making their way to the ocean. The recent flood had dislodged lots of trees and logs.

The owner started the bilge pumps. He adjusted the rear trim and found the boat was easier to control. After the excitement of my raft trip, I was not wanting more challenges of a boat sinking in the middle of the Sacramento River. The owner said, “I am going to try to make by to the marina. Keep checking below.” At Ox Bow Marina, the owner topped and dove under the boat looking for obvious damages, and discovered none. We limped back to Sacramento.

The Cabin Cruiser Damage Was Substantial

The wooden hull was split, The engine was out of oil, the rudder shaft ruined, and the boat was declared a total loss!

It was a great July Fourth weekend. However, I would not want to duplicate it! One time is enough..!

I’ll take the cabin cruiser next time.

More Life Experiences Where I Did it, Rather Than Wishing I Had Done it!:

Cabin Cruiser: http://dallas93444.hubpages.com/hub/cabin-cruiser-ocean-odyssey

http://hubpages.com/hub/Sacramento-River-July-4th-Weekend-on-a-Raft-To-San-Francisco

Hike to Hell:

http://hubpages.com/hub/I-slept-with-Electric-Eels

http://hubpages.com/hub/Why-the-fall-of-the-Berlin-Wall-had-an-Affect-on-Me

Constructed 50 foot long Bamboo Raft in Fiji:

http://hubpages.com/hub/How-to-sail-free-from-Fiji-to-Sydney

http://hubpages.com/hub/Adversity-Does-Make-Us-Stronger

My book: www. eyeswideshutanenigma dot com

or enter into Google: Eyes Wide Shut: An enigma

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Comments 30 comments

Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

What a great story, and a wonderful time...say hi to Tina for me LOL...When I was a kid I always build all kinds of forts and places to play...I had no talent for how to do it but I love to build. Awesome hub and a thumbs up, what a gas...


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Darlene Sabella, I have not seen Tina in over 10 years! She was lots of fun! There is truth to the part where I enjoy the adventure... Life is an adventure. When I die, I want to be "battered, and worn out..!"


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 6 years ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

What Fun and Adventure! Thank you for sharing your 'Wild oats' with us readers. I LOVE the Tie-Dye and that you had such a cool friend that would Venture with. Great Hub - Voted Ups


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

LillyGrillzit, It was not the same as your "walk-about" in a 100 year storm, but it was an adventure! Tina was the Iching, ying yang. I have always been a conservative, work, work kind-of-guy. She noticed the birds singing and the sunsets... I moved and lost contact with her...


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Oh my this is an adventure that now has me hungry to do something similar. HOW COOL, I love your Sacremento River Journey. I grew up on the Mississippi and your journey touched on fond memories of my childhood. I so want build one too tie dye and all!

What a bonus, now I feel I know you better with all the great visuals, awesome snap shots! :)

How true is this? "He did it, rather than wished he had done it" Rock on friend !!!

Peace :)


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 6 years ago from South Africa

One needs an adventure like this at least once in his/her life. Memories are made of this. Thanks for sharing yours.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Life is a process... then you die.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

katiem2, It is the "gospel truth." I truly have lived a full life doing it, rather than wishing to have done it. It is a life that is not for the faint-of-heart! It is a personal choice.

Today, do something awesome!


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

Sounds and looks like a fabulous trip! Glad you enjoyed and thanks for taking us along! Kaie


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Kaie Arwen, Thanks. The experience does not contrast, nor is it anyway similar to what you have experienced...


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

Yesterday I did something awesome and WOW today is a great new day with amazing options! Peace :)


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

katiem2, Life is a process... I was born with nothing and I still have most of it...!


Dreamwalker 6 years ago

What an amazing story! I love adventures and this one would've been a hoot for sure! :-D


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Dreamwalker, Some of us rather than just talk about it, we do it.. It is not a life for the faint-of-heart!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Dallas, I could not stop reading this story, what an adventure start to finish! I really think this is a wonderful story of adventure and fun and I am so glad you shared it here. Great pictures! It is quite an accomplishment, its a story I am sure you will treasure forever.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

oceansnsunsets,

Thanks! Oftentimes we forget: we are all dying. It is our choice to live while we are dying... Each moment can be a celebration of life.


World-Traveler profile image

World-Traveler 6 years ago from USA

Thanks for the memories. I used to live in Rancho Cordova. I ran along the river each afternooon.

On one occasion, I had a girlfriend, and wanted to impress her with my rafting skills. She looked a bit skeptical. None-the-less I got out my trusty rubber raft, inflated it with air and off we went down the river.

We were only in the river for about 10 minutes when an old patch to cover an air leak detached itself from the body of the raft, and there my lady friend and I were, sinking fast into the water.

The look of skepticism increased in her eyes growning into concern for her life.

No problem, I said, as I bailed water with the palms of my hands striving to reach the shore before we sank.

With shoreline reached, we made our way to a raft rental, rented a new raft and started on the river again. Her faith in me restored, it was smooth sailing right onto the sheets, and that followed by a delicious dinner. Thanks for the memories.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

World-Traveler,

Yep, life is made of memories and the end. I want lots of memories.

I lived in Folsom (not in the Prison..!) when I was assistant Principal at Bella Vista High School and would ride my bike from Folsom, along the American River Bike Trail down to Old Town Sacramento and back. It was about 80 + mile trip. Slept good when I did it...

The rafting experience took me down "Potato Slew" Tower Park Marina, off of HWY 12 between Lodi and Stockton, Helen's Marina - 8 Mile Rd then into the Deep Water Channel into San Francisco Bay...


World-Traveler profile image

World-Traveler 5 years ago from USA

I had to return for another comment. Your post brought back more memories... My family used to own a mountain cabin in 39 Milestone Tract, US Highway 50 about three miles below Strawberry Lodge, California. Each time we would drive up to the cabin from the bay area, we would stop at a restaurant which was named Fred's Place. The refrigerator in the restaurant always caught my attention because of its bright unique colors and design. Fred's Place was located 37 miles by highway from Placerville. Placerville is about perhaps 35 miles from Sacramento/Rancho Cordova.

That was the past. Now a jump 20 years into the future... When the big flood hit Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, the Sacramento River flooded way over its banks. One day I went down to the river to take a look. Something caught my eye. A brightly colored refrigerator, yellow green with orange stripes. I thought it could not be! But it was. Somehow that refrigerator survived a float down the Fred's Place creek which flowed directly into the South Fork of the American River, high up in the Sierras.

The refrigerator continued down the South Fork of the American River to the Placerville area, then continued its journey into the Sacramento River. And there I was in Rancho Cordova, standing on the bank of the Sacramento River watching the Fred's Place refrigerator continue its journey to the San Francisco Bay.

That refrigerator had survived at least a 90 mile journey from the high sierras to the Sacramento valley. I am still amazed when I think of that.

Thanks for the memories!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Would make a good "children's book:

"The Refrigerator Lost its Home."

Thanks for the comments. Appreciated. I know the area well... I hiked the trails just off 50 before you go down into Reno.. Beautiful streams and lakes on top of the world...


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland

"I have a license to build in the state of California" -- haha -- great story, great hub, a true adventure.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Mike's Corner,

The local Sherriff was not impressed. "You cannot build a Gold Dregger here..." I had to explain, what I was building. Most people do not build rafts to navigate on rivers...

I am preparing to sail a 28 foot cabin cruiser from Avila Bay, California to San Francisco, down the Deep Water Channel to Sacramento, California. A two-three day trip... I purchased a "fixer-upper" Cabin Cruiser and want to sail around the Delta... An area of water-ways with over 1,000 miles of shore line between Sacramento and Stockton... Huck Finn would be at home. Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) worked for the Sacramento Bee...


Mike's Corner profile image

Mike's Corner 5 years ago from Maryland

The great thing about adventure is that there's always another one just up ahead, as long as you're willing to look for it and take it on. Truly inspirational Dallas --I hope you bring your laptop and give us some live hubs!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

Mike's Corner,

Thanks Mike... Stay tuned.. Lots of work to prepare the boat...


andrebreynolds profile image

andrebreynolds 5 years ago

Great hub.. Thanks for sharing.


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

andrebreynolds,

Thanks!


6hotfingers3 profile image

6hotfingers3 5 years ago

Great!Great hub....I can personally relate to your H ub. I a very familiar with the Sacramento area and could envision your trip as you traveled along the by ways of the powerful rivers.Thank you for that mental adventure that you helped us experience on so many levels. Great read!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

6hotfingers3,

Thanks for the comments. Reflects life. Life is a process...


World-Traveler profile image

World-Traveler 5 years ago from USA

dallas93444

Thank you for your personalized comment on one of your photos above. Your photos brought back more memories of the Sacramento River. In fact, some of the pictures look just like the river's banks along the shores of Rancho Cordova.

When living near the river I jogged about three or four miles five days a week. I would start out on the man-made asphalt river trails sidelining the river and then on my round-trip back run the boulders and the rocks on the edge of the river's waters. An excellent workout and more memories restored.

Thanks. Rated UP, up and away!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA Author

World-Traveler,

As you may recall, the bike path from Folsom to Old Scaramento has "Beware of Mountain Lions" signs posted! I had lived in the town of Folsom and enjoyed riding on the bike trail all down hill 50 miles to Old Town Scaramento. The return 50 mile ride uphill created an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery.. Yep it was a good ride!

Thanks for bringing up the good memories...

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