The San Joaquin River was like a highway on Friday.  We managed to sail a little bit but after a while the traffic was so heavy it hardly seemed worth it.  One particular Chris Craft roared by so close we believed he had malicious intent.  My poor boat rocked hard as there was no way to turn into the instant wave and no way to get out of the way.

Then we were beset by Cigarette Boats.   These are sleek, shiny, brightly colored, high octane, LOUD, speed boats.  They travel in packs of a dozen or more and they go so fast you don’t see the boat, only the spray.  We were told there was a “Poker Run” this weekend.  It was explained as a river rally with stops where participants collect playing cards.  The faster you get there the better the card you get, the best hand wins the weekend.  Much alcohol is imbibed.  I was pretty sure I was going to die when I saw the first dozen coming straight at us.  If we can’t see them, how can they see us.  No chance of getting out of their way and so you sit still and pray. I call this River Terrorism.

The fright of the Cig Boats was alleviated by the extreme kindness of the Village West Yacht Club folks.  They let us stay at their dock, chatted with us over sake, and even lent us their Patio Boat to get over to The Garlic Brothers Restaurant across the lagoon.  The food quality fluctuates depending on who is cooking but I’m told the pizza is always good.  I was mightily impressed the next day when a large group of yacht club members arrived on time to the work day and proceeded to clean and groom their clubhouse and grounds.  They couldn’t do much about the floating islands of water hyacinth other than wait for the current to haul them away.

The next day we toodled down to Stockton which was, as advertised, socked in with the same hyacinth, but to the point where R. would not take his catamaran into the downtown area.  We scooted behind a big Seascout boat that broke open a path for us and docked for a few hours.  What can you say about Stockton?  Nice city park.  Great rootbeer float and hamburger at Moo Moos.  Ok, been there, done that.  Back to the Stockton Sailing Club.

We did not anticipate the relief and happiness we felt when we entered a marina blissfully populated with a forest of masts.  Our People!  After suffering many indignities from stinky loud powerboaters ( who are mostly polite, if truth be told, but you mostly remember the bad ones), we were grateful to see “our kind.”  We like it so well we decided to stay all three days – and maybe thus avoid the return of the Cig Boats from their Poker Run.

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