A trip up the Sacramento River on a cold winter day


Fantasea

Fantasea on the Napa River

Fantasea on the Napa River

 

Commodore Les Cochren purchased  the 38 foot  1925 Matthews classic yacht Fantasea from Bev Partridge recently.  For her entire 87 year history Fantasea has been moored in San Francisco Bay but has cruised the Delta extensively over the years.  When Bev and her husband Bob owned her they even cruised her to Mexico from San Francisco via Catalina Island one time.

 

She has recently been repowered with a 200 horsepower General Motors V6.  The V6 has about 100 more horsepower and is a few hundred pounds lighter than the originally  installed Kermath marine engine. Matthews boats are massively built vessels and noted for being sea-kindly and comfortable but with the new motor she is relatively quick too.

 

 Les had her moved from her Alameda berth to Bill Ament’s boatyard in Walnut Grove to have her inspected, the bottom painted and new zincs installed.   When she was ready Les asked me to accompany him on a voyage from Walnut Grove to her new home port at the Sacramento Marina.  I caught up with Les and Fantasea at the Walnut Grove public dock on the Sacramento River, Bill and his son Casey  had moved her to the Sacramento River from the Mokelumne River side  of Walnut Grove in preparation for her voyage to her new home. 

Les Cochren, Bill Ament, Casey Ament

Les Cochren, Bill Ament, Casey Ament at the Walnut Grove public dock

 

My son Conrad dropped me off at the dock at 0900 hours.  It was very foggy so we waited for it to clear.  In the meantime Les walked up to the gas station on the road above and made a few trips with jerry cans to add some gasoline as the fuel gauges were not working.  We spent some time drinking hot coffee and eating donuts. The interior of Fantasea is charming, filled with memorabilia and artifacts dating to the early 20th century.  One of the coolest things is the coal burning stove in the main saloon.  It invites sitting around and the telling of sea stories with a glass of brandy in hand.

Fantasea lower helm station

Fantasea lower helm station

 

We finally pulled out at 1100 with plans to stop at the Boathouse Marina just upstream and take on more fuel.  As we pulled up to their fuel dock we noticed the sign saying the fuel dock was closed so we pulled a U-turn and went back to the public dock where Les got another 20 gallons 4 gallons at a time.  We left again with plans to stop somewhere further upstream to top off the tanks.

Fantasea interior

Fantasea interior

 

 We were bucking about a five knot current and we were doing 4.8 to five knots over the bottom according to the two GPS’s aboard.  We had plenty of pastries, and sandwiches and a couple thermoses of coffee for provisions.  The motor runs beautifully and when the sun came out we migrated up to the flying bridge and enjoyed the sights as we headed upstream.  It is about a 40 mile trip from Walnut grove to Sacramento and normally you can just relax and sightsee on the way.  This time however the helmsman had to keep a constant lookout as there were many logs and other debris coming down the river due to the recent rainstorms in the area.  It was almost like playing a video game as you were dodging objects headed at you and also trying to pick out the dangerous objects versus the clumps of hyacinth and tules coming down the river.

Captain Les on the flying bridge

Captain Les on the flying bridge

 

I was becoming increasingly nervous as we headed up the river with not too much of an idea how much fuel we had.  Running out of gas in a swiftly moving stream is not a good thing to do.  After passing a couple more closed fuel docks we found the one at Sherwood harbor open and topped off the main tank.  It only took 13 gallons so we were pretty safe even if we did not stop but at least it gave us a better level of confidence for the last few miles.

A nice Chris Craft headed down the river

A nice Chris Craft headed down the river

 

We pulled into the Sacramento Marina at about 1700 hours just as it was starting to get dark.  Les pulled her into her new covered slip and we had a sip of rum to celebrate a successful trip.

 

Approaching the Paintersville Bridge

Approaching the Paintersville Bridge


About Bill Wells - A retired yacht broker, Bill is currently the Executive Director of the California Delta Chambers & Visitor's Bureau. He is an active member of the Northern California Fleet of the Classic Yacht Association. In their spare time he and his beloved wife Sue cruise their 1937 Stephens cruiser Ranger to boating events throughout the Delta. Bill is active in matters helping to preserve and protect the California Delta. He chronicles his adventures in the monthly Delta Rat Scrapbook column for Bay & Delta Yachtsman magazine.



One Response to “A trip up the Sacramento River on a cold winter day”

  1. So nice to have a ‘good’ story, one that features a classic yacht, an appreciative captain like Les Cochren and the incredibly capable hands of Bill Ament, his son Casey and another son, Dorian completing the mechanical smarts of Ament Marine. Cannot say enough good things about this crew!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.