Friday, January 08, 2010

What a Predicament

Yesterday I drove out of the fog of Cowtown up to the lake where it was sunny and a cozy 60.  Washed the boat.  Lost the camera lens cap overboard (damn it!).  Watched the ducks swim around the boats.  Nice outing. 

The lake is low all due to the Parks Service draining it.  They say it happens every year.  A guy I spoke with last week whose boat is berthed at the Brandy Creek marina on the other side of the lake said that half the boats there could not get out. 

I thought that was interesting.  When berthed, Sparkle Plenty has 35 feet of water under her.  More than enough to get in, get out and not have a problem.

Last year the wooden docks at both marinas were replaced by the Parks Service.  They're nifty.  They're new.  You don't get splinters.  Our marina has single berths.  The marina across the lake accommodates two boats per a very wide berth.  That's why we chose to park Sparkle Plenty in its present location at the Oak Bottom marina. 

Two boats in a berth often makes for strange bedfellows.  For example:  In October there was a wild and woolly storm that hit the lake.  Buckets of rain.  Winds well over 50mph.  It was heavy weather.  Boats on our side of the lake did well.  None of them sunk (but it was a close call for a couple whose bilge pumps failed).  But across the lake several boats came untethered and in turn damaged the boats next to them.  Not good.

The docks at both marinas are held in place by cables that are anchored into concrete that's located on the shore.  That's the rub.  What I saw yesterday at the Brandy Creek marina were the anchoring cables very close to the surface.  It was easy to see that a sailboat with a draft of four to five feet could no way pass over the cables without wedging its keel around one of the cables. 

This is not a problem at our marina located at Oak Bottom.  But it's a major problem for boats on the shore side of the Brandy Creek's marina.  There's no moving any craft there until the water rises at least 5 feet.  I'm told that there's no way that's going to happen before April.

I'd be more than a little irked with the Parks Service for allowing a dock design that would prohibit sailing at low lake levels.  I'd also be irked in paying the monthly dock rent for boat that can only be "parked" and not used.

The photos posted here tell the tale.  Top photo shows how really low the lake is at the Brandy Creek marina.  There's barely enough room for the boats to back out of their slip without going ashore or being grounded.  I walked the length of the dock (there's more boats moored in back of where the top photo was taken) and there's no way any of the 30 plus boats can get out onto the lake all due to the shallow depth of the anchoring cables.

The cable shown in photo #2 is like the several other cables that string from the docks to the shore.  All are at the same shallow depth given the current level of the lake.  They're no problem to navigate around them even when the lake is even 5 feet greater in depth than it is now.

If Sparkle Plenty was locked into her berth as about 30 boats are now I'd be crying BLOODY MURDER!  Not right.  Raising the level of the lake is no big deal, is it?  On second thought, we're dealing with the Parks Service.  Probably would take an act of Congress to increase the lake level by just a few feet. 

Ahh, bureaucracy......


Joker_SATX said...

Wow! That is low. And they drain the lake because? me out here Bob. Here I thought Lakes could not be drained. Is this a man made lake?

I am learning something new everyday!

Bob said...

Man made lake dedicated in 1963 by JFK. The fish in California have priority for water over people and over farmers. Parks Service is required by law to boost the lake to capacity by the end of April and through September. Then they empty the lake or at least take it to far less than capacity. The lake empties into Clear Creek which flows into the Sacramento River which in turn provides water to those down stream and to farmers in the California Central Valley. In a drought season, water politics can get brutal.

La Roo said...

How can they still charge people when they can't move their boats in an out? They are not keeping their boats there for decoration. I would not be a happy camper.

Sorry about the lens, that sucks.

Bob said...

Laroo: It was only the freaking lens cap so really was no big loss - just returned from buying another - it was a whole 6 bucks.

The marina is leased from the Parks Service and is run by someone private. It's really not their fault the lake is low. They're as victimized as the locked in boaters are. So, not charging rent would like be pouring more salt in the wound.

Dylan Darling said...

Bob, Interesting post. I'm a reporter at the Record Searchlight and I'd like to do a story about the lake level. Would you please give me a call at 225-8266?

Thank you!

Dylan Darling
RS reporter
(530) 225-8266

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Whiskeytown Lake, Very Northern California, United States