Charts and Guidebooks
Planning your Delta vacation starts with charts showing water
depths and bridge elevations, because your boat’s draft and
height will shape your itinerary. The following charts are useful
for planning and navigating.
■ NOAA charts No. 18660 through No. 18663 cover the
Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River.
■ The Delta: Suisun Bay, Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers,
published by Fish-n-Map Company ( www.fishnmap.com), is a
foldout waterproof chart with GPS data.
■ The Sacramento River Boating Guide by Bill Corp (available at
www.sacboating.com) contains 43 large-scale charts and reams
of local knowledge and covers Rio Vista to Knights Landing.
If the book is sold out at the website, a second edition will be
available in June 2018.
■ “The California Delta Boaters Map and Visitors Guide,” from
the Sacramento Chamber of Commerce, is an accurate foldout
chart that shows local boating services on the reverse.
■ Get tide charts online ( www.deltaboating.com) or at any
marina or tackle shop; you’ll need this information because
most of the Delta waterways are tidal. The Coast Guard 11th
District weekly Local Notice to Mariners ( www.navcen.uscg.gov)
has details about temporary drought and flood barriers.
■ For a map of the Delta with useful boating information,
visit the California State Parks Division of Boating and
Waterways website ( www.dbw.ca.gov/PDF/CleanGreen/
For a directory
of marinas and
fun events on
the Delta, plus
info on how
to charter a
boat, visit this
A BOAT DRAWING AS MUCH AS 10 FEET CAN START AT
SAN FRANCISCO AND MEANDER THROUGH THE DELTA TO
ARRIVE AT SACRAMENTO TWO WEEKS LATER
waterway but with 10-foot minimum depth and dozens of
feeder streams, creeks, and sloughs to explore. The Isleton bascule bridge below Walnut Grove has 15-foot vertical clearance
at high water. Here, taller boats may need to wait 15 minutes
or toot for an opening. The Delta Loop has been a favorite
destination for larger cruising yachts, thanks to deeper water
and bigger docks. In fact, a boat drawing as much as 10 feet
can start at San Francisco and meander through the Delta to
arrive at Sacramento’s historic waterfront two weeks later – a
terrific family vacation! Smaller boats have an advantage: They
can navigate all the Sacramento River waterways mentioned
above, plus they can explore the meandering San Joaquin and
the four twisting forks of the Mokelumne River. In the San
Joaquin main stream, maximum depths reach nine feet in some
spots. Boats from the St. Francis Yacht Club, next to the Golden
Gate Bridge, frequent the club’s private Tinsley Island, which
has nine feet of water off its north side and lies only five miles
west of Stockton.
In the middle Delta, boats drawing less than eight-and-a-half feet can use the cross-channel gates to navigate from the
Sacramento to the rest of the Delta. In all river systems, some
side streams flow downhill for maybe a mile, then fade into
tules, which are marshy no-wake lakes that create pristine fishing, kayaking, and bird-watching.
“It’s all about the journey, not the destination,” reads a hand-lettered sign in a remote Delta anchorage. Note that recreational boats shouldn’t enter the Sacramento Deep-Water Ship
Channel, which starts four miles north of Rio Vista.