We did this wonderful paddle in the Summer (July 7, 2007). We headed out early in the morning to the put in. I found the put-in using Google. Just search for, "Lake Berryessa boat ramp". I like to find a public ramp that we can use for free. I also use Wikimapia for satellite imagery, because it let's me use more of my screen for displaying satellite images than Google Maps does. But Google Maps generates driving directions very easily, so I use both.
We woke up a little on the early side, and had a big breakfast. It's always a good idea to fuel up as much as you can before you hit the road. We packed food for the boats, and got all of the kayaking gear together.
We put the Thule rack on the truck. Since the rack is worth over $500, and it's easy to put on, we only put it on when we need it. It takes us about 10 minutes to put the rack on the truck. Then we put the rack cross bars in the up position, and load up the kayaks. We bring the rack key along so that once we've unloaded the kayaks for the paddle, we lower the posts, and lock them into the down position.
It's a nice drive to Lake Berryessa from Vallejo, just under an hour, and very pretty. There is a boat ramp at Capell Cove, and it's free to use. We didn't use the boat ramp or floating dock though, because there is a nice beach put-in that we prefer. Vehicles with trailers line up to use the ramp, and by using the beach, we stay out of their way. We prefer nosing the kayak into the lake, getting in, then shoving off. The picture on the left shows you where Capell Cove is, and the following picture zooms in on the parking lot. The beach is just below the red arrow on the picture. Incidentally, the red arrow shows where the vehicles with trailers line up.
From here we paddled out to the lake, which is fresh water, and very large, with lots of coves to explore. I highly recommend carrying a map. We were able to identify the various branches of the lake, and wouldn't have had any idea where we were going without the map. Though we could have followed the shoreline back to the boat ramp, it can get a little confusing if you didn't pay attention on the way out.
This picture shows the route that we took. There are a great many motorboats on the lake, especially in Summer. We saw many other kayakers, too, and they were good company.
There is a cove along the way where we stopped for lunch, and we also practiced our self rescues. We'd dump out of our kayaks, then pull ourselves up behind the cockpit, and straddle the kayak facing the bow. Then scoot forward until your butt is over the seat, then you sit yourself down, then bring the legs in. We did this a few times each. Then you use the pump and/or sponge to get the water out of the cockpit. This was good for our kayaks because they're use to salt water, and the fresh water really is a lot nicer. When it dries you don't have that powdery salt all over everything.
This picture is taken at the beach where we stopped to have lunch. It's in a little cove, so there is no boat traffic close to shore, so it is a sheltered place to practice rescues. In Summer, the water, at least the top layer, is quite warm and pleasant to take a spill in.
Here's Kevin just off shore.
That's my Necky Looksha on shore.