of the estero
By DON J:!;NGDAHL
Sonoma County. despite the pressures of population
that grow day by day , has some pockets of relatively-
untouched isolation and unique natural beauty.
One -is the Estero de Americano, a bra c k i s hto-
salt body of wat·er about a dozen miles 101'lg,
winding, shallow channel that forms the county line
on the south coast.
It's there becaus·e without the permission of adjoining
property owners YOll: can't reach it except at
either end-the ocean at the west, the county road
bridge at Valley Ford on the east .
. Press Democrat photographer Jeff Lee ~nd I recently
made up a P.D. expeditionary force to explore
the. Estero with a shallow draft boat, entering at the
!bridge, boating to the sandbar that closes the m~uth
during the summer months and return. . .
The ·mission was accomplished. although a modicU'm
of bad planning· added to the difficulties. (As,
forgetting to take extra shear pins for the . outboard
motor. and losing the oarlocks early in the trip.)
At the eastern end, the E'stero is a narrow, meandering
canal set deep in the lush pastureland 'that
borders it on either side. The depth is a foot or two,
the.. bottom deep mud .
. There is a quiet feeling of reality, boating slowly
through the open countryside, noting (as any child of
modern society must) the complete absence of beer
cans and garbage, ,vatching the cows go by.
Further downstream the channel abruptly widens,
becoming a hundred or mor·e feet · across a point and
only inches deep.
The trifk is to find the main channel and stay in
it. Not easy.
An occasional farmer's fence reaches nearly across
the estero at points, the weathered posts stuck deep
in the water, but there are places for boat passage.
And here and there small rowboats are drawn uR
along the banks, testimony to what old-timers tell me
has been fine fishing-especially b e for e siltation
from upland agricu1tul~e filled in the stream.
Progress at some of those points was slow and
strenuous, me poling while Jeff acted as leadsman in
the front looking for deeper water.
At the ocean end, the waves had piled up a gigantic
sandy dam hlocking the mouth of the estero, damming
a large lake of salt water.
We beached the boat there. climbed the banks to
explore a fisherman's shack on the Sonoma County
side, enjoyed the absolute peace and quiet of the isolation.
The trip back was somewhat more eventful,
. since I sheared the pin on the outboard just as we
started out. (The shear pin system is a clever art'
a n gem en t designed to prevent greater damage
when the propeller hits something hard. It also disables
the motor when you need it most). ____ __ ft ~ .
, Press Democrat, Santa Rosa/Calif., Sun., Nov. 16, 1969-9C
ESTERO DE AMERICANO-SALT WATER CHANNEL THAT DIVIDES SONOMA AND MARIN .COUNTIES
Aerial View Shows ~arge Sandbar That Blocks Estero Mouth At Ocean
BRIDGE ACROSS THE EST ERO NEAR VALLEY FORD RQWB ATS ALONG THE BANK OF THE CHANNEL
Testimony O~ Estero Fishing Possibilities.
it and the salt water
ty of creHtures. Som
aside as an €'('olu.!:!.lea,",,'P~""""''''''''''':':''
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