Stephens Yacht Rendezvous
Three Days Of Understanding,” you older folks might remember that song. On the first weekend of August a fleet of classic Stephens Yachts gathered at Village West Marina for the biennial Stephens Rendezvous. Jim and Carol Staley arrived on Wednesday the 2nd, cruising in aboard their 1928 LaBruzzi yacht. They have been spending part of the summer in the Delta mostly at Oxbow Marina in Isleton. At high tide on Thursday the 3rd, the 85-foot 1972 Stephens motor yacht Defiance carefully made her way up Fourteen Mile Slough and into the harbor where she tied up at the guest dock. Owner Jim Gabbert had brought her to the Delta from her Sausalito berth the previous day. He overnighted at the Stockton Downtown Marina so he would be staged to come up the slough at high tide the next day. Later in the day Miss 102, skippered by Steve Mannshardt, pulled into the harbor.
The owners of Village West Marina, Claude and Arron Pellarin, along with marina manager, Vickie Baumann, had invited the Classic Yacht Association to hold the event at the marina this year. I think the first year it was held at Village West was in 1994; Jim Gabbert has a coffee mug from that gathering. A lot of this gets lost in history. The first rendezvous I attended was in Alameda I think back in the early 1990s. My niece Debbie and I attended and learned quite a bit about Stephens boats. The Classic Yacht Association has put on the Stephens Rendezvous every other year for at least 25 years. It is generally held one year in the Delta and the next time in the Bay area. It has been held at various venues including Oxbow Marina, Petaluma Yacht Harbor, Downtown Stockton Marina, Grindstone Joe Association and Delta Marina. If there were other locations they are slipping my mind right now. Gene Moore, who at the time owned the beautiful Stephens flush deck motor yacht Silver Crest, was the organizer for years. George and Candice Homenko have been heavily involved in many of the events.
By Friday the docks were packed with Stephens and a smattering of other classics. The guest docks were full and the dock in front of the yacht club had several boats as well. On Thursday night the Pellarin Brothers hosted a Margarita party on a float at the yacht club for skippers and crew. Along with the cold drinks, they provided fajitas, which were well received by the famished mariners. The cool thing was the Margarita machine. I was so fascinated by it that I put it to use several times. You just filled it with ice, tequila, and mix, press a button and presently a perfect frozen Margarita came out of the nozzle. The Margarita machine would be the perfect companion to the very expensive hot dog machine Don and Karylene Mann had aboard their yacht, Lady Wanda V.
CYA members and guests came all the way from Southern California for the occasion. A lady friend of Patrick Welch came all the way from New Jersey. On Friday night, 50 crew members and guests joined members of the Village West Yacht Club for dinner in their clubhouse. Thanks to Commodore Tom Palacioz and Vice Commodore Tissy Schoch, we enjoyed a great meal of pasta, roast beef, and chicken. The clubhouse had just been remodeled and I heard many comments about how nice it is.
The flagship of the event was Jim Gabbert’s beautiful 85-foot aluminum Stephens Defiance. Defiance draws 6-feet so he had to come up Fourteen Mile Slough at high tide. He made it in fine and the harbor is at least ten-feet deep so once he was in there was no concern. Jim spent much of the weekend showing his beautiful yacht to admiring passersby. Defiance has one of the best layouts and cleanest engine room of any boat I have ever been aboard. You might think it was a sales showroom for diesel motors. Jim is one of the most amazing and smartest people I have ever met. He does much of the work on his boat himself. He went to diesel mechanics school so he would know how to maintain his engines. The topside of Defiance has a beautiful paint job and come to find out Jim, had painted her himself.
He has been the Grand Marshall of the Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade for 20 plus years. Jim is well known for his Dance Party on KOFY-TV20 in the Bay Area, which he owned until he sold it in 1998. He has been on San Francisco radio and TV for well over 50 years. Jim has an extensive resume. He is Past President of the Sausalito Art Festival, was President and Chief Lobbyist for the National Radio Broadcasters Association from 1970 to 1980, was President and Chief Lobbyist for the California Broadcasters Association, was inducted into the Broadcast Hall of Fame, received an award from President John Kennedy for having been the first successful stereo FM radio station in the country. He is the Chairman of the California State Emergency Communications Committee. He is a fill in talk show host on San Francisco’s KGO am 810 Radio. Jim is a founding member of the Sausalito On The Waterfront Foundation. Most folks refer to him as a “legend” in the broadcasting business. Jim has recently sold his other yacht, Invader, a 164-foot Italian beauty that he kept in the Pacific Northwest.
Sister ships, Ahalani and Miss 102 were on hand, Dick Stephens still bristles when asked about the story of the nearly identical 60-footers. Other boats attending were Serenity, Eslo, Catherine E, Triple Crown, Donella, Allure, Firebird, Hiltot II, SKAL, Makato, Tule Lady, and Richard Dunn’s 24-foot Siam teak Stephens runabout. Okay, Flamingo, Catherine E, Eslo, and Tule Lady were not built by Stephens but their owner’s hearts are in the right place. As an example of that wooden boat spirit, a few years back when we had another Rendezvous in Stockton, the Stockton Record newspaper covered the event and of all the boats picked, a photo of Eslo was used to accompany the article. Owner Tom Clothier has been gloating about it ever since.
After the great Margarita party on Thursday evening, most folks were full from the fajitas but a few hearty souls made it over to Garlic Brothers for a bite to eat. Village West Yacht Club very generously loaned their patio boat to the group to travel between the club dock and the guest dock during the event. Scott Andrews became the default captain. It is only about 100-yards by water between the two locations but it is seven tenths of a mile by land.
Many members of the Stephens family dropped by to see the gathering of their boats. Dick Stephens came by and shared anecdotes about many of the boats that he designed.
I think this is the greatest number of larger boats that has ever attended the rendezvous. Johnathan Ambreau got his recently purchased Firebird out of the yard the day before he cruised to the event from the Bay. I knew the owners of Firebird 20 or so years ago, it is good to see her in good hands again. Several CYA members drove up from Southern California to be part of the gathering. Scott Andrews and Susan Takami took them for a Delta cruise aboard Makato so they could experience what the maze of waterways called the Delta is about.
Folly II is a famous 65-foot Stephens yacht stationed in Monterey. We communicated with her skipper, Bruce Graham, and he was trying to bring her to the event. Unfortunately the weather and a couple of technical problems prevented her from making the trip. We hear she may be moving to Sausalito in the near future. Serenity made it up all the way from the South Bay.
Rusty Areias, owner of Miss 102 could not be there for much of the fun. He and Julie Areias were hosting a wedding at their estate on the 4th. Retired 49er, Eric Wright, married Dr. Judith Galario. Rusty said there were about 30 Super Bowl rings represented at the ceremony. Eric Wright gained fame for a game saving tackle putting the 49ers in their first Super Bowl.
Martin and Janis McNair recently sold their beautiful Stephens Allure. New owner Per Hammerlund brought her up from the Bay on Saturday afternoon and found a spot tucked in behind Catherine E.
I got a good night’s sleep on Thursday and got there early on Friday morning to help set up for the Taste of the Delta event. We had a tent coming in from Big B Tent Rentals in Lodi and then later in the afternoon, we had tents coming in from Oxbow Marina that Kim Korth had loaned us for the event. These are industrial sized tents and once they are set up it would take an act of god to move them.
Village West Marina has undergone an almost complete facelift since the Pellarin brothers took over a couple of years ago. They have removed tons of junk and debris, as well as getting rid of the derelict boats. The grounds are beautiful and well kept now.
The point by the Village West Yacht Club has been totally redone. They have installed pads for recreational vehicles with power and water. You can have a waterfront RV pad. The cul de sac is paved for vehicles with a grassy center area. I told you before about the cabins they are beautiful and likewise on the water. The yacht club has been renovated with the deck moved around to what used to be the back but looks towards Mt. Diablo and the sunset. The interior has been completely redone with additional seating for meals.
The Pellarins are also looking at putting in some larger slips to accommodate some of the bigger vessels that are calling the Delta home nowadays. It is pretty amazing the way trends have gone over the last 60 plus years. When I was a child, a 30-foot boat was considered good sized, you would pack two couples and a bunch of kids and go out for the weekend. Families were cruising up from the Bay in 25-foot sailboats and not even thinking it was a small boat. Now there is a big market for 50-foot and larger boats. People are more affluent and with modern construction methods, prices are kept down.
Rusty Areias has advised me that a famous Stephens boat, Dagny Taggart, will be moving to the Delta from Southern California. She is a 74-footer and a beautiful yacht from everything I hear. We welcome her into our waters. Dagny Taggart by the way is an Ayn Rand character, a fitting name for a yacht.
Jim and Carol Staley are the caretakers of Tule Lady a beautiful 1928 La Bruzzi cruiser with a beautiful inlaid wood compass rose in the bridge deck, Jim had it made in Italy a number of years ago. Jim like many of us served in the Navy in his youth. He has written and illustrated a fascinating book, Come In Swanee Leader, about his exploits aboard an LST (Landing Ship Tank) cruising from San Francisco to Hawaii, Japan, Korea and the Bering sea in the very early 1950s. This was during the Korean War and not long after World War II. Jim talks quite a bit about life in Japan at the time. Jim bought his first 35-millimeter camera in Japan when he was there and has spent his life taking quality photos. He gave me a copy of the book that I will treasure until the time comes for me to pass my collection on. If you want to get a copy of this excellent book you can order them at: http://www.swaneeleader.com/
It is good to see that wooden boats are undergoing a revival. Boats have been made of wood for thousands of years and by the 1930s they were state of the art with silicon bronze fastenings and modern adhesives and paints. Some die hards insist on maintaining the original power plants but many have been equipped with modern overhead valve gasoline motors and lightweight diesel power. Wiring and plumbing system have been modernized too.
Taste Of The Delta
The California Delta Chamber & Visitor’s Bureau has been putting on the Taste of the Delta for seventeen years. Vickie Baumann conceived the event at the turn of the current century so it seemed simple logic to have her involved in the latest event. The Pellarin brothers once again got onboard and agreed to have the event at Village West Marina. They were in the midst of renovating the marina and put forth a great effort to host this event.
We took over the point by the yacht club. RV pads had just been installed and there was a cul-de-sac that we lined with tents to house the exhibiters. We had Tressa Gaye and friends providing some mellow blues and rock music.
The silent auction had a wealth of local things to offer. Corrie Gutierrez from Weibel Family Vineyards created some beautiful gift baskets for the auction, they involved Weibel wines as you might imagine. The Village West Yacht Club was open for business and after a hard day of work many of us dropped in for a cold beer or cocktail.
Rick Nolet, Mr. Pedicab had his pedicab there for those exotic folks, you could get a ride from the event back to the main office area. No, he was not going up and down the hill from Embarcadero.
It was a fantastic weekend with two major events happening at the marina. Many of the CYA folks attended the Taste of the Delta. There were many people visiting to admire the boats and many of the skippers invited passersby aboard. We give a big thank you to every business that participated and all the folks that purchased tickets and came to spend the day with us. Thanks too to all the gracious volunteers that join us each year to help pull off this party. Most of all thank you Claude and Arron Pellarin and Vickie Baumann.
We attended the Delta Chambers mixer at Steamboat Landing on the Sacramento River right where the river meets Steamboat Slough. Tim Neuharth and his family have created a spectacular spot along the river to enjoy a bite to eat along with a cold drink. A couple of dozen chamber members and guests dropped in on a recent Wednesday evening. Tim’s staff had prepared some excellent snacks including some puffed pastries stuffed with fresh-off-the-tree pears and apples. Tim gave us the history of the property which has been in his family’s hands for generations. Come by boat or car, there is about 100 feet of dock space available and a popular private beach right on Steamboat Slough.
The entire Sacramento River/State Route 160 corridor is opening up with some excellent spots to eat or even stay all night. The Freeport Wine Country Inn is at the far Northern end almost at the Sacramento City limits, further down there are the Scribner Bend Vineyard, Old Sugar Mill, Bogle Hood Supply Company, then Steamboat Landing.
Once again we assembled at the Commanders House at the Port of Stockton for a semi-annual get together of several local chambers. Since we last visited the location there has been a lot of remodeling and painting. The entire interior of the house has been painted and a large concrete patio has been added that goes right to the riverbank where you can hang out and watch the boats go by.
Tim Quinn with the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce did a great job spearheading this event and herding the other chambers to take part. In addition to the Greater Stockton Chamber, the San Joaquin County African American Chamber, the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber, the Central Valley Asian Chamber and the California Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau participated. Sponsors were the Port of Stockton, Stockton Host Lions Club and Big Valley Ford. The weather cooperated with a nice cool evening. The next diversity mixer will be in December at the Haggin Museum. This is another excellent party you should not miss.
The much anticipated Smith’s Landing Seafood Grill restaurant has opened at the Antioch Marina. The building has been totally remodeled and it reminds you of what a commercial boat landing might look like in the last century, upgraded to a fine dining restaurant, naturally. The interior and furnishings are beautiful, this will be a great place to go on dates and special occasions, as well as, drop in for lunch or a cocktail. They held a soft grand opening late in August and Sue and I attended along with many local luminaries. Gary Clausen (Twin River Insurance) along with his wife, Mary were there, likewise Twin Rivers associate Dale Manning and his wife Becky were also on hand. Antioch Marina manager James Pflueger, Antioch police chief, Tammany Brooks joined the celebration. Erica Rodriguez-Langley and Charles Dulac attended from Assembly Member Jim Frazier’s office. Ty and Becky Mellott who live right down the road in Martinez were on hand as well. We met Sara Tamayo who owns Tamayo Family Vineyards. We were able to try some of her excellent wines at the event.
We spoke to co-owner Randy Tei, he is extremely pleased with the way the project has developed and is confident this restaurant will be a hit. Randy and his wife Lynn own two other restaurants, the Zephyr Grill in Brentwood and the Zephyr Grill in Livermore.
We look forward to another great Delta waterfront restaurant that will be accessible by land and water. Smith’s Landing looks like it will be an excellent venue for yacht club change of watches and other meetings.
Stockton Maritime Museum
David Rajkovich checks in from the USS Lucid, (Stockton Historical Maritime Museum) MSO-458 an Aggressive Class oceangoing minesweeper. I have not been aboard her for a while but it looks like they are doing a lot of work on the interior. It appears they have finished the forward berthing area and replaced a lot of rotted wood. The Director of the Navy History and Heritage Command, NHHC, based at the historic Washington Navy Yard, Rear Admiral Samuel J. Cox, USN (ret.) visited the Lucid a while back. Then in June, Executive Director of the Historic Naval Ships Association, Dr. William Cogar spent an afternoon on board Lucid. The HNSA has become an important advocate for the museums efforts. The Association is a non-profit organization whose membership is comprised of naval ship museums and memorials around the world as well as individuals, businesses and organizations that promote the naval history.
David reports that, “after almost 18 months of work, forward berthing is nearing completion.” Several overhead laminated oak beams had to be replaced, as well as a large section of the deck and supporting structure beneath the main deck. Civilian installed sky lights that leaked over the previous 25 years caused a lot of rot. A tremendous amount of labor went into replacing and repairing damaged wood that was sandblasted at some point in the past, causing substantial damage as well.
Hyacinth and Primrose seem to be making a comeback. Please report sightings of these pests to 888/326.2822 and or firstname.lastname@example.org. Send a photo if you can. From past experience we have learned that it does not take much for these pests to get totally out of control, we need to be on top of them all the time.
We are also hearing more reports of nutria sightings, these rodents, you will remember, like to bore into levees to build homes and will eat all the vegetation in their territory. It has become such a problem that the state of Louisiana is paying private citizens to kill this pest in an attempt to win the battle for the shoreline.
The documentary “Rodents of an Unusual Size,” by Bay Area filmmakers Chris Metzler, Quinn Costello and Jeff Springer lays out the problem nutria pose but also takes us into the bizarre Louisiana subculture built around the critters that include a rodent style Cajun cuisine and a local fur industry. They will turn a delta into an open waterway. You can report nutria here: 866/440.9530 or send an email to email@example.com
The latest scourge to reappear is the Chinese Mitten Crab. You may remember that during the 1990s through the mid 2000s there was a big fear that they would bore their way through the levees and destroy the Delta. They were found as far upstream as Knight’s Landing. Then all of a sudden they vanished. It was amazing it was like the pied piper stole them away to their deaths. Now Philip Kiefer, who is with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Tiburon advises us that they may be back. You can find photos of them online. If you catch one, don’t throw it back alive. Freeze it and note the location where it was found. Upload photos and information to http://mittencrab.nisbase.org or twitter @SERCInvasions, hashtag #FindMittenCrabs.
Vince Rosato caught the mother of all Ling Cods in a recent deep-sea fishing expedition off the coast of San Francisco.
By the time you read this the new dock at the foot of Main Street in Rio Vista should be in operation. The dock is right around the corner from the public launch ramp. The old dock was literally disintegrating. The dock is a good spot to stop and get a bite to eat at one of the nearby restaurants or to visit the bait shop just up the street. It is only a short few block walk to Lira’s Supermarket from the dock too.
Don’t miss the 71st annual Rio Vista Bass Derby on October 12-14th. The festival is much more than a fishing contest but that is a large part of it. There is also a parade, street fair, custom/classic car show and a soap box derby race. There is something here for everyone!
Hopefully as you read this the problems with the Rio Vista Bridge will have been fixed. In early August, it got stuck open when part of the raising and lowering mechanism failed. They have been raising and lowering it manually since then but as this is a cumbersome process, they are not opening it for every vessel to pass, rather they have been opening it in the night when auto traffic is lighter.
Friends of Westpoint Harbor (Friends) has received word that the California State Auditor’s Office has officially opened an audit of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) having met the primary goal of the petition that Friends launched in January and received over 5,000 signatures. Westpoint Harbor has been under attack by the BCDC for a few years now. Hopefully this will help end the harassment.
California State Parks is now reviewing bids for a new concessionaire to provide ferry service for the Tiburon/Angel Island Ferry Route. The current proposed State Parks contract would exclude the incumbent Angel Island-Tiburon Ferry and Captain Maggie McDonogh from bidding on the contract due to increased financial requirements. The Angel Island/Tiburon Ferry and the McDonogh family have been an integral part in the history of Angel Island as they have provided transportation and a multitude of services to and from the Island for 5 generations over 140 years. I would like to see them continue this service in the future. You can contact the Parks Department at 800/777.0369 to let them know how you feel.
Lisa Lozano of Inland Marine has just received her boat and yacht salespersons license. If you are ready for that new yacht give her a call at: 925/757.1714.
We have not heard from Erlyn and Don Payne for a while, come to find out they were in Nevada at the Burning Man Festival being desert rats instead of Delta rats.
Keep in touch, commodore firstname.lastname@example.org or 916/869.9141. H