Delta Rat Scrapbook - September 2017

The Hal Schell Award

About 100 Delta folks gathered at Garlic Brothers Restaurant at Village West Marina. The mixer was jointly sponsored by Garlic Brothers and Village West Marina. The snacks were a feast with ribs, pasta, fruit and chicken.

The Delta Protection Commission, in partnership with the Delta Regional Foundation, created the Delta Leadership program to train a new generation of leaders in the Delta region. “With the challenges facing the Delta today, it is clearly in the Delta′s interest to cultivate the best in our existing leadership and to assist in the development of informed and energetic leaders for the Delta′s future,” said former Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho. First, the folks from the Delta Leadership Program distributed awards for the “Best of the Delta.” Ten awards were made based on an online poll that was made available throughout the region. To kick things off David Ogilvie of the Leadership Program presented awards to the best: Restaurant — Guisti′s; Deli — Mel′s in Walnut Grove; Marina — Owl Harbor; Burger— Bob′s at the Marina; Breakfast — Korth′s Café; Bridge – Antioch; State Park — Brannan Island; Festival — Pear Fair; Art Gallery — The Tong; Public Spot – Locke; Lodging — B&W Resort; Water Sports Rental — Delta Kayak; Local Wine – Bogle; Tasting Room – Bogle; Bar – Foster′s Bighorn.

Next, our own Ty Mellott took the stage and presented the 11th Annual Hal Schell Award. This award has been presented every year since our beloved Delta spokesman, and a constant thorn in the side of the forces attacking the Delta, our own Delta Dawdler, Hal Schell, crossed over the bar in 2006. Hal was beloved in the Delta and knew every dive, gin joint and rat hole bar in the region, he would hang out at all of them too. Hal coined the oft—repeated saying: “The coldest winter I ever spent was at Lost Isle. We had to stay in the beer cooler to keep warm.” Hal published his own Delta map and several books about the Delta that are still sought after today by folks interested in the history of the region.

Ty presented The Hal Schell Award to the Deak family, owners of B&W Resort. They hit the daily double having also received the award for best lodging from the Leadership Program. B&W Resort at the confluence of Georgiana Slough and the Mokelumne River, adjacent to the Highway 12 Bridge, is one of the Delta′s favorites with families from all over California and beyond vacationing there. Family member Jim Deak has been the manager of Ox Bow Marina just up the slough from B&W Resort for several years now. I am confident the family will continue to provide fun and service to Delta visitors for many years.



It has been a hot summer in the Delta with many 100 degree plus days. We had occasion to go to Emeryville for the Classic Yacht Association meeting. It was beautiful there and at least 20 degrees cooler than the valley. Jim and Bernadette Sweeney did remark on how hot it was though. They are from San Rafael, a much cooler climate. We went to the Emeryville Marina and prior to the meeting we got to tour the yachts Aurora V and Ahalani, two stunning boats that call San Francisco Bay their home.


Water War Update

Governor Brown is on record as saying he will do “anything humanly possible” to complete his plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta via twin 44—foot diameter tunnels. Luckily, there is a rising tide of opposition to this crazy idea. Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D–Discovery Bay), co—chairman of the California Legislative Delta Caucus, released the following statement:

“I represent more of the Delta than any other member of the Assembly, and I will do everything in my power to stop this ill—conceived and destructive project. The truth is ultimately the disaster of an idea called the Delta tunnels, which would disrupt the Delta economy and significantly burden agricultural production, recreational activities, the natural migratory paths of endangered fish species and legacy communities. The governor needs to explore real options that communities throughout the Delta can support to achieve the co—equal goals of restoring and protecting the Delta′s habitat, and providing clean and reliable water to Californians. He must not green light the tunnels plan.”

The tunnels will never be built but the concern is how much taxpayer money will be squandered in the attempt. Already a few consultants have gotten wealthy because of this giant Browndoggle. As work on the Oroville Dam progresses, more and more of the ineptness of the Department of Water Resources is coming to light. These same individuals will oversee building the twin tunnels held together with “dowels and gaskets.” If completed, it will be another disaster waiting to happen only this time it could have the potential to take out a city like Stockton or Tracy.

My colleague, investigative reporter Dan Bacher, reports that on July 28, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, under the helm of Director Charlton H. “I need a hug” Bonham, issued an “incidental take permit” for the construction and operation of California Delta Tunnels/WaterFix in “compliance” with Section 2081(b) of the California Endangered Species Act (CESA).

The permit allows the project to kill Sacramento River spring— and winter—run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species, in the construction and operation of the two massive 35 mile—long Delta Tunnels under the Sacramento—San Joaquin River Delta.

While the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and Natural Resource Agency officials claim that diverting the Sacramento River around the Delta will actually help fish and wildlife here, they are saying that they will actually be killing off the fish.

The DWR has claimed all along that the big water users benefiting from the twin tunnels will pay for the project. Michelle Banonis of the DWR issued a statement saying the state will be issuing bonds to pay for the project, “The Department seeks a judgment confirming the validity of revenue bonds the Department would issue to pay for the CWF facilities.” The DWR has filed a validation action concerning the bonds in Sacramento County Superior Court. In laymen′s terms, California taxpayers will be stuck with paying for this giant Browndoggle if it goes forward.


Sacramento Yacht Club

Every summer the Sacramento Yacht Club, Sportsmen Yacht Club, Stockton Yacht Club, and the San Joaquin Yacht Clubs all get together for the “4—S Games.” Get it, each of their names start with the letter “S.” This year the Sacramento Yacht club hosted the 64th Annual 4—S Games and members of the other clubs either came by boat or land yacht. The 4—S games involve playing horseshoes, backgammon, or puzzle assembling but the players are pros at what they do so it gets really competitive.

Now I think the Sacramento Yacht Club won in 2016 when the games were at the Stockton Yacht Club and they won again this year. I think they have won many times, if I was betting, I think I would bet on the Sacramento Yacht Club.


Marina West Yacht Club

Jerry Tremain advises me that the MWYC has had a busy summer. First, the Diablo Yacht Club cruised in for a “Summer of Love” weekend, featuring hippies and their own version of Mick Jagger. The Petaluma Yacht Club cruised in with a fleet of power and sailboats on July 22. Then, the next weekend, the Discovery Bay Yacht Club cruised in for the luau party that Erlyn says was a blast. This one involved guys dressing in drag and other assorted mayhem. One distinct advantage of visiting Marina West in the summer is the great swimming pool located just outside the clubhouse door. Being at Ox Bow Marina is an advantage too with a nice enclosed harbor and fuel dock as well as a ship′s store and Isleton′s excellent restaurants a short drive away.



This is an annual event that has been held for the last six or seven years at Mandeville Tip following the Independence Day celebrations. From their website: “Ephemerisle is a floating celebration of community, learning, art, and seasteading. We construct a floating city on the Sacramento River Delta and live on it for five days. Ephemerisle has elements of Burning Man in the early 1990s: a new adventure into an alien environment, with discoveries, adventures and mishaps along the way. There are no tickets, no central organizers and no rangers to keep you safe.”

Eric Chiu, a friend of mine and the owner of Park Delta Bay Resort on the Delta Loop had met up with Sacramento Bee reporter, Ed Fletcher, who wanted to go out and talk to the folks at Ephemerisle. It ended up Eric, Ed, Bryan Barton and Paul Kitagaki from the newspaper served as my crew for the day. I had spoken with Ed previously and met him once when he was investigating the case of the purloined pigs a few months back.

I came down the day before to top off my tanks at the fuel dock and make sure everything was working properly, and I was pleased that all systems were a go. We met at Ox Bow marina at 1430 hours the next day. Now an 80—year old boat can literally have hundreds of things go wrong affecting your voyage. After my crew was aboard and made familiar with the life jackets and safety gear, I went to fire up the starboard motor and turned the ignition switch to the start position. The starter stayed engaged and not only was there a hellacious noise coming from the motor but also there was smoke and a burning smell coming from the instrument panel. I immediately shut down the motor to assess the situation. It took a couple of minutes to figure out the problem. A big clue was when I looked at the back of the instrument panel and saw a large burn mark on the back of the ignition switch where the solenoid terminal is located. I disconnected the solenoid lead and momentarily touched it to a 12—volt terminal. The motor kicked right over and kept running. I taped off the wire lest something else short out and we were on our way.

The Mokelumne River Bridge has been working well lately since the retrofit a couple of years back. The operator let us through without a hitch. We cruised to where the Mokelumne joins the San Joaquin River and headed upstream on the San Joaquin. It is only a couple of miles from the confluence to Mandeville. Once there, we were greeted by several raftups of boats each no closer than 100 yards from another. After exploring the anchorage and learning that the numerous plastic jugs in the water were not marking crawdad traps but indeed marking anchor lines, we approached one raftup and made contact by radio. They said our folks could come aboard and cleared a spot on the lee side of the raft up. I nosed into the spot and my crew jumped and climbed down to the deck of the houseboat.

Apparently, Ephemerisle was conceived by Patri Friedman who is the grandson of visionary Milton Friedman. The event, sponsored originally by the Seasteading Institute now is simply a gathering of likeminded people that group together in several raft ups they call islands. They have their own leaders, rules and fees to belong. When I was in communication via radio with the folks on the island we selected, I just told them I had some folks that wanted to come aboard and they agreed that I could land them. Once there, they were first advised that the news media was not welcome but they softened and gave Ed and crew a tour of the island and let them interview some of the folks.

While Eric, Ed, Paul and Bryan were checking out the folks on the raft up, I moved away, shifted into neutral and caught up with my emails and messages. I had noticed earlier that my sonar was not working so I pulled my floorboard out, made a minor repair to the transducer, and got it reading reasonably well. I had to keep a sharp eye out not only for the plastic jugs but also there was the occasional swimmer traveling from island to island, fortunately, I did not get close to any of them. The only close call I had was after I dropped off my crew and started backing away from the island a young lad in a kayak paddled right behind me. Fortunately, he was just far enough away that I could still see him over my transom. It was windy, I was jockeying for position trying to miss him and the runabout tied close by. I managed to miss him and pulled away from the island without further mishap.

Living full time on the water has definite possibilities, however currently in most Delta spots, local governments limit how long a vessel can stay at one spot. Back in the last high tech bubble around the year 2000 when I was a yacht broker, I had many folks from the Bay area come to me looking for a boat to live on. The boats were available but there were not many vacant live aboard slips in the Bay. I did sell a few to liveaboards and they made the commute to the South Bay every day. Nowadays it is harder to find a live aboard slip. Most of the marinas I am familiar with have reached their quota of full time live aboards.

Two of my agents, Wendy Foulks and Jill Stevenson, were at the gathering with Village West Yacht Club on their Fun Sway Island. I could not find them and sent a text to Wendy but by the time I heard back, we were already headed back to Ox Bow Marina. I think Mandeville Tip could be about one of the most remote spots in the Delta for cell phone service.

If you are interested in seasteading, you might enjoy the book, “Seasteading” by Joe Quirk. There are certainly possibilities for living on manmade structures in the ocean. Ships and pleasure boats have been using reverse—osmosis fresh water makers for years and there are certainly technologies available for sewage and trash disposal that don′t pollute the water or the air. Certainly, much marine life can be used for food. In the Hawaiian Islands, the state government has placed FADS (Fish Aggregating Devices) buoys around some of the islands. They do attract fish, we used to fish them along the west coast of Oahu and would limit out every time.


Regarding My Ignition Switch

I could tell my ignition switch was defective because of the burn spot on one of the terminals. To the best of my knowledge, this is the original switch installed in my boat when it was built in 1937. I had replaced the portside switch several years ago due to another problem. I am utterly amazed that I can walk into an auto supply store and find a duplicate switch in stock for about $15.00. The terminals are even marked like the original to make things easier. It is a bit of work to replace the switch and would be a little easier if you have an assistant to help. You have to unscrew it from the front of the instrument panel and remove it from the back, which is easily accessible in my boat; you just do not have arms long enough to do both at the same time. Once I got the old switch out, I transferred the wires to the new switch breaking one in the process. I carry enough tools and parts to complete almost any electrical repair so it was a small job to splice a new terminal on the wire. I got it all back together and tested it before I installed it in the panel. It worked fine so I installed it in the instrument panel and tested it again. The only way you can tell it is not the original switch is that it is shinier and cleaner than the old one. The key, instead of brass, is steel. Now I am ready for the next cruise. I looked at my flywheel, it does not seem worse for the wear, and likewise the starter motor gear looks okay. The starboard motor runs backwards and uses a special starter costing two or three times the amount of the regular starter so I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that it was not damaged.


25 Years And Counting

From Mary Knight: “The silver anniversary of five friends gathering for a few days of sun, boating, and camping continued recently at Windmill Cove for yet another year of antics. Nancy O′Neil, Dale Vaughn, Wanda Hott, Linda Fairchild and Mary Knight assembled on the deck overlooking the San Joaquin River and cheered the tradition of good times that has lasted all these years. ‘We may be older, but we are still young and love getting together to play games, have a few cocktails, eat some good food and explore the delta just like we did way back when!′ Each lady has certain things they bring to the party. Delta Dale and Naughty Nancy guarantee all ice chests will have plenty of newly created Jello—shot flavors. (My favorite was the 50/50 and Banana Pirate). Wonderful Wicked Wanda and Laughing Linda make sure each morning is started off with Bloody Mary′s and Mixin Mary fills in with other libations and snacks throughout the journey.
Thursday morning the boating starts. The primary destination is Guisti′s for lunch but Rosa′s at Tower Park just happened to be on the way, so why not stop for a few adult beverages. This also gave the girls time to discuss what else they could do and what mischief they could get into. Blowing bubbles and giggling along the way were the perfect combination for a peaceful morning. Enjoying a perfect lunch and ready to hit the water again, they decide to stop at one of the many beaches that line the South Fork of the Mokelumne. ‘We had to go for a swim, after all it was 105 degrees out and when you are on the delta that′s the best way to cool off!′ 

“Friday morning while enjoying Bloody Mary′s, it was suggested we find a two—person tube, and take turns floating while on the way to downtown Stockton. It would be called a cocktail cruise, however if any cocktails spill then the tubing would be terminated as we did not want to commit any party fouls. To add to the excitement we added a few props, a walker, cane and wheelchair. Several hours later, here comes Wonderful Wicked Wanda walking on the beach, walker in tow and goes right into the water, jumps on the tube and says ‘let′s go,′ the rest of the girls were cracking up laughing. So the moral of five chicks in a boat is, enjoy your friends, laughter is the best medicine, and don′t stop believing.” 


Ebony Boat Club (EBC)

The club held their annual Juneteenth Family & Community Celebration on June 17. Commodore Carol Whitehead reports that it was an overwhelming success. “Our invited guests had a wonderful time and pitched in and helped out when needed. The day started with field games on the lawn area at Morelli Park in Stockton. The event was then moved down to the EBC clubhouse where a BBQ meal was provided for all in attendance. The meal consisted of ribs, hot dogs, hot links, baked beans, corn bread and potato salad with peach cobbler, crumb cake and assorted cookies for dessert, a feast indeed.

“After lunch life vests were passed out and guests were taken for a boat ride. We had three boats so each boat had to make 3 to 4 trips in order to accommodate over 62 kids and the 36 adults in attendance. While some attendees were taken for a boat ride, others were trying their luck at fishing and a few were being entertained by Nathan Williams who provided face painting, tattoos, balloon sculptures and hats for the kids.

“The groups attending the Juneteenth Celebration were the Antioch Vision Christian Center, Oakland Girl Scouts Troop 30017, East Bay Bible Church and the Stockton Agape Villages Foster Family Agency. A special thank you to Pastor Roberts and his wife for rolling up their sleeves and helping out wherever it was needed, Ann Dukes for handling the coordination of inviting the different youth groups to attend, and to the magnificent seven – Jim, Eddie Jo, George, Janet N., Janet H., Melvin and Frank, your assistance during this event was very much appreciated.”


Bob Garzee 2017

As a follow—up to a mention in our August issue regarding Bob Garzee and his annual award given to worthy Delta friends throughout the years, this year they once again recognized local marine law enforcement personnel.

We had assumed that they would be on their normal rented houseboat, but it appears that, like many others, their rental was canceled due to unavoidable and unfortunate weather events in the spring of this year. Our representative scheduled to cover their award ceremony was completely at a loss when the houseboat (Beadboat) could not be found. With that, the ceremony continued and this year′s recipient, Contra Costa Sheriff Marine Patrol, awarded the certificate indicating outstanding service and caring for the past 50 years.

In the spirit of their wonderful friend Hal Schell, Bob Garzee and the Bead Boat Crew will continue to hand out their beads at Mandeville, as well as, award well deserving individuals or groups that continue to help support the Delta.

Next July, be sure to stop by the bead boat for your own beads and give thanks to Bob as well as your own silent thanks to Hal Schell, the Delta Dawdler.

Pumpout Nav App

Vivian Matuk of the Division of Boating and Waterways informs us of a new mobile device application, “California′s recreational boaters in the San Francisco Bay Area, the California Delta and Southern California now have a new digital tool to aid in the proper disposal of boat sewage. The ‘Pumpout Nav′ app is designed to help boaters locate the closest sewage pumpout station for their vessels. Using the mobile device′s location, the app displays the pumpout stations closest to the boater, their operational status, as well as the cost, hours and location within the marina. The new app is free and available for download from both the Android Play and iOS Apple stores.

“With 1,100 miles of coast, and hundreds of navigable rivers and lakes, California has one of the highest levels of recreational boating activity in the nation. This outdoor activity increases the potential impact of boat—related pollutants that can enter aquatic environments. Pollutants that may be associated with boating activities include sewage, oil and fuel, detergents, solvents, paints, plastics and other marine debris. Given the large number of recreational boats in the state, even a small amount of pollution from a fraction of boats can cause serious harm to marine fish and wildlife. The new app provides recreational boaters a means to minimize the impact of boat—related pollutants.

“The San Francisco Estuary Partnership developed the free sewage pumpout locator application. The app was produced as a part of a Clean Vessel Act grant provided by the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways through the federal Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund. For more information, please contact Adrien Baudrimont at or James Muller at Tips on how to keep California′s waterways clean and green can be found online at


Recreational Boaters Of California (RBOC)

Peter Robertson, president of the RBOC, announced on August 3 the organization′s opposition to the Jerry Brown/John Laird WaterFix project that would divert the Sacramento River around the California Delta. “RBOC has, for decades, been at the forefront of opposing proposals that would impair the ability of boaters to access the 1,000 miles of waterways in the Delta,” said Robertson, “We successfully opposed permanent barriers that would have blocked navigation to popular Delta destinations. We have supported legislation that would increase funds for fighting invasive species such as the water hyacinth.”

At the August 1 meeting of its Board of Directors, RBOC identified specific, boater—related concerns with the Notice of Determination (NOD) for the California WaterFix environmental analysis. These include: The significant, negative impact that will occur with the closure of waterways to navigation during the lengthy construction period; the absence of a plan to ensure that the Delta infrastructure will not only be preserved, but improved; the lack of surety that the plan will address the threat that climate change and increased water transfers pose to the amount and quality of water in the Delta. We are encouraging the state to consider other sources of water such as increased storage and desalination according to the RBOC press release.


Irish Pennants

San Joaquin Yacht Club is holding their annual Champagne Cruise Fundraiser benefiting Meals on Wheels. Tickets are available through Sept 1, 2017. For $75.00 per person you receive a four—hour tour of the California Delta aboard a private yacht, champagne with hors d′oeuvres and dinner at San Joaquin Yacht Club after the cruise. Tickets are limited. Please contact Dennis Pippin for reservations at 925/684—2324.

The San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron announces America′s Boating Class starting on September 7, 2017. Classes will be at Tully C. Knoles School, 6511 Clarksburg Place, Stockton. The class covers anchoring, radio procedures, first aid, life jacket safety, knots, rules of the road on inland waterways, at sea environmental responsibilities, signaling, boat books and more. Also, the Power Squadron will be conducting their Partner in Command class on the third Saturday in September. This fun and educational one—day class held in the Delta with your boat will teach the First Mate how to handle the boat in an emergency. Contact Gary Rogers at 559/318—0721 or Doug Sherman at 562/773—3684 for reservations or more information.

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced that people should stay out of the water at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County until further notice and avoid eating fish from the reservoir due to the presence of blue—green algae (cyanobacteria). You probably don′t want to drink the water either.

Give me a call: 916/869—9141 or email: commo H

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