Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells

Delta Rat Scrapbook

Opening Day, Stockton Yacht Club

Jill Stevenson and Colleen Waterhouse did an outstanding job planning and executing the weekend events. Of course, they had a lot of enthusiastic volunteers helping, but they were the ones that spearheaded the event. The weekend started on Friday evening with a “cook your own steak” barbecue on the lawn at the club. It looked like about 50 people attended and enjoyed some great looking steaks and garlic bread cooked over the club grill.

Martini Shot, the Grand Marshal’s boat passes by.

On Saturday we met at the clubhouse at 1130 hours. Sue and I were asked to judge the opening day parade along with Gary Rogers. The plan was to cruise to downtown Stockton in Gary’s boat and do our judging there. The winds, estimated to have 50 knot gusts caused Gary to rethink the plan. His boat has a canvas flying bridge cover that he had just repaired after another wind event had damaged it and thought it would be prudent for her to stay under cover this time.

Gary also thought it would be good to inspect as many boats as possible before they left the docks in case their decorations would be damaged by the wind. So, we walked the docks and talked to the folks. Then we jumped in our cars and headed to the Ebony Boat Club at the Downtown Marina. This worked out well. Even though their clubhouse is a floating barge, the wind had minimal effect on it. The clubhouse was open and we were able to sit inside until Jill Stephenson called and told us that the parade was passing under the I-5 Bridge. We went outside and judged the boats as they went by. Several opted out and stayed at their slips, but there were still quite a few that braved the wind and completed the course.


It was amazing that most of the decorations stayed in place on the boats with wind gusts reported at 50 knots. The crews were very enthusiastic with this, the first major boating event of the season in Stockton. Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln was the Grand Marshal of the parade. He rode on Martini Shot, Richard and Jill Stephenson’s boat. After heading to the end of the channel at McLeod Lake the parade turned around and headed back to the Stockton Yacht Club.

Beverly Ann.

There was a tie for first place in the 41-foot and over category between Bob and Beverly Cain’s Beverly Ann and Bushwood that Captain Leslie Carson masterminded. Since both entries were great, there was a coin toss. Beverly Ann was declared the winner with Bushwood in second place. Captain Robert Willis aboard his Auri Ana won first prize in the 40 feet and under category. Captain Wayne Gannaway and his R Valium took second in the 40 feet and under category.

Judging the costumes.

Prizes were also awarded for costumes. Best costume for a man went to Bob Cain, best costume for a lady went to Quinn Carlson, one of the young ladies who was on board Bushwood and best costumed couple was awarded to Jim Kopshever and Cathi Gipson.

We drove back and headed for the bar where we watched the boats cruise back into the dock. Dinner was served later. We dined on barbeque ribs that melted in our mouths, and after that the awards ceremony was held. Yacht Broker Marc Bay of Bay Yachts donated the prizes to the event and Stockton Yacht Club donated the money raised to the Stockton Maritime Museum (USS Lucid.) Don Rienhart was on hand to accept the donation for the museum.

Opening Day On The Bay

The committee boat this year was the yacht Cabernet Sauvignon based in Alameda. If you were aboard, you enjoyed a sit down lunch and narration of the parade. Aurora V was the blessing boat stationed off of Corinthian Yacht Club. Coast Guard Commander of Sector San Francisco Captain Taylor Lam served as the Grand Marshal. Some of the winners were: Brent Harrill aboard Wilhite from Saint Francis Yacht Club – best powerboat decorated to theme, Eric Korbas aboard Tutu from Oyster Point Yacht Club – best sailboat decorated to theme, and Frances Larose aboard PaperBoy from the South Beach Yacht Club – best in Junior Division.

Opening Day on the Bay. Photo courtesy of George Homenko.
Folly II on Opening Day on the Bay. Photo courtesy of John Blackstone of CBS Sunday Morning.
Potomac on Opening Day in the Bay. Photo courtesy of Vicki Kalman.
Northstar II, Flamingo and Simpler Times at the Encinal Yacht Club after the parade. Photo courtesy of George Homenko.

Mad Max Tobias Redux

My colleague Jackie Philpott has a peculiar fascination with drawbridges. Well, I guess that is because she drives a sailboat and it is hard to move too far in the Delta without having a bridge opened. In her book “What I Saw Sailing in the California Delta,” she mentions meeting James Whitaker, a drawbridge operator who was working the Walnut Grove Bridge at the time. James said he got interested in being a bridge operator because of his friend Max Tobias who was also a bridge operator.

I first met Max when I dated his daughter Peggy back in the early 1960s when I was in college and she was in high school. I have told you this story before, but it is among my favorite Delta tales. Max was known as “the masher” among his fellow bridge operators. One time one of his friends came to visit him at the Walnut Grove Bridge and parked his work truck under one of the counterweights. Sure enough, a boat came up the river and called for an opening. Max opened the bridge and the counterweight crushed the cab of the pickup down several inches, making it look like the top had been chopped. Amazingly, it could still be driven albeit the driver had to crouch down considerably. He drove off and I always wondered what he told his boss when he came back with the truck. Max was a member of the Sacramento Yacht Club and had a Chris Craft named Constellation that he cruised up and down the Sacramento River.

When I bought my 1937 Stephens in 1993 I enlisted Max to help me deliver her from Sausalito to Arrowhead Harbor in Clarksburg. My cousins Bill Tyson and Gary Olson came along as crew. We pulled out of Sausalito at the crack of dawn, headed up through Raccoon Strait and set a course for the Straits of Carquinez. We had a great trip. Max was also an instructor with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, so he spent the trip teaching us how to tie knots and read channel markers. We only had one mishap, my fault naturally. We pulled into Delta Marina in Rio Vista to refuel and I turned the gasoline feed valves off and forgot to turn them back on when we pulled away from the fuel dock. The motors ran for about two minutes until the carburetors ran dry. Then they died and we were adrift in the Delta Marina harbor. It took me about 15 seconds to remember what I had done. I quickly turned the fuel back on, the motors started right up and we were on our way once again. The rest of the journey was uneventful and we made it to my slip at Arrowhead by 1400 hours.

Max is gone, but he will live on in the annuls of Delta history as “The Masher.”

Elk Feed At Tony’s In Walnut Grove

My Ace reporter Daniel Witte checks in from Tony’s in Walnut Grove: “I had the opportunity to attend an elk feed at Tony’s restaurant on April 13. Jimmy Azevedo hosted the event, he is a local from Walnut Grove. The lunch consisted of free elk burgers and beans or potato salad. The restaurant part of the building was designated specifically for the elk feed for the day. Jimmy happily donated the elk for the burgers and the restaurant provided the beans and salad. All the food was delicious, particularly the elk burgers. They were well-seasoned and had the wonderful taste associated with wild game.

Jimmy Azevedo with his elk antlers at Tony’s. Photo courtesy of Daniel Witte.

“The event began at 1200 hours and went until the elk ran out. From the start of the event, both the bar and restaurant were packed with patrons. There were so many people there for the elk feed that each time a table became available, it was filled almost immediately. The servers were very friendly and efficient as they brought people drinks and food.

“In fact, the antlers of the elk that was used for the burgers were standing next to the fireplace in the restaurant. The elk weighed 800 pounds on the hoof, which means before the meat is dressed. When you visit the restaurant, you will notice that there are many trophy animals up on the walls, all of which are ones that Jimmy hunted. Since he is retired from the hay business, Jimmy has plenty of free time to hunt. He has hunted in many places including Argentina, Alaska, Utah and New Zealand. Since Jimmy hunts a lot, he donates what he doesn’t eat for the elk feed.

“Jimmy has been hosting the elk feed at Tony’s for 10 years on and off. He also contributes to the annual duck feed at Al’s Place which has been going on for the last 25 years. At the duck feed one year, they cooked 185 ducks and 25 chickens. While the duck feed is primarily geared to duck, the chickens are for people who have different tastes. I have never been to the duck feed, but I would love to go next year. From what Jimmy said, it sounds like a great time.

“The food on a normal day at Tony’s is delicious. After a good meal at Tony’s, you can walk to Gunther’s Ice Cream for dessert. The ice cream there is very rich. The docks at Walnut Grove are within easy walking distance of both of these businesses. It is great to see Delta communities and small businesses thriving.

“Since the boating season is almost in full swing and people are feeling more comfortable socializing after the events of the past two years, I expect these businesses to get a lot of patrons both old and new. Please come out and enjoy all that the Delta has to offer. Besides the many events and businesses, there are many good places to anchor, swim, wakeboard and have beach picnics.”

Art & Music Center – Rio Vista

My friend Kelli Pearson opened her Art & Music Center a few years back. They offer art and music lessons for any age group. Kelli’s whole family is musical and artistic. Daddy Doug is the patriarch of the family and Kelli’s brother Doug helps out too.

Delta Chamber Mixer at the Art & Music Center.

About 40 of us Delta rats met there for our monthly Delta Chambers mixer. We had a grand time. Lira’s market pitched in to provide food and it was a feast with many folks taking home bags of leftovers.

We had a great time hanging out with friends and catching up on plans for the summer boating season. Kelli started a painting for us and everyone there added their own touch to it. It was a masterpiece when we finished. Kelli is the one that makes the great Delta maps you see around the region. You can find them at marinas or go to her website to purchase your own copy

Artwork created by chamber members. Photo courtesy of Kelli Pearson.

We had a special treat, Tom Troglia, a former Delta Chambers president and yacht broker joined us for the evening. Tom is now living between Miami and Zihuatanejo when he is not visiting the Delta. He is the chair-elect of the Coconut Grove chamber in Florida. It was good to see him, we had many adventures when he lived in the Delta. We attended many events aboard Sea Ray yachts when he represented the local dealer years ago. Tom now hangs his California Yacht Broker license at San Diego Yacht Sales.

Stockton Tourism Breakfast

Blair Hake, Mary Knight, Sue and I attended the Visit Stockton tourism breakfast. Ok, Jackie, this was another outstanding meal. This time it was at the Stockton Hilton Hotel. The breakfast had a Mexican theme with a mariachi band and Mexican decorations on the table. It consisted of fruit, potatoes, mounds of crisp bacon, Mexican pastries, fresh juice and coffee. I saw many folks going back for seconds.

Blair Hake, Mayor Kevin Lincoln and Mary Knight.

The city has hit the decks running after surviving the pandemic. CEO Wes Ray gave an excellent audio/visual presentation on the state of tourism in the city. For 2021, occupancy was above 2018 and almost equal to 2019. Revenue generated from overnight visits is at an all-time high too.

Mariachi Band at the Tourism Breakfast.

There are a lot of things you can do in Stockton. Try the Stockton Taco Trail or the Art Trail. Naturally, the Downtown Marina is a required stop for us boaters. You can dock there and walk to many places in the downtown area. There are several great restaurants within walking distance too. Check out their website at Tell Wes you are a friend of Bill Wells.

RBOC Recreational Boaters Of California

RBOC Director Morris Lum checks in from their latest meeting. “We are happy to announce that we have helped champion the prevention of boat registration increases at this time and the cost of beach erosion to be borne by others instead of the state funds designated for boating. We are monitoring the possible effects on boating regarding the Delta Conveyance Authority (DCA) for water tunnel construction. And we are keeping abreast of the complexities of invasive species plant control. AISWC stands for Aquatic Invasive Species Control and Weed Control that is under the Division of Boating and Waterways (DBW). DBW is under control of the California State Parks and Recreation. DCA is under the control of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR). The DCA is also known as “Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority.

“Yes, it is at times daunting to remember that DCA is under DWR and AISWC is under DBW, which is under State Parks and Recreation. The complexities of the California Delta are only part of the overall California waterways that RBOC monitors with its 19 Directors throughout our great state. We are all volunteers and we do use donations to pay for our research and lobbyist firm Desmond and Desmond for our representation at our State Capitol.”

Water Fraud Update

Rust never sleeps. We are still waiting for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to release their latest Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to try to justify diverting the Sacramento River around the Delta. In the meantime, they have been sending out teams to soften up the public on the project. Recently, the DWR team held a meeting at the Isleton Chamber of Commerce. Several Delta activists got wind of it and attended. Anna Swenson, an extremely outspoken critic of the project was on hand representing the community of Clarksburg. A lady from the town of Hood which will be ground zero for the new tunnel intakes was also on hand. Gene Beley, our resident Delta videographer came to record the event for evidence. The meeting was led by Katherine Marquez, an environmental resource manager for DWR. According to online sources, she is compensated $225,000.00+ per year for her contributions to the cause. If you are not aware, people are being paid insane amounts of money to work on this project. No wonder they put their morals aside. Kathryn Mallon, who they brought in from New York a few years back was paid an annual compensation exceeding $550,000.00 per year according to our sources. Think of how much fresh water could be created by desalination if the money these people are being paid was redirected to building a desal plant.

Katherine Marquez of DWR presenting at the Isleton Chamber.

The chamber meeting was raucous to say the least. After a short presentation advocating building the tunnel starting at Hood, a general discussion took place with the Delta residents pointing out inconsistencies and outright lies by the DWR people. Anna Swenson is an activist from Clarksburg who has been involved in the water war for many years. She was very outspoken in her criticism to say the least. The DWR currently plans to build their giant water intakes at Hood, which is just about across the river from Clarksburg.

A couple of weeks later a company called Ag Innovations contacted the folks running the Delta Farmers Market at Park Delta Bay Resort and asked if they could provide an “information” booth. When they set up, it was obvious that they were promoting building the Delta tunnel. They were passing out “Poppy colored crayons,” along with promotional literature and the piece de resistance, a stuffed toy salmon. They even had a large DWR logo on the front of their booth. As soon as the management found out what they were promoting, they were asked to leave. They gathered up their stuff and left.

Ag Innovations/DWR trying to infiltrate a Delta event.

You may have been recently contacted by DWR or Ag Innovations asking you to host or attend a “community” meeting to hear the latest on the tunnel project. Don’t do it. I know it is tempting to help set up or attend a meeting with DWR so you can learn what they are up to and even to have an opportunity to give them an earful, but this is a trick. DWR will use your cooperation to help them get the tunnel approved without taking any meaningful input from you. DWR has decided what tunnel they want to build and where they want to build it. It will destroy the Delta, plain and simple. But DWR wants to be able to tell everyone what a wonderful job of community outreach they did, how many meetings they held all over the Delta and all the Delta folks who attended. These sham meetings will help them win regulatory approval for the project and help them survive legal challenges in court. That is the only reason they are doing it. They could not care less what we think, and Ag Innovations is just a front for DWR and the tunnel.

DWR refuses to look at any solution to water supply or Delta issues besides a tunnel. Better solutions that won’t destroy the Delta exist. For instance, the City of Santa Monica intends to stop using imported water within a few years; going from 48 percent of its supply being imported in 2011 to a goal of just 1 percent in 2023. If Santa Monica can do it, why can’t the rest of Southern California do it? But no, the Metropolitan Water District that supplies Delta water throughout Southern California demands a Delta tunnel and DWR dances to the Metropolitan’s tune.

DWR is currently working on the EIR for the single tunnel. The EIR will not contain any study of any alternative to Metropolitan’s preferred tunnel plan. DWR has steadfastly refused to consider anything but a tunnel. What is there to talk about with DWR when the only path they will consider is a tunnel that will destroy the Delta?

If the DWR or their surrogates ask you to host one of their meetings, tell them to include a non-tunnel alternative in the EIR that will solve water supply and Delta water quality problems. Let us look at the tunnel and some real non-tunnel solutions side by side. When they make a formal public announcement that the EIR will include a full study of a non-tunnel alternative, you will be happy to meet with them. Until then, there is nothing to talk about.

The DWR will be contacting organizations near you. I suggest you refuse to meet with them unless they are willing to discuss a no tunnel alternative to the water situation.

Delta Protection Commission

Congratulations to the 2022 Delta Leadership Program participants, Jim Cox, Molly Ferrell, Davis Harper, Matt Holmes, Douglas Hsia, Nate Knodt, Christopher Lim, Morris Lum, Brett Pieretti, Destiny Rivas, Ann Rogan, Jeremy White and Taylor Williams. This is a good program, training the new generation of leaders in the Delta. The program is sponsored by the Delta Protection Commission and the Central Delta Water Agency, North Delta Water Agency, South Delta Water Agency, MBK Engineers (in honor of Gilbert Cosio), F&M Bank and The Dutra Group.

Leadersip Program participants along with Sacramento County Supervisor Don Nottoli and DPC Executive Director – Erik Vink. Photo courtesy of Morris Lum.

John Accettola Memorial

I told you previously about John’s passing. His family held a memorial for him at Filippi’s Pizza in Napa. We had the back room and it was packed. There were at least 50 people there and probably more. John’s beloved wife Carol, along with his children and many other relatives were there. Kim Korth and Ernie Wilkenson, along with Sue and I were some of his friends from the Delta that attended. The wine and food just kept coming, it was a true Italian memorial. Many folks told stories of things they had done in the past with John. John was an expert on the motorized bicycles called “Whizzers” and some of his friends that were fellow Whizzer owners were there. John put on a Whizzer rally in the Delta annually for several years. One time he was headed down SR12 going about 30 MPH with about 50 other Whizzer drivers. Kim Korth told me that they were followed by a wall of cars honking their horns and yelling at them to get out of the way. John was a colorful fellow around the Delta and his memorial was a fitting tribute for his friends and family members that loved him.

John Accettola Memorial at Filippi’s.

Irish Pennants

Don’t forget to attend the Taste of the Delta on Aug. 6 at Village West Marina & Resort. You can taste samples of wines and foods from the Delta’s finest restaurants and wineries, and at the same time enjoy live music, arts and crafts for sale and an auction. You can buy your advance tickets at:

By the way one of my favorite places, Sunset Sweets is now open at Village West. They were at Tower Park for many years and decided to relocate to Village West. They have some of the best ice cream and snacks in the area. As owners Dennis and Tuyen say, “we sell calories by the pound.” If you start seeing folks around the resort looking chubbier, you’ll now know why. One good thing about their location is that they are just a short walk from H2O Excursions where you can rent a stand-up paddle board or paddle boat to work off the calories. It is a win-win situation. I suggest you make a trip there and try out one of Tuyen’s brownies. As they say in Hawaii, “it will break your mouth.”

Oh yes, one more thing – the summer Music in the Park series will kick off at Village West Marina & Resort on June 4.

Sacramento Yacht Club is holding their Jazz Festival on June 4. It is billed as “an all-day, GARGANTUAN fundraiser for SYC.” Give them a call at 916-371-5058.

A tornado touched down between I-5 and Little Potato Slough. This naturally freaked out a lot of people. Luckily, there was no known damage as it hit in farmland. When I first moved back to California from Hawaii in 1975 a tornado hit a trailer camp in Roseville a few miles away from where I lived. That about drove my wife crazy as she was from Hawaii and had only heard of tornados from news reports and never seen one up close. When I worked in a high rise in downtown Sacramento there were a few times we could see tornadoes out near the Sutter Buttes. So, they are unusual but do occur.

Some of my friends were cruising down Fourteen Mile Slough when they came upon a boat that had been pulled over by the San Joaquin County Sheriff. They slowed to a no wake speed and passed them. The next thing they knew, the Sheriff’s boat had left the first boat and signaled my friends to stop. The Sheriff said that their Mussel sticker was incorrect. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles website, state law requires boats and vessels registered in California to display the sticker if they are operated in fresh waters. This includes inland waterways, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Owners of vessels used exclusively in marine waters are exempt from purchasing or displaying the sticker as are exempt government vessels. Failure to properly display the sticker may result in denial of access or citation. I heard rumors of others being stopped for not having a sticker. It seems a little draconian since most folks did not know about the new law.

Solano County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Bureau, in conjunction with the California State Parks Division of Boating and Waterways operates a free, easy and safe Vessel Turn-In Program (VTIP) to help you dispose of recreational vessels. The Vessel Turn-In Program or VTIP is a free program for California residents that is designed to provide owners with a voluntary method to safely and legally dispose of unwanted or inoperable boats and personal watercraft (Wave Runners/Jet Skis) that are with or without associated trailers. For information call 707/784-1382 and request to speak with Marine Patrol Deputy Oberreuter. Thanks to Steve Mannshardt for this information.

Opening Day at Discovery Bay. Photo courtesy of Sara Diotte.

Sara Diotte of Discovery Bay shared some photos of their Opening Day Parade and the Sea Scout Ship open house.

Sea Scouts open house. Photo courtesy of Sara Diotte.

The summer boating season has arrived and the weather looks great. Now if we can just keep the water flowing through our estuary, I will see you out there. Let me know if you see Jackie out there by sending a note to me at or 916-869-9141.