Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
Sacramento Yacht Club Opening Day
Stacey Hodge asked if I would help judge the club’s Opening Day Parade. I jumped at the chance and reported for duty at 1045 hours at the clubhouse. Rear Commodore Tim Hodge even let me use his personal parking spot. The club picked a perfect Sunday for their opening day parade. It was warm with a gentle breeze and I was honored to be a celebrity judge of the decorated boats along with Tamera Berg from KCRA Sacramento Channel 3 TV and Dinger, mascot of the Sacramento River Cats. Tamera is a meteorologist, so it is possible she had something to do with bringing in the excellent weather. We assembled aboard the yacht Endless Summer. She was tied to the outside of the dock and we had a great vantage point on the upper deck to watch the contestants pass by. There were about 60 boats participating and many of them had very creative decorations along with totally decked out crews. This year’s parade theme was “Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon.” Everyone was encouraged to dress in their finest 1960s groovy, hip attire, especially peace signs and tie dye. I flashed back to Honolulu at the Diamond Head Festival in 1968 or Haight Ashbury in San Francisco in 1967. It was a trip.
The judges were issued earplugs as the Winchester Model 1898 signal cannon used to start the parade was located just below and maybe 30 feet in front of us. Presently all the participants’ boats assembled downstream from the club. The starting gun was still plenty loud even with the earplugs. The parade began and the boats headed upstream past the judging platform, many of them came quite close, almost close enough to reach out and touch in some cases. I will tell you, not only were many of the boats very imaginably decorated but the crews were decorated to the theme also. It was hard to pick the winners, but we worked hard at it and came up with our selections.
After the parade passed us by, we went aboard El Jefe, Stacey and Tim’s boat and followed the parade up to the Virgin Sturgeon Restaurant where the boats came about and headed back downstream. There was even a sailboat in the parade so the Tower Bridge and the J Street Bridge dutifully opened. There was a good enthusiastic crowd watching the parade along the Old Sacramento docks, the Tower Bridge and Delta King Hotel.
We arrived back at the club at about 1430 hours. The bar was open and the dinner and award ceremony were on tap for a little later.
Winners under 40 feet were: first place – 114 Sweet Kara Ann, second place – 126 Barefoot Bungalow, third place – 214 Whiskey Business. Winners over 40 feet: first place – 311 Happy Hour, second place – 315 Charisma, third place – 319 Heaven Sent. Rear Commodore’s Award went to number 126 Barefoot Bungalow. Best Overall – 114 Sweet Kara Ann.
Marina West Yacht Club
We celebrated Cinco De Mayo at Marina West Yacht Club where the bar served excellent margaritas and whatever else you wanted. I am not sure if I have told you this before but they have a full bar and some excellent bartenders. They also have perhaps the greatest selection of bottled beers in the Delta.
Our editor Daniel Witte was there with his dad David Witte. Daniel and I communicate every month via email but it is rare that I ever see him. He allowed me to buy him a cold Budweiser and we discussed boating and the proper use of the English language.
After socializing for an hour or so the buffet dinner was set up, as you might imagine with beans, rice and a few types of meat. The line was long but the food was definitely worth waiting for. It was so good I along with others snuck back for seconds.
There was a drawing for some great prizes. Sue and I won a complete Mexican holiday party kit with everything except the tequila. Luckily, I always keep a couple of bottles on hand. Well, we had to buy some ground beef and other things to stuff the taco shells, but we had a great party of our own.
We had such a great time that we went back a few days later for the Delta Chambers mixer with another great crowd. This time Kim Korth provided all the snacks, and once again we left a couple of pounds heavier.
The club is holding a boat parade on July 4th and I am sure it will be a lot of fun. Contact the club if you want to participate: email@example.com
The Classic Yacht Association ventured up the recently dredged Petaluma River on a May weekend. The yachts Catherine E, Sea Breeze, Triple Crown, Flamingo, North Star II, Simpler Times, Skal, Califia, Zambezi and Isabella were all scheduled to participate. On Friday evening they met aboard Catherine E and Triple Crown for cocktails before having a tri-tip barbeque on the dock. This was the weekend of the city’s “Cruisin’ the Boulevard” event to honor the film “American Graffiti.”
George Homenko is experienced navigating the river. If you venture up there, I hear they are asking that you give the bridge tender a few days or weeks notice instead of the four hours mentioned on their website.
Petaluma Yacht Club (PYC)
There was plenty going on at the PYC during May too. Francesca Smith files this dispatch: “Argh! Pirates! After a five-year hiatus, first due to river silting, then due to COVID, Petaluma Yacht Club was ready for invaders. PYC hosted a three-day pirate-themed Memorial Day bash and invited clubs across the Bay and Delta to participate.
We brought our Chris Craft from its home berth on the Mokelumne to join the festivities. Thirty-five vessels from around the Bay and Delta began arriving Wednesday including Jim Gabbert‘s gorgeous 85-foot yacht, Defiance, a 1972 Stephens. Vessels were guided to the Turning Basin dock by the experienced direction of PYC member Forrest Blue. Over a dozen yacht clubs were represented, flying club burgees, the national ensign and lots of pirate regalia.
Visitors embraced PYC’s “Pirates Cove” theme and the weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with a grog cocktail contest on the dock. Five intrepid judges navigated down the dock sampling cocktails and appetizers on boats along the way. Winner was PICYA Secretary-Treasurer Colleen Stauss with a tasty concoction of rum, lemonade, iced tea and a few secret ingredients.
Event organizer, Gail Swift, welcomed guests with a hearty bag of goodies provided by Petaluma Downtown Association. Saturday festivities kicked off with a continental breakfast followed by a poker walk to downtown shops and businesses. It took an army – wait, a navy – of volunteers to pull off this event – kudos to Gail and the PYC team! I was delighted to take a shift behind the bar Saturday afternoon in time to welcome members of Ebony Boat Club arriving by land yacht for the day.
PYC cooked up a tasty tri-tip dinner for 150 guests. Costume contest judging followed with the team from Oakland YC winning top group honors. Visiting Commodores received Rear Admiral commissions in the Petaluma Navy! Music and dancing capped off the night.
Sunday morning, teams were given supplies to build small craft to float on a kiddy pool. After the honor guard from U.S. Army Recruiting Station Novato raised the colors at noon, it was time for Pirate Games. I enjoyed a delicious gin fizz aboard an Oakland Yacht Club (OYC) boat and could tell that this was the team to beat. Indeed, OYC won top prize – a member’s weight in beer!
The final contest was the boat building contest. Competition was fierce as skippers loaded cargo onto their vessels until the last boat finally sank! Gail Swift presented a beautiful trophy to San Rafael Yacht Club to commemorate the win. It’s always fun to gather boats for an event and PYC certainly rolled out the red carpet… er, gangway.
Pacific Coast Water Rescue
Eric Koster of J&H Marine in Stockton and John Nichols of Nichols Marine in Rio Vista were instrumental in helping the Isleton and Rio Vista Fire Departments get a Water Rescue and Firefighting Vessel into service. The 2005 SAFE Boat 25 is manned by both agencies and has eight trained personnel with over 80 hours of training by each Rescue Boat Coxswain. PCWR Captains on Call are the proud Trainers of these Fire Rescue Boat Operators and will continue to support Delta Area agencies in acquiring vessels and complete Rescue Boat Training.
We met on the city dock at the foot of Main Street with several local dignitaries. Presently, the SAFE Boat 25 appeared on the horizon and quickly pulled up to the dock. Rio Vista Fire Chief Scott Goodwin and Isleton Chief Scott Baroni presented Erik and John each an award for their service. John Garza’s goal is to have the entire Delta served by fire rescue boats and he is well on his way to achieving his goal. Cindy Green the ace reporter for the “Rio Vista Beacon” newspaper was there covering the event as well.
Hilton Foundation Fireworks
Don’t miss the Barron Hilton Foundation’s fireworks display on Sunday, July 3rd, probably at about 2130 hours. This iconic Delta celebration is back in full strength for 2022. Since Barron Hilton started this event for his family’s enjoyment in the late 1950s, literally thousands and thousands of boaters have attended. Indeed, there are many adults out there who grew up attending this celebration every year. In case you did not know, this year will be the first time ever, an airshow will be presented to all those at Mandeville and the surrounding waterways as jets take to the air. Prior to the fireworks the Patriots Jet Team will perform their synchronized six-jet airshow which I hope many will make plans to view.
Jack Hanna, my correspondent from Bethel Island goes every year. He was the first there with a standup paddle board and the first to get busted for not having a life jacket aboard. He filed this note with me: “It seems like longer than three years since we gathered the ‘tribes’ at Mandeville Tip. Lots of great adventures and misadventures leading up to the fireworks. I will offer some Mandeville stories on the DeltaLife.net blog to remind us of the history of the gathering.
“I can’t help but wax nostalgic when I think of years past with the Official Bead Boat, Taj Mahal, and the dozens of other ‘regulars’ whose favorite places were claimed with anchors, boats and tenders a week or so before the fireworks. I was the first to bring a SUP to the party. Now, I expect to see a hundred of them.
“Cruising the Fleet in big boats and small, with water fights that permeate the fairways and cruising for an invitation to come aboard and have a cold one. Sue and I are best known for paddleboarding about the Cut and the Gauntlet. It will be great to hook up with old acquaintances over a cold beer.
“Taylor Nautical Association was known for the patio barge and the stacks of boats, big and small, that spread from there. Here you see my view from the table under the palm tree. Some of ‘Our Gang,’ their guests, children, and their childrens’ friends are seen. Some of the rafted fleet is in the background.
“My Tollycraft Adventurer is fresh from the yard at Diablo Boat Works. She is sporting fresh paint above and below the new waterline. We have new water toys and a new cooler. Anyone who knows me is invited to visit us on the water. Friends are always welcome. Friends of friends, not so much. You know the rules, bring ice, take garbage.”
Bob Garzee passed out beads from his Official Bead Boat for a couple of decades. He always had a special award for Hal Schell and I was honored in 2009 when he awarded me a special set of beads. Well, this is the mother of all parties in the Delta and there are a million good stories. All I can say is get out there early – like July 1 to find a good spot.
Unleashed Poker Run
The Unleashed Poker Run is on for July 26, this is the third time that Jill Faso Antonini has held the event to raise funds for the Stockton Animal Protection League.
Jill says: “We are excited to invite you to join us Friday, July 29, 2022, for our third annual Delta Dog Day Unleashed Poker Run. It will be another exciting fast and fun event supporting the Animal Protection Leagues’ ability to improve the lives of homeless and abandoned animals in the City of Stockton and surrounding San Joaquin County.
“This year’s participation is simple, safe and enjoyable for all boaters and guests. During this event, we have two exciting routes – one for those of us who enjoy our leisure/recreational boats (60 mph or less) and the second route is for those with a need-for-speed! Recreational boats begin at Garlic Brothers in Stockton and the Need-for-Speed group will begin at Orwood Resort in Discovery Bay. Sign-in at both locations will open at 8 a.m. and close at 10 a.m., with a breakfast on the go offered to all participants. You will have an amazing day of fun and adventure on the Delta that will include live music, exclusive event t-shirts and swag bags for all attendees, as well as professional overhead boat crew action shots! From your starting point, you will continue to multiple stops before all boaters end the run at Windmill Cove with check-in between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. The evening will conclude with dinner, a high-end silent auction, fun raffle prizes, as well as the announcement of the Poker Run winner. The top three poker hand prizes will total over $10,000!
“The Animal Protection League (APL) has been in existence since 1996. Every day, our work involves supporting/staffing the Stockton Animal Shelter and the community it serves. We provide community outreach programs and care for the pets of the homeless. We provide pet food pantries for low-income and homeless community members to ensure that the animals do not go without quality food. APL works to ensure that lost, abandoned and homeless pets find a loving and stable forever home or short and long-term loving and caring foster families to prepare them for their new forever homes. Help us solve the problem of overpopulation of dogs and cats by supporting our spay and neuter clinics for low-income families in the city of Stockton. There have been vast improvements to animal welfare in Stockton and San Joaquin County, but there is still so much left to do! Your participation will help us continue our work in the community!
“We hope you will join us in “Chasing Tail on the Delta” and become UNLEASHED as we make the most of summer 2022! We are eternally grateful for all levels of partnership. Our work is only possible because of your participation and generosity. You will directly impact our ability to continue to support, help and raise awareness of animals in dire need.”
Taste Of The Delta
Don’t miss the 19th annual Taste of the Delta on August 6th at Village West Marina & Resort. There are still a few tickets left, get yours at tasteofthedelta.com. This great Delta festival was started by Vickie Baumann many years back. She thought the idea of trying quality Delta wines and foods at one spot would be a popular idea and it exceeded everyone’s expectations. It has been held at various destinations around the region and has been at Village West Marina & Resort for the last few times. Ironically, Vickie is now the General Manager at Village West. Claude and Arron Pellarin, the owners have been very generous providing space and taking an active part in preparing and managing the event.
The event has grown over the years and is one of the most popular summer gatherings in the region. People bring their yachts from the Bay Area, as well as come by motor vehicle from all over the West Coast and indeed from all over the country. This year Sausalito Yacht Club, Ebony Boat Club and the Classic Yacht Association are all cruising in.
In addition to wine, beer and food, there will be selected information booths and Delta area artists and artisans. While you are there, you can check out the latest improvements at Village West.
There is one of the cutest buildings in the Delta at Korth’s Pirate’s Lair. It is right across the road from the office but hidden among a lot of tropical plants. It has served as a gift shop and most recently a yacht brokerage. Now it has been taken over by Jennifer Davis who has opened Delta Looptivity. This is an eclectic endeavor as an art gallery, yoga studio, foreign language instruction studio and open mic events. There is a lot going on, if you don’t see something you are interested in ask Jennifer and I bet she will try to make it work.
Water Fraud Update
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) continues its assault on the Delta and its people. They are still going around trying to hold meetings to gain support for their 44-foot diameter tunnel to take Sacramento River water and ship it to Southern California. We got wind that they were attending a Lions Club meeting in Stockton so we showed up with our Delta Truth Squad – Gene Beley (videographer), Blair Hake and your correspondent – me. The presentation was put on by Carrie Buckman, an Environmental Program Manager for the DWR. Gene recorded it for posterity and Blair and others asked some tough questions. It was basically a repeat of the meeting we crashed in Isleton earlier this year. According to online records Carrie’s annual salary in 2021 was $156,419.00, pretty good compensation in anyone’s book. As we said before they are trying to present at meetings of Delta area organizations so that they can claim on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that they met with local citizens. They are going after “soft targets” groups that don’t necessarily have a lot of knowledge of the water wars of the last fifteen years. I asked Carrie how many local yacht clubs she has presented at and the answer was none. You would think that if you are discussing water, the yacht clubs would be at the top of the list if it was a legitimate process.
Once again, we recommend that if the DWR contacts you and asks to hold a meeting regarding their Delta destroying tunnel, tell them you will not do it unless the DWR agrees to include a no tunnel alternative in the EIR.
Remember the tunnel creates no new water, it takes it from the less equal and gives it to the more equal. It is right out of the socialist playbook.
Arron Pellarin and Corrin Rankin will be married in September at Village West Marina & Resort. Arron as you know is co-owner of the resort and Corrin is one of the most attractive women in the Delta. I am confident they will have a fun-filled future together.
Daisy Lewis, my beloved granddaughter has graduated from UC Berkeley with the highest honors, majoring in sustainable environmental design. Her whole family is immensely proud of her. Daisy is one of the hardest working people I have ever known. She made it through Berkeley in three years while playing on the tennis team and holding down a job for all three years. You may remember that she received a scholarship from the Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association back when she first started college. I am confident that you will be hearing many good things about her.
Fred Rutledge has passed over the bar. He was a well-known member of the boating community in Northern California and long-time Encinal Yacht Club (EYC) member. He passed away March 26th at his Orinda home with his wife Jane by his side.
Fred served as the EYC President and House Director, organized the Veteran’s Wheelchair Regatta held at EYC and served as Commodore of the Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association.
After retiring as a Lt. Colonel from the Army he joined the California State Guard where he achieved the rank of Colonel. Fred was a great guy; he attended many events around the Bay and Delta. He enrolled his daughters in the EYC junior sailing program and they later became instructors at the club.
Sal Curcuruto, once the king of the Delta partiers has passed away. He managed the Lighthouse Bar and Restaurant for many years. This was back in the day when there was a noticeable slant to the floor. If a drunk passed out and fell down, he would roll to the side and be out of everyone’s way. I remember the first time I met Sal, 20 plus years ago, I walked into the Lighthouse one afternoon and ordered a beer. I pulled out my wallet to pay for it and he said, “the first one is on me.” I knew I liked him right then.
His Slut Strutter Balls were legendary, I think I took my niece to one of the first that I attended. She had just moved here from Texas. We were sitting at a table when a fellow wearing chaps with nothing underneath accidentally backed into her. She took it in stride though and did not let the incident stop her from having a good time. Another time my friend Richard Bourke was staying with me on my boat at Tower Park when Trisha Meagher gave us a ride over in the limousine she had rented. Bourke had the time of his life, and somehow we got back to my boat where I woke up the next morning hanging half out of my bunk. After the Lighthouse changed hands, Sal would appear as a celebrity bartender at spots around the Delta. He was absolutely one of a kind.
There will be a celebration of life for Sal at Moore’s Riverboat on September 2nd at 1800 hours.
Al the Wops is looking for employees to handle the summer rush. There has to be some young folks out there on summer break that would enjoy working at this iconic Delta watering hole and eatery. Think how it would look on your resume, that you worked at this famous, internationally known restaurant. They have a great management team too!
Sen. Bill Dodd has named the Locke Foundation Nonprofit of the Year for Sacramento County for its work to preserve the nation’s largest and most complete example of a rural agricultural Chinese-American community.
Wimpy’s is open and back in business under new management. A roving reporter of mine happened to stop in to pass the word after spending some time with the new general manager and chief. The dock is free and clear of pirates, where tying up is no longer an issue. They are holding their Grand Re-Opening on Saturday July 16th. Hope to see you there.
There seems to be many more inexperienced boaters out this season. Please help them out with your sage advice and tell them where to get some training. Everyone needs to get their California Boater’s Card and I strongly recommend taking the Power Squadron class or the Coast Guard Auxiliary class on boating. If you are a real novice, hire a professional captain like my colleague Pat Carson to give you some hands-on instruction.
New restaurants are popping up around the Delta. Fat Lou’s in Walnut Grove is located at the top of the levee on the east side of the river. I have it on my list to stop there but as of this writing have not made it. There are many folks out there that say the food is great. Ben’s Friends of the Vine should now be open on Main Street in Rio Vista. It looks like they have a great selection of wines and beers as well as hot and cold non-alcoholic drinks. You can also drop in Wednesday through Friday for afternoon tea. I met Andrea Cross the owner at another event and committed to them that I would stop in and try the place, which I will have done by the time you read this.