Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
Independence Day Update
It has been a spectacular summer in the Delta. The highlight so far was the Independence Day weekend, and in particular the raft up at Mandeville Tip. Boats started assembling there a week before and by Sunday, July 3rd there were several hundred anchored and rafted in the reach. The winds were pretty strong and many folks reset anchors over the weekend. The Hilton Foundation fireworks show was fired on July 3rd from a Dutra barge brought in for the occasion.
A special treat on the 3rd was The Patriots Jet Team out of Byron. They had a six-jet airshow close to the anchored vessels. They made several passes complete with smoke and acrobatic maneuvers. The crowd loved it and the show was synchronized with music on a local FM radio station.
If you saw the recent “Top Gun” film you will be interested to know much of the flying stunt work was done with the aid of the Patriots Jet Team. They fly the Aero L-39 aircraft. It is a turbofan powered aircraft designed as a light attack and fighter trainer. The entire L-39 fleet, consisting of more than 2,800 aircraft delivered worldwide, has accumulated over 4,000,000 flying hours. The Patriots Jet Team owns and operates eight of the L-39 aircraft flying out of the Byron Airport.
There were several events around the Delta on July 4th. Marina West Yacht Club held a parade from Ox Bow Marina up to the end of the housing along Georgiana Slough close to the Tyler Island Bridge and back. Don Nottoli, the Sacramento County Supervisor for the Delta was the Grand Marshall. Don is retiring soon; he has been a great advocate for the Delta and has done much to further the interests of the people of the region. It was good to see him get some recognition.
Before the parade the River Delta Fire District folks held a pancake breakfast at the club. John Romero advises that, “Back in 2018, the Marina West Yacht Club held its first fundraiser for our local first responders from Station 94 of the River Delta Fire District.”
The Ox Bow community is very appreciative of the men and women who staff the fire station on Jackson Slough Road near Highway 12. They have top notch EMT personnel as well as seasoned firefighters protecting us 24/7. The yacht club held its fourth annual July 4th Kid Karnival, Pancake Breakfast, and decorated boat parade to raise funds for the “Friends of River Delta Volunteer Firefighters”. This 501 C3 tax exempt organization exists to assist the volunteers with many things like the out-of-pocket expenses they incur for personal protective equipment and other supplies. MWYC was proud to be able to raise a collective $4,000 this year for them. Contributions from Korth’s Pirate’s Lair and Ox Bow Marinas, as well as law firm, Bolen & Associates, were all very generous.
Delta Paradise Island held a grand opening on July 2nd. They had a lot of food, drink and activities. The shaved ice was great. It was a reasonably cool day so the turnout was good. The new owners have continued to make improvements to the resort. On Thursday evenings they have tail gate parties from 1600 to 1900 hours with hamburgers, hot dogs, plenty of sides and cold drinks. Check it out.
Walnut Grove had their Independence Day parade. This event is like your quintessential small town America parade, you might think you were in rural Iowa. There are marchers, a firetruck, vintage cars and a lot of onlookers. After the parade Rusty and Julie Areias held a big party at their Orchard Gables estate just up the road a bit. Rusty was cooking hot dogs and making BLT sandwiches. I think much of the population of Walnut Grove and the surrounding area attended. Rusty and Julie are the consummate hosts and this party was no exception. Everyone was having a great time celebrating the birthday of our country.
Daniel Witte Update
My Ace roving reporter files this piece from deep in the heart of the Delta. The annual Hilton Memorial Fireworks display took place at Mandeville Tip on July 3. There were many boats there including cabin cruisers and those that came in for the day. While there were still a lot of boats, it appeared that there were less than last year. The day cruisers seemed to somewhat outnumber the cabin cruisers.
Sacramento Bayliner Club made the event the highlight of their July raft out, which was hosted by Vice Commodore Steve Messick and his wife Laurissa. SBC had six boats total and one day visitor. There were four member boats and two guest boats. The two guest boats were former member Jeff Leisle and his friend who came out on a new boat that Jeff is working on. The Messicks did a great job hosting an Independence Day dinner of hamburgers and hot dogs on July 2, and a wonderful breakfast of burritos on July 3.
There were some other clubs anchored out at Mandeville as well as Three River Reach. There were lots of raft ups, some of which were quite large. At some point during the weekend, a group of houseboats at Mandeville broke anchor and had to reset.
Just as with last year, the Patriots Jet Team out of Byron made an appearance on July 3 before the fireworks. Unlike last year’s three-jet maneuvers, this year the team performed a full airshow with the whole six-jet team. Their show consisted of some spectacular moves including upside downs and wing stalls where the plane is just falling. The sound of their huge engines was impressive, and each time they went over the anchorage everyone got that adrenaline rush associated with the thought of high speed. The air show is a reminder that Fleet Week is just around the corner in October. Hopefully, this air show will become an annual tradition like the fireworks. If that happened, it would almost be like having two fleet weeks, one in the Bay and one in the Delta.
At sundown, the firework show commenced. It seemed that the show was much longer this year than in the past, which was really nice since it is such a spectacular event. There were lots of great booms and good shock waves which made for an exciting show. Although there was a little bit of wind, this didn’t stop or hinder the show in any way. After the grand finale, everyone blew their horns and cheered as usual. Since there were so many day cruisers, boats were seen leaving pretty quickly right after the show.
It seems that many of the Delta businesses are doing well. While out at Mandeville, I had the chance to visit King Island Resort and Windmill Cove. Both establishments have great food. Windmill Cove was packed with people and they all seemed to be having a great time. It is nice to see that they are doing a great business with their café, bar and music. Please come out and enjoy the rest of the year on the Delta. There are many great events planned, including Labor Day events and most likely lighted boat parades come winter.
Delta Chambers Mixer
Village West Marina & Resort hosted a fantastic party for chamber members and guests. About 100 folks assembled at the resort’s RV park on the point. Garlic Brothers restaurant provided gourmet snacks which were so popular people were standing several deep in the line to get their share. There was crab dip and chips, pasta and for dessert Sunset Sweets supplied their addictive brownies.
The bar was hosted by the resort, as you might imagine it was very popular. The entire staff was on hand helping out. There was a tent to keep the sun off and a stage for the MC. I need to talk to Claude, Arron and Vickie about making this a weekly event! Sue and I are generally too busy to eat during a mixer, but this time Jim and Vickie Baumann gave us a gourmet dinner prepared by Jim. It was excellent, Jim is one of the best chefs in the Delta you know.
Oh yes, Sue and I stayed in one of the bungalows. These are great tiny houses complete with kitchen and outdoor deck facing west. You can watch the sun go down by Mount Diablo while enjoying a cocktail on your private deck. Even if you live in Stockton, you would enjoy a staycation at one of the bungalows.
The highlight of the evening was John Garza being awarded the annual Hal Schell Award by Ty Mellott of Bay & Delta Yachtsman magazine. I have known John for a few years and observed his work. He has made a huge positive impact on the Delta. After a 30-year career as a fireman, he decided to devote the rest of his life to public service in the Delta.
Hal Schell Award
Hal was our beloved Delta Dawdler who had a column in Yachtsman Magazine for 20 years and served as the editor of this magazine for many years. On top of keeping his column, Dawdling on the Delta, filled with words of Delta information, he also had a Stockton radio show and frequently appeared in the local Stockton newspaper.
He recruited me into the Delta Chambers around 2001 and was my mentor there. I am honored that I am (sort of) carrying on his legacy at the magazine.
After Hal’s passing in 2006 the publisher started the annual Hal Schell Award to keep his memory alive. Over the years it has gone to a diverse group of folks. For 2021 it went to Claude and Arron Pellarin of Village West Marina & Resort. In 2020 it went to yacht designer and builder, Dick Stephens. I am not one of the judges and I am sure they agonize over who will win with so many deserving people in the region.
For 2022 John Garza is definitely an excellent choice. After retiring from his firefighter career, he was one of the founders of Pacific Coast Water Rescue along with Dave Black in 2012 as a result of cuts to Discovery Bay and Delta area water rescue vessels.
“In that same year we met with Local Fire, Sheriff and USCG Rio Vista personnel to form the Pacific Coast Water Rescue team. Our goal was simply to provide Water Safety Teams to events in Discovery Bay and as needed on the greater Delta and to provide boaters training and education.
“Since Summer 2012 and for an 11th summer boating season, we have had over 30 volunteers help to cover over 150 events all around the Delta. Our members have mostly been off duty fire, PD, military personnel and college students becoming Public Safety employees.
“Our personnel have completed and given over 10,000 staff hours towards Water Safety in 11 seasons, including rescue standby services provided at over 150 events such as races, swims, triathlons, fishing tournaments and poker runs. They also provided training to over 200 citizens and boaters, CPR and first aid training to over 100 citizens and teachers, as well as rescue boat and rescue swimmer training to over 300 firefighters. In addition, they conducted two captains licensing courses and ten safe power boating courses. They have placed eight water rescue vessels and trained personnel at six local fire/rescue agencies.”
John says it best, “The future looks bullish for PCWR Captains on Call as we now have six USCG licensed captains, six rescue swimmers and six divers, all as a direct result of our 11 seasons of experience in our vast Bay and Delta region!
“In 2022 we now have the great Contra Costa Fire Marine Unit now covering the Discovery Bay and former East Contra Costa Fire District areas. This fire agency is one of the largest in California and has top of line vessels including a fireboat and several rescue boats along with air operations! Contra Costa Fire offers all risk services now to this important area we call home in Discovery Bay!
“PCWR Captains on Call can now work as USCG licensed merchant mariners providing salvage, tow, dive and boating education. Also, we are partners with J&H Marine, Discovery Bay Chandlery and Protector Service Richmond bringing vessels to these great marine service centers.
“Finally, we will always train and support Bay Area fire/rescue/EMS agencies with rescue boat and rescue swimmer training, as most of our personnel are from these backgrounds.”
John is a charismatic person so people gravitate towards him. I have been with him on a number of his training sessions and everyone pays rapt attention when he speaks. John has helped many small local agencies get their own boats. He always mentions the support he gets from Eric Koster of J&H Marine, Tony Faso of Delta Marine Yacht Center and John Nichols of Nichols Marine as well as other local businesses. It is an honor to know him.
Another tragic fire has struck the Delta. This time Moore’s Riverboat Restaurant on the bank of the Mokelumne River in Isleton has burned. Moore’s has been an icon in the Delta since 1965. The restaurant was founded by Captain John Moore and was aboard the former Delta steamboat Sutter. It was one of the most popular spots in the Delta and enjoyed a beautiful view of the Mokelumne River and the boats passing by. There was plenty of dock space for boats cruising in and the action would go until early in the morning on weekends. In 1994, a fire aboard shut the restaurant down and it was sold to the San Joaquin Yacht Club by Captain Moore’s son-in-law Ken Scheidegger for a reported $1.00. She was towed to Bethel Island where she continues to serve as the floating clubhouse.
Ken purchased the Catfish Café, another floating restaurant in downtown Stockton and moved her over to the location. He had saved the memorabilia and decorations from the Sutter and installed them on the new floating barge. She served well for 25 or so years until this unfortunate event.
According to Riverboat Marina’s newsletter they plan to rebuild the establishment. I am confident that we will all be hanging out there again in the near future.
After a two-year hiatus, the Antique and Classic Boat Society – Northern California/Lake Tahoe Chapter held their Runabouts on the River event on July 23 at the Stockton Sailing Club. Sylvia Leutz invited me; it was great to see this event back. Everyone in the Delta loves boats and classic boats have a special cachet. The Stockton Sailing Club is a great venue, one of the older area clubs that was co-founded by Dick Stephens of Stephens Brothers Boatbuilders.
About 40 boats attended, most were wood but there was a smattering of classic fiberglass boats too. When I first entered, there was a fellow with a pickle fork for sale. It was V-drive with a 500+ cubic inch 1200 horsepower General Motors engine with a Roots type supercharger and two big four-barrel carburetors. She looked like she was doing 150 standing still.
Every one of these boats is in concours condition and obviously loved by their owners/caretakers. One of my favorites was Black Dahlia, a smallish wooden runabout built by Windsor Boat Works in Ontario, Canada. She is powered by twin 1958 Mercury 40 horsepower motors. Do you remember when we were kids, we could waterski behind an outboard powered boat with a 35-horse motor? How did we do that?
I would say the queen of the fleet was Steve and Cheryl Caplan’s 1998 42-foot Grand Banks motor yacht. She was magnificent, I think they cruised over from Discovery Bay.
I saw many of my friends there including Blair Hake and Russell Robinson. I know Jillian Humphreys was there. I did not see her but did speak with her mom. After looking at the boats they all headed inside to the bar, but I had other work to do. Although I was thirsty, I took leave of the group.
It is good to see this event back on. Sylvia mentioned the idea of incorporating a few Classic Yacht Association boats into the mix. Something to work on for the coming year.
The Classic Yacht Association held their summer Delta Cruise on the weekend of July 22-24 with a cruise to Ox Bow Marina for overnight on the 22nd. We met for dinner and cocktails on the deck of the marina. The deck is shaded in the afternoon and there was a slight breeze that helped cool things off. There were many hors d’oeuvres for the cocktail hour: cheese, crackers, chips and fresh carrots. For the main course we dined on excellent tri-tip, a few different salads, homemade garlic bread and the piece de resistance – lemon bars, made with fresh lemons by Kim Korth. Besides Sue, Kim Korth and I, others attending were Rob Sesar, Roberta Montero, Dick & Elizabeth Engfer, Scott Andrews, Susan Takami, David Thompson, Evelyn Ashcroft, Steve & Cheryl Kadzielawa, Patrick Welch & his lady friend and Northern California Fleet Commodore David Cobb with his lovely bride Bunny. Several vessels stayed overnight at the Ox Bow guest docks.
The plan was to cruise to the Walnut Grove public dock on Saturday, but since you cannot reserve it there was not much space available. Hiltot II skippered by Dick Engfer and crewed by his daughter Elizabeth (if you are ever in Santa Cruz be sure to stop at Engfer Pizza Works, Elizabeth’s restaurant) made it along with David and Evie Thompson aboard their yacht Zambezi. Others including Sue and I came by land yacht.
We were expected at the Areias estate, Orchard Gables at 1800 hours for cocktails. Rusty had two of his Stephens yachts, Miss 102 and Folly II along with Thom and Brian Wiseman’s 1958 44-foot Stephens at his private dock. Thom Wiseman & Brian Wiseman volunteered as bartenders. Their specialty was screwdrivers made with fresh oranges. I drink a lot of orange juice from the store and had forgotten how great freshly squeezed orange juice was. Hillary Wiseman was the official photographer for the day. Besides cocktails there was an assortment of beer and wine available on the dock too. I had a Corona and chased it with a virgin screwdriver – club soda and fresh orange juice. Presently, trays of fresh cooked calamari prepared by John Carlo Bortolotti found their way to the dock. They were descended on by the guests like a flock of seagulls descending on a spilled bag of popcorn. Several folks commented that it was the best calamari they had ever tasted.
Eventually we found our way back to the Hemingway Room at Orchard Gables. John Carlo had just put the finishing touches on a gourmet dinner. The first course was pasta, with wild rice stuffed, bacon wrapped, peppers. After that the main course of roast pork with a tomato sauce. After all that I amazingly still had some room for the dessert of homemade ice cream and freshly baked Panettone. I told you in a previous column that John Carlo is a world class chef and used to own his own restaurant in San Francisco. Currently, he is learning a new trade and is becoming an expert shipwright on Stephens yachts.
Rusty kindly gave us a talk on the history of Orchard Gables and also on his history with classic Stephens yachts. He has restored his fair share of them and overcome many age-related challenges to his boats. Over the years he has supervised restoration on Contessa, Miss 102, Folly II, and currently JOIE. Before Dick Stephens crossed over the bar, they were close friends and Dick shared with Rusty much of the lore and knowledge that he learned during his many years at Stephens Brothers Boatbuilders and later Stephens Corporation.
The next day, Sunday the group had reservations at the Grand Isle Mansion for brunch at 1230 hours. I was running behind on a lot of typing so Sue and I passed. The mansion is just a few miles away from Walnut Grove over on Steamboat Slough. It has a nice dock that can be reserved. It is also just a short scenic drive by automobile.
APL UNLEASHED Poker Run
The efforts that Dan Bouchard and Jill Faso Antonini put forth into the success of the Animal Protection League is unsurpassed. With this being the 3rd annual running of the Unleashed Poker Run, it should be of no surprise that each year the amount of money raised, has increased. This year we are happy to announce the total raised is right around $100,000. Our furry friends at the Stockton Animal Shelter will be very happy to hear this news for sure.
There were 30 volunteers who devoted their time to make sure the event was a success, including San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti who was instrumental in ensuring the event was held in ’20 & ’21 during pandemic “lockdown.”
As in the past, there are two divisions. One division launches from Garlic Brothers in Stockton which consists of runabouts, cruisers, ski boats and those fast but not so fast go-fast boats. The second, launches from Orwood where the requirement is that your is boat truly of GO-FAST nature. With plenty of Skater, MTI, DCB and other brands on hand it was quite the display of this type of boat. Each stop served a nice breakfast before casting off.
The smaller boats ran from Garlic Brothers to Village West Marina, to Tower Park Marina, then Sugar Barge and Tiki Lagoon with their final stop being Windmill Cove. Covering much more ground the go-fasts traveled from Orwood, to Smith’s Landing in Antioch, Tower Park and then to Windmill. Of course, at each stop all paid participants received a card to add to their poker hand in hopes of winning.
Windmill served dinner and provided music, but the draw was of course participating in the revealing of the winning hands. The three prizes given out totaled in excess of 10K.
Winners were: Grand Prize – Darin Dalgado (4 Nights in Wine Country) provided by APL and Weibel Family Vineyards, First Runner Up – Keith Burgad (49er Prize Package) provided by Antonini Trucking and Second Runner Up – Deborah Leeflang (Two-man Kayak) provided by West Marine.
With nearly 100 boats and close to 350 people, this year’s event was a completely sold-out venue by the start time. Getting in early next year would be my advice if you wish to participate.
From people reporting to me, everyone had a wonderful time. There were no mishaps other than a few player’s cards getting lost or dropped in the water. In the end, APL can make the difference to one of the program’s furry friends that may not have been given a chance prior.
Good job Dan and Jill, we look forward to hearing about next year.
On July 27, a day that will live in infamy in the Delta, the Newsom administration released its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIR) with its plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta. We have been awaiting this for months, I am sure it is no coincidence that they released it at a time when many people are on vacation and will not see it. I could not find a page count on this document but the last one was a stack several feet high of 20-pound bond pages. I am confident that this one is equal or bigger. The Department of Water Resources (DWR) will not give you a printed copy, but you can get a thumb drive with the document on it here at the DWR Office: 3500 Industrial Blvd., Room 117, West Sacramento, CA 95691 or you can download the entire document here: https://cadwr.app.box.com/s/yalqf4fx7spt3wjlyj2sdt3by20gcbpd. I guess if you don’t have access to a computer, you are out of luck as far as reading the EIR goes.
I don’t think Governor Newsom realizes what he has bitten off here. There are people in the Delta that have been fighting this boondoggle for 40 years, ever since Jerry Brown’s peripheral canal was rejected by voters in 1982. I am confident that it will never be built because it is a stupid idea and a complete waste of financial and natural resources. I am sure Newsom has received a lot of bad advice from Natural Resources Director Wade Crowfoot and Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth (in case you did not know it Karla’s husband works for Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – no conflict of interest there). This is the new chapter of the old California water war. The DWR is so hated that they have had to take their logo off of their vehicles because of fear of being attacked.
Well, we have until October 27 to submit comments to the DWR about the boondoggle. Over the years, many employees of state and federal agencies involved in exporting Delta water have reported to me of malfeasance happening in their workplaces about the water war. Please continue, you never know when a piece of information could be a game changer, as always, I pledge to keep your name and personal information in strict confidence.
March 12, 1956 – July 25, 2022
It is with heavy heart that we share the information that our friend Gary Clausen passed away on July 25th, 2022. Gary was born and raised in Antioch, and spent most of his life in his beloved hometown. He was the youngest of three siblings, and was just as close with his brothers Tom and David as he was with his parents, Carolyn and Hardy, rarely missing a chance in the last few decades to spend time with them or simply give them a call.
He had a long career in the marine industry, starting in boat sales, and switching gears to selling insurance. He was the co-founder and owner of Twin Rivers Marine Insurance in Antioch, and a former president of the Northern California Marine Association. Few people shared his expertise when it came to boating and insurance, and he loved to share his passion for boating with others.
Gary was also a barbecue great, frequently waking up at 4 o’clock in the morning to put a pork shoulder on the smoker, then working all day to share a good meal with his friends and family.
Anyone who knew Gary would put it simply: he was a nice guy. His friendship and love showed no bounds, and he had a major impact on nearly everyone he met.
Gary will be missed by his wife, Mary, his son, Andy, his brother, David, as well as many, many others. A memorial service will be held at St. Ignatius of Antioch Church on Friday, August 19th, 2022, at 10:30 am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Antioch Historical Society.
I saw Mary Knight and her band of female pirates at the Stockton Sailing Club. Mary says they were on their 30th annual Delta trip. I find this hard to believe as none of them look like they are over 30 years old. They are somewhat secretive about their itinerary, but I think they generally hit Windmill Cove then head up to Tower Park, then to Giusti’s for lunch. Until now, they have always gone to Giusti’s for lunch. It is good to have them around and here’s to another 30 years of cruising for them.
Trudy Meeker advises that Sal Curcuruto’s memorial location has been changed from Moore’s to the Lighthouse Resort Clubhouse, just up the road and down on the landside of the Lighthouse Sport’s Bar. Same day and time, Saturday, September 2nd at 1800 hours.
As I am finishing this month’s missive, I received a call from Mike Campbell, President of the Delta Regional Foundation who told me that I am to be the recipient of their Delta Champion Award for my work promoting the Delta. This is a great honor for me, and I greatly appreciate the recognition. Gene Beley nominated me last December and I had forgotten about it until Mike called.
Besides myself, others receiving the award are: Dino Cortopassi – Delta Preserver, Restore the Delta – Delta Improver, RioVision – Delta Innovator and Dr. Henry Go – Delta Lifetime Achievement. I am doubly honored to be associated with this distinguished group of organizations and people. Moni Van Camp Kondos founded the non-profit in 2015, the foundation has worked closely with the Delta Protection Commission to carry out leadership training for a new generation of Delta leaders. If you are interested in attending the dinner on September 13 you can purchase tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/delta-cham pion-awards-delta-regional-foun dation-tickets-391379967017.
There is still plenty of good weather ahead, let me know what you are up to. Commodorewells@msn.com or 916-869-9141.