Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
Taste Of The Delta
The Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau held their 19th annual Taste of the Delta event on Saturday, Aug. 6. This is a great party that brings folks from all over the West Coast and beyond. Village West Marina & Resort once again volunteered their grounds for the event. Restaurants from all over the Delta attended, and likewise many wineries from Clarksburg to Lodi participated. Our friends Tressa Gaye and Friends played a great set during the entire event. Logistically, this is a big project to pull off. Besides the 100 percent support from our board we have some great volunteers that always chip in to help. Thank you, Roger Hahn, Jason & Sadie Freed, Chris Davis, Joel Kamerer, Becky Mellott, Jack Lohre, Sheri Cecchini, Shirley Reames, Suzie Bowers, Carol Hicks and Scott Short. These folks understand the project and know what to do the minute they arrive. The Sea Scouts from Point Weber and their leader Greg Manov pitched in to help with crowd control and parking, along with setup & take down. Thanks to the participating restaurants and wineries/breweries and other beverages. Check the website tasteofthedelta.com for a complete list of participants.
Morris Lum and Tim Ulmer came in to photograph the party and Gene Beley, our resident videographer recorded it on digital media.
We started working on the event in January and held regular meetings up until the day of the event. We were lucky that Korth’s Pirate’s Lair Marina loaned us three large tents. In addition, we rented another three, borrowed a couple and used the several pop-ups that belong to the chamber. There were permits to get, a liquor license and an inspection by the fire department. Everything passed.
Becky Mellott did a stellar job managing the silent auction and the many excellent donated items. The auction raised a few thousand dollars, thanks to the folks that donated all the great items. There were golf foursomes, vacation rentals, plenty of wine tasting tours and many Delta related gift baskets. There was literally something for every taste and every budget.
The weather cooperated; after a hot spell the temperature went down a few degrees to the delight of everyone. We rented a few swamp coolers, also to help cool things off. Overall, the day was comfortable. We received a lot of positive feedback about the event and people are already asking about the 2023 Taste of the Delta.
Sue and I were worn out at the end of the day, but we still had energy to go to Village West Yacht Club for dinner in the evening. We dined on excellent tri-tip and got to talk to our friends from the Ebony Boat Club, Sausalito Yacht Club and the Classic Yacht Association who had all cruised in to attend the event. We once again stayed in the Bungalows so only had a short walk to our room from the club. Ty and Becky were our next-door neighbors, and luckily they were not having a wild party so we got a good night’s rest.
In the morning, the four of us went to Bob’s at the Marina for a hearty breakfast (I had an omelet, sausage, toast and coffee.) At Bob’s you can now get a bottle of champagne in a bucket and orange juice for mimosas. I like the idea of making your own mimosa, you can mix the OJ and champagne to your own taste. Sue likes hers with straight orange juice and I like mine separated. Mike Garner was celebrating his birthday that morning and joined us, so we drank a toast to him and also to the success of our event. Debi Wells and Adam Farrow were passing by and stopped to join us for a mimosa too.
We eventually took leave and trekked back to Sacramento where our cat pretended like he was glad to see us after our absence.
The Taste of the Delta is a great opportunity for area wineries and restaurants to get more exposure at minimal cost. Attendees had the opportunity to try products from wineries and restaurants from all over the Delta in one spot. It would take a few days of driving to visit all these spots and try their food and beverages. As an added bonus, you got to listen to some great music and hang out with great people.
We could not have done this without our great sponsors: Village West Marina & Resort, Weibel Family Vineyards & Winery, Bay Yachts, Twin Rivers Marine Insurance Agency, Inc., Reliable Home Solutions, Breninger Consulting and Bay & Delta Yachtsman magazine. Thanks to all of you. Check the tasteofthedelta.com website for a list of participating restaurants, wineries and breweries.
Delta Doo Dah
This year is the 14th annual Delta Doo Dah, the annual sailboat rally put on by Latitude 38 magazine. As they say on their website, “A sailing vacation right in your own backyard – join Latitude 38 for our 14th annual Delta Doo Dah! The Delta Doo Dah is Latitude 38’s Do-It-Yourself summertime Cruising Rally to the California Delta.” This is a great roving party with no rules and no precise agenda. They visited many Delta resorts and marinas, notably Park Delta Bay and Owl Harbor. I caught up with them at Park Delta Bay and enjoyed the complementary lunch provided by Peninsula Yacht Club. When I arrived, my friend Vivian Matuck, environmental boating program manager with the California Coastal Commission was holding a seminar about the safe ways to dispose of sewage from your boat. I was there to present a slide show about boating history in the Delta. I have a lot of historic photos provided by famous local yachtsmen and women like Mel Owen, Dick Engfer, Hal Schell and others. PowerPoint is a great invention for creating presentations and makes it easy to edit when facts change like the recent burning of Moore’s Riverboat and Giusti’s. I come from an era when you used an overhead projector with a stack of 8.5×11-inch foils to do a presentation, or you would do it with photographic 35 millimeter slides in a carousel projector. PowerPoint is much simpler, and it is easy to add and subtract material. After you prepare the presentation, you can easily copy it to a thumb drive and take it anywhere.
The day included solar boat demos, propane outboard motors, a swap meet and a free paddleboarding class.
Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA)
It was a perfect day on Sunday, Aug. 21 when we met the PICYA folks for their annual Delta cruise. Tom and Wendy Foulks’ lovely daughter Chantelle picked several of us up at the King Island Marina guest dock. Chantelle is here from Florida on vacation and was driving the family runabout. Jillian Humphreys, Chris Shepherd, PICYA Staff Commodore Patti Mangan, Susan Condon-Crakow, along with Sue and I piled aboard. It was a short cruise from King Island over to the Stockton Waterski Club where Thom & Wendy’s yacht, Island Oasis was tied to the dock.
Several of us made a pit stop and then we went aboard Island Oasis. Within a short period of time, other boats arrived and we cast off with captain Wendy at the helm. There were several boats in the flotilla including those from the Sea Ray Club and Village West Yacht Club. First we cruised over to Saint Francis Yacht Club’s private Tinsley Island. Thom and Wendy had received permission for us to pass through their lagoon for a looksee. There were plenty of boats sterned into their docks and we passed by their lighthouse/clubhouse/hotel. The building was actually a lighthouse at one time. It was located at Southampton Shoal on San Francisco Bay and built in 1905. It was in place until 1960 when the club purchased it and moved it to Tinsley Island on a barge. Over the years it has been remodeled and upgraded, and now provides luxury accommodations to members and guests.
Wendy told us a story from the days when she and Thom used their boat as a floating bed & breakfast. She said that someone had rented Island Oasis for the annual Saint Francis men only Stag Cruise. She said that she was not aware that the “men only” cruise meant that women were not allowed at all and that she would not be allowed on the dock to go to her ride back home. She says they wrapped her in a blanket and carried her to her shuttle craft. I think this is the first time this information has gone beyond Wendy and the club.
After we left Tinsley we cruised down to Mandeville Tip to see where the Barron Hilton Independence Day Fireworks Display has taken place annually for the last 54 years. In the past, there have been thousands of boats attending the event. Now, in late August there were only a couple of vessels anchored in the reach.
We then headed southerly and arrived at Delta Yacht Club via Columbia Cut. We pulled into a slip and went ashore. I met the caretaker, Moises Ramirez who has maintained the grounds for 33 years. He has always kept the grounds in pristine condition and informed me that he was going to retire in early 2023 and move out of the area. I don’t know where the club is going to find someone to replace him. He not only takes great care of the island but he also has a great friendly personality, just what is needed for a family oriented club. I wish him a happy retirement.
Several folks went swimming in the large pool, but most of the rest of us sat around and talked about various matters involving boating. Sue and I decided we would not mind staying there for a few days of relaxation.
Roger Hahn and Mia Marshall seized control of a couple of the barbeques and cooked some delicious tri-tip. Many people brought a dish to share, so there was no shortage of delicious food, potato salad, roasted potatoes, coleslaw, corn on the cob, pie and brownies for dessert. It was a huge feast spread over a couple of tables. I think there were 26 folks for dinner. We were all pretty hungry after cruising for much of the day so there were not a lot of leftovers.
After dinner and more conversation, it was time for some of us to go. We went aboard Roger and Linda Fisher’s beautiful boat and cruised over to the waterski club where we once again went aboard the Mastercraft and Thom took us back to King Island after a memorable day on the Delta. Thom and Wendy are the consummate hosts, and it is always a joy to be around them.
Wendy also thanks, “President Teresa Springer of Stockton Water Ski Club for allowing access to their 13-acre island, Harbor Master Ross from St. Francis Yacht Club for giving us permission to cruise through their island and Commodore David Stickney and the board of Delta Yacht Club for allowing us to hold our Tri-Tip BBQ with Potluck, swimming and bathrooms. I am so happy to show off our beautiful part of the Delta to you all.” Oh yes, can’t leave out the canine crew member Luca, he brought a lot of joy to the day.
Courtland Pear Fair
My roving reporter Morris Lum dropped into the Courtland Pear Fair on July 31st. He reports: “The pear was back in all its glory after missing two years because of the pandemic. There was great food and so many attendees they sold out of pear pies, pear strudel and even tacos. There was nonstop live music throughout the day. The weather was perfect for all to stay and enjoy the all-day event. The best pie by my taste buds was the one from Bates Elementary School. It was a very well attended event for the local community, and it raised money for scholarships and the Courtland Volunteer Fire Association.”
It looks as though they had a full day of events starting with five and ten mile runs at 0730 hours, followed by a pear pancake breakfast at 0800 and a duck calling contest at 1100. At 1330 the king and queen were crowned (coronated?), a baking contest, biggest pear award and the piece de resistance, the kid’s pear pie eating contest. This festival has been around for 50 plus years, it is good to see it back.
So far, the draft Environmental Impact Report for the Delta Tunnel is the same as we said the last one was, a huge Data Dump. My colleagues (and I agree) are saying that it is almost impossible to find things you are looking for in the document. I have not counted the pages, but the Delta Counties Coalition says, “The document includes over 3,000 pages of text and nearly 16,000 pages of appendices.” A data dump is a ploy to bury people under so much verbiage that there is no way they can figure out what it is about or how to deal with it.
Mario Marino, chairman of the Hood Community Council asks for an extension on the comment period pointing out that if you read 220 pages a day seven days a week it would take the entire comment period just to read the document.
Carrie Buckman, the project’s environmental program manager says in the publication California Ag Today, “There are adverse impacts to the agriculture community within the Delta. So, we would be looking at converting some agriculture land to use as facilities as part of this project. So, we could potentially affect agriculture resources by converting important farmland to other uses… [sic]” It looks like she is saying we have to destroy the farmland to complete the tunnel. Sounds similar to some logic from the Vietnam War.
Dan Bacher who has been battling this boondoggle for many years says “According to project opponents, different versions of this same gigantic and wasteful public works project – the Peripheral Canal, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, the California Water Fix and now the single Delta Conveyance – have cast a dark, toxic shadow over California water policy since it was first decisively rejected by California voters in Nov. 1982 as the Peripheral Canal.
“While tunnel advocates claim the tunnel will protect the reliability of water transport infrastructure, address the impacts of sea level rise and improve the Delta’s aquatic conditions, critics say the project will do none of these things, instead hastening the extinction of Sacramento River winter and spring-run Chinook salmon, the Central Valley steelhead, the Delta and longfin smelt and the green sturgeon. It’s feared these fish species will die off as the multi-billion tunnel keeps indebting Californians for generations to come.
“Those fighting the tunnel, including indigenous tribes, environmental justice advocates, anglers and Delta farmers have also expressed little faith that the Draft EIR will address any of the questions and concerns they raised repeatedly during their work with the Stakeholder Engagement Committee for the Design Construction Authority during that two-year tunnel planning process.”
I have no faith they will address any of the concerns raised during the stakeholder engagement process. They will continue to move forward with this mother of all boondoggles until enough of us citizens stand up and put an end to it.
Jan Duzac, a good friend and fellow member of the Marina West Yacht Club has gone to join her husband in heaven. Jan lived at Ox Bow Marina and was well known and popular. It seems like I saw her all over. My friends at Marina West and Ox Bow all miss her. She was always up for a party. Jan was a sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and a friend to many. Jan had health problems for several years, but you would never know it if you saw her, she always had a smiling face and a friendly hello when you saw her. At this writing, a service is scheduled at Saint Therese Church in Isleton and a celebration of life at one of her favorite restaurants, Peter’s Steakhouse in Isleton.
Jake Kimbrell, a friend and local artist/activist has crossed over the bar. I met Jake a few years back through another artist, my friend Robbie Murphree Gabriel. Robbie considered Jake a mentor. Jake was an authentic hippie, fresh from the 60s. He had visions of turning the Delta into an art wonderland. He wanted art galleries everywhere along the rivers and in small communities featuring local artists and artworks. I talked to him numerous times about doing this. His business card says, “Traveling art show coordinator” and that he was, art is about all he spoke. Robbie has this to say about him, “Sometimes you run into somebody and know that you already know them without saying a word. This happened to me about six years ago when I had just moved into a new town. I walked into the visitor’s center and there was Jake! An old hippie, an artist and one of the coolest guys I have ever met. He became a best friend, a mentor, a family member and someone who has changed my life and the lives of others through his passion for art. He was truly a bright light for so many. A counselor/group leader for veterans, he used art and writing groups to soothe veterans’ souls and anyone else who needed a hand up and a bit of magic. Jake was magic and he is magic.
“Jake moved into pure spirit; he is around all of us now. If you see a sign that says, ‘ART SHOW’ that is Jake communicating to you to step in and enjoy the show!”
James Motlow has crossed over the bar. We both served on the board of the Delta preservation/anti tunnel organization, “Delta Legacy Communities.” James was the historian of Locke and co-author of the book “Bitter Melon – Inside America’s Last Chinese Town.” He was a strong supporter of the Locke Foundation and a longtime Locke resident. He moved there in 1971 and began recording oral histories and taking many thousands of photographs. James’ photos have appeared in many magazines and have been exhibited in art museums and galleries. Sacramento City College, Crocker Art Museum, Artist Contemporary Gallery, Open Ring Gallery, Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment, Oakland Museum and San Francisco Camerawork have shown his images. The Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco packaged them into a traveling exhibit that traveled throughout the U.S. He was a very active community member in Locke and will be missed.
Christmas is approaching, here are a couple of ideas for gifts. Sue bought me a great book you history buffs might be interested in. It is called “Havana Nocturne.” It was originally published in the United Kingdom in 2007 under the title “The Havana Mob” which pretty much describes the piece. It describes the history of Cuba from the early 1920s until Castro and the communists seized power in 1959. It is written by T.J. English, one of the best crime writers in existence. His knowledge of obscure facts is amazing, every page is chocked full of interesting information. If you are familiar with names like Batista, Castro, Capone, Luciano, Lansky and Trafficante, this is the book for you. It gives you amazing insight into these personalities and what brought us to our relationship with Cuba today. A fun fact for you: Cuban president Fulgencio Batista admired Abraham Lincoln and kept a bust of him in his office.
I acquired another book that I am still reading, “Imagining the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta.” Basically, it is an anthology of Delta related stories from the time of its first habitation 10 to 12 thousand years ago up to modern times. A friend of mine, Bob Benedetti collected the stories and organized them into a coherent book. Dr. Benedetti was the dean of the University of the Pacific from 1989 to 2002. If you are interested in Delta history, you should own this book. It even has pieces by the late great Hal Schell and Earle Stanley Gardner.
Another local writer Carol Jensen offers her suggestion on Bob’s book, “Imagine yourself on a yacht, iced tea in hand, reading this book as you float past Rio Vista.”
Oh yes, don’t forget my colleague Jackie Philpot’s book “What I Saw Cruising the California Delta.” It is packed with interesting Delta information. These books are all available at online retailers. If you order now you will have them in plenty of time for the holidays.
Morris Lum has been on the road all summer. He not only comes to many Delta Area events, but makes it to the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance every year. He is an SCCA Judging Director. He also made it to the 48th Annual Lake Tahoe Concours d’Elegance in August to see the great collection of classic wooden boats. Missing this year was the famous Twin Allison powered Hacker Craft Thunderbird. Apparently, they could not get her out of her boathouse due to low water in the lake.
The question came up about how to call for an opening of the I Street Bridge in Sacramento since it is a Union Pacific railroad bridge and not Caltrans or the county. You can call the bridge operator on the phone at 916-789-5948. Another good number to have is the Coast Guard Bridge Office at 510-437-3515. The Rio Vista Bridge operator has a lot of information too: 707-374-2134. Be aware, there is an overhead power cable about 74 feet above the river at the I Street Bridge. It jumped out in front of a passing sailboat about 20 years ago during a high water event. The boat sank and is still in the river downstream from the bridge. You are welcome.
It is harvest season in the Delta, and not only are the grapes being harvested, Tressa and Bo Dahlberg are harvesting ten acres of hops at their Hoppin’ Racoon Ranch in Clarksburg. I don’t know much about hops, but I have always been fascinated by them. Sacramento used to have a few thousand acres along the American River when I was growing up. I guess you harvest them at night. Did you know you can make tea out of them too? I have always loved the smell of the plant, tea sounds good.
I heard a great story, a child who grew up in the age of electronics and GPS refused to believe we used to use paper maps and charts to find our way around. He said to his father, “you mean like the pirates?” Can I hear a big Arrrrgh!
There are some exciting things happening around the Delta. It is a little premature, but hopefully in the near future we will be able to share some important announcements. The season is not over, let me know what you are up to. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-869-9141.