Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells

Delta Rat Scrapbook

A Day’s Adventure

Jackie told you a while back about losing her nice anchor and chain rode on Miner Slough a few months back. She was hoping to go back and find it. Ty volunteered to help her look for it and invited me along as a consultant.

We took off from Korth’s Pirate’s Lair early in the morning, and after topping off the fuel tank we headed down the San Joaquin and over to Three Mile Slough to the Sacramento River. We headed upstream on the Deep Water Channel and hung a starboard turn onto Miner Slough at marker 50. Along with Georgiana Slough, Miner Slough is one of the most beautiful waterways in the Delta. We headed up the slough and just past Arrowhead Harbor. We scoured the slough from Arrowhead to the SR 84 Bridge. Jackie had marked her anchor chain with a fender, but we saw no sign of it. I suspect someone happened along and retrieved the anchor, chain and fender. Jackie had the coordinates in her GPS so I suggested that we tow her slowly behind Ty’s boat along with Ty’s anchor, let her skim over the bottom and look for it. She did not think this was a good idea so we abandoned the plan.

Ty and Jackie looking serious on Steamboat Slough.

Unfortunately, as we were cruising up Miner Slough we hit a submerged object and put a ding in Ty’s stainless steel prop. It caused a noticeable vibration so Ty wisely decided to keep the speed down. It seemed like it was a sunken log as it was not a sharp blow like hitting a rock, plus we were in the middle of the slough where the water is generally around fifteen feet deep.

The original plan was to stop in at Arrowhead Harbor and say hello to Jack and Heidi Fonss, but we decided to keep going due to the problem with the outdrive. I kept my boat at Arrowhead from 1993 to 1998. Jack held my hand whenever I needed it, he has a vast knowledge of boats and engineering. One of my iron fuel tanks cracked and Jack designed new aluminum tanks and had them built to Coast Guard specs; they are still serving me well today. I loved it there. At the time I was working in downtown Sacramento and it was a short drive down Jefferson Boulevard to this oasis out in the middle of the farmlands. I would come down after work and hang out or sometimes grab some of my friends and go to Shorty’s Mexican restaurant in Clarksburg for lunch and then go for an afternoon cruise.

A corvette parked on the riverbank.

We headed upstream on Miner Slough under the State Route 84 bridge and presently came to the confluence with Steamboat Slough. We again headed upstream and took note of the many boats moored along the riverbanks. We passed the remains of someone’s Corvette that looked like it had been submerged in the slough for quite some time. After passing under the Steamboat Slough Bridge we hung a right and headed down the Sacramento River.

We stopped at the Walnut Grove public dock and went to the Pizza Factory up on the levee for lunch where Jackie generously picked up the tab, very kind of her. While we were there we met Morgan and Sarina who were on their lunch break from work. We were unable to talk them into taking the rest of the day off and joining us. We made our way back down to the city dock and headed a couple of hundred yards upstream and through the cross channel gates. Now Jackie and her sailboat could never get through here, and with my boat needing 12 feet of vertical clearance it would have to be very low water for me to get through. There appeared to be about 10 feet of clearance today so we made it under with no problem.

Sarina and Morgan at the Pizza Factory.

After transiting the channel, we came out on Snodgrass Slough and headed downstream. I love this whole part of the Delta, the Meadows, Railroad Cut, it has been a while since I had been back here by boat. My favorite spot was always Railroad Cut, you could nose into the west bank, tie off to a tree and drop your stern anchor. The trees provide plenty of afternoon shade, and when you wake up in the morning you are treated to a symphony of birds singing. You can walk into Locke for dinner at Al the Wop’s or visit one of the art galleries or stores. We were running a little late so did not stop at the Cut this time.

A tug and barge pass through the Walnut Grove Bridge.

Presently we came to Walnut Grove Marina, the closest supply stop to the Meadows where you can get fuel and food. As we cruised by, low and behold owner Jeff Tranum came out on the deck of the office to greet us. After circling around and exchanging mutual greetings we continued downstream, sadly passing the remains of Giusti’s. After passing through the Miller’s Ferry Bridge our skipper picked up speed again and we continued down the Mokelumne River, arriving back at Korth’s a short while later. Ty went to retrieve his trailer while Jackie and I talked to some fishermen at the ramp. They reported that the bass were biting on this day.

Ty pulled the boat over to his storage unit and discovered that he did not have the correct wrench to remove the propeller. I have enough tools aboard my boat to rebuild an engine, so I made a quick trip to Ox Bow to retrieve my toolbox. When I got back with the tools Ty quickly got the prop off with Jackie supervising. I threw it into the back of my car to take to Thomas Marine Propeller. The original plan was to get it there this day, but by the time I got back to Sacramento it was early evening and they would be closed. I got up early the next morning and found out Ty had already greased the skids and Steve Thomas and Dave Waddington were waiting for me. I had been hearing about this business for years and this was my first visit; it was impressive.

Thomas Marine Propeller

I have not had too much experience dealing with propellers. My daughter had a 23-foot Sea Ray that she would let me use. I managed to break two aluminum propellers on it and replaced them. Yes, both times I was going slow and just happened to get into some shallow areas with a hard bottom. On my own boat, luckily I have never had an issue with my propellers. Bob Walton used to be the guru on propellers and many companies would take them to him for repair or servicing. You would go into Bob’s back room and it was like a blacksmith’s shop with all kinds of tools and dies. He was an expert and could somehow beat any miscreant prop back into alignment or change its pitch.

Dave and Steve in the shop.

Going into Steve’s business is like walking into a laboratory. They gave me a demonstration of their Prop Scan computer scanning software. It was amazing, it would give you a readout of exactly what you needed to do to the prop to make it perfect. It looks like people and businesses from all over Northern California bring their problems to Steve’s shop. They can handle anything from small runabout propellers to tugboat and large yacht propellers. Anything up to 120 inches in diameter and up to seven blades they can handle in the shop. Judging by the tags I saw on some of the propellers awaiting service it looks like all the professionals in Northern California bring their props in when they have a problem.

Steve told me that he had retired from his previous career and was looking for a new business. He got interested in boat propellers and studied the Prop Scan system and decided it would do whatever he needed. He traveled to New Zealand to learn about the system and met Dave Waddington there. Dave came back to the U.S. with Steve to help him get started. That was 20 plus years ago and Dave stayed and still works for Steve. He has become a U.S. citizen, so I guess he will stay forever.

They also sell new propellers and run them through the Prop Scan system for inspection. They bring them up to Class 2 ISO 484/2 before delivering them to the client. Judging from the propellers I saw there from well-known local companies, I am confident that whatever your propeller problem is they can fix it and probably make it better than new. Oh yes, Ty got his prop back and installed; he says it works like a champ.

Korth’s Big Party

Over 300 tenants, family and friends attended the Korth’s harbor party. There was an excellent DJ that brought folks to the lawn dancing. They had plenty of crawdads, wine, beer and soft drinks, along with an excellent buffet dinner. I could not decide if the barbequed chicken or the barbequed ribs were better, they were both fantastic; I tried each several times and still could not decide. Sue and I met Kathleen Korth for the first time. She was checking tickets and is a charming lady. I am amazed that I never met her before, I have been hanging out with the Korths since 1998.

A pile of crawdads.

Tiki Tom Tate was there along with the beautiful Karen Tate. The day couldn’t have been better. We were in the midst of a heat wave, but it cooled down just for the party, very refreshing. Tom the master chef cooked 400 pounds of fresh crawdads (yes 400 pounds.) There was a huge vat of the little critters boiled to perfection.

Tom and Karen.
Bogle wines served at the Korth party.

Korth’s Pirates’ Lair continues to be one of the best marinas in the Delta. It has been a popular spot since 1937 and is now run by the third generation of the Korth family. They have a waiting list for covered berths, but they have a great guest dock, fuel and the Pirate’s Lair Café (currently open for breakfast and lunch on weekends.) You can launch your boat there for a small fee and drop in and join the lawn people in the afternoons. When you approach by car or boat you think you are entering a garden on a tropical island. Before the Korths this point was only a tule berm, now it is beautiful.

Delta Regional Foundation

Moni Campbell Kondos started the nonprofit Delta Regional Foundation in 2015. Her husband Gregory was an iconic Delta artist until his passing a few years back. Moni’s original concept was to “raise awareness” of the importance of The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (California Delta) as a California environmental, agricultural, recreational and cultural treasure. The second goal was to raise money and for a partnership with the Delta Protection Commission to create the Delta Leadership program. So far, the Delta Leadership Program has graduated 87 individuals from all over the Delta. They are creating future Delta Champions.

Bill, Jackie & Ty at awards dinner. Photo courtesy of Morris Lum.

Erik Vink, the executive director of the Delta Protection Commission (he is now retired) conceived the idea of an event to honor Delta leaders. The categories are preserver, promoter, protector, innovator and lifetime achievement. I was honored to be selected for my work promoting the Delta via the Delta Chambers and Bay & Delta Yachtsman Magazine, thanks to being nominated by Gene Beley. I was doubly honored to be included with a group of distinguished people and organizations throughout the Delta. Dino Cortopassi was selected posthumously as Delta Preserver. The organization Restore the Delta was selected as the Delta Improver, RioVision was selected as Delta Innovator and Dr. Henry Go received the award for Delta Lifetime Achievement.

Erik and Bill with award. Photo courtesy of Morris Lum.

The event was originally supposed to take place a couple of years back, but the pandemic hit and stymied their plans until now. We were invited to the Silverdale Ranch for the dinner and ceremony. Amazingly, I have driven by here a few thousand times on Thornton Road over the last 30 years and never knew it was here. The event center is in a huge barn building that seats a few hundred for dinner. The bar was open when we arrived so I enjoyed a glass of Bogle wine and Sue had a soft drink. Many of my friends attended: Fred & Ida Weibel, Ty & Becky Mellott, Dave & Linda Breninger, Gene & Jill Beley, Kim Korth, Morris Lum, Jackie Philpot, Daniel Witte, Cyndy Rivera, my daughter Kim, her boyfriend Oscar Watson, my granddaughter Daisy Lewis and others. Gene recorded everything on video for posterity and Morris took a few hundred still photos.

Daisy, Kim and Sue. Photo courtesy of Morris Lum.

Presently, we sat down to an excellent buffet dinner and another glass of wine. After dinner the awards ceremony was held. As I said previously, I was honored to be included with this esteemed group. We each received a beautiful framed Gregory Kondos print that included a brass plaque with our name and the year of the award. Gregory Kondos is one of my favorite Delta artists and I had the pleasure of meeting him a few times at various Delta water meetings. I always wanted one of his artworks and now I have one.

Carley, Gina and Chris take a break after decorating for the evening’s event.

This event was certainly the highlight of my year, now I will try to live up to all the nice things they said about me.

Carley, Gina and Chris take a break after decorating for the evening’s event.

I got a message from a cub reporter that while on his travels he happened across the Diablo Yacht Club cruise-out at Delta Marina in Rio Vista. Monica Walton Giannini pointed out that the group had quite a turn out and yet still more boats were to arrive in the afternoon. I am sure the basin was filled by dinner time. Members of the club decorated the outdoor pavilion area to their liking and looking forward to members to join later for the evening’s festivities. I cannot say for sure, but I would have to think there were a few dinners and drinks that were had by all at The Point Restaurant during their stay also. It is good to see now, that after a few years of altered plans all clubs are getting back into the routine of visiting other marinas, and Delta Marina is for sure one that you want to put on your list if you are planning your club’s cruise-outs.

Guests of Cem’s sitting on the aft deck enjoying the company and conversation.

San Joaquin Yacht Club (SJYC)

We had a great time at a Delta Chambers mixer at the SJYC aboard their flagship Sutter on Dutch Slough. The folks at the club prepared a feast with meatballs, chicken, cold cuts and veggies. Of course, the bartenders were kept busy and the cocktails flowed freely. I don’t get to Bethel Island as much as I used to, but I love it there and the club has some fun people. We had a raft of donated prizes and had a lot of fun. Susan Bernhard announced that her classic 1952 Matthews yacht Susan Gayle is for sale. I love this boat; she is powered by two big block General Motors engines, she really moves out. You can contact Susan at if you are interested in a nice yacht.

Mixer at San Joaquin Yacht Club. Photo courtesy of Morris Lum.
Christine and Jessica at the SJYC mixer.
Jim Senior & Susan Bernhard at SJYC mixer.

Arron & Corrin Tie The Knot!

The Point at Village West Marina & Resort was the venue for this beautiful event. Arron Pellarin is co-owner of Village West along with his brother Claude. Arron and Corrin Rankin have been a couple for all the years I have known them and long before that. They decided to have an outdoor wedding at the resort which was the perfect venue. A few hundred of their close friends and family attended the beautiful event. Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln presided over the ceremony; he is an ordained minister you know.

Mayor Lincoln, Thom, Terry.

Sue and I arrived early and got to enjoy the warmup festivities. The bar was open with plenty of beer, wine and champagne, and also some exotic cocktails that are favorites of Arron and Corrin like Arron’s special margarita and many more. There was an excellent reggae band playing a lot of great material including songs we grew up with converted to a reggae beat. Some big tents were erected on the point, the main one was complete with crystal chandeliers. Smaller tents housed the bar, stage and food service area.

Corrin walking down the aisle.

It was great to see many Stockton area luminaries there along with Corrin and Arron’s family members. Arron and Claude’s uncle Tom Pellarin was there, he is a former member of the Classic Yacht Association and was skipper of the 105-foot Burrard Drydock Company yacht Fifer. I had not seen him for 20 or so years. Claude has told me tales of cruising on this fabulous yacht.

Terry McDonald and Thom Foulks wore matching white outfits. Wendy Foulks was in London attending the queen’s funeral so Thom and Terry came as a couple.

Mr. & Mrs. Pellarin.

After the cocktail hour Arron arrived at the gathering by boat and his holiness, Mayor Lincoln called the ceremony to order. The bride was radiant in her white gown as she walked down the aisle. The bridesmaids and groomsmen were the respective children of Corrin and Arron. After exchanging vows and rings, Mayor Lincoln declared them husband and wife. Then the real party began.

The bar was definitely open and the servers were kept busy filling the drink orders. Other servers were distributing hors d’oeuvres, typically a plate with shrimp, stuffed olives and a one bite lamb chop. There was also plenty of taquitos, chips & salsa. Presently, the delicious buffet dinner was served.

Peter Gruettner and Viktoria Gruettner.

Ramon Mata & his lovely wife Claudia let Sue and I sit with them for the meal. We dined on tri-tip and/or chicken, roasted vegetables, pasta, Caesar salad and hot rolls. It was a feast and I did not see a lot of scraps left on plates. After dinner the band Latin Magic played dance music for the guests.

Ramon and Claudia.

There was a diverse group of folks there, all with some friend, family or business ties to Arron and or Corrin. It was interesting, most of the folks I spoke with had a story or anecdote about Arron or Claude and how the brothers helped them with something.

Every guest received a nautical bottle opener as a souvenir of the happy day. The weather was great, but just in case Arron and Corrin had plenty of handheld fans available for all the guests. The party was still going strong when we left to make the trek back to Sacramento. I am confident we will be hearing many great things about Arron and Corrin in the future.

Irish Pennants

Kimberly Ann Miller is a friend of mine and member of the Village West Yacht Club. She has a new business: Five Anchor Stewardess & Yacht Services. She can take care of interior cleaning on your boat, grocery shopping for your cruise, supplying and icing your beverages and provide hors d’oeuvres for your party. You can contact her at

Tom Patti is running for congress in District 9 out of Stockton and the San Joaquin Valley. Tom is a good man and has the Delta’s interests at heart. He spends plenty of his free time volunteering to help better the community. He is endorsed by many local organizations and officials, not the least of which are: Stockton Police Officers’ Association, San Joaquin Deputy Sheriffs Association, Central Valley Taxpayers Association and the California Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau. If he is on your ballot I urge you to vote for him; he will do a great job.

Pat Hume is running for Sacramento County Supervisor to replace Don Nottoli who is retiring. Pat is currently on the Elk Grove City Council; he is supported by a diverse group of individuals and organizations including, but not limited to the California Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau, the Sacramento Police Officers Association, Sacramento Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Sacramento County District Attorney  Anne Marie Schubert and Former Sacramento County Sheriff  Lou Blanas. He deserves your vote if he is on your ballot. Pat is opposed to the Schwarzenegger/Brown/Newsom plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta and will work to make sure it never comes to fruition.

We are in some troubling times; the elections are right around the corner. Please consider who you vote for. There are politicians out there that want to destroy the Delta by diverting the Sacramento River around it. Others are planning a “high speed” rail system from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Instead of using the existing Interstate 5 right of way, politicians have rerouted it through the middle of farmlands with up to 24 stops and many little towns along the way to make sure they all get a little piece of the action. This is the ultimate California boondoggle that will never operate unless there are massive taxpayer subsidies. Meanwhile the state is being overrun with tramps and vagabonds, our forests are burning and our roads are a disaster. Ultimately, it is us voters that are responsible for our problems and it is up to us to solve them. Think about it, are you better off than you were two years ago? Are you better off than you were 10 years ago?

Tracie Glaves of San Joaquin Delta Neighborhood Watch has spearheaded a movement to clean up and keep bums and vagrants away from our waterways. A couple of years back her organization removed something like 30 tons of junk and debris from local waterways on the same day a state agency reported on their efforts, “the majority of items that were picked up were smaller plastics that break down quickly to microplastics such as plastic cup lids, bags, straws and of course cigarette  butts.” Tracie worked with San Joaquin County and the City of Stockton to implement the Critical Infrastructure Ordinance(s) that prevents people from living on levees and riverbanks among other public places including schools, colleges and day cares. The law now allows for the removal of people and their belongings that are posing a threat to critical infrastructure.

The California State Lands Commission is actively removing sunken vessels from Seven Mile Slough. The most recent one was a large, abandoned tugboat. According to reports there are still three sunken and abandoned large vessels that remain in the slough. There are plenty more in other places out there that need removal; at least this is a step in the right direction.

There is still some great weather left, I hope I see you out on the Delta.
Let me know what you are up to. Contact me at or 916-869-9141.