Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells

Delta Rat Scrapbook

Saint Francis Yacht Club

After a two-year pause during the COVID crisis, the club has reinstated its live onsite Wednesday yachting lunches. Typically, there would be a buffet lunch followed by an audio/video presentation by experts in particular fields. Ron Young has been running the program for the last several years. The lunches started in 1966 and their website explains, “with 50 programs per year, the Wednesday Yachting Luncheon is the longest running and largest speaker series in the yachting world. Each week we welcome speakers to share insights and expertise with our growing audience. A new show is added to our archive every Wednesday at 12:00 noon.” Over the years they have had many outstanding presentations; most of them have been to do with boats and boating, but there have been other fascinating presentations like “Why was San Francisco Called Baghdad by the Bay in the 1950s” or “On the History of Yachting and the America’s Cup.”

Rusty at the Yachting Luncheon.

Rusty Areias presented his history and lore of Stephens Yachts. Rusty is the preeminent expert on Stephens boats. He has restored a few and is owner or part owner of several. Rusty has close ties to the Stephens family and was a close friend of Dick Stephens before Dick crossed over the bar. He also knows most of the current owners/caretakers of Stephens boats and arranged to have several on display at the club’s dock on the day of his presentation. He recognized the skippers/caretakers before he started his presentation.

The bar was open and the buffet lunch was available at 1100 hours. There were two lines; one had a great selection of cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables, and breads, and the other had hot dishes featuring chicken and/or pork. It was great, I washed mine down with a cold beer. Sue and Jackie Philpot accompanied me and they were both impressed with the food. Jim and Bernadette Sweeney invited us to join them at their table. Blair Hake and Gene Beley, Martha Esch and several Stephens family members led by Theo also came from the Delta. Martha you may recall, is a famous Delta artist who also does gold leaf lettering on boat transoms. Gene recorded the entire presentation which was fortuitus as the club’s audio recorder was not working and Gene shared his video and audio with them.

Sue, Martha, Janice, and Thom at the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Rusty started his presentation at precisely 1200 hours. Every seat was filled and part of the crowd spilled into the next room where monitors were also set up. He has been able to acquire many amazing photos over the years and knows the subject matter of Stephens Brothers better than anyone I know. He took us through the history of the business from 1901 until it closed in 1987. In 1901 Theodore and Roy Stephens began building the sloop, Dorothy, in their backyard on Yosemite Street in Stockton. They launched her in 1902 and promptly sailed out of the Golden Gate and south to Santa Cruz. In 1903 they built their first powerboat, the 25-foot Gee Whiz. Next, they built the 50-foot Queen which was so big they had to purchase a barge that they used for their headquarters until 1910 when they acquired the property on Fremont Street. Rusty traced the business through the depression, World War II, the Korean War and beyond. He mentioned many famous yachts, Folly II, Westlake, Miss 102, Alpha, the Farallon Clippers and did not leave out the houseboats.

He told of his personal search for Westlake and learned that she had sunk in the Caribbean years before. He even brought the last known artifact from Westlake, the screw mechanism that opened the window at the helm. It was a gift from the last owner of Westlake. Currently, Rusty has interests in Miss 102, Folly II and Joie.

Helm station aboard Folly II.

After the presentation Ron Young and Rusty sat down to take questions from the audience. The presentation was fascinating and you can see it on Saint Francis Yacht Club’s social media page or on YouTube. The history of Stephens Brothers in Stockton is a fascinating piece of Americana. If you have never visited the Haggin Museum in Stockton you should make it a point to stop by. They have a renowned collection of Stephens Brothers material and a 26-foot runabout built in 1927 for Herbert Fleishhacker of San Francisco. All of us that own or have owned a Stephens have made the pilgrimage to the Haggin Museum and put on white gloves to research our individual vessels.

In 2002 Barry Ward, an employee of the museum wrote a great monograph about Stephens Brothers. I think they are still available in the museum store. It has a lot of period photos and information. Barry used to hang out with us; I remember one time in the early 2000s we had a Stephens rendezvous at Grindstone Joe’s and Barry came and did a slide show (remember 35-millimeter slides?) using a white sheet hanging from a tree as a screen. After the show he came aboard Ranger and helped me look for the hull number. He swore it had to be there and we dismantled joiner work, took out drawers and looked everywhere until he gave up and went home. I did find it a few years later on the bracket for my dinette table – #624 original name: Irma Lou II.

Defiance, Mayan, Sea Breeze.

After the question and answer session we all headed to the docks to visit the various Stephens boats on display. Rusty had two boats there, Miss 102 and Folly II, both of which are stunning examples of kinetic art. Folly II is still having some interior work done but she is still magnificent. Also in attendance were Sea Breeze, The Easy Way, Sea Dog, Merganser, Alpha, VIP and Defiance. Patrick Welch was scheduled to bring Triple Crown over from Alameda but starter problems kept her in her berth. It was a special treat to view and go aboard these classic yachts. Every Stephens was custom built for the owner so it is always interesting to see the different interior arrangements.

Alpha, a 47-foot sloop built in 1967 (I believe) was the first aluminum sailboat built by Stephens. Alpha was designed by Sparkman & Stephens design number 1757.1 and built at the Stephens Brothers yard in Stockton. She is stunningly beautiful and her powder blue hull fits her perfectly. There was another beautiful sailboat at the docks too. She was Mayan, a schooner designed by the John Alden Company design number 356-B and built in Belize in 1947. She was owned by David Crosby for 45 years starting in the late 1960s. He put a lot of miles on her and ended up at the Lahaina Yacht Harbor in the early 1970s when I lived on the island. I had friends that lived on a trimaran next to Mayan in the harbor. I remember at the time what a beautiful boat she was. This was about the same time period that Peter Fonda kept his beautiful wooden ketch Tatoosh anchored in the roadstead off of Lahaina. We should probably make Mayan an honorary Stephens. When I was on the dock several passersby thought she was another Stockton native. Her current owner is Beau Vrolyk of the Saint Francis Yacht Club.

Rusty, Willie and Jim at Orchard Gables.

Rusty also reports that his current project Joie is back in the water at Delta Marine Sales in Stockton. What started out as a few months summer project including trucking her from Southern California to Stockton turned into a major rebuild and included replacing one of her motors. She is undergoing some final adjustments and sea trials. I expect you will see her cruising around Stockton by the time you read this. I am not sure if she will be going back to Southern California, but it would be great if she stayed in the Delta in a nice, covered berth.

On a less happy note, Gian Carlo Bortalotti, Rusty’s personal chef, troubleshooter and sometimes boatwright made the trip to the Bay and stayed to purchase some supplies for other events Rusty was working on was mugged in a parking lot in the City. He had a stroke at the same time and wound up in the hospital. That was a few weeks ago at this writing, but Rusty is keeping an eye on him and reports that he is getting better every day.

Sue, Willie and Bill.

On a side note, I mentioned Ron Young in my opening. Our Co-Publisher, Ty Mellott had the pleasure of meeting Ron Young and his newly announced fiancé Christine Mumford a few weeks ago. Ty happened to be appointed to ferry service to Al the Wops owner Christopher Menke who needed a ride to Tinsley Island and while there Ron introduced himself. Upon his departure, Ty offered Ron a ride around the lagoon so he could show Christine the island from the water. As conversation went, Ron informed Ty that he used to be a contributing editor for the publication in the mid ‘80’s. Ron continued to share a few stories and a number of photos that proved his contributions back then. A fine example of exactly how small the world is when you pay attention.

Orchard Gables

Rusty is one of the best-known political consultants in California. Just after he put on his event at Saint Francis, he held a couple of fundraisers at his Orchard Gables estate in Walnut Grove. The first one was for Congressman Jim Costa of the 16th district. Many of his friends and supporters were there including California’s senior statesman – Willie Brown. Rusty and Jim go back a long way, they both grew up in the San Joaquin Valley with a dairy farming background. They are both Portuguese and both served in the state legislature at the same time.

David Sandino, Julie Sandino – Areias, Jenise Vierra, Rusty, Austin Areias, Vern Vierra, Katarina Pinto, Pedro Pinto, Jim Costa (Pedro Pinto is the Counsel General from Portugal to San Francisco and Western States including Hawaii).

Vern and Jenise Vierra, owners of Saint Jorge Winery in Acampo were there. They are not only Portuguese, but they also have a Stephens yacht ISIS in their backyard pond. They donated a few cases of their excellent wines for the evening.

Sue worked in San Francisco for 30 some years as a schoolteacher and received an award from Willie Brown back when he was mayor of The City (he did not remember giving it to her.) I have always wanted to meet him; he is on the north side of his 80s and still sharp as a tack. He retired from politics in 2004 but is still available to offer his sage advice to younger people. A popular San Francisco newspaper had this to say about him “one of San Francisco’s most notable mayors,” and he has “celebrity beyond the city’s boundaries.” It was an honor for me to meet him.

John Garamendi presents Julie with her award.

Rusty, Willie and Congressman Costa sat down and did a short review of how they all met and worked together years ago. Rusty said he first met Willie Brown in a parking garage and thought he was stealing his car. Willie responded with, “I didn’t know you owned a car.”

A few days later we paid another visit to the Areias family. This time it was a fundraiser for Congressman John Garamendi. Congressman Garamendi’s district has been re-gerrymandered so he no longer represents part of the Delta. He lives in Walnut Grove, so I am confident he will still be very interested in California water politics and indeed he recently co-authored a bill to stop the Sacramento River from being diverted around the Delta. He won his election.

Gian Carlo in the Hemingway Room.

The highlight of the evening was when Congressman Garamendi presented Julie Sandino-Areias with a plaque honoring her as a woman of the year. As read into the Congressional Record: “Madam Speaker I rise today to recognize the contributions of Julie Sandino (Areias) as she is honored as one of California’s 3rd Congressional District’s Women of the Year. Julie is an active member of the Sacramento River Delta community of Walnut Grove, a place filled with history, cultural richness and diversity. Julie has a passion for restoring and preserving architecture throughout California, devoting her time to bringing special historical places back to life. Julie is known for her talent in developing beautiful venues, she enjoys sharing with others. Most recently she and her husband have partnered with the Grassland Environmental Education Center to establish their ranch, Bird Ranch at San Luis Creek as a place for students to learn about nature, conservancy and sustainable agriculture. Julie is the founder and president of Sandino Consulting, which has provided professional event coordination and fundraising expertise to a variety of public, private and non-profit organizations for over 30 years. Julie also spends her time dedicated to civic engagement, becoming involved in local, state and national initiatives, a value she shares with her husband. The contributions she has made throughout her career will leave a lasting impact for years to come. On behalf of the people of California’s 3rd Congressional District it is my pleasure to honor and recognize Julie Sandino for the positive contributions to her Delta community and throughout California.” (signed) John Garamendi, Member of Congress 3rd District of California

Village West Yacht Club

Where to start here? First off, the club was awarded the club of the year by the Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA.) They were also awarded five-star status by the PICYA. They set their sights a few years back to achieve this goal, worked hard and received it for the year of 2023. The club had a great 2022 team headed by Commodore Sonia Mountjoy, Vice Commodore Dave Smith, Rear Commodore Kimberly Miller and Staff Commodore Brenda Jackson. Plenty more club members were involved, but these capable folks led and spearheaded the project.

Christine Mumford and Ron Young on their lagoon tour.

Village West Yacht Club was founded in Oct. of 1987 by a group of 35 people that were mainly berthers at Village West Marina. They moved into a modular building that was placed out on the point at the marina. The building has been expanded and remodeled at least a couple of times over the years and today is an excellent venue for dinners, parties and dances. Check out the deck overlooking the water. Especially notice the front of the bar with a lighted representation of the Delta created by Thom Foulks.

Ron Young pictured in an 80’s Bay & Delta Yachtsman column.
The December 1986 issue of Bay & Delta Yachtsman that contains Ron’s writings.

There is a full-service bar, pool table and excellent cuisine served for events and planned cruise-ins. Their large guest dock has electricity and water. Plus, you are right next to the marina’s RV park and a short walk to the bungalows for folks who travel by land.

Glenn, Geri, Tom at VWYC.
Mike, Jerry, Brenda, Dave, Tom.

The club recently held their election for 2023 officers. The winners are, Brenda Jackson – Commodore, Tim Campbell – Vice Commodore, Joann Horner – Rear Commodore, Kyle Miller – Treasurer, Christine Hackett – Secretary, Kimberly Miller – Fleet Captain and Randy Miller – Port Captain. A good group indeed.

Jay is ready to party!
Sue and Wendy at the VWYC cocktail party.

They held their first annual Pirates Ball in November which was a packed full house, and then several days later held their 35th anniversary party which also was very popular and was a full house too, even though it was on a weekday night. These folks know how to have a good time and throw great parties. They have a full-service galley and some excellent chefs that share their expertise and turn out some fantastic meals. I have been to many parties at the club and things always come off without a hitch.

Delta Saints Fishing Club

My roving reporter Daniel Witte reports from Clarksburg, “The Delta Saints Fishing Club held their third annual wild game feed on Nov. 16 at Husick’s Taphouse in Clarksburg. There were over 100 people in attendance and many volunteers and young fisherpeople and hunters.

“All the food served was either hunted or fished for by the people in the club and prepared by them as well. The food included frog legs, salmon sliders and many chilies such as dove, wild turkey, venison and elk. Everything was delicious and it appeared there were many leftovers. In addition to the dinner, there was also a raffle where many prizes were awarded. Some of the prizes included a mailbox that looked like a bass, a holiday season set which included hot chocolate packs, fake snow and chocolate mixing sticks that melt into your hot chocolate, along with various fishing gear. All proceeds from the food fee and raffle went to the team.

Delta Saints Fishing Club. Photo courtesy of Daniel Witte.

“The Delta Saints Fishing Club was founded in 2020 by Brad Soto and his family when the COVID lockdown began because they wanted the local children to have an activity since schools and many other activities were unavailable. The team currently has ten participants which represent Delta High School in Clarksburg, Elk Grove High School and Franklin High School. The members compete with each other in monthly tournaments in teams of two for the weight of five fish per team per tournament. The tournaments take place in the Delta and other lakes around California depending on water conditions.

“All participants must have an adult over 19 with them. The adult must have a boat over 17 feet with a live fish well and must be a volunteer rather than a guide or paid captain. In fact, the Delta Saints Fishing Club is the only club in Clarksburg that is free to its participants. While the club is free, all participants are required to help out in various ways which include cooking at the wild game feed and doing a minimum of 10 hours of community service which includes teaching fishing and putting on children’s fishing derbies.

“Some ways people can contribute to the Delta Saints Fishing Club include going to the wild game feed and donating through their Instagram page at Delta Saints Bass. Besides the above forms of community service that the participants participate in, the members also do boat wipe downs. Therefore, if you want your boat cleaned, go to their web site and find out when the next one will be.

“It is great to see a group that was founded during a dark time continue even after that time has passed. They are a good example of how something positive can come from something bad and stay even when the situation gets better.

“As the weather warms up, the spring and summer boating season will be here soon. If you received any new boating or fishing gadgets for Christmas, the timing to try them out is pretty good with the upcoming boating season.”

Delta Traffic

Traffic on State Routes 12 and 160 through the Delta continues to be problematic with gridlock, accidents and ferry boats not working. I wrote a letter to then Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin in Oct. of 2021 outlining some of the problems and offering to help resolve them. Omishakin never responded and now effective June 2022 he was made Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency which oversees Caltrans and several other agencies. He has done well for himself. He came to California from Tennessee where according to the Caltrans website he “came to CalSTA and Caltrans following eight years with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT), where he successfully established environmental, multimodal and planning policies. As Deputy Commissioner for Environment and Planning, he was responsible for an administrative and project budget of more than $300 million annually.”  The annual Caltrans budget is $17 billion for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Quite a jump in responsibility for Mr. Omishakin indeed.

The Poelstras aboard their boat at Village West Marina & Resort. Photo courtesy of Blair Hake.

Now, as Secretary of the State Transportation Agency he not only oversees Caltrans but also the “Bullet” Train, Highway Patrol, Department of Motor Vehicles and other transportation entities. He has a very responsible position.

Many people in the Delta are disgusted with how our roads are being managed. Tom Surh, the vice president of the RioVision organization (in Rio Vista) called for a meeting of folks interested in the Delta traffic situation. Many local business people attended from the Rio Vista/Isleton area. There were representatives from Caltrans as well. You have to realize that when people are sitting stuck in a traffic jam, they are not spending money at Delta resorts, restaurants or stores. It is also a problem for Delta residents that have to commute to other cities for work. Sometimes you can’t get to work on time and sometimes you can’t get home.

Tom is organizing a group to work to resolve these problems. If you want to participate, please email him at One of the big problems I see is that there does not seem to be a lot of communication between Caltrans Districts 3, 4 and 10; we need to get them to work together to solve the problems in the Delta. The new Caltrans Director is Tony Tavares. He most recently served as Director of Caltrans District 7 which covers Los Angeles and Ventura counties. District 7 has something like 25 percent of California’s population and an annual construction budget of more than $2 billion. Hopefully Mr. Tavares can apply some of his expertise to the Delta’s problems.

Irish Pennants

Jillian Humphreys reports that her parents “were presented a lifetime membership to the Stockton Sailing Club. This is a huge honor, and I am proud to call these two people my parents. Mom gave up racing in 1989 to run platform (does it make it voluntarily if the reason is also because I was born) and Dad, well he continues to race after 40 years.”

The certificate says, “Lifetime Memberships shall be granted to persons who in the unanimous opinion of the board of directors have rendered extraordinary service to the Stockton Sailing Club and/or the fraternity of yachting signed by Commodore Linda Buck.” Congratulations to Budge and Kelleen Humphreys!

John Garza checks in from Pacific Coast Water Rescue and advises us of the Coast Guard rescuing seven people in November from their disabled boat approximately five miles West of Muir Beach.  They received a distress call from the skipper of a 28-foot fishing boat reporting that his boat was disabled and was taking on water. The captain reported to have seven people aboard approximately five miles West of Muir Beach at around 1530. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and a Coast Guard Station Golden Gate 47-foot motor lifeboat crew responded to the call.

The helicopter aircrew and boat crew arrived on-scene and began efforts to dewater and stabilize the boat at 1600 hours. The seven passengers were transferred to the 47-foot motor lifeboat. TowBoatUS was contacted for assistance, arrived on-scene around 1700 hours and began dewatering the boat before bringing it under tow.

The Coast Guard crew escorted the tow boat to Horseshoe Bay near the Golden Gate Bridge and safely transferred all seven passengers ashore with no reported injuries.

Ken Baccetti advises us that the Isleton Chapter of the Striped Bass Association’s Sturgeon Derby on Nov. 19 out of the Pittsburg Marina was a great success. There were 45 anglers that participated and the targeted length was 51.25 inches. The winners are, 1st Place: Johnny Aviles 47.20 inches, 2nd Place: Anthony Cianchetta 46.75 inches, 3rd Place: Joshua Badger 45.84 inches, 4th Place: Loren Dennis 41.81 inches and 5th Place: Tim Peterson 40.95 inches. Ken thanks Michael Phillips and Robert Williams for doing a great job co-chairing the derby. Ken also writes an excellent monthly fishing column for the Delta Chambers. You can find it on their social media pages.

Ebony Boat Club also got a PICYA club of the year award. They held elections in November and their officers for 2023 are Commodore – Kerry Davis, Vice Commodore – Ann Dukes, Rear Commodore – Glen Williams, Treasurer – Otis Brock, Secretary Dolores Williams, Port/Fleet Captain – Reggie Kelley, Safety/Training Officer – Joseph Wright and Parliamentarian – Robert Willis.

The great thing about the Delta is that you can boat all year round. Yes, you probably need to put on another layer or two of clothing during the winter, but the traffic thins out and the waterways are still beautiful. There is nothing like sitting in a nice warm cabin enjoying a hot buttered rum or a nice meal out of your galley. Blair Hake sent us this photo of Gail & Dan Poelstra enjoying the sun at Village West Marina & Resort on a November Saturday.

Kelli Pearson announces that her Aunt Jayne has just turned 100. I haven’t seen her for a few years, but she is a charming, delightful, fun and loving person. I hope she is good for another 100.

I predict an excellent year ahead of us. We have the usual challenges; inflation, invasive plants, jammed roadways, nimrods and high fuel prices, but we have overcome these problems in the past and will again.

What are you up to? Contact me at or 916-869-9141.