Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
New Contributing Editor
Please join us in welcoming Jillian Humphreys to the Yachtsman team. Jillian will be covering sailing and boating in the Bay Area and up into the Delta. She says on her social media page, “I am avid about anything to do with water.” She is a professional photographer who takes some great action photos. She is also a member of the Stockton Sailing Club with impressive sailing and power boat credentials.
She has boating experience, both sail and power all over the Bay and Delta. Her resume of boating employment is impressive. Her experience also includes working for the America’s Cup organization. I am confident she will do well. There is a raft of activities in the Bay Area every month, and our coverage has been somewhat light there for a while.
Encina High School Diamond Jubilee
I was a member of the first graduating class of Encina High School in Sacramento. I know none of you can believe I am this old, but I graduated in 1961. It certainly was a different era then. It was right out of the film “American Graffiti.” We would spend Friday and Saturday nights cruising K and J Streets in Sacramento. We would get involved in what then was considered innocent mischief. One time we threw a navy dye marker into a rival school’s swimming pool and colored the water a brilliant green for a few days. I guess nowadays that would be considered felony vandalism.
Encina’s principal, Dr. Shana Henry, invited the graduates of the class of 1961 to attend the graduation ceremony at the school. Sue and I, along with several of our classmates attended. Dr. Henry recognized each of us by name and also mentioned our classmate Dr. David Winelands (not in attendance) who received the Nobel Prize for physics in 2012. Winelands certainly has the highest accomplishment of any of us, but most of the rest of us have led productive lives.
San Juan School District Superintendent Kent Kern spoke and congratulated the 2021 graduates. It was good to see such a group of motivated young people, and I look forward to them becoming the leaders of our society in the future. After all, Encina is the greatest high school in Northern California.
H2O Excursions Grand Opening And Ribbon Cutting
Owner Tomiko Hale announced the official grand opening of H2O Excursions at 0830 hours on June 15. They are located on the water at Village West Marina & Resort in Stockton. This is a great company that will serve to get folks on the water that have only looked at it from the shore until now. We have mentioned them before, and they have actually been open for a couple of months. They were an instant success with a variety of watercraft ranging from standup paddle boards to a fully captained patio boat. They are a fun crew, and you can feel the excitement just being around them.
We got there early and were treated to fresh coffee, juice and homemade pastries. Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln was there, along with most of the marina staff and folks from the community. Presently, we made our way down to the dock for the ribbon cutting ceremony. Mayor Lincoln and principals of the business spoke to an enthusiastic crowd. This is a business whose time has come. Come and spend some time on the water. You can cruise upstream on Fourteen Mile Slough to I-5 and explore some tule islands along the way, or cruise around the marina. The more adventurous can head downstream on Fourteen Mile Slough where a world of adventure beckons: “The tranquil waterway leading to the very uttermost ends of the earth.”
Unfortunately, the coffee and excellent pastries only made me hungrier, so after the ceremony I headed to Bob’s at the Marina and enjoyed a breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes, wheat toast (medium rare) and coffee. After that, I was ready to head over to Ox Bow Marina to spend some time on my boat and take a nap.
Pacific Interclub Yacht Association
We met PICYA Commodore Patti Mangan and PICYA Director Captain Wendy Foulks at Village West Marina. Wendy and Thom Foulks invited Sue and I to join them aboard their beautiful boat Island Oasis for the PICYA Unity in the Community Cruise. We were joined aboard by Patti, her friends Candy, Terry McDonald, Ron and Barbara Delgado, skipper Gary Adams and naturally Tom and Wendy. It was another beautiful Sunday afternoon on the Delta. Member boats from member clubs throughout the Bay and Delta attended the event. Interlude skippered by Roger and Linda Fisher joined us. We pulled out of the marina and proceeded down Fourteen Mile Slough to the San Joaquin River. Presently, we were met with several other participating boats, and headed downstream on the San Joaquin.
We stayed on the Stockton Deep Water Channel until about marker 10 near the Stockton Waterski Club. We went ashore at the club and were given a guided tour by Thom and Wendy. Poor YoYo the boat dog was not allowed ashore at the waterski club, so he had to languish on the boat while we explored the island. Once back aboard, we cruised into the Headreach Cutoff and passed by Tinsley Island and Delta Yacht Club, and then returned back upstream to Village West Marina Resort. Several folks brought snacks, so we were in no danger of starving or coming down with scurvy on the voyage. We were in some territory that I do not think I have ever ventured into before, so it was remarkably interesting, especially to learn about the unmarked shoals in the area.
Several other boats from the Bay Area and further down the Delta joined us for most of the cruise. Wendy and Thom are experts in these waterways and gave a great narration as we cruised. When I travel through here, I generally do not venture too far from the deep- water channel, so it was really interesting to get an education on these backwaters. They warned of several places where the unwary could run aground. They also provided some aerial photos of some of the islands with credit to Blair Hake. It was a perfect day weather-wise, spent with great friends and great camaraderie.
Ebony Boat Club Grand Reopening!
The EBC held their gala event on the weekend of June 4-6 at their floating clubhouse at the Stockton Downtown Marina. It was a western theme with plenty of cowboy and cowgirl attire and a lot of ten-gallon hats. Sue and I attended on Saturday and had a blast. After being sequestered for over 400 days, the club members were ready for a great party.
We arrived in the early afternoon, and the first thing we noticed was that the entire interior of the clubhouse had been renovated during the time gatherings were banned. It looks great. Also, the electrical system has been upgraded and solar panels have been installed on the roof, along with an inverter and batteries to provide backup power when needed. The next project they are working on is replacing the exterior siding. You will not be able to recognize the place when they finish. They have now chained the clubhouse to the dock, so the would-be thieves are advised to look elsewhere for easier prey.
2020 Ebony Youth Foundation scholarship recipient Anesia Franklin helped with the MC duties and the live auction. She is a charming young lady, and I look forward to her returning to the club and assisting with more events. Every year the club awards scholarships to some great young folks in the Delta area. Many of them return to the club and give a report on their activities. These folks will be the leaders of tomorrow, and I am encouraged by their attitude and spirit. I think we are going to be in good hands.
Anesia is attending the University of San Francisco obtaining her degree in marketing, and pursuing her career in Fashion merchandising/marketing. She sent the following email to the Ebony Boat Club: “I am very appreciative of this award (the scholarship.) It has been, and continues to be a trying year. This is definitely a positive moment that I will take away from 2020. I look forward to some day meeting the Ebony Boat Club members in person, and being able to thank each of you.” Remember her name, I am confident we will be hearing more good things about her.
They had some excellent items in the live auction. We won a large basket filled with many goodies. There were many car care products, along with beer, wine, pretzels and many other snacks. So now I can enjoy a cold drink and snack while I am waxing and cleaning my car under a shade tree.
After a cocktail or two it was time for dinner. Sue and I were honored to join Commodore Dane McCoy, the lovely Pamela McCoy and San Joaquin County Supervisor for District 3, Tom Patti. We dined on BBQ chicken, veggies, baked beans, salad, rolls, dessert and cowboy punch. It was an excellent dinner. Somehow the galley has cracked the code on BBQ chicken. Every time they have served it when I was there, it has been just super.
Tom Patti has done much for San Joaquin County and Stockton. He is working to remove the vagrants and bums that have taken over local waterways. They are checking them for warrants and drugs, incarcerating as needed and helping those in need find housing. It is not perfect, but I think San Joaquin County could export this program to other counties. These problems can be solved, it just takes some work to accomplish it.
I look forward to many more good times with the Ebony Boat Club in 2021. They are accepting a few new members. If you are interested, give them a call at 209-396-7357. You won’t be disappointed.
Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘em
Christine Hammer held her retirement party (yes, I cannot believe it either, I thought she was about 25 years old) at Windmill Cove. It was one of the primo parties of the summer. A few hundred of her close friends attended. Live music was provided starting at 1300. MamaLuke was the opening act and played until 1600. Then Long Time, an excellent Boston tribute band took the stage and played for another few hours.
MamaLuke is from the Discovery Bay area, and has been rocking Northern California for 20 or so years. They do a great job and cover everything from the Stones and Beatles to The Ramones, Kiss, ZZ Top and much more. Long Time says on its social media page: “Long Time delivers high energy performances that capture the layered guitar harmonies and powerful vocals that make up the Boston sound. At a Long Time show you will experience all of the most memorable Boston hits such as “More Than a Feeling,” “Piece of Mind,” “Smokin’,” “Amanda” and “Don’t Look Back,” as well as the biggest songs from legendary bands including Journey, Foreigner, Styx, Kansas, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple.”
Both bands were great and the crowd was enthusiastic. I think most of Stockton attended, as well as many of her workmates from the Department of Corrections. Christine and her husband Gerard are also members of Village West Yacht Club, so many of their fellow members attended.
Doug Kohrdt provided a boat shuttle service over from Village West Marina and Resort. Several people came by yacht, including Christine and Gerard Hammer aboard Christine’s new boat Hammertime. The lagoon was filled with other craft including ski boats, family runabouts and a couple of offshore boats. The sheriff was patrolling on the river, and a few boats were anchored just offshore from the resort. It got a little exciting when a large ship came upstream and passed near the anchored vessels. Debi Wells created two amazing beautiful cakes. She is an artist worthy of her own show.
I have reported before that Christine is a high-energy boat and water-loving person. I look forward to her now devoting full-time to enjoying the Delta, hanging out with the rest of the Delta Rats and cruising her yacht around. Just being around her seems to increase your energy level. I think we can call this summer “Hammertime.”
Jerry Wolfe has done an amazing job transforming Windmill Cove into possibly the best music venue in the Delta. He has erected a professional stage with a shade cover and added professional sound equipment. All this on a point of land overlooking the San Joaquin River just across from Fourteen Mile Slough at marker 34 on the Stockton Deep Water Channel.
I get many emails and calls each year from people inquiring if Lost Isle (marker 22) will be open. It does not look like any progress has been made there for at least a few years. Not to worry though, Windmill Cove has picked up the slack and then some. Jerry runs a tight ship there, and the crowd is appreciative with no trouble breaking out.
Ox Bow Yacht Club
John Cox from the Ox Bow Yacht Club checks in: “Despite the global pandemic, Ox Bow Yacht Club members enjoy spending time on the water, connected remotely via Zoom throughout 2020 and executed a few socially distanced cruises. Several OBYC members participated in PICYA’s virtual 2020 Opening Day on the Bay decorating model boats with flags and club burgees. In Jan 2021, the club installed its new Bridge and Board, and set an exciting cruise schedule for 2021. Unlike many clubs on the water, Ox Bow is strictly a cruising club. Members assemble flotillas while underway, and once at the cruise destination they enjoy dock parties, games, activities and camaraderie, all without the encumbrances of clubhouse maintenance and management.
“The club began in 1980 at Ox Bow Marina and recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. Members now berth their boats just about everywhere from Alameda to Half Moon Bay to Willow Berm to B&W Resort, just to name a few locations. Favorite cruising destinations include Grindstone Joe’s, San Joaquin Yacht Club, Discovery Bay Yacht Club, Devil’s Isle and of course the Mandeville raft up for Hilton’s annual July 4th fireworks.
“Many members of the Club are also members of other Bay and Delta boating clubs and organizations (including actively participating at PICYA, Power Squadrons, IOBG “Blue Gavel.”) Skippers bring their vessels to Alameda each year for the PICYA Margot Brown Wheelchair Regatta, which gives disabled veterans a day on the Bay. There is a wealth of experience and local knowledge among the membership and skippers are eager to help new arrivals navigate the sloughs and anchorages. So, if you are one of those boaters who love to leave the dock and explore the Delta and beyond, this club is for you!” If interested in joining you can visit www.oxbowyachtclub.com
Owl Harbor Regatta
Owl Harbor Marina held a regatta and raft out for its tenants from June 18-20 at Mandeville Tip. At least seven boats participated, including the mother ship Neleh II. My people were scouting around and stumbled across the event. Casey and Devery Stockon and their crew always take the extra step to make Owl Harbor one of the Delta’s great spots to keep your boat. The gathering was reason enough for Bay Area broker aficionado, Mark Miner and his wife Dixie to make an appearance. I’ve been informed that they spend quite a few days in the Delta during the summer months aboard their 1995 Grand Banks. Owl Harbor has been their choice of marinas, and it is clear to see why with all that the marina has to offer to their berthers.
Willow Berm Marina Craft Fair
On June 5, Willow Berm held their second annual craft fair. I did not make it, but my people managed to get a few photos. There were many booths, and you could get some treasures; everything from stained glass, Delta photos, colorful hanging objects, mosaics, henna tattoos, woodwork and even $2.00 hot dogs.
There were plenty of people who braved the heat and attended the event, including Coyote Point harbormaster Mark Bettis. His wife Catherine had a booth selling her marine related craft wares. Mark and Catherine live in the Bay Area, but are about as local to the Delta waters as any of us. There were a lot of booths, but two that attracted their fair share were those manned by Demi Stewart and Gregory Mitchell. Their photos are always a hit at any showing.
Willow Berm is one of the best marinas in the Delta. They have 350 covered slips and 1,400 feet of guest dock. It is a beautiful marina on the Delta Loop, close to restaurants and shopping. It is on its own private island, and even has a sandy beach for tenants. It is on the Mokelumne River a few hundred yards upstream from the confluence with the San Joaquin River. It is convenient also to the upper Delta region of Snodgrass Slough, the Meadows, Locke, Courtland and Sacramento.
The Department of Water Resources has just completed installing a rock barrier across False River near Bethel Island. It has taken an estimated 9,000 truckloads of rock to block the waterway that is one of the major entries to the Delta. The barrier will allow more fresh water to be exported at the Tracy pumps at the expense of Delta residents in Discovery Bay and Bethel Island. The barrier is scheduled to come out in November when the rainy season hopefully begins. It is about $10,000,000 each to install and remove the barrier. This fiasco alone is the reason that the Newsom, Crowfoot and Nemeth tunnel to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta should not be built. We need more water flowing through the Delta, not less. I hope whoever replaces Newsom in the recall fires Wade Crowfoot and Karla Nemeth as their first act as governor. They have to be two of the most inept public servants in California.
Pacific Coast Water Rescue
John Garza and his crew never stand still. They have good things going on all the time. Garza has somehow cracked the code to get grants to help with his Delta area rescue programs.
“Objective: We need to raise $20,000 in order to help the Isleton Fire Department purchase new electronics such as RADAR, GPS, depth finders, side-scan sonar, FLIR and radios to launch their much-needed boat program.
“The Isleton Fire Department recently received a 25-foot Safe Boat Defender series through the Federal Excess Property Program. This boat will be used to serve the South Sacramento Delta area and will be a great addition to the region. It will be staffed by personnel from Isleton and Rio Vista Fire Departments, and will be used for fire, EMS and search and rescue calls throughout the area.
“This boat will help provide a service to thousands of residents and visitors of our area and help cover hundreds of miles of waterways in our region. Members of both fire agencies are currently undergoing rigorous training in order to staff this boat and meet the requirements of State Fire Marshal Training and U.S. Coast Guard training standards.
“As many know, boats and boat programs can be expensive, especially when starting a new program from the ground up. The fire department has already purchased a large amount of equipment and rescue gear in order to meet the minimum standards of a rescue boat, but they still need our help in raising money in order to purchase electronics needed for the boat.” Make a donation at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/isleton-fire-department-needs-your-help?qid=98e26cb33de7643969d65ec537ad8b32
My deadline is a few days before the Fourth of July. We should have a report on the hijinks for the September issue. Last year the Hilton Foundation was forced to cancel their annual fireworks display at Mandeville Tip. For 2021 they are back in full force. Patrick Barry with the Delta Independence Day Foundation sent this press release:
Barron Hilton Fireworks: The Show Must Go On
Until last year’s COVID-19 interruption, Barron Hilton had shot fireworks off Venice Island to celebrate the 4th of July every year since 1959. Now, after the 2020 cancellation, his unique Independence Day observance resumes Sunday night, but this will be the first time the show must go on without him.
Hilton, who died in Sept 2019 at age 91, spent virtually every weekend during hunting season on the San Joaquin River since co-founding the Venice Island Duck Club 62 years ago. In the summers, he would bring his wife, Marilyn, and their (eventually) eight children to the island to celebrate the 4th of July.
“I began by lighting rockets and pinwheels on the levee for the amusement of my kids,” Hilton recounted in the ‘90s. “That first year, about a dozen boats cut their engines to watch our fireworks. The next year we noticed a couple dozen more. From the ‘60s on, it just seemed to grow like an amoeba.”
Today, thanks to the generosity of Bill Dutra, the 20-minute show is fired over the Mandeville Cut from a Dutra Group barge positioned near Light 3 on the San Joaquin River. The program is produced by Pyro-Spectaculars by Souza, and all 1200 shots are synchronized to rousing patriotic music.
“Barron will always be remembered as the consummate hotelman, sportsman and philanthropist; but to me, he’s simply the best friend anyone could have,” said Tom Foscue, president of the Delta Independence Day Foundation. “He set up our foundation to continue this Fourth of July tradition. It’s his way of giving back to the community that meant so much to him over the years.”
The 2021 show will take place Sunday July 4 after nightfall, around 2130.
As I write this on the 30th of June, there are already many boats anchored at Mandeville and there will be many more coming. This has been a Delta tradition ever since Barron Hilton started it. The Delta Chambers hotline is inundated with calls every year from folks wanting information about the event. I am confident we will have a report in the September issue with requisite photos about the whole affair. There will be many more events we should have information on also.
Congratulations to Fred Weibel and Ida Handel who recently tied the knot at a private ceremony in Stockton.
Fred’s neighbor down the street, Joe Faso has announced his engagement to Tami Serpa. They have not shared the date with me yet.
Save the date for the Roaring Twenties, Art Deco, Great Gatsby party at the Ryde hotel on October 16th sponsored by Twin Rivers Marine Insurance and The Delta Chambers. The Delta Chambers was forced to cancel their Taste of the Delta event two years in a row due to COVID. This will be an event to make up for the fun times missed. It will include dinner, no host bar, live music, plenty of fun and prizes. The event is sponsored by Twin Rivers Marine Insurance Agency, Inc. and the California Delta Chambers. Call or email the chamber at 916-777-4041 or email@example.com for more information.
The Classic Yacht Association and the Corinthian Yacht Club announce that the 10th Annual Classics at the Corinthian Classic Motor Yacht Show will be held on Sept. 10-12 at the Corinthian Clubhouse in Tiburon.
Watch out for the new to the Delta boaters when you are out cruising. With many of the lakes and reservoirs having water levels too low to support boating, many inexperienced boaters have descended on the Delta. The Sacramento River at Sacramento is especially concerning. The area between the Tower Bridge and I Street bridge is a no wake/5 MPH zone, but that does not deter the folks going every which way on the river from going at what every speed they want. There seems to be no law enforcement in the area. As of this writing no one has been killed, but there is definitely the potential for tragedy.
Gene Beley, local Delta Rat, reporter, photographer and videographer has been invited to the University of Tennessee to give one of his Johnny Cash memory talks there in the fall. They will be featuring a traveling Johnny Cash photo exhibit. Beley you might remember, was a personal friend of Johnny Cash, and photographed his 1968 Folsom Prison Concert.
Gene and the lovely Jill Beley recently celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary with dinner at The Point Restaurant in Rio Vista.