Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
Ebony Boat Club Change Of Watch
The Ebony Boat Club held their COW on a rainy Saturday afternoon at their floating clubhouse at the Stockton Downtown Marina. It was a rainy day and for once Sue and I wisely wore our raincoats to make the trek from the parking lot to the floating clubhouse. We arrived a little after 1100 hours. The event started with cocktails and general conversation. Presently at 1200 hours the pre-ordered sandwiches arrived, thanks to Otis Brock braving the rain and getting them to the clubhouse. We enjoyed them with salads and dessert.
After lunch the change of watch ceremony was held with Kerry Davis as incoming Commodore. His theme for the year is “Cruising Into The Future.” Indeed, I am confident it will be a smoother cruise with Kerry at the helm. Ann Dukes is the Vice Commodore, Glen Williams – Rear Commodore, Reggie Kelly – Fleet Captain, Joey Wright – Training Officer, Otis Brock – Treasurer, Robert Willis – Parliamentarian, Dolores Williams – Secretary and Jennifer Duhon – Staff Commodore.
Ebony Boat Club had a successful year in 2022 and received many awards at the 55th annual PICYA Awards banquet. They were awarded the Bay & Delta Yachtsman Public Service Award for selflessly giving “time and effort for the greater good of the boating community.” They also received the PICYA Perfect Attendance Award thanks to Janet Noyd, Ann Dukes and Glen Williams. They have had perfect attendance for 22 years. Last but not least, they were one of three winners of the Club of the Year Award for 2022; this was the seventh year the club has received the award. Club of the Year is awarded for supporting PICYA events, conducting youth events, community service, boating safety and philanthropy. Congratulations!
The club also announced the winners of the 2022 Ebony Foundation Scholarship awards. Amnesia Franklin is majoring in biology/premed with a 3.51 GPA. Nathan Kendal is entering the California Maritime Academy with a 3.25 GPA. Tavian Williams is starting as a freshman at UCLA with a GPA of 3.88. Zoe Clark is entering Harvard University with a GPA of 3.96. Aziah Franklin will be a freshman at UC San Diego with a GPA of 3.96. Congratulations to all the scholarship winners and I look forward to hearing good things about all of you in the future.
The Ebony Boat Club is a leader in the community for providing fun and educational water related activities and scholarships for youth since their founding in 1987. The members are all great people and I am honored that they include me in their activities. Commodore Davis advises me that they are accepting a few new members. If you are interested in joining and being part of a great organization dedicated to public service and having fun boating, please contact them at email@example.com. If you are not a joiner and just want to help out, the Ebony Youth Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and you can donate to them. One hundred percent of your donation goes directly into their scholarship and youth funds.
Lynn Hahn Memorial Lighted Boat Parade
It was a rainy Saturday evening, but that did not stop the enthusiastic parade participants for this annual event. At 1800 hours they assembled on the San Joaquin River in front of Windmill Cove. The judges were aboard Mike Garner’s beautiful yacht Auberge. Mike headed into the Stockton Channel and tied up at the pier prior to the parade so they would have a good vantage point. Sue and I were at the nearby 5 Star Marina party after we stopped by the Waterfront Warehouse to see my downtown Stockton correspondent Ed Farrell who gave us a great bottle of red wine and a gift card for Nena’s Mexican Restaurant as a Christmas present. Ed and I have been friends for 15 plus years. He is a great source for gossip and stories about downtown Stockton. Did I mention that he is a poet and philosopher too?
We met the new owner of 5 Star Marina, Abdul Yasini. He is a great guy and already settled into the marina. There was an international food selection, tacos and Mexican food, hot dogs and Afghani food. I did my best to sample everything but was filled up quickly. I am confident no one went hungry this evening. I think there were about a hundred enthusiastic folks there to watch the parade. There were 30 plus boats cruising up the channel. By the time they were near 5 Star the rain had let up considerably and was now only a mild drizzle, just enough to mess up a camera lens if the water got on it.
Congratulations to all the winners of the 41st Annual Lynn Hahn Delta Reflections Lighted Boat Parade and a big thank you to all that participated in spite of the rainy weather!
Hal Schell Judges Choice Award: Bill & Laura Smith Top Secret.
36 Feet and Over: 1st Place Jill and Richard Stevenson Martini Shot, 2nd Place Carl and Terri Neeley Island Girl.
23-35 Feet: 1st Place Brian Sherman Seize The Day, 2nd Place Eric Koster/J&H Marine Proteus Explorer.
Under 23 Feet: 1st Place Dianne Adams Union Break, 2nd Place Jeff DeBock
The Celebrity Judge Panel for this year’s parade included James and Cathryn Nance (Stockton Deputy Chief of Police) and last but certainly not least Ty Mellott, publisher of Bay & Delta Yachtsman Magazine. Lynn Hahn was the force behind this parade for 30 or so years when she was with the Marina West Yacht Club. Eventually the club moved over to Ox Bow Marina – quite a way from downtown Stockton so the Stockton Yacht Club took over sponsoring it. After Lynn crossed over the bar her son Roger has kept it alive in her memory. The parade is a treat for Stockton residents and people watch from many vantage points along the route from Windmill Cove to McLeod Lake.
Stockton Yacht Club
The Stockton Yacht Club hosted the Delta Chambers Christmas and Holiday mixer. The club went all out with plenty of great food and fun. Raef Goorwitch from the Ryde Hotel donated some excellent bourbon balls that disappeared very quickly indeed. Raef advises us that the Ryde is open for business and is planning some major events for 2023. The bartender was kept busy serving the thirsty crowd and several folks won some great prizes. Fred and Ida Weibel donated several bottles of their excellent wines. Others won vintage Delta books, holiday decorations, gift baskets and other wonderful prizes.
Brenda’s Christmas Party
We dropped by Commodore Brenda Jackson’s beautiful Stockton home for her Christmas party. To say she goes all out for Christmas is a definite understatement. I could not count the Christmas trees inside the home, you might say it was just like a forest, all decorated of course. She had a lot of special hints hidden around on the trees for her family and friends. There was standing room only with everyone bringing hors d’oeuvres and their favorite cocktails. There was more than plenty to eat and drink! Joseph Mann was there with his lady friend Karen. Randy and Kimberly Miller, Fred & Ida Weibel, Gerard and Christine Hammer and Maggie Azer were all in attendance. Well, you get the idea, there were a lot of local folks there. The beautiful Lacy Palacioz was celebrating her 25th birthday too.
The Big Birthday Party
Cindy Breninger, Pat Carson and I all have December birthdays. Dave and Linda Breninger generously hosted a birthday party for us at the Delta King in Sacramento. We met for brunch on a Sunday morning in the Pilothouse Restaurant. The last time I dined at the Delta King was when we held the Classic Yacht Association change of watch there in pre-pandemic days. The food was excellent then and it was even better for our brunch. We had a great server, Becca, who says she generally works the evening shift but was called in for this Sunday. She has my vote for server of the year.
John and KT Baker came too, along with Cindy’s son Brandon. Dave arranged it so the women were at one end of the table and the men at the other. This worked out well, the women could talk about their interests and the guys discussed boats, machine guns (John is a retired FBI Agent) and interesting cases John worked on during his career. We had a great brunch washed down with coffee and champagne. Dave and Linda gave Cindy a poster of her when she was a child – very cute.
The Riverboat burned in an arson fire last July and Ken and Laura Scheidegger have vowed to rebuild. The superstructure of the vessel was totally destroyed, but the concrete barge itself is intact and ready for a new restaurant. Moore’s Riverboat has been a “go to” spot in the Delta since the first day Captain Moore opened it in 1966. I remember many good times here in my life going back to the early 1990s. Back then if you had a private group, you could be served in the loft over the main dining room. The lagoon would accommodate several boats for a yacht club cruise. I remember one occasion when the Classic Yacht Association had an event there. I told Hal Schell that we were cruising in and I would have a cold Heineken beer for him if he came over. My crew and I arrived at about 1400 hours and there was no Hal Schell in sight. The next month he blasted me in Yachtsman magazine and claimed he was there at 0800 hours looking for his beer. I responded back and told him I don’t even get up until noon, much less get underway earlier than that. He eventually forgave me, of course I had to buy him a Heineken beer every time I saw him after that.
Ken Scheidegger is looking for potential investors to resurrect Moore’s. Ken sends us this pitch: “As I see it, if a group of people were looking for a place to build a restaurant, this location would be a prime spot. Why, might you ask? Consider the following:
“John Moore, after one day of business in 1966, concluded that his boat was too small to meet demand. Hundreds of people wanted to get into the place, even though it was already filled with customers. Literally the next day, he started planning for changes to the structure that included cantilevering out over the water, removal of a few bulkheads, etc. After some raising capital efforts, he accomplished this a couple of years later in the winter.
“Big Band music eventually was a drawing card because John loved the music and he would hire musicians that once played for bands such as Tommy Dorsey, etc.
“John’s other love was the bar. Many famous people were customers as they wanted to meet this colorful Delta rat. One of them was John Wayne, and after his visit John Moore decided to have a car made that matched Wayne’s. It was a Mark V Lincoln Continental station wagon, a bright red color. He would drive it about 200 yards from his home to a reserved parking spot near the gangway into the restaurant.”
John never had a problem with the Alcoholic Beverage Control. Lots of boat owners made weekly or even daily visits, and they often used the positive visits to the place to justify to their spouse why they needed a boat.
“Once I asked John if he ever had serious trouble with customers. His response was a yes. He went on to say it was three people on a Saturday night who were making too much noise. He walked over to them and asked them to leave while pointing to the entrance. Then, he said, they got up and left and headed down the gangway. He said he felt pretty lucky when they turned around and hesitated for a second or two, but then turned around and headed for their car. Why, might you ask? Well, behind John on the boat was a rather large man. There he stood, all 6-foot 8-inches and 280 pounds of him with his arms crossed keeping an eye on things. As it turned out, he was an Oakland Raider football player and all went well thereafter.
“Some of the other factors of importance include, calm water, out of the winds, site located in a place surrounded by nature, located near the entrances to two marinas and on the Mokelumne River. Also, there weren’t too many other places around, particularly ones that offered a new experience each time they were visited.
“Better mention another display on the overhead near the bar, namely the panty collection. It all began when John, sitting at stool at the end of the bar noticed one of his three cocktail waitresses bending over to pick something up from the floor. When this happened, her own panties were revealed and so was the advertisement written on the back of them. It said, ‘Welcome to Lost Isle’. John reacted in an interesting way. He called her over and said, ‘if you want to continue working here, you can’t wear those’. She obliged. In a few minutes she came back from the head with a paper bag in hand that she handed John. Of course, in the bag were her panties. The bag was handed to Ed, the bartender and conversation commenced regarding what the hell they were going to do with them. A few minutes passed. Then, a couple of nails appeared and a hammer, and then they were nailed to the ceiling to applause and yelling and screaming. Two hundred pairs then found their way there over the years. Two other things are of interest to me:
1. “When the fire broke out decades later under my watch, countless phone calls came in asking if their panties had survived the fire, and I had to say “no, they were melted down.” What an experience. Donny and Marie Osmond came to my office one day and said they would like to see the Riverboat. Of course, they had heard about what to expect to see. They are great people, but there we were standing beneath a great collection of panties. They indicated that they had some religious interests. And needless to say, I felt like jumping in the river!
2. “Another thing of interest includes the time I visited the city of Zurich Switzerland and I was at the train station. Headed for the same bench I was sitting on were two individuals wearing tee shirts with Moore’s Riverboat Poker Run written on them. Yes, I had purchased them and they had in turn bought them from the Riverboat during a date. As it turned out, they had just married and they thought this was a unique way to remember the date.
“Today, roughly one half the fire debris is still present. It will be cleaned up soon and the attractive site will resurface. Gil LaBrie, a county planner, and Don Nottoli, a Sacramento County Supervisor (now retired) both said we should have no problem at all rebuilding there for the same restaurant purpose. Why, might you ask? Well, the pilings tell us where the docks were, the sheet piling and other underwater structures tell us where the covered docks around the restaurant were, the concrete barge was in the water while the fire burned the Riverboat down and it was a popular special place. The green light is on to rebuild using some of the structure still there as a foundation.
“Much of what is said above should justify why it needs a rebuild, especially because a nutty arsonist caused the fire responsible for the demise of the Riverboat.” Well, if you are interested in helping to restore this famous restaurant give Ken a call at 916-217-0643. It is one of the prime locations on the Delta and a great spot to dine and watch the boat traffic go by on the Mokelumne River.
On Dec. 6 the Delta Counties Coalition held a public meeting at the Willow Ballroom in Hood. Many public officials and over 100 local citizens attended to denounce the proposed project. Gene Beley recorded the entire event on video and posted it on YouTube. The Department of Water Resources was invited to attend, but no one showed up from the organization. Kathy Miller of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors moderated the meeting. Senator Bill Dodd was next and started with a quote from Ronald Reagan “well here we go again.” Attorney and activist Osha Meserve presented a slide show that outlined the project and pointed out the flaws. She was followed by Lori Wilson, the 11th district Assemblyperson. Next, Assemblyperson from District 13, Carlos Villapudua spoke and pledged his support to stop the tunnel. There were supervisors from Delta area counties present too. Many activists and local residents expressed their opposition to the boondoggle. Gia Moreno, a resident of Hood (which is ground zero for the tunnel) spoke of being exhausted from fighting the water war for the last several years, she “can’t and won’t stop fighting.” Morris Lum and many others offered their voices to help stop the project. Lenora Clark of Recreational Boaters of California was unable to attend. She asked me to present their letter of opposition, which I did. It was good to see such a large crowd turn out to oppose one of the most ill-conceived public works projects in California history.
Comments were due for the project Environmental Impact Report (EIR) by Dec. 16. I saw many comments submitted by various organizations and individuals. All that crossed my desk were in favor of abandoning the project. The next milestone is the Army Corps of Engineers Environmental Impact Statement’s public comments which are due on Feb. 14. I am sure there will be a huge response to that one too. I did not read the whole thing, but I did note that there were three pages of acronyms.
I just learned that one of my best friends from my Hawaii days has crossed over the bar. Harold Uehara was an IBM field manager in Honolulu when I lived there from 1968 to 1970. After I moved to Maui he was assigned as the manager of the outer islands and would visit me there from time to time. Harold was a great adventurer; he was a surfer, water skier, sailor and SCUBA diver. He liked hot rod cars too.
In the early 1960s, Harold was sent to Guam to represent IBM interests there. By the time he left he had built the business up to the point where three people were needed to run the operation. Harold introduced surfing to Guam and started a surfing club for young people there. He also did a lot of diving there in his spare time and developed a world class seashell collection. I still have several he gave me including a giant clam shell that I keep on my fireplace hearth. In return I gave him a switchblade knife I got in Tijuana when I was in the Navy. He kept it on his desk as a letter opener.
Harold’s favorite place to water ski was the seaplane runways by the Honolulu Airport. They were straight channels about 1,000 yards wide and close to three miles long. It was one of the best spots in the world for water skiing in spite of the occasional shark lurking around. We would go there or sometimes out to Kaneohe Bay where the conditions were a little less ideal as far as flat water since Kaneohe Bay was more exposed to the open ocean. There always seemed to be an excess of hammerhead sharks in Kaneohe Bay too.
He kept his SCUBA regulator in his refrigerator to keep the rubber parts from deteriorating in the open air. We made several dives, perhaps the most memorable was the time we took his ski boat out to Moko-Manu Island. Harold had a low freeboard ski boat with a big outboard motor. It was not made for ocean use by any means. He was skillful though and I was with him a few times in rough water and he had no problem.
We launched at Heeia-Kea Small Boat Harbor a few miles away and cruised over. Moku-Manu is actually two small islands with a small channel between them. The larger island has a huge cave that goes back a couple of hundred yards. It is big enough to take a boat into, which we did with his boat. It is pretty fascinating with a lot of marine life. We did not dive in the cave but did about a 40-footer outside. This was back in the 1970s and there was not much boat traffic in the area. I hear now you can even take a kayak trip out there from Kailua Beach. It was a great adventure and only one of the dives we made together.
After I moved back to the mainland in 1975, we still kept in touch and would get together when I would take may family to Honolulu on vacation. I lost track of Harold in the 1990s when he left IBM to work at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. When I was there on vacation, I stopped in to try to find him. He wasn’t there and I left my information, but never heard back from him.
I only heard that he passed when recently one of my calabash cousins asked if I knew him. I still feel terrible that I lost track of him. He was one of the most colorful people I have ever known. He went to school in Southern California in the 1950s and drove a 1940 Ford coupe when he was there. When I lived on Maui, I bought a new Volkswagen and paid extra to have a replica 40 Ford front end installed on it. I did it to gain some trunk space, but I told him it was to honor his 40 Ford. I miss you, Harold.
You heard it here first. Village West Marina and Resort is hosting the 2023 Stephens Yacht Rendezvous on the weekend of September 15-17 (the 15th is the late Dick Stephens birthday.) There has been a lot of interest since the last one in 2020 and I am confident there will be some beautiful historical boats attending.
If you are interested in bringing your Stephens Yacht, please shoot me an email or call me and I will keep you on the list. So far, we have Jim Gabbert with his beautiful 85-foot yacht Defiance and Rusty Areias with at least a couple of his boats lined up to attend.
I am not sure how long Stephens Rendezvous have been taking place; the first one I attended was in 1994 in Alameda. It is possible that was the first one. For the last 15 or so years they have been held either in Stockton or Petaluma on pretty much a bi-annual basis. Over the years we have tracked down many Stephens owners and learned some fascinating stories about the vessels.
If you haven’t seen Terry McDonald around for a while it is because he is in La Paz for the winter with his dogs enjoying the sun and beach. We hear rumors he has been looking at yachts.
We hear J. Mills has just purchased a new yacht up in Puget Sound. Stay tuned.
2023 is already shaping up to be a memorable year. Let this year be the one where we stop the Newsom, Crowfoot and Nemeth Delta Tunnels boondoggle.