Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
Independence Day 2021
This was an epic holiday reminiscent of days of old, but overall, much better. The 4th of July was on a Sunday this year, which helped to attract more people to the Delta. After being cooped up for over a year people were ready for a party. The turnout at Mandeville rivaled some of the best years. Hundreds of boats started arriving the week before. Mike Garner brought his custom houseboat, and it was his 31st consecutive year at the event. He made his vessel open to all of his friends, and it became the epicenter of several boats rafted together with an ongoing party for the duration of the day’s long celebration.
Several hundred boats assembled at Venice Island for the holiday. Many people have been attending this event for generations. It is the mother of all Delta parties as boats cruise in from all over Northern California and beyond. They start anchoring a week or so before the 4th. Many folks from the Stockton area anchor their boats at Mandeville and commute to work during the week via their shore boats or runabouts.
Three L-39 jet fighters from the Patriots Jet Team did a spectacular air show for the crowd. The jets are based at the Byron Airport. I think this was the first time for the jets and the crowd was very appreciative. The team performed a flyover and spectacular airshow over vacant land near the boats. They got plenty of oohs and ahhhs from the few thousand boaters anchored nearby in Mandeville Reach. The highlight and special flight pattern flown was when the three-jet team flew in the missing man formation directly over the property formally owned by Barron Hilton.
Barron Hilton’s son, Dan came out to Mike’s boat for a visit. He told Mike that this was the first time he had seen the fireworks from a boat instead of the shore.
We have mentioned before that the Hilton Foundation is now providing the display ever since Barron Hilton passed away. Unfortunately, last year 2020 they were unable to provide the show due to the COVID pandemic, even though they made a heroic effort in trying to reschedule for September. The Dutra group provided a barge as a platform to fire the pyrotechnics from. Thanks to Mike Garner and Blair Hake for input on this spectacular gathering.
Michael Temby advises me that, “The Patriots Jet Team Foundation (PJTF) is pleased to announce the 8th Annual Benefit Gala ‘TOP GUN… NEED FOR SPEED’ to be held on Saturday, Sept. 18, in the Patriots Jet Center (Byron Airport.) The event guest of honor, Glen Powell is an American actor who co-starred with Tom Cruise in the soon to be released movie ‘TOP GUN: MAVERICK’. The evening program will include a special behind the scenes look at the involvement of the PJT pilots in the making of the new movie ‘TOP GUN: MAVERICK’, as well as amazing jet demonstrations, an elegant sit-down dinner and more! The PTJF is an all-volunteer 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization that has served the community for almost a decade. The PTJF has been funding numerous projects for the students at the schools in the Contra Costa and Alameda School Districts. The generous support of the entire community, including local businesses and individuals, has enabled the PJTF projects to continue to enhance the lives of many students, and has provided them with experiences that are both valuable and life changing. The foundation is most grateful for the loyalty and support of the community.
“The goal of the 2021 Benefit Gala is to raise funds to expand our programs of educating our community youth in the world of aviation, aerospace and related science, engineering and math subjects. Following the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) curriculum, the PJTF programs also include avionics to broaden the scope of the students’ education. The Aviation Scholarship Program, which began in 2016, will continue to develop and provide financial assistance for qualifying applicants.”
You can contact the foundation at: 925-437-3630 firstname.lastname@example.org
My ace correspondent, Daniel Witte was at Mandeville. He files the following report:
“The annual fireworks extravaganza returned to Mandeville Tip on July 4 this year. There were hundreds of boats of all types including cabin cruisers and ski boats. The attending groups included Sacramento Bayliner Club (SBC) hosted by Steve and Laurissa Messick, Matt Matthews from Discovery Bay Yacht Club, the Sea Scouts and many others. SBC had seven boats in their raft out, plus two visiting boats. The visiting boats were Geoff and Janice Simcoe and Jerry and Carolyn McKinney.
“The week was action packed with water fights, water sports, people enjoying each other’s company, and of course, the fireworks. I even got to participate in a great water fight where everyone got soaking wet. I think I must have gotten the most people wet in the fight.
“As evening came and it was near time for the fireworks, the Patriots Jet Team did six passes over Mandeville with some very tight formations. They were sponsored by the Venice Island Duck Club. The sound of the jets passing over reminded me of Fleet Week, which created a lot of excitement since that event is back this year as well. As usual, the fireworks were awesome with lots of loud booms and good shock waves. Due to the cancellation last year, I hoped they would do an extra-long show.
“The Sea Scouts were out for the event aboard their boat, Liberty, a 53-foot retired Royal Canadian mounted police boat. They had seven girls on board, but they usually have 14. Their skipper, Jim West said they have been coming out to Mandeville since 1998, and that this is their first cruise post pandemic.
“It’s a big social thing,” West said. “It’s good that people watch and see the other boats and enjoy being part of the activity.
“We’re very happy to be back out to enjoy the sunshine and the water and kind of get the crew back into their normal routines,” continued West. West says that this is a good time for girls between ages 14 and 17 to think about joining as the boating community gets back underway post pandemic. West says the Scouts cruise anywhere from the Delta to the Bay and up and down the coast to areas like Bodega Bay.
“While out for a dinghy ride, I stopped and visited with Matt Matthews and met his friend Ricardo Cavanagh. Cavanagh says he has been coming to Mandeville since 1979, and recounted the story of bringing the old Coronado ferry up from San Diego when he bought it many years ago. He says he had to travel at only five knots. Cavanagh joked that although we might be post pandemic, it appears that all the boats are getting sick because they are all having little glitches after sitting in quarantine for over a year.
“This summer has proven to be much better than last summer for the boating community. It’s wonderful to see so many events returning to the Delta in the near future.”
Independence Day In Walnut Grove
Walnut Grove held their annual Independence Day parade, which is always a hit in this small town. After the parade the Areias family held an afternoon swimming party and barbeque at their Orchard Gables estate. Miss 102, their 60-foot 1956 Stephens yacht was moored at their family dock. Rusty had some gourmet coffee beans from Fiji that he was preparing. He has his own roaster naturally. When he first showed it to me I thought it was a miniature Bessemer Converter.
Later in the evening, a crowd assembled at James and Sally Christie’s home just up the river. We walked into a huge buffet, and it was amazing with pulled pork sandwiches and all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables. Live music was provided by Toree McGee and David Karacozoff. The music was perfect for the occasion. Torre describes herself on social media as, “blessed with a rafter-reaching soprano range and a voice that emanates grit and fire.” She describes her music as a blend of “Woodstock rock ‘n’ roll and sparkly country.” I think that sums it up; they did a great high energy set of country and ‘60s era songs to an attentive and appreciative audience.
After the sun went down the fireworks came out. While they weren’t quite like the Hilton Foundation, it was still a spectacular show and I am sure surrounding neighbors were impressed. Sue and I were very thankful to be included in this great event.
Hal Schell Award
2021 is the 15th year the Hal Schell Award has been presented to a person or people “who in their efforts continue to better the Delta.” Your writer was honored to receive the award in 2015. The award is always presented at the California Delta Chambers July mixer. This year it was held at Windmill Cove, which was a great venue. People came by car and boat. I think almost every marina owner in the lower part of the Delta was there. Many past award recipients were in attendance, including Tracie Glaves, Curt Page, Chris Lauritzen, Ken Scheidegger and Dave Smith, as well as yours truly, along with many local business owners and managers. Some people that have not been around for years attended. Yvonne Cantrell, former Delta Chambers president and treasurer came with Mariann Timms of the Marina Recreation Association. Fill-em-up Phil, former legendary Lost Isle bartender extraordinaire was there and former Lost Isle owner Bill Conner too. There were several members of the Super Secret Ship Club in attendance, including the aforementioned Bill and Phil. Wearing the unmistakable purple jacket of the Super Secret Ship Club was Madcap Mary, Pelican Bill Conner’s longtime girlfriend taking photos and helping to liven up the party.
It has been presented to a diverse group of folks from business people to environmentalists. This year I was honored to be present when Arron and Claude Pellarin, owners of Village West Marina & Resort received the award. I can’t imagine the idea of anyone else this year being more deserving. The Pellarin brothers started scoping out the Delta and the Stockton area several years back. They met many doomsayers and nay-sayers in the region, but they settled on Village West to the benefit of everyone in the Delta and Stockton in particular. They started by removing hundreds of tons of trash and junk from the marina. They have progressed with a world class RV park on the point at the entrance to the marina, remodeled the Village West Yacht Club building, installed beautiful waterfront cabins and brought in some excellent complementary businesses like Delta Marine Sales, Freedom Boat Club, H2O water excursions and the latest – Sunset Sweets. I think almost the entire staff of Village West was there. Don’t forget the Stop & Shop, the Embarcadero and the soon-to- be-completed private club. Besides being able to pick a great property, the brothers have assembled one of the best staffs in the Delta, led by renowned manager Vickie Baumann who they scooped up when they first acquired the property.
The Delta is a much-underrated business goldmine that the brothers have tapped into. There are plenty of other opportunities out there waiting to be exploited. The Delta is evolving for the better with entrepreneurs like the Pellarin brothers leading the way.
I can’t believe it has been a year since Terry’s last big birthday bash, but here we go once again. Thom and Wendy Foulks have to be two of the best friends anyone could hope for. Last year when Terry turned 75, Thom and Wendy threw an epic party for him. And now with Terry turning 76 they threw an even more epic party for him. Terry has been battling cancer for the last year and doing a great job. His motto is “live with vigor.” I and all of his friends are confident he is going to beat it.
Thom and Wendy have a beautiful waterfront home on Fourteen Mile Slough just upstream from Village West Marina & Resort, not far from Gerard and Christine Hammer’s home. They have a semi enclosed swimming pool and fascinating house. They have different levels and catwalks adjoining different areas. The backyard on the slough is like a tropical jungle paradise, complete with palm trees and exotic plants. The home is decorated with Salvador Dali prints, as well as Aboriginal art they have collected on their travels. They are the only people I know besides me that have a didgeridoo on display. Russell J. Robinson did not know what it was, so Wendy let me play a song on it to demonstrate how it works.
The party was a gathering of Terry’s friends from as far away as Oregon and beyond. Naturally the guest list included just about everyone he knew in the Delta. Sue and I were honored to be among his guests. San Joaquin County Supervisor, Tom Patti attended and gave a rousing accolade to Terry. It was great to see former Assemblyperson Bill Berryhill. He has retired to his farm growing wine grapes now, but in the last round of the water war he was extremely active defending the Delta. I had not seen Bob or Sharon McDonald for a few years so it was good to catch up with them.
I first met Terry about 20 years ago when I went to work for him and his brother Bob as the yacht broker for 5 Star Marina in Stockton. We had a good run and sold some boats, attended many boat shows and had a great time. This was in the early 2000s and credit was, well, loose. We were able to finance just about anyone. We had several sources, so no matter what your credit score was we could find a lender for you. We sold new Doral cruisers and Stingrays, as well as brokerage boats.
Back to the party: John Silva, who is also the manager of 5 Star Marina served as the DJ and kept the place hopping with a wide range of popular songs. We dined on tacos, burritos, quesadillas, ribs, fried onions and peppers prepared by Terry’s friend Beto and his crew. It was a feast with plenty of food for everyone, and I am confident no one went hungry. People were hanging out on the levee near the bar or on the boats tied to the dock. Somehow Thom and Wendy managed to fit 76 candles on Terry’s birthday cake. Well, actually, Thom made a Plexiglass cover to fit over the cake so no random spray would land on it – very brilliant. It took two propane torches to light them all and it somewhat resembled a volcano erupting from across the yard. I am pretty sure the neighbors across the slough were somewhat concerned about the fireball, but Terry did a good job and blew them all out quickly after which we all enjoyed a piece of the cake. But that wasn’t all, presently Haagen-Dazs ice cream bars were passed around for us to enjoy. They were so good I was forced to eat two.
Tower Park Waterfront Grille
The much-anticipated restaurant at Tower Park has opened. It is located at 14900 West Highway 12 in Lodi, or on Little Potato Slough if you come by boat. Sue and I dropped in on opening day. I think we were the first patrons to order food. We sat at the bar and each enjoyed a delicious hamburger. Sue had the house burger which included lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, grilled onions, house-made pickles and fries. I had the bacon cheeseburger with applewood smoked bacon and the same condiments. The piece de resistance for both burgers was the freshly baked pretzel style buns. The bun itself could be a stand-alone delicacy. Richard Potts is the chief chef, and he has received many awards for his imaginative and delicious dishes. They have assembled an enthusiastic crew and I am confident they will do well. The windows allow a great view of Little Potato Slough, or you can get even closer and sit on the outside deck over the water.
Over the years, we have had some outstanding events at Tower Park, including yacht rendezvous, poker runs and other parties. It is great to see the restaurant open for business again.
Unleashed Poker Run
Jill Faso Antonini and Dan Bouchard spearheaded the 2nd annual Unleashed Poker Run to benefit the Animal Protection League. It was more spectacular than last year’s with dual starting times and locations and everyone meeting at Windmill Cove afterwards for awarding of prizes and dinner.
The fast boat start was at Orwood Resort with stops at The Point in Rio Vista, Moore’s Riverboat and Windmill Cove. The cruising boat start was at Village West Marina & Resort with stops at Moore’s Riverboat, Sugar Barge, Tiki Lagoon and Windmill Cove.
Sue and I arrived at Village West at 0800 hours and things were already booming. There was an army of volunteers helping out, so Sue immediately jumped in and helped to install armbands on the participants. Colleen Murdock, a good friend of mine and director of the Delta Chambers was also helping with registration which seemed to run without a hitch. The process was amazingly organized and efficient, a huge tribute to Jill and Dan. Jill told me she had been up working on the event for 72 hours, but you could not tell it. She was as fresh and chipper as if she had just finished her morning coffee.
Breakfast burritos were served by both Garlic Brothers and Orwood Resort prior to the starting times around 1000 hours, and everyone was in a festive mood. As the boats began to depart VWM, we helped pack up all the swag, tables and displays and loaded it all into vehicles to take to Windmill Cove.
The boats were to meet at Windmill Cove starting at 1500 hours. We were there and presently the participants started arriving and talking about the great time they had. There was a raft of raffle prizes donated by local businesses that were sponsoring the event. The silent auction had some amazing artworks. If I did not already have my walls filled and a pile of works waiting to be hung, I would have aggressively bid on some of them.
Presently, the harbor was filled with beautiful boats and the party was on. Every paid participant received a playing card at each stop and the person with the best hand won the top prize. You could purchase an additional card if you desired. The top prize was a $15,000 vacation at an estate in Puerto Vallarta and Steve Kubitz of Big Valley Ford held the winning hand to claim it. Steve not only participated but was a sponsor to the event and quickly donated the prize back to the cause where it was auctioned off. This gracious gesture fetched another $7,500 for the cause when last minute entrant, Garret Isaacson was the last man standing in the bidding. The second prize was a week vacation at the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club Resort in Hawaii worth $6,000 and was claimed by a couple named Al and Julie. I unfortunately missed the 3rd best hand winner.
Jerry Wolfe, proprietor of Windmill Cove Bat & Grill served an excellent dinner of pulled pork, rice and spicy coleslaw. The famished boaters were devouring the meal like they had been at sea without food for a few weeks.
The event was a fundraiser for the Animal Protection League and I am confident it raised thousands of dollars for the organization. Many local businesses helped sponsor and donated prizes to the run. I can’t list them all here, but they are listed on the APL website at www.apl209.org/unleashed if you would like more info.
This was one of the premier events of the summer and a tribute to Dan and Jill’s leadership and organizing skills. Everything went like clockwork and I am confident everyone had a great time. Claude Pellarin and I speculated that there was about $10 million plus in boat value at the event. I do not have exact figures, but it looks like about 90 boats participated and close to 350 people paid to participate. Aside from enjoying a day with friends and a boat ride, the animals that the APL puts so much effort into helping, surely benefited.
I was already back at home when word came to me that a boater headed down river about 5 miles from Windmill Cove was involved in an incident that required assistance. Our hearts, prayers and thoughts go out to those involved, as well as all affected, including friends and family.
One of my Calabash Cousins, Kimberly Reed Edwards debuted her book “Sacramento Motorcycling” on the history of motorcycles in Sacramento. Sue and I attended the book signing at the Sacramento Automobile Museum. I never knew Sacramento had such a rich history of motorcycles. Local clubs date to the Capital City Wheelmen bicycle club, which started in 1886. Soon after the turn of the 20th century there were several motorcycle dealers in downtown Sacramento and plenty of organized meets and races.
Kim’s dad, Jim Reed opened his shop in 1952 selling Indian, Vincent, Matchless and other classic motorcycle brands. There are many references in the book about Armando Magri, a legendary motorcycle racer and Harley Davidson dealer in Sacramento. Some of my friends were bikers in high school, and I remember going with them to Magri’s shop on 12th street in Sacramento. Magri was a legendary figure among us young people, and just to be in his presence made you feel like you were with royalty…
Nancy Immekeppel is a friend of mine and she is always on the lookout for interesting images. She caught a good photo of Catherine E heading down Georgiana Slough with some spectacular clouds in the background.
Tim Fontaine got a great shot of the Sacramento Yacht Club Cruise In at Village West Marina & Resort.
Tony Kopshever and his lovely bride Andrea recently visited the Lahaina Yacht Club on their tenth wedding anniversary in July. The club has special significance for them because they got married there too!
Dennis Hunter is a friend of mine. He lives in Reno, but brings his boat to the Delta to hang out in the summer. He is a good guy and takes some interesting videos about Delta happenings. He is also a musician who plays the guitar. On the 4th of July he had a gig playing the 12-string at Moore’s Riverboat. We dropped in to see him. He was great and the audience was enthusiastic. He did so well that he has been signed up for a repeat performance on Labor Day starting at 1400. Check him out if you are in the area.
Virginia Salvador, who is a skipper with Zack Medinas of Gatecrasher Fishing Adventures recently caught a 59-inch Sturgeon on Montezuma Slough while fishing from a kayak.
“Fighting a sturgeon from a kayak is a lot different than from a larger boat,” she said. “You don’t have the leverage like when you are in an anchored boat and are able to reel the fish in while using your legs. I had to use my abs and arms to land my sturgeon, and it pulled me around in a circle eight for about a quarter mile.”
Not to be outdone, Zack who was fishing with her that day later landed an 80-inch sturgeon. Both fish were released back into the slough. Thanks to Dan Bacher and Gene Beley for this great story.
Doug Wilhoit has retired after 22 years as CEO of the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce. His peers say this about him: “His impact on our organization and community will be felt for generations to come.” I have known Doug for about 20 years both socially and involving items of mutual interest to the Stockton Chamber and the Delta Chambers. He is a good friend and a hardworking man, and I am confident he will stay involved in local issues and continue to serve his community. Tim Quinn has been named as interim CEO. He is another great guy and I am confident he will do well in the position.
The Delta Chambers hotline has been inundated with calls this summer from people that want to come boating here now that most California lakes and reservoirs are drying up. We always advise people that there are not park rangers in the Delta waiting to rescue them, and that they need to be self-sufficient. We always recommend that folks have a VHF radio and know how to use it. There is a common misconception that having a cell phone is as good as having a radio. Not so, while the VHF is a line of sight, it is monitored by the Coast Guard and TowBoatUS, as well as other boaters. If you have an emergency, it allows you to communicate rapidly. A cell phone is a necessity too, but does not replace the VHF. A cell phone is great to contact your pals that are not on a boat or to call and see if a fuel dock or restaurant is open.
One of my readers sent an email that they were checking out the public docks in Petaluma. I will keep you informed on this adventure.
Don’t forget the Delta Chambers Gatsby party sponsored by Twin Rivers Marine Insurance and Bay & Delta Yachtsman Magazine at the Ryde Hotel on Oct. 16. It will be a great event, and if you would like to attend send an email to email@example.com for information.
John Garza from Pacific Coast Water Rescue checks in: “Two vessels have been placed in service to cover the South Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers; a Safeboat 25 Pilothouse and a Zodiac AKA 16 Inflatable Vessel. Sixteen personnel have completed State Fire Open Water Rescue Boat Operator – Small Vessel. Eight personnel are completing State Fire Large Rescue Boat Training currently. The Safeboat 25 has been installed with full Garmin Electronics by J&H Marine of Stockton including Radar, GPS, AIS-A and Downscope Sonar. All personnel trained on the Safeboat 25 will also be entering a training program that meets USCG standards for certification to become licensed USCG MMC Captains.”
It has been an epic summer and it is not over yet, the 20s are roaring. People have come out of the woodwork for fun and adventure. Boats are cruising and the resorts are booming. Tell me what you have been up to, firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-869-9141.