Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells

Delta Rat Scrapbook

Sacramento Yacht Club

The club held its BBQ Rib Cook Off on a great Indian Summer afternoon. It was in conjunction with their Friendship Cruise-In weekend. We were all out on the grassy lawn and the rib cookers were spaced throughout the crowd, with the smell of BBQ wafting in the air. A great country band was playing; they started with the Sacramento Yacht Club official song and got the crowd to sing along with them. I will withhold comment on this. I posted the video to the Yachtsman Magazine social media page; you can watch it yourself at

Lawn People and dogs at the Sacramento Yacht Club.

Stacey Hodge enlisted Sue and I as judges along with Yolo County Sheriff marine patrol deputy Mike Ha. We are all barbeque rib lovers so I feel we were a great team. There were nine contestants and I will say it was tough judging, all the ribs were great. A few went the extra step and included a great presentation with the ribs. They ranged from sweet to garlicky, some were so tender the meat fell off the bone as you picked them up, similar to ribs cooked by Otis Brock. I give credit to all contestants. After much discussion and seconds on many of the ribs we picked Michael Winters for third place, Jason Chastian for second place and Steve Micke for the first spot. Now, in the interest of transparency, I have to admit that Jason gave me a beautiful Sacramento Yacht Club challenge coin when I first arrived; this had no bearing on my decisions in the contest. The judging was blind so none of us had any idea of whose ribs we were consuming. Jason is running for Vice Commodore of the club; he is currently on the Board of Directors. I read about his qualifications, and if you are a voting member of the club you should strongly consider him for Vice Commodore.

Three highly skilled judges hard at work: Sue, Bill and Mike.

The three judges agreed that we were pretty full after judging nine different ribs each. Mike had to leave for another gig so did not stay for dinner. Presently, the food was served outside on the lawn. My appetite picked up again quickly when we went outside. Sue and I got in line for roasted corn on the cob, country-baked beans, broccoli, biscuits and cookies. Oh of course there were more ribs so naturally we indulged. I think I put on a pound during this event.

I did get a little exercise going up and down the stairs to the bar for a couple of tall margaritas for me and Coca-Cola for Sue. We had a great time; Vice Commodore Tim Hodge generously loaned me his parking spot for the event. Chair of the Events Committee Stacey Hodge invited us to be judges for the contest. I hope we get asked again sometime it was a lot of fun.

The Sacramento Yacht Club (SYC) is the oldest yacht club in the Delta region dating back to 1929 (followed closely by the Stockton Yacht Club in 1940). The SYC has ties to the boat clubs dating to the 1800s in Sacramento. According to some of my history books there were power boat races on the Sacramento River by at least 1910.

They have 100+ boat slips and a great clubhouse and bar. You should check them out sometime at

Oktoberfest At San Joaquin Yacht Club

The San Joaquin Yacht Club has been supporting Meals on Wheels for some 35 years and has raised close to $500,000 at this point. They held their first Oktoberfest fundraiser at Delta Sports Bar on Bethel Island. It was jointly sponsored by the club & Sizemore Construction with additional sponsorships by many local businesses.

Bartender Melissa McClatchie and club member Wendy McGlothlin.

Patricia Atkins invited Sue and I to attend the festivities. As I am prone to do, I got things slightly screwed up and we went to the clubhouse first. It was locked up tighter than a snare drumhead and the first thing I thought of was I wrote down the wrong day. We then made it to the Delta Sports Bar, the correct venue, which luckily was only a few blocks away and we were not too late. So, this late October Sunday was the first day of rain for this season and it really came at certain times. Everyone was a good sport and ducked under the roof when the occasional cloudbursts happened. They had a couple of great beers that I indulged in; Sue stuck to Coke. We immediately saw Katie Senior who showed us around and filled us in on the latest gossip around the island. Patricia was serving food when she wasn’t running around doing other chores. Katie said the bar had a big party the previous night so they set up the entire event starting at 0800 hours on Sunday.

Chicken on the barbie at San Joaquin Yacht Club.

There was a DJ and plenty of donated prizes for a raffle. There was a good crowd considering the intermittent rain but everyone was a good sport and had a good time. There were plenty of children there. The kids being kids were great and did not seem to be bothered by the rain at all. In fact, I think after the hot dry summer they welcomed a change in weather.

Eleni Kounalakis

Our esteemed Lieutenant Governor was the guest of honor along with U.S. Congressman Jim Costa at an event put on by Rusty and Julie Areias at their Orchard Gables estate. A spectrum of Californians, mostly from the agricultural sector attended along with a smattering of others including San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti, Abdul Yasini owner of 5 Star Marina, as well as Sue and myself. We were treated to excellent wines from Vern Vierra of St. Jorge Winery and a gourmet dinner prepared by Gian Carlo Bortalotti. Gian Carlo has fully recovered from the stroke he suffered last year. It was good to see him.

Katie and Patricia.

Ms. Kounalakis espoused her plans for her future governorship. She has plenty of experience. We mentioned before that she was appointed Ambassador to Hungary by President Obama and after that, she was appointed by then-Governor Jerry Brown as chairperson of the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment in 2014. She has also had many years of experience building homes and communities in California with AKT Development. I think she is a strong contender for governor and will be California’s first woman governor if elected. Keep your eye on her.

Dutra Museum Of Dredging

Janet Bennett, a friend of mine and the manager of the Dutra Museum in Rio Vista asked me if I would do a short presentation on the Gavin Newsom/Wade Crowfoot/Karla Nemeth plan to build a giant tunnel to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta and send the water to Southern California to water lawns in Hollywood.

Rusty, Eleni and Jim Costa.

The Dutra Museum is only open by special appointment and is one of the best-kept secrets in the Delta. It is in a home built in the early 20th century that the Dutra’s lived in until they converted it into a museum. Janet had a group of tourists that were visiting the Delta and wanted to learn more about the history and the reclamation of the area, and also the history of the plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta.

Gian Carlo hard at work in the kitchen.

Imagine my surprise when the group arrived and one couple was Tony and Sharon Wirt. Tony and I worked together at IBM from about 1975 to about 1993. We were good friends and our kids were about the same age and used to play together. A bunch of us would get together for pizza on Friday nights.

Janet leads the museum tour.

I gave a short presentation of my involvement in combatting the tunnel scheme starting when Arnold Schwartzenegger announced his plan to build a canal to remove the water. After Jerry Brown came into office he announced that he had changed the plan to two 44-foot diameter tunnels to convey water. Brown finally gave up on it after a huge outcry from Delta folks. When Gavin Newsom came into office, he announced that he was going to build one giant tunnel to take the water. I think he figured that it was only half as bad as Brown’s plan so it would be accepted. Untrue – if anything the resistance has increased since Newsom has been governor.

People are fed up dealing with this ridiculous idea and I am confident that it will never come to fruition. As typical with government boondoggles, the price of this plan comes down as years go by. When Schwartzenegger originally announced his canal, he said it would cost about $55 billion; over the years the Department of Water Resources has lowered the price estimate to about $16 billion. This is ridiculous of course, prices never come down. Brown’s “bullet” train was initially estimated to cost north of $100 billion but the voters bought into it in 2008 when they were told it was only going to cost $10 billion. Of course, now in 2023 they are out of money and no track has been laid yet.

My model with the fabulous prizes.

Anyway, I had another appointment to go to so I was unable to stay for the tour. I have been on it before and it is fascinating. The Delta would literally be a huge swamp without the Dutra Dredging Division of the Dutra Group and their use of the clamshell dredge. Jim McPherson, another Delta expert was also on hand to help with the tour along with a nice lady from Trilogy who serves as a docent, whose name I unfortunately did not get. If you have a group of ten or more you can schedule a tour of the museum; please call 650-207-6489 or 415-258-6876 to make your reservation. Admission is only $5.00 per person, a great value to be able to enjoy this excellent museum and learn more about the history of the Delta.

Village West Yacht Club (VWYC)

The Delta Chambers held a fabulous mixer at the VWYC. Kimberly Miller, Brenda Jackson, Katherine Edens and the team went all out with gourmet snacks, well it was more like a dinner. There were sausages with buns and sauerkraut, German potato salad, coleslaw and apple strudel. I will suggest that if you ever go to the Village West Yacht Club for an event bring your appetite as you will be overwhelmed with excellent food. Naturally, the bar was open with plenty of liquid to wash down the food.

Eric and Brenda.

There was a host of great prizes including boogie boards, wine, gift baskets and a vintage copy of Hal Schell’s great book Dawdling on the Delta. I was honored when the lady that won it came to me and asked me to autograph it. She said I was the new Hal Schell; well, I will say I am following in the great man’s footsteps the best that I can.

Delta Reflections Christmas Boat Parade

Roger Hahn informs us that he is looking forward to seeing you on December 2nd, for the 42nd Annual Lynn Hahn Memorial Lighted Boat Parade. It is sponsored by the Stockton Yacht Club. Contact Jill Stevenson if you have any questions: 916-847 8959.

Carol and Andrea.

This is a legendary Delta event. Lynn Hahn was the Jefe for many years, and after her passing her son Roger took over to keep it alive. It was sponsored by the Marina West Yacht Club for a few decades but they moved to Ox Bow Marina in Isleton which was a pretty good jaunt from Stockton, so the Stockton Yacht Club took it over a few years back.

Liz and Eric.

Commodore of the club, Marina Falconi advises me of some other great events coming up. Wednesday, Dec. 13, special Christmas Delta Chamber Mixer (no charge) and Dec. 20 Wacky Wednesday Ugly Sweater Contest. Call the club at 209-946-9259 or the website at I hope to see you there.

Delta Yacht Club

My ace reporter Daniel Witte files this report on his latest adventure in the Delta. Sacramento Bayliner Club and Stockton Yacht Club cruised into Delta Yacht Club for the weekend of Oct. 20-22. SBC’s October raft out was hosted by Geoff and Janice Simcoe who are also part of Delta Yacht Club where Geoff holds the title of Commodore. Between all three clubs, there were 13 boats in total. There were lots of new people to meet.

Lisa and Tom.

Both Stockton and Delta Yacht Clubs were great contributors to the weekend. Delta Yacht Club provided the location and Stockton Yacht Club provided meals for all three clubs. The food included tri-tip, spaghetti and chicken, and it was awesome. Mike Cummings, the Port Captain of Stockton Yacht Club and his wife Lisa were both excellent cooks, pleasurable hosts and willing to go above and beyond when needed. On Saturday, when they realized they had forgotten groceries for the dinner, Mike and Lisa drove their big boat all the way back to Stockton Yacht Club to get them.

Saturday’s activities included bocce ball and corn hole tournaments, lots of cheering and exciting competition. While both tournaments were fun, the bocce ball was much easier since the target was not as precise. This is the first time I have ever played on a grass bocce ball court rather than a solid one. The yacht club bar was open and there was lots of time to visit and hang around the island. Geoff and Janice Simcoe were both great bartenders. Delta Yacht Club has many other amenities for all ages including a swimming pool, the clubhouse and a play structure for children. In fact, Delta Yacht Club’s swimming pool is solar heated.

Corn hole tournament at Delta Yacht Club. Photo courtesy of Daniel Witte.

On Sunday morning Geoff and Janice prepared a Mexican breakfast of burritos, chips, fruit and champagne. As usual, SBC distributed the chicken award, a monthly award that is typically given to someone who makes a nautical mistake, but can also be given for any other notable error. SBC’s Vice Commodore Sam McKillip was glad to pass it onto another person for the next month. The candidate for October got the award for not presenting the SBC burgee prominently at the clubhouse.

As the winter sets in, there is still lots of great boating and other events coming up. These include lighted boat parades along with many holiday and change of watch parties hosted by various yacht clubs. Kim and Rob Brunham have confirmed that the Frozen Bun Run will take place on Jan. 1 at the Rusty Porthole. In addition, Stockton Yacht Club’s Whacky Wednesday dinner happens weekly and is a great event to attend. Lisa Cummings says the event is a lot of fun and is a great gathering opportunity for everyone. Come on out and enjoy the Delta for the remainder of the year.

Frozen Bun Run

It is good to hear the run is on for Jan. 1, 2024. I think this is the 44th annual run and the perfect way to start a new year. The only time it was ever cancelled was during the pandemic. Many of the participants have been taking part for years; I think Daniel Witte started when he was 12 or close to it. Publisher Ty Mellott did the run a few years back, I keep hoping he will make a return performance. It would be great to see noted sailor Jacqueline Philpot make the run. Now, when I attend the event it is as a photographer not as a participant. It is a great party whether you are there to participate or watch.

Chris Lauritzen

It is the end of an era. Chris and Margaret Lauritzen have sold Lauritzen Yacht Harbor and have retired. When I first heard this I was incredulous, I thought they would be there forever. Chris is also known by the moniker as “Delta Chris.” He is the Delta; he gave periodic video updates on the fishing and hunting action in the Delta. I would always refer people to him whenever a fishing question came up that I could not answer (which is frequently). He posted videos on pretty much a weekly basis with a lot of great outdoor information, always told with a sense of humor. Chris (a reserve sheriff) handled the parking control for the Taste of the Delta for several years. He would bring a couple of friends that were off duty law enforcement personnel. They looked official herding the crowd on their quads. Every January he would come to Sacramento and help the Delta Chambers run their booth at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition. He would bring his own charts and information and would generously donate a couple of cases of his tide books to pass out. I spoke with him and he says he will still be around to offer his sage advice when he is not out of state on some adventure.

The Lauritzen family has been in the Delta since the 1800s. One time Chris told me that his father was born on Wood Island and would row a boat to Rio Vista to go to school. I asked him where Wood Island was and he said it was “under I-5 in Stockton.” On old maps and charts sure enough you will see Wood Island offshore from Rio Vista in the center of the Sacramento River. In the early 1900s when they were clearing the navigational channel in the Sacramento River, they removed the entire island and years later they used the material to build the I-5 ramps going over the San Joaquin River in Stockton.

At one time the Lauritzen Transportation Company had boats carrying passengers from Sacramento to Stockton and most Delta points in between. During the 1906 San Francisco earthquake Lauritzen Transportation helped evacuate people out of San Francisco and over to the East Bay.

Waterfraud Update

At a recent California Fish and Game Commission meeting, it was stated by Commission President Eric Sklar that “a fishing license is a privilege, not a right.”

Dan Bacher advises that he wants to let everybody know that fishing in California waters is NOT a privilege – it is a right under the California Constitution. Dan says, “I am surprised that nobody corrected Sklar when that was stated. Every Commissioner should be educated about this because it is the entire basis that the Fish and Game Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife were created in the first place.

“In other words, getting a fishing license is not a privilege, it is a constitutional right, subject to regulation by the state. Here’s the applicable legal language in the California Constitution:

Article I – Declaration of Rights, Section 25:

The people shall have the right to fish upon and from the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof, excepting upon lands set aside for fish hatcheries, and no land owned by the State shall ever be sold or transferred without reserving in the people the absolute right to fish thereupon; and no law shall ever be passed making it a crime for the people to enter upon the public lands within this state for the purpose of fishing in any water containing fish that have been planted therein by the State; provided, that the legislature may by statute, provide for the season when and the conditions under which the different species of fish may be taken.”

According to online sources Eric Sklar is CEO of Napa Valley Fume LLC, a cannabis management/branding company based in St. Helena that he founded in 2017. He is also the co-founder of the Napa Valley Cannabis Association. Well, if we can’t fish at least we can get high.

Thanks to Dan Bacher for sharing this important information with us. Looks like it might be a good idea to carry a copy of the state constitution with you when you are fishing. If nothing else you can use the paper to roll a joint.


The Delta was struck by two earthquakes in October. Every time there is an earthquake in the region the Department of Water Resources takes full advantage of it and warns that Delta levees are going to collapse. Austin Elliott PHD with the USGS “earthquake aficionado personally & professionally,” says “A very large earthquake, centered near the Delta, would pose a particularly significant threat to both protective systems that the levees provide, as well as the water distribution and intake systems.” “A very large earthquake” would certainly cause a lot of damage. The major earthquake faults that would threaten the Delta are the Hayward fault running through the Bay Area and the Green Valley fault running across Suisun Bay. The Hayward fault has produced several major earthquakes on an average of one about every 150 years. If either fault had a quake that damaged Delta levees it would cause catastrophic damage elsewhere like the Bay Area. Water supply would be disrupted to the Bay Area but not because of levee failure; the pipelines and conveyance infrastructure would be damaged or destroyed. Fuel delivery throughout Northern California would be disrupted too as there are a number of refineries in proximity.

The fact remains that in human history there has never been a case of a Delta levee being destroyed by an earthquake. This whole scenario was thoroughly debunked ten or so years ago during the Jerry Brown water war years. There is no assurance that a 44-foot diameter pipeline held together with “dowels and gaskets” would be able to survive a significant quake and it does not make much sense to bet our water supply on it.

Yes, you can say that the Newsom, Crowfoot, Nemeth water tunnel is a gigantic boondoggle, probably the mother of all California government boondoggles.

Irish Pennants

A fellow called me to report that he ran aground trying to enter Frank’s Tract from Piper Slough. He said he hit part of a concrete wall that was submerged just below the surface at high tide. It took out his propeller and OMC outdrive. There is not much you can do except fix it. They quit making OMC drives about 30 years ago, but parts are still available if you search for them. He was able to paddle over to Bethel Harbor and Jamie Bolt who owns the marina helped him out and got him back to his truck and trailer so he could retrieve his boat from the harbor. Be careful wherever you go especially around Frank’s Tract. If you are boating in the Delta, make sure you have NOAA charts 18661 and 18662 that cover much of the Delta. A map is good too, but does not show hazards as well as the charts. Never cut corners too close, be really careful when you are out of the marked channels. Well, be careful when you are in them too. Remember, if you can see the bottom in the Delta it is probably too shallow. Likewise, if you see birds standing in the water you should give them a wide berth.

Remember to set your new camera you get for Christmas, on its highest resolution so you can share photos with me for potential use in the magazine.Have a great Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year. See you in 2024. You can email or call me at 916-869-9141.