Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE)
This is the best outdoor show in Northern California. It is always in January, kicking off the new year. Cal Expo in Sacramento is an ideal location with proximity to the Bay Area, as well as Stockton, the Delta and Reno. Vendors and exhibitors come from all over the world. You can book a safari in Africa or fishing expedition in Canada, as well as check out the latest fishing gear and boats.
The Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau has been participating in this event for at least 15 years. They are always in the Pavilion building among many travel promoters with some great adventures. Realistically, you can visit the Delta for a fraction of what a trip to Alaska or elsewhere would cost and have just as much fun. The Sacramento Marina had their booth in the building as did the Rio Vista Chamber. I think the Delta was pretty well covered. There was an endless stream of visitors during the show. Mitch Mashburn, who is with the Solano County Board of Supervisors came by with his lovely daughter Olivia. Mitch is also the Chairman of the Board of the Delta Conservancy; he works hard to preserve our region.
The Delta Chambers had their team of experts at the booth: Ty Mellott, Blair Hake, Fred Weibel, Chris Lauritzen, Tressa and Bo Dahlberg, Eric Chiu, Andrea and Angel Padilla, Morris Lum, Sue Wells and yours truly. The team was spread out over the four days of the show and distributed thousands of pieces of information about the region, as well as verbal information from actual Delta residents and business people.
The show is great fun and many of our friends stopped by to say hello over the weekend. We also met a lot of new folks who came from as far away as Reno and Los Angeles, and learned what a great place the California Delta is.
Many of you will remember the heyday of the boat shows 15 to 20 years ago. The one at the Cow Palace was always my favorite dating back to when I first got out of the Navy in 1967. I had no money but I vowed that one day I would have a nice boat, so when I moved to Honolulu in 1968 I went into partnership with a fellow on a catamaran. I have owned a few since then.
Back in the early 2000s, we had a small clique of exhibitors that attended many of the shows. The late Mike Foster managed Lost Isle and always had a booth that looked like a tropical paradise; he had a video constantly playing that showed wet t-shirt contests, dancing and folks just hanging out and having a good time. A few times Mike even imported white sand and spread it around the floor at his booth. There would always be a crowd of people watching the video – I wish I had a copy of it now. John Accettola would have his inflatable drydock sales booth there. He had a huge wooden desk; I wondered why until he invited me over and showed me a complete bar hidden in it. He would always invite his friends over to the booth for cocktails during the show. Most Delta businesses, including marinas and boat dealers, would be close to each other. It was our own private fiefdom in the middle of a boat show.
Don’t forget about the upcoming Sacramento Boat Show (www.sacramentoboatshow.com) March 7-10, 2024, the 2nd year of the CYBA Pacific Sail and Power Boat Show at Westpoint Harbor in Redwood City (www.pacificboatshow.com) May 16-19, 2024 and of course the 2nd year of the Sausalito Boat Show at Clipper Yacht Harbor (www.sausalitoboatshow.com) Oct. 4-6, 2024.
California Striped Bass Association
Ken Baccetti, president of the Isleton/Delta Chapter took over writing a monthly fishing report for the Delta Chambers after the legendary Jay Sorensen left for those big fishing grounds in the sky in 2020. Ken has done an outstanding job promoting fishing in the Delta and beyond with his reports. He knows about everyone including many of the local guides. Every month he comes up with a host of great photos showing folks with their catch that make you want to immediately go on a fishing trip.
The Isleton Chapter of the organization is holding a crab feed on Friday, Mar. 8 at 1730 hours with dinner at 1900 hours. It will be at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Hall, 220 South 4th Street in Rio Vista. Tickets are $75.00 per person; you can get them online at striper-csba.org. If you have questions, call Ken at 415-602-1298. This is a great group and they deserve our support. Come and enjoy a hearty meal of salad, pasta, garlic bread and crab. I went to this crab feed with Jay before he passed and it is a lot of fun. There is a raffle and silent auction; you could win some valuable prizes.
Marina West Yacht Club Change Of Watch
Sue and I attended the party at the MWYC clubhouse. The committee did a great job of decorating the clubhouse and putting the dinner together.
The galley crew headed by Kathy Teresi served a gourmet meal of arugula salad with roasted golden beets and walnuts, your choice of beef braciola with red gravy served with buttered noodles or Chicken Marbella served with rice pilaf, homemade New Orleans French bread and strawberry cheesecake puffs for dessert.
We had not seen Kim Korth for a while and it was good to catch up with her. We enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine and talked about our past adventures.
The MWYC bridge for 2024 is: Commodore – Bill Power, Vice Commodore – Kyle Cordes, Rear Commodore – John Romero, Treasurer – Patricia Chavez, Secretary – Patty Romero, Port Capt. – Tommy Keller, Fleet Capt. – Sam Teresi, Director – Tom Forsythe, Director – Valerie Speno, Fleet Surgeon – Dr. Susan Cordes (how many yacht clubs have their own fleet surgeon?)
Discovery Bay Yacht Club
Bob Clappier is always involved with the Discovery Bay Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade and here is his report, “The event was held on the evening of Dec. 9. The theme was the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” In keeping with this, we decorated our “float” as the Polar Express train from the Christmas movie of the same name.
About 20 of us started working on the Milne’s 46-foot cruiser just after Halloween. In addition to the wood frame covered with lights, we built animated engine drive wheels that looked like they were turning along with the moving connecting rods that locomotives use to spin them. This and the large “Polar Express” sign had us concerned enough that we worked extra hard and managed to finish hours instead of minutes before the parade started.
The actual parade included 10 to 15 boats and meandered through most of the bays in the town of Discovery Bay. The weather was cool and clear, which was perfect. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of people attended parties at the waterfront homes along the way and celebrated the excuse for a Christmas party as they cheered us on. Very gratifying for the worker bees on board.
At the party at the yacht club after the parade, there were enough category awards that almost every boat got one. The Polar Express was awarded the Commodore’s Cup – the top award for the event.”
Thanks Bob for your input and sharing the event.
Stockton Yacht Club
Blair Hake checks in from the Stockton Yacht Club’s first adventure for 2024: “Stockton Yacht Club had their first cruise out of 2024 today! They very graciously invited me to join them for brunch at King Island Restaurant. Despite the somewhat overcast day, some 55 members and guests showed up to enjoy good food and camaraderie! My good friends Cathryn & Garrett Grayson had just joined the club this past Friday night and I was able to sit with them, Russ Robinson and Stockton Yacht Club’s first couple, Chris and Commodore Bill Thompson. Delta Fleet Captain, Melissa Marvin put together an excellent event with raffles & prizes and has many events planned for this coming year. Someone mentioned that Delta Fleet Captain Dave Breninger is also putting together one, and possibly two Bay cruises this year for the club? I wouldn’t be surprised if the yacht club picked up some more new members today. It was a great start to the New Year and so good to see so many Delta friends.”
The World War II vintage tugboat that sank in Little Connection Slough in September has been removed. She had a reported 1,600 gallons of petroleum aboard. They first raised her with pumps and a crane, then offloaded the oil. The hulk was scheduled to be towed to Vallejo to be dismantled – a sad end to a once proud vessel. Of course, the taxpayers footed the bill for the cleanup; it is a shame the owners never seem to be held responsible for the damage they do by abandoning derelict vessels in the Delta.
Here is information on the USS Mazapeta from the museum ships website: “The USS Mazapeta (Yard Tug-181), a Woban class NAVY tug was laid down by the Gibbs Gas Engine Co. of Jacksonville, Fl., Aug. 7, 1942, launched May 8, 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Howard Fortson and placed in service August 12, 1943. Twice she was reclassified initially as Yard Tug Big-181 in May 1944 and again as Yard Tug Medium-181 in Feb. 1962.
“Mazapeta was originally assigned to the 3rd Naval District based in New York City and was transferred in 1944 to the 12th District in San Francisco. Except for the period between May 1947 to Sept. 1950, when she was in the reserve fleet out of service at Mare Island, she performed miscellaneous tugging and ship assist services for that district into 1976. During her Navy career, she has worked in many ports, such as San Francisco, Guam, Japan and the Philippines. On June 1, 1976, she was decommissioned from the Navy register and six days later sold as scrap at auction.
“On June 7, 1976, Sanders Towing of Benicia, CA was the high bidder with $99,101.00. They changed her name to Leross and added her to their fleet of working tugs in the San Francisco Bay. Saunders changed her name one more time in 1982 to Gail L Saunders, the name many local mariners remember and know her as today.
“On Sept. 18, 1998, Sanders Towing sold Mazapeta for an unknown amount to Rich Williams and Ron Ihle. After a brief time of being berthed at Fulton Shipyard in Antioch, CA she was towed a few miles to her new home at Big Break where she lay untouched for 10 years.
“In early June 2008 SF Tugboats was tipped off about the Mazapeta’s existence and her soon to be death by scrapping. When we saw her, we liked her and saved her from scrap once again. After a month of going through her systems and giving her a good bill of health, painting her and cleaning her up, she then made her voyage to Alameda to begin her new life.” Her ownership is a little murky after this, but somehow she ended up in the Delta and for a time was able to operate under her own power. I spoke to Don Rienhart and he said law enforcement had Eight Mile Road blocked off at the sight of the sinking. He did not know what her final outcome would be.
Old Sugar Mill
We had not been to the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg in a while and welcomed attending a Delta Chambers mixer there. It was a great party with folks coming from Sacramento, Stockton, Isleton and Rio Vista. We enjoyed several types of wine and some great snacks. We had a fabulous time and caught up with many old friends. Pat Hume, Sacramento County supervisor attended and gave us an update on his and the county council’s latest projects.
Thirty years ago, when I moved my boat into Arrowhead Harbor out in the hinterlands of Clarksburg, the mill was actually in operation and you would have to share the roads with trucks loaded with sugar beets. Nowadays the venue is occupied by 14 wineries and open for wine tasting much of the time: Scott Harvey Wines, Bonitata Boutique Wine, Kirchhoff Family Wines, Séka Hills Wines, Vino De Oro Vinyard and Winery, Bump City Wine Company, Draconis Winery, Due Vigne Winery, Rendez-vous Winery, Elevation Ten Winery, Carvalho Family Winery, Three Wine Company, Todd Taylor Wines and Clarksburg Wine Company. These are all premium boutique wineries in the center of the Clarksburg AVA. I don’t recommend tasting all the wines on one day but certainly put on your list to make a few stops at this beautiful location off of the Sacramento River a very short drive from downtown Sacramento.
The building was originally built in 1934 and the equipment was imported from a defunct sugar mill in Utah. In 1936 the American Crystal Sugar Company bought and expanded the plant, which allowed the company to begin processing 2,200 tons of beets a day in October. At one time the sugar mill was a major employer in Yolo County with as many as 400 people working there.
It is funny, I used to drive by there several times a week wondering what the interior was like and then low and behold the mill opened to the public in 2005. Now it is a do not miss venue in the California Delta.
It is probably a good idea to make reservations for your visit; call The Old Sugar Mill at 916-744-1615.
Many of you know Morris. He is a Delta Chambers member as well as a member of several local yacht clubs. He even has his own private cabin aboard the Sportsmen Yacht Club’s Clubhouse (since 1934), the retired ferry boat Sausalito. He has a resume three miles long. He started as one of the youngest real estate brokers in California. Now he is an Emeritus Broker, and he helps people acquire property all over Northern California. He serves as a delegate on the Pacific Interclub Yacht Association representing the Sportsmen Yacht Club and is a Concours judge, photographer, Concours SCCA, Photographer for MBCA (Mercedes Benz Club America) and Concours Judges Assoc SCCA SF board member 2009. He has many more credentials and accomplishments. He is also a world-class photographer; you have seen him at many boating events and Delta Chamber events over the years. His photos have graced the pages of Yachtsman Magazine. Notably, he was our concours judge for the Stephens Rendezvous last year at Village West Marina and Resort. He wrote this report about his afternoon adventure aboard SKAL. It may help remind us that winter is not forever and summer will be back.
“Tahoe has their famous Boat Concours with like new preserved wooden boats with big hot engines. Most owners know each other and they know where all their boats have been. The owners know who has worked on each respective boat and what has been repaired, restored and replaced. I have volunteered for the show for five years and have worked at the back gate, the main gate, the docks and even ticketing.
“The Delta has the Stephens Rendezvous approximately every other year. The Stephens Yacht Rendezvous is a gathering of boats built by Stephens Marine since their first boat in 1902. Other classic yachts are invited too. There is a great historical display of this most successful boat builder in California at the Haggin Museum in Stockton.
“The Rendezvous has displayed everything from runabouts to larger yachts. There is a big feel and difference of a big wood boat with its elegant interiors when compared to looking at smaller immaculate restored boats of the Tahoe Concours. But when you walk around the outside and interior of the 1956 60-foot Miss 102 cruiser, it’s an elegant feeling that encapsulates the Delta cool evenings after a hot summer day.
“On the first evening of the boats coming in, there was a light and relaxed reception on the docks at Village West Marina. The next morning visitors were walking the docks admiring the boats and taking leisure tours of the interiors. I was lucky to be aboard when there were a few women speaking to one another. It turned out they were sisters and they were exclaiming about the interior woodwork. They pointed out to each other the nuances of the construction techniques. ‘That’s dad’s work, we have furniture at home just like this’. I was amazed to hear this and offered to them that maybe, just maybe, next year they could look at the interiors and authenticate some of the interiors of these Stephens Marine boats. My mind was working overtime on this idea. I am on the Board of Directors for SCCA Concours Judges and serve as a Certified National Mercedes Benz Concours Judge during Monterey Car Week. And maybe we can do some light boat judging on the Stephens and also invite some other boats from the Delta. Viola, the Delta Boat Concours is born!
“The next morning I had a great breakfast with Bill Wells at Bob’s at the Marina and we were joined by Rob Sesar, who is a director along with me for Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC). Rob convinced me to go along in his boat for the parade to downtown Stockton and back to Village West Marina. Rob has a 34-foot 1928 Stephens with the matching original dining tableware. After we came about at Weber Point and passed Miss 102, we headed home in the early afternoon. The phone rang and there was a request to drop off some of our guests at the Stephens residence on the Calaveras River that we had earlier waved and honked at as we passed. We tied up at the Stephens dock and were greeted by matriarch Donna Stephens. Our guest ride-alongs were the daughters. I spoke with Donna Stephens and asked if she wanted me to take a picture of her for the Yachtsman Magazine. She declined, so you’re going to have to take my word on this adventure. In the backyard we unpacked our sandwiches and had a delightful lunch. And I was able to be of service by interpreting the large Chinese characters on the outside of their fireplace. Friends had gifted them the characters many years ago.
“Thanks to Rob, Roberta, and SKAL we had lunch with the incredible Donna Stephens.”
Rob and his lady Roberta Montero were avid sail boaters until the allure of their Stephens boat converted them to motorboaters. I was told the Stephens family were sailors and Dick Stephens helped form the Stockton Sailing Club. I just took my first sailing lessons there this last summer. Stay tuned for more of my classic yachting adventures.”
California Boating Congress
Registration is now open for the Eighth Annual California Boating Congress. “The one-day policy conference is scheduled for Mar. 12-13, steps away from the State Capitol in Sacramento. State Treasurer Fiona Ma will open the conference on Mar. 13 to discuss programs the State of California offers that can benefit marinas, boating and water recreation. Attendees will then hear from state legislators and top regulators on issues like insurance, California Air Resources Board regulations and an economic outlook for the state’s marine and waterways industry. Our industry’s voice is needed now more than ever in California. Visit www.marina.org and join us for the California Boating Congress to help shape legislation and regulations that are facing you and your business.”
Water War Update
Well, the lawsuits are starting to come out of the woodwork over the Newsom, Crowfoot and Nemeth plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta via a 40-foot diameter tunnel 45 miles long and 150 feet deep underground with intakes on either side of the town of Hood. The first suit was filed by the Sierra Club and a court ruled that DWR’s efforts to fund the Delta Conveyance Project were unlawful. The Sacramento Superior Court found that the Department of Water Resources lacked the authority to issue $16 billion (or more) in revenue bonds to finance the project. (editors note: it would not be $16 billion probably more like $55 to $75 billion. During the last 15 plus years of battling this boondoggle we were assured by Karla Nemeth and other state officials that the “users would pay for the project.” It looks like close to a billion dollars have been spent so far and the state’s taxpayers have footed the entire bill as near as we can tell.)
John Buse, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the litigants, said, “Instead of doubling down on this disastrous project, the state needs to take a hard look at groundwater storage, water conservation and other alternatives that don’t leave a trail of environmental destruction.”
Bob Wright, an attorney with the Sierra Club says, “Perhaps the most astonishing of these deficiencies is the report’s acknowledged omission of the changes to surface water resources that will undoubtedly result from the tunnel project.”
Assemblyperson Carlos Villapudua said, “Prioritizing the environmentally dangerous and wildly expensive Delta Conveyance Project during difficult fiscal times is nothing short of baffling. This water grab would inappropriately divert our already-strained fiscal resources.”
U.S. Representative Josh Harder and other Delta region representatives, John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, Mark DeSaulnier and Doris Matsui signed a letter asking the Bureau of Reclamation to put the kibosh on the water tunnel plan: “We write to urge the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) to reject the California Department of Water Resources’ request that Reclamation join as a co-petitioner in support of a request before the California State Water Resources Control Board for a change in water rights, including a change in the point of diversion, to enable the construction of up to three large new intakes on the Sacramento River for the State’s proposed Delta Conveyance Project, more commonly known as the Delta tunnel.”
At this writing we learned that Governor Gavin Newsom is conveniently out of state campaigning in South Carolina. Maybe it is time that he stays home and starts working on solutions to California’s problems.
Jim Fenelon has crossed the bar. He started his Delta life in 1966 in the Air Force when he was stationed at Travis Air Force Base as a 2nd Lieutenant. He became a psychologist with the Lodi Unified School District when he was discharged. He learned to waterski and sail in the Delta. He owned a few houseboats in his day and was a member of the San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron and the Stockton Yacht Club. He was Commodore of the Power Squadron in 1987 and 1988. He was Commodore of the Stockton Yacht Club in 1998. He was still active when he passed away. He is survived by his daughter Carrie Huffman, her husband Jeremy, grandson Jeremy, his sisters and friend Corine Herrera. A celebration of life was held for Jim at the Stockton Yacht Club on Saturday, Feb. 3 at 1300 hours.
The California Delta has lost another longtime local fixture. Barry James Bolt of Bethel Island, CA died on Sept. 17, 2023. He was 86 years old. Barry was the general manager of Bethel Harbor on Bethel Island for 40 years.
Barry was born and raised in Knoxville, TN. Growing up in Knoxville, he attended the University of Tennessee. Barry had many interests. He was a Civil War scholar who had read Lee’s Lieutenants by the age of ten and started a family at a young age. A career in retail ultimately took him, his wife and four children to Berwyn, PA, a Philadelphia suburb. He traveled extensively to the Far East over a dozen times developing exclusive clothing merchandise for department stores. When Barry was home, he enjoyed raising and showing Irish Setters, participating in his children’s lives and boating along the New Jersey coast. Following a divorce and a midlife evaluation of priorities, he started managing a marina in New Jersey. It was there that he got a call from his cousin, Pat Walsh of Bethel Harbor. Pat and her husband John needed assistance running their family marina on Bethel Island.
So, in 1981, Barry moved across the country to Bethel Island to be the harbormaster of Bethel Harbor. A year later he was joined by his daughter Jamie.
Barry worked seven days a week which required them to live on the property. He loved boats and building things with his hands. With Jamie as his assistant, he expanded the harbor to include four large dry storage buildings, a service department and a boatyard. He was one of the first to implement the dry stack system of boat storage in the Delta. Already popular on the East Coast, this method of stacking boats on racks was new to California. He managed his staff by example, always working alongside his employees. Most of the staff of Bethel Harbor have been employees for over 20 years.
In 1996 he eased up on the daily operations of the marina and Jamie took over the helm as the harbormaster. After Barry “retired,” he built a new house for his second wife and fifth child. He went on to build a ranchette for his and his grandchild Kelsey’s many horses. Barry also loved airplanes and in his retirement he built several six-foot wingspan remote-control planes. He and his wife Susan were able to travel and enjoyed many vacations. Although he was retired, he would still show up at the office nearly every day.
Barry will most be remembered for his work ethic, sense of humor and upbeat personality. He always had stories and jokes and many who knew him remember his “tide central” joke and his “weather prophet” rock. He was the ultimate optimist. He would want to be remembered as having a great life, with five great children and being able to do and enjoy more things in life than he ever imagined.
His daughter Jamie still manages Bethel Harbor with the assistance of her husband Scott. Barry’s work ethic and jovial attitude will always run deep. Thanks to Jamie Bolt for his input.
The Asian New Year Celebration is coming back on Mar 2 in greater downtown Isleton. Lion dancers, Taiko drummers and the Capital Chinese Orchestra are on the program. Contact the Isleton Chamber at 209-765-5216 for information.
Caltrans is proposing to secure the lift span of the Tower Bridge across the Sacramento River at mile 59.0 in the closed-to-navigation position from 1415 hours to 1500 hours on March 7 for a community event. The closed bridge provides 29 feet of vertical clearance at mean high water. Vessels able to transit the bridge while closed can continue to do so at any time. In the event of an emergency, the bridge can open immediately after all pedestrians clear the bridge.
If this temporary proposed change will severely impact your operations on the waterway or you wish to comment on this proposed temporary change in the operating regulation of the bridge, please do so by emailing D11-SG-M-DPW-Bridges@uscg.mil.to
The new Steamboat Landing Restaurant is open on the corner of the Sacramento River and Steamboat Slough right by the bridge. I plan to make a trip there before the next issue of the magazine comes out and report back. I drove by before they were open and noticed a Chinese Junk in the orchard in the back of the restaurant; I need to find out the story.
Summer boating season is almost here. It’s important to get your spring boating maintenance checks in now but more important, make sure to let me know where the good parties are.