Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells

Delta Rat Scrapbook

Ryde Hotel

If you have not been to the Ryde Hotel lately you should pay a visit; the staff is making continuous improvements and the place is looking good. They will be opening the Guisti’s Room in April. This will be a tribute to the family that owned the iconic restaurant on the Mokelumne River for over 100 years.

They have remodeled the basement speakeasy and by the time you read this they will once again have heat in the individual rooms. The times we have stayed there were in the spring and heating or cooling were never an issue. The basement seems to have been expanded, and a stage has been added. They currently offer Sunday brunch, and on Easter weekend they are offering brunch on Saturday and Sunday. You can also book the hotel for your wedding – indoor or outdoor.

Party at the Ryde Hotel.

The current hotel was built in 1926; it was preceded by the original hotel that was built in 1886 by the Guisti brothers, who had recently immigrated from Italy. The first hotel lasted until 1911 when it burned. According to legend it was a popular place and especially the bar. The second version of the hotel was completed in 1918. In 1920 the bartender tried to eject a drunken patron who attacked him and was shot dead by the same. The bartender Orlando Fontanini seems to have disappeared from public records so it is assumed he was not punished for the incident. The hotel was raided a few times in the early 1920s by federal agents looking to enforce the Volstead Act.

Raef Goorwitch.

I hear they recently considered painting the exterior façade white but wisely decided to keep the pink color. I think it has been pink since it was built. There is a consistent rumor going around that the Ryde Hotel was the building featured on the cover of the Eagles album “Hotel California.” They have a similar look but no cigar. I asked Marketing Manager Raef Goorwitch about it, and he said numerous other contenders existed. The Beverly Hills Hotel was a strong contender but according to Rafe, the actual model was a hotel in Mexico just across the border. It is amazing how many similar-looking hotels I found when I was researching this important data for you.

Basement Speakeasy at the Ryde Hotel.

The first “The Delta” Award will be presented to Giusti’s Place, the iconic Delta restaurant, Mark Morais and the Giusti family for their over 100 years of affording hospitality, food and cheer to those of us who live, work or visit here. The gala dinner will be held at the Ryde Hotel on Saturday, April 27 from 1730 hours to 2130 hours or so. It is $75.00 per person. Mail a check to Sacramento River Delta Historical Society (SRDHS), P.O Box 293, Walnut Grove, CA 95690. If you have questions contact Maryellen Burns, 

Steamboat Landing

As promised last month Sue and I made it over to Steamboat Landing for dinner. It was on a Thursday night and the parking lot was full. The place was packed when we walked in, there were only a few empty tables. We met Reggie, one of the owners and he seated us. Our server was Mindy. Right away Trudy Meeker (the late Sal Curcuruto’s daughter) came over and said hi. Next, my friend Douglas Hsia and two of his friends came in and we spoke to them for a few minutes. A little later, Yvonne Cantrel and her husband came to in. I also saw Jeff Tranum of Walnut Grove Marina, but did not get a chance to say hi. Sue and I each ordered a drink; Coke for sue and a Kirin Beer for me. Mindy explained they didn’t have any Chinese beer but Kirin has been a favorite of mine for 40 years. We placed our food order when the drinks came, and the food came amazingly fast. I had Kung Pao Chicken and Sue had Almond Shrimp with zucchini, mushrooms and of course shrimp. We shared an order of House Special Chow Mein. Everything was great, and I highly recommend Steamboat Landing.

Steamboat Landing.

I had driven by Steamboat Landing a couple of times previously. The original thing that caught my attention was a Chinese Junk in the yard below the restaurant.

You can find it at 12414 Highway 160 in Courtland (on the west side of the river.) It is right where Steamboat Slough meets the Sacramento River.

Little Duck

So, the Chinese Junk at Steamboat Landing was the one that used to be next to the bridge going into Bethel Island at the Marine Emporium. The restaurant owners purchased her and had her trucked to Courtland, then they used a large crane to gently lift it into the orchard in back of the restaurant. You older folks like Don Rienhart might remember in the 1950s there were several Chinese Junks in the area. It seems like servicemen coming back from Asia would have one built and ship it back. I always wanted one but never was able to put a deal together. They were very well built with a lot of beautiful detailing.

Mindy, Reggie and Luis.

Little Duck was commissioned in Hong Kong by Arthur Treadwell in 1965. He planned to sail it from Hong Kong back to San Francisco Bay. He got the name from a duck farm that he passed on a tour of the Hong Kong area. Treadwell recruited his tour guide, Eddie Fong to help make the trip back to the United States. Fong says that at the time he did not even know where California was. Treadwell recruited four more adventurers to make the voyage: John Bass, a doctor from the United Kingdom, Ralf Wolpers from Germany and Brian Frecker from Australia. They were all vacationing in Hong Kong at the time.

They set sail from Hong Kong in May of 1966 and after making it nine or so miles offshore ran into a huge storm that tore away a plank or two and washed an anchor overboard. After the storm they were becalmed but their 36-horsepower Lister motor could not make headway against the current. Also, Brian Frecker was not recovering from seasickness, so they returned to Hong Kong. The shipyard repaired the storm damage and they set sail again, this time with only Treadwell, Fong and Bass aboard. They ran into problems again and returned to Hong Kong.

Little Duck.

For the third attempt to get Little Duck home, Treadwell arranged for a cargo ship, President Harrison to transport Little Duck to California. The ship would only take 14 passengers, but Treadwell and Fong were both able to book passage. Treadwell helped Fong get a visa, and later on Fong became a U.S. citizen. He married a woman from Sacramento and worked for Treadwell on a book that never got published.

Treadwell sold the boat when he was 88 years old and after changing hands a couple of times she ended up at the Marine Emporium where the owners of Steamboat Landing found her.

Cactus Navy

Over the years, I have mentioned several times about local yachts being conscripted into the Navy and used as gunboats and ferries during World War II. My late friend Les Cochren, former commodore of the Northern California fleet of the CYA did much to keep this history alive. For ten years or so, Les would hold his “Forget Me Knot” event in Sacramento. The event would feature a classic yacht parade along the riverfront of Sacramento. Every year he would feature a different aspect of World War II, Korea or Vietnam. He recruited many combat veterans to participate in the parades over the years and was able to get high school bands and drill teams to participate.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy attacked Pearl Harbor, and in fact, there were already enemy submarines patrolling the Pacific Coast of the United States just waiting for the message to attack United States shipping. Many local yachtsmen immediately grabbed their personal rifles and went out patrolling on San Francisco Bay. Then several local families were ordered to turn their boats over to the Navy by noon on Dec. 9. A few of the vessels seized were Don Owen’s Pat Pending YP119, Papoose YP118 (in Venice now), A Dora Bleu YP-135 and Miahelo III. Pat Pending was painted grey, outfitted with depth charges and a deck gun and assigned to the Tiburon Net Boom that was a submarine net across the entrance to San Francisco Bay. It would open to allow ships to transit.

Pat Pending retired from the Navy in Oct. 1944 and Don Owen wrote his congressman and got him to introduce legislation to allow previous owners to buy back their boats. He offered $10.00 for the boat and the Navy countered back with $100.00 which was the selling price. Of course, she needed a complete restoration including removing all the grey paint and restoring the varnished topsides. There are a few photos of Pat Pending with her wartime accoutrements but Mel Owen is still looking for a photo of her with the deck gun; if you ever run across one please contact Mel. She received the American Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal for her service. Don received a letter from Navy Secretary James Forrestal thanking him for making Pat Pending available to the Navy and contributing to the war effort. The letter stated that Pat Pending could display five chevrons “on her stack or in the vicinity of the bridge,” one for each of the six months of service during the war. The Owen family still owns her, and she continues to cruise the Bay and Delta today.

Sea Breeze was a Stephens Brothers yacht that was likewise conscripted by the Navy. She spent the early years of WWII as an admiral’s tender, converted to Hospital Boat YH-4 (ambulance) for duty in San Francisco Bay, then was shipped to the Western Pacific in 1945 where she served as an ambulance boat during the battle of Okinawa and was subsequently awarded a combat ribbon and bronze star for her efforts.

What I did not know was the number of other boats that joined the Navy. Fifty-two tuna clippers were conscripted; these are ocean-going vessels that would fish as far away as the Galapagos Islands. In many cases the entire crew would be conscripted into the Navy along with the boat. The skippers would be commissioned officers or warrant officers and the crew would be given ratings. About 600 fishermen signed up for duty, these were folks that spent their lives on the sea so they were not required to attend boot camp. Some of the crewmen were awarded the Navy Cross and they all received many awards. The boats are credited with shooting down enemy planes, rescuing crew from sinking larger vessels, towing ships to safety and transporting cargo from island to island in the Western and South Pacific.

Cactus, by the way was the U.S. Military codeword for Guadalcanal. I am currently reading “Cactus Navy.” Mel Owen also recommends author David Bruhn’s latest book “War Bound from Stockton,” another book about heroic private vessels serving in wartime.

International Order Of The Blue Gavel (IOBG)

District 14 and District 19 of the IOBG held a joint membership and new member induction meeting on Feb. 25 at the Discovery Bay Yacht Club. The IOBG is an international organization of past commodores of yacht clubs. Dave and Linda Breninger attended and filed this report, “After lunch, the meeting was called to order, and after getting the routine business out of the way, Past International President Gary McGrath inducted new members. Bob Ellsworth, John Dugan, Josh Overton, Rick Terry, Gary Silva, Kevin Rogers and Jim Vicknair were inducted into District 19 and Tim Eaker and Jeff Gear were inducted into District 14.

Pat Pending plaque displays her wartime awards. Photo courtesy of Mel Owen.
2024 inductees into the IOBG. Photo courtesy of Dave Breniger.

“The Mission of the International Order of the Blue Gavel is to recognize past commodores of the international yachting community and to unite them in order to promote the highest ideals of yachting and preserve its customs and traditions through social, educational and humanitarian programs. The IOBG is a good organization. If you are a past commodore, you should consider applying to join. Among other things, they work to preserve yachting traditions, customs, ethics & etiquette.”

San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron

San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron’s annual Change of Watch for 2024 was held at the Stockton Yacht Club. Jill Stevenson was sworn in as the Squadron’s 2024 commander, replacing outgoing 2023 Commander Pete McCoy.

Incoming Commander Jill Stephenson with outgoing Commander Pete McCoy. Photo courtesy of Dave Breninger.

The Power Squadron was established in 1914 as a non-profit. Its mission is to “improve maritime safety and enjoyability through classes in seamanship, navigation and other related subjects.” There are currently about 45,000 members nationwide and about 450 individual squadrons throughout the country. The squadron leases part of Ward Island for their headquarters. Originally, they were leasing the property from a local duck club, but after researching the title, they discovered that the State of California owned the island. Now they lease directly from the state. The San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron membership has 125 members at this time.

Opening Day in the Delta – Stockton Yacht Club

Jill Stevenson advises that the Stockton Yacht Club opening day will be on April 6. Boats will meet offshore from Windmill Cove at the mouth of Fourteen Mile Slough and parade into downtown Stockton and McLeod Lake. There are prizes for the best-decorated boats; a big party will be at the clubhouse after the event. Call Jill at 916-847-8959 for more information. This is always a great time and the weather has always cooperated.

A previous opening day on the San Joaquin River.

Pittsburg Marina Annual Diamond Classic Catch And Release

Olivia Ortega, harbormaster of the Pittsburg Marina checks in from their Sturgeon Derby, “Going on the 17th year The Annual Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby was held out of Pittsburg Marina on January 27 with 205 adult entries, 16 kids’ entries on boats and roughly 30 kids had a great old-time learning about fishing, casting and baiting on the shores of Pittsburg Fishing Pier. It is becoming increasingly obvious that a few sturgeon derbies will be held in 2024 due to the emergency white sturgeon regulations. The Diamond Classic Catch and Release Sturgeon Derby has still been going strong for nearly the past two decades.

Pre-derby seminar. Photo courtesy of Olivia Ortega.

“The Structure of The Diamond Classic is unique. The structure was founded by Steve Talmadge of Flash Sportfishing Charter and organized by Olivia Ortega, harbormaster of Pittsburg Marina in 2006. Promoting a catch-and-release sturgeon derby instead of a harvest, along with providing opportunities for youth to learn about the conservation of the population of the white sturgeon will endure despite regulation changes.

Fourth place winner John Carter and 1st place winner Dorsey Bernard. Photo courtesy of Olivia Ortega.

“Adult entries of $25.00 each were vying for a hundred percent payback. The total pot was $5,125.00 of the 205 entries to be split proportionally for the five top places. On the water a weighmaster is dispatched to the angler’s boat, and the former 40-to-60-inch slot limit is provided a ticket upon release of the sturgeon. All of the tickets are collected at the end of the derby and five tickets are randomly drawn. The one-day event resulted in 29 sturgeon caught and released, 19 of the sturgeon were in the slot, five oversized and five under. In the height of the Diamond Classic pre COVID, 2015 had the biggest turnout with 389 adults and 123 kids. Be sure to put this event on your calendar for next year.”

Steve Talmadge with 3rd place winner kid’s division Jeremy Carter and Pittsburg Harbormaster, Olivia Ortega. Photo courtesy of Olivia Ortega.


A good friend of mine Corinne Corley has opened Mubdie’s – A Creative Collection in downtown Isleton. She explains it this way: “I started Mubdie’s: A Creative Collective in order to have a place for my Delta creative friends to have somewhere to show, sell and talk about their work.” Sue and I dropped in on a Saturday afternoon, it is a great little shop, packed with artworks and artifacts as well as a smattering of books. Some of the books are surplus from the Isleton Library and she has a supply of her own book “Mugwumpishly Tendered – essays from the seasons of one woman’s life.” I love it, filled with colorful anecdotes from Corinne’s life. I have always been fascinated with Corinne making her way from Missouri and ending up in the Delta. She lives in her own tiny house at Park Delta Bay. She has had a fascinating life and I hope she stays with us; we need people like her. While we were at her store, we met a couple from San Jose that were staying at a local resort and another couple that drove down from Sacramento on a springlike day in late February.

Corrine with Jason Cozzette and Marcie Lynn, visiting from San Jose.

When we were there a whole room was dedicated to the photography of Demi Stewart, one of the region’s better-known artists. There are plenty of other things that will make ideal gifts, all from local Delta artists of course.

While you are in Isleton be sure to check out the other businesses; Peter’s Steakhouse and the Pineapple Café are Delta icons of course. The Isleton Coffee Company is an up-and-coming business, and there are several other recent business openings in the town. You should come and spend a day there.

Water War Update

Representative Josh Harder is leading a group of Delta region colleagues (Representatives John Garamendi, Mike Thompson, Mark DeSaulnier and Doris Matsui) urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny a permit for the $60 billion Delta Tunnel diverting the Sacramento River around the Delta. The State recently released an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) confirming that the project will threaten endangered fish populations, destroy farmland and harm water quality. Harder is calling attention to the deeply concerning long-term impacts that the Delta Tunnel project would have on the Delta itself, the local agriculture industry and the environment.

“The Delta Tunnel water grab would be a disaster for our region. We’ve been saying it for years and Sacramento’s own report shows the damage it would do, but they won’t listen and they’re steamrolling ahead,” said Representative Harder. “Delta communities are united in opposition to this boondoggle project because water is the lifeblood of our way of life. The Army Corps needs to do what’s right, look at the real dangers this project will cause and deny a permit.”

California Forever

Some billionaires have been buying up agricultural land around Travis Air Force Base for the last few years. It was done in secrecy so there were rumors going around that it was some kind of a Chinese Communist land grab. It turns out the buyers are high-tech titans who want to build a new city on the farmland along State Route (SR) 12.

It would be about four times larger than the current city of Rio Vista and would be built to house 400,000 people. At this writing they are trying to get enough signatures to get an initiative on the upcoming November ballot in Solano County. I don’t live in Rio Vista but I go there on business at least a couple of times each week. The traffic is already bad and gridlocked at times on SR 12. I think they should get the current traffic problems fixed before adding new residents. The Rio Vista Bridge is problematic too with frequent traffic stopping breakdowns. I also don’t see where they are going to get a reliable water supply. I don’t think there is enough ground water for 400,000 people and I am not sure what the situation would be regarding water rights from the Sacramento River. Maybe Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and Department of Water Resources Head Karla Nemeth could build a special branch of their Delta tunnel to accommodate the project.

Eight Bells

Gerry Goodie has crossed over the bar. He was 67 years old and born on Dec. 1, 1956. Gerry has three brothers and one sister, four beautiful and smart children Gerry Jr, Nick, Janelle and Jennifer. Each possesses such striking similarities to their father – like his contagious smile. Nancy, his wife of 31 years is his dream girl and they were love birds up until the end. Gerry was the owner of Wimpy’s Marina and turned it into a fabulous destination in the Delta on the Moke. He loved his time on the water jet skiing, kayaking or paddling. He shared his love of nature through guided tours of Deadhorse Cut and always pointed out the infamous bird nest beach – named after the osprey nest high above on the tower. Gerry was a huge volunteer – a proud member of the Walnut Grove rotary, California Delta Chambers and a Delta Protection Commission Leadership Class graduate. He also represented the general public as a member of the Delta Protection Commission Advisory Committee. Many knew him as coach and as president of the little league. Gerry was an amazing husband, father, friend and defender of the Delta. He will be sorely missed by so many. Thanks to Gerry’s friend Anna Swenson for sharing this information.

Gerry Goodie.

Jim Fenlon has gone to that big ocean in the sky. Jim came to California with the Air Force and was stationed at Travis Air Force Base. He immediately took up the Delta boating lifestyle, and later when he was discharged from the Air Force as a Captain he moved to Sacramento and later Stockton. He had a 30-year career as a school psychiatrist with the Lodi School District. He owned a succession of houseboats that he used to cruise the Delta. Jim was elected commander of the San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron in 1987 and served two one-year terms. He was also elected Commodore of the Stockton Yacht Club in 1998.

CC Meyers has passed. Mr. Meyers was legendary in California for his work on the state’s highways and roads. I had the honor of meeting him when his company was retrofitting the Mokelumne River Bridge for Caltrans. Kim Korth and I got involved when it was proposed that the bridge would be closed to vehicle and boat traffic on key weekends one summer. We met with Caltrans and worked out a viable solution that lessened the impact on everyone involved. When the job was finished there was a big party at the Tower that included the construction crew and the Caltrans folks. That is where I met CC Meyers; I remember him as a total gentleman. As the company grew, it completed over 250 projects and over 1,000 bridges. Founded on Jan. 31, 1977, C.C. Myers, Inc. started as a civil construction bridge building company.

Irish Pennants

Patti Mangan of the Pacific Interclub Yacht Association (PICYA) advises that as of this writing 37 member clubs have not submitted updated information for the 2024 Yachting Yearbook. This book is invaluable for people like me and also law enforcement and yacht clubs. It is useful to identify owners and boats out on the rivers and gives contacts to help work with events and cruise outs. If you are one of the guilty, please contact Patti ASAP at She can advise you how to take care of it.

Tim Quinn of the Stockton Chamber advises that the Stockton State of the City address will be held at the Port of Stockton on April 18. “You definitely want to be part of the exciting festivities to hear Mayor Kevin Lincoln’s State of the City address and get an update on the State of the Port of Stockton from Port Commission Chair William R. Trezza.” Call 209-547-2770 or email for information or reservations.

Don’t miss the Big OL River Boat Show sponsored by the West Coast River Outlaws. It will be a benefit for San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Boating Division on June 7-9 at Wimpy’s Marina. This is going to be a big show with V-drives, jet boats, direct drives, I/O drives – you name it. They are expecting over 100 boats to attend. There will be live music, selected information and vendor booths. Contact Marc Page at 916-296 2326 for more information.

The 75th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee of the Solano County Fair will be from June 13-16. “A grand spectacle awaits, as we unite in merriment and revelry.” It will be a fun event at 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo 94589.

The Antique and Classic Boat Society will hold Runabouts on the River on June 28-30 at the Stockton Sailing Club. Don’t miss this fun event. There will be plenty of vintage runabouts and a cruiser or two to look at. Chris Craft, Besotes, Hacker and others will be represented. There will be vendor and information booths representing selective organizations as well as live music. Admission is free.

Runabouts on the River.

Boating season is here, and it looks like there is a great summer ahead. As I am writing this, in late February, a huge blizzard is descending on the Sierras. They are expecting up to ten feet of snow. This should certainly help the spring runoff. Tell me where the parties are. I can be reached at or 916-869-9141