Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells

Delta Rat Scrapbook

Sacramento Boat Show

I put in a guest appearance at the Bay & Delta Yachtsman booth at the Sacramento Boat Show. It was well attended and I was kept busy all day Saturday. There was a steady stream of visitors but I was able to take a break a couple of times and wander around the displays. Kendra Gray of the Sacramento Marina was running their booth a couple of spots down.

ACBS at the Sacramento Boat Show.
Bill Dowling and his Oldsmobile powered hydroplane.

I passed out plenty of complementary magazines and marina guides. I also showed many people how to get their own subscription and find the publication online. I dropped by the Coast Guard booth and met Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Thomas Bowles and Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Alex Hansen, who are stationed at Coast Guard Station Rio Vista. Just across the way Tom Gohring, Scott Thede and Judy West were running the United States Power Squadron (USPS) booth. I have known Judy for many years but have not seen her since before COVID. It was good to catch up.

Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Alex Hansen & Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Thomas Bowles.
Tom Gohring, Scott Thede, Judy West USPS.

My favorite part of the show was the Antique and Classic Boat Society (ACBS) display. They had several classic wooden boats on display. Bob Dowling showed me his beautiful Pacific One Design Hydroplane; it was originally powered with a Ford V8 60 but he repowered it with a small Oldsmobile V8 equipped with twin carbs. He says, “she has too much power.” I am confident that is an understatement, the Olds V8 has to have three or four times the horsepower of the flathead V8 60. Bill is rightfully proud of his boat; she even has a vintage trailer to pull her.

Debi Wells with her designer cupcakes. Photo courtesy of Lisa Hallow.


My senior reporter Rusty Areias who covers the Walnut Grove area and beyond advises that noted boat restorer Wayne Ettel has purchased a home in Walnut Grove and has worked out a deal with 5 Star Marina in Stockton to put the famous 80-foot ketch Tatoosh on the marine railway and haul her out for restoration. This is exciting news as she is one of the most beautiful sailboats I have ever seen. Peter Fonda was (I think) the second owner and he purchased her with profits he made from his motion picture “Easy Rider.” She was anchored off of Lahaina, Maui for some of the years I lived there and I remember admiring her every time I drove by. She is a magnificent vessel. She is currently in charter service in Southern California. When I lived on Maui, David Crosby had his schooner Mayan moored in the harbor and Barry Hilton (Paris’s uncle) anchored his schooner Golden Hind off of the Hilton Hotel at Black Rock. There were a lot of beautiful boats around at the time, and you could be asked to crew if you were just walking through the harbor.

Did you know Rusty & Ted Harris’ beautiful yacht JOIE de Vivre won best of show last year in the Newport Boat Show? Rumor has it that Miss 102 might make the trip down for the show this year. We will keep you posted.

Adam Farrow Paints His Shop

My ace reporter Lisa Hallow made it to Adam’s Lodi Marine shop for the 40th Anniversary. He supplied a free lunch for his friends. The event ran from noon till at least 1500 hours.

Adam Farrow with his pet crab. Photo courtesy of Lisa Farrow.

Lisa reports: “Celebrating 40 years of business success with one of our favorite Delta characters, Adam Farrow. When I first arrived, I thought I was in a man’s toy chest. Adam’s property is full of surprises, from a variety of boats to a rare and unusual hummer, and even an airplane. What a blast it was to celebrate with him at his place of business. The food that was served generously and graciously for hours included ribs, hamburgers and hotdogs, was of the best quality. Of course, there was homemade spaghetti, broccoli, salad and last, the piece de resistance were Debi Wells’ designer cupcakes, nothing but the best for Adam’s celebration. Thank you, Adam, for all the fun you bring to all those that call you friend.” Great report Lisa, thank you. Oh yes, Adam did paint the building, it is a nice soft blue now.

Boating Congress

I attended the seventh annual California Boating Congress in Sacramento. It was held at the Capitol Events Center, just a short walk from the State Capitol. I missed the reception the night before but arrived bright and early the morning of the main event.

Arron and Bill enjoying lunch at the CBC.

The room was packed with marine professionals; Ramon Mata with Pacific Boat Services was there along with Eric Koster – J&H Marine, Tony Faso – Delta Marine Yach Center, Chad Sublet – Verve IT, Ty Mellott – Bay & Delta Yachtsman, Tim Fontaine and David Cushman – Village West Marina/Resort, Octavia Riggs – Safe Harbor Ballena Isle, Alisha Piccirillo – Safe Harbor Emeryville, Morris Lum and many more. If I left you out, I did not mean to; I had to leave early to get to an event at Al the Wop’s.

After the opening and introductions by CBC President Kate Pearson of Safe Harbor Marinas and Vice President Arron Pellarin of Village West Marina Resort, State Treasurer Fiona Ma took the stage and gave a report on the financial status of the great state of California. Recreational boating has a $13 billion annual economic impact on California’s economy, supports over 41,000 jobs and supports over 2,800 businesses statewide, according to the MRA. Yes, boating is a huge industry in California and also a major contributor to recreation.

Beau Biller, Jerry Desmond and Mark Smith gave an update of legislative issues affecting boaters. Some important items were brought up: (1) The Surrendered and Abandoned Vessel Exchange (SAVE) is in need of a lot more funding, (2) More research and updated economic data are needed for the industry, (3) The offshore wind development industry needs to be studied to determine its impact on fishing and recreational boating, (4) Ensure a smooth transition to new fuels and (5) The 30×30 Conservation Plan proposes saving 30 percent of land and marine habitat by 2030. There are huge issues facing the recreational boating industry and it is important that our elected officials and government representatives are cognizant of the economic engine of boating.

Ramona Hernandez of the Division of Boating & Waterways (DBW) (the Department of Boating & Waterways was absorbed by the State Parks Department a few years back) announced that the governor had reduced the budget to control aquatic invasive species by $5.3 million for 2024. This is extremely ill advised. I am sure you all remember how hyacinth got totally out of control a few years back when the then Department of Boating and Waterways forgot to get a permit to control hyacinth and it pretty much took over the entire Delta to the point that ships could not travel up the San Joaquin River at night. It looks like we are getting set up for another disaster this coming summer if they don’t keep hyacinth and other invasive plants under control. Here is what I said about the crisis in 2016: “It is critical that the governor and the Natural Resources Agency understand the crisis and respond to it. We are faced with mosquito borne tropical diseases increasingly reaching the United States as well as mounting damage to the Delta infrastructure by hyacinth and other invasive plants.”

I don’t know where the money we pay is going; according to the DBW, “Revenues from boaters’ registration fees and gasoline taxes (Harbors and Watercraft Revolving Fund) provides funding for DBW’s Aquatic Invasive Plant Control Program.” Recently Gov. Newsome rallied to increase boater’s registration by as much as 250%, which was shelved for the meantime; still; it makes you think that possibly money is being siphoned off for other uses. In 1982, California state legislation designated DBW as the lead state agency to cooperate with other state, local and federal agencies in controlling water hyacinth in the Delta, its tributaries and the Suisun Marsh.

This disaster happened before the current governor and resource secretary came into office. It is important that they be made aware of the situation. You can contact the governor here, and Resource Secretary Crowfoot here,

We cannot let another invasive plant disaster take place; the cure is vastly more expensive than prevention. We should have learned the lesson the last time.

National Heritage Area (NHA)

Morris Lum continues to amaze me; he can be at a few different events in a day even though they might be many miles apart. He is active in numerous yacht clubs and civic organizations; oh yes, he works a full-time job too. Morris has a lot of business acumen and it is good to have him as a watchdog keeping an eye on how our taxes are spent by government agencies. Morris is involved with the implementation of the NHA.

“Once in everybody’s lifetime, the government gives us something good. So, in the year 2019, California got its first National Heritage Area, and it is right here in the California Delta. This is recognition and a tribute to the natural history of California. This is where it all started, the waterways of our great state. The native indigenous people and all that immigrated afterward are now recognized as a national treasure in this new NHA in the United States. This area has been anointed like the magical wand of Harry Potter. It’s only the beginning.

“We have to figure out how we will manage this heritage area. We have to figure out tourism. We have to figure out how we will tell its story to our children, our neighbors and everyone else in the United States, actually the world. California is big enough and the first in many, many things. But how do we tell the stories about our national treasure, the California Delta? This is all about the waterways and that little bit of land around it where towns and farmers and roads sit. It’s all about the reasons and the history that brings us to today. It’s the stories from the thousands of Native American people who lived here for generations, before we arrived and carved up the place. And to the stories of how all the rest of us immigrated here whether from other counties or other states. Why are you here? It is about all of us, and we should all know and learn how we got here. It will be fun.”

Mark Nicolette

Somehow I have boated around the Delta for 30 plus years and never met Mark Nicolette. He recently joined the Delta Chambers and I got a chance to talk to him at a mixer. He was inducted into the WON BASS Hall of Fame in 2022. Mark had a 30-year career with Mercury Marine, and although he says he has not fished since he was 13, he has many years of experience offering his technical expertise on Mercury engines at bass tournaments. He would station his van full of parts next to the launch ramp, and if an angler had motor trouble he would help them. As time passed, he upgraded from his van to a ten-foot cargo trailer. He says if the motor was on warranty there was no charge and if not on warranty he would only charge for the part and no labor. He retired from Mercury Marine in 2013 and says after that he was able to attend almost every bass tournament on the West Coast. Mark is a fascinating fellow with a lot of great stories, including one time he was helping a fellow with a broken pin in the lift mechanism in his motor and Mark did not have one in his inventory. So, he pulled the pin out of his own trailer hitch and made it work. He says the fisherman went on to win the tournament. Mark says he has no interest in fishing himself but considers it a personal victory when someone that he helped wins a tournament. Mark hangs out around the Rio Vista/Lodi area. If you see him, buy him a beer and I bet he will tell you some interesting tales.

Wilma Mooney Birthday Blast

Kathy, Wilma & Dan.

Wilma is a friend of mine who lives at Tower Park. Her daughter Kathy Graham-Neace is a good friend of mine also. She is seen at many Delta area art and craft shows selling really cool items. When you first see her, you think she is Ann Margaret. She specializes in beer spigot handles and calls her business “Man Caves and M.” You should see her husband Dan’s man cave; it sets the standard for all man caves. Among the guns, knives, tomahawks, saddles and other memorabilia, there is even a Goodyear race car tire autographed by Mario Andretti (Mario Andretti never used Goodyear tires) that Kathy “acquired” in Las Vegas. I wondered about the saddles in the room and Kathy explained that in her youth she was a barrel racer. There were 70+ people on hand to wish Wilma a happy birthday. There was an unbelievable amount of food and drinks; I think she could have fed the crowd for a few days without replenishing. It was a Saint Patrick’s Day themed party so most folks were wearing the green.

Tire autographed by Mario Andretti.

Well, happy birthday Wilma and I look forward to seeing you around the Delta again soon.

Discovery Marina Bar & Grill

We headed to Discovery Bay to meet John Garza and his friends for dinner at the Marina Bar & Grill, 5879 Marina Road, at the yacht harbor. John has been raving about the food and service there for a few months. It was as good as he said it would be. Sue and I joined John and his friend Celli Bigornia-Frost and friends Rob Molina and Shari Morlan at their table. We had the Seafood Soiree.

Rob, Shari, Celli, John.

It contained shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, oysters, mussels and a carafe of wine. We also had a cup of delicious clam chowder and a nice green salad. They had a great singer/guitar player that kept things rockin’ throughout the evening. We met the chef, “Super” Mario Gomez and complimented him on his excellent creations. The servers and the rest of the staff are great. As you can imagine, the place was packed, it is a good idea to make a reservation.

Seafood Soiree’.

Vanitha & Rich Cotton recently re-opened the establishment and it looks like they are off to a great start. I think this place will be jammed during the boating season. They have cracked the code on business, excellent products, good service, reasonable prices and you have a winning combination.

Rich & Vanitha Cotton.

Stockton Yacht Club (SYC)

Saint Patrick’s Day parties broke out all over the Delta. Corned beef and cabbage along with green beer were the staples for the day. OK, there was not too much green beer. Dave and Linda Breninger attended the party at the Stockton Yacht Club, they even had a piper playing your favorite hits on the bagpipes. Dave and Linda keep their boat at the club so they have a very short walk to go home afterwards. Do you remember the film “The Longest Day” and the part where the two Irishmen were defending Pegasus Bridge with bullets flying and bombs detonating around them? The conversation goes like this: first Irishman “What’s that awful noise?” second Irishman “It’s a Scotsman playing the bagpipes,” of course they were referring to Lord Lovat and his piper Bill Millen who had arrived to relieve them. One of the best film scenes in history. OK before you attack me, remember I am part Irish and part Scottish.

Dave and Linda Breninger at Stockton Yacht Club.

Sea Scouts

I spent an afternoon with the Point Weber Sea Scouts recently. You have seen their ship Point Weber tied to the dock at the Stockton Sportsmen’s Club. I met John Manov and he introduced me to Jaycee and Shelton, two very bright teenagers who are dedicated to the scouts. Shortly after Sue and I arrived, John had to go take care of some family business so he left me with his dad, my old friend Greg Manov. Greg explained that they sold the Point Weber and she is going to Alaska to serve as a work vessel. She burns 50 gallons of fuel per hour and now the scouts want to concentrate on smaller boats of which they have a few that they are restoring. Shelton and Jaycee were working on it while I was there. They got to paint their names on the keel as a reward.

Jaycee, Shelton, John.

We also went next door to the Stockon Historic Maritime Museum’s minesweeper USS Lucid; Greg showed us around. It has been quite a while since I have been aboard and it is amazing how things are coming together. Much of the interior looks like it did when the ship was in active service. I am amazed that they somehow have found a lot of vintage radio and electronic equipment for the vessel. Back in the old days obsolete electronic equipment would go into the dumpster. The scouts have a cabin for a meeting room aboard Lucid. This is certainly one of the better clubhouses of any scout group. Don Rienhart was on hand and gave me an update on the five-year plan. He also awarded me a USS Lucid coffee cup. For you civilians, it used to be in the Navy that you would have a large pot of coffee going 24 hours a day seven days a week adding water and grounds as needed. Once a week, usually on a Sunday, the pot would be thoroughly cleaned and primed for the next week.

Greg Manov showing the Sea Scout cabin aboard Lucid.

Sue is terrified of heights and going aboard Lucid involves going up and down some ladders, I give her credit she made it with no problem. After we finished Don invited us to the Rod and Gun Club for a cocktail and a chance to catch up on things.

There were 101 wooden Minesweeper Ocean ships built. They were the last wooden ships commissioned by the U.S. Navy. There are a few still in service in foreign Navies but Lucid is the last one left in the U.S. I was there the day they brought her to Stockton and she was basically a hulk at the time. With the help of many volunteers the five-year plan is coming together great. Veterans have donated their memorabilia to help outfit her and much of the interior has been restored using vintage parts and sometimes recreated ones. I told you previously about the 40-mm Bofors cannon that to me is the coolest part of the ship. The Swedish gun was originally designed in the early 1930s and was used by many countries as a very effective anti-aircraft gun. With the advent of jet aircraft after WWII it was no longer as effective, so it was redesigned and was used by the U.S. as late as the gulf war. There are still many around the world in service of other governments.

Lucid has been turned around in her slip with the bow pointed upstream. The crew is in the process of painting the port side, which I think they will finish in the near future. At some point they will move her to her new home in the Stockton downtown channel upstream from the waterfront warehouse.

Irish Pennants

Mark your calendar for June 29th and the Antique and Classic Boat Society “Runabouts on the River” event at the Stockton Sailing Club, 4980 Buckley Cove Way in Stockton. It will run from 0900 to 1500. This is a great free annual show that is sure to feature some great historic boats, hot rods and classic cars. Free boat rides are offered, too. There will be food, drink and selected vendors.

The Hilton folks have announced that the annual Barron Hilton Memorial Fireworks Extravaganza and airshow will be held on Thursday, July 4th this year. This is probably the oldest annual event that takes place in the Delta. Barron Hilton started it in 1958 at his place on Venice Island. Hundreds of boats will assemble at Venice Reach–Marker “1” on the Stockton Deep Water Channel, NOAA chart 18661. The Coast Guard and law enforcement will be on hand to keep order.

Beauty is a famous Stephens Brothers yacht, a sistership to my Ranger. She was the last pleasure boat built at Stephens before the yard shifted to wartime production. She is in the boatyard needing a lot of work. You could get her free or cheap. Call Noel at 415-264-2253, or you can call Spaulding Marine Center at 415-332-3179 for more information.

Beauty on Opening Day on the Bay.

Barbara Barrigan Parilla of the Restore the Delta organization announces that Emily Pappalardo, Tama Brisbane and Ahmad Majid have received Delta Advocate awards for their “dedication to the California Delta and their continued contributions to Delta advocacy.”

I told you a few months back that Hydro Dave Hernandez took delivery of his new Corvette. He was getting restless just cruising it around so he entered it into a half mile drag race. Unfortunately, he lost to the McLaren, but he still managed to hit 140.3618 MPH. Dave says the top end of his car is 195 mph.

Our resident videographer, Gene Beley will be going to Nashville to be a guest speaker at the Monthaven Arts & Cultural Center in Hendersonville, Tennessee that is featuring his Johnny Cash photo exhibit. This is the Nashville suburb where John and June Cash lived in a lakefront house overlooking Old Hickory Lake. Gene has a whole new career speaking about his days working with his friend Johnny Cash.

Delta Bay Foundation’s 4th Annual Spring Market will be held on May 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the clubhouse at Park Delta Bay, 922 West Brannan Island Road, Isleton. Please drop by and pick up some local crafts and food items. I am confident there will be live music by guitarist Randy Cary there for your listening enjoyment too.

John Garza, Safety Officer for the Discovery Bay Yacht Club announces Vessel Safety Check (VSC) days in May with the dates to be determined. Pacific Coast Water Rescue Captains and USCG Auxiliary Personnel will oversee the VSC Days at Discovery Bay Marina. Call John at 925-337-2294 for more information.

Don’t miss the 21st annual Taste of the Delta. It will be on August 10 from 1300 to 1600 at Windmill Cove. This will be a great party at a great location, check for updates at Do not miss!

Make plans for 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.

Christine Weaver, the race chair of Latitude 38 magazine caught some turtles basking in the sun on Elk Slough, waiting patiently for summer no doubt. Mary Martin has announced her retirement from Stockton Unified School District. Congratulations Mary!

Turtles basking in the sun.

Boating season is here, tell me where the parties are! I can be reached at 916-869-8141 or email