Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells

Delta Rat Scrapbook

Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) Opening Day On The Bay

I received an email from PICYA Vice Commodore David Jackson asking if I would accept an invitation to be Grand Marshall of the opening day parade and ride on the committee boat Cabernet Sauvignon. After carefully considering it for a few seconds I responded in the affirmative, that I would love to accept. David filled me in on the details; it is a ceremonial position so I had no duties outside of being there – the job I have wanted all my life – the job I was made for. Sue was invited to join me for the auspicious occasion.

Daisy, Sue, Bill and Antonio. Photo courtesy of Bill Clough.
Bill Receiving his award from Jan Lucas. Photo courtesy of Bill Clough.

We stayed all night in Alameda and were able to report aboard the boat (which was right around the corner from where we were staying) at 0915 the next morning. It was a perfect day as Sue and I rode on the committee boat Cabernet Sauvignon which is based in Alameda.

Pat Pending.
Folly II.

My granddaughter Daisy lives in Berkeley so I invited her and her boyfriend Antonio to join us aboard the boat. We met at the boat at 0915 and had our photo taken by Bill Clough and his lovely wife Brigitte who have been photographing opening day for years – I think you can call them the official photographers.

Miss 102.

After boarding and finding our seating we pulled out of the harbor and headed west across San Francisco Bay. We cruised over near Angel Island and then back to our station offshore from the St. Francis Yacht Club. Normally when we have attended past opening days, as we go aboard we encounter Dave and Linda Breninger along with their beautiful daughters Monica and Cindy. I was shocked that none of them were aboard this day, but as luck would have it, we saw Gary Gorden and he said he was taking Dave’s place for the day; I instantly felt better and Gary did a great job filling in for Dave.

Robert & Sheila.
Village West Yacht Club.

We cruised north out of Alameda and went under the Bay Bridge. We headed over to the proximity of the Corinthian Yacht Club. The club hosts an opening day breakfast with many local luminaries attending. PICYA Commodore Jan Lucas attended the breakfast and later went aboard Gerry Kamilos’ beautiful Trumpy yacht, Aurora V. Gerry hosts the God Squad that blesses the boats as they pass every year.

Stockton Yacht Club.
Morris Lum.

Next, aboard Cabernet Sauvignon, we cruised over to the San Francisco City Front and took our station offshore from the St. Francis Yacht Club. The Coast Guard brought Jan from Aurora V to Cabernet Sauvignon. This is always the most interesting and exciting part of the day for me. The PICYA Commodore is transferred from the Coast Guard vessel to the committee boat. The seas are always rolling, and it is the amazing skill of the Coast Guard personnel that makes it work with no one injured. I have suggested many times that they rig a bosun’s chair between the two vessels and complete the transfer that way, but they always like the current system. I think the bosun’s chair would add another dimension of excitement to the operation. Anyway, Jan made it aboard with no problem and took over officiating.

San Francisco fireboat. Photo courtesy of Michelle Stewart.
Mark Morias speaking to the crowd at the Ryde Hotel. Photo courtesy of Morris Lum.

The parade started near the Golden Gate Bridge and worked its way east along the shore.

It was led by the San Francisco fireboat and the Alameda fireboat followed by the Potomac and other vessels of historic interest. Pat Pending has participated in at least 60 opening day parades; she was skippered by Greg Owen on this day. I spoke with Mel Owen and he says the first opening day Pat Pending participated in was on May 3, 1941. World War II started in December of that year and opening days were cancelled for the duration of the war, but in 1943 there was a rehearsal for evacuating the Bay Area in case it was attacked and the bridges destroyed.

Other vessels of historical interest in the parade were Mathew W. Turner, FREDA B, SKAL, White Swan, Alpha, Folly II, Miss 102 and of course, Franklin D. Rosevelt’s yacht Potomac. I had two of my photographers Michelle Stewart and her mom Sue stationed at Pier 39 taking photos too.

A super buffet lunch was served. It is amazing how much of an appetite you can work up while watching other people work. After the last boat passed, we headed back under the Bay Bridge and back to the port in Alameda, bringing an end to a perfect day and kicking off another boating season.

Independence Day

Plan to attend the Hilton Foundation’s annual fireworks display at Venice Island on the San Joaquin River on Thursday, July 4 starting at dusk. It would be a good idea to get there a few days early to insure a good vantage spot for your boat. This is the number one Delta summer party; all of your friends will be there. If you don’t have a boat there are vantage points around the Delta to witness this spectacular show. Windmill Cove is a good spot and you can get food and drinks there also. This event was started in 1958 by Barron Hilton and is now presented by an endowment left when he crossed over the bar a few years back.

My correspondent Chris Lauritzen from the Antioch area informs me that the city is having their fourth of July celebration on July 4. It will kick off with a parade in the downtown Rivertown area at 1600 hours. Fireworks will begin at dusk over the water. The main celebration will take place in Waldie Plaza and the parking lot of City Hall, encompassing West 2nd Street to West 3rd Street and G Street to I Street. There are many events happening within the celebration site including a live entertainment stage, local vendors, food trucks, kids zone and a disk jockey stage.

Sacramento River Delta Historical Society (SRDHS)

We had to miss a great event at the Ryde Hotel due to other commitments elsewhere in California. I just can’t get to everything. Giusti’s was a legendary place to eat in the Delta, and every time I drive by the still remaining sign, I think of how great the food was. Giusti’s restaurant, as you remember, was destroyed by a fire on Sept. 9, 2021. The 110-year-old building was totally destroyed. The Giusti/Morias family are icons in the Delta, and Mark Morias is a gem of a person. Four generations of the family worked at the restaurant over the years. The original Ryde Hotel was built by two Giusti brothers in 1886, they ran it until 1911 when it burned down. They then bought the Miller Ferry Saloon in 1912 and changed the name to Giusti’s.

The SRDHS put on a gala event honoring the Morias family for all of their contributions to the Delta and its people at another historic venue – the Ryde Hotel. Some 240 folks turned out at the Ryde Hotel to honor Giusti’s and the Morias family. This was the first annual “Delta Award” banquet. The evening included dinner, wine, a program, video documentary, silent auction and an unveiling of the Giusti Room in the hotel, which will house artifacts, images and stories of the restaurant, the Giusti family and their relationship to the hotel.

I am sure that I knew most of the folks in attendance and I regret not being there. Several of my agents were on hand. Morris Lum was taking photos and Fred and Ida Weibel were in attendance, as well as Bo and Tressa Dahlberg and many others. The event raised funds for the SRDHS. It is going to be a tough act to follow for the award next year.

Jean Yokotobi

I have known and worked with Jean for 14 years. I first met her when she was resurrecting the Isleton Chamber of Commerce. At the time she had her own deli on Main Street. Jean has been a huge positive force in Isleton and is involved in promoting local businesses, as well as attracting visitors.

Jean at her retirement party.

Jean has been a big part of the Delta Life Magazine published by the chamber every year. The annual magazine has photos and stories about the Delta and is very popular. She recently announced her retirement from the chamber and the city of Isleton turned out at Peter & Yee Low’s Pineapple Restaurant in downtown Isleton to recognize her for all her hard work over the years. The place was packed with well-wishers from the local business community. Jean gave a brief rundown on many of the activities she has been involved in over the years. I would say Jean is beloved in Isleton.

Even though she is retiring from the chamber she will still be a community activist in the town. She is going to devote her time to Delta Life Magazine and to the Delta Education Cultural Society (DECS) Asian American Heritage Park project. The magazine will be transferred to DECS, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We wish Jean well in this new venture and it all looks good for Isleton.

WaterFraud Update

The governor has announced that his Delta Conveyance Project to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta is now estimated to cost $20 billion instead of $16 billion as he had previously claimed. We have been through this before. Remember when then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger first proposed the “modern” version of the river diversion and said the cost would be up to $55 billion, and people with actual backgrounds in water delivery and engineering said the cost would be $75 billion to $100 billion. Assuming the project actually came to fruition the first water delivery would not be until 2044 and I am confident that the cost at that time could easily reach $200 billion. Paying for the boondoggle would be a fine legacy to leave our children and grandchildren.

Sacramento County has filed a motion for “preliminary injunction” against the State of California to stop geotechnical drilling and other exploratory activities related to the Delta Conveyance Project (the tunnel project). The county alleges that the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) has not filed a certification of consistency with the Delta Stewardship Council and hence cannot drill or undertake other “covered” activities until the certification is filed.

Lisa Kirk, a friend and business owner in Locke has advised me that the DWR sent shills to the Locke Asian Festival to promote the water tunnel. Ag Innovations, a nonprofit in the employ of the Department of Water Resources, is constantly trying to be part of Delta events to spread propaganda in support of the Delta Conveyance Project. Some questions we would like answered: How much are they paid? Who is paying, the water exporters or is it coming out of the general fund? How much new fresh water does the project create?

The California Fish and Game Commission unanimously adopted emergency regulations for Chinook salmon fishing closures in the Central Valley and Klamath River Basins due to dramatic population declines. Scott Artis, Executive Director of the Golden State Salmon Association (GSSA) noted that “the CDFW failed to mention the top cause behind the collapse – a horrendous water policy. We can’t begin to solve the salmon crisis plaguing all of California’s marine and inland waters, the entire commercial and recreational fishing industry and many coastal and river towns and communities if the governor simply fails to admit the main cause, which is a horrendous water policy that green lights unsustainable water diversions out of our salmon rivers.”

Sugar Barge Waterfront Bar & Grill

We attended the Delta Chambers Mixer at the Sugar Barge Waterfront Bar & Grill in May. Operating partners Edward & Sarah Savoie greeted us and pointed us to plenty of fresh hors d’oeuvres including calamari and other exotic fare. The bar was open and serving drinks as we took over the dining room.

Mixer at Sugar Barge.

Many of our friends were there from all over the Delta including Bethel Island. It was a very windy day and I give credit to those that braved the weather to make it. We came across the Antioch Bridge and I thought we might be blown over the side. Several folks were planning to come by boat but wisely decided to drive instead. I met a lady who had just moved to Bethel Island two months prior and she had not expected the wind.

Elliott with her paint kit.

The elusive Jim Senior was there with the lovely Katie Senior. Jim is one of the premier wooden boat restorers in the region. To his credit, Jim has been involved with several boats that have taken top honors at past Lake Tahoe Concourse d’ Elegance events. Jim says he is slowing down nowadays like many of us.

Fred and Ida Weibel, Blair Hake, Pat & Patti Morias and Karen Chandler all came from Stockton. Morris Lum was on hand taking photos, Cass Gimbert was winning prizes as always. John Bento and Tom & Dani Kelly represented Rio Vista. Community activist Jack Hanna and many other folks including Angela Martinez and Lisa Kirk were in attendance also. If I left you out of this list I did not mean to, just running out of brain cells.

We had plenty to eat and drink and had fun catching up with all of our friends. The highlight of the evening for me was Edward’s lovely daughter Elliott; she helped out with raffle tickets and passing out prizes. When she wasn’t helping us, she was working on art projects in the back of the room. She is a charming young lady.

Edward says that Sugar Barge is geared up for the summer and is ready for you to visit in your boat. They also have one of the best RV parks in the Delta for your relaxing enjoyment. You will find live music there on Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer and fall. Check them out at

The Great Vallejo Race

It has been a while since I have been to Vallejo. As luck would have it, Bob Sampayan with the Vallejo Yacht Club invited Sue and I to come to the club for the Great Vallejo Race. We pulled out of Sacramento and headed down the interstate. We encountered a lot of rain and wind traveling along Interstate 80. I was concerned about the conditions for the race, but once we arrived at the club the sun was out and the wind was about ten knots. We arrived pretty close to noon and a few boats had already crossed the finish line, but there were plenty more coming in.

A boat crosses the finish line.

Bob filled me in on the great race via email: “It has been a 124-year tradition where sailing vessels of all categories leave the Richmond Yacht Club and sail to Vallejo where they raft up overnight. Racers can then enjoy lunch and later a festive evening of dining, live music, dancing and beverages. The next morning, we serve breakfast and the racers then prepare themselves for the return race to Richmond.” For 2024 there were a reported 80 entries.

Racers entering the harbor.

After all of my correspondence with Bob, it ended up that he was unable to come to the club when we were there. He made sure we were well taken care of though. Arv Voss took us under his wing and showed us around.

We first went topside to the race deck which was right over the harbor and a great vantage point. The finish line of the race was a few hundred yards downwind, but we could see the action from where we were. It was especially interesting to see the sailboats make it through the narrow entrance of the harbor; after all these crafts were all single engine powered and it was a windy day. The crews were all dressed in their foul weather gear and many of them were wet from the ride.

Ken, Commodore Scott & Arv.

I left Sue at the clubhouse and walked down to the finish line; it was beautiful. The wind was blowing almost straight down the estuary so the boats were coming downwind with their spinnakers flying; many appeared to be planing. It was an inspiring sight. Back in my Honolulu days I saw boats crossing the Transpac Race finish line at Diamond Head, this was almost as exciting.

Even though the sun was out, it was still pretty chilly so after I got a few photos I went back to the clubhouse. Sue was still freezing on the race deck so we went below to warm up. I made it to the bar and opted to have an Irish coffee to get my blood circulating again. She stuck to a Coke. Later I had a craft beer from the Mare Island Brewing Company (one of the sponsors) whose motto is “Damn the Torpedoes.” We were entertained by The Best Dam Steel Band, Caribbean style but they played many songs we were familiar with that had been hits on the pop charts over the last several years. They were outstanding, if you want to book them call Peter Best at 510-367-4772. They can customize the size of the band for your party. I highly recommend them.

The Best Dam Steel Band.

The club treated us to dinner, it is amazing that I worked up such an appetite watching all these sailors work. Tony’s Ribs & Chicken Plates were available. Sue had ribs and I had chicken. The chicken was excellent and I tried Sue’s ribs; they were “melt in your mouth” good.

National Eucharistic Pilgrimage

This is a country wide event with a significant part taking place in Northern California. Sacramento Diocese Bishop, Jaime Soto was involved in a pilgrimage that started at Mission Dolores Basilica in San Jose on May 18. This piece of the journey was called the Serra route in honor of the “Apostle of California,” Saint Junipero Serra. On May 19, they reconvened at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco for the celebration of Pentecost Mass. On Tuesday the 21st, the entourage headed to the Saint Francis Yacht Club and boarded the classic Stephens yacht Folly II for the trip through the Delta and up the Sacramento River to Freeport. Unfortunately, Folly II had an engine problem at first, but co-owner Rusty Areias was able to find diesel expert Jim Fitch who was in the area. He was able to get the powerplant running again in short order, and she departed for points east and north.

Bishop Jaime Soto at the helm of Folly II. Photo courtesy of Rusty Areias.

Our people in Benica said that over 1,000 people turned out when Folly II arrived there for a ceremony. At some point in the journey up the river, Bishop Soto took the helm, and the crew reported that he has a natural ability to operate a ship.

After stopping at Delta Marina in Rio Vista, they made their way up the Sacramento River to Freeport where the bishop and his companions disembarked. They were scheduled for ceremonies in Sacramento. The California piece of the journey will end when Bishop Soto will again accompany the Blessed Sacrament leading a flotilla of boats, this time making a “sunset crossing of Lake Tahoe (approximately a 26-mile journey) before arriving at Incline Village, Nevada for a Eucharistic handoff to the neighboring Diocese of Reno.” They will head to Oregon, Idaho, Utah and points east from there.

The Serra Route is one of four national itineraries established to bring Catholic pilgrims from all over the United States led by the Blessed Sacrament to Indianapolis, the site of the National Eucharistic Congress from July 17-21.

Folly II was built by Stephens Brothers and was owned by alleged bootlegger and rumrunner John Marino. According to the late Dick Stephens, she was “the best Stephens ever built.” Her sleek black hull would allow her to stealthily avoid law enforcement while traveling at night delivering illicit cargo.

Now, there is a rumor and this is strictly a rumor that Bishop Soto was so captivated by Folly II that he is considering awarding her a full pardon for all past sins she may have committed. She has already partially redeemed herself by serving as a Navy Yard Patrol boat in World War II (YP 144). We will keep you posted as this develops; please pray for her.

Aurora Has Sunk

You have all seen the graveyard of ships at the west end of Eight Mile Road, now the biggest one, Aurora, has sunk. Luckily the water is only 13 feet deep there so the vessel is still pretty much above water. I am guessing the Maybach diesel engines are destroyed. This is another outrage perpetrated on the people of the Delta. The owner, Chris Willson, purchased the ship through an ad on Craigslist about 15 years ago and originally kept her in San Francisco at Pier 38. After wearing out his welcome in the Bay Area, the ship was towed to its current location on Little Connection Slough (allegedly, the City of San Francisco paid Willson $47,000 to have the ship towed). Now it has become the responsibility of the taxpayers of Stockton.

Aurora a few years back when she was in better shape.

The owner was constantly posting on social media how he was “restoring” the vessel and recruited workers to come and help him. He also sold T-shirts to support the project. Unfortunately, the restoration was confined to cosmetic things like restoring cabins and chipping away rust. At one time, Willson apparently painted the topsides with whitewash. The ship has not been hauled out and the bottom serviced in maybe a couple of decades. Other reports say vandals came aboard and were stripping out metal parts to sell. It is just a shame these people are allowed to bring these derelict vessels into the Delta and abandon them. This is the third vessel that has sunk at this location in the last few years.

There has to be a way to stop these crimes – make the owners post a bond, and or keep in place marine liability insurance. The owners are usually some dreamer with no assets who somehow think they are going to fix up a vessel and somehow make a profit on it. They are generally folks with little or no boating or maritime experience and no idea of the expense involved. Boats are very expensive, ships even more so. It is grossly unfair for the taxpayers of Stockton to have to foot the bill for others’ stupidity. By the way, these sunken vessels leaking petroleum into the water are about a mile away from the Stockton freshwater intake on the San Joaquin River. Be sure to read Pat Carson’s piece about derelict vessels in the June Yachtsman Magazine. Thanks to Tracie Glaves and Mike Fitzgerald for contributing to this piece.

Irish Pennants

Don’t miss the 21st Annual Taste of the Delta, which will be held on Aug. 10 at Windmill Cove. The festivities start at 1300 and go on until 1600. The bar at the resort will be open after that. This is a fun event that will allow you to try food and drinks from many Delta area wineries, breweries, restaurants and other food vendors. There will be live music and selected artists, artisans and vendors displaying their wares too. Purchase your discount tickets in advance at or call 916-777-4041.

Remember Lost Isle? There has been activity there this spring. My correspondent Mike Fitzgerald ran into the owner in Stockton where he was meeting with officials. The Dutra Group has been there removing the debris from the recent fire. They are planning to landscape the island in 2025 and open in 2026 at the earliest.

What are you up to? Voice or text: 916-869-9141 or email: