Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
The Heaviest Party In The Delta
Kerry Davis is a friend of mine and a trombone player of note. He has made posts on social media discussing what he considers the heaviest objects in the universe. He mentioned the sun and black holes, and finally settled on the Hammond B-3 organ with two #122 Leslie speakers. I countered back with a 1957 Fender Stratocaster with a Marshall JTM-45 “Bluesbreaker” amp, and then with a Gretsch G-6138 Bo Diddley rectangular guitar and a Fender Bassman amp. I am pretty confident he will counter back with another even heavier object.
The Ebony Boat Club held its Jazz and Wine Festival at their floating waterfront clubhouse in July. The jazz band was Jazzbeaux & Friends. Kerry and his group played an energetic set and kept the party goers entertained throughout the day. It was a very heavy party.
This was an annual event for many years and was held outside at their former clubhouse location at Jim’s Holiday Harbor, known as Lloyd’s Holiday Harbor at the time in Antioch. They then moved it to the Downtown Marina in Stockton. Before the pandemic hit, they moved inside the clubhouse which made it a more intimate event.
The clubhouse was packed to capacity and their air conditioner came through and kept things relatively cool and comfortable. There were several wines to sample, but my favorite was a local pinot noir. There were crackers and cheeses to try too. There was a contingent of people from the Discovery Bay Yacht Club attending, as well as a group from the Stockton Yacht Club. I am confident that everyone had a fabulous time.
Presently, the galley opened and lunch was served. We dined on barbecue ribs, corn, cornbread, green vegetables and potato salad. I am not sure who actually conceived the rib recipe, possibly Otis Brock, as I have seen him make them at events and likewise here. Well, they literally melt in your mouth and the taste is fantastic. I enjoyed a margarita with my dinner. Hopefully, circumstances will let this great event return in 2022. I am confident that it will be even heavier than the 2021 party. Feel free to email me with your opinion of the heaviest object in the universe.
Ladds Marina has officially changed hands with Ramon Mata of Pacific Boat Services taking over. We dropped by early in August, and low and behold Alan Bonnifield was still there helping Ramon for a few days during the transition. Ramon has 15 plus years experience operating his own marine business and has worked for others prior to that. When we dropped by he was in the process of remodeling the office. He had moved his portable office from his previous location on 8 Mile Road to use while the renovations are being made.
Alan and Patti have moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona and have moved their Lancer 37 sailboat to a full service marina in San Carlos, Mexico. Hopefully they will pop into the Delta for a visit once in a while.
After a two-year hiatus because of the pandemic, Sea Scout ships from all over Northern California rendezvoused at Westgate Landing in San Joaquin County on the weekend of July 22-25. Greg Manov invited me down to hang out with them. There were at least 16 vessels on hand, and I think about 100 or more scouts. They were having a grand time. When I arrived they were holding a knot tying contest. Throughout the weekend they were having kayak races and water fights along with jumping from the sides of the ships and general mayhem of the type teenagers since time immemorial have engaged in. I think they were extra exuberant after being cooped up for over a year.
Many of their ships are retired military vessels, but a few are former yachts. They came from as far away as the South Bay and Petaluma. It was great to see so many young folks having a good time and engaged in constructive activities.
Fred & Ida
Fred Weibel and Ida Handel were joined in matrimony during the summer. Ida is a longtime member of the Stockton Yacht Club, which is just up the Calaveras River from Fred’s home. I have referred to other parties this summer as epic, but this was probably the most epic event of all. It was held at the Weibel Family Winery at 1 Winemaster Way in Lodi. They cleared out much of the warehouse to make room for the party. There were a few hundred of Fred and Ida’s close friends and relatives in attendance.
There were several tables of hors d’oeuvres and plenty of Weibel bottled wine to quench your thirst. Hollywood Catering supplied the food, and after everyone had a chance to visit and enjoy a drink while the dinner was served. Hollywood Catering did a great job of keeping things organized and efficient. The guests were called up table by table and service went very smoothely. The roast beef was excellent and many folks went back for seconds. Fred’s sister, Diana Weibel planned and organized the event and did an excellent job. She should consider planning events as a side gig. Fred also thanked all of his employees that pitched in and helped pull off this major event.
After dinner, the DJ threw on some dance music and Fred & Ida lead things off. Most of the crowd was up and jiving to the music. The DJ did a great job with songs that appealed to everyone at the event. After a round of dancing, Ida and Fred cut and served the wedding cake. Part of it was a regular cake, but there were a few hundred cupcakes in matching décor and I think everyone got one. Fred is noted for custom labels on his products, so at each table setting there was a split of sparkling wine with a custom label featuring Fred and Ida on it for a souvenir. It was a great party and we wish Fred and Ida many years of happiness.
Turner Cut Resort
Dan and Annabelle Dumas hosted a Delta Chambers mixer at their beautiful establishment. It had been a year since my last visit and they have remodeled the interior of the clubhouse. It looks very nautical now indeed.
A few boat loads of people arrived from Stockton, and many folks came by land yacht. It is humorous driving out there as you would swear you were driving through Iowa with all the farm fields you pass through. It was even more fun this day, as they were repaving the road and we had to follow a water truck at about five miles per hour for a mile or two before we arrived. Mike Garner brought a boat load of folks over, including Robbie Ann Murphy-Gabriel who is one of the best artists in the region. It is good to see her with us once again. The last I heard she was in Mexico. Robbie generously donated a beautiful painting to our raffle. Lisa Hallow was also present, and as usual she donated some of her beautiful custom made jewelry to the cause.
Bill Conner and his longtime girlfriend “Madcap” Mary Pelican were on hand, along with Fill-em-up-Phil Champion. Well, Phil lives on his houseboat at Turner Cut so it was not much of a commute for him to get there. I have always called him Fill-em-up-Phil, but I have seen his name as Fill-it-up-Phil so I asked him which was correct. He says he got the name from Joanie Schell when she was sitting at the Lost Isle bar and said to him while tapping her glass “fill it up Phil.” Hal was probably sitting there listening and a name was born.
Erik Vink and Stacy Hayden of the Delta Protection Commission attended and announced the winners of the annual “Best of the Delta” contest. Here are some of the winners: Best Restaurant – Moore’s Riverboat Restaurant; Best Bar – Al’s Place Locke; Best Tasting Room – Mei Wah Beer Room; Best Fruit Stand – Silo Farm Organics; Best Lodging – The Bartlett; Best RV Camping – Ko-Ket Resort; Best Small Town – Isleton and Best Marina – Willow Berm Marina. You can find the rest of the winners at: https://visitcadelta.com/best-of/
The marina held its tenant appreciation party in late July. I am sorry I missed it, but I had events stacked on events that weekend. My fledgling reporter, Ty Mellott did make it there and had a fun time. Owl Harbor is a fun loving community with excellent management and staff. Devery Stockon reported to me: “We had about 130 people, about 50 more than were expected. We started the day with a dinghy poker run in the morning with the best hand winner getting $100.00 and the worst hand winner getting $50.00. During the early afternoon, friends were able to “Make their Mark” on our wall of canvas or create their desired tie-dyed item. A charcuterie table was set out, along with cocktails prior to the delicious dinner that we prepared.
“Everything was cooked and handmade by the team of Owl Harbor Marina to say thank you to our wonderful tenants and friends. We even grew a lot of the items we shared with the group. We finished the evening off with a movie on the green, “The Sandlot”, which made for a really great ending.” Owl Harbor was also a destination for the 2021 Delta Doo Dah.
Delta Doo Dah
2021 is the 13th annual Doo Dah. The event has really grown and brought a lot of sailboats from the Bay up into the Delta to explore for the summer. Over the years, the event has grown and introduced many new visitors to the Delta. Christine Weaver told me that they had about 100 boats participating this year. It kicked off on May 4 with a Zoom meeting for participants. On June 12 the Delta Ditch Run brought boats from the Richmond Yacht Club to the Stockton Sailing Club. They held a party on Aug. 14 at Delta Bay Marina. They served some excellent hamburgers grilled at the marina. I think Ishkeesh Marine Services helped sponsor the food. I managed to only eat one, and likewise Sue did not overindulge. Demi Stewart had many of her beautiful artworks there for display and sale. My friend Dennis Hunter joined us with his boat dog, and Liz Allison of the Half Moon Bay Yacht club came by land yacht.
Marina owner, Eric Chiu asked me to present my slide show of Delta boating history. We did it in the clubhouse and I think everyone enjoyed it. Every time I have performed the show I receive new material. This time Mel Owen had provided me with a rare photo of Grindstone Joe rowing a boat taking the garbage out to dump where the carp could eat it.
The Doo Dah is still taking place at this writing and they have hit almost every resort in the Delta. It looks like most of the boats are in the 30- to 40-foot range which is perfect for the Delta. It is a great event to bring more boaters to the region and spread the word about what a great destination it is.
Village West Yacht Club
The club held their second annual car show in September. Sue and I went and met our new friend Steve Stingley and his nephew there. They had about twice the number of cars that they had the year before. I really screwed up by going into the clubhouse before looking at the cars. I got talking with people, and then we saw these delicious looking hamburgers being prepared in the galley so I felt obligated to have one. I smothered mine in fresh tomatoes and onions, along with relish and mustard. It was very good, kind of a typical American summer lunch. Naturally, there were chips to go with it.
Then I became interested in talking to Steve’s nephew, William Altpeter. It turns out that he is an engineer like Steve and was involved in designing his own yacht. A company in Norway was impressed by him and is now paying him a fee to help design one of their catamarans. He is an interesting fellow.
So finally, when I went outside to look at the cars I found out that half of them had already left. Well, there were still some interesting vehicles there. I particularly liked a red Ford Falcon dragster. It was powered by a Ford hemi V8. It was something that you would expect Tbone Faso or Joe Faso to drive.
Stockton Yacht Club Member Appreciation Party
We attended Stockton Yacht Club’s member appreciation dinner. It started with cocktails at 1600. We fought our way through the crowd and made it to the bar. I had a cold beer and Sue had her normal Coca Cola with extra ice. We joined Christel Schneider and caught up with her recent activities. Terry McGregor, the vice commodore was tending bar, helped by Linda Contreras. More and more folks arrived and it was great to catch up with what everyone has been doing. It was a beautiful evening with a slight breeze that kept the smoke from the forest fires away from the area. It was nice and cool too.
At 1800 hours we were called for dinner. Sue and I were at the VIP table, but then to my shock I found that other people at other tables were told that they were at the VIP table too.
The dinner of chicken picante, pasta, green salad and fresh french bread was mouthwatering. My compliments to the galley crew. For dessert there were two kinds of cake; I had the lemon cake and Sue had the chocolate. They were both excellent and fresh (I snuck a bite of Sue’s when she wasn’t looking.)
Several awards were passed out for longevity at the club and other accomplishments. I was surprised and honored to receive a nautical bottle opener and a custom Stockton Yacht Club bottle stopper. I will put both to good use.
You could buy a poker hand sealed in an envelope, and they were opened after dinner with the winner getting half of the money collected. Mickey Johnson took the early lead with three of a kind. I was not too far behind her. My first four cards were two pairs. I was confident that I would fill out my hand as a full house, but no such luck. Sheila George was the winner with four of a kind. I have to say she was an enthusiastic winner, dancing around and waving the money in my face. I am not sure what the winnings were, but it looked like enough for her and Robert Willis to go out and have a nice dinner.
Classic Yacht Association
The Classic Yacht Association cruised into Grindstone Joe’s for a weekend of relaxation. The island has undergone some renovations over the last few years including new water and sewage systems and deck furniture. George Homenko saw a the need and built a rotisserie for the barbecue pit. The mariners dined on a whole roast pig to break in the device.
I drop into Strange Cargo (Locke’s best bookstore) from time to time. Tom Herzog who maintains the book inventory is one of the Delta’s greatest historians. He has perhaps the best collection of Delta and California history books for sale anywhere. I was there to drop off some literature, and Tom showed me an album of photos he had acquired at an estate sale for Walnut Grove resident Dr. Denny Anspach. It was filled with photos of classic boats being restored dating back to the 1970s. There is even reference to Lake Okoboji in Iowa where my grandfather and father boated prior to my family moving to California in the late 1940s.
Dr. Anspach was a “highly esteemed” member of the California State Railroad Museum Foundation Board of Directors, and indeed helped to get the Railroad Museum off the ground. I guess his twin passions were boats and railroads.
Tom donated the album to the Delta and I will be the caretaker until we can find a spot to have our Delta museum. Two good candidates are the Discover the Delta Foundation on the corner of Hwy. 12 and Hwy. 160, or possibly Landing 63 on the Sacramento River.
Yvonne Cantrell, another friend of mine and former president and treasurer of the Delta Chambers donated about 40 pounds of documents, compact disks and video tapes. They were from the heyday of houseboat rentals in the Delta from the 80s through the 90s. Many clips were from TV coverage of the Delta, fascinating stuff. I was embarrassed, she told me she was bringing a box over but I did not realize how big and heavy it was. I would have gone over and picked it up from her.
Then we have Fill-em-up-Phil. He says he literally has a boat load of Delta memorabilia that he wants to share. Blair Hake and I are working on coordinating with him to photograph it for posterity.
San Joaquin Delta Neighborhood Watch
Tracie Glaves and her San Joaquin Delta Neighborhood watch group continue to make a positive impact. So far, they have removed about 150 tons (yes 150 tons) of junk, trash and rubbish from our waterways. She has received a lot of support from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and many local officials. Others she has had to drag kicking and screaming into the situation. She has helped remove 300+ shopping carts and derelict boats, and has been involved in helping to arrest and convict thieves and vandals that are plaguing our rivers and sloughs.
Wade Crowfoot is the secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency who received $210,021 in compensation for 2020 according to my sources. He seems to be doing his best to ignore Delta issues, except for moving forward with his and the governor’s $55 billion plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta. We need to get him more engaged in Delta issues and follow the lead set by Tracie to get our local waterways cleaned up. Secretary Crowfoot works hard to fly under the radar, but you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask him to start defending the Delta and its people.
Rob Bernhard was one of my best friends. He succumbed to cancer the day before the opening day parade at the San Joaquin Yacht Club. Rob messed with boats his entire life. He grew up on Bainbridge Island, Washington and eventually moved to California to meet the love of his life, Susan. They quit the rat race a few years back and moved full time to their Point No Point Marina on Bethel Island. Rob and Susan were members of the Classic Yacht Association since 2003 with their 41-foot 1951 Mathews cruiser, Susan Gayle. She is powered by twin big block General Motors engines. The first time I saw her come up on plane I was awestruck. She pulled away and cruised at about 20 knots, leaving me in her wake. She was like a great white whale breaching and speeding away.
Rob had slowed down over the last several years, but there were plenty of times we came close to getting in trouble while we were consuming alcoholic spirits back in the old days. The good thing was that we lived about 60 miles apart, so the only times we would see each other were at boating events. That probably saved us both a lot of grief.
We attended his memorial at the San Joaquin Yacht Club. The old Sutter riverboat was filled to capacity and virtually everyone there had a colorful story to tell about their adventures with Rob. He was definitely a well-known and loved person on the island and the Delta’s resident pirate. Rob’s daughter, Jessica put together a moving slide show of events in Rob’s life.
Rob was an expert on wooden boats and kept Susan Gayle in near Bristol condition. He participated in many boating activities on Bethel Island and beyond. Rob and Susan frequently cruised up to Tower Park, Ox Bow Marina and Stockton to attend events. We would talk on the phone from time to time and he downplayed how ill he was. Just a few weeks before his passing he wanted to come over and help me work on my boat. We will miss Rob’s earsplitting “Arrrrrrrrghs.” He is survived by his wife Susan, his daughter Jessica Thomas and his large extended family.
The Delta also lost Michael Kirkpatrick who had a 34-year career in the medical field, most recently with the Community Medical Centers serving San Joaquin, Yolo and Solano counties. He cruised the Delta on his houseboat, Kickback with his wife Sara. She survives him, along with a brother, cousins and friends.
I used to tap on the exclamation point when I was writing and hit a point where I needed to pause and think. I would send out emails and documents with the excess punctuation. It used to drive Hal Schell crazy. One day he asked me if putting two exclamation points made something twice as exciting. I immediately quit the practice and have never done it again. I did start tapping the period for the same reason. Now I find that it is actually a grammatical device to represent a dramatic pause or a thought that trails off. It is called an “ellipsis,” it is actually three periods with spaces between them. I use the three periods, but not the extra spaces and I add another period and make it four. There, you have your grammar lesson for the month.
Be sure to drop in and check out Bob’s at the Marina (Village West Marina & Resort) for their new remodel. It looks great. I can’t really describe it, but it has kind of a rustic woodsy look. They are still serving the same great food, they just have a new look.
While on the property you will notice that Sunset Sweets is nearing it’s grand opening and we will be sure to be the first to let you know in print or on social media. It should not be that long now.
Sadly we have learned that the Spindrift Restaurant on the Delta Loop is no more. It has closed down and all the interior appointments have been removed and sold off. The Spindrift has been a Delta icon for generations. It is mentioned in many Delta books going back at least as far as Hal Schell’s Dawdling on the Delta in the 1970s.
My friends and I have tipped many a glass there and enjoyed the excellent food when Chris Corda owned it. Folks would come over by boat from Stockton and Discovery Bay for a meal. We had many fun chamber mixers and other events there over the years, if the walls could talk. I guess the saying is true, “the only constant is change.”
One time I was there sitting around a table with a group of friends, men and women. We were talking about – what else? Guns. All of a sudden I heard a tremendous bang, and the next thing I knew I was laying on the floor. The first thing I thought was, “I have been shot.” I stayed motionless for a few seconds to try to figure out where I was wounded, but there was no blood and I was not in pain. I finally figured out that the resin chair I was sitting in had collapsed. Chris was right there blaming me for ruining one of his chairs and I was blaming him for letting me sit in an unsafe chair. He reminded me of the incident every time I went in after that. Not sure if the Spindrift will ever be what it once was, but we will be there to find out should they try.
The Antioch Marina’s launch ramp parking lot area has an Armed Forces of America Memorial that was erected not long after the construction of the launch ramp and parking area years back. The white barrier wall that circles the back side of the memorial has recently been given a major facelift.
Artist Javier Rocabado was recently spotted hand painting the images of several armed forces personnel. I can only imagine the impact once it’s finished. We’ll make each person entering the area think of a Vet in their lives.