Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
Sacramento Yacht Club Opening Day
The Sacramento Yacht Club held their 69th annual opening day on May 2. They missed 2020, so there was a lot of pent-up demand for a parade this year. I was honored to be a judge, and Sue and I arrived at the club prior to the parade. Rear Commodore Kevin Rogers met us in the parking lot and let me use his prime parking spot in front of the club. We made it out to the dock and went aboard a houseboat that was pressed into service as the judging platform. He introduced us to his charming wife, Twyla.
We met Glenn Greene and Rina Dimare who were our fellow judges. They are both from the Clarksburg area. We sat on the upper deck of the yacht, and presently after one of the worlds loudest signal cannons was fired to start the parade, the boats began passing in review. The theme of the parade was: “Honoring COVID Responders: Nurses, Hospital Staff, Doctors, EMS, Paramedics, Firefighters and Law Enforcement.” The entries were highly creative, and a credit to the folks that put so much effort into them.
After the last boat passed the reviewing stand, we walked over to Kevin and Twyla’s boat, Barbara Helene. After getting underway, we followed the parade up the river. It was a fairly windy day, but the water was not too choppy. The trees and levees lining the river did a good job of keeping the parade route calm. As we cruised towards Sacramento, the boat traffic got heavier. Between the Tower Bridge and the confluence of the American River, we encountered many boats and many of them did not seem to have a grasp of the rules of the road. They were coming at us from all angles, but our skipper kept us on course and we had no mishaps. Twyla provided us with plenty of cheese, crackers and other snacks. Not only was she a great hostess, but she was also an excellent deck crew member.
Presently, we returned to the yacht club and headed to the bar for a cocktail before dinner and the awards ceremony. The folks in the galley made an excellent Vietnamese dinner, including Banh Mi sandwiches. It was excellent light fare on a fairly warm evening.
Prize winners were: under 30 feet: Gordon & Marcus Hubble, no name; 30-35 feet: Don Warton, Tamaranth; 36-40 feet, Sam & Kathy Teresi, Whisky Business; 40 feet and over: Gerry & Ann Gerloff, Happy Hour; Rear Commodore’s Award: Gordon & Marcus Hubble; Best overall: Gerry & Ann Gerloff.
It was a great day and a lot of fun with one of the Delta’s great yacht clubs.
One more note on the weekend. Kevin advised me that a wedding was scheduled for May 1 at the club. A member’s son planned the ceremony to take place aboard the family yacht with the Tower Bridge as the background. They set up the lawn area for the reception with tables set with silver and decorated. The wedding party left the dock at about 1530 hours, and soon after they left the wind came up and blew all the table settings onto the ground. Some of the club members saw what happened, ran around, picked up everything and reset the reception inside the clubhouse. Somehow they managed to duplicate the table settings exactly the way they were outside. When the wedding party returned after the ceremony at about 1630, everything was the same except for meals being moved inside. The reception came off perfectly even with the last-minute change of venue. According to Kevin, the caterer said he had never seen anything like this pulled off in all his years of catering.
The saga of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) “Community Benefits Program” continues. The Delta Protection Commission Advisory Committee recently voted 7-4 to support the program and have it put on the agenda of the May Delta Protection Commission meeting. Several Delta Area organizations trying to save the region from being destroyed by the DWR submitted written comments for the record. They were unanimously opposed to the “Community Benefits” program, feeling it is another scam perpetrated by the DWR trying to get local taxpayers to buy into the idea of diverting the Sacramento River around the Delta.
Attorney Michael Brodsky delivered an eloquent argument to the commission on why the Community Benefits Program should not be implemented unless the DWR agrees to conditions that will substantially reduce the damage the proposed project will cause to the Delta. Organizations submitting documents against the Community Benefits Program were: Central Delta Water Agency, South Delta Water Agency, Delta Legacy Communities, California Delta Chambers & Visitor’s Bureau, Save the California Delta Alliance and Delta Heartbeat Tours. The people of the Delta do not want the Sacramento River diverted, so there is no reason for a community benefits program that would be another waste of taxpayer funds.
Gov. Newsom is facing a recall election this year, and while he claims that it is a republican conspiracy against him, it is actually many taxpayers, both republican and democrat that are unhappy with the way he has been running the state. If he would renounce all evil and defund the Delta Conveyance Project, he would certainly gain favor with a segment of taxpayers and possibly survive the recall. I think he would gain some respect for admitting he made a mistake and moving forward from it.
As we have discussed many times before, the conveyance project creates no new water and only takes water from one area and distributes it to another. Aside from the billions of dollars being squandered on this project, the real damage being done is to the California Delta. Reducing water flows in our rivers kills fish, and promotes the growth of invasive plants including deadly blue-green algae. We need solutions that create new fresh water, not reallocate it. Desalination is currently the most viable method of creating new fresh water. Desal takes a lot of energy, even more than the DWR currently uses exporting water from the Delta. One possible solution to the energy problem is nuclear fusion. It is a relatively safe method of harnessing the atom to create electricity, sometimes referred to as “God’s big fix.” The Chinese Communists have made some breakthroughs with fusion, and I feel that there is a good chance nuclear fusion will be commercially available within 20 years or so. It has the potential to solve all of our water problems.
The Ryde Hotel at 14340 State Highway 160 in Walnut Grove is once again happening. In April the Delta Chambers held their first monthly mixer there after several months hiatus due to restrictions caused by the pandemic. About 70 chamber members and guests attended. There was a lot of catching up between folks that in some cases had not seen each other for over a year. Folks were enthusiastic about the coming year, and it was good to see so many businesses that survived the troubling times of 2020.
The hotel staff was great. The bartenders kept the drinks flowing, and provided some excellent hors d’oeuvres for the crowd. It was a great party with folks from all over the Delta attending. The Ryde is one of my favorite spots in the Delta and it has a great history that we have discussed in these pages previously. It is one of the coolest looking buildings in the whole Delta. When you walk through the door you feel like you are transported back in time a hundred years or so.
In late May, they held a “Prohibition Era Gatsby Party” with a dinner and live swing era band “The Forgotten Fitzgerald Five.” This was well attended, and everyone was dressed in their Gatsby finery. On the heels of this party, they held the Waterpalooza on May 23. It was an all-day affair starting with brunch, followed by John Morris playing Flamenco and classic guitar in the garden. Sue and I dropped by late in the morning. The rest of the day had many other musicians and entertainers. Along with Tina, Daniel and the hotel staff, Michael DiMartino and Bob Saunders used their magic to help pull the weekend off.
The hotel is open on Sundays for brunch and champagne. Be sure to drop in. If you are sorry you missed the aforementioned parties, don’t despair. The Delta Chambers is planning an Art Deco/Mardi Gras Masked Ball on Oct. 16. There will be dinner, live music, prizes and fun. The Chamber has held great events there in the past, and I am confident this will be another epic party.
Al The Wop’s
Al’s Place, as it is also known, is one of the Delta’s most famous restaurants and bars. Located at 13943 Main Street in greater downtown Locke, Al Adami founded it in 1934. The building was constructed in 1915 by Lee Bing and his partners, and was originally used as a Chinese restaurant. In 1934, Al came up the river from the Ryde Hotel, leased the building and opened the first non-Chinese business in town. Eventually, Al purchased the building from Bing and continued in the business until his death in 1961. It has had a few owners since then.
Sue and I, along with Ty and Becky met there for dinner recently. We were joined by Chris Menke, one of the owners, and Jeff Tranum, owner of the Walnut Grove Marina.
We had a couple of brewskis while we were waiting for our dinner, and Menke filled us in on how he and his partners acquired Al’s and what they have done since they have owned it. Menke said that he used to commute between the Bay Area and Sacramento on a Vespa scooter (yes Vespa!) He would stop at Al’s to take a break when he was traveling and have lunch or dinner. He was familiar with the place when it came up for sale, and he along with Eric Heath, Fritz Keith, Greg Wellman and Morgan Thornbush formed a partnership to purchase the business, building included. They have vowed to keep the place as original as possible.
After they closed the deal and took over, they shut Al’s down for several weeks while they thoroughly cleaned and renovated the interior. They carefully removed all of the pictures and memorabilia from the walls after recording the locations with a camera. The place was given a thorough cleaning, and the objects were returned to their original locations. So, now Al’s looks virtually the same as it has for the last few decades and is a lot cleaner. They are bringing menu items back slowly. The staff is great and very attentive. You do not go long waiting for a drink or your meal. The menu at Al’s is pretty much the same as it has been for the last few decades. You can still get garlic bread with peanut butter, some great steaks with a side of spaghetti and some great burgers. I had a hamburger, and it was excellent and very filling. So basically, now it is the same old Al’s, but much better. Al Adami would be proud.
Lighthouse Sports Bar & Island Pizza
If you have not been by the Lighthouse at 151 Brannan Island Road lately, be sure to drop in for a cold drink and some great food. We attended the Delta Chambers mixer there on May 12. I had been hearing how great the pizza was there, so naturally I tried it. It was most excellent. The pepperoni pizza was literally buried in pepperoni. The bartender was one of the best too, no one had to wait long for their drinks to be served.
I first started going here in the early 1990s when Sal Curcuruto ran the place. There were some wild parties back in those days. The floor was at about a 30-degree angle sloping towards the river, so if someone got drunk and passed out, they would roll to the wall and be out of the way. The whole place has been remodeled since those days, and it is beautiful inside. Everyone raves about the food. They also have karaoke and live music. There is a guest dock that can handle a few boats too. Put Lighthouse on your list of stops, it is just a mile or two off of State Route 12 or by boat, right on the lower Mokelumne River.
The Point has consistently been one of the Delta’s best restaurants for the last few decades. Besides excellent food, it has one of the most amazing views in the Delta. It is located at Delta Marina in Rio Vista, just a mile or so downstream from the Rio Vista Bridge. You can sit on the deck and watch the ships and boats go by.
Sue and I had a fun lunch there with one of my best friends from back in the days when I had a real job. Cherie Beach and I worked together at IBM some 25 or so years ago, back in the days when jobs were fun. We both had similar jobs, we would travel around the state and translate the language of engineers and technicians into verbiage our clients could understand.
We have kept in touch over the years via email and messages. We managed to meet at The Point and catch up on old times while we were enjoying our meal. She had never met Sue, and the two of them got along great. Luckily, I was there to make sure the gossip about me did not get out of hand. We each had a sandwich. The two of them had BLTs, and I had a clubhouse sandwich, which was almost more than I could eat. We vowed to get together on a more regular basis in the future. It is hard to catch up on a few years of life over one lunch.
Memorial Day Weekend
Memorial Day is the first major three-day party weekend in the Delta. There are events all over the region honoring those who gave their lives defending our way of life. It is good to reflect back and realize that the reason we enjoy our way of life is in part because of the sacrifices our countrymen and women have made.
Dave Breninger reports in from Stockton Yacht Club. They hosted the Caliente Isle Yacht Club for the weekend. They had a Hawaiian luau themed dinner that looked delicious. There were 15 boats of all sizes and they did an orientation and induction of new members. The orientation was on Saturday under the outdoor covered patio.
Be sure to drop in at Windmill Cove. Jerry Wolfe and his team have turned it into one of the best entertainment venues in the Delta. He has recently installed a gigantic cover over the audience area in front of the stage, perfect for keeping the hot sun off of the crowds. The food there has always been great and they now have “Bands & BBQ” on Friday nights, and of course live music for every Taco Tuesday. They are right across the river from Village West Marina & Resort at Marker 36 or 7600 Windmill Cove Road, Stockton.
Sacramento Yacht club scheduled a Memorial Day cruise downstream to the Clarksburg Marina.
Ko-Ket Resort had a big weekend, complete with live music at their newly remodeled Riverfront Bar & Grill, and even cabana boys to help keep things under control.
West Coast Canvas
Curt Page took us on a tour of his establishment at 1242 West Fremont Street in Stockton. He just took over another few thousand square feet in his building, close to doubling his square footage. He has a crew working full time with various projects. The only problem he currently has is getting some raw materials. As with many building materials lately, deliveries of fabric and thread are running a little slow. He advised me that the fabrics sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S.
In the new space, he has the mother of all cutting machines. I think this will let him make canvas covers for cruise ships. Page has been in the canvas business for 40+ years, and knows everyone in the Delta. His move from Tower Park after the fire a few years back has worked out well for him. Now he is in the center of the marine industry in Stockton. He has two slips on the channel, and is adjacent to Delta Marine Center with access to about any boat related service necessary. Canvas shop is a misnomer for Page’s business. He does decks, bedding and custom interiors too. West Coast Canvas is absolutely the go-to place for any interior or exterior work you need done.
Delta Marine Yacht Center
Tony “Tbone” Faso’s Delta Marine Center takes up much of a block on Stockton’s West Fremont Street, and has plenty of waterfront too. You can not only get your new or pre-owned boat there, but you can get just about any needed maintenance or repairs. They have a lift that will handle a 60-ton vessel, plus they can handle virtually any boat related problem. They have possibly the largest indoor used boat showroom in Northern California.
Marine Pros is based at Delta Marine Center. It is a marine electronics company headed by Nick Cloward and Pat and Leslie Carson. Yes, that would be Pat Carson, contributing editor of Yachtsman magazine and Leslie Carson our past editor.
Paradise Point Engine Repair is onsite for your outboard motor service and repair needs.
Eric Koster’s J&H Marine is also onsite. Koster is the kind of person that can bang on the valve cover of a reluctant motor and it will spring to life. So far, I have not seen any problem he could not solve. He can repair your motor or install a brand new one.
From the early 1900s till about the 1990s, the Stockton Channel was a center of boatbuilding and service. Now in 2021, it once again is the center of local marine industry.
We popped into Tony’s office while he and his assistant, Sarah, were working on their point-of-sale software. He is truly a man of many talents. In the showroom they have an Amphicar. Tony explained that it belongs to Joe Faso, and he is fixing it up for him. I have written about them before. They were available from about 1961 to 1968. Power is supplied by a rear mounted 1150cc Triumph engine. They have a four-speed transmission for land travel and twin screws for water travel. This one is in great condition and I can just see Joe tooling around his waterfront home, maybe taking her into downtown Stockton for lunch or dinner. I am amazed that there are some still around. They have a cult following, and most owners maintain them in Bristol condition. The body is a waterproof fiberglass pan, but the metal parts lend themselves to rust and corrosion. There were 13 spots that were supposed to be lubed after going in the water. When I lived in Honolulu, I would see them launched into the ocean from time to time. I always wondered how long they lasted in a saltwater environment. Well anyway, if you see Joe out there in his, be careful not to swamp him. These vessels don’t have a lot of freeboard.
A big change is taking place in Stockton. Alan and Patti Bonnifield are retiring after having run Ladds Marina since taking it over from George Ladd way back in Jan 1977. Prior to that, Ladd had owned the business since 1945.
Bonnifield had previously been a businessman in Southern California prior to purchasing Ladds. He says they had a great run for the 40 plus years they have been in Stockton, and are grateful for all the friends they have met here. You could always pop into Ladds Marina for a cup of hot coffee, and probably a donut or pastry. They are also a great source for vintage parts, everything from cleats and hinges to a diesel heater or a myriad of other things.
Alan and Patti are in the process of moving to Sierra Vista, Arizona. They are moving their 37-foot Lancer sailboat to San Carlos Mexico. Alan says there is a good full-service marina there, and a shipyard for haul outs and maintenance. They will be able to explore the Sea of Cortez at their leisure. Alan always took good care of the old Ranger when I brought her there for maintenance, and I will miss him. Patti and Alan are real nice people and we are sorry to see them leave the Delta.
Tribute To Ralph “The Hat” Banuelos At Village West Yacht Club
I still cannot believe Ralph is gone. He was one of the most beloved people in the Delta. We reported on his passing last month and Village West Yacht Club held a fitting memorial for him early in May. It officially started at 1400 hours and the clubhouse was packed, as were the outside deck and lawn. There was an all-day jam session with musicians coming and going throughout the day. They played until worn out, and then another player would join in. Katharine Edens, Ralph’s significant other was the guest of honor. She held up well considering the circumstances of her recent loss. Rocci and Rachel were kept very busy all day with drink orders. I don’t think they got to take a break during the event, but they did a great job keeping the bar running.
Kennie Nash, the unofficial mayor of Korth’s Pirate’s Lair has crossed over the bar. He had a presence at Korth’s for over 30 years. Originally, he and his wife had a small travel trailer in their space. At some point, they decided to make Korth’s their permanent home. They sold the travel trailer, and through some miraculous shoehorning managed to get a double wide into the same space as the former travel trailer.
A couple of days after Nash passed, his best friend at Korth’s, Eric Maxey crossed over the bar. He had been at Korth’s since 2003. Maxey was active since 2003 in the Society for the Blind.
Please be careful out there. There have already been avoidable casualties this season. In one tragic accident, a canoe was swamped by a passing boat and a fellow aboard who was not wearing a personal floatation device drowned. There is no excuse for not having a PFD. They are available for free loan at most fire departments. Check the Boating and Waterways website for specific locations https://dbw.parks.ca.gov/. There was another case apparently of someone T-boning a levee with a powerboat. Not sure how this could happen, maybe alcoholic spirits were involved. If you see a law enforcement boat with its emergency lights flashing, the law requires you to slow down to a speed that maintains headway only. Every year people get fined for not obeying this law. Also, make sure your safety equipment meets or exceeds Coast Guard requirements (preferably exceeds.)
A good friend of mine who wants to remain anonymous, but his initials are KD was recently found standing on a dock pulling fishing line out of the water. He does this as a public service to help keep it out of our waterways and away from wildlife. He pulled several yards of the line out of the water until a passing young lady advised him that there was actually a spool of line and he had several hundred yards to go. He managed to retrieve the whole spool and save himself a lot of work.
Yes! The Hilton organization has announced they will hold their fireworks extravaganza in the memory of the late Barron Hilton on July 4 at Mandeville Tip on the San Joaquin River. Do not miss the mother of all Delta parties. Last year was the first year since 1958 that the fireworks display was not held. If you don’t have a boat, you can see it from Windmill Cove and other nearby spots.
Tracy Venable checks in from Sugar Barge at 1440 Sugar Barge Road on Bethel Island. They have remodeled once again, and made the restaurant more beautiful than it was before if that is possible. For you land yacht folks, they have a beautiful shady park in addition to the restaurant and bar overlooking Piper Slough and Frank’s Tract. The marina, guest docks and boat rentals are all first class. Sugar Barge is a great Delta location. Come by for their live music on Saturdays from 4-7 p.m.
Village West Marina & Resort says to book a bungalow or RV spot and enjoy their summer concert series – Music in the Park. “Just steps away from your bungalow, you can enjoy music from ‘Jeff Jones & the East Cali Band’, ‘Gary Bohannon and the Bad Habits’, ‘Marquis Entertainment: The Motown Show’ and more! Concert dates are June 5, June 26, July 10, July 31, Aug. 14 and Aug. 28.”
One of our favorite places, Sunset Sweets, should be open at the resort late in July. They serve ice cream, Hawaiian shave ice, coffee and homemade pastries. I strongly recommend the brownies.
On July 17, the Stockton Sailing Club and the Antique and Classic Boat Society are hosting “Runabouts on the River.” It is a chance for the public to see beautiful antique wood boats of the 20th Century, as well as a few nifty early fiberglass designs. Admission is free. Gates open at 10 a.m. The boat owners will be on the docks until 11 a.m. to share the stories of the history of their boats. Famous names like Chris Craft, Century, Garwood and more will be on display, as well as local favorites like Besotes. The Stockton Sailing Club will have a BBQ lunch available, and there will be activities for the kids and nautical displays. Stick around until 2 p.m. to see the roar off as all the boats depart for a cruise of the Stockton Main Channel. For details, go to ACBS-Tahoe.org or StocktonSC.org
On July 30, the Animal Protection League (APL) will host their annual Delta Dog Day UNLEASHED Poker Run. Join us in this fast and fun event in support of improving the lives of homeless and abandoned animals in the city of Stockton and San Joaquin County. Register here: https://web.charityengine.net/GuestRegistration.