Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells
Opening Day At Stockton Yacht Club
Jill Stephenson and Colleen Waterhouse chaired one of the best organized and executed events I have ever been to. The weekend came off like clockwork. Sixteen decorated boats officially took part in Stockton Yacht Club’s opening day on the Delta parade. Tracie Glaves, the head of the San Joaquin Delta Neighborhood Watch organization was the grand marshal of the parade. Glaves has been tireless in her efforts to clean up our waterways over the last several years. The theme of the event was “Disney On the Delta,” and the boats were decorated accordingly. Most folks were dressed in costumes, and I was pleased to see that a high percentage of them were pirate themed.
Your correspondent was a judge along with Gary Rogers and Jerry Stiles, probably the best and most talented group of judges available. Rogers kindly lent his beautiful boat to be used as the judge’s platform. His lovely spouse, Bonnie served as deck crew. The Ebony Boat Club let us tie up at their clubhouse at the downtown marina. Rogers sterned in so we had a great view of the parade from the flying bridge. The day was perfect, sunny with a light wind. We left the clubhouse at about 1200 hours, and the parade was supposed to start at 1300 hours in front of Windmill Cove. We had a leisurely cruise and had a chance to relax a bit before the boats started passing by. Jill and Colleen provided us with a great lunch of sandwiches, chips and cookies. Rogers had cold drinks aboard to quench our thirst.
After the parade was over, we headed back to the club. Gary and Bonnie could not stay, but the rest of us headed up to the clubhouse to catch up on things since we all had been out of circulation for about a year. The galley crew did a fantastic job serving an excellent chicken parmesan dinner with tiramisu for dessert. We sat with Dave and Linda Breninger, and John and KT Baker.
After dinner, the awards ceremony was held. It was a perfect belated start to the roaring twenties. Boat winners were: 41-foot and over – First Place: Beverly Ann – Stockton YC, Second Place: Delta Spirit IV – Stockton YC. Winners 40-foot and under – First Place: JG Voyager – Stockton YC, Second Place: Nirvana – Stockton YC. Awards were also given for the best costumes. The winners were: Best woman – Mary Chisholm, Best man – John Contreras, Best Couple – Jim Kopshever and Catherine Gibson.
Opening Day At San Joaquin Yacht Club (SJYC)
The SJYC held their annual opening day parade on April 24. The theme was “Holidays.” It was another fine day in the Delta. The weather reports were a little iffy with predictions of potential rain, but the day dawned beautifully and got better as it progressed. Alan Almquist invited Sue and I to join him and his crew for the parade. We were to meet at the club at around 1130 hours. Tom and Nancy Clothier met us there too. Almquist and his crew of Patrick Welch, Mike Solari, Meg Starr, Nam Hong and David Boyd cruised over from Ox Bow Marina on the beautiful morning. Almquist said he took a side trip down Sand Mound Slough to reminisce about the days when the Classic Yacht Association would gather at Mimi Millers waterside home for opening day weekend.
The SJYC clubhouse was packed, and the docks were full when we arrived. Everyone was in a very festive mood. Not only were boats decorated, but the crews in many cases were dressed in a variety of attire, leaning heavily toward a pirate theme as well.
Patricia Atkins had her boat doing duty as the “singles” vessel. She recruited Terri Post and Jim Rzepecki to be her crew. Here are a couple of great looking ladies for all you single guys, and a good-looking dude for you single ladies. You can find them hanging around the SJYC!
Presently Northstar II pulled up to the outside dock that was being kept clear for her. Almquist said that she seemed sluggish and hard to steer on the way over from Ox Bow. He discovered that a dock line had gone over the side and had wrapped around the port propeller and shaft, which was causing the problem. Immediately a discussion arose between Patrick, Tom, Alan, and I with Tom leading to discuss the best way to fix the problem and get underway. Patrick and I wanted to hold Tom’s legs and dangle him over the side with a knife to cut the line off. Understandably Tom baulked at doing this, and suggested we pull on the line from the cockpit while Almquist ran the engine and alternately shift from forward to reverse. This worked a little bit and we were able to pull another couple of feet of line in, but that was all. With none of us volunteering to go over the side, Almquist decided to call a professional diver. Nick Chamberlain, the “Delta Diver,” arrived within an hour and suited up. It took him just a few minutes to go under the boat and retrieve the line. He said it had made a couple of half hitches around the prop, so no amount of our tugging on the line would have released it.
After Chamberlain retrieved the offending line, we were ready to cast off. We headed in the opposite direction of the parade route and met them about three quarters of the way around the route. We jumped into the procession and finished the parade with them. Unfortunately, in our excitement at getting the prop cleared, Almquist cruised off leaving Nancy Clothier behind. She texted Tom after we were maybe a half mile away wondering why she had been deserted. Tom blamed it on Almquist, and promised that we would return as soon as possible. In the meantime, Chamberlain had a chair on the dock that he graciously offered to Nancy while she waited.
Jack Hanna added to my report, “Opening Day 2021 – Thank you to all the participants that joined the parade, and our community that cheered them on around the island! It was lots of fun with many wonderfully decorated boats that were blessed by Rev. Will Byrns to kick off a safe boating season. Forty boats were decorated to participate in opening day. Our Taylor Road fleet formed up behind Susan Gayle, Capt’n Rob’s 41-foot vintage Mathews cruiser. Given Robert Bernhard’s recent passing from cancer, the event served as tribute to the passing of a colorful Delta local.
“The People’s Choice Award went to Rob & Susan Bernhard’s boat that was decorated as ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day.’ Sadly, Bernhard, affectionately known as Captain Rob, got his angel wings on April 23. He was honored yesterday as his ‘pirate ship’ the Susan Gayle and her crew led the procession around Bethel Island talking ‘Pirate’ and shooting off cannons! Arrrrrrrrr! After the parade, eight bells were rung at the club to pay respect to our beloved mariner as this sailor’s watch ended.”
Indeed, Bernhard would have been proud of Susan Gayle. She was outfitted with several cannons, a square sail and even had a pirate walking the plank. Jason Jones skippered the vessel; Jim Senior was the cannoneer and “pegleg” Hanna was in the crew too.
Blessing Of The Fleet
The Corinthian Yacht Club sponsored its 58th Annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremony with an onshore ceremony and a blessing at sea. The onshore ceremony, normally held on the club’s expansive outside deck, was performed in the Grand Ballroom with limited seating due to pandemic protocols. Commodore Jennifer Canestra led the event with blessings of the boats in the harbor by Corinthian’s God Squad, a presentation by USCG Commander Marie Byrd who is retiring from the USCG in June 2021, eight bells for members who have crossed over the bar for the last two years and acknowledgements. The small, masked crowd adjourned to the club’s dining room for table served breakfast with masked up servers keeping in stride with health guidelines. Then the God Squad and Commander Byrd boarded blessing vessel, Aurora V, a 1969 58-foot John Trumpy and Sons built coastal cruiser owned by Gerry and Karen Kamilos, to officiate the blessing of the fleet in Raccoon Straits at 1030 hours. The weather was challenging with 18-knot winds and rain, yet over 100 vessels were blessed while the God Squad and Aurora V were anchored out in Raccoon Straits. A USCG patrol boat picked up the Commander and her husband on the starboard side of Aurora V. Then at 1300 hours, Aurora V pulled up anchor and returned safely to the Corinthian Yacht Club harbor.
Opening Day On The Bay, Pacific Interclub Yacht Association (PICYA)
Jillian Humphreys is our new correspondent. She is a member of Saint Francis Yacht Club and very knowledgeable about local sailing. She submits these reports on Opening Days on the Bay and at the Stockton Sailing Club.
Opening Day on the Bay is always a time to dust the cobwebs off the dodger, change the oil filter and inspect your impeller, but it is also a day to celebrate the beginning of the boating season.
Opening Day on the Bay in 2021 flashed back as the PICYA celebrated 125 years. More than 120 boats showed up for the fun packed day on the Bay that begins with a blessing of the fleet.
The number of entries dwindled as the southerly wind and rain moved most boaters inside, and the ones that braved the weather gathered around 1200 hours for a parade down the city front from Anita Rock. Leading the way was the traditional SF Fire Boat. The boats wandered further down the city front to Pier 39 where the PICYA judges selected winners in a number of different categories.
The 2021 Grand Marshall was SF USCG Captain Byrd, a woman who has led over 850 Active and Reserve Coast Guardsmen, and is currently responsible for over 1100 Coast Guard Auxiliarists. Byrd assumed the command in 2019 after she spent time working with the 535 members of Congress and staff to come to an understanding of what the roles and mission of the Coast Guard are. She served as the executive assistant to Vice Admiral Dean Lee, the Atlantic Area Commander from 2014 to 2016. Byrd has been awarded a number of unit and service awards that include a Coast Guard Commendation Medal (two separate times) and a Meritorious Service Medal (three separate times.) PICYA is honored to have a woman with her enthusiasm about recreational boating as the average SF Bay area boater. As Vice Commodore of PICYA, Joan Marsh says, “it was a no brainer in choosing Marie because of all that she does for us boaters as part of the U.S. Coast Guard, and we do not know where she will be assigned to next.”
Something that PICYA did differently this year actually came about because of the limited access boaters had in 2020 due to the pandemic. The officers of PICYA made it possible for boaters to participate virtually in more than one way. Virtual entries must be decorated to this year’s theme “Back in the Day,” and that would mean that boaters could decorate to any of the following past themes below and others. PICYA also took the Opening Day Parade to YouTube and Zoom. While each boat went in front of the St. Francis Yacht Club, commentators would talk about the boat, where it hails from and if possible, a story about the vessel and owner. Past themes of the event have been: 100 Years of Boating, Nautical Folklore, From Sea to Shining Sea, The American Spirit: Stars and Stripes Forever, Follow Your Rainbow, Movies by the Bay, Mardi Gras, Pages of Time, Mother Goose and Friends, Legends of the Sea, Building Bridges, Giants of the Bay, American Spirit, The Great Race, Visions, Youth in Boating, Heroes on the Bay, Cruising the Century, Nations on the Bay, Holidays on the Bay and Bounties on the Bay.
Opening Day At The Stockton Sailing Club (From Jillian)
Opening Day at the Stockton Sailing Club this year was different from years past. The club is usually open for guests from visiting yacht clubs and the community to see what boating is like on the Delta. Members often take visiting families out on free sailboat rides with life jackets provided. The Stockton Sailing Club tries to expose families from all over Stockton to what a great resource of fun the Delta can be. The Stockton Sailing Club is celebrating 89 years in 2021, and this was a weekend to celebrate the growing boating community.
The local Sea Cadets came out to participate in learning how to sail, and volunteered in cleaning up boats. As the Sea Cadets are becoming more active in the Stockton Sailing Club, they pride themselves on being a leadership development program. The goal of the Sea Cadets is to get involved in the growing junior program. Members donated baked goods for the silent auction to raise funds for the growing junior program. The juniors also enjoyed taking the up-and-coming sailors out on their boats.
Since the Stockton Sailing Club is made up of more than just sailboats, they held a poker run. The poker run is one that usually travels down river to Windmill Cove, but because of the COVID restrictions, the poker run did not make the annual stop. Participants gathered cards while boating around after the blessing of the fleet. Members who stayed on land played bocce ball, horseshoes or enjoyed the view of boaters on the water with friends. The Stockton Sailing Club hosted a BBQ lunch and dinner for both members and guests.
As the sun was glistening off the water and the wind began to fill in, they made their way in front of the old starting platform for their blessing of the fleet. Vice Commodore Linda Buck feels like “this year was a little different, but next year we will be back to our normal big event.” Buck also acts as the Social and Cruise chairwoman for the club, and is anxiously waiting for the COVID restrictions to be lifted. Usual activities that occur are art shows, open boats, vendor booths, learn to sail sign ups, Coast Guard inspections and much more.
The Hilton folks have announced that the stars are lined up for a fireworks display on Sunday the Fourth of July. You will remember that the display had to be cancelled last year because of the COVID crisis. The show is produced by Pyro-Spectaculars, and the effects are fired from a barge provided by the Dutra Group which is anchored near the Stockton Deep Water Channel at Mandeville Cut. The 2021 Independence Day show will be spectacular, and I am confident there will be many boats there. It will be a tribute to the man who made it all possible, the entrepreneur, sportsman and philanthropist, Barron Hilton. The Delta Chambers phone has been ringing off the hook since early May with people inquiring about the display. Let me suggest that if you plan to go, get there a few days early and make sure you have good bow and stern anchors, along with plenty of food and drinks. Septic Brothers should be in the area if you need a holding tank pump out.
The Hilton Independence Day celebration at Mandeville is possibly the most popular event in the Delta. Local boaters have been attending the party for generations. Do not miss this one.
Village West Marina and Resort is becoming a total destination standalone resort of its own. The latest amenity is H2O Excursions. You can rent a hydro bike, tube, stand up paddle board or pontoon boat. If you are inclined, you can rent a pontoon boat with a licensed skipper and take your family out for a nautical picnic. I attended their soft opening, and I think they have been swamped with customers every day since. Check them out at the marina. They are right at the fuel dock. Call 209-268-2300 to make your reservation.
Sacramento Bayliner Club
My roving correspondent, Daniel Witte filed this report from the Sacramento Bayliner Club: “The Sacramento Bayliner Club and Dos Rios Yacht Club cruised into Stockton Yacht Club on the weekend of April 16-18. Between the two clubs, there were seventeen boats. Sacramento Bayliner Club, which my family and I are part of had eight boats and one recreational vehicle, and Dos Rios had nine boats. This was a wonderful turnout. It was nice having two clubs cruising in and meeting their members. While sitting on our boats or walking the docks, the members of Dos Rios were very friendly, and always made an effort to visit. SBC even had one guest boat. The guests were Jerry and Carolyn McKinney, former SBC members. It was really nice seeing them since they have not attended a raft out in a while.
“On Saturday, the members of SBC hung out on the deck and enjoyed wonderful appetizers. After appetizers, some people even played horseshoes. The bar was open both Friday and Saturday at 1300. While sitting in the bar, members of SBC recounted stories of times when they received the chicken award. The chicken award is given to one person each month who makes nautical gaffs at the raft out. It consists of a few toy chickens, plus a choice of funny chicken attire. When someone receives the award, they are required to wear the attire when they arrive at the next raft out.
“As usual, the food at Stockton Yacht Club was great. They served barbecued ribs on Friday and fried chicken on Saturday. While the members of SBC ate inside the clubhouse, Dos Rios’s members had a barbecue outside for Saturday night’s dinner. After dinner on Saturday night, members of SBC played Dominos, Ladder Golf and Cornhole, and continued to enjoy the bar.
“Stockton Yacht Club has a nice outdoor deck seating area and a large, shaded grass area. It is a great place to tie up, and also close to town. Founded in 1930, it is the oldest yacht club in the Delta. If you have children, Stockton Yacht Club is great because it is not far from the Stockton Children’s Museum. The museum has many hands-on attractions including a real fire engine, ambulance, police car and helicopter, in addition to a post office, dental office and grocery store.
“On Sunday morning, SBC Commodore Rich Santerelli was awarded the chicken. Commodore Santerelli’s boat washer had knocked two fenders off the deck of his boat and left them hanging. Santerelli didn’t notice that he was cruising with fenders hanging down, and nobody could tell him because he had his VHF radio tuned to channel 68 instead of 72, which the rest of the club was on.
“Overall, it felt really good to enjoy a normal cruise in with access to the clubhouse. It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the pandemic began. More and more people are getting vaccinated, including most of SBC’s members. It looks like the boating community is off to a great season this summer.”
Hippies Invade Isleton
Sam Teresi reports in from the Sacramento Yacht Club: “Over the weekend of April 17-18, Sacramento Yacht Club descended on the City of Isleton for the kick-off to the 2021 cruise season with the annual Shakedown Cruise. A chance to dust off the cobwebs and venture out of our COVID hibernation. Twenty vessels made the trip, running in a variety of small flotillas enjoying the warm spring weather with wildflowers and green pastures. It was just beautiful.
“PC Chuck Lenert, acting as this year’s Fleet Captain found a way to get everyone in on the docks. No small feat when the average boat size was about 45 feet. This year’s theme was Grooving into the ’70s led by PC Sam Teresi and his wife Kathy with the help of Chris Tully and Kellie Klein. Platform shoes, bell bottoms, short dresses and long hair made for some fun costumes.
“A big hit was the SPAM cook-off on Saturday. The members were very creative with 18 different ways SPAM could be made into some incredible delights. From Italian, SPAM tacos, SPAM meatballs, SPAM sushi and beyond. A true international variety.
“Saturday evening awards and a great dinner were enjoyed at Peter’s Steak House. A big thank you to the city of Isleton for making our event a great time.”
USS Oakland is the latest ship commissioned by the Navy. She was built by Austal USA in Mobile, Alabama. Her keel was laid in 2018, and she was launched in 2020. She was officially commissioned on April 17 in Oakland. Greg Brazil, a good friend of mine, and member of the Navy League first told me of this event a couple of years back. He was kind enough to get up at the crack of dawn one day to witness her passing under the Golden Gate Bridge. She is a littoral combat ship (LCS), littoral meaning close to shore (yes, I had to look it up.) USS Oakland will be the third ship in the fleet under that name, according to a Navy release. The first Oakland was commissioned in 1918, and served primarily as a cargo ship. The second Oakland was commissioned in 1942, a light cruiser that served extensively in the Pacific during WW II, shooting down many enemy planes, sinking ships and destroying shore targets.
These new vessels are meant to operate at high speeds close to shore with a crew of 70. Besides their regular armament, they can carry two helicopters to conduct aerial operations.
Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas W. Harker was on hand to give the keynote address. Other speakers were U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck, Program Executive Office Rear Admiral Casey Moton, Austal USA Vice President Larry Ryder and Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf.
The skipper of the vessel is Commander Francisco X. Garza. Greg Brazil has been working on the commissioning project for three years. He was the vice chairman for operations at the event. They did a VIP breakfast for all the stage guests plus a few more, and after the commissioning a BBQ for the crew. At the BBQ, the Oakland Navy League adopted the ship. Greg and the Navy League brought a lot of needed positive recognition to the City of Oakland.
Well, I have been waiting with bated breath to learn more from Executive Director Katheryn Mallon about her “community benefit funds” available to selected members of the Stakeholders Engagement Committee. I guess I will have to keep investigating as her position has been terminated, and she is now a “consultant.” At a recent Stakeholders Engagement Committee meeting, they had the community benefit fund situation on the agenda, but they did not discuss it. The Delta Conveyance Authority hired Mallon in Jan 2019, and apparently paid her $47,000+ per month during her time as executive director. So, it looks like she was paid about $1.1 million during her tenure. I literally cannot see anything she accomplished for the benefit of California taxpayers. Indeed, this appears to be another squandering of hard-earned dollars.
I have known Rob Bernhard for 20 or so years. He was a good man, an expert on wooden boats and at one time a hell of a partier. Bernhard crossed over the bar on April 23, the day before he was scheduled to have his and Susan Bernhard’s 1952 Matthews cruiser participate in San Joaquin Yacht Club’s opening day parade.
Hanna says: “I began teaming up with Rob on the river about 18 years ago. Susan Gayle and Sue Ann became good friends on many outings, both the women, and the vintage wooden yachts named for them. Classic Yacht Association, Caliente Island Yacht Club, and Taylor Nautical Association events including more than a few Mandeville summers. The watering holes of the California Delta will be just a little calmer, absent the boisterous laugh of ‘Ha-ha’ Rob.”
I met Erwan Illian. He keeps his 36-foot 1961 Chris Craft Some Day on the same dock at Ox Bow Marina as I keep my boat. He just had both of his motors rebuilt over the winter and was taking her out for a sea trial. The engines sounded great, so I think she will be good for another decade of cruising. Erwan says he is an “atelier” on his business card. That is French for a craftsman’s or artist’s studio. Erwan is an expert woodworker; I have watched him work on his boat and he is masterful. Sadly, he says he is going to sell his boat. If you might be interested in a vintage Chris Craft you can call him at 510-847-2898.
Boating season is getting into full swing. It is a good time to review your annual maintenance items. I changed the oil and filters in my motors and transmissions. I don’t like to admit this, but I neglected to check my water pump impellers. I noticed the water in my port exhaust was somewhat slow, and then it stopped. I dismantled my water pump and found that the impeller had disintegrated with a bunch of small rubber pieces clogging the outlet hose. I have a spare pump, but it seemed like my only problem with this pump was the impeller so I just replaced it and the gasket.
As far as events go, you cannot get anymore seasonal than the area’s annual nautical flee markets. If you know of any coming up I would like to hear about them. Kirby Long from Napa Valley Marina made note to reach out and inform us of the one happening at Napa Valley Marina Saturday June, 26th from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. What a way to spend the day or weekend in wine country and having the opportunity to locate that marine gadget you have been searching for, for years. If you have any qiestions, call Kirby at 707-252-8001.
Hydro Dave Hernandez checked in from Camp Verde Arizona. “The day was cloudy and a little cool in the 70s, so it was a quick trip around the lake. Mikka, my friend and passenger, had never been on a boat that went over 20 mph. She is a tough cookie. We zipped around the lake and she loved it! My other two friends are Jet boat Johnny and Theresa, all from Camp Verde. John has a collection of RC toys, and I mean really fast ones. He has RC boats and trucks. The boats go like 50-70 mph, and one of the trucks goes 100 mph.”
With the current drought, a lot of new boaters are coming to the Delta that do not understand the rules of the road or the size and scope of the region. I get calls all summer from folks lost out on the waterways, or they are broken down and don’t know how to get a tow.
A good map of the region is good, but you definitely need NOAA charts 18661 and 18662 to safely cruise the Delta. In addition to a cell phone, you need a VHF marine radio. Make sure you meet or exceed all USCG safety requirements. If you don’t have a tow insurance package, now is the time to think about getting one. I don’t leave the dock without TowboatU.S. towing insurance. I have never had to use it, but I know they are there for me if I need them.