Delta Rat Scrapbook – by Bill Wells

Delta Rat Scrapbook

Village West Yacht Club Change Of Watch

Please congratulate Brenda Jackson on her inauguration as Commodore of the Village West Yacht Club. They held their 34th annual Change of Watch on Saturday January 9th at their Stockton clubhouse. Clint Krueger and Tom Palacioz organized the event. Taci Carden did the decorating and made the appetizers.

Commodore Brenda Jackson

Outgoing Commodore Clint Krueger welcomed the guests, followed by a moment of silence for our troops. Tom Palacioz led the invocation and Bill Thompson led the salute to the Flag. Then they served an outstanding dinner of either prime rib or salmon prepared by their expert chefs in the galley. Lacy, Rachel and Karen kept the drinks flowing from the bar. Sue and I were honored to join Brenda’s dad and her family at their table. After dinner, the change of watch ceremony was held.

Jerry Stiles and Clint Krueger.

Officers and Directors for 2021 are: Commodore – Brenda Jackson, Vice Commodore – Sonia Mountjoy, Rear Commodore – Taci Carden, Staff Commodore – Clint Krueger, Fleet Captain – Kelly Benson, Port Captain – Bill Thompson, Treasurer – Tim Campbell, Secretary – Denise Harrison, Directors – Karen Reed, Carol Hicks, Jerrick Harrison and David Miller.

VWYC Officers being sworn in.

Village West Yacht Club is always a great place to visit and hosts many of the Delta’s great events each year. Being on the grounds of Village West Marina is certainly not a handicap either.

Tom and Lacy working in the galley.

2021 California Boating Congress

The Marine Recreational Association (MRA) is planning a virtual California Boating Congress for Wednesday, March 17 from 0900 hours to noon. The theme this year is 2030 & beyond.

There are many things happening in our legislature that will affect boating and not all of them are good. Mariann Timms stated, “They are developing new initiatives today to limit and ultimately eliminate gasoline and diesel engines in California. The 2021 California Boating Congress will focus on understanding and responding to the potential impact of these measures on recreational boating and the marine industry, and more importantly how we can influence those initiatives through our representatives and regulators.”

The MRA is an organization that works tirelessly and provides significant educational programs for the marina owner and training opportunities for their management staff. The annual MRA Educational Conference is held in various locations making training and networking convenient and affordable for everyone. The relationships created at these educational events continue to pay dividends throughout the years, as these colleagues can be called on to assist with problems as they occur.

For more information, contact Mariann Timms at 209-334-0661 or

Stockton Yacht Club Change Of Watch

On Saturday January 16, the Stockton Yacht Club held its change of watch. It was not only physically at the clubhouse but online also. Besides the folks in the clubhouse, it looked like there were about 30 or more watching online.

Bob Cain used his Zoom account to round up the members. John Contreras was sworn in as the new Commodore. Well not exactly, as John served as Commodore in 2020 also.

Officers and Directors for 2021 are: Commodore – John Contreras, Vice Commodore – Terry McGregor, Rear Commodore – Ellie Temple/Baumer, Port Captain – Ed Stetson, Facilities Manager – Dennis Calvird, Treasurer – Colleen Waterhouse, Assistant Treasurer – Cliff Kenst, Secretary – Mickey Johnson, Board Chairman – Roger Beebe, Board Vice Chairman – Doug Waterhouse, Directors – Jorja Ivie, Bill Jones, Cliff Kenst, Paul W Rioux, Stephen Salzman, Robert E. Willis, Bulletin Editor – Jorja Ivie.

Other positions for 2021 are: Marina Manager – Lynn Gurnee, Bay Fleet Captain – Bob Cain, PICYA Delegate 1 – Dave Breninger, PICYA Delegate 2 – Bob Cain, PICYA Delegate 3 – Ed Stetson, RBOC Representative – Dave Breninger, Bar Manager – Linda Contreras, Member Event Chair – Terry L McGregor, Galley Chairperson – Fernando L. Centeno, Sunshine Chairperson – Nita Rienhart, Safety Officer – Pat Carson, Ship’s Store Manager – Barbara Wesley, Webmaster – Frank Gurnee.

Pacific Interclub Yacht Association (PICYA)

We attended the virtual PICYA Commodore’s Ball and Change of Watch on January 23. It was hosted by the Treasure Island Yacht Club. We were advised to have champagne available for some toasts. The master and mistress of ceremonies were PICYA Staff Commodore Linda Breninger & Silver Star Recipient David Breninger. Bob Cain performed the invocation live from the Stockton Yacht Club video studio. Paul Anderson led the Pledge of Allegiance. The Treasure Island Yacht Club Commodore, Atta Pilram, was introduced and showed a great historical video about the club. Many other luminaries were introduced, including Captain Marie Byrd of the USCG and yours truly (representing Yachtsman Magazine and the Delta Chambers). Captain Byrd is the commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco and serves as the Sector Commander and Captain of the Port for San Francisco and Northern California, including the Delta and Lake Tahoe.

PICYA officers for 2021 are: Commodore – Patti Mangan, Vice Commodore – Patti Brennan, Rear Commodore – Craig Thorson, Secretary/Treasurer – Colleen Stauss, Staff Commodore – Robert Willis Jr. Directors for 2021 are: Maggie Sabovich, Matthew Byers, Tim Ellenberger, Jennifer Neumann, Wendy Foulks, Richard Holden and Jan Lucas.

After Patti and the other incoming officers were sworn in, Tim Peterson entertained us by singing some sea shanties accompanied by his ukulele. After the formal meeting was over, folks stuck around for conversation and more champagne.

Recreational Boaters of California is closely aligned with PICYA and works with Desmond & Desmond to lobby on behalf of boaters. The new officers are President Winston Bumpus, Vice President North Todd Leutheuser, Vice President South Debrenia Madison-Smith, Immediate Past President Cleve Hardaker and Secretary/Treasurer Otis Brock. Both of these organizations deserve and need the support of boaters. Please help them as you can.

Something Crooked This Way Comes

I am still investigating the “Community Benefit Funds” that have been offered to members of the Delta Conveyance Stakeholder Engagement Committee by Executive Director Kathryn Mallon. To refresh your memory, these funds were offered as a contingency if the tunnel is built to provide some compensation to compliant Delta citizens. Apparently, several committee members were approached with amounts varying from $150 million to $300 million. Unfortunately, this is one of those situations where just asking the questions seems to change the results. Some of the folks I have spoken to are outraged at what seems like a bribe to support the project. Others seem to have changed their rhetoric to an acceptance of the project. I am confident the project can and will be stopped. When you sit back and look at it, diverting a river around an ecosystem is one of the stupidest ideas ever. The only dumber project going on right now is the $100 billion “bullet” train.

Recreational Boaters of California (RBOC) is urging the state to start meaningful engagement with the recreational boating community regarding the tunnel project through the California Delta.

In a letter from RBOC, “RBOC has contacted the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, confirming the serious concerns of the recreational boating community that the Delta Stakeholder Engagement Committee (SEC) is not providing the opportunity for meaningful engagement of our community, interests, or concerns regarding the single tunnel project.

“Through the 13 meetings that have been held to date, the SEC has not made a good faith effort to work with the community to use the design process as a way to avoid or minimize local community impacts.

“Participants have repeatedly attempted to raise a number of significant negative local community impacts, and have been informed that they are not appropriate as the committee is limited to technical engineering and design issues.

“The committee is not collaborating with the Delta community to avoid and minimize local impacts. This is a stark contrast to the Department of Water Resources’ Sept 4, 2019 [Modernizing Delta Conveyance Infrastructure Q & A] statement: ‘Participation and collaborative problem solving will be critical to our success. The Newsom administration wants to engage with Delta communities to hear their ideas and concerns…’ Our agencies are committed to making the public, especially the Delta community, a part of this new strategy to prepare the state for climate change.

“RBOC is also greatly concerned that the public review and comment on the Draft EIR has not yet happened, will not occur for many months and will not consider any of the main alternatives to a tunnel that the public has suggested for further analysis.

“For each of these reasons, it is critical and timely that a formal, meaningful and collaborative engagement with the recreational boating community be initiated.”

Comrado Update

I told you about the schooner, Comrado, needing a new home in the January issue. With the help of social media, it looks like she will be moving to Mississippi on a low-boy trailer and undergo a total rebuild. The new owner already has a 50-foot sailboat that he has restored. He makes an income by documenting his work on YouTube and getting paid by the view.

Comrado. Photo courtesy of Bud Washer.

I posted some photos and information about the boat on the Bay & Delta Yachtsman Facebook page and also on a wooden boat forum. There were over 60,000 views on the Yachtsman page, and there were many folks interested in restoring her. There were inquiries from Germany and Holland, as well as from all over the U.S.

Many of those interested were total dreamers. One fellow expressed a lot of interest and drove several hours to see the vessel. Once there, he decided it was too much of a project for him and went back home. I was curious as he talked a good story and acted like he was qualified to do the job. I looked at his Facebook page and indeed he was building a boat – looked like he was working on the keel of about a 20-foot sailboat. He was asking people on Facebook how to join the pieces of the keel together, so my opinion of his qualifications dropped considerably.

It is good to see people wanting to keep history alive. They are not making many new wooden boats and the craftsmanship of the vessels built prior to World War II is in most cases beautiful. We will keep in tabs on her progress. In the meantime you can follow her on Instagram @sailingcamarada

Bill Conner Celebrates A Big One

Earle Stanley Gardner once said that “Giusti’s has been here since time immemorial.” Well, Bill Conner arrived on the scene soon after. Bill celebrated his 90th birthday in January. I called to wish him a happy birthday and he sounds great, sharp as a tack. I like to speak with him as he invariably comes up with a piece of Delta history that I was not aware of. Bill has been through it all. He owned Lost Isle back in the 1960s and 70s when it was the happening place in the Delta.

Bill Conner & Madcap Mary.

Bill has been around the Delta most of his life. He served in the Marine Corps in the early 1950s. After working as a salesman in the Stockton area, he and his wife purchased Lost Isle in 1966. It was probably Earle Stanley Gardner that got the houseboat craze going in the mid-1960s when he published his book Gypsy Days on the Delta. Bill says the houseboats would frequently come to Lost Isle and stay for days with their crews from Southern California and the Bay Area. Originally, they sold a Mai Tai for 50 cents, and they are legendary today along with bartender “Fill ‘em up Phil.” Bill got some fantastic deals on plastic cups with his logo on them. They ended up selling the cups separately and they were a collector’s item all over California, which added to the fame of the outpost and its proprietors. John Wayne, Barron Hilton and many other famous people were patrons. Their featured dinner was a 12-ounce rib-eye steak with a baked potato and all the trimmings.

After selling Lost Isle, Bill had a 100-year-old wooden barge left over. He moved it across the river and anchored it. He lived there for maybe 25 years. He had an assortment of boats moored there too. You would see his American flag flying as you cruised by in your boat. It caught fire several years back due to a backfire from a generator. Quite a bit of damage occurred, rendering the barge unlivable, so he moved his houseboat to Windmill Cove where he resides today when he is not staying with his longtime girlfriend, Madcap Mary Pelican.

When Bill was the proprietor of Lost Isle it was the heyday. There were monkeys, peacocks and chickens roaming the island along with an occasional intoxicated person. Happy birthday, Bill and here is to many more.

Maui Update

My daughter Kim was born on Maui back in the days when I lived there. We moved back to Sacramento when she was four years old. We talk about it sometimes and she has vague memories of living there. It was a pretty idyllic life. Kaanapali was just starting to be developed and the Hilton and Sheraton hotels were on opposite sides of Black Rock. The Kihei/Wailea area was yet to be developed, just the golf course was there. We would camp on the beach near Red Hill. During the day we would dive the reefs and caves in the area, and at night we would sit around our campfire and eat the lobsters we caught during the day. Crabs would come up on the beach at night. We would shoot them with a BB gun and throw them on the grill too while we sat around and drank beer. It always reminded me of the tale about the Walrus and the Carpenter in Alice in Wonderland, but with crabs not oysters.

Sunset at Kaanapali. Photo courtesy of Kim Wells.

On her third birthday I discovered those candles that you blow out and they relight by themselves. We had a great time with them on her birthday cake. We had a passel left over as there were 20 in a box, and she only needed three. We bought helium balloons and at night we would tie a couple to the tail of a balloon and release it from our apartment. The wind would take it directly over downtown Wailuku and up into Iao Valley. We would call the local UFO reporting headquarters and report to them that a UFO was flying right over the town. It was hilarious and we even made the newspaper a couple of times.

To kick off 2021 she took a nostalgia trip there. She says the occupancy rate there is twelve percent, but many of the restaurants are open and a lot of the tourist activities are in operation. Anyway, here is a photo she sent me from her hotel room at Kaanapali looking westerly. That is Lanai on the left and Molokai on the right.

A final note on Maui. I can’t believe it, but I was walking through the parking lot of my local grocery store recently and I saw a bumper sticker saying, “Eddie would go.” I thought it looked familiar and it dawned on me; it referred to Eddie Aikau, a famous Hawaiian surfer in the 1960s and 70s who was born on Maui. He was the first lifeguard at Waimea Bay on Oahu, and was credited with saving 500 lives. When I was in the Jaycees, we would put on winter surf events at Ho’okipa Beach Park near Paia on Maui. Eddie participated in every one we put on as I recall. The phrase “Eddie would go” started when he was the one that would go out to ride a big wave before anyone else. It took on a different meaning in 1978 when he was part of the crew of a Hawaiian voyaging canoe that set out from Oahu to Tahiti. The vessel sprang a leak and capsized south of Molokai. Eddie set out on his surfboard for Lanai to get help. He vanished and was never seen again. That is when the slogan came into general use and bumper stickers started being produced. Several years back when I was cleaning out some closets, I found some posters with Eddie’s name on them. I sent them to my brother’s girlfriend in Honolulu. She was a friend of the Aikau family and passed them on.

The ARk Storm

Remember when Jerry Meral and Jerry Brown started claiming that the Delta levees would be destroyed by an ARk Storm (Atmospheric River k- a thousand-year storm.) Well, we were hit with one in January. Reports are in, looks like the levees held fine but there was quite a bit of damage. Jack Hanna files this report from Bethel Island.

“Steve Bernard was sleeping on his boat when the dock left him and landed on the levee, upside down. Old salt’ that he is, he surveyed the damage to his boat and the difficulty in getting off his boat. He went back to sleep and had coffee before Ramon Alcazar, of Diablo Boat Works, came to relocate him to another dock. Steve is a gifted wooden boat worker on his own 43-foot vintage Mathews, Duchess,hn and some other stuff. He has some cleat repairs to perform, at the least.

Storm Damage on Bethel Island. Photo courtesy of Jack Hanna.

“The sight of twenty docks, most with floatation and roof attached, inverted on the levee is an awesome sight that makes one understand that mariners can know about and prepare for a gale, even a double gale. But when the wind wants you, it’s gonna be life or death.

The west end of the slough took some hits. Most notably, G Dock at New Life Marina. Yes, this is not the first inverted large boatshed. I reported A Dock doing a back flip onto the levee in November of ’19. Something about the topography of Jersey Island and the sloughs, I suppose. These are small tornadoes, or tornado-like events created by the big winds.

“I was awakened slightly later in the earliest hours of the morning. My neighbor asked for assistance and I went to get foul weather gear and gloves. I missed the sight of two 50-foot boatsheds under full sail. A thousand yards later they came to a noisy rest on the Caliente Island footbridge. The eyewitnesses were amazed, to say the least.

“Captain Nemo, Mike Neiman, followed his boat shed downwind in the southeast gale. Rick Lewis was already right with him. Sue Reilly and Mike Kessler witnessed the unusual passage of two boats, two boatsheds and some peripheral stuff headed away from their pilings. Steve Lucas was awakened to see the stacked buildings just miss his shed.

“Some pilings snapped and others bent over to release their load. We have been two days just assessing damages. Mike got his Bayliner 46, Integrity, out of his shed, and Rick took his 19-foot Sea Ray to a neighbor’s dock. At this writing, the two sheds are secure to the footbridge.

“The pictures are hard to equate to the magnitude of the weather event of January 2021. A Dock, note the dock fingers with their floats still attached, looking like the Port of Oakland from the Alameda Estuary. From the water, the house boats look comfortable except for minor damages caused by falling debris from roof and structure.

“Today, the two sheds just look like a pastoral Delta Chambers of Commerce promotion. The lovely view with laid over pilings and the boathouses against the levee looks fairly normal, except that two images were in one place two days and a thousand yards ago.

Most of us on Taylor Slough lost a few shingles off the house or lost a chair in the river. The river brings gifts like floating fenders or furniture. It also takes what it wants, like a screwdriver or drill. My sympathies to those affected. No one was injured.

“We have all been busy helping our neighbors. Names mentioned above are not heroes, but they all stepped up to help. Also, kudos to the crew at the marina for keeping their heads and securing the boats. That is how things are on Bethel Island! Some storm, eh?”

Eight Bells

Burt Wilson was the marketing genius behind Shakey Johnson (Shakey’s Pizza.) Burt was with Shakey from about 1954 to about the mid-1960s. He started as a bartender and part time piano player at the original Shakey’s on the corner of 57th and J Street in Sacramento. Burt later opened his own advertising agency and Shakey’s was his main account. They stayed friends until Shakey crossed over the bar in 1998.

Burt Wilson and friend.

Burt wrote the definitive book about Sherwood “Shakey” Johnson called Shakey and Me. He published it 2001, not too long after Shakey had passed. If you have any ties to Sacramento it is a great book and still available at online retailers.

His book about Shakey is great. I grew up in the northeastern part of Sacramento and the book makes many references to places now gone in the area. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s Fulton Avenue was known as restaurant row, whereas now it is car lot row. Fulton was a two-lane throughfare, and on weekends people would travel from one bar or restaurant to another to hang out with their friends. Hotrodders would race their cars on the road. The original Shakey’s Pizza parlor was just across the American River from the North Area. The book is filled with the history and anecdotes about Sacramento and its North Area. Burt writes of the time he and Shakey were at the bar of the Coral Reef Restaurant and Sam Gordon (Sam’s Hof Brau Restaurants) and his wife came in and sat at the bar too. A discussion ensued about Sam’s wife Casey’s gold putter. Shakey said that the pro at Del Paso Country Club had a gold putter too, but Casey corrected him and said that the pro’s putter was gold plated and hers was solid gold. I highly suggest you get a copy of the book if you are interested in a fun and funny history of Shakey’s.

Shakey & Me. Photo courtesy of Burt Wilson.

Burt was a handsome lad in his youth and the ladies liked him. He had his photo taken with Miss Germany when he was stationed in the Army there. Over the years he was seen in the company of many beautiful women, as well as many famous entertainers such as Don Ho.

I met Burt about 15 years ago when I was on the public panel for the Bay Delta Conservation plan. Burt would always be in the audience and would give me many hints and tips during the proceedings. I think at the time he was devoting full time to helping stop the Department of Water Resources from destroying the Delta. I learned a lot about the water war and the history of California water politics. He would attend many other meetings and rallies too; I think during the height of Jerry Brown’s tenure in the water war Burt was one of the most visible opponents of the tunnels.

He got in the water war originally in the early 1980s and helped defeat Jerry Brown’s original peripheral canal that went before the voters in 1982. I do not remember him ever having a kind word to say about Brown. Burt taught me a lot about the water situation, and we spent a lot of time together for a few years. I am fairly sure he had enough awards during his life to fill a couple of rooms. I was with him when he received an award from Sacramento County and one from the Delta Chambers for his work combatting the destruction of the California Delta. He was sought out frequently by the news media for interviews about the water situation. There are plenty of videos floating around with Burt offering his wisdom.

I was amazed that Burt always smiled no matter how serious the discussion. He exuded charm and charisma, and even had the respect of his enemies. After helping win the last battles in the previous water war here, he moved to Binghamton, New York and spent his final years serving the community there. Burt was known as the “Lion of the Delta.” He is sorely missed, but we will continue and win the fight in his name. Rest in peace Burt.

Irish Pennants

Commodore Dane McCoy of the Ebony Boat Club sent me a photo of him and the lovely Pamela McCoy’s boat Pamela Ann II. She’s a Carver 420 Mariner with twin Volvo diesels.

One of my most beloved friends, Lenora Clark, has been nominated to serve on the Boating and Waterways Commission. Many individuals and organizations have submitted letters of recommendation for her. Lenora, along with her husband Richard live on the water at Discovery Bay. She is an active member of the Discovery Bay Yacht Club and the Past Commodore of the Pacific Interclub Yacht Association. Lenora is highly qualified for this position and I am confident she would do an excellent job.

Pamela Ann II with Pamela. Photo courtesy of Dane McCoy.

The Sacramento Yacht Club has unearthed a treasure trove of old photos and newsletters. There were bits of wisdom like: “Don’t drink and drive your boat, you might hit a wave and spill it” or “bar revenue is down – help”, a financial report on their poker run finishing in the black with “a net profit of $3.00, 108 tickets sold at $1.00 each and expenses of $105.00.” Well, I always figure if you finish in the black you are ahead of the game no matter how much you make.

Lisa Kirk of Strange Cargo in Locke advises me of some new activity at her neighbor Al the Wop’s. We will check into it and let you know what is happening.

I mentioned our page on Facebook, Bay & Delta Yachtsman. Check it out and give it a like if so compelled as we would sure appreciate it. If you have anything Delta happening, call me at 916-869-9141 or email: