Letters – by Our Readers


Hi Bill,

Happy New Year!

I worked on Mike and Grace Milne’s entry for the Discovery Bay Yacht Club Lighted Boat Parade again this year. This time we decorated their 46-foot houseboat as a NASCAR race car. There were 13 boats in the parade on Dec. 10. There would have been more, but there was heavy rain with high winds until half an hour before the start. We kept on decorating and were very fortunate that the weather suddenly improved at the last minute. The forecast said it would, but you can never be sure about that. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones betting on improving
weather because there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of people cheering us on from their waterfront decks as we cruised by.

The photo can’t show it, but one of the eyes blinked and the wheels went around, both driven by tiny computers. Every so often the back wheels would turn red and smoke shot out as if we actually had burning rubber. I am working on a video but am having a lot of trouble dealing with the flicker that comes with LED lights running from a generator that doesn’t run at exactly the right speed.

I didn’t get useful photos of the other boats this time due to a shutter speed priority mistake I made on my camera. These photos were taken at a dedicated photo shoot we did a few days later.  

Bob Clappier
Discovery Bay


Thanks for the great photo, Bob. You folks did a fantastic job decorating the boat. There is great community spirit in Discovery Bay with events and parades, you should all be proud. I hope you folks won first prize. If not, the other entry must have been even more amazing!



The Cal-Boater card is a simple written test. The on-water training and tests were the goal of the California Boating Educational Facility Aquatic Centers. The aquatic centers were built in the 1990’s, but that program was ended when the State wanted to save money and new local public agency operators (like Sacramento State) were difficult to convince to accept the commitments of training water safety.

In 2022 on Folsom Lake at least two people died falling off Jet Skis. As a sailor I watch Jet Skis and wakeboard boats running at max throttle at 50 MPH with kids bouncing, ready to fall in the water and get hit by boats behind them. It’s crazy that parents who strap their kids into car seats would put those same kids on a tube and deliberately try to toss them into lake traffic at high speed. The boat manufactures are to blame for selling and advertising speed. Burning five gallons of fuel for one hour of joyriding on pristine waters is also very pollutive to the air and causes noise and wake erosion.

Paddle and sailing vessels are the future. They are safer, cheaper, smaller, quieter and cleaner. State Parks of California has a media budget and it should promote and build facilities for paddling and sailing if it’s true to the goals of safety and environment protection. Licenses for owning or operating a paddle or sail craft should not be required.

Invasive species spending is a waste of money. Species migration is inevitable and paying to poison or chemically kill species as California did when it poisoned Lake Davis to kill the Northern Pike fish is a mistake. Instead, California should use taxes to preserve shorelines and wetlands. Then the native species might have wetland places to reproduce.

Thank you for your journalism.
Permission to publish my comments is approved.

Captain Curt Taras,
USAF Veteran


While I agree that the California Boater Card program has very minimal value and does not appear to have made much of a positive impact on boating safety, the target group seems to be exactly as you reference. I would have expected that insurance companies would have been more forceful with some kind of on-water training for Jet Ski and wakeboard boat operators since they have a very poor safety record as a group. Injuries do occur on sailing vessels for the untrained, especially if they are sailing in San Francisco Bay which is considered world class sailing. Just try to rent a sailboat with no training or experience.

However, I do disagree that the future of recreational boating is paddle and sailing vessels. Although smaller and sometimes quieter for many of us, they do not provide the enjoyment as found in a high horsepower vessel or the pleasure found from navigating an expedition motoryacht along inland and coastal waters.

Invasive aquatic species can be controlled with methods other than spraying herbicides. A perfect example is that several years back there was a study done on the viability of harvesting and processing water hyacinth as livestock feed. It was tested on cattle and pigs and found to be an excellent supplement. It was just not economically viable with current harvesting technology. Seems to me this would be a good research project and perhaps we could reclaim some of the Delta sloughs that have been lost to state inaction and allowing invasive weeds to interrupt not only recreational boat navigation but also commercial shipping.

Thank you for taking the time to write. While we may not be in agreement on how the state should be investing our boater provided funds, we do agree that diverting them to other interests should not be.



Thanks for the photo dump on FB. That was my last assignment for the Rusty Porthole, 2020. No collage this year. I retired.

I missed the skiers completely. By the time you contacted me the last run was over. No skiers after the lunch break. I guess the chop on Franks Tract was pretty brutal.

James Wade was in his usual position at the dock, ready to assist frozen buns. Photographers participated this year with a soaking. Glad I missed it.

Our dear friend Rob, seen in your picture series was missed, but Susan Gayle was there with a group of friends from the overlap of Taylor Nautical Association and San Joaquin Yacht Club.

The usual suspects were hanging around the dock.

Here is the picture that got me into the 15-year series of Rusty Porthole Frozen Bun Run collages. All 15 may be seen in my gallery in the hallway leading to the restrooms.

Belinda Bittner hung this picture above the bar that year. It was later stolen. I consider that a compliment. This is Josh Wolf inverted, wearing his vest and a tattoo. He did not ski this year. He too retired. This was taken 2005, the year Rob and I anchored out for the event.



Wow, 15 years! That is great. I have the collage that you put me in, both Robs and a covey of attractive young ladies, maybe that was 2020. It is on the wall in my personal Delta Maritime Museum. This is a classic photo; it should have made the cover of Yachtsman. You did well keeping the subject’s private parts out of the image. I am glad Susan Gayle was there, seems like she might have attended every year. Daniel Witte reported back that it was a great event this year even with white caps on Frank’s Tract!

I hope to see you soon and catch up on things.


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