Letters – by Our Readers


Hi Bill,

I hope you are doing well. After editing your July Delta Rat Scrapbook in the magazine, I had a lot of thoughts on your article. I really like the part where you talked about the PICYA Opening Day on the Bay Parade. When you mention how the Commodore is transferred from the Coast Guard boat to the committee vessel, it reminded me of how tourists in Hawaii are transferred from the shuttle boat to the parasailing boat with the seas rolling.

During your time in Hawaii, did you ever go parasailing? If so, did they have you transfer from the shuttle boat to the parasailing vessel with the seas rolling and do you wonder how they do this with a bunch of landlubber tourists that are unfamiliar with traveling from boat to boat?

In the same section, you mention how cool it would be if they were to use a bosun’s chair to transfer the Commodore from boat to boat. Do you think tourists in Hawaii who are going parasailing would like to be transferred this way instead of climbing from the shuttle boat to the parasail boat? I think it might add an unusual touch to the experience for tourists if this happened. After all, how many tourists can say they’ve ridden in a bosun’s chair?


Young sailors at the helm.

Hi Daniel,

Yes, I have been parasailing in Hawaii. Two times out of Lahaina or Kaanapali many years ago. My recollection is that we stayed in the same boat and did not have to transfer. It was a lot of fun and provided great views. I think that would be an additional treat to ride in a bosun’s chair for a tourist if it could be done without too much hassle.

When I was aboard the USS Ranger, I saw people being transferred to the ship via bosun’s chairs a few times. Seemed it was always between the carrier and a much smaller ship like a destroyer. It was amazing to watch and it was always when the sea was pretty rough. The carrier put out a huge wake anyway, so whenever a smaller ship came by it was really rolling. Never saw a mishap or anyone get dunked.

When I used to go to Camp Harvey West in Boy Scouts, we were always making temporary bridges across the stream that fed into the lake. I remember one time we set up a bosun’s chair, but we had to put the smallest, lightest tenderfoot scout we had on it, as anyone else dipped down right into the stream. I think we should rig one and see if we can get Pat Carson’s dog Bosun to ride in it and maybe Leslie too.

Have a great month, Daniel, and thank you for all the hard work editing my scribbling.


Dear Jackie,

You are the best storyteller ever!

To go from the sublime-to-the-ridiculous: after your El Toro piece I (somehow?) thought about the other extreme: the 300-foot something U.S. Coast Guard Tall Eagle has three ganged wheels so six sailors can be employed to steer her.

Thanks for all,
Terry Jackson

Dear Terry,

I looked up the USCG Eagle to learn that it is a “295-foot “barque,” used as a training vessel for future officers of the United States Coast Guard. A barque is a sailing ship, typically with three masts, in which the foremast and mainmast are square-rigged and the mizzenmast is rigged fore-and-aft. It is the largest tall ship flying the Stars and Stripes and the only active square-rigger in U.S. Government Service.

Particularly interesting is its history. Built at the Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1936, and commissioned as Horst Wessel, Eagle was one of three sail-training ships operated by the pre-World War II German navy. The Horst Wessel Lied (the Horst Wessel Song) was the anthem of the Nazi Party from 1930 to 1945. Pretty sinister provenance, if you ask me.

At the close of the war, the ship was taken as a war reparation by the United States, re-commissioned as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle and sailed to New London, Connecticut, which has been her permanent homeport ever since. My question: For what possible missions were the Germans training their soldiers aboard the Eagle? And for what missions are our own sailors being trained aboard such a ship? It’s a mystery to me.

Thanks for the letter, Terry.


Hello Bay & Delta Yachtsman,

I’m enclosing some old slides of boats and the ferries along Steamboat Slough and the Sacramento River. The dates are stamped into the slide frames. You may have them for your records, files or publication as you deem appropriate. I’m sorting old family photos and these were among my dad’s slide photos.

Ferry near Rio Vista taken in July 1963.
Boats at anchor on Steamboat Slough, taken in September of 1979.
Another angle of boats on Steamboat Slough taken in September of 1979.
Ryer Island Ferry halfway across Steamboat Slough delivering vehicles to the other side. Taken in September of 1979.
Large boat tied off to a dock on Steamboat Slough, taken in September of 1979.

Though not a condition, as I am no longer able to make it to West Marine to pick up copies of B&DY, if you publish the photos I would appreciate you sending me a copy of the issue.

John Bennyhoff

Hello John,

I thank you kindly for sending me your father’s photos. I debated using them in our sometimes-featured article “From Way Back,” but wanted to present your letter in its entirety instead. With that being said, if anyone happens to know any of the history of these photographs, I would be happy to not only hear of it but pass along the information to you as well John.

There was a day when the majority of our photographs were presented from slide format. However, it’s been a minute or two since I’ve dealt with slides and admittingly I may have the orientation of them reversed. Hey, I’ve got a 50/50 shot, but at least they will all be correct or incorrect uniformly, depending upon my luck.

Understood of getting the copies John. I will do one better than the single copy. You will receive the August issue, as well as 11 more. This should keep you up to date on Bay & Delta happenings for a while, and should you wish, just resubscribe when this 12-month period is up next year.

Thank you again John as I hope people enjoy seeing the photos of yesteryear you have provided just as much as I have. I appreciate your sharing of them and I hope that they made you reflect upon some great Delta memories.


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