Delta Rat Scrapbook - August 2019


The Village West Yacht Club held it′s first annual hoedown in early May. Western dress was requested. I scrounged around in my closets and amazingly was able to piece together a passable western outfit except for my Sperry Topsiders instead of cowboy boots. I searched all over to try to find a derby hat like the one Butch Cassidy wore in the famous photo of him and his business associates taken in 1900 at Fort Worth Texas. I could not find it, so I wore my straw boater. Sue had no problem finding something to wear, being from Auburn she had an edge and just wore her regular clothes.

There was plenty to eat, ribs, sausage, all kinds of western fare, you name it. Brenda Jackson and several others were preparing the delicious meal. Rocci Jackson was tending bar, she is another highly recommended local bartender that you can be assured is on top of things and will get a drink in your hand rapidly after you order it. We sat with Wendy and Thom Foulks and talked SCUBA diving, they have been all over the world and had some fascinating stories.

There was a no-name western band that was great. I am sorry I did not get their contact info for future reference. I am pretty sure that Tom Palacioz knows how to get a hold of them.

Water War On Again

Gary Lippner the Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resource for the Delta Conveyance says in a letter, “Governor Newsom has directed us to modernize Delta conveyance by pursuing a single tunnel solution.” When Newsom first mentioned this new scheme several months ago, I assumed it was a red herring. It sounds good, oh, hey one tunnel, that is only half as bad as two. Unfortunately, some people fell for it and declared the water war over. I wish it was, personally I am growing weary, we have been fighting this boondoggle since Arnold Schwarzenegger announced it in 2007. Since then we have been through three governors, three Natural Resources Secretaries and five Department of Water Resources directors. On the opposing side it is pretty much the same group of players since day one. Hal Schell and a few others have crossed over the bar during the war and many of us have spent our family fortunes trying to stop this grave injustice being perpetrated on the good people of California.

We have received late word that Carl Wilcox of the Department of Fish and Wildlife and Brett Milligan of the Department of Human Ecology at UC Davis have called for a meeting at the Boy Scout Hall on Bethel Island to discuss their proposed restoration of Frank′s Tract. The last time this was discussed the proposal was to potentially fill in about 1,000 of Frank′s Tract′s 3,000 acres with muck from the twin tunnels project. If allowed to come to fruition this would be a disaster for Bethel Island and surrounding communities as Frank′s Tract is prime fishing and hunting territory.

Folks on Bethel Island and nearby communities are understandably upset with the prospect of this recreation area, that has been in existence since 1937, being destroyed so more water can be exported from the Delta.

I was concerned about the destruction of Frank′s Tract, so I sent Carl a message asking if the plan still was to fill in part of the waterway. He answered: “A plan will likely involve the selective placement of fill if for no other reason than to build up eroding levees. As a result of the futures report it would likely come from onsite, which will have the added benefit of making large areas of Franks Tract deeper, thus reducing weeds and making the water more navigable.” Well, I plan to attend the meeting, if the plan truly is what Carl says it is; dredging the tract and using the spoils to build up the levees I think that could be acceptable.

Chris Lauritzen of Lauritzen Yacht Harbor has informed me that the astroturfers have once again proposed wiping out the Striped Bass and the Black Bass in the Delta to allow more water exports. There is a meeting on August 7th at 0830 hours at the California Natural Resources Building, 1416 9th Street in Sacramento. I am confident many area fishermen will attend this meeting and express their concerns. I thought this crazy idea was over since Jim Kellogg the one-time head of the Fish and Wildlife commission declared the Striped Bass a native fish at a hearing several years back.

In another development, my associate Deidre Des Jardins of California Water Research has advised that the Department of Water Resources is doing geotech drilling in support of the single tunnel version of the WaterFraud since June 10th. At this writing, Sacramento County has gotten a court order to temporarily stop the drilling. So basically, it appears that once again the DWR and the Natural Resources Agency are lying to the public and moving forward with their plans to divert the river in secrecy. We sent Resources Secretary, Wade Crowfoot, an email in March regarding the homeless living along and in our waterways. We still have heard nothing back.

A Sunday Cruise On The Sacramento

Bryan Wiseman lives aboard his family′s classic Stephens yacht Donella at Pier 39 in San Francisco. He has lived aboard since his college days and stayed when he joined the work force in San Francisco. This being summer the family thought it would be good to bring the vessel to the Delta. They decided on early July and Bryan brought his dad Thom along as crew. They report that they made it from San Francisco to Walnut Grove in six hours; they made pretty good time. Thom said it was a good day with a slight tail wind and they rode the flood tide all the way up the river.

As luck would have it their neighbor and fellow classic yacht enthusiast Rusty Areias was entertaining some dignitaries at the family home, Orchard Gables. They were taking Miss 102 out for an excursion and the Weissman′s offered to take some of the passengers aboard Donella. Julie Areias, Vern and Jenise Vierra were aboard along with Thom, Bryan, Sue, and me. The Vierras brought aboard some of the excellent wines from their St. Jorge Winery and we enjoyed a glass or two as we cruised along.

We pulled out from the Areias family dock and cruised downstream for a few miles, almost to Isleton where we turned around and headed back. Well, it was another perfect day on the Delta, sunny with a few clouds and maybe a knot or two of breeze. Bryan was the skipper and when we returned to the dock he ordered his father over the side to serve as a human fender, this started out as a good idea but as Thom was climbing over the side the nearest target was a jet ski tied to the dock and he slipped as he stepped on the seat and went into the drink. When he got out, he said the water was refreshing on a warm day. After a few laughs at Thom′s expense, we all admitted to going over the side a few times ourselves. I don′t think you can call yourself a boater unless you have fallen overboard at least once.

Donella is a beautiful craft, the Wisemans purchased her in almost derelict condition and have spent a few years bringing her back from the brink. Now she is a beautiful yacht and a family treasure. She is 45-feet long and was launched in April of 1958 at the Stephens yard in Stockton, hull number M-24.

Another objective I had that day was to get some photos of Miss 102′s saloon. Rusty had it redone recently by the Melgoza brothers in Antioch and it is a beautiful example of art deco craftsmanship. He got the idea from his Southern California Stephens JOIE. The joiner work is impeccable, and she looks like she came from the factory. Dick Stephens consulted with Rusty to keep things looking as original as possible. The piece de la resistance in the saloon is the stunning art deco mirror that sets off the rest of the interior.


Allure is a famous 43-foot 1931 Stephens Brothers yacht that has spent her life cruising the Delta. She was owned for many years by Martin and Janis McNair. They were some of the first folks I met when I joined the Classic Yacht Association twenty plus years ago and we had many adventures together. I served as commodore on the Northern California Fleet the year after Martin, you could say he trained me. After a quarter century of cruising the McNairs have passed her on to new caretakers, Per and Erika Hammarlund and their family have taken over. She was in the yard for a few months having a few planks and frames replaced along with some other work. She is back in the water now and good to go for another quarter century of cruising.


District 19 of the International Order of the Blue Gavel held their Past Commodore Appreciation BBQ and Cruise In at the Stockton Yacht Club. Several members arrived by yacht, a couple by land yacht and many by automobile.

We made it to the Saturday barbeque and enjoyed some grilled hamburgers and hot dogs along with a lot of fresh condiments. Steve Moses was cooking the meat and did a fantastic job. Darren and Ronda Beasley were serving the cold beverages.

After a great lunch we headed up to the clubhouse, Dedrick Dennison had loaned me a couple of suitcases full of his Delta photos to use for my research on Delta history. I returned what I had, and he loaned me two more albums filled with interesting photos.

Windmill Cove

Be sure to stop by Windmill Cove. Dave and Marsha Theis have done an outstanding job fixing up the entire resort and especially the dining area and the bar. It is all brand new state of the art equipment. Jerry Wolfe is managing the bar and restaurant. The Cove is a short boat ride from most Stockton area marinas. It has a protected lagoon with plenty of space to tie up your vessel and not be exposed to passing wakes. Over the years we have attended many fun parties there and now since Lost Isle has been closed, Windmill Cove has picked up the slack. Jerry has instituted a policy of low key but effective security. There is no tomfoolery allowed. He has live music acts, and special events weekly.

We attended a Delta Chambers mixer at The Cove and had a grand time. Senior Delta Rat, Bill Conner was there along with “Madcap” Mary Pelican both modeling their Super Secret Ship Club purple jackets. Delta Chambers president Fred Weibel brought the lovely Judy Weibel and his entourage by boat. We drove by car, which is not the easy way to travel there but I had a lot to carry so coming by boat would have been impractical. If you do come by car Windmill Cove is only a few short miles off Highway 4 across scenic farmlands.

Dave Theis is always trying to top his last act so for this mixer he arranged to have a circus perform. I am not joking, I guess the troupe was touring Northern California and was staying in the campground at Windmill Cove and offered to put on a performance. They put on a great show with a lot of seemingly gravity defying effects. We passed the hat for them and it looked like they picked up a few hundred dollars for their efforts. I can′t wait to see what Dave does to top this next time.

Village West Marina
& Resort

The resort held the first of their summer concert series in late June. These events are for the marina tenants and guests, Village West Yacht Club members and the bungalow and RV park guests It was a perfect evening, after blustery winds blowing all day, by the time the music started a little after 1800 hours the wind had died down and it was a nice cool, quiet sundown. The RV park was filled, and a couple lucky folks had their vehicles right next to the bandstand. Most of the attendees sat in the grassy circle in the center of the cul de sac. Most folks brought folding chairs and there were a few umbrellas to keep what was left of the sunshine off. Some even arrived by yacht.

Suddenly, the food came out; it was like every couple attending brought enough snacks for ten or more people. Some folks in front of us had a huge tray of goodies, they along with others kept saying they weren′t going to take anything home. I did my best to help them out and ate as much as I could, but I don′t think I put much of a dent in the food. Sue tried her best too.

The music was great, and people danced to the Reggie band Natural Revolution throughout the evening. Afterwards many people headed to the nearby Village West Yacht Club for a cocktail or another bite to eat.

I think the marina has a winner here. It is just great to be able to relax on a quiet evening among a bunch of fun-loving folks and enjoy a snack and a cold beverage.

Another upcoming concert is on Saturday, September 7th, featuring Stephen James, a singer/songwriter from Los Angeles. Stephen has a strong Delta connection, but I will let you folks figure it out. Also don′t forget the Taste of the Delta at the marina on August 3rd. This is always a great party and an excellent chance to try many Delta wines, beverages and restaurant fare in one spot. There are still a few tickets available at

Oh, one more thing, Fourteen Mile Kayak should be open by the time you read this. This is a rental Kayak center right on the fuel dock at Village West. Now this does not mean you have to paddle fourteen miles if you rent one. You can paddle anywhere you want; the center is on Fourteen Mile Slough. There are a lot of interesting waterways within paddling distance for you to explore. You could paddle right up to Terry McDonald′s back yard and hit him up for a cold drink

Korth′s Pirates Lair Cafe

I dropped into Korth′s for my standard cold tuna sandwich on toasted wheat bread and the fruit du jour as my side dish along with a Coca Cola to wash it down. I got talking to the folks at the next table over, Gary and Pam Allison. They are lifelong Delta boaters and keep their boat at Willow Berm Marina and were getting a bite to eat before headed out to the bedrooms for the Independence Day celebrations. The bedrooms are a little removed from Mandeville but still a good view and a slightly calmer atmosphere. They are second generation Delta boaters and some of the original tenants at Willow Berm Marina. They talk of the days when they would raft up with Hal Schell when he had his Delta Dawdler for the 4th of July. It ended up we had many mutual friends and I am amazed that I had never met them before. Over the years I have had many friends who kept their boats at Willow Berm and in my yacht broker days I worked out of an office there when Horst Hanf owned the property. Willow Berm continues to be one of the Delta′s prime marinas.

I was at Korth′s to meet Dennis Hunter, a fellow I have corresponded with for a few months. He lives in Reno and discovered Delta boating a few years back. He is on his second boat now, moving up from a 15-foot runabout to a 20-foot Chris Craft with a cuddy cabin and a V8 engine. Dennis is fascinated with the Delta and is working on a series of videos about the magical region. He says we don′t get enough positive recognition. The first one he is working on is the Independence Day celebration at Mandeville Tip. He is then going to travel throughout the Delta and film interesting locations and events.

While Dennis was waiting for me, he struck up a conversation with Rick and Nancy who flew into Korth′s aboard their Piper Super Cub that was tied to the fuel dock. They say they flew over from Byron to have lunch at Korth′s. It was a beautiful day for it.

Dennis was tied up at the guest dock and took me over to have a look at his boat. She is a nice Chris with a 5.7 litre small block. He purchased her at Lake Tahoe where she had spent much of her life tied to a buoy without a cover. She had some upholstery damage which Dennis had fixed making her look almost like new. He got an amazing good deal on her and she looks like she should provide many more years of good service to Dennis.

Eight Bells

Joe Cecchini has crossed over the bar. Joe was a force in Stockton and one of the nicest gentlemen that I have ever met. His lovely wife Rosalie passed away before him, they were married for 63 years. Joe grew up in Stockton where he attended grammar school and high school. He graduated with a business degree from Humphreys Business College.

Originally, he worked as a real estate agent and then he went into the marine insurance business. He co-founded Western Marine Insurance Services Corporation along with RJ Lorenzi. Joe once told me that when they first got started, he was wearing out a car every year while traveling around building up the business. I first met him when I started working in Stockton at 5 Star Marina. We sold new and used boats and sometimes the buyer would not be too familiar with marine insurance. With Westmar we could fax the application over to them and the insurance would be bound when they received it. Believe me this feature saved many a deal on a Friday night when a buyer was hot to take their new boat out for the weekend.

He was a lifelong boater, cruising the Delta and Lake Tahoe. Joe was the recipient of the Hal Schell award a few years back for his service to the Delta community. He had a lifetime of community service in many areas but never bragged about it. He was a longtime member and past president of the Delta Chambers. Among many other accomplishments he helped Ray Baglietto in the startup of Seeds to the World and was an active supporter of the Transitional Learning Center in Stockton.

Joe and Rosalli were both elegant dressers, your eyes would be immediately attracted to them if you saw them in a crowd. At a party or event, you would see others gathered around them attracted by their charisma.

Joe is survived by his sister, Sister Rose Marie Cecchini, his two sons, John and Paul, and granddaughter Shailynn Maria.

George Neill, a lifelong sailor was President of the Pacific Interclub Yacht association in 1996 and 2001 and Commodore of the Richmond Yacht Club in 1989 has also passed. Dedrick Denison reports that: “In his life, George passionately pursued his many interests, including sailing in San Francisco Bay and beyond, riding with the Sacramento Wheelmen, skiing at Heavenly Valley and golfing and scuba diving with friends. He will be remembered for his ready smile, his quick wit, and his genuine interest in everyone he met.” Services for him were held in Sacramento.

Irish Pennants

If you have not noticed, the Delta is going through a renaissance. We went through a few rough years with the recession where property values plummeted, and boats purchased with discretionary income were sometimes abandoned or let go back to the finance companies. That has all changed, housing is at a premium, boats are selling, and marinas are filling up. There are a lot of folks around the Delta that have invested millions upgrading properties. The Delta is becoming a world class destination with first class marinas, excellent restaurants, and many good entertainment venues. We have been through the Golden Age of the California Delta and now I think we are entering the Platinum Age. The future looks bright, I hope we are all part of it.

Bill Conner has shared with me the secret dossiers of the Super Secret Ship Club. They mention names and a lot of other things. The club had/has an amazing number of members. The even more amazing thing is the number of cruises and events they put on. At one time the club ranged all over the Delta and as far up the Sacramento River to Verona. I should have some stories compiled over the next few months that I can share with you. Thanks to Bill Conner for keeping this important history alive.

Bay & Delta Yachtsman friend, Jim Haussener reports the Delta Stewardship Council recently mentioned on their website the opening of the 2019 fellowship application period. Although listed as estimated timelines, (early August for the request for applications and an application due deadline of late September/early October) I am sure a vigilant eye to their website by any interested party will find an update. The fellowships begin in January 2020 and end January 2022. Interesting to note is, for the first time, this fellowship opportunity will be available to students pursuing a master′s degree in addition to graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The goal of the Delta Science Fellows Program is to bring together early-career scientists with senior research mentors and Delta agency scientists to work collaboratively in advancing the knowledge of high priority science actions that impact the Bay and Delta. Certainly a subject of high interest to our readership. Watch their website for updates

Don′t forget to attend the 18th annual Taste of the Delta on Saturday, August 3rd. This one will be the best, Village West Marina & Resort is the host, and they have gone all out to help make it a fantastic day. At last report tickets are still available. This event is to showcase Delta area restaurants, wineries and breweries. It is also the main fundraiser for the California Delta Chambers & Visitor′s Bureau. This organization devotes its entire budget to Delta issues, whether it would be attracting more quality visitors, supporting local businesses or protecting the region from those trying to destroy it.

Someone sent me this about anchoring in Lake Union on the 4th and it sounds much like Mandeville. “No matter how early you get there or how close to the exclusion zone you anchor, someone will drop anchor in front of you and drift back on you. Also, the wind will blow out of the north all day and 10 min. before the show, the wind will switch directions and it will be a real cluster muck. Dropping as far south early in the day will keep you out of most the trouble.”

We should have some Independence Day updates next month. I will see you at the Taste of the Delta on August 3rd at Village West Marina. Let me know what else is happening, give me a call at 916/869.9141 or email H

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