Delta Rat Scrapbook - January 2019

Down The Napa River

Rusty Areias, ever one of the most generous people I know, took his boat Miss 102 to the Napa Valley Yacht Club so he could take a friend on a birthday cruise. He asked me if I wanted to accompany him and his crew for the trip back to New Bridge Marina. I thought about it for a split second and jumped at the opportunity. It was a little tricky. Rusty and I met Steve Mannshardt and his friend, Gary deBlaquiere, in Rio Vista and we took a ride sharing service to Napa. We arrived at the yacht club at 1100 hours and boarded Miss 102 as she was tied to the dock. Steve was our skipper and led the way as we boarded. After some safety checks he started the motors and began to warm them up.

We cast off the lines and headed downstream on the Napa River. This was the first time I had been here in ten years and things were pretty much the same except for the homeless encampments on the river bank.

We made the trip during the time the Camp Fire was raging north of us and the smoke from the fire permeated the air all over Northern California. There was nary a breath of wind going down the Napa River, so the smoke hovered our entire route. It made for some good photos but served to remind one of the tragedies taking place close by. It was like a foggy day as far as visibility, but your eyes and throat stung at the same time.

Rusty has re-done the saloon of Miss 102. He was having a new settee made for her at the time he purchased his other Stephens, JOIE, and she had such a great interior he had his people create a similar art deco style interior for Miss 102, it came out beautiful and even has an art deco era mirror on the bulkhead.

It was low tide, so our captain was careful staying in the main channel as we headed downstream. We pulled into the Napa Valley Marina to look at classic yacht Rusty had seen on a previous trip. It had definite possibilities, about a 44-footer with a barrel back which is a little unusual out here. She was an interesting boat and she looks like if you were willing to invest some time and money, you could have a unique classic yacht.

The Napa Valley Marina is beautiful and only a couple miles down from the club and six miles from the city waterfront, well within shoreboat range. It has 200 slips and can handle end-ties up to 80-feet. They have fuel, a store and chandlery and can haul your boat. The Giovannoni family built the marina in 1957 and has owned it ever since. Bob Partridge used to take his 1928 Matthews here from his berth in Alameda for haulouts and do all the work himself.

The Napa River is really fascinating with all the sights you see. The landscape is flat but there are hills nearby. You pass by multi-million-dollar homes as well as some places that look like fishing shacks all perched on the banks of the river. As you get into the lower sections of the river, you are surrounded by tidal mudflats that give the impression that you are on a much bigger waterway. The Napa River is generally ten- to twenty-feet deep from the yacht club to the Mare Island Straits but don′t ever stray out of the channel or you will quickly find yourself in very shallow water. The navigation markers in the Napa River also seem to move around from time to time so I would use extreme caution cruising on this waterway. None of this is any problem to Steve of course, he is one of the best skippers I have ever known.

Low and behold as we passed the Vallejo Marina, we passed the old Sherman. You remember, she adorned the Stockton waterfront for a few years starting in 2014 during Anthony Silva′s term as mayor. Silva apparently had visions of a restaurant aboard. Many of us were speculating that the 144-foot vessel would sink in McLeod Lake, but they managed to tow her out and down to the Vallejo Marina. Apparently, a group of Chinese investors paid her back rent, so she would be allowed to leave Stockton. I heard she was going to be hauled at Mare Island, but it does not look like that has happened. She started life as the Army steamboat, General Frank M. Cox, launched in 1922 and carried passengers around San Francisco Bay until 1947 with an estimated total of six million passengers. She was made into a restaurant, the Show Boat, during the early 1950s. This correspondent had lunch there with his parents in 1953. She was moved to Alameda, then to Burlingame and finally back to Stockton. She is a cool, historic, old boat and I hope some good becomes of her. When she was moored in Stockton apparently some squatters used her as living accommodations, so she is going to need a new interior.

After reaching the mouth of the Napa River and turning to port after passing the breakwater, we headed through the Straits of Carquinez. We picked up a very slight headwind from the east as we headed up the Bay. It was still very beautiful and there was hardly a ripple on the surface. We encountered a few sea lions sunning themselves on the navigation buoys. They did not pay much attention to us as we passed but when the wake from the boat hit, they scrambled to keep from going over the side.

From the Carquinez bridge to the Antioch Bridge we only encountered a few fishing boats and except for the slight east wind it was totally calm. Our skipper kept us on track, the smoke made everything look gray including the navigation buoys.

As we approached the Antioch Bridge the skipper deployed the fenders as we encountered Ernie Marlan, one of the regions premier fishermen who is also an outdoor writer for the “Fish Sniffer” and a radio talk host. He was out striper fishing with his son Andrew. Andrew held up a couple of excellent fish that they caught, and Ernie said they had released many more. I found out that a week or so later Ernie′s daughter Kimberlee caught a striper that was possibly bigger than Andrew′s, talk about sibling rivalry.

After taking leave of Ernie we headed into the marina and Steve brought us into the slip just like he had done it before. My car was still in Rio Vista, so Steve and Gary brought us back across the river to fetch it and we all went our separate ways after a great day.


Classic Yacht Association, Northern California Fleet Change Of Watch

We went to the Marin Yacht Club in San Rafael for this good party. Rear Commodore Bernadette Sweeney put the event together. It was held in the dining room and my compliments to the chef. We dined on surf and turf, lobster and steak, with mashed potatoes, vegetable, fresh French bread and chocolate cheese cake or carrot cake for dessert. Candace Homenko put together a silent auction with many cool items including gift baskets of wine and food, Kim Korth donated a basket from Pirate′s Lair with many goodies including a certificate for food at Pirate′s Lair Cafe. A vintage copy of Hal Schell′s “Dawdling on the Delta” autographed by the great man himself was auctioned off as well as an unopened copy of Hal′s last Delta map.

Tom Clothier was the Master of Ceremonies and called the meeting to order after the excellent dinner. Bernadette Sweeney gave the Invocation. Your correspondent led the Pledge of Allegiance followed by Jim Sweeney ringing eight bells for members who left us this year. Tom recognized past commodores who were at the event.

Scott Andrews relieved Gerry Kamilos and was sworn in as the 2019 commodore. Scott is just finishing his term as the International Commodore of all fleets of the CYA. Several past commodores were on hand to offer their expert advice to the incoming bridge. Gerry has moved to the staff commodore position, Bernadette Sweeney moves up to Vice Commodore and Rob Sesar comes in as rear commodore. Tom Clothier remains the club Treasurer, Nancy Clothier remains Corresponding Secretary, and Erica Hammerlund comes in as the Recording Secretary.

Kim Korth, and Stuart Kiehl shared a table with Sue and me and we caught up with what they had going on lately. Kim is back working pretty much full time at her marinas and Stuart is heavily involved with his photography career.


Pacific Interclub Yacht Association 53rd Annual Awards Dinner

We attended the PICYA awards dinner at the Encinal Yacht Club in Alameda. After a cocktail or two at the club bar (you know the one that looks like the transom of a Stephens yacht), we sat down to another great dinner from the club′s galley. It was a beautiful warm evening and you could see boats cruising in the estuary.

Commodore Winston Bumpus called things to order, Liz Allison offered the invocation and Robert Willis led the pledge of allegiance. Dave Breninger was the Master of Ceremonies. This is the major recognition ceremony for all yacht clubs in Northern California.

The highlight of the evening was the Meritorious Service Award that went to Sea Scout Ship #9 Sea Fox with Skipper Ken Shupe, Crew Kenny Kirwin, Mason Ensley, Cole Harris, and Johnny Amaden who performed exceptional acts of rescue and aid in tradition of the sea. They were cruising near the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge at 0230 hours when their lookout spied an object in the water, they came about for a closer look and found a kayaker who had fallen from his craft at 1600 hours and had been in the water clinging to his boat (he was not wearing a personal flotation device).

They pulled him aboard, warmed him up and notified the Coast Guard who had been looking for him for several hours. This could easily have been a tragedy but thanks to these fine young people the kayaker lived to go kayaking again, hopefully he will make sure he has all safety equipment next time.

There were several other awards. The Edwin W. Wilder Perpetual Trophy for the best club newsletter went to the San Jose Sailing Club - Editor Gottfried Mauersberger, second place went to the Pittsburg Yacht Club - Editor Debbie Wagner, third place went to Point San Pablo Yacht Club - Editor Sarah Rectenwald.

The Club of the Year (COTY) award was a tie between the Ebony Boat Club and San Jose Sailing Club. This award goes to the club or clubs accumulating the most points for supporting PICYA sponsored events, developing and maintaining youth programs, community service, boating safety, philanthropy, and other boating related activities.

The Harter Recreational Boaters of California′s Gale Force Wind Award was awarded to the club that has made the largest donation per member to the RBOC - Delta Yacht Club.

The Chester W. Nimitz USN Perpetual Trophy went to the Stockton Sailing Club for making greatest advancement during the current year in promoting youth activity in yachting, including boat handling proficiency, seamanship and safety.

Bay & Delta Yachtsman Public Service Award - Club having performed community service effort - Stockton YC.

The Condon Award to recognize a person for distinguished and selfless promotion of sailing to young people went to Wendy Hanrahan - South Beach Yacht Club.

Douglas Boswell Perpetual Yachtsman of the Year Award - Awarded for distinguished and outstanding service to boating and yachting went to Tom Ehman of the St. Francis Yacht Club.

Jo Bates Memorial Delegate of the Year Award went to Linda Gordon of the South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club as the person who performed outstanding and distinguished service as delegates to the PICYA.

Meritorious Service Award to acknowledge member clubs who have recommended individual member for Meritorious Service awards - Berkeley Yacht Club.

The Robert S. Olson Memorial Poseidon Award goes to a person who without consideration of reward or recognition, has selflessly given of his or her time and effort for the greater good of the boating community was received by Ed Stetson of Stockton Yacht Club for his work with the Make a Wish Foundation.

The Lloyd Ryland Trophy went to Ron Young of the St. Francis Yacht Club. This award is for the person recognized for research and/or documenting historically significant yachting events and/or activities related to his or her club. Ron puts on the weekly Wednesday Yachting Luncheons at the club. They have some great speakers from many different boating related fields.

The Ebony Boat Club got a five-star rating and received a certificate for perfect attendance at the PICYA meetings for eighteen years. The club credits Robert Willis for maintaining perfect attendance for the years he has been the delegate. Robert was also elected Vice Commodore of the PICYA for 2019.


Other Club News

Congratulations to the bridge of the Petaluma Yacht Club for 2019: Commodore, Todd Mendoza, Vice Commodore, Leland Fishman and Rear Commodore, Bruce Stender. McKenzie Smith is Staff Commodore.

Ebony Boat Club has announced their 2019 Bridge: Commodore - Frank Whitehead, Vice Commodore - Dane McCoy, Rear Commodore - LC Fuller, Staff Commodore - Kerry Davis, Parliamentarian - James Mack, Port & Fleet Captain - Randy Harris, Secretary - Carol Whitehead.

Stockton Yacht Club′s incoming Commodore is Larry Brown, Vice Commodore is Christel Schneider.

Village West Yacht Club held their change of watch. Officers for 2019 are Commodore Byron Beck, Vice Commodore Jon Hungerford, Rear Commodore - Vivian Campbell, Treasurer - Dean Abercrombie, Secretary - Brenda Jackson, Port Captain - Lane Schoch, Directors - Jerry Stiles, Wendy Foulks, Kelly Benson and Erica Haskell. Thank you, Roger Kelly for this information.

The Sacramento Yacht Club partnered with the West Sacramento Christmas Basket Project to collect food for needy people during the Christmas and holiday season.


WaterFraud Update

The saga continues. Last month we told you about the appeals to the Department of Water Resources Certification of Consistency for the Delta twin tunnels. After hearing statements from water exporters and Delta interests, the staff of the Delta Stewardship Council has advised the Council that: “In light of claims raised by (the) nine appellant groups, Council staff recommends that the Council conclude that substantial evidence does not exist in the record to support the Department′s findings that California WaterFix is consistent with the Delta Plan. Staff further recommends that the Council remand the matter to the Department for reconsideration, pursuant to Water Code section 85225.25.”

At this writing the Stewardship Council still has not voted but I don′t see how they could go against their staff′s own recommendations. The WaterFix is certainly not consistent with the co-equal goals of set forth in the water code. “Coequal goals′ means the two goals of providing a more reliable water supply for California and protecting, restoring, and enhancing the Delta ecosystem. The coequal goals shall be achieved in a manner that protects and enhances the unique cultural, recreational, natural resource, and agricultural values of the Delta as an evolving place.” That is the way the law reads. A grammar school child can figure out that you are not protecting, restoring and enhancing the Delta ecosystem by building two 44-foot diameter tunnels to remove water.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy hosted a public workshop to discuss the first draft of the Central Delta Public Lands Strategy (formerly titled: Central Delta Corridor Strategy), which outlines multi-benefit opportunities on publicly-funded lands from Sherman Island to the Cosumnes Preserve. (The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy is a state agency that supports implementation of ecosystem restoration, efforts that advance environmental protection, and the economic well-being of Delta area residents.)

We have discussed this before, part of the strategy is to potentially fill in Frank′s Tract with toxic muck from the twin tunnels. There was a meeting at the San Joaquin Yacht Club on Bethel Island discussing this early in 2018. There was quite a bit of negative public input about the plan. It is interesting that they moved the meeting away from Bethel Island and more into the central Delta making it harder for folks from Discovery Bay, Bethel Island and the South Delta to attend.

Carl Wilcox who is a Policy Advisor on the Delta for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and conducted the Bethel Island meeting was nowhere in sight. Now the Conservancy has brought in The Catalyst Group as a consultant on the project. Principal Strategist Charles L. Gardiner gave about a 40-minute presentation about the scheme and plans to “restore” Delta islands. We don′t know how much The Catalyst Group is receiving for their services.

Next, Dino Cortopassi who is a Delta farmer and co-owner of Stanislaus Food Products Co., San Tomo Inc. and CEO of Wetlands Preservation Foundation said: “It is not my intention to be the skunk at this particular party, but it may turn out that way,” he passed out copies of his own report to show what he found missing in the expensive research done and how the presentation lacked correct arithmetic. “Arithmetic is not an opinion” said Cortopassi. Cortopassi went on to explain how subsidence is the biggest issue facing Delta islands. His solution is to grow rice on the islands which will reverse subsidence and bring in $1,800 per acre in revenue. “We pioneered rice in the Delta. We stopped subsidence. We did it with our own money and not a penny from state grants on 5,000 acres.” Cortopassi said, “I have put $15 million into our foundation and more into the DWR-Twitchell Island Project.

The Department of Water Resources on Twitchell Island has 2,000 acres. It is rife with problems that threaten the Delta,” he said. “For nine years there is no measure of accountability and DWR is talking about doing more deals. It is a totally incompetent agency. In nine years of trying to grow rice on Twitchell Island, not once have they had a commercially successful rice crop.” There were several other speakers that were extremely critical of this project. When you think of how the funds squandered on these boondoggles could be used to benefit the people of California it just makes you cry. Thanks to Gene Beley our Delta videographer and investigative reporter for much of this information. Gene is tireless when it comes to attending meetings and tracking down information.

Gavin Newsom is our incoming governor and up until now he has been fairly quiet about the twin tunnels. He is reported to have suggested looking into the possibility of one tunnel. At this writing he is putting together a task force of 25 people to be his transition team and has included Stockton Mayor, Michael Tubbs. They will meet weekly until Newsom is sworn in on January 7th. I encourage you to contact all your elected officials to help them understand how important the California Delta is and why it needs to be protected.



Wayne Bier our ex-pat friend in Thailand has announced his engagement to Quennie Pangasian. Wayne has been living in Thailand for a few years now, he shipped his boat there and has been sharing his boating and diving adventures with his friends on social media.

Joe Cecchini a popular Delta figure for all his life recently celebrated his 90th Birthday. Liz Zamora celebrated her birthday in November and Lisa Wednesday Gomez likewise. Betty Lupe Ramirez-Atkins celebrated her birthday in December. Jill Faso Antonini is also a December person. These folks are all Sagittarians along with some other great figures like Beethoven, Keith Richards, Taylor Swift, Steven Spielberg, Scarlett Johansson, Joe DiMaggio, Mark Twain, and Jane Austen to name a few. Why do I care? I am a Sagittarian too, we are noted for being independent and emotional we also desire adventure and excitement. We are great people. Okay, Joe is a Scorpio, but I proclaim him an honorary Sagittarian.


Irish Pennants

Jay Sorensen a friend of ours and one of the most recognized outdoorsmen and fishermen in the area has been in sickbay recently. Jay has been fishing the Delta since he was a pre-teen, seventy-plus years and I think is about the most knowledgeable person in the region on Delta fishing. He has been a tireless defender of the Delta and its wildlife for decades, Jay remembers back to the days when the rivers were teeming with fish, before the water exporters decided to try to drain the rivers dry. The salmon industry alone contributes over $1.4 billion in economic activity to the state along with about 23,000 jobs.

Don′t miss the Sportsman′s Exposition at Cal Expo on January 18-20, 2019. There will be plenty of good deals on boats and equipment as well as a lot of interesting folks to talk too. There will be many Delta businesses represented there and a great spot to meet folks and learn some more Delta lore. This is literally the best and biggest outdoor show in Northern California. If you are a boater, fisherman, camper, traveler or other outdoor enthusiast you will like this show. Be sure to stop by the Delta Chambers booth 3317 and say hi.

We hear the Petaluma River is silted in preventing any but the smallest boat from going into the downtown turning basin. Apparently, the river has not been dredged since 2003. It is the responsibility of the Corps of Engineers to dredge the river, but they do not have the funds. They did manage to scrape up $600,000 to do a study on how much dredging was needed.

This is just a shame; downtown Petaluma has always been a great destination for visiting boats and the crews brought a lot of money to the economy. When there have been boating events there, it also brought in revenue from visitors arriving by car. The Petaluma Yacht club is a great spot right on the water. Whenever I have been there, we patronized the local restaurants and Sue always tries to load up the truck with merchandise from the local antique shops. You can still paddle your kayak or canoe, but it is just not the same as having some beautiful yachts or fishing boats tied to the dock. And consequently, the lighted boat Christmas parade has been cancelled for 2018.

A friend asked about navigation devices. I leave this type of technical stuff to my colleague Pat Carson. I do get a lot of calls each year from folks wanting to visit the Delta by boat and they frequently ask about maps. That immediately raises a red flag with me as that tells me the caller is not familiar with navigating boats. I tell them they need the NOAA charts for the Delta and the next question they ask is: “What is NOAA?” I give them a short lecture on the importance of having accurate data to cruise the Delta. I use paper charts myself, but I always carry a Delta map as it is nice to have all the locations on one piece of paper for reference. I don′t use my charts much, mainly to keep me amused while I am cruising, it has been several years since I have gotten lost in the Delta.

GPS devices for boats seem to work great but just be aware they, like paper charts are not infallible, buoys can move, and sandbars can appear quickly always use your own judgement to make your final decision when navigating. Did I tell you about the fellow a couple of years back who left Moore′s Riverboat in his offshore boat and set his GPS to return to Discovery Bay? He ran about 100-feet or so up on the island at the mouth of the Mokelumne River, as it was not on his electronic chart. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Did you hear they found a shipwreck from 1928 in Lake Huron? The steamer Manasoo left Manitoulin Island with a load of cattle. The ship was caught in a storm with high waves, the cattle apparently not knowing anything about ship loading all ran to one side causing the engine room to flood. She went down within a few minutes and the owner of the cattle, Don Wallace had his 1927 Chevrolet coupe stowed below.

When divers discovered the wreck, they were able to get photos of the car. It looks to be in pretty good shape except for a coating of silt and marine flora. Wallace survived the sinking but lost all his cattle. There were 21 people aboard and sixteen perished. The captain, and three sailors, survived in addition to Wallace.

I will be doing a presentation on the history of yachting in the Delta at the St. Francis Yacht Club for their weekly Wednesday Yachting Luncheon on February 6.  

Lunch is at 1145 hours and the presentation will start at 1230 hours. It will be streamed live on their Facebook page or guests are welcome at the club. Call 415/563.6363 for information.

Have a great 2019! The Delta is happening, be a part of it! Email or call me! Com or 916/869.9141. H

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