Delta Rat Scrapbook - January 2020

Stephens Yacht Rendezvous

The Classic Yacht Association and Village West Marina announced that the Stephens Yacht Rendezvous is on for the weekend of September 11-13, 2020, to honor Stephens family patriarch, Dick Stephens on his 100th birthday. We are trying to track down all Stephens boats and owners/former owners. Missing from our records are many of the 100 plus runabouts built between about 1909 and 1929. Many of them were 26-footers used for racing. There is one in the Haggin Museum, Richard Dunn (River Point Landing) has one, Kanigo a 26-foot runabout is still around, Florence M II a 26-footer and Hey There II, are around the region somewhere. In the 1920s, several Stephens runabouts were shipped to Lake Tahoe, where they won races competing against the likes of Gar Wood and Hacker, winning their fair share. In 1925, to celebrate the San Diego Mid-Winter Fair, Roy Stephens decided to prove the speed and seaworthiness of Stephens boats, by cruising one nonstop from San Francisco to San Diego to set a speed record. He left San Francisco in the middle of December, aboard a Siam Teak 26-foot runabout, powered with a Scripps marine engine. He made it there in less than 24 hours, a new record. The weather was so bad that a passing steam ship offered to rescue the boat and crew off Point Conception. The company got a lot of positive recognition from this feat, and got several orders for the boats. We think there are more runabouts out there, stuck away in barns and garages. Every once in a while, you will hear of a find where a classic old boat has been found buried under a pile of junk in someone′s garage.

A few years back, I spied an old Besotes runabout on a trailer pulled over on Highway 160. I stopped to talk to the two fellows that were repairing a tire. They told me they found it in a barn and purchased it. The boat appeared to be all there, and the main problem seemed to be all the dust it had accumulated. They were heading to Discovery Bay, I wonder if they have her back in the water yet?

If you want to be part of this once in a lifetime event and own a Stephens built boat, or you are a previous owner, send me an email and I will put you on the mailing list.

Concerning Stephens Boats

Stephens Brothers built everything from rowboats to Navy minesweepers during their 85-year history in the 20th Century, spanning 1902 to 1987. Their yachts are found all over the world, and the owners keep them in fine condition. There are at least a few still available in charter service. There is a 73-footer available in New York. Trilogy, an 89-foot Stephens yacht is awaiting you in the Caribbean, and Bravo a 103-foot Expedition yacht awaits you in Florida.

Stephens is a large part of Stockton history, and indeed an important part of the history of California. I am confident that their boats will be around for at least another 100 years.

Delta Bay Foundation

The Delta Bay Foundation invited all Delta folks to their group show of exquisite, unique, lovely, and thoughtful art by area artists at Park Delta Bay Resort, on the Delta Loop. The Foundation helps local artists by providing a quality venue to display their works at no cost. It was early November, and a good chance to stock up on Christmas and Holiday gifts. Harley and Zahna Smith, Don Wisdom, Rachel Warren, Demi Stewart, Sheila Bookwalter, Char Hall and Isabel Dresler all had their beautiful objects of art available for purchase at the event. If you were exhibiting there and I missed you, send me a note. Refreshments were provided; there were plenty of fruits, vegetables, cookies, cake, and cupcakes. I am confident no one went hungry.

There is a big movement towards tiny houses over the last few years, and Park Delta Bay is a village of them. Owner, Eric Chiu, is an expert on tiny houses, and can probably answer most of your questions about them. If you are looking for a place to park your tiny house, check out Park Delta Bay. It is a beautiful spot.

Bob Light

We went to the memorial service for Bob Light. It was held at the C E Stewart Chapel in Rio Vista. People came from all over the Delta to pay their respects. The chapel was packed with standing room only. Galen Kusic, the former editor of the Rio Vista News Herald and Isleton Journal, gave a moving talk about his many year relationship with Bob as a friend and editor. John Bento, who has been a friend, and known Bob since they went to grammar school together spoke about their multi-decade association. Many of Bob′s friends including Gregory Mitchell and Jarrod Kohls, along with Bob′s mom and brothers were all in attendance.

Bob had been with the River News Herald and Isleton Journal for some 12 years or so. During that time, he created a few hundred cartoons. No public official was safe from Bob. He was on top of the scheme to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta, and was merciless with those promoting it. He would take on local officials over problems with the roads or water, you name it. Some of his friends and associates have gotten together and started the Bob Light Society, to continue his work of poking fun at government officials when they are caught mishandling taxpayer funds.

After the service, we walked a block over to the Rio Vista Senior Center on Main Street, where Galen had set up displays of Bob′s cartoons and artwork. Literally, everyone I spoke with had some story of Bob′s friendship to recite. Bob′s passing is a huge loss to the people of Rio Vista and the Delta, but I am confident that his memory will live on.

In all the years I knew Schatzie, I never knew her name was actually Charlene. The name Schatzie has a definite charm, so I think she will always be remembered as Schatzie. The Stockton Yacht Club held a memorial for her on Saturday November 16. The whole clubhouse was packed with her friends, relatives, and fellow club members. Schatzie has always been a big part of the club, and was almost always there. Her bright smile welcomed everyone. Many folks told stories of her friendship and cheerful attitude through the years. I never knew that she was born in Saudi Arabia, where her father worked for ARAMCO (Arabian-American Oil Company.) Schatzie will be sorely missed, but she would want us to carry on without her and we will.

James Manley

It was another sad day when we said goodbye to James Manly at a memorial for him at the Tower Park Waterfront Grille ballroom. The place was packed with people standing on the outside decks looking in. The line to the bar was a mile long. I would say most of his friends from the Delta were there, and maybe another 100 or so people, including friends from school and work. Literally, everyone I spoke with there had some story about a generous act that James had performed. I remember one time he gave me an antique hose nozzle he found in the bottom of the river when he was dredging. I have it in a special spot of honor on my patio, in case I need to hose down unruly guests. Trisha Meagher, the love of James′s life, and a beloved friend of many of us Delta folks was holding up. Trisha has had more than her share of tragedies in her life, and we pray for her during this sad affair.

60th Anniversary Of Bossa Nova

My daughter started playing the piano when she was 5 years old. She took lessons for maybe 12 years, and had some excellent teachers. We always had music around the house, and we both liked Sergio Mendez and his various groups starting with Brazil 65. So, when Mendez announced a concert at the Mondavi Center in Davis, my daughter asked if I wanted to join her and her friends at the event. Naturally I jumped at the chance, and we stopped in downtown Davis at a Thai restaurant for dinner before the concert.

The first set was Bebel Gilberto, daughter of singer/composer João Gilberto. She has a beautiful soft voice, and was accompanied by two acoustic guitars. Next, Sergio Mendez and his group took the stage, and did a very high energy set. They took us right back to the 1960s. Between the two groups, we heard nearly every Bossa Nova song you could remember, and some that you did not.

The center was packed with every seat filled, and the musicians got at least two standing ovations during the evening. Well, hopefully it won′t be another 60 years before I hear live Bossa Nova music again.

Frozen Bun Run At The Rusty Porthole

Start the roaring 2020s with a great iconic party on Bethel Island. January 1 is the 40th Annual Frozen Bun Run. Last year, I talked Ty into going so I could photograph him. It is not final, but I think I have convinced Kimmie, Captain Sweetie, Mark, and possibly Pat to all attend this year and do a mass start. Naturally I will be the photographer, standing on the dock to record this once in a century momentous occasion that will go down in the annuls of Delta history.

Rob and Kim Brunham, owners of the Rusty Porthole put this event on every year. Their son Ryan drives the tow boat. If you enjoy 45-degree water on a cold overcast day, you have found your element. You will have a year′s bragging rights, and a spectacular way to kick off the roaring 20s. Local luminaries Jack Hanna, along with Rob and Susan Bernard are sure to be there. Come on by and have some coffee, brandy, or both together to warm up. The Porthole does this rain or shine, so be sure to be there early to get a good spot. The Frozen Bun Run is always a great party, even if you have to get up at some ungodly hour to attend. Do not miss this one.

By the way, did you know the name Rusty Porthole actually comes from a previous owner, Captain John, tripping over a metal object buried in the sand? It turned out to be an old rusty porthole, so that is what he called the remodeled Ballarine′s Café when he took over in 1976. The porthole was built into the front door, you see it and walk past it every time you go into the restaurant.

Ebony Boat Club

At this writing, the Ebony Boat Club is scheduled to hold their 30th Annual Inaugural Ball on December 14th, at their floating clubhouse at the Stockton Downtown Marina. Dane McCoy is the incoming Commodore for 2020. We should have an update on other incoming officers next month.

WaterFraud Update

It looks like the governor is going ahead full blast with his plan to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta. The project has been changed from two tunnels to one, but it looks like the plan is to export 300,000 more acre-feet of water per year from the Delta, versus the Brown Administration claim, at least in public that they would not export more water even with the twin tunnels. Naturally, it is all a big scam at taxpayer expense. Of course, whatever conveyance they build, they will try to export as much as water as possible. Don′t forget, the Tracy export pumps will still be in use, so the tunnel will be in addition to the existing conveyance, not replacing it. Simple logic will tell you that no one in their right mind will invest the billions of dollars needed for this project without getting something more in return than they get now.

Over the years, water exporters have justified diverting the Sacramento River around the Delta because the levees will fail in an earthquake. After that was debunked, they then claimed an ARk (Atmospheric River 1,000) storm will destroy the levees. Now they say they need the tunnel because of sea level rise, and the accompanying salt intrusion into the Delta. We hear Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is considering moving the tunnel and intake above Sacramento. The problem with this scheme is that if salt water is really going to intrude close to Sacramento, then the Tracy pumps will be worthless, since they are lower than the river near Sacramento. The only viable solution to adjust the Delta conveyance for sea level rise would be to build a dam at Carquinez Straits or maybe across the Golden Gate. Of course, none of the conveyance plans create any new water, they just relocate it from the north to the south.

The real solution for Southern California is to create new fresh water. Currently, this would be done by desalinating sea water. This would be a long-term solution, and provide an unlimited supply of fresh water.

Ryer Island

Last month, I published a letter Nicky Suard, a Ryer Island business person, sent to her county supervisor, asking for assistance with getting the ferryboats that serve the island operational again. As of this writing, nothing has been done. In the interim, several of us contacted elected officials and state workers who have some connection to keeping the Delta roadways open and safe. So far, no one has responded to help resolve the crisis.

I paid a visit to the Real McCoy Ferry to offer my expertise, and try to learn more about what the problems are. The minute I identified myself to the workmen, they said they were not allowed to talk to me, and referred me to the Caltrans headquarters in downtown Rio Vista. I went over there, and the only two humans I could find were painting a container. They said they did not know anything about the operation there. I went in the office, wandered around and still could not find anyone. Some of the individual offices were locked, and I could see lights on in them.

I walked out to the yard, and checked out all the equipment they had laying around with no one to guard it. I could have loaded up my truck with outboard motors, tools, and a lot of other stuff. Anyway, I still could not find anyone to talk to about the ferry situation, so I gave up and left. You would think a state agency would be a little more careful with their assets. Anyone could have driven into the yard and taken equipment.

I am somewhat concerned about the behavior of Resource Secretary Wade Crowfoot. Here is what he said in a recent talk in Southern California: “I live in the Bay Area, and we had to buy my 4-year-old an N-95 certified mask with teddy bears on it, that she had to wear for almost a month because of the air quality. At one point last summer, the Bay Area had the worst air quality in the world for a number of days.” If the air quality is that bad for his family, he should move to Canada or somewhere the air is fresher. I have raised my fair share of children, and never had to buy them a gas mask with teddy bears so they could breathe safely.

Here is more he said in the same talk: “This discussion has been reduced to whether there should be tunnels through the Bay Delta. We′re not shying away from this controversial question. We believe that an earthquake-safe tunnel that is resilient to sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion is essential to protecting the water supply for more than 30 million people. It′s not an easy topic. It′s terribly controversial in some parts of the state, but we think we need to move it forward.” Mr. Crowfoot is sounding somewhat nutty, and I am concerned that he may not have the skills to manage California′s water supply. Let me help him. No, there should not be tunnels through the Bay/Delta, it will destroy the Delta.

The other thing going on here is the Carl Wilcox and Brett Mulligan Frank′s Tract Project. While they keep talking of “restoring” Frank′s Tract, I am convinced they would like to use it as a location to dump toxic muck from the tunnel project. Well, I am still confident that at some point common sense will prevail and the tunnel project will be abandoned.

San Joaquin Delta Neighborhood Watch

Tracie Glaves checks in from Stockton. It is a constant battle with the vagrants, to keep them off the levees. Apparently, some school children have to walk through a vagrant encampment to get to their school in Stockton, and local officials refuse to do anything about it. This is absolutely unacceptable. There is going to be a major problem with this at some point. Having children walk through an area littered with garbage and hypodermic needles to get to and from school is a crime, or at least it should be.

In Yuba City, as well as Stockton, Lodi, and Sacramento, apparently people are digging into the freeway overpasses to make shelters. Local residents are in a quandary as to who to contact to get some action. I think a good place to start is with local law enforcement, and follow up with Caltrans.

The real solution to all this of course, is to start enforcing laws against vagrancy, polluting our waterways, and openly dealing/using drugs. Then, we need to find places to house these folks, so they are out of the inclement weather and safe. There are plenty of large unused buildings in every city that could be retrofitted for housing. Near where I live in Sacramento County, there is a large Department of Human Assistance building with a large parking lot and huge roof overhangs. They could house a few hundred folks there, where they would be safe and close to needed services.

Tracie reminds us: “Delta boaters are voters.”

Science Corner

There are many scientific announcements that come over the transom to me. I will share some of them with you from time to time, so you can impress your friends with your vast knowledge.

Scientists have created metal that floats on water. The term used is “superhydrophobic.” They studied diving bell spiders and fire ants, to see how they were able to travel in water. They found that by etching a metal surface with lasers, they could create a surface that will trap enough air to make the metal float. Can you imagine a metal surfboard, or a metal wake board? I am not sure how this technique would apply to boat hulls. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

Cindy Breninger is working on a book she expects to publish in the near future. She does not have a name yet, but it is about insects and other small creatures. It will be filled with wisdom like: “Maggots are the larval stage of flies. Caterpillars are the larva of moths and butterflies. Same, but different.” This is the basic kind of wisdom we all need to learn. I think Cindy is going to illustrate the book with her own drawings, and it will be a hit I am sure. I will let you know when it is available.

The Bombogenesis Storm

Just as I am putting the finishing touches on this article in late November, we are hit with a major storm. Electrical power was out in many areas. My power in Sacramento went out for a few minutes and came back on. I breathed a sigh of relief, and then it went out for a few hours. Luckily, I have learned to save my typing frequently. Officials were calling this a “Bombogenesis” storm. According to the NOAA, bombogenesis happens when “a mid-latitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours.” It appears all Delta levees held, but there was some damage to dock structures and other infrastructure. Remember a few years back when Jerry Meral, John Laird, and the Natural Resources Agency said the Delta was going to be destroyed by an “ARk” storm? We survived that and now have survived the Bombogenesis, but not without some damage.

Jack Hanna reports from Bethel Island: “Hail came under the eight-foot overhang and hit the top of my windows and doors from the south. Lines were strained, and buckets were blown around my deck. But, nothing in my imagination prepared me for what I saw at New Life Marina, formerly Mariner′s Cove, formerly Leisure Landing. I know these docks. While less than new, they are in good shape.

“Something about that location maybe, as a similar incident happened a few years ago on the opposite end of the marina. The old shed started hopping and jumped its pilings. It had to be rebuilt. Nothing terribly unusual to see a wind gust peel a corrugated steel roof from a boathouse. Sometimes, it has to do with loose sheets, and sometimes it happens to roofs in relatively good condition.

“The long shed beyond the clubhouse, where the old gas dock and pump-out are still stands, over two hundred feet of roof peeled off and flew over the levee over one hundred feet before landing all around the property. It is the first shed, coming in from Taylor Road that took the worst. No matter the condition of the framing and fasteners, no matter how inadequately long the pilings might be, this defies the imagination.

“A boat shed, over 250-feet in length, lifted up from Taylor Slough, flew over the levee, and landed docks up and roof down. The lines from boats to shed separated and left the one large boat in that shed drifting in the water, where it was recovered without significant damage. Josh was aboard his boat when the whole shed blew away, and left his boat adrift. The next shed over still had its roof, dock, etc., and the boat owners were snug in their boat. The neighboring shed, however, was inverted and tossed along the down slope of the Bethel Island Levee. A HydroHoist was still attached, and nose dived into the crown of the levee with the tubes sticking skyward.

“Workers were clearing tin from the levee farther down the road, about 300 yards, but no work had begun as of noon Wednesday to remove the shed from atop the vehicles parked on the levee road. The greater ‘comma′ of the storm′s footprint suggested the name bomb cyclone. Within the bomb cyclone, there had to have been at least one twister to lift over one hundred-feet of structure up and over the levee, nine feet above sea level. I wait and wonder if the National Weather Service, or any other fine-tuned radar tracking recorded this unusual event within a storm event.”

Eight Bells

Another Delta legend has crossed over the bar. Kathy McGuinness, co-owner of Turner Cut Resort on Roberts Island grew up in the Delta. Her mom and dad had discovered the Delta in 1946, and eventually purchased the resort. It must have been a major adventure to get to Turner Cut in the old days. When you come in by car now, you think you are driving through Iowa and then you arrive after passing through fields and cow pastures. By boat, it is less than a mile off of the San Joaquin River, south on Turner Cut.

A while back, I had the pleasure of getting a first-hand tour of the resort by Kathy. It is like a garden and a good spot to let your children run loose. She told me of the many memories of pleasant days and nights in the region, and how her parents turned what was a very rundown property into today′s beautiful resort. Kathy is survived by her husband, Skip McGuinness.

Irish Pennants

Brad Stermer is the new harbormaster at River Point Landing, please welcome him aboard. I have spoken with him a couple of times by phone. He is a good guy, and I am confident he will do well there.

Brad says: “My background is in management, sales and customer service. For the past two years, I was the assistant manager at Colter Bay Marina in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. I have been around boating my entire life and am looking forward to exploring the Delta and the Bay Area. I grew up in Michigan and spent time sailing in the Great Lakes and waterskiing on the many inland lakes. My wife, Jennifer and I enjoy hiking and the outdoors. Stockton′s proximity to both the mountains and the ocean is a big draw for us, and we intend to take full advantage of it.” When you stop by River Point, please be sure to give Brad a warm greeting.

The Delta Chambers had a great mixer at the Stockton Yacht Club. There was plenty of food, drinks and valuable prizes. Here, Ronda won a beautiful artwork painted by Robbie Ann.

Take a few minutes now, and set that new camera you got for Christmas to 300 dots per inch. If that is not a choice on the menu, then set it for the highest quality image. That way you can send me usable photos for the magazine.

Help us make the 20s roar! Let′s party! Commodorewells@msn.com or phone 916/869-9141. H


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