Delta Rat Scrapbook - July 2019

Cinco De Mayo At The Sacramento Yacht Club

We enjoyed a great party at the SYC. This is the day they normally have their opening day parade on the Sacramento River but due to the high water caused by the recent rains and the amount of debris coming down the river the club decided to have a big party instead. It is also the 5th of May so what a better theme than Cinco de Mayo. After Vanna Turner checked us in, we headed for the bar. We sipped a margarita, well, I had a margarita and Sue had a coke. We dined on enchiladas, rice, beans, and salad.

After dinner Tim Hodge put on a presentation to educate us about tequila. Now my experience with this concoction goes back to my Navy days when we would go to Tijuana on payday to unwind. There was one outdoor bar where for 35 cents you could get a Pacifico beer and a shot of tequila. Of course, this was in the late 1960s when a dollar went a lot farther. There were many times my buddies and I would be watching the sunrise while enjoying this breakfast of champions.

We learned that all that is called tequila is not really tequila. For a liquor to be called tequila it only must be 51 percent blue agave from the tequila region, the rest could be rum or whatever. When you buy tequila, check the label on the bottle and it will tell you the composition. To my shock, there are a couple of popular brands that I learned that are not all blue agave. I learned more about tequila than I ever thought existed. So, tequila, like Champagne, must come from a particular region in Mexico near the town of Tequila. Mescal is another agave liquor that is based on the agave plant, but it does not have to be from the Tequila region. I originally started drinking Tequila because it was cheap and available in Southern California. Today it can be an exclusive liquor and prices have risen dramatically. Tim had a $200 bottle of tequila for us to sample. We each had six tequilas to try and I was very careful and only took the smallest taste of each to make sure I made it through the entire test. They were all good in my opinion and I am not sure I need to pay $200 for a bottle to enjoy tequila. Oh yes, tequila does not have a worm in the bottle, that is a marketing ploy for some mezcals.

Restore The Delta

The organization held its Halfway Home event at Wine and Roses in Lodi. Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs was the keynote speaker along with Eleni Kounalakis, the California Lieutenant Governor. A host of folks received awards, elected officials, private citizens and government workers. I was honored to receive an award from Restore the Delta and one from the City of Stockton for my work in combatting the twin Delta water tunnels and helping to defeat the project.

Retired Assembly Member Joan Buchanan kicked things off, she was actively involved trying to stop the Bay Delta Canal Plan (BDCP) when she was in office and has continued to work to stop the WaterFix and save the Delta after she left office. Currently she is the president of Restore the Delta. She welcomed everyone and introduced Don Nottoli a Sacramento County Supervisor covering the Delta and the head of the Delta Counties Coalition. Don spoke of the struggle over the last twelve years and the efforts he has made. Don has always been a popular figure in the Delta and seems to be seen everywhere around the Delta at meetings and events. After Supervisor Nottoli, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs spoke about his take on the Delta and its importance to the people of California. Mayor Tubbs introduced Lieutenant Governor Kounalakis who gave the other keynote address and spoke of her travels throughout California listening to citizens about their water concerns and Governor Newsom′s commitment to safe water for all Californians.

John Herrick and Tom Keeling who are a great comedy team, were the highlight of the evening. They had a great line of patter with plenty of one-liners they used while making presentations. A host of folks received the Delta Advocate Award and a certificate of Recognition from the Stockton City Council. These awards were presented to people who have labored to stop the BDCP/Waterfix over the last decade. I can′t name everyone who received an award but some of my friends and people I admire that were recognized were Barbara Daly, Anna Swensen, Gene Beley, Dan Bacher, Chief Coleen Sisk, Erik Vink, John Herrick, Michael Brodsky, Deirdre Des Jardins, Osha Meserve, Diane Burgis, Don Nottoli, Jim Frazier, Susan Eggman, Cathleen Galgiani, Skip Thompson and Bill Dodd.

Margeaux and the Professor provided musical entertainment throughout the evening. Many exotic appetizers were served, and the bar was open with hosted soft drinks and wine provided by Wilson Vineyards and Muddy Boot Winery.

Well, the theme of the event was Halfway Home, so we have defeated one tunnel, one to go. In a way this single tunnel plan is a red herring, it is not about the type or how many conveyances that export water. It is the amount of water exported, and although no study has ever been done to figure out how much water can be exported without destroying the eco-system of the Delta, anecdotally it seems like about 3 million-acre feet per year on an average. If the administration insists on building a tunnel to export water, there is only one feasible place to build it, Sherman Island. Building it there would enhance the flow of water through the Delta and help prevent saltwater intrusion. This plan was first conceived by Dr. Bob Pike a number of years ago back in the Bay Delta Conservation Plan days. It would not only help water flows, it would not disrupt life in the Delta as much as the Hood/Courtland tunnels, and it would be far cheaper to build. Of course, just the fact that it makes sense would probably cause the Department of Water Resources to oppose it.

Congressman Jerry McNerney

Congressman McNerney held an open house at his Stockton office recently. Congressman McNerney has been actively defending the Delta in the water war over the last decade. He has been involved in many other issues such as the invasive plant crisis we had a few years back. His Senior Field Representative, Gary Proust is seen all over the Delta addressing important issues on behalf of Congressman McNerney. Gary is a boater and has built and sailed small boats.

Sugar Barge

A top spot at Bethel Island is the Sugar Barge. They recently hosted a Delta Chambers mixer and the place was packed. Tracy and her staff plied us with shrimp and other delicacies. The dining room looks out over Piper Slough and beyond that Frank′s Tract. You can see all manner of boating activities while you are enjoying your meal. They have a fuel dock and plenty of guest dockage. If you are traveling by land yacht, they have a beautiful RV park, nicely laid out with plenty of trees and excellent security. Sugar Barge is basically an all-inclusive resort. You can rent boats or keep your boat in the valet storage with launching included in the monthly rent. There are plenty of fishing tournaments in the area and you are close to other Bethel Island marinas and resorts as well as the San Joaquin Yacht Club.

Sugar Barge at one time was actually a sugar barge that was used to haul sugar around the Delta. When it was repurposed as a restaurant it kept sinking so eventually it was moved and this beautiful building was constructed. They are right around the corner by water from Delta Coves, I predict a strong uptick in business soon. In the meantime, summer is here and Sugar Barge is a great spot with entertainment every weekend.

Village West Marina Tenant Appreciation Party

The weather has been variable with showers late into the season. Village West Marina & Resort had scheduled their harbor party for a Saturday in mid May. The day started overcast, as luck would have it a squall blew through, but it did not put a damper on the day. The management had some tents that were big enough to cover the crowd and the band had their own tent. Big Booty Bob and the Backside Kickers entertained the crowd throughout the day. Back Forty Barbecue served about 400 meals to the hungry crowd during the day

Village West Marina & Resort continues to evolve. The Riverside RV Park has been open for business now for several months and is very popular. Fourteen Mile Kayak should be open at the fuel dock by the time you read this. You will be able to rent human powered craft for cruising around the area. My favorite spot at the resort is the emBARKadero a private spot where the dogs of society can howl (and play). Also don′t forget that Delta Marine Sales has opened their office at the marina.

Delta Doo Dah Kickoff

I attended the kickoff meeting of the 10th annual Latitude 38 magazine′s Delta Doo Dah sailboat rally. This will bring 100-plus sailboats up to the Delta for a summer of cruising. The magazine took over the upper floor of the Richmond Yacht Club. Chris Weaver was the emcee and told some good stories of her experiences in the Delta. They had breakout sessions discussing anchoring and other things pertinent to Delta cruisers. I took a stack of literature about cruising the Delta and a cheat sheet of facts that I put together based on the phone calls I get from people that are cruising the Delta.

They had a nice buffet for the attendees and Latitude 38 publisher, John Arndt, bought me a beer or two while I was there. He is a good guy and obviously loves what he is doing with the magazine.

Delta Ditch Run

This 65-mile, generally downwind race from the Richmond Yacht Club to the Stockton Sailing Club is the actual physical kickoff of the Delta Doo Dah. My associate Patti Brennan was at the sailing club throughout the day she reports that 111 boats registered and over 100 started. Final results were posted the following morning at their breakfast event. I have resources attending that are going to provide professional photos as well as some that went out on the river to take pictures. The harbormaster/manager of the SC will provide me his recap.

Holt California

Randy and Linda Libician Welch spent months researching the hamlet of Holt which once was a few miles west out of Stockton where Whisky Slough Marina is now located. It was a place Stocktonians could go to unwind with drinking, gambling and possibly other activities. At one time there was regular train service to and from Holt from the Stockton terminal. The fare was reportedly 35 cents one way.

Leland Hirsch, Randy Welch′s grandfather, first came to Holt in 1920 as a telegraph operator. Later that year he married Bernice Ingraham and he accepted other assignments in California. In 1938, Victor and Bernice brought their family back to Holt, where Victor was the AT&SF Agent for many years after that.

Holt was named for the Holt Brothers of the Holt Manufacturing Company. They invented and produced the Caterpillar Tractor early in the 20th century.

If you remember the classic Paul Newman film, Cool Hand Luke, parts of it were filmed in Holt.

Randy and Linda put together a presentation and showed it at the Stockton Yacht Club. There were club members and many former residents of Holt as well as folks from the Haggin Museum and University of the Pacific. Randy′s charming mom, Vivienne, was there too. It was fascinating especially if you are familiar with Whisky Slough Marina and imagine the area was once the site of a bustling small town. Holt Manufacturing built the first successful continuous track tractor which opened much of the Delta to agriculture. Their tractors are credited with helping to win World War I with the ability to drag artillery and other heavy loads through the mud of the battlefields. The Caterpillar tractor led to the development of the tanks used in warfare today.

Ebony Boat Club

The Ebony Boat Club held their Jazz & Wine Festival in their floating clubhouse at the Stockton Downtown Marina. Jazzbeaux and Friends played two sets during the day. The place was packed with food and jazz lovers. First thing on the agenda was a wine tasting, there were several local varieties for your tasting pleasure, along with a selection of cheese and crackers. Later Carol Whitehead and friends served an excellent lunch of links, ribs, chicken, greens, cornbread and potato salad. There was cake or cobbler for dessert. I was literally stuffed and ready for a nap after I ate. James Mack was keeping the bar under control and Frank Whitehead was emcee throughout the day. By the way, Kerry Davis, among all his other skills, is a killer trombone player. It was a great afternoon right up until the time someone gave the microphone to Otis!

LHT Marine

I met Bill Thompson and Bruce Blankenthorn with LHT Marine. They have a great concept. They have a mobile service doing oil changes and other services to boats. They can also do canvas and upholstery. They support the Wounded Warrior Project and work with VetNet at the Employment Development Department in Stockton to find veterans they can train to work in the business. Bill is an Army veteran. They have a warehouse in Stockton where they can bring trailer boats for bigger projects. When I was there, they were upgrading the electric outboard motor on a bass boat. Military veterans are some of the most reliable people you can find and most of them have had some advanced training that can easily translate to civilian life. You can contact them at 844/vet boat, ext.102 or online at

Discovery Bay

Sam and Natalia Arditi invited us to their summer party. They have a beautiful home right on the water in Discovery Bay. We met their charming young adult offspring, Jonathan, Gallie and Eric. The theme of the party was Aloha and it started with a large graphic proclaiming “ALOHA” on their front door. As we entered, we met Gallie, and she put a lei around each of our necks. The main action was out on the deck overlooking the water where many of their friends were assembled. Bruce Hall, staff commodore of the Discovery Bay Yacht Club was on hand as well as current commodore Rich Allen. We met Sam and Natalia′s friends and former business partners from their days in Los Gatos. The highlight of the day was the troupe of dancers that performed hulas and other dances from the South Seas.

Sam asked me if I want to take a ride on the Tiki raft. At first, I did not understand what he was saying as he was pointing to the dock. As we got closer, I could see that the Tiki raft was tied to the dock. It was square with Astroturf on the deck and a table and four chairs were bolted to the deck, there was an umbrella for cover. The craft was powered by an electric outboard motor. It was expertly skippered by Eric, who took me for a cruise out into the slough. He said he loved living on the water in Discovery Bay with fishing and boating right outside his back door. After a cruise down the stream and back he pulled right up to the dock and dropped the mooring line right over the cleat and I stepped back on the dock and declared the voyage a success.

Stephens Brothers

Don′t miss this show at the Haggin Museum. From June 27 through September 29 in the New Gallery, there will be enlarged historic photographs, company advertising and naval architects′ drawings from the Haggin Museum′s archive chronicling the history of the three generation Stephens boat building company. This exhibit will tell the story of a Stockton company that earned its reputation on good customer service and built some 2,000 vessels ranging from rowboats, to minesweepers to large yachts throughout its eighty-five-year history. Many of these vessels are still in service at this time and you can find them throughout the Bay and Delta.

Also, on display will be a model of Miss 102, the 60-foot yacht originally built by Stephens. This custom-built yacht was designed by Dick Stephens and launched on April 26, 1956. The model was graciously underwritten by Dick and Donna Stephens and after this exhibit will be on display in the museum positioned by the Stephens Brother′s 1927 26-foot Runabout in the California Room. Miss 102 is currently being cared for by the Areias family and is still one of the most eye-catching vessels in Northern California.

Additionally, on Saturday, July 20 from 1330 hours to 1500 hours there will be a special presentation at the museum. The history of the company will be discussed with an audio visual presentation by Tod Ruhstaller, museum CEO and the Curator of History. I am confident this will be well worth your time if you are interested in boating and or the history of the region


Please be safe out there. It seems like there are increasing reports of stupid behavior and careless boat operators in the region. Just within the last few days someone posted on social media that they were out of fuel on the San Joaquin River and wanted to know how to get help. Don′t go out there without knowing who to contact in an emergency. 911 is better now but if you call them, they will have to transfer the call to the Coast Guard or local law enforcement if they can figure out where you are. Better to have the numbers for all emergency services on a card in your wallet or glued to your dash. Personally, I always have at least one VHF radio and generally two. People frequently call me to get directions and first thing I ask is: do you have your NOAA charts? Frequently the answer is: what is NOAA! The San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron has some excellent low-cost classes for beginners and more experienced boaters.

Call Doug Sherman at 209/475.8494 or Gary Rogers at 559/318.0721 to learn more. There seems to be more people out there needing some instruction on all aspects of boating especially the rules of the road, particularly which side to pass on and what a no wake zone means.

There is no need for anyone to be injured while operating or riding in a boat. Common sense should cover most situations. Remember the rivers are colder and running faster than normal. If you end up in the water, things could quickly go south. My boat is 36-feet long with a deep cockpit and enclosed house. I always wear a personal floatation device when I am underway. Again, I know I am preaching to the choir here, but I think all of us know some beginning boaters that we could encourage to become educated on boat handling and how to navigate our waterways.

Eight Bells

Ed Grogan, a well-known and popular Delta Rat, has crossed over the bar. Ed was a past member of the Village West Yacht Club and the folks there still have fond memories of him. Jim Baumann has recollections from the days he and Eddie worked together on the Delta Chambers board. As of late he was spending much of the year in Mexico. I never knew it, but he also played the saxophone. Eddie leaves behind many good friends.

Irish Pennants

One of my correspondents was cruising the Sea of Cortez and was frustrated that the charts were not very accurate. He said sometimes the islands are miles from where they appear on the charts. He noted that the charts were created in 1875 by the USS Ranger. I assured him that this was not my boat which was not built until 1937.

Owl Harbor held their great Swap Meet recently. Devery Stockon reports that: “It was a great success with more vendors than we have ever had and about 200 plus people paraded around picking up great finds. It was a lot of fun and it was really nice that Ty was able to stop by.” Although I could not make this one I have been at their swap meets in the past and was able to pick up a few items that I could not live without like some vintage looking running lights and an extra boarding ladder.

Demi Stewart seems to spend every free minute taking photos of the Delta. She gets it all, landscapes, sunsets, closeups of flowers and wildlife, and people. Here is one she took on Steamboat slough I think it really captures the essence of the region.

Don′t forget Barron Hilton will be holding his 61st annual fireworks display on Independence Day, Thursday, July 4th at Venice Reach on the San Joaquin River. If you are going to anchor there, I would suggest getting there no later than Friday June 28. After that it will be a zoo even with a heavy law enforcement presence. This will be the big party of the summer. I got a call from a lady asking if I knew what day they were on this year and I told her the 4th. She said she had looked everywhere” and could not find any information about the event. We always put it in the Bay & Delta Yachtsman, and it is posted on the Delta Chambers′ website and social media page. The news also goes out in the Delta Chambers′ monthly electronic newsletter.

I expect to see close to 3,000 boats at this event. Attendance has been down for the last few years with the economy not doing well and the drought. Now things are picking up dramatically and there is plenty of water in the rivers.

Well I must get started polishing my boat, there is a rumor that Kim Hayworth and Captain Sweetie might come to the Delta and I don′t want their boat to look better than mine. All for now!

Summer is here let me know what you are up to, 916/869.9141 or email: H

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