Delta Rat Scrapbook - March 2018

Ebony Boat Club

The EBC held their change of watch at the Concord Hilton on January 13. Commodore Carol Whitehead wrapped up a very successful year and turned the club tiller over to Kerry Davis. We enjoyed an excellent dinner prepared in the hotel galley. DJ Andre provided some cool sounds during the cocktail hour and dinner. Before dinner Dr. Sharon Fuller took the microphone and welcomed all of us. She called on Rear Commodore Frank Whitehead to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance after which Deja Osborn delivered the invocation. After dinner, Commodore Carol Whitehead and Past Commodore Marilyn Brock recognized many officers and members for their contributions during the year.

The club awarded four scholarships to deserving young folks. The presentations were made by committee chair Janet Noyd, and past Secretary, Lori Dial. Alisica Tinsley, Canaan Baca, Deja Osborne and Malik Campbell were the recipients for 2017. They all have some very impressive credentials and I look forward to them becoming successful in their chosen careers and community service in coming years.

Following the scholarship presentations, the installation of 2018 officers was held. As I said, Kerry Davis is the Commodore for 2018. Frank Whitehead is Vice Commodore; Rear Commodore is LC Fuller, Secretary - Ann Dukes, Treasurer - Otis Brock, Training Officer - Dan McCoy, Parliamentarian - James Mack and Port Captain - Randy Harris.

Next Commodore Davis and First Lady the lovely Aleta Davis kicked things off with the first dance. DJ Andre upped the tempo to get things started and before you know it many folks were up dancing.

Club member Randy Harris has donated a steer from his Round Top Ranch to a year long club fundraiser. You can purchase four tickets for $25.00 and the winner will be announced at the 2019 change of watch. The winner can choose to have the steer prepped and packaged at a butcher or you could have it sold at a cattle auction and keep the proceeds for yourself. All money raised goes to help the Ebony Youth Foundation to help support the club’s scholarship fund. Contact Randy at 707/678.4802 to get your tickets.

I spoke with David and Lori Dial whom I have not seen in quite a while, come to find out they have moved to Petersburg, Alaska to spend their retirement years, yes Alaska! I guess they moved up there last summer. I checked their social media page in January and yes, it is snowing up there. It looks like they have a beautiful place right on the water. Now instead of living in the shadow of Mount Diablo they live in the shadow of Devil’s Thumb.


South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club

The South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club has installed Linda Gordon as Commodore for 2018. She was sworn in by PICYA Staff Commodore Linda Breninger. My travelling agent, Dave Breninger, reports that “The Club members are very hospitable and welcoming. And, the Club encourages boaters whenever they are visiting South Lake Tahoe to join them at their events.” The club has been around since 1961 or earlier, it was originally known as the South Lake Tahoe Boat Club.

Remember Lake Tahoe is only a short 100 or so miles up the American River from Sacramento. Of course, if you go by boat there would be a portage involved, but that would not deter dedicated boaters.


The California WaterFraud

Many people are calling the California WaterFix the California WaterFraud so I thought I would go along with it. If you have not been keeping up the utter fiasco that has been going on with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) it just keeps getting crazier every day. Last month I told you that the DWR is taking their logo off their trucks for fear of vandalism and attacks by citizens. I was recently at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition in Sacramento representing the Delta Chambers and Bay and Delta Yachtsman magazine. Every year at the expo, DWR has had a giant taxpayer funded booth passing out miss-information like maps (printed at the office of state printing) of California showing no infrastructure or towns in the Delta. This year they had no visible presence at all. I asked some of my contacts at the DWR what was going on but they did not want to comment. I am fairly certain they were worried about how the public would react this year with all that is going on with the Oroville Dam and the WaterFraud twin tunnel project.

The cost of repairing the Oroville Dam spillways has now jumped to $850 million. Soon, we will be talking real money. Just a year ago, the cost was estimated at $275 million. I predict that it will top a billion before all is done. Apparently, when the main spillway was first being built, the contractor warned DWR the support rock underneath would not support the structure and studies going back to 1948 indicate that the rock in the area was suspect and not usable to anchor large structures.

Michael Brodsky, the attorney for the Save the California Delta Alliance, has requested a 90-day continuance of the waterboard hearings that are being held to determine if a new diversion of the Sacramento River can be legally constructed at Hood because it has come to light that there is “extensive unlawful Ex Parte collaboration between hearing team members and DWR in preparation of DWR’s evidence.” Many other defendants in the hearing have also requested the continuance so the extent of the unlawful collaboration can be determined. In layman’s terms, this is like the judge and prosecuting attorney collaborating against a defendant, something that is absolutely not allowed.

The DWR has announced their fourth director in a little over a year. Mark Cowin, Bill Croyle and Grant Davis have all been the head of the department. Cowin and Croyle have retired and Davis has gone back to his old job as head of the Sonoma County Water Agency. Karla Nemeth took over the department on January 10, 2018. When I was working on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan public panel, Karla was project manager and Jerry Meral’s right hand person. She is married to Tom Philp who is the executive strategist for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

John Bednarski is employed by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California he alleges that he is “An expert in the BDCP/WaterFix.” He has submitted testimony to the waterboard that the approximately 9,500 barge trips, the blocking off of parts of the Sacramento River and other construction activities over the construction period of the WaterFix/Twin Tunnels will “Not pose any special or unusual challenges.” Well, I think there will be many challenges experienced by local boaters and since Mr. Bednarski seems to have no ties to the boating scene in California, I think it should be left up to the Coast Guard and local boaters to determine if there will be special or unusual challenges associated with the scheme to divert the Sacramento River around the Delta.

On another note, the Jerry Brown “bullet train” which will cruise the San Joaquin Valley from Madera to Bakersfield, was suppose to originally cost $6 billion has now been estimated to cost $10.6 billion and rising.


Franks Tract

The DWR is proposing filling in much of Frank’s Tract to create habitat for smelt. I went to a meeting Friday at the San Joaquin Yacht Club about a new feasibility study the California Department of Fish & Wildlife is working on. The project would fill portions of Franks and Little Franks Tract to create tidal wetlands and control salinity intrusion (instead of the dam they installed a few years ago on False River). They say this pays attention to the concerns of boaters and the Bethel Island Community but it raises huge concerns for both. Carl Wilcox who is the Policy Advisor on the Delta for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife presented the plan. My friend and associate Jan McCreery did a great job summarizing the meeting:

“The presenter was Carl Wilcox of Fish & Wildlife plus he had his two UCD researchers, Brett Milligan, a professor of landscape architecture and the principal investigator and Alejo Kraus-Polk, PhD student in the geography group. Jamie Bolt, the owner of Bethel Harbor, had assembled the right group of people including marina and restaurant owners (Russo’s, Sugar Barge, Rusty Porthole), representatives from Bethel Island MID, Karen and Smith Cunningham who own Bradford Island and had so much trouble when the False River Dam was installed which crashed their ferry, local realtors, and others. Jamie asked me to come to represent Discovery Bay and insight into how the project may change what we do/where we go (like to/from Bethel Island).

The Fish & Wildlife representative admitted a big driver is to build habitat for Delta Smelt because their endangered position keeps stopping the (Tracy Export) pumps. From both the salinity control and Smelt habitat (their two stated goals); both are primarily so they can continue their high levels of exporting. But looking at the project, I think there is more to it than that.

Looking at the amount of fill they would need for this project, it looks like an underlying reason is probably more as a place to put tunnel muck as anything else. They’d need 1000 acres about 5- to 10-feet deep.

It would basically close down direct access for boats to Franks Tract from most of the big marinas/restaurants including Bethel Harbor, Russos, Rusty Porthole, and Sugar Barge. It’s those big marinas that hold the weekly bass tournaments which are such a big part of Bethel Island’s economy plus that direct access is why those spots are always on all of the big cat poker runs, also bringing in money. But worse, Franks Tract is nationally known as one of the top bass fishing locations in the country, and bass fishing brings in much revenue to the local economy, especially when you consider fishing boats and all the other gear purchased.

Last but not least, the F&W representative, Carl Wilcox, said that even though this would dam off the east side of False River and all of the flow from the San Joaquin coming in via False River and Fisherman’s Cut wouldn’t create a problem for Piper Slough. That doesn’t seem believable to me if you funnel all that water down the narrow Piper Slough (the slough between Bethel Island and Franks Tract). Increased flows and that one slough is the only way for boats to come and go and would really cause wear and tear on the Bethel Island marinas and docks, I’d think.

Discovery Bay Boats would have to either go down Piper Slough to go west or go up to the San Joaquin main channel and around. Like we had to when the False River Dam was in place and which is quite a bit further/longer. The larger problem is Discovery Bay boaters would be much less likely to go to the Bethel Island restaurants and locations, further impacting Bethel Island’s economy.

Peter Moyle and James Hobbs recently said in a blog post: ‘There are huge uncertainties associated with WaterFix and EcoRestore, especially in terms of their effects on fishes. Together, they are a giant experiment that may or may not work as promised, no matter what the models and experts say.’ Peter Moyle is a UC Davis Professor Emeritus, James Hobbs is a research scientist with UC Davis.”

Wilcox said that it is possible the fill would be tunnel muck from the WaterFraud project. I have had some experience with dredging in the Delta and I know you just can’t go dump dirt and muck wherever you want without going through a rigorous permit process. Deidre Des Jardins a local activist and associate of mine points out that the amount of soil needed to fill in Frank’s Tract is about the amount of muck that will be produced from one of the Brown/Laird tunnels. In short, this is another project that needs to be stopped before it ruins more of the Delta.


International Sportsmen’s Exposition

The ISE is the premier outdoor show in Northern California and it takes place every January at CalExpo in Sacramento. There are boat and fishing tackle dealers packing the place along with outfitters from literally all over the world. Our booth was sandwiched between a Baja California resort and a fishing lodge in Alaska. They were interesting to talk to and we traded food back and forth during the show.

We passed out a few thousand brochures for Delta businesses during the four days of the event. Chris Lauritzen, owner of Lauritzen’s Yacht Harbor and one of the Delta’s premier experts on fishing, worked on Thursday. Eric Chiu who owns Park Delta Bay Resort came in on Sunday.

We get a lot of traffic at our booth as a lot of folks have heard of the Delta but don’t know much about it. There seems to be a fear factor among boaters that have never visited the Delta. I hear folks tell me they are afraid they will get lost or don’t think their boat is big enough. No matter the size of your boat, there are places in the Delta where you can enjoy it and I think getting lost is half the fun. The Delta is no place for nimrods. You need to have all safety and navigation gear and know how to use it. With a GPS it is pretty hard to get lost but paper charts still work fine too. For a new Delta boater, I strongly suggest having a reliable depth finder if you are going to be out of the main channels.

The highlight of the show for me was Jay Sorensen being inducted into the California Outdoors Hall of Fame on Saturday afternoon. He was inducted by outdoor writer, Tom Stienstra. Jay is one of two Stocktonians to ever receive the award and he is one of the few to receive the recognition while still living. He joins the ranks of Ansel Adams and John Muir who both were inducted. There are only 70 members of the group in total.


Jay Sorensen

Well last month Jay received the lifetime achievement award from California Sportsmen’s Radio show and this month he is inducted in to the Outdoors Hall of Fame. It is great that he is getting some very well deserved recognition. Jay started fishing the Delta in 1941 and after becoming a professional guide in 1982, has spent 225 to 250 days a year on the water, 8 to 12 hours a day. In the early 1970s, he worked for Stockton Unified School District and quit in 1974 to open a tackle shop; however he quit that also as it allowed him only to fish three days a week. When he was a child, he would fish in the Downtown Stockton Channel. He said that he would catch carp and sell them for ten cents each. It was a part time job for him.

As I mentioned, in 1982, he became a professional fishing guide. He is an undisputed expert in fishing the California Delta. He has latched on to some giant fish in his lifetime. One time on a charter he latched on to a sturgeon that he describes as looking like a telephone pole. He retired from his guide service a few years back when he developed health problems. He was diagnosed with cancer but being the tough guy that he is, he beat it and is now cancer free.

He still has plenty of contacts and writes a fishing column for the Rio Vista News Herald which is generously shared with the Delta Chambers fishing report on their website.

In 1974 after 30-plus years of fishing the Delta, he was alarmed that the once numerous striped bass population was in serious decline. Jay called a meeting with a couple dozen of his fishing pals and the California Striped Bass Association was born. Today the organization is a leader in working to save California fish populations. The organization helped defeat the Jerry Brown peripheral canal back in the 1980s and has been active helping to stop the current Brown/Laird twin tunnel scheme.

Jay got the name Jolly Jay because of his sardonic wit that he demonstrates frequently. He is the type of person that can drop a one liner on you without cracking a smile leaving you wondering if you heard correctly. I am honored to have Jay as a friend and I had the pleasure recently to meet many of his family members and join them for dinner. They are all fine folks and very talented in many different disciplines like sports management, education, and technology. They are all witty and it was great to be with them.

Jay writes a popular outdoor column for the Rio Vista River News Herald & Isleton Journal newspaper. They are kind enough to share it with us for our website. Jay has been fishing the Delta his entire life and can tell you the history of Delta fishing over the last several decades. He is recognized as the best bait fisherman in the Delta. Jay was honored recently by California Sportsmen’s Radio Show (AM1140) for dedicating his life to “The improvement of the environment, advocacy for hunting and fishing opportunities, and mentoring others in the outdoors.” Jay was the founder of the California Striped Bass Association and has been a tireless fighter to preserve and protect the California Delta over the last sixty-plus years.


Pacific Coast Yacht Association (PCYA)

Russ Robinson filled me in on the PCYA awards ceremony held at the St. Francis Yacht Club in January. Each year, the Pacific Coast Yacht Association (PCYA) presents two awards. One is called the Garret Horder Memorial Trophy which is presented to the yacht club that has the most outstanding youth sailing program. The Half Moon Bay Yacht Club is the winner for 2018. The club has trained over 700 young people from age 8 to 18 in the sport of sailing over the last several years.

The other is the Charles A. Langlais Trophy presented to the most outstanding individual that has demonstrated, Exceptional, Outstanding, and Meritorious Service in the Sport of Yachting. This year’s winner of the Langlais award is Joan Marsh from Pittsburg Yacht Club. The award is sometimes called the Outstanding Yachtsman of the Year along the Pacific Coast.

Unfortunately, just before Joan was to be presented the award her husband came down with a medical problem and had to be taken to the hospital. Russ told Joan about the award and Commodore Winston Bumpus made an executive decision to have Russ make the presentation at the PICYA Change of Watch ceremony at Sequoia Yacht Club the following weekend. This time it came off without a hitch.

Joan started boating at a young age when she operated rowboats and sailboats on Lake Merced in San Francisco. Later when she got married the family acquired a 17-foot runabout. This lead to having a Bayliner at the Pittsburg Marina where she met up with the folks at the Pittsburg Yacht Club. After joining the club, she had two terms as commodore. She has also been very active in the PICYA (commodore), Recreational Boaters of California (president), International Order of the Blue Gavel (president) and PCYA (commodore). I am probably missing a few here but you get the picture, Joan is a very active person and extremely deserving of this award.


Eight Bells

Bruce Boraas, a member of the Sacramento Yacht Club, passed away in his home on January 16, 2018 at the age of 74. He is survived by his children, grandchildren and nieces and nephews. Besides being a yachtsman Bruce enjoyed cruising on his motorcycle.


Irish Pennants

So far this has been a great winter. We have had quite a bit of rain, but it is buffered by some beautiful clear days. I am looking forward to another excellent summer.

Boating season is approaching and there will be plenty of photo opportunities I hope you will send me some good ones. Just remember, for publication in the magazine they must be jpegs of 300 dpi or more. Any camera that you have purchased in the last ten years should be capable of this, just set it for the highest quality setting. If you have a cell phone that you purchased in the last five years, it should be capable of 300 dpi as well. It helps also if your camera has a glass lens and not plastic. Remember you are recording the history of the Delta.

Let me know what you are up to; send me your 300 dpi photos. Give me a call 916/869.9141 or email H

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