Letters from You - February 2018


The boats you pictured in your November 2017 “Lessons Learned” article at Herman and Helen’s aren’t rotting away there. The blue hulled army tug left a year ago, both black hulled ships are kept in good order (the tug moved to Half moon bay 6 months ago) and the Aurora is constantly being restored. The old mine sweeper is getting ready to move (although it’s a slow process). The only thing rotting away at H&H is H&H!

Steve Anderson



Thank you for pointing out the current situation at H&H. Prompted by your letter, I took a drive out to the end of 8 Mile Road to see the old Herman and Helen’s from the land side. You are absolutely correct; H&H is in an advanced state of disrepair. I counted approximately a dozen boats at the marina; I counted fewer than a dozen serviceable slips. With gangways to the sheds missing or no longer attached, entire sheds sinking or threatening to sink and the structures look ready to fall over. The old resort is a bit of a mess. What a shame, but it could probably be saved and brought back to the resort that I remember with the right ownership and investment.

Looking at the Aurora, the Fir, and the other ships I am sorry but I don’t see any signs of progress other than as you mention the tug finally was repaired and moved out and the exterior of the Fir being half painted. In fairness, that Tug was working when it arrived with her tow and as I heard lost an engine. It is one thing to repair a working tug and quite another to restore a classic ship.

I remember speaking with someone from the Aurora 7 or 8 years ago when she was tied to the end of San Francisco Pier 38. That individual came over to Jack London Square where the USS Potomac is berthed and many of us discussed the plans for restoring the Aurora. As I recall, the plan for restoration was not much more than a framework with insufficient funding to do little more than keeping her afloat, let alone any sort of restoration. It was just a few years later that the Port of San Francisco evicted the Aurora and she arrived in the delta where paying rent is optional and apparently in water, ship work is unregulated. From the shore it appears that none of the vessels are tied to a dock and all appear to be resting in the silt. I saw no sign of shore power or a safe method of embarking the ship. The hull of the Aurora is visibly wasted at the starboard quarter waterline with no visible attempt of repair. The USCGC Fir is half painted but in a similar state as the Aurora. It is evident that someone is doing some work on the vessels which begs the question, is Little Connection Slough a boatyard suitable for ship repair? Every boatyard in the Bay and Delta goes to great lengths to contain, scrub, and properly dispose of all waste material. All sanding dust that gets past the vacuum sanders is washed from the yard surface into containment areas and hauled off. Every boatyard is regularly inspected so that they do not pollute our water. Is the impromptu shipyard on Little Connection Slough doing the same?

Having been involved with the USS Potomac for nearly a dozen years, I have a pretty good idea of the resources it takes, both man hours and financial, to restore and keep a classic ship operational. I appreciate a classic ship probably more than the next guy and would love to see the Aurora and the Fir restored to their previous glamour, but unless I am seriously missing something, I don’t see that happening. I understand that an East Coast group purchased the USCGC Fir earlier this year with intentions to restore her. That ship has been towed all over the bay and delta since being decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard and towed to the mothball fleet in Suisun Bay in 1997. After being purchased in 2002, I have seen her in Sacramento, on the Sacramento River across from Rio Vista, then after 10 years in the Delta she arrived at SF Pier 38 and then a few years ago towed to H & H. Having been designated a national historic landmark in 1992 there has been very little restoration work done. Is this new owner planning her restoration at her current location?

I would love to meet with the owners of these ships to see the restoration plans and would gladly do an article on the history and future of the Aurora and/or the Fir. We could probably get my colleague, Bill Wells, to tag along. Bill has a long history with classic yachts and I’m sure would appreciate seeing the Aurora and the Fir cruising the waters again.



Dear Ty Mellott,

I spoke with your office manager, JP Salla, about an article I’d like to contribute to Yachtsman magazine. My husband and I brought a 100-year old European canal boat over from the Netherlands and wanted to write a story for your publication. We could talk about its history, or its refurbish or something else. We’d like to get it in the January issue if at all possible.

We need your approval, editorial guidelines and word count. We have tons of great pics etc. It has an amazing story too. Let me know if this is at all interesting for your publication.

Marie Martin


Hi Marie,

Ty forwarded your note to me. We always work at least a month ahead and you submitted your letter after the deadline for January. Send me your article and I will take a look at it. It could be of interest to our readers. If you send a photo it should be a jpeg of at least 300 dots-per-inch and taken with a camera with a glass lens.

European canal boats seem to be the latest fad. Last month another reader sent a note to my colleague, Kim Haworth, about another canal boat that was shipped over here from Europe. I think Alan Almquist started the fad a couple of years back when he made a trip to France and rented a canal boat to tour the wine country and wrote about it. He returned last summer for another trip. Back in my yacht broker days I had a reproduction canal boat for sale at one time.  It was a cute little craft but unfortunately the folks that built it used a lower grade of plywood for the hull and it had some delaminating problems that were expensive to fix. Mike Foster, who at the time was the manager of Lost Isle, loved the boat. He bought it and used it as an office and a place to stay at Lost Isle. She was finally destroyed in a storm.  

Best regards,


Hi Pat,

Before I go further, I MUST tell you how very much I enjoy your “Lessons Learned” articles. I always go to your articles immediately. I get to the others on a time permitting basis. Yours is THE BEST.

I write because I was very pleased to read Leslie did well on the USCG License exam. I, too, took my exam at Alameda to receive my license. That was July, 2004. After, I spent some time in the wheelhouse of a privately-owned party boat on the Bay out of Alameda. But good things, too, come to an end. When I was done boating, I had a lot of text books and study materials I needed to clear out. I could not bring myself to toss them. Somehow, (maybe Craig’s list) I put the word out there, free to an interested person. I am pretty sure it was Leslie that called my home and spoke up for the books, study guides, etc., maybe some charts. My memory is not precise on what was there. Leslie wanted the lot, and gave me your mailing address. She even mailed a check to my home for the postage.

So, now, to read she has studied, learned, passed the exam and is licensed, her goal fulfilled, is wonderful reading. I am glad to have been a very small part of her success. I ask that you please pass along to her my congratulations.

 Keep writing, Pat. You have a gift. It has been a very long time since I lit up a good cigar. I may just try one on the fantail of a friend’s boat when warmer weather beckons.

Take care,
Jon Bannister



It was indeed Leslie that contacted you for the study materials. Although I had much of my study material tucked away it was mostly out of date, but, combined with yours she had a good start. I appreciate you being a loyal reader of the Bay & Delta Yachtsman, for making the effort to share your licensing study guides, and for your kind words. Let me know when and where and I will bring the cigars and port, rain or shine.


Editor’s note: Jon, Thank you for your kind wishes. Taking the course, passing and fulfilling the requirements for 100 ton licensure is arduous but very satisfying. Standby, it is possible an article on the entire process might appear in a future Bay and Delta Yachtsman edition!



Hi Kim,

Just read your December column in Yachtsman and wanted to share a cell signal secret at China Camp. While you are correct that there had not been cell coverage at China Camp, that changed last year. Could have knocked me over with an oar.

If you anchor in front of China Camp, you are correct that there isn’t cell coverage. But, and this is a secret I’m sharing, if you anchor half way between McNear’s Beach pier and China Camp, where the rocky outcrop sits, and in 10-feet of water, there is cell coverage. OK at least with AT&T, I get 2-3 bars. It just popped up in the last year or so.

I work from my little sailboat so having a cell signal for internet is important. BTW most of the Delta has cell coverage too. I spent seven months anchored out over summer both in the Delta and the Central Bay. Love China Camp too. It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it.

Love reading your column every month. Glad you have your haul out done. With luck I’ll haul the Rose next year. It will be 8 years, since the last haul out and yep it’s near about due. Luckily I’m anchored in fresh water now, so the hard stuff does not form. Fingers crossed.

BTW the old Humphrey’s restaurant at the Antioch Marina will be reopening under new owners sometime in the next month or two.

Beni Bacon
SV Frisco Rose (The pink boat - yes it’s a girls’ boat) Islander 34



I am going to do exactly as you suggest next time we are anchored at China Camp. You are clever to have found a signal!

Of course part of the attraction of being anchored is not to be connected to the world outside, but sometimes you just have to surrender the solitude and bow to the demands of society, damn it!

Thanks for the tip! Good luck with your haul, be advised, the price has gone up significantly since you last bettered your bottom.




Thank you very much for publishing my letter about San Jose Sailing Club. In answer to your question, the Historic Clubhouse in Alviso - think about 100 years old - belongs to SouthBay Yacht Club. It is an active club. We, San Jose Sailing Club, have never had a Clubhouse but we do rent the SouthBay Club facility a couple times a year for our activities.

The SouthBay Yacht Club has an interesting building with some great pictures of people in their boats around 1900. At one time it was a thriving port serving communities around the Bay although it would be interesting to see how they were able to tack out of the harbor and up into the Bay.

The building sits up on the levee because the land in that area has subsided by many feet. Their Club is in the process of installing new docks.

Thanks again for letting the Bay Area know about our club and the enjoyment we get sailing the Bay, enjoying the company of other boating folks and the fun of being part of the boating community.

Clyde Thorington
San Jose Sailing Club


Dearest Clyde,

Thanks for setting me straight about the difference between the SouthBay Yacht Club and the San Jose Sailing Club. My Bad! I knew that and have even been there, but in haste my brain took over and drove me over a cliff, again!

Hope to see you out on the water!

Thanks for the very nice letter,



Dear Bill,

The Yachtsman magazine is never far from reach. We even brought a copy with us everywhere we went on our trip to Fiji. Here is Wendy checking out the centerfold.

Thom and Wendy Foulks


Thom and Wendy,

Thanks, it looks like you folks had an excellent trip! Thanks for adding to the fabulous collection of places the magazine has visited! This is further proof that the magazine is enjoyed worldwide!

Bill H

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