Spring is Right Around the Corner


Spring is around the corner

Opening day of yachting at the Stockton Yacht Club

Opening day of yachting at the Stockton Yacht Club

 

Every year in the spring when the weather turns warmer and the rains subside, thoughts turn to boating in the Delta.  Certainly there are many die-hard boaters about in the winter months too but the advent of spring brings them out in force.  Most resorts and restaurants that close for a winter vacation reopen in mid April and opening day of yachting parades are scheduled all around the Delta and San Francisco Bay area.

The term “opening day” was coined in 1903 when the drawbridge in Belvedere was opened to let the “arcs” or houseboats travel from Belvedere Lagoon to their summer location in Belvedere Cove.  Since then the various yacht clubs have called the beginning of yachting season in the area “opening day.”

Opening day parades are held all over the Delta during April.  You don’t need to be a club member to participate in a parade with your boat.  You contact the sponsoring club to register beforehand and generally there is a small fee to cover administrative expenses. No boat?  No problem! There are many shore side venues where you can watch the parades as they pass by.

Erlyn Lucas Payne advises me that the Discovery Bay Yacht Club’s Opening Day parade will take place on Saturday, April 13. The theme this year is “Honoring Those Who Serve” – “we will have representatives from all branches of the Armed Forces as well as police, fire, etcetera. Please contact Chet Loveland at 925/516-7286 for reservations or information. Prizes will be awarded  to small, medium and large boats and there will be an open house at the yacht club for those who participated in the parade.”

The Stockton Yacht Club’s opening day parade will be on April 20.  This is always a great parade, it starts at Buckley Cove (light 39) and proceeds up the channel turning around at McLeod Lake and returns back downstream.  This year the parade theme is “The Delta is Paradise – Stop the Tunnels”.  Yours truly has been asked to be the Grand Marshall.  This will be a good chance to show Jerry Brown  and his henchmen that we do not appreciate their plan to destroy the Delta. To register or for more information call Rich or Leslie at 209/462-3808.

The San Joaquin Yacht Club is having their opening day parade circumnavigating Bethel Island on April 20.

Lenora Clark Vice Commodore of Pacific Inter-Club Yacht Association (PICYA) announces that the 96th annual Opening Day Decorated Boat Parade on the Bay will be held on Sunday April 28.  The theme for the 2013 is “The Great Race” Lenora advises: “It is our premiere event of the year and this will prove to be a novel year, not only for PICYA but a lot of other celebrations will be going on and partnering with our event, including the America’s Cup races, the 100th anniversary of the Oakland Yacht Club, and the Port of San Francisco will be celebrating 150 Years of service.” Richard Schwartz, Founder and Chairman of Boat U.S. will be the Grand Marshall of the parade.   You can enter your boat in the parade or cruise on the luxury yacht California Hornblower and enjoy lunch and cocktails while watching the parade close up.  For complete information please visit www.picya.org.

 

Memorial Day weekend party at Tower Park

Memorial Day weekend party at Tower Park

After the various opening days the boating season begins in earnest.  By mid May the weather is generally consistently warm.  Bikinis and shorts come out and there are parties and events all over the Delta every weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

 

Barron Hilton has been sponsoring a fireworks display at Venice Island on the San Joaquin River for over 50 years.  Hilton explains that he originally started setting off fireworks for his children at his duck club on Venice Island and every year more and more passing boaters would stop to watch until the event grew into a major festival with some 3,000 or more boats anchoring in the area for days.  You will see all manner of craft including airplanes and helicopters.  The local sheriffs and Coast Guard patrol the area  and maintain order among the revelers.

 

Venice Island 4th of July Party

Venice Island 4th of July Party

As a longtime member of the Venice Island Duck Club, Hilton has celebrated Independence Day in the Delta for more than 50 years.  “I began shooting rockets and fountains on the levee for the benefit of my eight children,” he said.  “I noticed that four or five boats stopped by to watch, then a dozen the next year, and about three times that number the third year.  From there, it just seemed to grow like an amoeba.”

 

Today, Hilton produces a 30-minute show, choreographed to patriotic music, and fired by professional technicians from Pyro Spectaculars.  Bill Dutra of the Dutra Group provides a barge that serves as a floating launching pad for the fireworks.  Even though the fireworks show itself only lasts only a half hour the boats start arriving for the event weeks beforehand.  Many people anchor their yacht near the island and use their shore boats to commute to work at their area jobs.  The thousands of boats are grouped so that there are pathways to travel and many clubs or groups secure the same space year after year.

 

Later in July local folk head to Village West Marina in Stockton for the annual “Taste of the Delta” event.  This is a strolling wine and food tasting showcasing Delta area wineries and restaurants.  It is accessible by car or boat and is a very popular event.  Check it out at www.tasteofthedelta.com

 

With almost 60,000 acres of water and 1,000 miles of waterways the Delta fun never ends.

stand up paddleboarders in Stockton

stand up paddleboarders in Stockton

 

 


About Bill Wells - A retired yacht broker, Bill is currently the Executive Director of the California Delta Chambers & Visitor's Bureau. He is an active member of the Northern California Fleet of the Classic Yacht Association. In their spare time he and his beloved wife Sue cruise their 1937 Stephens cruiser Ranger to boating events throughout the Delta. Bill is active in matters helping to preserve and protect the California Delta. He chronicles his adventures in the monthly Delta Rat Scrapbook column for Bay & Delta Yachtsman magazine.



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