San Francisco Bay Area
Whaler Rendezvous 2001

The California Delta, where the rivers that drain the Central Valley and the western slope of the Sierras meet San Francisco Bay, has over a thousand miles of waterways and a history steeped in tradition.  Originally marshland, over time industrious farmers built levies around tracts of a couple of square miles each, pumped out the water, and farmed the rich peat soil.  It seems nobody trusted their neighbors to maintain their levies, so everybody had their own with the thousand miles of waterways between.

Since California Whaler owners don't have to winterize, we hosted the first rendezvous of 2001.  Eight whalers met at B&W Resort (great name, but no relation) on the Mokelumne (mo-QUAL-uh-me) River the weekend of June 18-20 to go Whalin'.  Weather was warm (95F) but pleasant on the water in a moving boat.
Bud and Alice Cligny's magnificent '73 Sakonnet.  That's not a restored boat, they are the original owners and have just taken great care of it.

Five boats bailed from work early on Friday to get started and avoid the rush hour traffic.  We started the week by boating about four miles to Moore's Riverboat II for dinner.
Waiting for a table at Moore's Riverboat.

Saturday 6:00 a.m., the serious fishermen got in a couple of hours trying to fool the Striped Bass population, with some success.
I love the smell of Whalers in the dawn.

Andy Gere with a nice striper.


By 10:00 a.m. Saturday, the other three boats had turned up and launched, and we all headed out for a day of exploring the Delta.  We quickly lost Underdog to an intermittent Johnson.  As we ran south down the San Joaquin River, we kept getting passed by some SERIOUS go-fast boats.  Turns out they were on a poker run headed the same place we were - Lost Isle, a Delta tradition: party place popular with water skiers.  I heard one of the go-fast owners saying he'd repropped and it had run 109 (dunno if that's MPH or knots) consistently.  We had a beer, decided the music was too loud and headed down Turner Cut to stop two: Tiki Lagun where we'd heard there was a good burger.  No burgers there, but we moved the boats to Turner Cut Resort next door where they did have a pretty good burger.  By the third docking of the morning, we were getting pretty good at it.
Tying up for lunch at Turner Cut

After lunch two boats headed back the way we came down, the other five took the scenic route back Empire Cut to Latham Slough to Connection Slough to Old River skirting Frank's Tract (a flooded farm tract popular with fishermen, but a go-slow place lest you hit a submerged tractor) and back to the San Joaquin and Mokelumne Rivers and B&W.  The direct route boats only beat the scenic tour home by a few minutes, and we found Underdog revived (hyperactive VRO at idle had fouled the plugs) and out water-skiing.

Saturday evening we held a BBQ (BYO meat and a side dish to share).  We talked whalers and muscle cars 'til well after dark.
Meat on the grill.
Back row: Dave and Gail Workman, Keith Kneer and Dilya R., Alice and Bud Cligny, Linda Reisinger and Chuck Tribolet, Tom and Lisa Byrum
Front row: Drew, Linda, and Doug Burton, Nancy and Andy Gere, Steve and Jim Hooper.

Sunday morning the fishermen headed out, and again had some success.

The Sunday plan was to head out a 10:00 for an early lunch at Giusti's (JUICE-tee's) about 15 miles up the North Fork of the Mokelumne River, but packing and checkout hassles kept us from casting off until 11:00, and then an untimely fuel dock failure kept us another half hour. Underdog was out water-skiing again.  We had a brisk run (28 knots, I was hungry) with four boats (Just a Fluke, Namaquiot, Black Dog, and Ainoa) to Giusti's and what turned out to be late breakfast for most of us.
Drifting in the Mokelumne, waiting for the gas pump to get fixed so our last boat could fuel.

While we were tied up at Giusti's, Andy and Nancy put up the Mills canvas so Jim could check it out.
These two fellows trolled by at Giusti's, and came over to say hi.  They said they'd had that little Classic 13 fifteen miles out into the Pacific.

After breakfast, Just a Fluke and Ainoa returned the way we had come, Namaquiot, Underdog (who turned up after skiing as we were leaving), and Black Dog planned on returning via Georgiana Slough, but found the flood gates up at the Cross Delta Canal and instead came back via the South Fork of the Mokelumne, which has some nice little beaches at the upper end which might be an option for a Saturday picnic lunch another year.


To Jim Hooper for doing most of the organizing and B&W for hosting it.

Dramatis personae:

'73 Sakonnet Orca Bud and Alice Cligny
'77 Montauk Sea Spirit Dave and Gail Workman
'79 Montauk Namaquiot Andy and Nancy Gere
'86 Outrage 18 Just a Fluke Doug, Linda, and Drew Burton
'89 Outrage 18 Little Bear Tom and Lisa Byrum
'94 16 SL Underdog Keith Kneer and Dilya R.
'98 Montauk Black Dog Chuck Tribolet and Linda Reisinger
'00 Montauk Ainoa Jim and Steve Hooper

It's a small world: