Monday, April 18, 2016


John Gardner with the historic Phoenix of Hiroshima peace boat in 2007 before it sank.
July 11, 2016

Dear Phoenix Friends,

Now that we are preparing to determine whether the Phoenix even can be salvaged, the big question is, where is she? Jerry and I, producer-videographer Brian Cowden, Phoenix owner Naomi Reynolds, plus any of you who can and want to join us are meeting at the (changed to Levee Cafe, Isleton, CA at 8 AM on July 9th to discuss the situation and track her down. Then on July 23rd we might meet again, hopefully with one or more scuba divers ready to go down and do a preliminary evaluation of her condition.

Here is the Phoenix 6 years ago, just after the man towing her up the river rammed her into a dock which eventually led to her sad and slow demise. Naomi marked her location with a buoy and divers went down to evaluate her condition soon after this picture was taken.

Mike Fitzgerald, a columnist at, took the picture which gives us the background (i.e., delta which goes for miles without identifiable features) and her proximity to the shore. But the river has alternate names on maps, Sacramento and Mokulumne, and is it the east shore or the west shore? Is it up the river from Isleton or around the island across from Isleton, on the next river east?

Mike and Naomi have both been to the site. Their memories of how to get there are understandably vague. Naomi tried to find the site with Ted last year. Ted says she drove all the way around the river one way to be sure it wasn't there before she drove up the river the other way. She says she found it. But they were on the wrong side of the river to be absolutely sure.

What we have to work with are the above photo and Naomi's written directions to the divers six years ago. Jerry and I downloaded Google Earth--six years ago the boat was visible from Google Earth. Ted and his youngest daughter are using Office of Coast Survey (

Here are Naomi's instructions to the divers back in 2010: "She's in the Mokulumne river, off Tyler Island. Using Google Earth, I got approximately 38o10'49" N and 121o31'40"W.  However, when the Parker Diving boat got to these coordinates, they were a little off.  If your guy starts there, and then heads north on the Mokulumne around one or two bends, he'll be in the right area.  He wants to look for a little buoy floating maybe 20 or 30 feet off the western bank.  If he gets to a blue makeshift dock, he has gone too far.

"If you go by land, you go north through Isleton, and turn right on Tyler Bridge Road (small road, easy to miss).   At the end of the road is a drawbridge, which you cross.  Once you cross the bridge, you take a left and stay on the road, following the river on your left, circling the island clockwise.  Keep on the road -- seems like a long way.  Eventually the road takes a sharp right, across the island, leaving that river behind.  Continue across the island.  At one point another road joins this one, keep to the right at this fork.  Then you come to the Mokulumne River, and you continue on the road, keeping the Mokulumne on your left, continuing to circle the island clockwise.  The road gets bad, but once you get past the short washboard gravel portion, you know you are getting close.  After that, you will see a house and some boats and outbuildings down a hill to your right, and the bluish dock on the left.  Go past the bluish dock.  Go to the 25-mile per hour sign on the left.  The Phoenix is between that sign and the next 25-mph sign, just a few yards further down on the right.  Again, look for the little buoy that the Parker Diving guy attached to her."
But the buoy disappeared sometime ago--and in forwarding this yesterday Naomi added, "Please note that the house that I mention must have burned down or been taken down or something, because when Ted and I went out there [last March or so], I was looking for the house as a landmark and couldn't find it.   Eventually I spotted a driveway that matched the layout of the driveway to the no-longer-there house!"
Pause for clearing of head.
Brian suggested asking residents of Isleton where the boat is. So I Googled Isleton, got the name (and face) of a Joetta Corvallis from a FOX news interview with 3 of the 7-800 residents responding to the fact Isleton no longer has a police force. Directory assistance gave me her number and she answered the phone but said "We've been here since 2004 and we've got a boat ourselves. She's not here or we would have heard about it." (That's the impression I got of her from her comments about the police from a stool at the counter of the local diner.) "She must be on the delta loop side, off Highway 12, near Tower Park." 

So far directions from Ted, Naomi, Joetta Corvallis, and the visual context in the photograph (river makes 90-degree right turn in distance) call for going north from Isleton to the Isleton Bridge (according to Ted and one map) or Tyler Bridge, according to Naomi, crossing it, turning left (or right), driving an unknown distance either up the coast or down the coast and west around Tyler Island (or Andrus Island or Grand Island, though it is not on Google Earth, or at least nowhere near Isleton). The boat was across the Sacramento or Mokulumne River, that is, on the east (or west) side.

If we can find her (and can remember and describe where we found her), we'd like to have scuba divers ready to dive for us on the 23rd, so Brian can take pictures of discovering her remains.

But what if the current has swept her downstream, or she is buried in mud or silt? What if she was in the way of shipping and the authorities dragged her off somewhere and chopped her into kindling? Or--what if they salvaged her themselves and all we have to do is pay the fees? :o)

Anyway, if all we do is have a pleasant visit with each other over lunch at the [Levee Cafe] (and perhaps run into the outgoing, outspoken Joetta Corvallis) it will still be worth it.


Jessica and Jerry

P.S. You are welcome to join us at [Levee Cafe] at 10AM on July 9th in Isleton. The town of Isleton ("Isle" as in Island and "ton") is 38 miles south of Sacramento, 65 miles northeast of San Francisco and 30 miles northwest of Stockton. (For us, it's 388 miles north of Long Beach.) You can't miss it.

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