Sunday, April 17, 2016


July 11, 2016

NOTE: The Stockton Record ran two articles about the Phoenix: Historic sunken vessel relocated in the delta and

She was at 38 degrees 10' 49" N  121 degrees 31' 40" W, right where she was 6 years ago when a diver evaluated her!

Dear Friends of the Phoenix,

It was an intense two days, not counting 7-hour drives to and from Isleton. On the first evening, Jerry and I met cinematographer-documentarian Brian Cowden on the east shore of Tyler Island, the spot where the last photo of the Phoenix was taken.
We stood on the shore of the Mokelumne, which is the width of the length of a football field at that point, enjoying the mild breeze blowing across Tyler Island from the sunset behind us. We had GoogleEarth print-outs, binoculars, compass, cell phones. Brian could document the occasion with his numerous cameras.
But what we needed was a boat--with side-scan sonar, a magnetometer (for iron keel, iron ballast, large diesel engine) and/or a drag line. Or we needed a diver. Without the right equipment and training, we could do nothing but gaze at the water and wistfully imagine a 50-foot, 30-ton yacht beneath it. 

Next morning Jerry and I met Brian and Phoenix owner Naomi Reynolds at Isleton's Levee Cafe for breakfast. We discussed how to make the most of the only day we had. We drove back to the Mokelumne.
Before we left Long Beach, I had tried to eliminate the possibility that the boat had been moved. We couldn't yet determine whether the current was strong enough to move her. But I had contacted the Sacramento County Sheriff's office, which has a Marine Enforcement Detail dedicated to keeping the rivers safe and uncluttered. I had told Deputy Sheriff MarcWarren our boat had sunk in one of his rivers in 2010. He checked and said they hadn't had to move a 50-foot boat out of the way of shipping during the past 6 years. I said we'd be in Isleton Saturday and he said he'd be in that area and gave me his cell number.
Now on Tyler Island, we called Deputy Warren and he asked, “What were the latitude and longitude again?” When we read them off, he said, "I'm there."
As the four of us raced bumpily back down the narrow isolated road to the site, I watched around every bend for a boat. If the deputy had come to the site in a boat, he would have the equipment to do the search and could do it there and then. After all, scanning for sunken boats was not just our desire. It was his job!

As soon as I saw there was a boat, a small boat bristling with equipment, bulwarked with fenders, and, as we got closer, read Sacramento Sheriff on its side, I knew the day was saved. We would accomplish our goal, know if there was still a boat down there. Sure enough, it was slowly cruising back and forth across the area. From offshore Marc Warren called to tell us there was a 50' x 15' object-- "split," I thought he said. Was the boat broken in two? My heart was in my throat as I asked him to repeat. He said the image was on a split screen. Whew. He texted us photos. 

Like most sonograms the object looked nothing like we had expected. I thought it looked like an incision on someone's abdomen, a gash in a rib cage. Doctor Naomi, however, gazed at it and said in an awed voice the 2nd Great Quote of the day: "Oh, that IS an object!"
We were overjoyed. The boat still exists, she is in the place she sank and is in one piece. Divers will still have to evaluate whether she is salvageable but we're getting closer to being able to arrange for her restoration. There are several good diving and salvage yards in the area. Shipwrights Co-op in Port Townsend, WA is ready to receive and restore her once we get her trucked there. (My long-time trucker nephew Tony is getting bids.) Really, if the boat can be restored, the rest of the process is easy to arrange, just a matter of time and money.

Brian, as the four of us clinked glasses at a celebratory lunch afterward made the 3rd Great Quote of the Day: "It hasn't sunk in yet!"

Me: "Don't say 'sunk'!"

Thank you, everybody, for your continuing interest in the serendipitous (providential) saga of the Phoenix of Hiroshima!
Wishing each of you God's very best,
Jessica and Jerry Renshaw

Pix below: Sonogram of the Phoenix (or "Gash"). Hearing the news (owner Naomi Reynolds in background). My reaction.


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