Every so often I like to take low and slow flights over the Delta just to see what I can see. In all the years I’ve been doing this, it never grows old. On one such flight a few years ago, and an uncommonly clear day, I asked my accommodating pilot to detour over to Tinsley Island.
Back in my boating days in the mid-80’s, I motored by this private island many times not knowing anything about it. Like most other Delta islands, from the water level all you see are lines of trees or tules belying what may exist beyond. If you venture out to the west end of Eight Mile Road, turn left on Rio Blanco Road and follow that to the end, you can see it. Yes, all you see is a line of trees.
But get up a little higher and now you can see a very well appointed addition to San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club. Why in the heart of the Delta?
It’s common knowledge to those of us who have lived in the Valley for any length of time that the summer is decidedly warmer than San Francisco, which in the summer tends to be cold, foggy, and windy. This was incentive enough for the St. Francis Yacht Club to search for a warmer alternative. In 1958 a group of members pooled personal funds and purchased the then-overgrown island for $10,750.
In this photograph, Tinsley Island is at the lower right with Ward Island immediately to the upper left. Little Venice Island, another private boater’s paradise is just to the upper right and Little Potato Slough then leads up and beyond the west end of Eight Mile Road.
Tinsley Island is open to members year around and might be worth a little more now than the 1958 purchase price.
Rich Turner explored, photographed, and aerial photo-mapped Antarctica as a Navy photographer, was a newspaper photojournalist for 19 years, and has operated his own fine art photography studio since 1990. “Delta Grandeur”, his traveling exhibit, is now touring California museums and libraries. His his most recent passion is spreading the word far and wide about what an amazing place the Delta and Greater Bay Area is. With the help of very talented writers, artists and photographers, publishing this magazine seems a good way to do that.