Cruising off the coast
of L. A. on a luxury yacht
“White wind” is crewed by the other group from SoCal Social Club on a cruise of Santa Monica Bay on Sunday. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
THERE ARE FEW BETTER WAYS to spend a summer’s afternoon than lazing on the deck of a 40-foot luxury yacht a mile or two off the beaches of Santa Monica Bay in Southern California.
The region is world famous for its outdoors sports offerings.
If one is so inclined, they can be combined – even on the same day!
Golf in the morning, tennis in the afternoon. Hiking up an 8,000-foot mountain at sunrise, basking on the beach at sunset.
On Sunday, for about 25 members of the SoCal Social Club it was bicycle riding and sailing on a luxury yacht – all in the same glorious day.
After day a 20-mile bike ride from West Hollywood, Calif., to Marina Del Rey, it was time to hit the water.
To read Part I of this saga click here
THE ADVENTURE WAS PRODUCED by LA Ecotourism firm Bikes and Hikes, whose slogan is “Experience LA – Don’t just drive past it!”
Three SocCal Social Club members enjoy lunch in the cockpit of “Miss Behavin.’” Vartan Kerasimian, left, Brian LuGrain and Dale Price. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
Two stylish, newish yachts were tied up at the public dock in Marina Del Rey when we arrived, box lunches prepared by Luciano Costa’s SoCal Social Club, in hand.
(We stopped for a photo op at The Lighthouse … one of my favorite haunts when biking the Marvin Baude Bike Path; I’ve never used the public dock there before, though, instead always chartering from Blue Pacific Sailing on the other side of the Marina.)
One was a Hunter 38, the other a Sun Odyssey 409. Each had a skipper aboard, and it was mere moments until we cast off.
“Miss Behavin’” was a not inappropriate name for our craft, though the skipper, Daz Pettus, is an amiable old salt with four decades under the mizzen, so to speak.
Skipper Daz Pettus goes through the safety drill as we leave Marine Del Rey on a cruise of Santa Monice Bay. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
He holds a US Coast Guard 100 Ton Master license, so it was child’s play for him to maneuver a 40-foot Sun Odyssey around the marina and out onto the bay.
“Everyone get’s a chance to ‘drive’ the boat,” he said, carefully avoiding sailor lingo for the uninitiated.
First, we had to replace some of the hundreds of calories just burned away on the bike ride.
Lunch in the cockpit was a jovial affair for the 12 crewmen as the skip went through the mandatory safety procedures – reminiscent of an airline fight attendant giving instructions during the taxi to take-off.
“If you fall overboard, we’ll throw one of these floatation cushions after you,” Pettus said, sternly. There’s no messing with safety at sea; Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress.
Dale Price takes the helm while Skipper Daz Pettus gets a chance to relax on Santa Monica Bay. Click image to enlarge. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
It was a quarter-hour, perhaps, under power until we cleared the breakwater, heading northwest out into Santa Monica Bay.
The sensation is always the same: I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve experienced it.
As the shoreline recedes into the distance, the city and all its wonders and woes does so too. A couple of miles offshore, one could be on a different planet. (Of course, in the opposite direction, you’d be on the 405 Freeway, the world’s busiest!)
“I’ve never done sailing [like this] before,” said crewman Vartan Kerasimian, afterwards. “This is the only time in my life I didn’t get seasick, as I usually do…”
With a grin, he added: “I’m glad they didn’t give us oars, or pound on a drum!”
As each crewman took a turn at the helm, we gradually made our way up the coast, passing close to Venice Pier in a northwesterly direction.
The wind was about 10 knots from the west-north-west, so we were on a close haul. (Those unfamiliar with sailing terminology please refer to “Ultimate Adventure” the seven-chapter story on this blog about my trip to the British Virgin Islands in January, where you will find a link to a glossary of sailing jargon)
THE PLAN WAS for the two sailboats to cruise leisurely towards the world famous Santa Monica Pier. About 500 yards west of the pier should have been a green Coast Guard warning bouy, with bell tower, usually surrounded by noisy, growling sea lions.
From there we would race back to the marina, the winning crew getting some unspecified “prize.”
A chart of where the green warning bouy SHOULD have been … but wasn’t.
As we approached, the skipper asked all of us to watch for a visual sighting of the bouy. We scanned the horizon intently, but saw nothing.
Pettus kept reading from his GPS: “It should be dead ahead, right over the bow,” he said at one point.
Twenty-four eyes saw nothing in the water.
“We should be sitting right over it now, according to the GPS,” Pettus finally, exasperatedly, exclaimed.
He was not as familiar, perhaps, as I am with these waters. (He’s done most of his sailing elsewhere.)
I have seen that green bouy with the bell tower more times than I can count. Not today!
It simply was not there!
Your raconteur takes the helm of “Miss Behavin’” during our cruise of Santa Monica Bay. Photo by Dale Price. © SGE, Inc. All rights reserved.
Lesson One: don’t rely exclusively on your technology. Would you believe your own eyes and ears or a geo-positioning satellite map that, clearly, was not up to date?
You saw how Google is wrong about the route from West Hollywood to Marina Del Rey in the earlier part of this yarn; now the GPS was wrong, too!
Check out the chart of missing bouy from California Sailing Academy, where I took my first ASA 101 class on the way to obtaining ASA 104 certification in 1999.
It is marked in bright green!
After some indecision, the skipper decided his own eyes were more trustworthy.
We came about, unfurled the jib, and signaled the other yacht to follow suit.
It seemed like mere minutes until we were off the breakwater again at Marina Del Rey. With the wind astern, there is hardly any sensation of moving; time seems to pass so much quicker – especially if you’re having a marvelous experience.
“It was fun, enjoyable, relaxing,” said Tom Trumbo, who drove up from his home in Carmel Valley, San Diego, for the adventure. “It’s a nice way to spend a Sunday.”
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