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Thursday, October 21, 2010

10/15 Newport Beach etc.

Greetings to everyone from Avalon, again.

I haven’t written lately because there hasn’t been much to share. We are back in Avalon after nearly two weeks in Newport Beach. We came back to Avalon because they have an off season special:buy two nights of moorage, get five nights free! As full time cruisers we are always looking for a way to save a few bucks. Avalon is a sweet town and we enjoy it but its small and we have spent a lot of time here. By now there isn't much to really get excited about. The weather has been shifting into fall and most of the tourists and virtually all of the boaters have moved on. Essentially we are treading water waiting for Hurricane season to be over and for the 2010 Baha Ha Ha to get underway. The Baha Ha Ha is tremendously popular. There are some 200 boats signed up for 2010 and they all take off from San Diego on the 24th. They make just two stops between San Diego and Cabo and we hope to stay out of their path.

We arrived in Newport Beach under grey skies and rain. In fact they set a rain record while we were there, 0.33” in 24hours, the most since 1916 or some such. Heck, they don’t know rain. After 49 years in Seattle and the summer in SE Alaska this is NOT rain. Try Ketchikans’ more than 230” in one year!!! In any event it seemed to chase all the Newport/LA folks inside and our first two days here felt like a ghost town. Its all rather odd because Newport is a huge port. There are more than 2000 mooring balls here and another 2000 moored boats.

Newport Beach was an interesting stay. In the entire 12days we were in Newport Beach we hardly had any interactions with other boaters at all! We didn’t meet any other cruisers, were not invited anywhere or given any suggestions about places to visit or things to do. As we walked the streets and neighborhoods almost no one even spoke to us. The whole time we were there we had exactly one 30second hello one evening with a single fellow in his dingy as he was arriving and we were leaving the public dock and one conversation with a local who happened to be at the pump-out dock when we came alongside. The highlight was a visit from Chris and Liz for dinner Thursday and another trip to West Marine.

The whole Newport Beach harbors waterway is lined with homes. Most in the multi million dollar range. It is home to “The OC” and to Balboa Island. It is all very touristy and the homes are gorgeous. This time of year many are vacant. Once the sun came out again the people came popping out of their holes like gophers and it began to feel a little less surreal. It is beautiful…..and motoring around in our dingy it has been fun peering into the massive homes. Being on a mooring ball means all of our touring has started in the dingy. There are public docks scattered about to use and we have taken full advantage of them. Unfortunatly Newport is pretty divided into the have and the have-nots and the haves’ have decided that the have-nots will also have no public docks on their side of town. So seriously there are only public docks around the inner peninsula, part way to the north and a couple around Balboa Island. There are none on the east side at all. On our first foray out we also realized that every dingy is locked tight at the public dock. So before we could venture further we had to work out a lock system -no problem we needed to do that anyway but it just lent a feeling of unwelcome to the place.

It really is beautiful here with all the gorgeous homes packed in to every inch of every little island and waterway. Once the sun came out the harbor began to fill with boaters; kayakers, crew boats, paddle boats, dragon boat teams and old Avalon speed boats. Also everywhere in the harbor are the California classic the Duffy boat. These little guys are to southern California what gondolas are to Venis. They are short, wide, flat boats powered by electricity. Lots of cute names like “Watts up” and “Ohm Sweet Ohm.”

Once the sun came out and the weekend rolled around the big boats came out to play. The harbor became choked with huge yachts filled with the beautiful people of Orange County and captains in fancy hats. All the big private yachts, party boats, fishing boats, tiny little vintage Avalon’s and Duffy’s and high speed cigarette boats all parading around in the waterways carful to stay below 5knots!

The rest of our time at Newport Beach was filled with reading and movies, taco Tuesdays and walking the neighborhoods of Balboa Island. The mooring balls at Newport Beach are only $5/night and their Taco Tuesdays came around on Fridays too so our stay there was good for the budget right up until we found our way to Minnie’s -Cosa Mesa’s version of Seattle Second Wave. We managed to spend a couple of hundred dollars there in only three bags! My great find was a pair of 10x -30x50 binoculars. I have been hinting that a pair of high power binocs would make a great birthday present. Actually I have also been begging for an old fashioned pirate spy glass too. The old style brass monocle -small and compact enough to take with us when we do dingy recon! (I am going to keep looking for one of those!) I unearthed the binoculars in the bottom of a bin at Minnie’s with a price tag of only $49! It didn’t take much to talk Bill into the splurge. In addition we got some deck paint so hopefully one of our next projects will be getting the deck and cockpit painted.

So, we are hunkered down and drying off in Avalon. We will spend a week here then head on south with probable stops at Dana Point, Mission Bay and San Diego then after the 1st we will try and clear customs in Ensenada! Look out Mexico here we come.



  1. Bill and Kat: regarding your story about the jet skier, Eric... I'm Eric's sister and I just want to thank you, and the powers that be, for the miracle of his rescue. He has always had angelic protection... thank goodness because he requires it! Very grateful you were there and able to assist him. btw, I really enjoy your writing. You are a talented story teller. Thank you again, Alita

  2. Hi Bill and Kate,
    This is Eric Holt. I read your blog on our sea meeting. It was very well written and an interesting read. I just missed you the other day in Dana Point, was hoping to buy you dinner. I'm leaving for New Zealand on the 30th of October and I'll be back next year.
    Sincerly, thank you very much!
    Semper Fi

  3. Hey Bill and Kat-
    Our boat the Vagabundo was built in Newport Beach in 1936- don't think we will make it there by boat but do plan to visit. Glad all is well. Will think of you tonite as we have an F-dock gathering at Jim and joni's!
    Best Wishes,
    Tonya and Jerry