Marina del Rey

We’re tied up below the Pacific Mariners’ Yacht Club inside the huge Marina del Rey harbor. And I do mean huge. The harbor has eight large basins, five really big ones along one side and three slightly smaller ones opposite. Each of the larger basins probably holds nearly as many boats than could be found in all the marinas in Portland, combined. But we’re snug inside, where there’s no current and good shelter from the wind.

Dolphin in Santa Monica Bay (Happy Snappy cameras don't understand focus below the water surface).

Dolphin playing under the bow in Santa Monica Bay (Happy Snappy cameras don’t understand focus below the water surface).

We’ve been watching the weather up in Portland, with mixed feelings: Yes, it’s nice to be here, where it’s sunny and warm almost every day, but it feels a little odd seeing holiday decorations going up everywhere while the sky is a cloudless blue and the air temperature is hovering around 70. It seems unnatural to us Portlanders!

Cousin Guy, his talented wife Katie, and Ruth.

Cousin Guy, his talented wife Katie, and Ruth framing a smudgy Hollywood sign, as seen from Griffith Park.

We’ve also been able to connect with cousins Guy and Katie Webster, who live not too far away in Pasadena. We spent last Saturday with them, doing the tourist thing and entirely enjoying it. We began with a walk around the grounds of the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park on Mount Hollywood. The observatory overlooks the city of LA, and you get a good view of the famous “Hollywood” sign on the approach to the park.

The Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory

The landscape design around the art deco-style observatory building is nicely done and includes several pieces of interactive art that illustrate the positions and movement of celestial bodies in our solar system. Although the observatory isn’t used that much for research any longer, the observatory’s educational programs, views, and especially its planetarium, attract school groups and tourists.

Guy explaining the ecliptic of our solar system while on the art model of the planetary orbits.




Later in the day, Guy and Katie took us to the Getty Center, which is located high on a hill above LA and offered another expansive view of the city.

The Getty experience includes a hillside light rail ride from parking below to the campus above.

The Getty experience includes a hillside light rail ride from parking below to the campus above.

The Getty Center is a large campus that includes a couple of institutes and the Getty Trust’s offices, as well as several buildings that comprise the museum of art. It’s well known for its architecture, gardens, and view.


The water garden and Getty campus buildings. A few ducks have taken up residency. The maze in the pond seems to call for some R/C boats to try it out.

We walked through the gardens as evening fell, to see them before it was too dark. The sky was clear, the colors glorious shades of blue, violet, rose, and gold, and the view spectacular. Watching the city lights come on as darkness fell was memorable. The art inside was pretty good, too.


Visitors enjoy the late day sun a few days before full moon.


Half the experience is the architecture and the landscape.


A view to the south looking over the desert garden at dusk

The Pacific Mariner’s YC membership has been very welcoming and we’ve made new acquaintances with whom we hope to stay in touch. Members have been loaning us their cars, or driving us around to stores for hardware and groceries and supplies. Very generous folks. We’ve been working on boat projects – we’re always working on boat projects – but also doing a fair amount of socializing, so it hasn’t been all work and no play. We’ve enjoyed some great dinners, and many good conversations.


Randy preparing to go aloft: Up the mast for some cleaning and maintenance work.

Speaking of projects, one big decision we recently made is to add a 12 volt water maker to Velic. This makes fresh water from salt water, using reverse osmosis desalination. We’ve been thinking about this for at least a year but couldn’t decide whether we really needed the extra equipment and complication or not. We have three water tanks that, combined, hold approximately 120 gallons, which seemed like plenty. Good water makers are expensive, both in dollars and energy to run it. But the newer units are very efficient, use less power per gallon than earlier models did, are reliable, and reasonably simple to operate and maintain. The final deciding factor for us was the weather forecast for next year in the South Pacific, which calls for drier weather and probable drought conditions in many places as a result of the prolonged El Niño effect. If we can make fresh water ourselves, enough to keep our tanks topped up, then we won’t be asking for precious water from local villages on small islands. Moreover, the thinking changes from filtering and filling tanks just before departure on a long voyage to making water at sea and arriving with full tanks. A mental flip-flop for Randy.

We are now preparing for departure on Monday, November 29, heading for Catalina Island.


4 thoughts on “Marina del Rey

  1. Glad to hear you made it to my old sailing grounds. When you sail to Catalina from Marina del Rey, aim for the west end, so you don’t sail too close to Palos Verdes (the wind dies close in). The current will push you down, and you can correct your course after you clear Palos Verdes by a couple of miles. There are several nice places to anchor or moor on Catalina, depending on how isolated you want to be. If you want isolation, you have Emerald Bay, Cherry Cove and 4th of July Cove (toward the west end of the island). Wild animals (mountain goats, pigs and bison) will come down to the anchorage. Best areas with more activity are Isthmus Cove (close to 4th of July), and Avalon at the East end of the Island. Moorings are privately owned, and the Catalina Island Company rents them to transient boaters when they aren’t occupied by their owners. They may or may not charge for mooring at this time of year. You pick up a mooring by pulling up the wand attached to the bow tie point. Tie onto your bow cleat, and walk the attached rope to the stern tie point and tie onto your stern cleat. In the summer, they have water taxis to take you ashore. Avalon is a nice place to tie up. You can anchor on the outside (west of the casino), but it’s usually pretty lumpy there. Wherever you decide to stay, there are hiking trails leading from all the landing areas. Watch out for sea planes which fly in from Long Beach airport.


  2. Yes, the Christmas holiday decorations in 80 degree weather just don’t look right, do they? They never did in the 7 years I lived in L.A. The Marina Del Rey boat basin is definitely something else, as I bet are the monthly moorage fees for the permanent “residents”. What kind of watermaker did you acquire? Enjoy Catalina and their head testing red dye tablets.


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