By Pat Reynolds
When the clock strikes May in and around the Marina del Rey boating scene – it’s on. Boat owners stop promising themselves to sell that boat they haven’t used in months and once again return to the peace and energy that only a harbor withholds. Here’s a little round-up of what’s happening in the largest man-made marina in the U.S.
On the political front, some boaters from the community attended a meeting concerning the redevelopment of Marina del Rey this past week. While the meeting held at the Marina del Rey Hotel, was called “Marina del Rey Visioning,” it might have been named “Marina del Rey – Angry and Complaining.”
A line of disgruntled community members took turns voicing their disappointment to Gina Natoli from the county Department of Regional Planning at how things have gone, how they’re going, and offered skepticism as to how it all might go in the future. Natoli took it on the chin as citizen after citizen told her in no uncertain terms how displeased they were with a variety of issues.
Many aimed their sites at the issue of ballooning density; others questioned whether the original tenets of Marina del Rey were being adequately regarded. Some speakers were humble in their concerns while others seem to channel Norma Rae, the title character in a film about a labor union activist. Perhaps it was not the most productive gathering, but bad communication is better than none at all.
On a brighter note, the racing season is in full swing. Once California Yacht Club’s Sunset Series kicks off, the season is officially running on all cylinders. On May 18 and 19, the yacht club will also host Cal Cup, which is a unique contest between the West Coast “sleds” – 70-foot purebred racing machines that gather for an exclusive invitational here in the bay. The boats are all beautiful – impeccably maintained and the racing is at a high level.
On the other side of the 70-footers-engaged-in-buoy-racing coin, another impending contest has people talking. The Mini 650 Pacific Challenge is a single-handed race from Marina del Rey to Hawaii, contested in 21-foot sailboats. Seven men in seven very small boats will be crossing the Pacific starting July 6. Mini racing is popular in Europe, but this is the first organized transpacific race for the class in the United States. It’s a 2,200-mile journey that is sure to challenge.
On the fishing scene, anglers are getting geared up for the 38th annual Marina del Rey Halibut Derby slated for June 9. The derby has been moved to June to take advantage of more favorable weather and hopefully bigger numbers of fish in the Santa Monica Bay. The derby typically gets hundreds of local fishermen on the water casting their reels from every and any kind of vessel – from 65-foot, multimillion-dollar sportfishers on down to tiny kayaks, locals will be gunning for king-sized halibut.
“We expect a great turnout this year,” said Joshua Gerson, Marina del Rey Anglers president. “Local anglers are always looking for an excuse to get out on the water, and this will be the perfect opportunity to kick off the summer fishing season, catch some fish, win some awesome prizes and have a ball.”
On the wildlife front, animal rescuers have had their hands full with weak, perhaps malnourished sea lion pups popping up in a host of different places. Back in February, Marine Animal Rescue, a local agency that manages this area, reported saving 63 pups already. Last year at that time they had saved 17. In a recent CBS News segment, it was reported that more than 700 sea lions were rescued (so far) from California beaches, dwarfing the average number for the year which is closer to 100.
For the boaters in the crowd, the Marina is hosting a free boater’s yard sale on May 18 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 13524 Bali Way. Perhaps there is no community on the face of this earth that loves yard sales more than boaters. We absolutely live to pick through piles of boat stuff and find something we can use.
Lastly, don’t be surprised if you’re heading out to Catalina Island in May and you happen to see a guy running in a pretty big rubbery hamster-wheel-looking contraption towards the island. That would be Reza Baluchi out of Redondo Beach and yes, he is running to Catalina in a big inflatable bubble. He tried it last month but had a problem with oxygen flow and had to abort. He has sworn to repeat.
Honestly, if you happen upon him, I don’t know who has the right of way. I’m not sure he has great visibility in that weird enclosed bubble he’ll be running in, so I would suggest taking a picture and allowing him some room to operate.
Marina del Rey round-up of activities
By Pat Reynolds