This cruise has some assumptions. First,
we assume you’ve got a good weather window to get where you need to go, with
a safety margin, as you don’t have many
options to duck in if the weather turns. Next,
let’s assume you’ll start on a Saturday, in
Marina del Rey, which has been Los Angeles’
major boating hub since 1965 and has more
than 6,000 slips.
Second, you’ll be cruising on your 30-
to 35-foot powerboat at 10-15 knots. I’ve
done this trip on a sailboat at 7 knots but I
tend to leave earlier in the day to give myself
time to enjoy the harbors on the other end.
Overnight anchoring outside harbors is not
advisable in most places on the California
coast, so you’ll be tying up at docks or finding a harbor-based anchorage every night,
far better than pounding all day through the
Pacific swell, and then camping on an open
stretch of water at night.
DAY 1 — A LONG STRETCH
The first hop will be around Points Vicente
and Fermin to Los Alamitos Bay, tucked in
between Long Beach and Huntington Beach
harbors. You’ll be traveling approximately 30
nautical miles today, which is the longest
stretch until you come back, and because
you’ll be heading south, it’s unlikely there
will be much swell. The key to this leg is
finding the right line around Palos Verdes.
Go too close to shore and you’ll find a lot
of prop-eating kelp, but stay too far out and
you’re likely to end up in the shipping lanes.
The Long Beach/Los Angeles harbor com-
plex is the busiest port on the West Coast,
and there’s lots of shipping traffic, so follow
your charts, stay out of the lanes, and keep
a good watch. Those freighters sneak up on
you at 25 knots, and even if they don’t have
the right of way under the rules of gross
tonnage, you’d be well-advised to stay out
of their way.
Enter the outer Long Beach/San Pedro
harbor via Queens Gate to get out of the
swell and head for the Alamitos Harbor jetty.
Alamitos Bay is very protected and mostly
taken up with the municipal marina, private
docks of the homes that line the harbor, and
three yacht clubs including Long Beach,
Alamitos, and Seal Beach. Here’s a fun fact:
The dock where you tie up to check in at
Alamitos Bay Marina to request transient
dockage was the shooting location for multiple episodes of the Showtime series “Dexter,”
which was supposedly set in Miami.
There’s no anchorage inside Alamitos Bay
but you can anchor behind what are called
the “oil islands” outside the jetty. However,
it’s a long dinghy ride, so first try for a slip.
If you belong to a yacht club, it will be easier
to get a reciprocal slip.
If you left Marina del Rey midmorning on
DAY 2 — TO BEAUTIFUL
Saturday, you should be tied up in Alamitos
around 2:00 pm. If you have a slower boat or
a sailboat, leave earlier. It’s a perfect time to
stretch your legs and take a long walk around
Naples, a quaint Venice-like residential area
with an intricate maze of canals bordered by
affluent homes and interesting gardens. For
sunset cocktails, stroll over the bridge to the
River’s End Café on the beach. Waterfront
restaurants such as Khoury’s, The Crab Pot,
Buster’s Longboard Bar, and Joe’s Crab Shack
are just a short walk. The Boathouse is a new/
old favorite (it used to be called McKenna’s
but is under new ownership) with great crab
cakes and sushi.
The next morning visit the farmers market
that is set up right in the marina parking lot
from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. every Sunday. This
is a great way to stock up on the week’s groceries and snacks with fresh produce, nuts,
pastries, smoked meats, and all kinds of artisanal honey and bread. Adjacent to the food
stalls is an arts-and-crafts area where you can
try on bohemian clothing or pick out handmade jewelry. Stop in at Schooner Or Later
for lunch before getting out on the water for
a run to Newport Harbor. West Marine is just
next door, in case you’re missing any vital
On Sunday afternoon, take a straight
The harbor at Newport Beach is a major
boating center in Southern California.