ONE WEEK IN CALIFORNIA - WHERE DID IT GO?
27 July 2008
Went sailing today on Bruce's 43ft cutter-rigged fibreglass yacht, off Long Beach. We went as far as Seal beach (saw and heard some seals barking at us from the top of buoys; I barked twice at one and it barked back the same number of times), and gybed and ran back, mostly beam-reaching (for the sailing-savvy) - jogging cleanly along at five-and-a-half to six-and-a-half knots, on autopilot, in the warm dry air; lots of craft about, tourist boats, yachts, small sailboats, jetskis, an oil rig, three bait barges, waterskis, and the Goodyear blimp and a small plane towing a sign, all California summer among the oil islands with their fake buildings. Bruce has lost his nose thru cancer and let me skipper the boat; he and his wonderful wife Linda put us up in their beautiful house for the last three days and nights. Hundreds of people on the beach, the volley-ball with the tall amazonian women, the shouts, the highpowered voice of the announcer right next to the yacht marina, with all the richfolks boats. The air is kind, warm if you need it. cool if you're hot. Weather perfect every day, sea breeze picks up by 11. Yesterday evening had dinner at Sunnin lebanese restaurant, on 2nd street, Belmont Shore, as the day coloured up and slowly faded, with all the pretty women and the happy men, passing by, and more and more food placed on the table; we came to be with Ramsey, an Egyptian, named after Rameses III, who is a life-affirming, world-travelled, totally-certain, always-happy installer of boat electronics, historian, political analyst, 100% talking, bill-paying supplier and consultant of out boat electronics needs. From him we expect, for several thousand US dollars (cash) some very beautiful equipment, which will arrive tomorrow, in time for us to get it packed up for excess baggage at the airport tomorrow early. (Then Panama.)
We met Rameses and Jody on board the night before (or was it the night BEFORE...) on the yacht, for dinner, where he cooked rice and salmon for us all, and then taught us (Jody is the son of Bruce and Linda, works for Ramsei and is taking the boat to the South Pacific in October) taught us how batteries should be installed - and much much more, a very interesting man.
The day before that we took our PT Cruiser 4-door to Newport to look at Minney's, a huge secondhand boatgear place, where we bought a brandnew chart for Costa Rica, and refused a brass sextant with decrepit mirrors for $495.00, and an old salt lounging by said you must go to the Newport Landings, at Newport Beach, where they have Happy Hour until 6 o'clock, you must hurry - it's 5.30 now - so we did, and found a parking place, and walked through the crowds to the Oyster Bar, upstairs, just in time, to order beers and shrimp cocktail, and take in the scene, which was like a late-afternoon promenade on the bay in the sunshine, the vehicle ferries, big-ugly powerboats, fast yachts, little family punts, dinghy-sailors, all back-anforth on the blue water in beneficial air, from our high vantage-point among the drinkers-an-eaters with the doors wide open to the air. Did we not see, as we passed Huntington Beach, a thousand people on the pier, and bikiniclad girls and paunchy oldermen with white moustaches and single mums with black children and families in the throng of shouted-on streetcrossers amid the palm trees and ocean-backing? Was there not a surf competition, and after Minney's and the Newport Landings, where we had more seafood, and sped back home, were there not parties along miles of beaches, with campervans and a setting sun?
Next time I must tell you of the wonderful American toilets, the superior plumbing and the way the masses seem hypnotised by their goodluck of being in America, as they shuffle through Ralphs, or Costcos, the biggest supermarkets in the world, where 1.75 litres of Jim Beam costs only $21.00! For now I bid you goodnight.