For centuries, lovebirds have toured Venice's picturesque canals on gondola rides. And since 2006, couples have headed out onto the calm waters of Huntington Harbor aboard the same iconic Venetian boats, courtesy of Sunset Gondolas. To recreate the Italian experience as thoroughly as possible, the company's fleet is made up entirely of gondolas imported from Italy?and is the only company in Southern California with that distinction. Moreover, their gondoliers sport traditional striped shirt, and serenade passengers upon request. What's more, they're experts at their craft. Two of the boatswains have won the US Gondola Nationals for their skill in the authentic, 37-foot boats?Bepi, who won in 2012, and Stefano, who won in 2013.
Despite their prowess, however, the gondoliers often blend into the background during rides, letting the California scenery take center stage. From their seats, couples or convivial groups drink in views of the area's Venetian-style islands, canals, and bridges, all while snacking on picnic spreads and wine they brought along, or the chocolate-dipped strawberries provided in some packages. The gondoliers can tailor the rides to special occasions, too, including proposals and wedding ceremonies.
Harbor Breeze Cruises has run whale-watching cruises for over 15 years, regaling passengers with breathtaking views of marine animals. Aboard one of Harbor Breeze's vessels, passengers are educated on the characteristics of whales while looking out for gray and blue whales during their respective seasons. Other varieties of marine life commonly seen are fin, humpback, and minke whales, along with orcas and several species of dolphin. Customers aboard the ships, customers also enjoy lounge areas where they can enjoy a snack or drink, and expansive deck areas for viewing and photography.
Marina Sailing's USCG-certified skippers turn hydrophobic landlubbers of all skill levels and ages into seasoned seafarers with a litany of maritime courses. Hydro-curious adults can get a taste of the open seas aboard one of Marina Sailing's vessels for a two-hour introductory sailing excursion. The sail gives dry-behind-the-ears novices a chance to experience the feel of the waves and the worthiness of their sea legs before making a commitment to lengthy learning. Those already enthralled by the charming wit and firm handshake of the sea may opt for two basic-sailing weekend courses. In the first three-hour lesson, students learn the watery fundamentals, including boat safety, casting off, raising sail, sailing upwind, and more, and the second class covers more advanced techniques, such as single-handed sailing, close-quarters maneuvering, docking under sail, and beaming up William Shatner.
They're out there somewhere. White sea bass. Captain Allyn Watson hunts the elusive fish aboard The Dreamer, a 46? vessel that cruises the Pacific at speeds of up to 15 knots. He knows the waters well; after all, it?s that expert knowledge that helped him placed first in Hubbs Sea World Research Foundation's white sea bass competition for seven consecutive years. He's not alone this time, however. Today, Captain Watson?s accompanied by a faithful crew and a group of passengers, each armed with a fishing pole and a hunger for seaward adventure. As they drop anchor in the middle of calm waters, lines fly from all sides of the boat. It?s a bad afternoon to be a sea bass.
Allyn Watson is just one of the independent captains who works out of Pierpoint Landing. There, their eight boats occupy spots at the docks, ready to carry groups on fishing adventures that can last anywhere from a few hours to weeks at a time. Aboard the 75? Toronado, Captain Ray Lagmay and up to 49 passengers take overnight trips to catch barracuda, rockfish, and other targets. Meanwhile, the Southern Cal and its leaders, Captain Ryan and Captain Mitch, snag similar fish during shorter, half-day trips.
Instructors at Pacific Sailing's ASA-certified sailing school teach a variety of students the basics of navigating coastal waters and instruct students in specialized types of sailing or in the students' greatest areas of interest. Captains lead group and private lessons that cover basic keelboat sailing, basic coastal cruising, bareboat chartering, and coastal navigation?providing the skills necessary to unfurl and tie a sail or navigate using electronics, the light of the stars, and directions from a well-traveled seagull. The instructors conduct their lessons and lead skippered day sails, sunset sails, and overnight trips at the helm of Colgate, Hunter, Catalina, Irwin, and Beneteau sailboats.
The classes at Roworx are led by US National Team rowers at the location of the 1932 Olympic rowing events and 1968 Olympic rowing trials, which means students can get an up-close look at Olympic-level training while they're burning calories and building muscle. The fast-paced workouts rely on stationary rowing machines, which by turns replicate the sensation of paddling down a river of choppy water or thick banana pudding, a sensation enhanced by the views of the water just outside the class window. To further build strength and endurance, the instructors save time in each class for weight training.