A yacht that goes by the name of First Star that was voted one of the favorites of Cruising World magazine. A captain who goes by the name of Matthew Mancini, who loves introducing people to sailing. An array of islands that go by the names of Catalina, Santa Barbara, Anacapa, and San Miguel. Put all of these elements together and you have Old Plank Sailing Adventures. Old Plank Sailing Adventures' Captain Matthew Mancini corrals visitors aboard a luxury yacht and then whisks them on various adventures throughout the sparkling waters.
The sailor keeps guests closer to home on jaunts around Marina del Rey's picturesque harbor or leads them on multiday adventures to nearby islands. He also captains dinner cruises, whale watching expeditions, and moonlight sails in Santa Monica Bay, where all the fish are named Monica.
With so much vibrant blue ocean nearby, a simple, mobile dive certification operation like LA Dive and Ride makes perfect sense. Owner Andy Brohard has spent years in the water, first as an enthusiast and later as a certified SCUBA instructor, offering lessons to beginners looking to master the art of the dive themselves. Newbies begin with an online education program, then practice their dive skills in serene, safe pools around Los Angeles. From there, four dives off Catalina Island indoctrinate newcomers into the real-life world of scuba diving, all while Brohard or members of his staff watch carefully. Both private and group sessions are available, and LA Dive and Ride occasionally schedules club meetings every month with guest lecturers, screenings related to diving and the ocean, and other cool events.
In the words of his colleague Michael Phelps, Kevin Clements is "a great training partner and a wonderful friend." But in the words of Kevin's trainees at SSC Day Clinic, he's an effective coach with a one-of-a-kind training style. He may have earned the official distinction of being the world's third-fastest swimmer in 2003, but at the clinic, Kevin slows down, teaching swimmers different techniques in focused two-hour sessions. Students of all ages and experience levels are welcome at the clinics, which can be taken individually or in sequences of five to round out a swimmer's repertoire.
Owned and operated by a trio of ASA-certified sailing instructors who have each been doused with the waters of France, England, and California, Open Sailing, Inc. trains and equips students for piloting the open sea. Open Sailing also boasts a collection of apparel, safety equipment, and compasses. The Gill Race collection outfits sailors with apparel such as the men's midlayer soft-shell smock ($89), whose lightweight fabric and water-repellent finish keeps torsos agile and dry, and the padded hiking shorts ($40), with 50+ UV protection, stretch fabric, and impact protection for hiking the rail during one of Poseidon's infamous temper tantrums.
The waters around Marina del Rey teem with seasonal gamefish. Beneath the ocean's surface, halibut, sand bass, and barracuda swim from Rocky Point to the Big Kelp Reef. That is, until they cross paths with The Betty-O, Spitfire, or the New Del Mar—the fishing boats of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing's fleet. Aboard these vessels, experienced guides help small and large groups cast lines and pull prize catches from the water.
But sometimes, the ocean's beauty makes anglers put down their fishing poles. Sea lions, dolphins, sea birds, and several whale species also make their home in the water. This diversity of wildlife prompted the owners of Marina Del Rey Sportfishing to start their whale and eco tour, during which sightseers can admire the ocean's majestic creatures and the teams of Aquamen who groom them.
The U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captains of Marina Del Rey Parasailing harness the might of wind and water to send passengers of all ages and experience levels soaring above the blue on exhilarating parasail flights. To begin the ride, passengers strap in and are accompanied by up to two other flyers to share in the sky-scraping experience and challenge trios of seagulls to a sing-off. As the boat speeds up and the parachute gently fills with the ocean breeze, a sturdy towline extends to 800 feet to suspend parasailors 500 feet above the glittering surf. From the serene quiet of their towering vantage point, passengers catch spellbinding views of Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach, with occasional sightings of dolphins, fishermen, and clouds marveling at sunbathers' similarity to teddy bears. As the captain reels the line back in and flights float to a close, newly minted cosmonauts step back on to the boat without the need to ever touch the water. Each 75-minute boat ride accommodates up to 15 fliers, allowing ample time for sea-level sights and victorious Titanic impressions at the boat helm.