For the last couple of summers and the Christmas Boat Parades, I have been helmsman for a wonderful family who own a 56-foot Sunseeker motor yacht. We will bay cruise in Newport Harbor and usually anchor in Emerald Bay in North Laguna. When at anchor we launch the inflatable, paddleboard and kayak.
They are happy to share this experience with their friends and family and many times we have had more than 20 people along for the voyage. Their two daughters and their friends fully utilize the paddleboard and kayak while the owner tows the teenagers and young ones on a two-person tube at 20 knots or more and a good time is had by all. Occasionally the adults are towed behind the inflatable and it is obvious they are having as much fun as the kids.
I really commend boat owners who share their enjoyment with others on their boats. Very few are fortunate enough to partake of the Newport Harbor lifestyle. The quality of the event this sharing brings to everyone makes lasting memories.
One of our trips last summer seemed a little noteworthy. The owners invited their new neighbors along for a Sunday cruise. As it turned out, I was introduced to one of the new stars of Bravo’s “Housewives of Orange County.” What a looker! She was with her husband and children and I think they enjoyed themselves as much as everyone else aboard.
Towards the end of the day “Mr. Housewife” asked what kind of yacht we were aboard. As all Sunseekers are made in England and known for their elegance, light weight and elite interiors, as we spoke I noted that the bulkheads (walls) inside appear to be crafted to resemble the dashboard of a Rolls Royce.
He quickly quipped that he knows very well what a Rolls dashboard looks like. “He” owns a Rolls Royce. I think I probably wilted a little from his tone.
On this past Sunday’s trip, at around 1700 (5 p.m.), the wind started to increase. Within another hour it was really “rippin’.” Most of the newer yachts of this size have a swim step on the stern that is about 6-feet wide. The swim step berths the inflatable and lowers and raises to launch and retrieve the vessel. Trying to berth the 11-foot dingy was extremely difficult as the wind had caused 3- to 5-foot wind waves. It took three or four attempts as the wind chop would slam against the swim step and soak the owner and myself. By the time we finally got the job done, we both looked like we had jumped into the ocean, and we were quite relieved that chore was complete.
On the return trip, the rough seas caused us to slow to 11 knots. Normally we cruise at 20-22 knots. We noticed several boats anchored off the lee of the jetties, which is beside Big Corona State Beach in Corona del Mar. It was quite calm there, similar to anchoring in the calm water of the harbor.
Now let’s switch from powerboats to sailboats. Several local boating publications have noted a unique 70-foot trimaran from France with a 90-foot plus mast that is now in Los Angeles harbor. The Newport Indy ran a photo of the trimaran at sea on its way in. The name of this yacht is L’Hydroptere. This vessel is the holder of the world speed record for a sailboat which is over 50 knots. This vessel can sail at 30 knots in 15 knots of wind.
The trimaran achieves these excessive speeds by using hydro-foils. Once the boat gts moving faster than12 knots, the hydro-foils are engaged and most of the trimaran lifts more than 12 feet out of the water.
L’hydroptere is here to attempt to break the record set by the trimaran Geronimo from Los Angeles to Hawaii in a little under five days. The boat includes in its design great strength to handle the stress and strain of high-speed sailing in blue water.
The owner and skipper started dreaming of this design when he was 21 years old, in the early 1980s. His trials and tribulations have been immense, and his perseverance and grit are truly commendable. The crew is awaiting a favorable weather system and estimates a departure in the middle of this month. Best of luck to these pioneers – their voyage can be followed at hydroptere.com/en/home.
This reminds me of the excitement I had as a youngster in the late 1950s. Many of the larger sailboats of this era raced out of Newport Harbor in the Trans-Pac race. This race starts outside L.A. Harbor and finishes off Diamond Head in Hawaii. During this era, the largest sailboat in the harbor was the Goodwill. I believe it was first to finish more than once. This was a 161-foot steel-hulled, two-masted schooner painted white with varnished wood masts that seemed to reach to the sky. It was built around 1920. Several times I witnessed the Goodwill sailing down the main channel of the harbor at high tide. It had a large crew, and if I recall correctly, they wore large red and white striped shirts with white pants. The vessel was so large that it dwarfed the bay. What a magnificent sight!
Sadly, the Goodwill hit a reef off Cabo San Lucas in the early ’60s and sank. There were no survivors. This was a tragic end to one of the most noteworthy sailing yachts of a bygone era from Newport Harbor.