I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked the boardwalk between Venice and Santa Monica. Seriously, hundreds of times. It seems like whenever someone comes to visit, we head straight to the ocean for that coveted Pacific Ocean sunset shot. I understand- I have taken the same iconic Santa Monica Pier photo dozens of times, at different times of the day and every season. A few weeks ago however, I got a different, more adventurous view from a sailing trip departing out of Marina del Rey.
The first thing I notice is that Marina del Rey is classy. Within seconds of stepping aboard the 26foot Bluewater Sailing sail boat, I forget how close I am to Venice Beach and relax into my new top siders. The glossy white sailboats cast a sparkling reflection in the water, which is a beautiful side-effect of the world’s largest man-made marina.
Bluewater Sailing is known internationally for their highly reputable sailing courses and skippered sailing charters. You could take beginner sailing lessons, graduate and then rent their boats to sail around the coast or out to Catalina. Today, they were mixing a short lesson with a skippered sailing charter, giving me a taste of both. Their skippers have exceptional training and on average over 20 years of experience. These skippers not only know a lot about sailing, but they really enjoy teaching and helping newbie sailors learn the ropes. (Pun intended!)
Before we board the boat, our skipper, Ash, gives my group a few quick lessons and history on sailing. While he is talking about the challenges and mind games of sailing, I popped a few ginger pills and sucked on a ginger drop to avoid any sea sickness that might spring up. Ash quickly tells us that sailing is a very active sport and since you are constantly moving around and having the air blow on your face, you are actually less likely to experience sea sickness. Woohoo!
A few group photos later, life vest on, and we board the boat. The charted course is to head out of the marina, north past the Santa Monica Pier and then turn around. With my camera around my neck, I take a seat up high on the back right hand side of the boat, right next to Ash in case the opportunity to steer opens up, and so I’ll have excellent photo angles. As he slowly guides us out of the marina, he points out different types of boats and then starts laughing. Pointing over to the side of the marina, a sea lion is laying out on the side of someone’s boat- sunbathing! I’m about to forget my photo of the Santa Monica Pier, as I am snap happy at the adorable animal hanging out on the nearby boat. Unbeknownst to me, sea lions are often found in the marina waters as it protects them from bigger animals and is easier to fish. I had no idea that these animals inhabited so close to my house.
While Ash and the crew of Bluewater sailing did teach me the basics to sailing, seeing the sea lions was my invitation to investigate what I really was interested in, the sights. I wasn’t expecting much, as I’ve said, I’ve seen Venice and Santa Monica hundreds of times, but, from out on the open sea, everything looked new again. The distance gave the skeevie parts of Venice a fresh shellacking and made the whole coast look like the wonderland so often painted in the movies.
Watching the Ferris wheel spin on the pier, the endless sunshine and royal blue sky,I’m reminded why I love Los Angeles. That moment captured a beauty that warrants the hundreds of trips I’ve taken to photograph the pier and why I’ll continue to visit these beach cities.