SAN DIEGO — For many of us, simply owning a boat represents the fulfillment of a long-time dream, the ultimate summer fantasy for boaters (unless it’s acquiring the next boat up!). For others, a boat is the starting point to discovering a whole new lifestyle.
While the relaxed summer schedules of yore seem a long-gone mirage, the more laid-back attitudes of summer fortunately survive.
If you enjoy hanging around your marina or visiting nearby coastal towns, then be sure to explore local festivals, street fairs and other special events. Check out listings of increasingly common outdoor movies (sometimes with food trucks) and traditional summer concerts for a mellow, homey experience. Many communities sponsor free outdoor summer concert series in parks near boating meccas. Bring a sweater, blanket, folding chairs and a picnic, always noting if it’s legal to bring alcoholic beverages.
San Diego, in addition to its full roster of free community concerts, boasts the Spreckels Organ Society’s International Summer Organ Festival (spreckelsorgan.org), a series of free Monday night concerts running through August featuring renowned organists performing on Balboa Park’s spectacular 102-year-old organ, the world’s largest outdoor pipe organ.
Many boaters, I’ve discovered, have a passion for cars, trains and planes. Did you know Southern California is full of car museums, including many private collections owners open to the public? Being married to a car lover (his passion is Lincolns), I’ve discovered many impressive car collections through the Lincoln and Continental Owners Club. Google Southern California car collections, and you’ll be delighted by how many car museums you’ll discover in addition to L.A.’s Petersen and San Diego’s Automotive Museum. Among my favorites: the Nethercutt Collection (nethercuttcollection.org) inland in Sylmar, which also has an antique train, and the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo (automobiledrivingmuseum.org).
Speaking of collections, why not collect experiences at ballparks? Or at merry-go-rounds? San Diego has five antique merry-go-rounds, including two near the water at Seaport Village and Belmont Park, while Los Angeles boasts vintage carousels in Griffith Park, on Santa Monica Pier and Santa Barbara’s waterfront Chase Palm Park.
If you’ve ever fantasized about tall ships, then summer is the perfect time to visit tall ship festivals. San Diego’s Maritime Museum hosts its Festival of Sail over Labor Day, and Dana Point’s is one week later.
Indulge your fantasy and learn to crew on a tall ship. Many of the nonprofits operating tall ships depend on volunteers to staff and maintain the vessels and offer crew training. These include the San Diego Maritime Museum (sdmaritime.org), Los Angeles Maritime Institute (lamitopsail.org), Dana Point’s Ocean Institute (ocean-institute.org) and Chula Vista’s Schooner Bill of Rights (schoonerbillofrights.com).
Consider trying something new. If you haven’t gone standup paddleboarding, then rent or borrow a SUP before plunking down your dough. Many marinas and nearby shops rent paddleboards, as well as old-fashioned surreys, ideal to explore coastal boardwalks and parks. Try renting a Segway or even a bike, for local touring.
If excitement is your forte, consider the novel watercraft I just watched from our fantail: the Seabreacher, San Diego’s SeaQuest (c.q.)Water Adventures’ (goseaquest.com) new thrill ride. This semi-submersible watercraft offers cutting-edge experiences on an 18-foot vessel painted like a sea creature, which can dive, breach and soar 40 feet into the air, reaching surface speeds up to 55 mph. SeaQuest at Sunroad Marina also offers the Jetovator water bikes (similar to jetpacks) and Shred Sleds described as “a flying kneeboard,” the merger of a surfboard with Jet Ski.
Whatever your summer pleasures, be sure to relax, stay safe and enjoy sharing the delights of life on the water.