Echo Voyager, Boeing's latest unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV), seen here at Long Beach Marina Shipyard, can operate autonomously for months at a time thanks to a hybrid rechargeable power system and modular payload bay.

I’m a rubber-necker.

Whenever I drive east over the Davies Bridge from Naples to Marina Drive, I lean over to the right so I can check out the boats being hauled out in the Long Beach Marina Shipyard.

Maybe a boat was just sold and undergoing a haul out and inspection, or there for routine maintenance or some sort of repair. I just find it fascinating to see items meant to float on the water out on land and out of commission.

Most recently, there has been a large, 51-foot, gray-and-yellow, hot-dog-shaped undersea vehicle undergoing some work. I retired from Boeing, where I worked on similar vehicles, so I was curious why the submarine was visiting the yard.

According to Boeing’s Deborah VanNierop, “A towing incident with Boeing’s Echo Voyager occurred on April 27 of this year, resulting in minimal cosmetic damage to the vehicle’s nose fairing.”

Sounds suspicious to me, like Echo Voyager was just looking for a discreet place to have a nose job.

VanNierop said, “The vehicle remains pierside awaiting a replacement fin actuator (not related to the towing incident) before it returns to the water to resume testing.”

Boeing’s Echo Voyager unmanned undersea vehicle is currently undergoing ocean testing, which is being conducted from the AltaSea facility at the Port of Los Angeles. The testing is part of the vehicle’s normal development process and is intended to test its ability to operate on and below the surface of the ocean.

While Echo Voyager was getting its “nose job,” there was a Duffy boat also hauled out getting a bottom job, as well as several vessels from Catalina Adventure tours. According to Island Enterprise’s Haley Stickler, “As a part of our annual maintenance program, our entire fleet gets a facelift. Our Nautilus Semi-Submarine was outfitted with new engines this year as a part of preventative maintenance work.”

With summer upon us, most boats have completed all the “nip and tuck” work they need for the season, including the fleet that in the past were used as Avalon shore boats.

Docked like perky soldiers adjacent to the shipyard, the fleet of buttercup yellow and baby blue shore boats sit anxiously longing to shuttle folks. This weekend, one lucky shore boat will serve at Long Beach Race Week as the free water taxi between Alamitos Bay and Long Beach Yacht Clubs, the two host clubs.

There are currently 133 entries in LBRW that include a class of 28 J/70s racing in their Southern California High Point Series, as are the 6 J/120s; 16 are registered in the Viper 640 fleet, plus 7 Farr 40s, 2 TP52s and 5 Pac 52s, while 9 Schock 35s are competing for the Pacific Coast Championship. The 11 Catalina 37s have a full line-up for the Nationals, with four-time title holder Dave Hood hoping to unseat defending champion Bruce Ayres.

A solid contingent of 48 PHRF boats is mobilizing, along with the one-design classes, to compete in seven windward-leeward races on four separate courses.

With an assortment of competitive boats, ranging from Melges 32s to Santa Cruz 50s and 52s, the Random Leg division promises thrills and spills on courses that will take them both inside and outside the federal breakwater.

Racing starts at 12:55 p.m. this Friday, June 22, following a 10:30 a.m. competitors’ briefing at LBYC. Saturday and Sunday races begin at 11:55 a.m.

Entry fees include: Thursday’s (tonight) pre-regatta party at The Boathouse on the Bay; Friday’s After-Race Party at ABYC with a Polynesian theme, popular band Happy Ending and no-host bar; Saturday’s Post-Race Mount Gay Rum Party at LBYC with DJ music by Steve Steiner, dancing, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and no-host bar; and Sunday’s prize-giving, also at LBYC, with hors d’oeuvres and no-host bar. There is a free gourmet coffee bar all weekend starting at 8 a.m. at LBYC.

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