As we wrap up stay at home orders and early curfews, I’m taking the opportunity to reminisce. Growing up, my parents kept getting a smaller house and a bigger boat until when I was in third grade, they sold our cozy Naples house and we became full time “live-aboards” on gangway 5, in front of the Captain’s Inn, in Alamitos Bay Marina.
The only other kid on the gangway was 2002 Long Beach YC commodore Mike Elias. He was such a rock star sailor, it seemed he was always traveling to compete in regattas internationally, so I didn’t see him much — but we still had some shared memories.
Our families both had wooden power boats. My dad named our boat Margaret C in my mom’s honor and the Elias’s boat was Moja Decla — “love of my life” in Czech. Mike’s dad George wore those jumpsuits that were popular during the time. It was almost his uniform while working on the boat. Mike’s mom, Aggie, was a great fisherwoman and even landed a marlin that was big enough to feed everyone on the gangway one summer evening.
Last time I saw Margaret C, she was berthed on the gangway near Marina Pacifica and in sad shape. Moja Decla ended up across the channel closer to the rowing center.
Mike Elias shared that Moja Decla’s final owner had the shipyard remove the engines and he towed her out to sea trying to sink her — something wooden boats don’t do too well. The boat ended up beached in the sand at Huntington Beach and the owner was arrested. That was about 2011.
Elias and I remembered other dock neighbors — like Dr. Vic Stern, and his boat the Ima Loa, a 43-foot catamaran that he raced in 38 consecutive Newport to Ensenada International Yacht Races.
Near the end of the gangway, on the luxury power boat Rapture, Don Patterson and his wife were live-aboards. He was an animator, and director who worked at various studios including Disney, MGM, Walter Lantz, and Hanna-Barbera. He did much of the work on the Disney Classic "Fantasia."
One gangway over, Nancy and Walter Katin made boat covers from their shop in Surfside. Mrs. Katin had a sewing machine on the aft deck of their large powerboat. Their story is a famous one — they used the boat cover material to make sturdy board shorts for surfers and Kanvas By Katin became synonymous with surfing.
Willie Bricker, a Douglas Aircraft engineer, made headlines in 1973 when he and his wife survived 39 days adrift in the Atlantic, about the same time Elias was racing in Atlantic waters on the legendary yacht Blackfin.
Don Richardson owned Richardson Tire located at 500 E. Anaheim St. in the historic Hancock Motors Building. Their ads in the Press-Telegram included a headshot of Don with the caption, “Vice President since birth.” They lived on a classic Matthews, along with two toddler daughters.
Well known Cal 25 sailor and past Congressional Cup chairman, (during his year racing moved to the end of the pier) Bob Kirstine, who skippered and lived aboard the boat Jiminy Cricket, a 43-foot Columbia owned by Irving Green, the founder of Mercury Records. The plan was to sail the boat to the Caribbean — but it never materialized.
Denver Pile, who played Jesse Duke in the early days of "The Dukes of Hazzard," lived on his boat on the weekends. Character actor and LBYC member John McIntire owned the 72-foot yawl Baruna that was frequently on the gangway end tie. The boat, built in 1938, was famous for McIntire’s “Hollywood style” Transpac finishes — that included live music led by a sax player and all crew members on deck.
Mike Elias also gave a shout out to the dock dogs — the Elias dog Dink, and the Richardson poodle Tutu. If you have stories to share, please email me at Jo@JoVenture.com.