As we put a sturdy cork in 2020, a few updates on recent stories are in order.
The wooden hull boat owned by the Sea Scouts in Marina Del Rey sold on eBay for $9,100 and the new owner is busy tending to the vessel's needs. I asked readers to help me fill in the blanks on some of the vessel’s history.
John Van Blom, who was on four U.S. Olympic teams as a rower, had some first-hand knowledge of the 47-foot wooden trawler that was built in Seal Beach.
He wrote “The Tsunami has to be the same Tsunami that Russ Smith had built by Kenny Hill. Russ lived aboard the Tsunami on gangway 4 with his wife, Donna. They were friends with my folks, who were also living on gangway 4.”
Based on more clues from Van Blom, online searches confirmed that the Smiths moved to Washington, where he died in 2011 at age 86.
According to yellowed newspaper clippings saved by one of Smith’s classmates, Tsunami’s original owner Russ Smith grew up in Hollywood, where he had a paper route and sang with the Bob Mitchell St. Brendan's Church Boys Choir. The famous choir performed in more than 100 films, including "Going My Way" with Bing Crosby, and "Carefree" with Fred Astaire.
When Smith turned 18, he joined the U.S. Navy, and was aboard aircraft carrier USS Princeton during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, reportedly the largest naval battle of World War II, with more than 200,000 personnel involved.
When USS Princeton sunk in October 1944, reports claim that 108 men were lost, while 1,361 crewmen were rescued. It took days before Russ Smith’s family learned that the 19-year-old sailor was one of the survivors.
I’m sure the scouts who cruised on Tsunami would be as surprised as I was about Smith’s war service. My memories of Russ Smith were that his was the first Hill-built boat that left the yard with the interior completed unfinished.
Van Blom provided more background, “I did some woodwork on the Tsunami after I got out of college. Russ was a general contractor and among his many projects, he built Bartha's Donut shops for Frank Bartha, who lived on gangway 4 as well. Frank would build these donut shops, get them running and then sell them off. There's still a Bartha's Donuts on the corner of Ximeno and Anaheim."
Bartha was a past Commodore of the Trojan Boat Club. Not the Tommy Trojan type — this club was limited to folks that owned boats built by Trojan, now part of Carver yachts.
While there has been no official statement from the Stars + Stripes Team USA, Latitude 38 has reported that Long Beach Yacht Club has informed its membership they have formally withdrawn from the 36th America’s Cup.
The 42-foot Chris-Craft Constellation with the distinctive bull nose appears to have been sold. Captain Tim Hagan reports that, if all goes as planned, the new owners will be keeping the boat locally.
With only 14 sailings under her belt since her christening in December 2019, Carnival Panorama has returned to her home port of Long Beach. While docked, she has become a destination for folks on stand-up boards and power boat cruisers alike.
Carnival Fascination, which was running Caribbean cruises from Puerto Rico, was sold in October to Century Harmony Cruise Limited, which renamed her Century Harmony. The plans call for the ship to be used as a floating hotel in Asia, following the lead of the Queen Mary.
The 893-foot Carnival Radiance, formerly Carnival Victory, will be sailing out of Long Beach. Her inaugural cruise shares the same optimistic sailing date as the Newport to Ensenada N2E race — April 23, 2021.