Despite the fact that I live so close to that sprawling, undulating wave pool known as the Pacific Ocean, I rarely find myself in (or on) a boat any bigger than a kayak out here.
After all, isn't whalewatching for tourists? (Though to be honest, I don't think I've ever seen a whale, and I would like to.)
When I was entertaining an out-of-town guest recently, I actually expected we'd take some kind of boat ride, but instead we opted to let the ocean waves lap against our raw bodies and bring us out to sea, and back to shore, rather than protecting ourselves in some sort of vessel. We beached it, braving crabs and kelp forests and ankle-swelling rocks and green sea anemones squishing under toes, rather than observing it all from the safety of our craft.
But when I lived in New York, I always said the best way to see the city was by boat: to take one of those cruises up the Hudson, around Battery Park City, or down the East River, ferrying over to Long Island City or Governor's Island, cruising up the oil-addled Newtown Creek or generally grimy Gowanus Canal, fishing in the Long Island Sound. It was the only way you could really see the Manhattan skyline without really leaving Manhattan across a bridge or tunnel.
Trying to plan our beach adventures, I realized I'd spent so much time in Southern California's interior that I didn't really understand its land border, where bluffs and cliffs give way to caves and sand and, finally, the tide. Whether we were traveling north or west. That Santa Monica is a bay.
So upon my return visit to Long Beach, I got on a boat and took a cruise around the harbor.
Along the docks near Shoreline Village, next to the marina, there are a variety of boats you can take out onto the water, from little power boats to sailboats, giant yachts, and even a riverboat.
We set sail on the Kristina, backing out of Dock 2 towards the Long Beach Harbor Lighthouse...
...turning about face to approach the Queen Mary, now a permanently-docked "floating hotel"...
...and out into the open sea.
Unlike New York, this boat ride wasn't to get some distance from the city to reflect upon it from afar...
...but rather to see the sea itself, with its sunbathing lions...
...manmade oil islands...
...and tourist attractions.
But, of course, the Los Angeles Harbor is huge, the Pacific Ocean even huger, so I only got a short, 45 minute snippet of what it has to offer - only a glimpse of the gantries, a dabble in the derricks.
And upon our return, back on steady ground, a short bike ride later, I changed into a bikini and went running down the beach into the water, which is calm behind the enormous breakwall, built to protect freighters and tankers and other ships from the tumult of the sea, which has sent me drowning, stolen my sunglasses and dislodged my bikini more than once in the past.
But there are plenty of other boats to sail from plenty of other beaches, from Malibu to Manhattan.
It's about time I rode them all.
Photo Essay: RMS Queen Mary, Magic Hour to Dusk
All At Sea