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A lifelong sailor who has always been devoted to helping others get out on the water, Margie Woods is an American Sailing Association (ASA) Instructor and former Commodore of the Pacific Singlehanded Sailing Association. She currently serves as Fleet Captain for the Women’s Sailing Association of Santa Monica Bay and actively volunteers her time mentoring and supporting women in pursuing their sailing dreams. She is a member of Del Rey Yacht Club and the Singlehanded Sailing Society of San Francisco. Margie actively cruises throughout Southern California and participates in many coastal single and double-handed races out of Los Angeles and San Francisco, as well as racing out of Marina del Rey with an all-woman crew aboard her Hanse 371, Cassiopeia. She is a veteran of the 2016 Singlehanded Transpac and plans on participating again in 2023.
Marina del Rey was created with the fundamental purpose of serving the recreational boating needs of Los Angeles County. And it was envisioned as a public-private partnership. During its six decades, Marina del Rey has also evolved as a tourism destination, a residential community, and a venue for shopping centers and commercial office space. It is LA’s Marina, the largest manmade small craft harbor in North America, serving the nation’s largest county by budget and population.
In its partnership with the boating community, Los Angeles County provides essential management, needed infrastructure upgrades and welcome support for boating events and tall ships. Fisherman’s Village continues to host a fishing fleet, boat rentals, and charter vessels. Basin H hosts haul-out, boating services, the main launch ramp, and adjacent dry boat storage. Burton Chace Park hosts guest docks and facilities. The Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors provides the public, on its website beaches.lacounty.gov, extensive boating information, including a boating guide with anchorage listings and comprehensive links to boating services. The website VisitMarinadelRey.com provides visitors with boating activities including rentals, fishing, charters, and boat tours.
What I want to talk about today is how the boating business community continues to lose ground to the economics of successful land-side real estate; and how a more robust County partnership between the boating business community could play a role in revitalizing boating infrastructure, activities and public access to boating.
As a boat dealer/broker serving Marina del Rey since 1969, I have witnessed the gradual loss of both on-land and in-water dealership boat displays. Although it is the nation’s largest manmade small craft harbor with approximately 4,600 slips, Marina del Rey’s land-side display of boats has dwindled down to a group of five boats on Fiji Way. With the exception of special boat show events such as the MarinaFest, Marina del Rey no longer accommodates in-water displays.
By contrast, land-side boat displays are a common site throughout the year at other harbors, including Newport Beach and Alamitos Bay. Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach is a commercial-friendly marina; And our own Long Beach Yacht Center location near Shoreline Village displays 25 in-water boats.
Over time, the reduction of commercial boat displays has overall revenue consequences. With fewer displays of boats for sale in Marina del Rey there is the unintended effect of driving buyers to shop outside the area— where they are welcomed by a greater abundance of boats displayed— and this drives purchase transactions and slip rentals elsewhere. For documented vessels, sales tax is determined by where the vessel is berthed, not where the owner lives. When used or new boat purchases take place outside our area, the 2% local portion of the 9.5% state sales tax, which normally would be reallocated back to Marina del Rey, instead benefits other harbors.
Marina del Rey’s dedicated boating centers are disappearing. One example would be the former Ship Store complex on Panay Way, whose tenants included sailing schools, charter businesses, and a venerable retailer of boating parts and accessories.
On Basin G, the Pier 44 complex has been beautifully remodeled, but the in-water and on-land boat displays of the former complex no longer exist. I know of three marine-related tenants in the process of moving to Pier 44. All are taking very small spaces on the second floor. The more conspicuous spaces are taken by non-marine related business.
The smaller marine service businesses have gradually disappeared. Boating continues to take a back seat to commercial and residential real estate.
A PARTNERSHIP SOLUTION
My recommendation for expanding the partnership between the boating business community and the County is to establish a dedicated marine center. A first-time visitor with no prior boating experience could get started by simply walking into the office of this marine center. This marine center would provide adequate space for in-water and land-side boat displays, a boating office, charter or fractional usage-friendly slips. The property’s designated use would be restricted to boat brokers/dealerships, sailing schools, boating clubs, charter operations, and related services.
I would also like to recommend creating a boating advocate role within the County’s current structure.
The Marina del Rey boating community sends a fond farewell to Jim Foyer, who passed away on December 27. Born in 1934, Jim grew up in the Cleveland, Ohio area. He attended Ohio Wesleyan University where he earned a four-year degree in accounting and economics. From 1951 to 1961 he served his country as a U.S. Navy aviator, including the carriers USS Ranger and USS Oriskane as part of the VAH-4 Squadron. After his service, he married Carole LaVigne, and was employed in the Southern California computer industry for various firms including Xerox and IBM. In the 1960s, he purchased his first sail vessel, and began many decades of sailing and sail racing in the Marina del Rey area.
Over the years he would be a member of Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club, California Yacht Club, and most recently, Del Rey Yacht Club.
He has served as commodore for Santa Monica Windjammers Yacht Club, the Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs (ASMBYC), and Southern California Yachting Association (SCYA).
He has served as a yacht broker at Marina del Rey Yacht Sales for many years.
He is survived by his son Matthew and daughter Jennifer. No services are planned at this time.
“Clients buy more than a boat— They buy a boating lifestyle. What I enjoy most about my many decades selling boats are the clients that evolve into friendships. Ray Ellis is a great example,” says Steve Curran.
Curran is owner and founder of California Yacht Company, including Marina del Rey Yacht Sales and Long Beach Yacht Center.
“Ray is a guy that I met 35 or 40 years ago– he had just moved to the Long Beach area. He worked for McDonnell Douglas, was a single guy, and was looking to live aboard a sailboat. He talked to a lot of people in the Long Beach area about living aboard— none of them were very encouraging— then he met me at the boat show and I was encouraging — and so I ended up selling him a boat.
“And Ray just fell in love with the lifestyle. He loved sailing. He advanced a great deal over time. He got his captain’s license. He took people out. He lived aboard— and bought a second boat that was kind of a house boat. He helped me out at boat shows. It turned into a really nice positive long-term relationship that has been going on for a long time.
When Sandra Brackert and Ray Ellis found each other seven and a half years ago, Sandra was a UCLA oncology nurse practitioner with no previous boating background. But she was about to also become an active sailor.
Spending weekends whenever possible, the couple would take Ray’s sailboat from Marina del Rey to Catalina Island’s Two Harbors, aka The Isthmus, where, conveniently, Ray had a mooring. “Ray would cook meals on his stainless steel grill, attached to the stern rail,” says Sandra.
With uncounted trips to the Isthmus, helpful advice from boating neighbors, and an affinity for research, Sandra’s knowledge of sailing and boating grew.
As time went on, she began to have an epiphany: “Taking showers off the back of the boat was fine for a while, but eventually I wanted more creature comforts,” says Sandra.
“Ray and Sandra were outgrowing Ray’s boat,” Steve continues. “They wanted to have more room and they wanted something a little classier. They did their own sort of research— looking around for a bigger boat— and they came across a late model Hunter 39.”
“Nowadays, the newer boats have more space, and they have some significant design improvements— including swim steps with access on and off the boat through the cockpit— which is a tremendous convenience—even a safety factor if you ever fall overboard on a boat. Getting in through the stern with a walk-through transom is so much easier, even life-saving in some cases.
“So they found this boat, became enchanted with it— it was up in the bay area— and there aren’t a lot of these nicer boats around nowadays. Joining forces to acquire that boat as co-purchasers, Ray and Sandra contacted me, and we made an offer sight unseen.
“Ray and Sandra drove up there— I also got up at three am in the morning on the same day, drove up, and arrived by 10am to meet them. We spent the day sea trialing the boat, taking it out of the water, having a good surveyer look at the hull, and they ended up buying the boat. I drove back that night. It was a long kind of a long day, but they thoroughly enjoyed the experience and stayed longer.
“We closed the deal the next week. They went up, spent the weekend sailing and becoming familiar with the boat. Their plans were to sail it under the Golden Gate Bridge and out of San Francisco Bay, then continue down the coast to their vessel’s new home in Marina del Rey. But plans changed when they found a captain who made an attractive offer to deliver the craft to Marina del Rey. And they’re just delighted with the boat. It’s neither too big not too small.
“One advantage of 39-foot boat is that it only has one head. At 40 feet almost all manufacturers include a second head. And that second head takes a lot a living space away from the boat. So if you’re able to live with one head, the 39-foot boat has almost as much space as a 41-foot boat if you take the head out of the equation.
Ray is now retired from Boeing, and Sandra is a year and a half away from retirement, at which time they’ll spend more time and longer trips on the boat.
About Steve Curran: Celebrating 51 years in Marina del Rey as a successful yacht broker, sailing enthusiast, and boating community leader, STEVE CURRAN offers a lifetime of seasoned boating experience. Growing up in Santa Barbara, California, a youthful Steve actively raced the 29′ Olympic Class Dragon, sailed for UCLA, and competed in the 1968 Olympic Trials (finishing 5th). Steve served in the Army National Guard. In 1969, while earning his bachelor’s degree in economics from UCLA, Steve opened his first business, a Hobie Cat dealership. During the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Steve served as Principal Race Officer Alpha Circle (Wind Glider Sailboard). He completed several Transpacific Yacht Races (winning his class in 1985), and in 1986 became Commodore of the California Yacht Club. In 2013, Steve co-founded Marina del Rey’s annual MarinaFest event. In 2014, he opened Marina del Rey Yacht Sales. In 2016, Marina del Rey Yacht Sales moved offices to its current location at Fisherman’s Village, Marina del Rey, and also assumed operations of Long Beach Yacht Center at Shoreline Village Marina in Long Beach. In 2019 he won the coveted Yachtsman of the Year award from ASMBYC (Association of Santa Monica Bay Yacht Clubs). An active sail racer, Steve and son Drew acquired and restored a vintage 36’ Nelson Marek race vessel Tinderbox, aboard which they and a special crew gather weekly to compete in Marina del Rey’s Wednesday Night Series.
For more information on selling or acquiring a boat, please contact either of California Yacht Company’s two offices, Marina del Rey Yacht Sales or Long Beach Yacht Center. (310) 822-9814 or (562) 983-6622, or cayachtco.com .
A licensed captain and recent resident of Catalina Island, Captain Joey Broyles served as Harbor Patrolman at the Isthmus Harbor on Catalina Island for three years. His first boating experiences were on lakes and rivers of the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Since acquiring his first sail craft, an O’Day 27, in 2016, he has been a very active member of the boating community. He is currently a resident of Marina del Rey and member of Del Rey Yacht Club.
RAY ELLIS is a licensed captain, is active in local racing, and has a mooring at Two Harbors Isthmus Cove, where he and his boating partner Sandra journey frequently. In 2021, they upgraded to a Hunter 39. Ray’s boating lifestyle began 35-40 years ago as a boat show attendee where he bought his first vessel from Steve Curran.
California Yacht Company’s Tom Suchy sadly passed away on Christmas Day, 2019. Suchy was an attorney who loved being around boats more than courts. For anyone interested, this is an excerpt from “Eight Bells for Tom Suchy | A Celebration of Life” (less than 3 mins).
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