Memories of Point Fermin and the PBYC (Poor Boys Yacht Club)

The Cabrillo marina was just a short walk from our Point Fermin, six hundred square foot beach home. It’s actually 1200 square feet twelve when you add in the the upstairs. A home I purchased, gutted and remodeled around the year 2000.

From our rooftop you could see Angels Gate and the start of the largest breakwater in the world. Most all the rocks to build it was brought over from Santa Catalina Island. Designed differently than any other California lighthouse, Angel’s Gate sits on a forty-foot concrete square.

Homes in our neighborhood were made to last, built by Italian immigrants, out of San Francisco area redwoods. The redwood wood combined with the salty air and dry weather helped preserve these 100+ year old wooden homes; many on 25 x 100′ lots.

The San Pedro Coast is the tip of Los Angeles county. The Point Fermin end of San Pedro, Pacific Palisades and South Shores are neighborhoods bonded together by the beautiful, rugged, Pacific coastline.

The Point Fermin Lighthouse, located in a park by the same name, was built in 1874 and is a Victorian stick-style building. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and Cabrillo Beach and Bathouse are also nearby. Most of our Point Fermin end of San Pedro was always being filmed. If you saw “NCIS”, “Pearl Harbor,” “The Battle of Midway,” “Dragnet”, “Perry Mason”, and others, chances are you saw parts of San Pedro and nearby Fort MacArthur. Fort Macarthur was just across Pacific Avenue, home of the Pacific Diner, The Lighthouse Cafe and nearby Busy Bee Sandwiches. Fort MacArthur was also a short walk from home, it sat on a hill overlooking the ocean.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, additional 155mm and 3-inch anti-aircraft guns were added to the defenses of Los Angeles. These were the largest and most powerful seacoast defense guns ever deployed by the United States. They could shoot a VW sized round out to a maximum range of about 26 miles. 

Fort MacArthur’s 94 years as an Army installation came to an end in 1982. Today it’s known to locals as LA Air Force base housing.

Depending on the morning weather, I either walked or rode a bike for exercise, always in the direction of the Marina.

Four liveaboard friends I knew made their boats their home. Live aboards in the area, either accept you at a safe distance, or they don’t. The norm is, always socialize with your own; keeping most people a safe distance away. The boats are positioned in the Marina according to sizes. The 30′ boat sailboat slips are the most popular and economical for liveaboards. Here you can easily find the economically challenged. When you move up to a 40′ slip the situation changes, in both space and middle to upper class status.

This morning when I walked down the gangplank, I saw the four liveaboards I knew personally, conversing about society’s ills; at least until I pulled out from my backpack, a recently acquired 12 year old bottle of Cuban rum. Soon, shot glasses magically appeared.

The best rums come from countries, that also produce their own sugar. That 12 year old rum was from Cuba, given to me by my Uncle Ramon. He said the taste is fruity and aromatic with notes of brown sugar and tropical spices. He was right.

Suddenly, the earlier sour attitudes now turn towards conversation of, let’s just cut the dock lines and go. Sail on down the Baja coast, all of us in one boat. What boat shall we take? I was still a decade away from securing a pension but, I could do possibly do thirty days. Yet, I didn’t expect to be included; still I was swept up in their Baja talk.

Since I was now the only boat-less guy; it was then suggested I purchase old man Rays 70’s era Newport 41 sailboat; and we go in it.

Old man Ray raced on Wednesdays and having crewed on his boat I knew the 41 Newport. I also joined Ray and company in three Newport to Ensenada races. The 41 Newport was already equipped with racing Kevlar sails; Ray even talked about adding a free water maker but, not his new dinghy.

Rays price was always negotiable. With his friends and family rate, I could’ve easily purchased it for 30k. I tried at home that evening, convincing my new wife, after her near two hour commute. Bad timing. In a record minute flat, she took the sailing boys plan apart. Those dock rats she said, don’t want to go anywhere. Their not cruisers; like you and I will be – one day.