You Can Get on the Water Without Getting Soaked

If you yearn to try your sea legs but can't afford a yacht or even the day's rent of one, Newport Harbor offers less costly alternatives.

For the price of a $5 or $7 ticket, anyone can board one of the 45-minute or 90-minute narrated harbor cruises operated daily by the Catalina Passenger Service and the Fun Zone Boat Co. Not only can you enjoy the harbor breezes, but you can gape at the houses of celebrities as they are pointed out by tour guides.

If you want to leave the protection of the harbor and head to sea, the Catalina Holiday will take you on a five-hour round-trip cruise to Avalon for $22. Next summer a twin-hulled powerboat, the Catalina Flier, will make the trip in just 90 minutes one-way, or three hours for the round trip. Tickets will be a little more expensive, probably about $28, a company spokesman said.

Nor does eating at sea require chartering a yacht and hiring a caterer. The Cannery Restaurant in Newport Beach offers champagne brunch cruises year round on Saturdays and Sundays for $25 per person. And during the Newport Harbor Festival of Lights, the restaurant has dinner and cruising packages for $49.50 per person.

More Variety in Summer

In the spring and summer seasons, the variety is greater, with Catalina Passenger Service's Pavilion Queen, a power boat resembling a Mississippi River steamer, also hosting Sunday brunches for $25 per person, and the Cannery Restaurant offering Friday and Sunday evening champagne supper cruises for $25 per person.

Sport fishing also is a possibility. For those without the money or inclination to charter one of the deluxe six-passenger fishing boats at Davey's Locker Sportfishing near the Balboa Pavilion for up to $780 a day, there is the option of joining one of the company's group fishing trips. The prices of these excursions, which operate every day of the year but Thanksgiving and Christmas, are $17 for a half day, $28 for a three-quarter day and $40 for a full day.

For harbor fishing, Davey's Locker also has available 14-foot motor skiffs at a rate of $40 for a full day and $30 for a half day.

The more athletic can rent two-seat pedal boats near Davey's Locker and pump them around the harbor for $10 an hour. And sailboats and motor boats ranging in length from 14 to 21 feet are available at Balboa Boat Rental for $18 to $25 an hour.

Dana Point Harbor also offers low-cost boating, in the form of group fishing excursions through Dana Wharf Sportfishing, priced at $17 to $45, and pleasure boat rentals, through the Embarcadero, at rates ranging from $10 to $47 per hour.

And for those on the tightest of budgets or with only a quick interlude from the frenetic pace of life, there is always the Balboa Ferry. A two- to three-minute ride between Balboa Island and Balboa Peninsula costs 55 cents for a car and driver or 20 cents for adults and 10 cents for children if you would prefer to leave the car ashore.

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