It's High Time to Be Out on the Briny

Shearlean Duke is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

A bright, warm autumn weekend is the perfect time to spend a day at the beach. Not on the sand but on the water in a small rented motorboat. You don't need any boating experience--unless you plan to rent a sailboat--and you don't have to have a lot of money. You can rent a small, open boat for fishing, sightseeing or picnicking for a few hours or for the day. All you need is a valid driver's license.

Davey's Locker

At Davey's Locker at the Balboa Pavilion, 400 Main St. in Balboa, you can rent an open boat for fishing or harbor sightseeing for $30 for a half-day or $42 for an entire day. Most of Davey's Locker customers are fishermen. You may have seen them drifting in the harbor, casting a line into the water from a blue-hulled boat with the name "Pavilion" painted along the sides.

"In addition to fishermen, we also have people who just like to tour the bay," says Doug Turin, manager at Davey's Locker. "This time of year we get all kinds."

If you plan to fish, you can provide your own equipment or rent it. Rod rental is $7; hooks and sinkers cost $2. Live bait is included in the price of the boat. A 1-day fishing license runs $5.60. The boats, which accommodate a maximum of six people, come equipped with a 6-horsepower motor and are intended for use inside Newport Harbor only.

Although Davey's Locker is busiest in the summer, business is brisk year-round and reservations are required for boats on weekends, regardless of the season. Davey's Locker is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Phone (714) 673-1436.

Balboa Boat Rentals

If you are more interested in sightseeing than fishing, you can go next door to Balboa Boat Rentals, which offers a fleet of 36 boats, specifically designed for harbor cruising.

"We got a lot of tourists in the summer, but in fall and winter we get a lot of local residents who don't have boats but want to come down and spend the day on the water," says Jeff Kersey at Balboa Boat Rentals. "During the week we even get businessmen who come out for an hour to have their lunch."

You can rent a 14-foot motorboat for $23 an hour or a 16-foot boat for $26 an hour. If you rent a boat for 3 hours, you get the 4th hour free. The boats accommodate a maximum of six people each.

Balboa Boat Rentals does not accept reservations. Boats are rented on a first-come, first-served basis. Fall/winter hours are 10 a.m. to sundown Monday, Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to sundown on weekends. Phone (714) 673-1320.

Anchors Away

Farther down the street in the Balboa Fun Zone, near the carrousel, is Anchors Away, where you can rent a motorless paddle boat that is propelled through the water by pedaling it like a bicycle. In addition to its five paddle boats, Anchors Away has five engine-powered, flat-bottom pontoon boats that are stable and sturdy enough to carry six to eight people on a leisurely harbor cruise.

The pontoon boats rent for $25 an hour and the paddle boats rent for $15. Anchors Away is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (closed Sunday) and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Reservations are accepted. Phone (714) 673-3372.


Although Newport Harbor offers the largest number and variety of rental craft, some are also available in Dana Point at the Embarcadero, just inside the harbor entrance. The Embarcadero offers two 12-foot harbor boats, designed for harbor cruising or fishing, and two 14-foot aluminum skiffs that are permitted to venture 1 mile out into the ocean.

"No boating experience is necessary," says Melissa Barnard of the Embarcadero. "But the two smaller harbor boats must stay inside the harbor."

Rates for both the harbor boats and the aluminum skiffs are $15 an hour or $65 for an entire day. Reservations are not accepted. The Embarcadero is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on weekends. Phone (714) 496-6177.

Both the Embarcadero and Balboa Boat Rentals also rent small sailboats, but you must know how to sail in order to rent them. "We have people coming in all the time assuming they can get a sailboat," Melissa Barnard says. "But they can't if they don't know how to sail. A lot of those people end up renting one of our little harbor (motor) boats instead."

Sailing for CHOC--The CHOC (Childrens Hospital of Orange County) Regatta on Sunday will start at noon in front of the Pavilion and include in-the-harbor and outside-the-harbor competition for both power and sailboats. The event, which benefits the hospital, is being sponsored by the Newport Ocean Sailing Assn. Phone (714) 640-1351.

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