Last Sunday while riding my bicycle down to the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club for some more Harbor 20 team racing practice, I looked into Larson's Shipyard, 2705 W. Coast Highway.
I thought it strange that the shipyard was open late on a Sunday morning until I noticed Eberisto "Abe" Parra and his crew working hard. I decided to stop and introduce myself.
He agreed to an interview, saying, "Sure, Len. I've seen you around town. Didn't you work in an office here at the shipyard in '89?"
"Yep, that was me," I said. "Good to see you, Abe. I hear you are part owner now and running this place?"
For some 32 years, Abe has truly been running the shipyard.
He started working at Boatswain's Locker in 1980. That same year, Al Larson called Boatswain's Locker, asking if they had any extra help. Work was a little slow, so they sent Abe.
"Al had trouble pronouncing my name so he started calling me 'Abe,' and it stuck," he said.
Abe started out sweeping and cleaning props. Later Al taught him all his trade secrets on running the shipyard, working with wood and metal.
"Mr. Larson was a very, very good man to me."
You can hear the affection in Abe's voice when he talks about the shipyard and Al, who died in 2000.
Today, Abe runs a crew of four, and the yard and machinery have recently gone through a complete renovation, from rebuilding the motors and transmissions to new cables and equipment. They are ready to serve all boaters' needs.
I was surprised to hear that they had recently pulled a 58-foot Viking sport fisher out for its annual maintenance. I never realized that they could pull out such a large boat.
The yard can hold four boats at once, and right now for boats under 30 feet, the shipyard is offering a deal where $20 per foot gets you a haul out and bottom paint, including two coats on the hull and a third on the water line with Pettit marine paint. For boats more than 45 feet, Larson's is charging $45 per foot. With Abe learning from the master himself, he and his crew are the perfect choice for restoring a wooden boat, or for electrical, fiberglass and gelcoat repairs. You should also keep this yard in mind if you have an old boat on your mooring and have to destroy it.
I asked Abe what he likes to do with his time off and how he likes to boat.
"I like to go fishing with my customers," he said. "In fact, last month I was fishing on the 64-foot Viking Bad Company. That's a very nice boat."
As I wrapped up my interview, two happy customers, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Barns, who just had their Harbor 20 Moving On bottom painted, dropped by to thank Abe for his work and gave him a gift. I don't see that everyday!
So, the next time you need to haul your boat for its annual maintenance, make sure to call the original Larson's Shipyard at the same phone number it's had since 1947: (949) 548-3641.
Shipyards to high-rises
On a side note: While researching this story, I found some great quotes from Al in a 1989 Los Angeles Times story written by Shearlean Duke.
"Back when I went in business, there were more boatyards here than restaurants," Larson said. "Now everywhere it's high-rises and restaurants."
"Today, the city has only seven boatyards, about half as many yards as it once did — even though the number of boats to be serviced in the harbor has tripled since the 1940s," the story says.
"Keeping Larson's Shipyard operating as a shipyard was part of the deal worked out in 1979 between the city and the developer who bought Larson's property," it continues. "At that time the city of Newport Beach took a stand to maintain all the shipyards it could as a service to the boating public."
What a difference a day makes!
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.