Loving LA

We have now been in Los Angeles (“LA”) for some time and I must say, something that has struck me a little like a freight train is, I really like the place! Why is this such a revelation? Well, if the truth be told, LA used to be my #1 most hated place on the face of planet earth. As such, even the idea of spending time here caused me concern way back when we first started planning this trip.

So why the change the of mind and what led to this turnaround? How could I have been so wrong about a place? Was it simply that now I was no longer wearing a suit, rushing to meetings, having dinner with folks I would prefer I didn’t or was it simply the fact that my family were here with me experiencing the energy, life and soul of LA?

The issue of my change of heart in relation to LA has been somewhat perplexing to me as anyone who knows me, knows my feelings towards this particular city only too well. To come about-face makes me wonder if any of my perceptions of anywhere are valid. What is it that changed? Was there something that could be learned from this? My endless surprise and amazement of my change of heart, led me to do further research, as I really wanted to try and understand why my view of a city I once disliked more than root canal without anaesthetic, had changed so dramatically.

There is a plethora of information on this subject worthy of a first class doctoral thesis but in essence it would appear that everything, i.e. business, religion, politics, marriage, finances, personal relationships, environment and weather for example, all disrupt our sense of self and our environment. So when we question long held opinions about a particular place, we in fact begin to question our own beliefs. This apparently creates a temporary sense of uncertainty and confusion and as such, is, in essence, the science behind what we feel.

So, new life experiences give new perspectives and these new experiences both good and bad, provide options. The more one travels, the more one experiences and as such, the more one changes? Apparently, according to the science, it doesn’t take much. As a big believer in change, and as a person who has never been afraid of change it would appear that every day that we learn something or experience something new, will have a direct impact on us that can change our perspective for tomorrow.

It is clear that opinions change, (as have mine about LA) and it is clear to me that long held beliefs about LA are now totally defunct but what surprises me is that this change of heart has occurred. I guess the take out here is that one never stops learning and that our decision to travel the world was the right one as it has allowed all of us on board Pendana to truly experience so much that our lives will be forever changed and our opinions altered. No doubt, travel is the key to greater understanding of where we all fit in on this tiny spinning planet of ours!

If there are any psychiatrists out there who want to weigh in on this subject please feel free to do so.

The reason I ask this is that the blogs I write pull few punches as far as my feelings towards a particular place. This sometimes upsets folks who may live in that part of the world and I have on occasion received emails from readers aghast at my assessment of their patch on this planet. Clearly, however, there are so many factors that lead to an opinion one holds of a particular place that if any one or two factors were to change then it is reasonable to expect that the opinion would also change. One thing I hope is clear; we only drop in on places for short periods of time so all opinions offered about any place we visit come with the disclaimer that they are based on our limited experiences.

Is it the weather, the marina, the marina staff, issues or no issues with the boat, the sky and cloud cover, the rental car company, the wind, the temperature, the roads, the rubbish, food? I could go on and on. Whatever it is, those who love LA now have one more supporter!

Ok, so let’s move on. Our time here in LA so far has been fantastic and we all truly enjoy the city and surrounds. Mind you that’s not hard to do when Venice Beach, Santa Monica and the Marina del Rey precinct are on our doorstep. Another thing to love is the abundance of seals. I know! They smell, they make a lot of noise, but who doesn’t love a face like this?

As most would know there are different types of seals in the world. Hawaiian Monk Seal, Southern Elephant Seals, Elephant Seals, Gray Seals, Ringed Seals, Ribbon Seal, Baikal Seal, Caspian Seals, Harp Seals, Hooded Seals, Bearded Seals, Spotted Seals, Crabeater Seals, Mediterranean Monk Seals, Leopard Seals, Antarctic Ice Seals, Ross Seals, Weddell Seals, Harbor Seals, Northern Elephant Seals and Arctic Ice Seals. I may have missed some. Whichever seals these are (Harbor Seal is my guess) they sure are cute!

I am a seal fan and they don’t bother me at all and in fact I love watching them swim by. That being said, however, they do bother plenty of people down here and folks go to great lengths to keep them off their boats with orange buckets being a popular choice of deterrent.

We will soon be heading south out of LA towards Mexico. The reason for this is that we can only stay in CA waters for six months before they come chasing us for significant taxes. Like Washington, this seems a completely unproductive way to go about business, but unlike Washington (“WA”), California is without the ridiculous paperwork process required by its cousin state, further north. Anyway rather than being hit with a material tax bill we shall depart and explore the country further south.

So the plan will be to head to Ensenada for about twelve weeks before returning to Los Angeles and San Diego once again. A double dip if you will and our last time on the west coast of USA before heading south. Once we depart California for the second time (approx. July 2018) we will have to hold up in Ensenada once again to wait for the hurricane season to pass before heading to Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Hautalco, Costa Rica and Panama City so that we can transit the famous Panama Canal (which, I must admit I am not looking forward to overly much). Once through the Canal it will be off to the San Blas Islands, Cuba, Turks & Caicos, Bahamas and all of the islands until making landfall on James Knight’s (Yacht-tech) doorstep in West Palm Springs, Florida in July 2019. A lot of miles to cover in a relatively short period of time!

Located in the heart of metropolitan Los Angeles, the La Brea Tar Pits are one of the world’s most famous fossil localities. Displaying Ice Age fossils, including Saber-Toothed Cats, Dire Wolves and Mammoths, from the 10,000 to 40,000-year-old asphalt deposits which are on site. A must see in LA. These deposits proved a death trap for the animals of the time and the reason for the abundance of fossils.

Very clever stuff from the La Brea Tar Pits

Another job that I never thought would arrive when we set off from Australia was buying and installing the Mexican marine charts for our Electronic Charting System (“ECS”) TimeZero Navigator. While I was at it, I also bought the charts for the east coast of USA, Bahamas, Panama, Cuba and on and on the list goes. Basically, we now have everything we will need for some time. I knew the Bahamas were shallow but WOW I didn’t realise they were that shallow! We have fought the currents and massive tides of the Pacific North West without embarrassing ourselves but it now looks like the next challenge will not be running aground in the Bahamas!

I was speaking the Commander Claire the other day when I mentioned to her that I thought it was really strange that so many places here in California had Spanish names. For example Santa Rosa, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara etc, to which the Commander in Chief of all things simply stated, “Well, you do know California was once a Mexican territory?”. What I said! “Yes, James, you should read up on it”. “Read up on it I shall”, I replied.

Well blown me down with a feather if what the Commander said was not 100% true. Who knew? Ok, no doubt most American’s knew but coming from a British and Australian education system where we don’t get to do a lot of American history this was news to me.

Los Angeles was officially founded in 1781 by the governor of Baja and Alta California, Felipe de Neve with the official name of El Pueblo de La Reina de Los Angeles, although at time it was also referred to as El Pueblo de Nuestra Sonora Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula. When the settlers arrived to Los Angeles, the area was populated by Tongva Indians the Spaniards renamed Gavrielinos, after the Spanish Mission San Gabriel de Archangel founded ten years earlier. These and other Native American groups had inhabited the area of Los Angeles for at least tens of thousands of years.

The “Spanish” settlers that arrived to populated the area consisted of a wide racial mixture. Many were full Indians from Sonora and Sinaloa, other were descendants of Spanish and Indian parents, several were also Black or mulatto. There were only two “Spaniards” in the group, one born in New Spain and only one born in Spain. One of the settlers may have even been Filipino since he came from Manila. At the time of its founding, New Spain was in the process of populating Alta California with presidios (military forts) to defend it from foreign intervention, missions to Christianize Indians, and pueblos for families from New Spain to populate. Los Angeles was the only second civilian settlement in California. Despite the arrival of Spanish settlers, soldiers, and friars, the majority of the population in Southern California was undoubtedly Indian until the 1820s.

In 1821, Mexican gained Independence from Spain and Alta California became Mexican territory. During the Mexican period Los Angeles’ economy grew exponentially and was based on the cattle industry and trade with foreigners. New Spain and Mexico had given large land grants to the settlers of the Los Angeles area. When the United States and Mexico fought a war between 1846 and 1848, the local Californios gave the U.S. Army its clearest defeat at the Battle of San Pascual.

The United States won the war and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo set the terms of peace. Two of the agreements in the treaty stated that Mexico would cede its northern territories, including California, in exchange for 15 million dollars, and that Mexicans who chose to remain in the former Mexican territories were to be guaranteed U.S. citizenship and all the right that came with citizenship. This is how Mexican Los Angeles began its transition into an American Los Angeles.

Despite the rapid population growth of the state in 1849, the immediate Americanization of the north, and the admission of California as a state of the United States in 1850, Los Angeles retained strong Spanish, Mexican, and local Californio cultural influences for at least two decades. However, Mexicans were not the only “Latino” group in California at this time. In fact, some of the first gold miners to arrive in San Francisco in 1848 were from Chile. Even some of the miners from Sonora, Mexico were originally from Chile.

Even though the state constitution was drafted by Americans and Californios together, and all the legal documents of the state were printed in English and Spanish, Californios gradually lost their numerical majority as well as their political and economic power during the latter half of the nineteenth century. It was during this period that many Californio elite lost their land in legal struggles and some Californios turned to social banditry and gained infamy like Joaquin Murieta and Tiburcio Vasquez. It was not until the 1920s that Los Angeles saw a large resurgence of Mexican residents in Los Angeles. Largely spurred by the economic stagnation resulting from the Mexican Revolution of the 1910s, Mexicans in Los Angeles constituted the largest number of Mexicans outside of Mexico City by the late 1920s. Because of the repatriation of Mexicans during the first years of the Great Depression, Los Angeles lost one third of its Mexican population. During the 1940s and 1950s the Mexican population grew slowly.

It was not until after 1965 that the Latino population of Los Angeles grew rapidly. More Mexicans live in Los Angeles than any city other than Mexico City itself. Yet by the year 2000, the Mexican community made up only 79 percent of the region’s Latino population. The city attracted large numbers of immigrants from Central America, particularly during the 1980s. People from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua form the largest Latino communities after those of Mexican origin. In 2005, Los Angeles elected its first Latino mayor since 1872, the Mexican American, Antonio Villaraigosa.

So, there you have it. I won’t continue but the map above shows just how much of today’s USA was once the territory of other nations. I guess it’s true, we never stop learning and apologies upfront for the history lesson here but I am guessing I may not be the only one out there who simply didn’t know.

NEWS FLASH in the next blog it is highly likely that I am going to be able to share with all my readers the one man, behind the scenes, who keeps Pendana safe. Going from Hawaii to Kodiak Alaska was not something most folks do and it’s not because it 2,200nms of nothing that separates the two. Not because you are likely to be 1,100nms from anywhere and any real help and not because any issues would potentially result in dire consequences. The reason people do not travel on small boats is because of the weather. Having a great forecaster working alongside you is without doubt a key ingredient to success and it is my hope that within the coming months I will be able to publicly name the company we use as they look to transition from commercial only to now include private maritime traffic as well. To say that we were lucky being able to work with them even though we are not a massive commercial operation is to underestimate the situation entirely – Stay tuned.

Finally, “Cruising Conversations – A Million Nautical Miles and Counting”, Volume Two has now been released. If you want to grab a copy please follow the link HERE. The book is also available on Amazon as well. If you dream of one day heading to sea to explore the world and its oceans and this wonderful planet of ours then this book is for you. “Cruising Conversations – A Million Nautical Miles and Counting”, Volume Two covers interviews with people just like you, who have made the change from a land based life, to one at sea. These global cruisers talk openly and honestly about what it’s really like to spend significant time on the water and share their insights and lessons learned that only come from this type of experience. “Cruising Conversations – A Million Nautical Miles and Counting”, Volume Two, is a book that truly encapsulates what it really means to go to sea in what are, relatively small vessels that have to confront the power, might and absolute majesty of the open sea and it’s ever changing landscape. Following on from “Cruising Conversations – A Million Nautical Miles and Counting”, Volume One, Volume Two covers new faces and a few new facts together with some amazing stories of survival that I hope all who read it enjoy. I for one, think it would make the perfect gift for Christmas!

Stay Safe


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