We zig zag across San Diego Bay, faster and faster and BOOM, our speedboat catches air and as we bump like a pogo stick back down on the surface, salty sea water splashes my face. When you feel a need for speed, there’s nothing better than racing past the sailboats and ferry boats on a typical beautiful morning in San Diego. I finally traversed the scenic San Diego Bay, after living here all these years.
Going on some sort of vessel on San Diego Bay was on my 50 Weeks to 50 list, I wasn’t sure what kind, but you know I get inspiration from all types of discount platforms and this time it was from Travelzoo. Basically half price to captain your own speed boat while on a guided tour along the perimeter of the bay, sounds like a fun bargain to me. Made a reservation quite easily, and before you know it, life vests are on.
Prior to getting in the boat, our tour guide (for the life of me, I can’t remember his name) gave us a rundown of the boating rules, how to drive it since there are no gas or brake pedals, and adjust our steering since the boat steers from the rear. Also, it was very important to know that the rule is “sail over steam” — sailboats have the right of way since it’s much harder to redirect using sails. He talked about the wake zone, riding on the plane, and when starting to go full throttle be prepared to not see anything for a few seconds since the nose of the boat will go up before you. Then there were the cautions about getting too close to sea lions, don’t ride if you have a bad back, and making sure the harbor police don’t shoot you. Is this safe?
The instructions would make anyone leary about participating. But it didn’t matter much to me, Richard was driving the boat, so all I was concerned about was that I probably shouldn’t take pictures while going full speed because if I would loose my phone, there’s no way I would recapture it — unless those trained dolphins know how to locate them. Wait, Richard you were listening right? Oh, I guess he drove a speedboat before in his teens, no problem.
Let’s get this show on the road, or on the bay, baby!
The tour group consists of five boats with two passengers each, plus the guide’s boat (what is his name, this is really going to bother me). The guide is able to communicate with all the other boats. We steadily climb into our small 13’ speedboats, left foot first as instructed, safety cord attached to each driver (in case the driver is thrown out of the boat, the boat will turn off, good to know), engines on, and one by one we idle past all the docked boats into the exit channel. Baby ducks following the momma duck.
At the end of the channel we see the San Salvador replica build site at Spanish Landing, then we turn a corner and our guide points out the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program training facility — basically dolphins are trained to protect the harbor, recover equipment, and detect mines. I was hoping for a dolphin sighting, but as usual I missed it. We’re still at a slow pace, bobbling out of the no wake zone…here we go, first the guide goes out at full speed ahead, then the two boats in front of us, now us…Richard goes full throttle…woohoo!
I’m so glad Richard was captaining the boat, because I would have tried to concentrate too much on proper steering and direction. As a passenger, I could squeal like a little girl going on my first roller coaster ride. It was thrilling. I have been on larger tour boats when on vacations, but this mini speedboat with us sitting low on the water, what an adventure! We first venture safely in the plane, then more daringly zig zag across waves, you can’t help but enjoy the moment.
Okay, this is a guided tour, so we make periodic stops along the bay’s edges:
- Point Loma area where the bait barges become resting spots for sea lions and sea gulls, one baby pup looked injured, so sad. We did see a pod of dolphins on the way.
- Midway Museum which towers above as we slowly glide underneath its decks.
- The Maritime Museum ships such as the Star of India (getting ready for the Haunted Tales), the HMS Surprise, and the Soviet B-39 Submarine (you can see the rotted rear from our view).
Being from San Diego and seeing plenty of sea lions and visiting the museums many times as a field trip chaperone, can we just keep riding? We do spend most of the time enjoying the waters, especially a long stretch from the opening of the bay below Fort Rosecrans towards the Coronado Bridge. Speeding along like that, it really was a blast. I loved it when we made air, and held tight for the bumpy return. It brought a smile to my face, plus a salty complexion.
What joy. I waved to those on slower sail boats, tourists on ferry boats, and those watching on dry land. I’m smiling, but thinking yes you folks should be envious of us, you are missing out, this is an “E” ticket ride. Being able to freely enjoy and captain your own boat, what a fantastic idea. I love being a tourist in my home town. Now, we’re starting to wonder, how much do one of these little babies cost; they can fit in my garage right?
One last speedy zig zag along Harbor Island. Thank goodness Richard was driving, because the angle of that turn, if I was driving we surely would have crashed into the rock wall. Is he trying to recreate some James Bond flick, that Brit of mine? But it sure was fun. And I will consider myself his Bond girl.
San Diego Speed Boat Adventures, Inc., Cabrillo Isle Marina, 1450 Harbor Island Drive, Suite 205, San Diego, CA 92101, 619-294-5852. www.speedboatadventures.com – I didn’t take any photos of us driving at full speed, since I was worried that I would lose my phone, so watch the video on the website. Whatever our guide’s name was, he was excellent.