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5199 E. Pacific Coast Hwy. #608
Post Office Box 15679
Long Beach California, 90815-0679
Phone: (562) 597-8000
Fax: (562) 597-9410
Feature Stories

Whale Watch Boat Christened

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 15

By Kirt Ramirez

Harbor Breeze Cruises welcomed its newest addition – the M/V Triumphant – during a christening ceremony at Rainbow Harbor’s Pine Avenue Pier Wednesday, July 17.

Mayor Bob Foster broke a plastic-wrapped bottle of champagne on the catamaran’s bow during the celebration. Several officials along with 100 children from the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach took part in the event. The state-of-the-art vessel will accommodate the growing whale-watch tourism business.

After the formality – and after the mayor and city officials left – the boat’s captain and owner of Harbor Breeze Corp. took the children out for a two-hour ride to see blue whales. Kids laughed and screamed in the wind as the boat cruised on the deep sea.
“This is a special day for me and I’m glad you’re all here to share it with us,” Captain Dan Salas told the children over the speaker system, as a whale frolicked nearby.

Salas explained to the boys and girls, “The blue whale is the largest animal to ever live on Earth. Its heart is the size of a small car and it eats 4,000 pounds of krill each day.”

Salas got up close to a whale, stopped the boat and turned off the engine. The creature blew air out of its blow hole and emerged and submerged like a submarine – and showed its tail. Some of the kids got overly excited and shrieked. Salas told them they could scream as loud as they wanted.

Designed in New Zealand, the All American Marine Company built the 83-foot long, 150-passenger Triumphant in Bellingham, Wash. in eight months with 50 employees. The American-built cruiser costs $4 million. It is the latest high-tech, foil-assisted cruise vessel in Southern California.

“This is one of the nicest boats we’ve had the privilege to build,” said All American Marine CEO Matt Mullett, who partied aboard with the children.

“I want to thank the person who made the ship,” said Jceon, 7, of the Westside Boys and Girls Club, after eating a sandwich lunch provided by Salas.

“I had a good time,” said Safyra, 7, also from the Westside Boys and Girls Club.

After the trip, Salas was asked if there would be a special for Beachcomber readers. He said as long as they mention the newspaper they could get onboard for two-for-one.

Seniors 62 and up would pay $40 for two people seven days a week instead of $40 for one. Regular adults are $45 during the week but $50 on the weekend. And children ages three to 11 are $30. Harbor Breeze’s Amber Boyle can be reached at (562) 432-4900 for this offer.

“I appreciate all the support from the Beachcomber. Our loyal customers make it possible,” Salas said. “If they haven’t been with us before, come out. This boat was built for the people of Long Beach.”

Salas, 50, has been boating since he was 18. He grew up in Long Beach and San Pedro. When he was 12 he delivered newspapers and began helping a boater at the San Pedro docks. He went on to become a tug boat captain and then ventured out to start his own company, Harbor Breeze, in 1990.

He bought his first boat in 1994 and was based in San Pedro. His tour business grew and he came to Long Beach in 2000. With the new addition, he now owns six vessels and provides different services including harbor tours, private parties, corporate events, memorials at sea, weddings and sport fishing to Catalina, among others. But whale watching remains his specialty.

Some boats are named after his wife Kim and three children Caroline, 17, Kristina, 14, and Christopher, 9, who attended the christening.

Whale watching tours leave from dock number two – near the Aquarium of the Pacific. The website is Salas also teamed up with the Aquarium to offer a combo ticket. For information about that deal, call the Aquarium at (562) 590-3100.

In addition to blue whales, guests can spot other sea life including dolphins, sea lions, seals and migratory birds. Landmarks on the skyline can be pointed out. The colorful Shoreline Village, historic Queen Mary, Spruce Goose dome, the breakwater, as well as port shipping containers all can be seen.

Of the four lighthouses of the Long Beach/Los Angeles harbor area, three were spotted during the ceremonial trip, as Salas took the boat towards San Pedro that day.

The charming Point Fermin Victorian lighthouse built in 1874 (and is open for free tours) sits atop a San Pedro cliff.

The Triumphant passed alongside the refurbished Angel’s Gate Lighthouse built in 1913, which stands at the end of the San Pedro breakwater.

Additionally the robot-looking box of a lighthouse – Queen’s Gate Robot Light – completed in 1949 sits at the end of the Long Beach breakwater.

The run-down Point Vicente Lighthouse built in 1926 in elegant Rancho Palos Verdes could not be seen. This lighthouse is open to the public the second Saturday of each month.

Several days later, an NBC4 News crew aboard the Triumphant witnessed an 18-foot great white shark bite a seal in half off of Rancho Palos Verdes.