Once the pride of Catalina as a glass bottom boat, the
Phoenix is now one of Balboa's great harbor cruse boats

The Motor
Side-Wheeler Phoenix

In 1930 the 22 year old glass bottom boat M.V. Emperor was destroyed in a massive wind storm while at its bow moorings in outer Avalon Bay. The M.V. Phoenix was resurrected from the salvaged wreckage of the Emperor and built from almost identical plans in only six months.

The Phoenix' wheelhouse wheel was salvaged
from the wreckage of the M.V. Emperor

This beautiful and historic 105 foot 112 ton side-wheel glass bottom boat was built with four-inch thick Alaska cedar planking at the Wilmington Boat Works in Long Beach and launched in 1931. The Phoenix is the largest paddle-wheel glass bottom boat in the world. In her over 60 years of service in Catalina, three Presidents of The United States have been passengers on her.

You can see the Phoenix' side paddles in action
through viewing windows.

In 1995 Ray Handy, president of the Fun Zone Boat Company purchased the Phoenix for excursions in Newport Bay. As Ray said, "It almost caused a riot in Catalina when it was taken out of service. They wanted to keep it as an historic monument."

A front view of the Phoenix' wheelhouse

The Phoenix was taken to the Larson Ship Yard in Long Beach for refurbishing. Ray said that four of the old one inch thick glass underwater viewing windows were preserved in the refitting for harbor charters and cruises.Today the Phoenix is one of the oldest, largest, and most beautiful boats in the bay, and the pride of Balboa.

The Phoenix also serves as the Weddingboat

Blasts From The Past
Do you remember where you were when these events occurred?

H.M. Bark Endeavour

Friday, April 16, 1999 was a day to remember for the folks in Balboa. The H.M. Bark Endeavour - a historic traveling museum – came up Newport Bay on its way to the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum. The Original Endeavour was a 18th century British vessel that was captained by Lt. James Cook between 1768 and 1771 and later carried British troops during the Revolutionary war.

As the tall ship entered the mouth of Newport Bay it was greeted by a flotilla of scores of boats of all kinds, along with crowds of thousands along the shoreline.

The Night The Bayview Burned

It was early in the morning of April 12, 1982 when a fire rushed through the historic Bayview Hotel which had been located on Palm Street, at the ferry landing across from the Balboa Fun Zone.

The main part of the ground floor of the old Bayview had been occupied by Mutt Lynche's, a long popular beer hall and pizza parlor. The fire department fought the fire for hours, but by dawn the historic building was a total loss. 

Viewer Email

Just wondering if you ever did a story on Norma Owen? I see you did one
on Robert Owen, her husband.  Norma had lived in Balboa for close to 35
years. She had lived at 401 E. Bay for at least 23 years. And had worked
for Mike at the Balboa Pharmacy for many years, before that she had
worked at bank of Newport.

i enjoyed your talesofbalboa website. i'm allowed to catch live glimspes of
nb even when i'm away at school in santa barbara. however, i did catch just
a minor mistake. the photo of the balboa ferry captain isn't morgan
mcelfresh, i wish i could tell you this guy's name but i forgot. morgan is
the tall skinny fellow!



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