Morro Bay Rock, Rescue Submarines & Skateboards

Author Comment: Pre-4th of July my By the Bay column in the San Luis Obispo Tribune previewed two exciting magnets for tourists in Morro Bay. The community has so much history dating back to the military creating the bay to train troops for ground storming in Europe, use of Morro Rock to create myriad public works projects on the Pacific coast and in the Orient, the rescue after the sinking of the Montebello, the development of skateboarding, and on and on. Skateboarder Jack Smith established the Skateboard Museum recently enlarged to expand the exhibit and accommodate a growing number of visitors. And for 32 years Larry Newland and friends have been working on the Central Coast Maritime Museum and it seems to have developed some interest from Morro Bay City Manager, David Buckingham. A city with a history should have places and storyteller to tell others about the history….and a place to keep the artifacts that are closeted for lack of a place to showcase a community history. I hope to write more about both of these projects, but for now 4th of July 2015 was a banner holiday for both the Skateboard Museum and the Central Coast Maritime Museum.

And there is just something about the tug and pull of Morro Bay…could it be a Central Coast healing vortex? I think so.

CCMMA Rescue Sub & Larry NewlandLarry Newland previews the Rescue Submarine before visitors climb inside…by way of the underbelly hatch…currently in the parking lot on Front Street, Morro Bay CA waiting for its permanent home.

By the Bay: June 22 column in the SLO Tribune ( CCMMA

Second only to Morro Rock, the DSRV-2 Avalon rescue submarine parked on Morro Bay’s Front Street is probably the most photographed visitor attraction in Morro Bay. Only two were built and only the Avalon is available for public viewing. The submarine is on long-term loan from the Navy due to help from Congresswoman Lois Capps and former Mayor Bill Yates. It is one of many maritime crafts to be displayed at the future home of the Central Coast Marine Museum (CCMMA).

“Tour the Avalon before watching the movie Hunter Killer. The DSRV is integral to the story,” said CCMMA’s board president Larry Newland. He spent an afternoon with set director James Spencer and special effects coordinator Peter Chesney. They are building a sound studio interior mock-up of the Avalon for a major Hollywood movie scheduled for release in 2016. Based on the novel Firing Point written by Don Keith and George Wallace, the movie is about an untested American submarine commander sent to rescue a crew off a Russian submarine under the polar ice in the Barents Sea.

A $5 donation will purchase a tour on July 4-5 from 10-3 p.m. of the inside the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle launched in 1971 after the loss of 129 men in the USS Thresher disaster. Intended to rescue submerged, disabled submarines, it was decommissioned in 2000 without a mission. It is 50-feet long, 8-feet in diameter, weighs 37-tons and can dive to 5,000-feet carrying 24 passengers plus the crew.

During the holiday weekend CCMMA volunteers will also be available to show a revised plan of the future maritime museum and talk about the tugboat, Alma. It was donated in 1995 by the Kelsey family, owners of Sylvester’s Tug Service. Typical of tugs working harbors along the west coast in the early 1900s, it was drafted to patrol the Central Coast waterways during World War II anticipating possible attacks by Japanese submarines. The Alma was anchored off Cayucos on December 23, 1941, when it heard explosions. The Union Oil tanker Montebello had been hit by a Japanese torpedo and sunk off the coast of Cambria. The Alma rescued 22 survivors.

Newland said talks with Morro Bay’s city manager, David Buckingham, have generated plans to jumpstart the permanent home for CCMMA’s fleet by early October. After completing preliminary site improvements to the designated 2-acres adjacent to where the fleet is currently parked, CCMMA can move the water crafts to pads for interpreted viewing.

“We’ve had dedicated volunteers and donations promised. With a permanent home we’ll be taken seriously,” said Newland. “With funding we’ll build our first building in 2016– a garage sized space for information displays and merchandizing.”

By the Bay: Column in San Luis Obispo Tribune June 29

Tribune MB Skateboard Museum pix

Have you ever broken a world record? Since 2010 Morro Bay’s July 4th festivities have included a skateboard competition produced by Jack Smith, one of the 1970s “downhill daredevils” featured in the documentary The Signal Hill Speed Run.

“Having been involved in long distance racing, the organizers of Morro Bay 4th approached me to create a new event on the Embarcadero,” said Smith, who owns and operates the Morro Bay Skateboard Museum. “It is a race for a few and a ride for most.”

Participating racers have included top amateurs like Bakersfield’s Daniel Engel, Nick Dicus of Los Osos, and Smith’s son Dylan Smith of Morro Bay. However, most of the 50-plus skateboarders ride along – and every so often they’ll earn bragging rights for being there, like when the loop mile world record was broken in 2013 by Engel in 3:32 seconds.

With the Morro Creek Bike and Pedestrian Bridge officially opening at noon on July 4th, Smith has reconfigured the Morro Bay Mile Skateboard Race route so skateboarders will beat out the parade bicyclists to become the first official event over the bridge. Skateboarders will register at Morro Bay High School’s back entrance at 9 a.m. Racing will start at 10 a.m. and hug the beach and bay until flying up and over the bridge to finish at the Front Street parking lot, the temporary display site of the Central Coast Maritime Museum’s historical rescue submarine.

“Racers won’t have to slow up to make a U-turn as in the looped race on the Harbor Walk,” said Smith. He reminds participants helmets are required, all ages welcome, it’s a free event and cash and product prizes will be awarded after the race.

Smith said skateboard races are held all over the country. They range from one mile to Georgia’s 3-day 188 mile race or San Diego’s Adrenalina Skateboard Marathon, a 26.2 mile longboard race that Smith has participated in.

“Every Saturday at 6:30 p.m. there are 3 to 12 of us that meet at Cloisters Park for a 6-mile loop just for fun and the exercise,” said Smith. “Anyone’s welcome to join us for 3 or 6 miles.”

The Morro Bay Skateboard Museum opened in 2012 with 700 square feet of display space. Still at 601 Embarcadero, it moved in April 2014 to the premier Marina Square space on the corner with triple the room for historical displays and retail product sales.

Smith said, “Trip Advisor says we’re the fourth top pick for things to do in Morro Bay. There are 300 skateboards on display, including the world’s second biggest. It has become a unique – and fun — photo opportunity for locals and visitors.”


Morro Bay’s Embarcadero: a bay-side view.

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