Celia organized an outing for us over Memorial Day weekend, on Sunday, May 24. She didn’t say where we were going until we got in the car. We were heading to Costa Mesa and Newport Beach to explore where Searcher (original name Cape Polaris) was built 50 years ago, and then retrace the journey from the boatyard to the launching. For general directions, we were going by remembered information from those that were there, old photos, and information from a journalist who was writing a column about the local maritime activities in Orange County back then. He comes from a sportfishing family who operated a large landing in Newport through the 1950’s.
Things have changed since 1970, but it was great to see the street where the Dittmar and Donaldson marine architects and boat builders had their boat yard (Sea Boat Co) on 16th Street in Costa Mesa. Then we drove down Newport Blvd to Lido Isle and imagined Cape Polaris on the back of a truck at night, arriving to its launch site at Lido Shipyard (now Newport Harbor Shipyard). I got to walk beside the ways where she may have been launched into the water for the first time. The photo at the top of this post is her launch day.
It was a great day with lots of nostalgia. We may be learning even more as time goes on. We are so privileged to be a part of this great boat’s history and we are looking forward to the future years of being its owners and caretakers!
New boat building company!
Richard Dittmar obituary
West coast sportfishers article in Daily Pilot
More information and fun facts:
Obituary for Don Donaldson
Costa Mesa’s notoriety for boat building
Dittmar and Donaldson scrapbook, including smaller original Searcher