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Ships Ahoy! The Perfect Day at Sea

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Ever wish you had a best friend with a boat? Now you do. Captain Chuck Brown created Island Trader Charters so you and your friends can cruise with him and first mate Nicole on the 34-foot power yacht Island Trader.

Featuring sunset trips and harbor cruises around Long Beach as well as whale watching, the Island Trader accommodates up to six guests.

Begin your evening with the signature Sunset Cruise starting in Long Beach’s Alamitos Bay. Tour the Long Beach harbor featuring up close and personal views right alongside a number of monster world-class oil tankers and freighters. Hang out on the open top deck and marvel at the tankers a few feet away, and take in the majesty of the Queen Mary.

Families of bewhiskered sea lions sunning themselves on the buoys, barking a friendly hello as you pass by is a common occurrence here. The more adventurous sea lions will swim up for a closer look and on a good day a few dolphins will appear and swim alongside the boat for a while.

The cruise stops at the Long Beach Shoreline Village so you can do a little shopping at the quaint seaside village, have a cocktail and jump back on board. Shoreline Village offers offbeat shops, souvenir stores and various theme restaurants all lining a waterfront boardwalk, with a carousel and fun zone for kids, live entertainment, and spectacular city views.

The water around the Harbor is calm, and the ride pleasant and stable even for the most sensitive land lubbers. Captain Chuck provides snacks (ours were sushi and crudités platter) and soft drinks for a complete the experience. You can bring your own liquor if you are so inclined. Captain and First Mate are chummy and casual, great attitude for a relaxing afternoon on the water.

Best part is you feel like you’re hanging out with good friends on their boat – all without having to clean up after, send them a birthday card or drive them to the airport in return. It’s casual, easy to do, and a great afternoon. Bring five other friends and it works out to about $70 a person for three to four hours on the water. If you’ve got family or friends visiting from afar and want to show them a bit of California coastline, this is a memorable way to do it.

Need to get your sea legs back? Stop for a bite and a cocktail at the upbeat surf inspired Busters Beach House Grill & Longboard Bar. Sitting right on the edge of the water, enjoy large, creative cocktails as you watch the boats pull up. Delectable drinks with titles such as "Busters Last Hurricane Will Blow You Off Your Room" (pineapple rum infusion, Coruba rum, Whalers coconut rum and grenadine blended with papaya, mango, guava and lime juice) and "The Big Blue Down Under" (Bacardi Limon, Bols blue curacao, banana Schnapps, blueberry Schnapps, pineapple and ginger ale) encourage lingering and sampling.

Of course you’ll need some food to hold down the ample, festive drinks, and the bartender isn’t the only one with talent at Busters. The dinner menu features creative California cuisine with an ocean inspired/Caribbean flair. Appetizer items such as Barbados crab cakes, tuna tsunami and Jamaican voodoo skewered chicken tantalize and entertain your pallet. Appetizers here are meant to be shared. The plates are large and a good value for a meal served at a location with such a winning view. There are great salads and main dishes, but the pizzas served on surfboards win accolades for taste and presentation. Busters Beach House is not a fancy place, but certainly a fun one. Good grub, great drinks, a stellar water view, all at reasonable prices. Busters is a great place to contemplate the end to a wonderful day as you watch the tides roll in at Alamitos Bay.

What & Where:
Island Trader Charters (www.IslandTraderCharters.com, or 714-625-6074)
Buster’s Long Beach ( 168 Marina Dr, Long Beach; 562-598-9431)

Helpful information:
While standard package tours, and lots of picture, are available on the www.islandtradercharters.com website be sure to ask about customizing a cruise to meet your schedule and preference. During Christmas season, the "Lights of Christmas" tours are an experience not to be missed — where all the boat owners decorate their boats and marinas with Christmas lights enveloping you in a shimmering magical world as the water reflects the hundreds of thousands of lights all around.

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About the Author

Margot Black
Margot Black developed a love of travel and tourism as a senior account executive at an international public relations/marketing firm in New York City. She has traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America and the South Pacific. A move to Los Angeles expanded Margot's expertise and writing skills into the world of entertainment/comedy. She has appeared on NBC, A&E, TNN, GSN and Comedy Central. Her writing has appeared in Written By, She’s So Funny, Joke Soup, and The Comedy Thesaurus. Always an avid traveler, Margot Black knows how to say “what’s for lunch?” in twelve different languages.