Welcome to another edition of The Poorman's OC '4 Under $6'. Each week I tell you how "You Can Enjoy The Good Life Without Spending Big Bucks!" Last week, it was 'Under $1' Taco Madness featuring 49 cent tacos and free pineapple juice at Tacos El Chavito in Huntington Beach. That Taco Truck Restaurant received a perfect 5 Poorstars rating (Every deal spotlighted in this column will get a rating from 0-5 Poorstars based on my Poorman's 'Cheap Scale Of Excellence'). The bar has been set! The pressure's on! How can I possibly top that this week? Well, here goes...
An Enchanted Ocean Cruise '4 $1' Yes, it's true!!!! You can cruise the high seas like a "richman" (sort of) on the legendary Balboa Island Ferry for only $1. Since 1919, this small and intimate ferry boat that looks like a cross between a tug boat and mini barge has taken foot passengers, bikers, skaters, surfers, and a maximum of 3 vehicles across the Newport Bay from Balboa Island to the Newport Beach Balboa Peninsula and back. There are 3 of these "vessels", and the ride itself is only about 3-5 minutes total time and travels less than 1000 feet; but the view is absolutely amazing!!!!! Reaching a top speed of 4 miles an hour, you'll gaze at 100s of sailing vessels, birds, sea life, the Balboa Pavilion, Fun Zone, and even the house where John Wayne lived!!!! It's awesome!!!!! If you're on a date, for sure you'll score big! The boat is barely two feet off the ocean surface. I've taken this ride 100s of times, and never get tired of it.
Your Captain and Crew, ages 18 and up (I'm guessing), are equally legendary. They're the total Newport Beach surf crowd, many looking like they just 'rolled out of the rack'. During 1 of my recent rides, I asked the dude steering the "ship" how he was doing. He responded "I am really hungover". That's your Captain!
A few of my friends who knew I was doing this article asked a rather interesting question. "Have any cars ever slid off the Balboa Ferry into the Bay?" My 'crack' research team of me did an "extensive" investigation. The answer is yes! I have uncovered two separate incidents. The stories are memorable. Incident #1 One of the Captains told me a few years ago on Friday the 13th that a regular female customer driving a Mercedes got her high heel caught on the accelerator. Her car slammed into a mini van in front of her knocking the mini van through the Ferry barrier and into the 'drink'. It promptly sunk. Luckily, no one was inside the mini van when it was hit. No one was hurt, and the coastal police had the vehicle back on land within a few hours. Incident #2 Tom Crosson of Balboa Island tells his story. "I was driving a Volkswagen Beetle onto the Ferry way too fast with a passenger, my friend Brian. It had been raining, the decks were slick, and this happened in 1966 before the Ferry had safety gates. I tried to put on the brakes, but that little Bug hydroplaned right off the deck into the Bay. The second we hit the water, Brian said 'roll the windows up', and we did...and we floated...until he opened the door. The water rushed in, and we began to go down, down, down. We swam out of the Bug to safety. The Bug was salvaged. If Brian hadn't opened the door, we'd still be floating."
There is no denying that this is one of the most unique experiences you'll ever have in Southern California. This ocean bay voyage will never be confused with a Norwegian or Carnival Cruise Line, but I would debate anybody that the 'coolness' factor is every bit as good if not better. And you can't beat the price! I give the Balboa Island Ferry a perfect 5 Poorstars in my 0-5 Poorstar 'Under $6' Ratings System. You won't get this experience anywhere else in the world!
Balboa Island Ferry. Board at: 410 S Bay Front, Balboa Island, Ca. 92662-1042 or the end of Palm Street, Balboa, Ca. 92661 FARES Passengers Adults $1 Children (5-11) $0.50 (Under 5) Freeeeeeee!!!!!!! Vehicles Car and Driver $2 Motorcycle and Driver $1.50 Bicycle and Adult $1.25 Bicycle and Child $0.75 HOURS Sunday-Thursday 6:30 AM-MIDNIGHT Friday-Saturday 6:30 AM-2:30 AM
RATING: 5 Poorstars
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