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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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August 14, 2009     The Catalina Islander
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August 14, 2009
 

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Friday, August 14, 2009 The CATAUNA ISLANDER Authentic Chinese junk Met Wen Ti visits Island BY DENNIS KAISER Like a relic from a different age, the Chinese junk known as the Met Wen Ti appeared out of the mist of the early morning fog at Two Harbors over the weekend. Spectators may have wondered - had they finally found the shorter route to Asia that eluded Christopher Columbus? Had they hooked into some kind of time portal or alternate universe where east meets west. In the final end, as often happens, there was a simple explanation. What they saw was a 54-foot, completely authentic replica of a Chinese Junk that was built 15 years ago in China. The nostalgic effect of seeing the boat is perhaps due m part that it was built to the complete specifications and style of a 16th century Chinese Junk. The boat is actually a Southern California recreation attraction. According to the Web site www.boatandbed.com/mei_wen_ ti, the boat provides a unique and adventurous getaway without ever leaving Long Beach. At 53 feet in length, this boat offers a large aft deck that comfortably seats eight people. It is usually languishing around Long Beach, giving guests an unusually night out enjoying the views of the Queen Mary, the Long Beach skyline and the surrounding marina.. Guests enjoy some pleasant surprises about the junk. The interior is just as authentic, decorated with many Chinese artifacts. The large master bedroom has a queen-size bed, walk-in closet and additional armoire for storage. The one bathroom on board has a large shower. The salon area has a pull-out couch, great for two small children or one adult. The salon also has a TV/VCR and a portable stereo with CD player and tape deck. The boat also has a large galley that seats four, complete with refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and toaster. For more information on the Met Wen Ti at (562) 436-3111 or send e-mails to boatandbed@ yahoo.corn. Doug Oudin contributed to this report. Page 9 The Chinese junk replica Met Wen Ti delighted people who saw it anchored of~ Catalina recently. The ship is usually in Long Beach and acts as a bed and ~reakfast/museum. History From page 1 As Catalina became a popu- lar tourist destination in the late 1800s, no travel literature was without mention of the "famed marine gardens." A huge fleet of glass bottom row boats competed for the many visitor dollars. As glass bottom boat popularity grew, larger more modem boats were constructed. A glass bottom stemwheeler was built in 1898, forerunner to the side-wheeler. The Lady Lou was the first of the side-wheel- ers and was built in 1905. The last side-wheeler to glide through Lover's Cove was the Phoenix, which left the Island in the early 1990s. Many people experienced the kelp beds through the windows of the Phoenix, enjoying not only the view, but also the feel of the old wooden boat. Mention the Phoenix and happy memories abound. Mention the dive bell and eyes light up. The dive bell offered an expe- rience of a deep-sea dive that fascinated many in the era where few explored the ocean, especially while completely submerged. Advertisements for the bell claimed "you'll be as safe and comfy as you are in a department Avalon Veteran's Memorial Park Purchase a brick for the Memorial Walkwav $75 Contact Dave Gardner (310) 510-1484 or write for an application: Avalon Veterans of Foreign Wars P.O. BOX 1672 AVALON, CA 90704 store elevator ... Glass ports around the walls let you watch brilliantly colored fish dart among tall strands of underwater kelp." Between 1950 and 1961 a pier over what is now the Casino Dive Park held the diving bell and its housing. Designed and built by Edmund S. Martine, the diving bell was installed off Casino Point in 1950 and took 12 people at a time down into the kelp beds. Small portholes encircled the bell and offered passengers a glimpse of the intriguing marine life. A poster advertised that the bell could go to a depth of 40 feet, but many who have been on it~ recall going a shallower depth. The steel bell weighed three tons and entered and exited the water on an up/down ~entral guide shaft by a motor driven cable. The ascent and descent were generally slow, held back by the cable. But as some recall, the real thrill was when the grip on the cable was released, allowing the buoyant bell to shoot to the sur- face like a cork. A motor and air compressor were mounted in a superstructure atop the shaft while an anchor block on the ocean bottom sup- ported the guide tube on which the diving bell slid up and down. In 1952 the bell was leased to Jack and Phyllis Wyvell who then purchased it in 1955. After six years, they sold it to William Beck and operated it until the end of the summer season. In 1961 it was taken to Atlantic City where Beck expected it to be a more financially rewarding EARLY BIRD SPECIALS!! 4pro to 6:30pro MONDAY- FRIDAY FREE CHIPS AND SALSA Baby Back Ribs Top Sirloin 12.00 10.00 10.00 enterprise. It must have been as this marked the end of the dive bell in Catalina. Glass bottom boats continue to this day and have evolved to the three semi-submersibles that now thrill visitors with trips to Lover's Cove. As technology improves we can look forward to new ways to experience the .ocean without get- ting wet. Before you go back to the mainland... take a little Catalina with you. Subscribe Today. P.O. Box 428 Tel: (310) 510-0500 TD6 Cfl~llJl~tt ISI~ltI1D~ Avalon. CA 90704 Fax: 1310) 510-2882 email: angela@cinews,us LIVE ENTERTAINMENT FEATURING GIL TORRES Thursday through Tuesday (NoCover) ALL YOU CAN EAT BREAKFAST BUFFET - Friday, Saturday and Sunday 8am-12pm $8.95! CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE $3.00 Every Wednesday 5pm-8pm 509 CRESCENT STREET, AVALON (310) 510-1919