COLONIAL YACHT ANCHORAGE, INC.
Every sailor remembers with nostalgia the first time be set sail in a boat that looked good and handled nicely. But not all sailors can remember sailing in a craft made by their own hands and designed to their own taste. Lou Hearle, president of Colonial Yacht Anchorage, Inc., has seen many a trim vessel sail away from his boatyard knowing that some of his own labor and heart went into it.
It all began some 54 years ago when Lou and his father built their first boat and sailed it down the irrigation canal in Bakersfield, California. There was a fine sense of accomplishment for both of them that day. Lou was just eight years old and proud that his dad, a Southern Pacific Railroad engineer, loved boats and knew how to build them.
When the Hearles moved to Santa Barbara, 17-year-old Lou learned how to handle sails and it wasn’t long before he and his father had perfected a second sailboat in Wilmington. From the fin.t time he rigged that boat and bent on her sails, boating and boatbuilding were in his blood for good. Many rugged years were to pass, though, before Lou would begin his boatbuilding career-and at times it seemed very unlikely that he would ever indulge his love for the feel of lifted sails.
World War I was the first interruption. Lou spent two and a half years slogging it out with the first division of the 32nd Infantry. When he came home from the war, he put in almost ten years working as drilling engineer in the oil fields of Oklahoma. But the time came when Lou felt the urge for the sea rising up in him again-especially when he began visualizing boats and salt water where there was in reality only oil-soaked soil.
He returned to Southern California and established his first boat yard in Lomita. Although the yard was tiny, Lou was happy working with sail and power boats. He had a wife and son now so he built the Nubbins, a 45-foot ketch rig, and the family lived aboard the vessel until their son, Bud, was old enough for school.
The second interruption came when World War II closed his yard. Lou became night foreman at the Craig Shipbuilding Company in Long Beach and stayed for the duration of the war. But as soon as the way was clear, the indomitable Lou opened another yard in Lomita. Here many war surplus boats were converted into cruisers and sturdy little fishing boats were turned out, always with Lou’s critical eye for perfection.
His big break came when he had the opportunity to buy the Colonial Yacht Anchorage in Wilmington in 1947. The yard wasn’t very big – just three cradles for small craft and four employees to handle the trade but Lou concentrated on doing the very best work possible for discriminating boatsmen. With this plus a combination of grit and determination, Lou built up the business to its present success.
Now Colonial has 21 cradles and can handle any craft up to 20 tons. In the past 12 years the yard has seen a variety of boats-Honolulu racers, fishing boats, yachts, cruisers and many types of sailboats from dinghies to schooners. The yard has extended to include yacht brokerage, slip rentals, marine railways, and just recently, Colonial opened up a boat repair shop in Long Beach as well. Lou rarely works on boats now but with all the activity going on at Colonial, his tall sturdy figure is familiar In every corner of the yard. The old Nubbins is gone now, but Lou has a 33-foot sloop called the Rhapsody.
Lou’s son, Bud, would naturally navigate toward a boating career after spending most of his childhood around boats. Natural, too, that he would serve for the duration of the Korean War in an Army Aircraft Rescue Boat. When the war was over, Bud headed right back to Lomita and now he’s foreman of Colonial Yacht Anchorage, Inc.
There’s another character in the story named Andy who can’t be left out-a rugged, sea-going Airedale. Andy has been with Lou since 1947. He keeps a weather eye on all activities at Colonial and is a staunch friend of everyone on the docks in Wilmington.
And now the third generation of boatbuilders is continually at his granddad’s footsteps. Bud’s six-year-old son is determined to learn the trade from the keel up at Colonial — the beginning of a boat repair dynasty. No doubt he’ll sail his hand-built goat soon, just as Lou Hearle did 54 years ago.
May 12, 2012: The Los Angeles Harbor Department issued eviction notices to more than 90 boat slip tenants last month after it labeled the marina’s dock and its 138 slips in Berth 204 as too dilapidated to be safe.
The Camello Family, which operated the marina for more than 60 years, forfeited the property after it failed to pay rent for two years, including interest fees. They now owe about $400,000, city officials say.
Today: The Anchorage opened again at Berth 204 Anchorage Road, Wilmington, California 90744, research shows that there was an upgraded marina and small yard. It now appears to have closed. The web address is for sale. Colonial Yacht Anchorage filed as an Articles of Incorporation in the State of California and is no longer active. This corporate entity was filed approximately seventy-two years ago on Monday, October 17, 1949 , according to public records filed with California Secretary of State.