Last Dive of the Hermosa Beach Mermaid

There are few things in life that a true Waterman loves more than diving. God, country, and mother do not immediately come to mind. Neither does holding hands nor long, reflective walks on the beach. A dive bar on the other hand is a part of the genetic make-up of every great diver. There is “B-A-R” in their DNA. That’s why I feel like a little piece of me died this week when word came down that the legendary Mermaid Bar in Hermosa Beach has shuttered it’s doors after 70 years.

Smelling of beach sweat and desperation with a decor that probably could give you tetanus just by looking at it, The Mermaid was your one stop shop for ice cold beer and a place to put your feet up and your butt down after a long day on the water. It wasn’t just a smarmy and poorly lit bar either. It was also a place of innovations. There was quarter beer night, dollar pitcher night, and pretty much everyone’s favorite, Blackout night. It was magnificent.

Now I know a lot of you never went to The Mermaid and now, sadly, you never will. I guess the point of this getting all nostalgic and crap is that places like this are where you make memories. Horrible,awful memories. You also make some fun ones as well I suppose but I digress.  So let’s say so long to “The Old Maid.” I never figured she’d go out of business. I always assumed she would be torched for the insurance money. Just remember to enjoy your own special dives while you can and then take one last look at The Mermaid.

The main attraction. I think you could get a Flaming Moe here. And Pediculosis.
Bartender Oz with two of most popular things in the place. Greyhounds of course.
This guy is going to need to find a new place to sleep
The “Old Maid.”

3 Beers for the Dive Days of Summer

Just as getting the right gear together for a dive needs to be a deliberate and thoughtful process to ensure a safe and enjoyable outcome, so does picking the right post-dive libations.  To help you along to that end, we offer up these three decompression delights from 3 different regions of California:

  1. Green Flash Brewing West Coast IPA – While it is brewery described as “a tantalizing menagerie of hops. Simcoe for tropical and grapefruit zest, Columbus for hop pungency, Centennial for pine notes,” it’s doesn’t taste as lame hipster as that. It’s actually a nice slow-drink IPA that is surprisingly light despite the 8.1% alcohol content. With it’s grapefruit juice like hue, you can almost convince yourself that you are getting your RDA allowance of vitamin c. You’re not but you won’t mind.




2) Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA – A heralded hop-head from Healdsburg, this Northern California  suggestion is the writers favorite. It has a great chew and a big hoppy flavor that drinks like a champ. It is the diver equivalent of Irish-food, satisfying and filling, perfect for a post-dive deco stop with an alcohol content of 7.5%.





3) Firestone Brewery Double Barrel Ale – The old hand on the list, this tasty beer has been brewed on the central coast for almost 20 years. Other craft brews have come and gone but this classic holds up very well and goes down very smooth. A full bodied ale with a great finish, this is the beer you want to crawl into after a boat out to Anacapa or Santa Cruz. With only a 5.0% alcohol content, you have to work pretty hard to do serious damage.



We know you have a lot to choose from when picking a end-of-the-day refreshment and wanted to share with you some of our favorites from over the years. Just remember that any beer shared with dive buddies is a good one. Except for Bud. Bud sucks.

CFD Editorial team hard at work tasting beer so you don’t have to!



Your Scuba Show 2016 Primer

Click here for show info and advanced tickets

Another year, another trip to the Long Beach Convention Center for the annual gathering of our local dive community. So much to see and so much to enjoy right? Okay, maybe not so much to enjoy but there are some gems if you take the time to seek them out.  So what do you want to look for? Follow us here at CFD as we discuss how you can maximize your scuba show experience.

First off, you should look for innovative new dive products. Seriously. Look for them. I challenge you. No, they’re not there. Or over there.  Okay, I jest. There are really no new products. Maybe an innovative water bottle or some new way to clip your mask to your wetsuit in day glow colors. That’s it. Roll outs are usually at industry trade shows so don’t be surprised if you …don’t be surprised? It gets better though.

How does it get better? I’ll tell you. Looking to travel? A dive vacation on the agenda for 2017? You’re home with Scuba Show. The 4 corners of the globe are covered under one large, flat convention center roof. There is something for everybody from local boats with special show packages to long-range excursion trips to tropical atolls. Try checking out Eric Bowman and the Peace dive boat out of VenturaPeace or Keith Sahm with Grand Cayman’s ever popular Sunset House. Both are great operators for the discerning diver.

Looking to do something closer to home that gets you in the water and helps conserve and protect our local waters, then visit the outer netherlands that is non-profit row. Situated outside the convention center floor by the main entrance, this is where you go to find volunteer dive opportunities that can fill you with both dive opportunities and personal self-satisfaction year round. Talk to Ian Jacobson at Los Angeles Waterkeeper or Colleen Wisniewski at the Reef Check Foundation to see how you can make a difference.  Both have great diving programs that you’ll be glad to be a part of.Logo300x300

Don’t forget the seminars btw. Lots of good stuff to hear and see. There are all sorts of topics covered from Travel to dive accident analysis. A little bit of something for everybody. Check out Saturday’s schedule for a sample of what might float your personal dive boat.

Finally, don’t forget to say hi to all your old dive friends or maybe, make some future new old dive friends. Catch up over a couple of 8 to 10 dollar LBCC beers and talk about the good old days and better ones to come. This show is really all about community and reconnecting with something pretty special. As for me, look for me on aisle 1. I’ll be the 250 lb man modeling Slipskin dive skins sporting a tiparillo with a sake and soda. You won’t want to miss it but you should.

Happy Earth Day!

It’s Earth Day and at least 2/3rds of said Earth is beautiful blue ocean.  It’s only appropriate that you get your bass out there and celebrate. It’s also a good time to think about and reflect on the multitude of problems that we are dealing with here in our local waters. So, while you’re tossing back a salutatory cold one remember, that even after your gear is cleaned and put away, a diver’s work is never done. We’ll see you out there.

Won’t somebody think of the divers?

Hog Island Oysters with Chipotle Horseradish Barbecue Sauce

A plate full of shell-packed goodness.
A plate full of shell-packed goodness.

I’ve spent a lot of time head down along the north coast searching for the ever delicious red abalone. Whether or not I pried one off the bottom, I still had to eat dinner. Lucky for all of us is that Nor Coast is also home to some of the the finest aquaculture products you’ll ever enjoy. So if you don’t score a few big red’s you can always enjoy some locally  raised oysters to fill the gap. Hog Island is the central place for aquaculture up north and they’ve provided us with a great way to enjoy their product.  This recipe is a perfect for an afternoon get together or even a formal fiesta. So get a grill, pop a beer, and enjoy a north coast treat.

So here is how you do it…

What you need for about 24 oysters:

  • 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce
  • 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup clover honey
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 to 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground horseradish
  •  Sea salt  and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 24 large oysters
  • A nice loaf of bread for dipping


1. Place the first 7 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Let the sauce cool and add in the horseradish. Salt and pepper to taste and set aside to let the flavors really meld.

3. Shuck your oysters and flip them in the bottom shell being careful not to lose the brine. it helps to put them on a flat try when your done for transport to the grill.

4. Fire up your grill to high and get ready to lay your shucked oysters.

5. Lay out your oysters with 1 tbsp of the sauce on top and cook for about 5 minutes with the lid down.

Some would say it’s a a little spicy, just like the author. I however would say I’m tall and really tasty, just like this recipe. So get to it. You can get great farmed oysters everywhere so make a batch for Memorial Day. You’ll be glad you did. Serve hot with bread and a nice white wine or IPA and make any day a special one.


Deco Stop – The Marlin Club in Avalon

Looking for a beer after a long day of diving and trying to find the kind of place where you can stand around in your boxers, enjoying one in a non-judgmental temple of apathy? Or are you looking for the type of place where you can randomly ask Mary Stuart-Masterson about that movie she did back in the 80’s with Eric Stoltz and Lea Thompson? (the delightful “Some Kind of Wonderful” FYI).  If you can answer yes to both those questions, then you might be ready for the adventure that is The Marlin Club.

image001Located just off the main drag on Catalina Ave in Avalon, TMC is the oldest bar on the island and is what we here at CFD refer to as a character bar. Not that it has character but rather that it is filled with characters. You never know who is going to be in there. Yachties, divers, rugby players and Hollywood-types are just a few of the diverse clientele you’re likely to run into on a given Saturday night. Heck, the bartenders even live upstairs. That being said,  it’s really a very non-intimidating place the lacks the feeling of desperation you’re likely to find in some of the other night spots on the island.

As for decor, it’s a non-descript theme that revolves around the boat-shaped bar with stools that always seem to be filled,  no matter the time of day. Standard selection of beer, wine and spirits will keep you going including one of the few beer taps on the island. (It’s Michelob for some inexplicable reason.) There are your standard pool, darts and pinball to entertain as well as a couple of tv’s but the main attraction is the crowd. Usually loud but almost always friendly, it’s the type of place you’ll end up talking to the most random people but it will be entertaining I promise.

Anyone for fancy mer-people restrooms?

The sheriffs usually make last call around 1:30. At least it seems that way. That being said, once you experience The Marlin Club, it’ll leave a mark. That mark will sometimes be spiritual while other times being an actual mark.  It’s the spiritual one however,  that I’m sure will have you  following the interesting looking crowd back, time and time again, to The Marlin Club.






A link to one of the most impressive websites I’ve seen in 1997.

Underwater Wine Tasting?

Come on in. The Pinot’s fine

Considering all the wrecks that have been found over the years, it’s not surprising that more than one bottle of old wine has been brought up and sampled by the conquering explorer. In most cases, this sampling was followed by the wretching that often accompanies the consumption of vinegar and/or seawater. It’s okay because it’s all for science. In a few cases however, the wines were found to be remarkably well aged and highly drinkable. Thus an idea was born. In the Los Angeles Times today, it was reported that Mira Winery of Napa now intends to age 4 cases of 2009 Cabernet at the bottom of Charleston Harbor to see how the constant pressure, temperature, and light exposure will affect the taste. Speaking as a Californian, I’m guessing it might come out tasting a little crackery but then again I can’t see why they wouldn’t want to sink the wine in Humboldt Bay. Regardless, it’s an interesting read so enjoy when you click below.

Link to LA Times Article by Ricardo Lopez

Pickled String Beans ala Catalina Express Bloody Marys

And it counts as a daily serving of vegetables.

It’s a rainy day here in Los Angeles and my mind of course turns to pickling. Specifically, in my case, it turns to  the pickled string beans that are served in the Catalina Express’ plastic-cupped splash of tomato sunshine. For those of you that are regular visitors to Avalon and Casino Pt, you know there is nothing better after a day or weekend on the island than one of these bloody buddies to pass the time on your quick ride home to the mainland. I don’t say this too often, but it is the greatest drink ever invented and little known fact is that the magical key to it deliciousness is a little pickled bean.

Now I hear what you when you say “There is no way that this bean could be the key to this lovely libation OSD?” I answer that with “Go to hell and don’t back sass.” I suppose I would probably then feel kind of bad for telling you to go to hell and backtrack a little bit, conceding that is probably only just really good but you should try it. Then we’d make plans to go out to Catalina at some point, probably forget about it and talk about the great price on printer paper at Staples the next time we ran into each other. We’ll I’m going to take the bull by the horn my friends and make it easy for you to enjoy this treat in the dark lonely privacy of your one-bedroom apartment by giving you a recipie how you can recreate the channel-crossing classic in your own living room/kitchen(if you live in a studio.) You’ll save time and money and you won’t have to rinse out your dive gear to get it done. So sit back and relax and enjoy while I unwrap the mystery of the bean.

Ingredients for you brine

  1. 5tbls kosher salt.
  2. 1 tsp dill seeds.
  3. 1/2 cup white vinegar.
  4. 1 tbls Pickling spice
  5. 1 tsp peppercorns
  6. 5 cups water
Beans are truly a magical fruit.

Combine these ingredients and boil for 3 minutes. Give it a little space as the boiling vinegar can be a wicked surprise to  your nose. Then let it cool completely. Pour over blanched beans or haricot vert, garlic cloves and dill sprigs  into mason jars or some other non-reactive container.  Seal them up and put them in the back of your fridge.

This recipe will give you about a pound of bad-ass beans after the 3 weeks it takes to pickle to full strength. Then just add your favorite bloody mary recipe and some ice and you’ll soon be feeling the sea beneath your feet. Then the rug against your face. Then nothing but I digress. This is a great bean and the recipe also works for pickles so get your dive on and enjoy a great part of the California dive experience today

Deco Stop – Naja’s in Redondo Beach

Gateway to goodness(BTW I can’t read the second line either.)
Weekends weren’t made for just Michelob

Situated on the bottom level of the Redondo Beach International Boardwalk sits one of our favorite locations to decompress, Naja’s Place. It’s home to over 88 beers on tap and hundreds more of the bottled type.  It’s easily the most impressive beer list you’ll find within walking distance of a dive spot anywhere in California. To paraphrase the Bard, “Variety, thy name is Naja’s. “The glassware come in equally large sizes to match the lengthy beer menu and at really reasonable prices – $6 for a pint and $8 for the 24 oz schooner.

Good looking crowd is often on hand

As large as the beer menu is, the food menu is surprisingly short but sweet. Standard burgers and fries are there but there are a few Mediterranean delights that are a holdover from the previous owners menu. I highly recommend the kabob plate and the goat plate( for the adventurous) . They grill it up and serve it with fresh pita and a variety of sides.

Naja’s Goat Platter

On weekends, this is also one of the classic places for people watching. It’s a mix of local beach crowd, yachties, and beer aficionados. Colorful and laid back. In describing the crowd at this dive for divers, it is accurate to say you’ll never be underdressed no matter how much you think you need a shower after hitting the canyon nearby. It’s also a real beachy bar in that it always is going to have the musty smell that is a combination of fresh-off-the-beach and desperate singles. There is live music most nights and on the weekends but I swear it’s the same cover band just doing different musical genre.

This is not a fancy place to bring a date. If you only like mixed drinks and shots, do not come here. If you like douchey bars with douchey music, do not come here. If you do want to relax and enjoy the open atmosphere and best beer selection a diver could imagine, then go and do your deco stop at Naja’s Place.

Click the logo to visit Naja’s Place