AutoMatters & More: Automobiles at the Port of San Diego & “Pirates of the Caribbean

Coronado Bay Bridge over San Diego Bay
(Jan Wagner /)

The Ports District consists of five cities: National City, Chula Vista, Coronado, Imperial Beach and San Diego. Recently the Port hosted free, guided bus and boat tours of San Diego’s southern waterfront in celebration of Maritime Month.

The theme of the boat tour, aboard a chartered Hornblower cruise (see Hornblower.com) that departed from near the USS Midway Museum, was “Ships Bring Prosperity.” Judging by the vast sea of cars that had been unloaded from the massive ocean-going vessels, that statement certainly rings true.

New vehicles unloaded at the Port of San Diego
New vehicles unloaded at the Port of San Diego (Jan Wagner / )

The bus tour departed from beautiful Pepper Park – one of the 22 waterfront parks within the Ports District. Soon, as we drove slowly past thousands of new vehicles, we learned that “we started in 1990 here, transplanted from Long Beach/L.A. because the containers were taking up all the docks.” “We have about 500 employees working here. When we started in1990 we only had 30.”

Where do the vehicles go from here? “Most of them are California cars, but we do send some of the vehicles – like we see some Porsches – the Porsches go to the ten western states. Mostly the Audis and VWs are California cars.” “We have a lot of Hyundais here – we do about 100,000 Hyundais a year, and they all go to Texas by rail.” “The vessel we saw brought 1,500 vehicles from Europe: “Audis, Volkswagens, 756 Porsches” and more.

New Porsches at the Port of San Diego
New Porsches at the Port of San Diego (Jan Wagner / )

“Can you imagine if they had full tanks? So they have only enough fumes to make it to their destination... ...usually about two gallons max.”

“Every job out here is union... ...You start as a casual. The thing about being longshoremen is you only get to work on the ships, loading and unloading the ships. All those cars, and the loading of the rail cars, and the cars that you see driven around and those working in the shops – those are all teamsters.”

I noticed that many of the vehicles had small solar panels on their dashboards so I asked what they are for. They “keep the voltage at 12.5... ...you’re starting and stopping the vehicle a lot.”

Johnny Depp outside the Dolby Theater at the Hollywood premiere of
Johnny Depp outside the Dolby Theater at the Hollywood premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean's" "Dead Men Tell No Tales." (Jan Wagner / )

“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”

As hard as it may be to believe, despite being a huge Disney fan and having ridden on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride many times in Disneyland, and even once at Disneyland Paris, I must be one of the only frequent moviegoers to have never, ever seen a “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie. Have you?

The closest I ever came to seeing Capt. Jack Sparrow in action was during the exciting action sequence in the water and light show at Disney California Adventure’s “World of Color” show, which I highly recommend. There is an awesome surprise in store for you there.

I may not have gone to see this newest on-screen adventure either were it not for a chance encounter with Capt. Jack himself. I had driven from San Diego to Hollywood for a business meeting, when I noticed that the street in front of the Chinese and El Capitan Theaters was blocked off. A crowd was gathering for the Hollywood premiere of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” After my meeting I shot some photos of Johnny Depp from high above in the shopping plaza that overlooked the red carpet ceremony.

Marquee of the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood
Marquee of the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood (Jan Wagner / )

Back in San Diego I thoroughly enjoyed a 3-D screening of the film. It stands on its on and does not require a previous knowledge of the other films. As the title suggests, there are indeed dead men walking and fighting, as well as epic battles at sea, sharks, harrowing escapes (from the sharks!), wenches and drunken sailors (including a comically endearing Captain Jack Sparrow) – all intricately woven into a story that is an exquisitely crafted blend of humor, adventure, skullduggery and romance. The special effects will amaze you. After the closing credits there is a bonus scene that you shouldn’t miss.

After the screening a couple that are huge fans of the Pirates movies told me that this film is as good as the best of them, so now I must see the others.

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Copyright © 2017 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #490


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