On the Harbor: If it’s a Yamaha outboard, you need to know West Coast Marine Services


Over the last 10 years, it’s been no secret who the go-to person is around town to service your Yamaha outboards. That one is Nick Kelly, the owner of West Coast Marine Service, located at 1555 Newport Blvd. in Costa Mesa.

Kelly was born in Newport Beach at Hoag Hospital and recalls his father introducing him to a dinghy with an outboard at a very young age, allowing him free access to the harbor as soon as he was able to start the outboard himself. 

On the Harbor Nick and Tate

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Photos courtesy of Nick Kelly

Nick Kelly, owner of West Coast Marine Service, showing son Tate the tricks of the trade

As a kid, “I recall jumping into the dinghy with two of my friends and spending the entire day on the harbor. I have another fond memory of one Halloween when my father made an outboard motor costume for me,” said Kelly. 

Later, while away at college, Kelly took a diesel mechanics class, “just for fun,” at a local community college. “This is when the puzzle all came together for me deciding that I wanted to become a mechanic,” he added. Shortly after college, he opened West Coast Marine Service and has not looked back. 

I asked him about the parts shortages most industries are facing these days. “I placed my order in for new engines during mid-summer of last year and I’m hoping to receive them before March. However, the odds of me adding on to that order appears to be rather challenging at this point. In regard to finding parts for our customers, we have become very efficient at rebuilding parts. It’s not how I like to do things, but I have to keep my clients running and on the water over this next year,” said Kelly.

Regarding maintenance, Kelly could not emphasize enough that every 100 hours, or annually at least, owners should haul out their engine to allow for the changing of the lower end oil, to check the spark plugs and the filters. As with most boats, owners also need to make sure there is no fishing line wrapped around the props that could cause larger problems.

On the Harbor store front

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Where the work gets done

I also didn’t realize that West Coast Marine Service has its own boat trailers that allows them to pick up customers’ boats, then to bring them back to the shop for engine service along with other maintenance items, such as bottom painting. And, if the boats are too big for the trailers, well, the shipyards in town know that their first call is to West Coast Marine anytime a Yamaha outboard is involved.

While walking the docks, it is quite obvious that most of the marine manufacturers today are offering boats driven by outboard motors. Companies like Hunt, Mag Bay and Hinckley, all your upper-end yachts, are offering outboards while expanding to larger vessels each year. 

Outboards makes sense now having fewer acoustical problems, better engine accessibility, while at the same time allowing more usable space aboard, better fuel economy and the list goes on. 

Still, we all know that joke about walking down the dock and asking your friend, why does that boat only have four outboards on it? The reply is, five wouldn’t fit! 

If I’m to speculate on the all-purpose vessels moving forward, I think we’ll continue to see one or two outboards on each, but each with an increase in horsepower. This will allow these boats to have larger swim platforms.

What about electric outboards in the near future? “That’s a good question,” said Kelly. “The marine industry will always follow the car and other industries, but maybe not as fast. The first couple of tries have not caught on yet, but I feel it’s safe to say we’ll see the change soon.”

Kelly was also excited to tell me about his new fishing charter business. If I recall correctly, he picked up a Parker 28 and is outfitting it with all the newest features that Yamaha has to offer, including the new XTO phase charging systems. This way he can demonstrate the new systems to prospective buyers along with a platform to take out fishing charters.

My last question to him was how do you enjoy boating? “I do it all, from sailboat cruising with my whole family, to taking the kids to Moonstone, or just going fishing with the gang; yachting has always been a big part of my life. I’ve also done many deliveries down the California coast, along with a Hawaii delivery after a Transpac. So, I enjoy it all, including now with the kids entered in junior sailing.”

Finally, I can say without hesitation, that every one of my customers from Dana Point to Cabrillo Beach with Yamaha outboards tells me that Nick Kelly at West Coast Marine is the go-to person. 

Sea ya.


Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for Stu News Newport.