Letters to the Editor

Reader offers potential solution to City’s bench refinishing issues

I read with interest your opening paragraph wherein you reported the City Council’s discussion and vote concerning the refinishing of benches on Balboa Island. 

What caught my eye was what I’ve highlighted in italics below.

“An issue before the City Council Tuesday night was the potential approval of a contract to refinish benches on Balboa Island, all 109 of them, as needed. 

The benches on the average need refinishing every 18 months to two years.

The contract was not to exceed the amount of $691,720, which was for an on-call maintenance and repair service agreement for two years.

Too much, it was decided.

Following some good discussions, the Council veered off in a different direction. They voted 6-0 (Jeff Herdman recusing himself) to reject the sole bid and instead refer the issue back to the Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission. They’ll request that PB & R look into a replacement plan with possibly some form of composite benches that would last considerably longer.”

Here’s why: Decades ago a client, Richard “Slim” Gardner, called me at my office to announce he and his yacht were day-docked at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. Having heard only of his prize-winning all-wooden yacht, my partner, Cort Kloke, and I jumped at the chance to tour his prize possession. 

We brown-bagged lunch for all and met Slim at the yacht’s gangplank.

It was a sunny bright day and as we walked to the bow of the boat I remarked about how the handrails glistened in the sun and asked what marine varnish he was using. Slim smiled and answered, “I stopped using marine varnish years ago.”

Interested I asked why, to which he related the following:

“For years and years I sanded and newly varnished the exposed parts of my boat with very expensive marine varnish, then while attending a boat show in San Francisco I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who also owns an all-wooden boat. Our conversation led to maintenance and that is when he exposed me to a company called Smith and Company. 

Smith and Company is a small Northern California company owned by Steve Smith and located in Richmond, Calif. Steve has developed products specifically for the preservation of wood.

That got my interest and I rented a car and drove to Richmond to meet Steve and see his products. The long and short is that I bought his ‘varnish’ and the next time I had to refinish the wood on my boat I used/applied his product to the starboard side of the boat and my regular marine varnish to the port side.”

THE RESULTS: “Some twenty-four months later the port side’s wood was peeling and being exposed to the elements. I sanded and re-varnished the entire port side with marine varnish. That port side refinishing process happened three more times: one at 16 months, one at 20 months and another at 22 months.

Almost seven years from the starboard side being refinished with Steve’s product it finally started to peel in various places and I refinished it, and the port side, with Steve’s products, and I have never used marine varnish since.”

MY STORY: I was interested in the product because here in CdM we have west-facing oak French doors that were in need of refinishing every three to four years. Hearing Slim’s experience I changed to Mr. Smith’s product and now the doors’ finish last, typically, more than ten years.

Here is Mr. Smith’s web page:

DISCLAIMER: I have no relationship, ownership or interest in Mr. Smith’s company. 

Decades ago, I met Mr. Smith when I also drove to Richmond to purchase his product. I found him to be a brilliant, self-promoting, eccentric, believable, genuine, trained chemist who loves what he does and truly cares about what he provides to his clients.

Perhaps, in the long term, his product can save our City a ton of money?

Jock Begg

Corona del Mar

Thieves hitting surfers’ vehicles around Blackies

On Tuesday the 28th, I parked my SUV in front of Blackies, put my keys into my lock box, and went for a fun surf session. Upon my return, my lock box and keys were gone, my car was locked. I went back to my office on 31st Street, and the mess of a long day started. 

Within 30 minutes the thieves had already gone to Best Buy, Apple Store and Nordstrom and charged close to $7,000. I was able to get fraud departments of my credit cards to take care of this, luckily. 

A stolen phone, wallet and key wound up setting me back over $1,200. 

So a warning to all surfers, this gang of thieves is clever and working in groups. On Wednesday when I was at DMV, the clerk told me I was the third person this week with the same story. Then on Thursday, I witnessed another surfer looking for his keys. He, too, was a victim of the same.

Maybe Newport Beach Police need to set up a sting operation or something.

Concerned Surfer