On the Harbor: Spring is abuzz on the harbor

By LEN BOSE

While looking into the western sky, the dark clouds of winter are starting to reveal the clearing of summer on the horizon. The winter and mid-winter events have come and gone, and with an increase in the daylight hours of spring, the harbor becomes active throughout the week. Spring cleaning has filled the harbor users’ calendars, and we are noticing an increase in activity.

Most of my spring scheduling is around the Newport Beach International Boat Show scheduled for April 18-21 with many of the big names in the marine industry attending, such as Crows Nest Yachts, Fraser Yachts, Chuck Hovey, Northrop & Johnson, Novamar Insurance, Schock Boats, South Coast Yachts, Trident Funding and us – Duffy Electric Boats. Duffy Boats will be unveiling our new Duffy 20, which features a hard top, lithium batteries, an ice maker, cocktail dispenser and a U-shaped settee that can be made into a double berth. Promoters are indicating that the show is already full, with many builders displaying new models.

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Courtesy of Duffy Electric Boats

The new Duffy 20’

“For whom does the bell toll?” A five-bell alert was heard across the harbor this Wednesday when the Coast Guard announced that it is considering removing our harbor entrance lighted bell buoy with a virtual AIS aid to Navigation. At first tintinnabulation, my reaction was that this would reduce the large expense in maintenance of sea buoys. Everyone has a chart plotter with the AIS feature now that has been guiding us into the harbor for years. Then the thought awoke me from my sleep last night, that I have spent endless hours searching for that entrance buoy on the darkest of nights in extreme weather conditions…standing above the boat dodger in my foul weather gear taking wave after wave in the face making sure I was lined up for the entrance into the harbor. There was always a huge sigh of relief when I spotted the buoy’s red light followed by the continued search for it as it hid in the swells – and the anxiety of passing the buoy to starboard, with the exhaling feeling that overcomes your soul while entering the protected waters of the harbor. “Cheated death again” was said often under my breath, as the boat calmed down while gliding to her berth within the harbor.

To remove the bell buoy is dangerous in my opinion, breaking one maxim of all good yachtsmen of “sailing with your head out of the boat.” Too many boaters are lost within their chart plotters, along with their phones, looking for that lost phone signal as they approach the harbor entrance. With an AIS system, boaters will fall deeper into their instrumentations, missing all the lobster pots and large pieces of flotsam flushing out of the harbor during all sea conditions. The bell “tolls for thee” fortunately for me, with most of my boating now aboard a Duffy Harbor 20 and my remote control sailboats. I plan on staying off the rocks for many years to come by continuing to operate my boats with my “head out of the boat.” My guess is that no one from the Coast Guard reads my column, but just in case they do, we have some old very outdated channel markers within our harbor that are in desperate need of replacement, along with some channel markers that should be lighted. Now that would ring my bell!

I’m going to assume my readers have heard of the $8.3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board the Balboa Island Ferry received. As many of you are friends of the Beek family, it warms one’s heart that the long tradition of our harbor’s ferry crossing shall continue. It kind of reminds me of obtaining a good job; it feels good then it hits you that now there is work to be done. The devil is always in the details, while wishing all the Beek family our best to complete this very meaningful task.

As the winter passes by, there are many things to notice around the harbor. The Balboa Angling Club has its membership drive this Saturday, March 23 between 1-4 p.m. at the clubhouse. I have mentioned that this is one of our harbor’s best values. The junior program is perfect for your little fisherman’s summer activities. One will quickly notice the mother of our harbor’s sailing events – the Palmer Trophy and Baldwin Cup – are starting to take shape with the local teams sailing their qualification round this last month. The moorings will be removed in front of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club by April 13, and then redeployed on April 21.

Sea ya.

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

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