Monday, July 19, 2010

Harbormaster an approachable leader

I first noticed Lt. Mark Long, Orange County's harbormaster, while attending a Harbor Commission meeting at the end of 2009. He had just arrived in town and his photo had been in the press.

Long was in his street clothes.

"This guy gets it," was the first thing that came to mind. He was reaching out to the community and dressing like his customers. I hadn't realized it before, but it is a lot easier for me to approach and talk to a person dressed like myself than walk up to someone wearing a uniform, gun, radio and bulletproof vest.

I later saw Long at another harbor meeting and at different yacht club functions around town. By mid-summer he was sailing in the beer can races.

It also appeared that the county's Marine Operations had stepped it up by a notch or a few. Sheriff's deputies seemed to be doing more training exercises, such as boat crash simulations with the local lifeguards and fire departments, jumping out of helicopters with dive gear on and participating more with border protection and anti-terrorist agencies.

Lt. Long, who has been with the Sheriff's Department for 25 years, is quickly becoming one of our best harbormasters. We are all very lucky to have him.

Here's my interview with him:

Q: How do you feel about only receiving No. 94 in The Daily Pilot's 103 list? If it was up to me I would have a least put you in the top five.

A: I'm just honored to make the list.

Q: I noticed a new sea wall has been put in along with some new slips at the Harbor Department. How will these slips be used? Will there also be a new pump out station?

A: The slips will continue to be used as before: as rentals for visiting boaters. The pump-out station will be restored in its original location

Q: At first glance, in this new year of 2011, what appears to be your biggest task?

A: Continue to improve relationships and increase services with reduced budgets.

Q: With all the budget cuts you are facing, is there one item you feel a harbor user will miss the most?

A: We will continue to provide the highest possible service regardless with existing staffing levels.

Q: Can you think of one thing that a harbor user can do to make your job easier?

A: Yes. Be mindful of other users in the harbor. Not everybody is a professional boater. The harbor is shared by sailors, powerboaters, commercial operators, recreational boaters, renters, stand-up paddlers, kayakers, swimmers and others vying for limited space. Some are expert seamen; others are first-time boaters. Heightened awareness and courtesy to others will ensure a safe and enjoyable harbor for all users. Secondly, particularly if you plan on leaving the relatively safe confines of the harbor, prepare for some of the perils that occur in the open ocean. Make sure you have life preservers, food, extra water, an operable VHF radio and a cell phone. Buy commercial assistance insurance and a GPS locator.

Q: Is there a service the Harbor Department provides that the average boater should use more?

A: Boating safety classes are held periodically at the Harbor Patrol office. Novice boaters should take advantage of this and other educational opportunities throughout the harbor.

Q: The harbor is being used by more groups each day. Is there a meeting where the yacht clubs, NAC, schools' rowing and sailing teams, charter boat owners, electric boat rental companies all come together and discuss their concerns?

A: The Harbor Patrol facility has an excellent meeting room that can easily accommodate groups of up to 56 to 60 persons. Harbor stakeholders are welcome to use our facility for any harbor related meetings.

Q: You have gotten a lot done in a very short period of time. Any particular item you are most proud of?

A: There are a couple of things that come to mind. First, we have been awarded more than $1 million in grant funding by the Department of Homeland Security. With this money we have established a Maritime Unified Command that brings together federal and local law enforcement agencies to combat terrorist threats on our coastline. The success of our MUC has been recognized nationwide as a model of cooperation, communication and inter-operability between federal and local law enforcement agencies, and a standard for future operational agreements.

Secondly, I'm very pleased that the county and the city [of Newport Beach] were able to agree to a five-year renewal of the mooring contract. The contract allows for a continuation of the Sheriff's Department to manage the transient moorings. I believe our 24-hour service, proximity to the harbor entrance and law enforcement presence on the water is the best combination of valued services for visiting boaters, boat owners, live-aboards and residents. The selection process, along with the associated community meetings, had the added benefit of strengthening our relationship with the city and opening lines of communication with Harbor Resources and many of the yacht clubs and boating groups in the harbor.

Q. We heard there has been a rash of recent burglaries on boats in Newport Harbor. It reads as if boat owners are leaving access to their boats in obvious locations. Can you comment on what the thieves have been targeting and pass along any advice?

A: Boats should be treated no different than houses or cars. Lock them when you leave and don't leave valuables easily accessible to others. If you have something very valuable on your boat that is easily removable, take it with you and secure it elsewhere. The goal is to provide less of an enticement to criminals. Most importantly, keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Citizens are our best sources of information. If you see something that doesn't look right, either call us, if it is on the water, or the city of Newport Beach Police Department.

Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

Minds are made up on mooring

I attended Tuesday's Newport Beach City Council study session and just watched it again via the city's website. My observation and/or opinion reminds me of trying to sell a boat to a couple where one of the spouses has no intention of purchasing it and is just appeasing their partner. The indifferent spouse never steps on board to view the boat, crosses their arms, leans against the dock box, never once takes their eyes away from their phones and should they make eye contact with their spouse, it's in a manner of rolling their eyes to indicate their level of interest in making this purchase. I am a good yacht broker and find it difficult to explain to the interested party that a boat might not be in their best interest at this time.

At this time I feel that I need to have this same conversation with the Newport Mooring Assn. (NMA), mooring permit holders, the mooring master plan sub-committee and the Harbor Commission. Because it appears to me that most of the City Council members have already made up their minds regarding the increase to the mooring permits and, more importantly, the change in policy regarding transferability. From where I was sitting, the left side of the dais was acting like the uninterested spouse in the aforementioned example.

It appears the council has not even recognized the eight years of study and recommendations presented by the mooring master plan sub-committee and the Harbor Commission. At Wednesday's Harbor Commission meeting, one commissioner proposed to discontinue the mooring sub-committee and proposed a new mooring committee for next month's agenda. At the end of the meeting, another commissioner noted how ironic it was that the City Council never expressed interest in the opinion of the city's Harbor Commission.

If this topic is of interest to you, please Google the Newport Mooring Assn. and find the link to the meeting, which is on the front page, then go down and click No. 5 "Mooring Issues." Listen closely to the NMA speakers and pay special attention to Patrica Newton's budget analyses. You will also notice at the end of the study session it was proposed that this topic be continued at the next study session. I was just informed that council has changed its mind and has requested this topic be brought before it for a vote at the next scheduled meeting on Nov. 23.

Should you have any questions on this topic, please contact your council members, the NMA, or myself I will be glad to help you navigate through the city's website so you can view this topic. I also should note how well the public acted during the study session's public comment phase. I felt that the NMA and the public gave an extremely informative presentation. It was shameful that it fell on mostly deaf ears.

LEN BOSE is a yacht broker and the Daily Pilot's boating columnist. His Harbor Report column usually appears in the Pilot on Fridays.

Many festivities to be enjoyed

There is a lot going on around the harbor this week, so let's jump aboard the "Showboat" and take a harbor cruise.

Everyone, please remember to stay seated and keep your hands in the boat, and if you remember the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, the headhunters and man-eating piranha do not show up until the end.

The Balboa Yacht Club and the Glass Slipper Guild plans to host the 11th annual CHOC Regatta benefiting Children's Hospital of Orange County's Children's Neuroscience Institute on Saturday and Sunday at the Balboa Yacht Club.

There are some great raffle prizes this year. Whether you're a Lakers or Ducks fan, they have tickets for you. Maybe a round of golf or a Duffy rental for an afternoon is more of what you have in mind. For a special person (or yourself), we have a beautiful pearl necklace.

The raffle is open to all racers and members, and there are no limits on the number of tickets purchased. So please come by and see us on the deck that weekend and buy your tickets. Winners will be chosen on Sunday afternoon, but it's not mandatory that they be present to win. Proceeds from the raffle will go directly to CHOC.

As we continue our bay cruise on Sunday, you will first notice the spectators lined up around the harbor dressed as if they are attending an alumni football game. At 7 a.m., remember the time change is this Saturday night, the Newport Aquatic center will be hosting the Newport Autumn Rowing Festival.

Expect more than 2,000 competitors — and nearly as many spectators — from high school, college, open and master's rowers from the West Coast. The Festival will feature In-N-Out burgers, rowing vendors and four hours of exciting racing, followed by an awards ceremony.

The Newport Aquatic Center began hosting the Newport Autumn Rowing Festival in 1987 as a small, intercollegiate and club teams race. Twenty-three years later, the festival has evolved into a highly anticipated event in both the rowing community and in Orange County.

Each year, the roster boasts teams from Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC. This is a fantastic event and it's fun to watch all the people on the Coast Highway bridge rooting for their school.

This is the part of the cruise the headhunters and man-eating piranha appear. On Tuesday, the Newport City Council will have a mooring proposal brought it that features these suggestions:

• Offshore moorings should be set at 14% of an average of slip rates in the harbor, up from (6%.

•Onshore moorings should be half of that.

•Increases should be implemented over five periods. When "caught up" should catch up to 14% of slip rates in 2015.

•Allow one transfer from current permit holders to another person; five-year window.

• Allow persons who purchase a boat on a mooring to stay there up to six months to allow time to relocate.

•Allow one family transfer (where mooring permit holder is deceased) in a five-year period.

That wraps up our harbor cruise this week. Andd for all of the crews I have taken out, you guys are the best. I really mean it every time I say it.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

Cruising by the Boat Show

As a yacht broker I walk the docks of Newport Harbor, introducing myself to boat owners and just getting a hands-on feeling for how the boating market is doing. This week, I report on my dock-walking and point out some of boats that caught my eye, along with what's going on in the shipyards and repo marina.

I am sure you all have noticed that it's Boat Show time. While one walks around the show, the phrase that comes to mind is "quality, not quantity." And, to get to the bottom line, yes, it is worth going and taking a look at what is being offered. But if you are looking for a sailboat, stay at home because there are only about five sailboats in the show. If you are looking for power, there are a number of mid Sport Fishers being shown along with a number of my favorite, Downeast/lobster-style boats.

When you first walk into the show, you must go aboard the red Hunt 52 from Global Yachts. I am not sure if all of the Hunt 52s are this well thought-out or commissioned. That's because Gordon "Gordo" Johnson, one of our harbor's top yacht commissioning consultants and captains, has done his magic here again. Now, if only I can get one of the 22-foot Newport Classic Boats "Runabouts" into the gauge of the Hunt 52?

While at the show, stop by and introduce yourself to Rudi Gern from Newport Classic Boats, and take a look at the line of boats he is producing in Costa Mesa. These are one of the sexiest lines of boats I have seen in a long time, and did I tell you where they are built at? That's right, Costa Mesa! You have to take a look at one of these boats and place her behind your house on the water and name her "Locals Only."

I have one last tip for attending the show: On the weekend there is free parking at City Hall and across the street on the west side of Newport Boulevard.

Newport Shipyard appears to be busy, with a number of large yachts in for service. I noticed a 64-foot Nordhavn, a 59-foot Michelson and a 70-foot Ferretti, all in for annual maintenance. As I walked out to the end of the ways, I noticed a local racer having to sail his boat back to his mooring. You had to see the relief on the skipper's face when I told him I would help him off the dock.

Looking across at South Coast, it appears that Dennis Rosene and Joe Carter are putting a new bottom on their Far 40 "Radical Departure." I then stopped at Larsen Boat Yard and the place looks like new again. When shopping for work on your boats make sure you stop by and see Abe or Marshell. These guys have been around the harbor longer than I have and their work is equal to that of Basin and Newport Shipyards.

As I continue my tour around the harbor, I stopped at our local repo marina to see what they have. Please be advised that repo boats prices are lower, but the expenses are always high because these boats always need a ton of maintenance. They do have some interesting products at this time, with two fairly clean 36-foot and 38-foot sailboats along with two 32-foot and 36-foot Sport Fishers. The rest of the inventory is just junk, in my opinion.

Another interesting thing that Dave Beek at Island Marine Fuel told me is is the repo guys are stopping by his dock, about five boats a week, and filling up before heading to the great repo yard in Long Beach. So, if you think about it, there must be more slips available in town?

My last stop was Basin Shipyard, and the crew was emptying out the yard with the mid-week completions as the new customers were arriving. There was a survey being completed for a purchase and it's always fun to watch the other yacht brokers do a double take, as I am taking photos for this column and talking into my tape recorder. I also noticed one of my favorite sailboats in town, "ANTARES," Betty Andrews' pristine Ranger 33 getting a new bottom.

That's it for this week. Give me a call or send me an e-mail if you want a more in-depth report about my harbor observations, and I am sure you are all keeping an eye on Jack and his "Padle4Life" this week?

Sea ya

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.