Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fun times sailing in Newport Harbor

The high pressure system brought in warm weather, a light zephyr and 25 high school sailing teams from California and Washington state. Each school brings four teams split into A and B varsity squads and A and B junior varsity squads, which break down to more than 100 participants. All gathered at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club to attend the Pacific Coast Interscholastic Assn. 2010 Anteater Regatta.

I received an e-mail from Michael Madigan, the junior commodore of the yacht club, telling me what a great sailor I "was" and explaining why my readers would enjoy this event. I was flattered that someone from that age group reads my column.

So I jumped in my dinghy and headed up to the yacht club. As soon as I came around the corner and noticed all the boats and everyone on the dock, I started rocking my boat in an effort to make it go faster. The atmosphere felt like a football game with all the team members wearing their school pinnies - school sailing jerseys - their parents in the background, and all the different teams' tents in the boat yard. The only things that were missing were the marching bands and wind.

The principal race officer was Robert Kenny, who was able to get off 20 short-course races just off the southeast corner of Lido Isle. I always feel like a sports commentator when watching these events because the first thing I start doing is commenting on the competitors' tactics. I was not talking to myself this time, and I was fortunate to pick up from the dock one of my friends, harbor photographer Susan Kenney.

As soon as the race starts I find myself making comments like: "Looks like his bow was a little over the line," and, "She should tack on his bow and lead him back toward Lido."

Coming out and watching these regattas has to improve my own sailing, and it's just fun to mix it up again even if I am in a powerboat.

Another thing I try to take with me from watching these events is the fun these competitors are having in the back of the fleet. There are smiles everywhere. I noticed one kid, who had just started a race, calling out to a friend who was waiting for his fleet to start, "Hey, Tom! Hi! I got a bad start."

I am thinking, what are you doing, kid? Focus. Look upwind.

Then I realized he was just having fun sailing in Newport Harbor on a warm winter day.

If you would like the results, go to the yacht club's website. Although the truly smart thing to do is go to susankenney.smugmug.com and look at all the smiles.

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

Sailing into the sunset always good

While traveling around the harbor this week I came upon a place that gave me relief from my troubling situations. No, I am not referring to the Balboa Yacht Club's bar, but rather one particular Hunter 326 sailing in the harbor most every day of the week. I then came to lean about the Oasis Sailing Club (OSC).

The OSC has been around for some 34 years and is a part of "Friends of the Oasis," which is a senior center owned and operated by the city of Newport Beach. If you do not know about the Newport Beach's Senior Center, Google "Friends of the Oasis."

Now here is the best part: The OSC has two sailboats at the city's Basin Marina. Members can sign up for day and evening sails and the occasional overnight sail aboard a 2003 Hunter 326 or the 2007 Catalina 34. The cost of an evening sail is $10, a day sail, $15. An overnight sail — split between the crew and the cost of the boat — runs $90.

So you might ask me what is the "ketch?" No, there are no ketches (a commonly used sailing term, for those who didn't, um, catch the play on words). The cost of joining the "Friends of the Oasis" is $10 a year. To join the OCS, add another $25. So for $35 a year you can sail off into the sunset. Ask your accountant if it's tax-deductible. My understanding is that the only prerequisite is that you must be 55 years or older to join the Friends of the Oasis.

While talking to the vice commodore of the OSC, Malcolm Read, I asked if members need to find a skipper and then form a party to go sailing. He replied, "They don't need to form a party ... we do it for them!"

Generally speaking, our boats need a certified (by OSC) skipper and a mate (or two skippers) to sail. The sailing schedule for the following month is posted at the OSC monthly meeting. Skippers sign up first, because without a skipper the boat won't sail. Then the calendar is made available to all OSC members who, on a take-a-number basis, sign up for dates they want to sail.

The skipper has the right to limit the number of crewmembers to six, some take eight or more. So, when people sign up they can see who the skipper will be and who else has signed up to sail. Some choose their sailing by date, others by friends or skippers with whom they prefer to sail.

I then asked Malcolm about some of the other social events the club schedules each year. He referred to the following social events: summer picnic, Oktoberfest, Christmas party, St. Patrick's Day Party, Opening Day.

I then wondered if the OSC offered any seamanship lessons.

"We're not a sailing school and often refer members who have no sailing experience to OCC for initial training," Malcolm said. "For those who have some sailing experience, we have a mate candidates training program, where they can enhance their sailing and seamanship skills to eventually become an OSC mate, and in some cases, a skipper.

"We also offer seamanship training sessions on anchoring, boat systems, docking/undocking, man overboard and maneuvers, such as heaving to and figure 8s."

Another challenge I noticed, while reading the OSC website, was the "Eva Challenge Series" for the OSC member to take one of the club boats out and around the oil platform "Eva," then back to the harbor entrance. The record stands at three hours and 34 minutes, but I would have to think with the 2007 Catalina 34 added to the fleet this record will fall soon.

I asked if the OSC would fill up and limit its membership. At this point that has not been a concern. I also should point out that any member of Friends of the Oasis and the OSC can sign up for a sail. You do not have to know how to sail, although I would recommend starting with a sunset sail.

This deal ranks up there with Newport Aquatic Center as being one of our harbor's best kept secrets. I cannot think of a better way than spending an afternoon sailing around our harbor with your friends, and it would be safe to assume the club will be more than willing to have volunteers come down and help with the maintenance on the boats.

Another thing for our local yacht clubs to consider is giving reciprocal privileges to the OSC members and for some of our local marine industry members to show this group some love. Next week, I will be reporting on this weekend's Long Point race and with this week's big south swell. Mooring and beach landing will be exciting.

Sea ya!

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

A tribute to two harbor heroes

I spent a good part of Tuesday afternoon cruising from the Balboa Peninsula into the North Balboa Island Channel then around Linda Island and into the Back Bay.

My mind wandered to racing this weekend in the Lido Isle Yacht Club's "Roy Woolsey" regatta that was sailed in Lido 14s and Lasers.

Then while thinking of sailing on this warm fall day, I could not help but think of my old friend Nick Scandone.

From 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum is introducing an "Extraordinary People" exhibit featuring Scandone. It will be paying tribute to his efforts in reaching his Paralympics gold medal in sailing.

I keep a photo of Scandone and I on my desk, and sometimes give the photo a little head node for good luck when I sail.

I also went back and read an old story I wrote about having the privilege of attending this event with Scandone. My last observation still rings true to heart with me:

"Nick Scandone is a class act. He is the perfect ambassador for yachting. You can only wish for a public servant with the same passion, respect, and the support to others. Newport Beach, California, United States of America, the World needs Nick Scandone as their representative…"

Nick and I first met back in the day sailing Lido 14s for the Orange Coast College Sailing Team. While Nick went on to win the Lido 14 Championships a couple of times, I am just hoping for a strong finish to this year's sailing season.

This must be another strange coincidence, bringing up Nick's name with Roy Woolsey in the same story. They're two very extraordinary people.

This regatta is held in honor of longtime Lido 14 and Laser sailor Roy Woolsey, who lived to a grand age of 90, sailing right up to the end. Woolsey lived and sailed in a manner that was held in the highest regard of sportsmanship in our harbor. Like Scandone, Woolsey was a good person to be around, and I am very honored having been able to sail against both of these fine competitors.

A big smile appears on my face as I tell myself how lucky I have been to be able to use this fantastic harbor for as long as I have. I look into the warm sun reflecting off the water, then rub my face in concern and hope for the best in the near future.

I wonder if my son will be as fortunate as me and I ask myself if the harbor will be as easily obtainable with the proposed zoning changes. Will my son be able to afford a boat and take his family to Catalina with the proposed tideland increases in our moorings and slip fees?

Will my son be able to meet our local harbor heroes like Scandone and Roy? Don't get caught in five years wishing you should have helped! Please contact the Newport City Council members and let them understand just how important this harbor is to you and your family.

I hope to "sea ya" on the water.

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

Don't be another brick in the wall

The Newport Beach City Council's ad hoc committee, which will make recommendations regarding tideland permit cost increases, has delayed its recommendation by two weeks.

That's right, the council will be voting on this issue as early as Oct. 26.

On hearing this news, my mind flashed back a few decades to a Pink Floyd concert in Southern California. I think to myself that I have become “Comfortably Numb.”

Please go to YouTube and play one of the “Comfortably Numb” videos to understand my joke. Because I am afraid what the Newport City's Council's ad hoc committee is going to recommend is just that: “a joke.”

OK, so now you have a short smile on your face and you are noticing the song “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” and play that. You suddenly realize this is no joke, and “if you don't eat your meat you can't have any pudding, how can you have your pudding if you don't eat your meat?”

Please call your Newport City Council members and tell them of your concerns before you become just “Another brick in the wall.”

Now let's talk about what's going on around the harbor this weekend: the 2010 Harbor 20 Championships out of the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. At the time of my writing, 25 boats have entered, with equal entries in both A and B classes.

Most any of the entries in A Fleet can win the Championships when you notice names like Bill Menninger, Bob Yachts, Tom Corkett, Tom Schock and Jim Kerrigan.

I am friends with all of these guys and to pick one name out of all 13-plus people is a difficult bet to place.

So, if I was going to bet a cookie on who was going to win A fleet, I would have to go with Diane and Bill Menninger. Team Menninger was fast last weekend, winning both BCYC and NHYC warm-up events.

Like always, consistent finishes is what wins regattas, but blend in the amount of current and large charter boats we had last weekend and anyone can win.

So, no pressure, Bill, now that I placed your name in print and have bet a cookie on you.

Are you interested in who I would like to see win A Fleet this year? That would have to be Carter Ford and Judy Weightman. Because with Carter Ford taking home the Pickal Dish that's like giving Gen. Patton a headline in the paper, things will improve in the harbor.

In B Fleet it appears there are 12-plus contenders, and I am not going to bet on this fleet because I will be racing with Mary Bacon onboard the Rascal II.

We raced in last week's BCYC event and sailed very well up until when Mary asked me if I wanted to drive one race. We did not realize it was a Harbor 20 High Point regatta.

By allowing me to helm we disqualified ourselves from that race. Anyway, we were just out to have fun, right? Right.

Speaking of fun, this Saturday is the 14 Mile Bank/BYC 66 Series. Looking at the results of the 66 Series there is still a race for first place in A Fleet between Tango, Dare and Radical Departure.

This will be a good race to watch because it appears that in the class B Amante and class C Whistler boats have the series wrapped up. No pressure, Buddy and Pete!

The weather is great, and there is a lot of good racing going in and around our harbor. Take a look at the “padddle4Life” website. Jack might be coming in this weekend and it would be great if everyone would go out and greet him.

I also need to give another shoutout to Bronny Joy of Joysailing for the photo again.

Please call your council members.

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

Is the charter fleet taking too much space?

I am sure everyone noticed all that rain and lighting we had this week. So let me start with the good news.

As you read earlier this week, the city of Newport Beach received confirmation that the Port of Long Beach would accept 150,000 cubic yards of toxic sediment dredged from the Rhine Channel. All the work our City Council and city staff have put into this seems to have paid off and they deserve a " well done." At Wednesday night's Harbor Commission meeting, I could hear a sigh of relief in the voice of Chris Miller, our Harbor Resources manager, while reporting on this topic.

"We are shovel ready," Miller said of the monumental project of dredging the Lower Newport Bay.

Miller now has to obtain permits from the California Coastal Commission and the Army Corps of Engineers to start dredging the Rhine Channel. The window to deposit our contaminated sediment is from May to August 2011 and the Port of Long Beach will only take the Rhine Channel sediment at this time. We all understand that there is a lot more toxic sediment in the Lower Harbor to remove at another date, but it's a start.

The second half of the good news is that the city and the Irvine Co., along with the residents of Linda Isle, appear to be moving forward in providing guest slips in the Balboa Marina. I went down and looked at what is being proposed. It looks like one 40-foot boat and three 25-foot boats should have room.

This should all work if the Irvine Co. adds a type of electric timing system to the main gate. The proposed availability of the guest slips would be from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The owners of the John Dominis building at 2901 W. Coast Hwy. are proposing to reconfigure their marina for three very large slips in order to support the harbor charter boats they now have and to be able to support an even larger ship.

I went down to take a look around and the owner should able to reconfigure his marina. The place is a dump with some really ugly boats scattered around. The city should have stepped up and changed its overhang rules years ago to keep these ships from overhanging 30 feet into the channel.

If I recall, some rather huge ships have been in this part of the harbor over time and I don't have a problem with this. But then I started to wonder if the charter fleet is getting too big for our harbor.

Over the last couple of weeks I raced my Lido 14 and Harbor 20. When a line of 150-foot harbor charter boats, which are four stories high, all line up and start to make their way down Lido, it felt to me like the charter fleet is taking more than its fair share of the harbor. I was also surprised to hear that the city only brings in about $200,000 a year from the fleet.

Please don't take me wrong; I understand the amount of jobs that the fleet generates and the business it brings in. The fleet has the right to share the harbor. But I cannot help but wonder if the city is getting its one dollar per passenger.

Are we monitoring the disposal of waste and safe dock conditions, along with noise in the late hours of the night? Does anyone know who to call to report a problem?

Well, I can hear the thunder coming down the harbor now.

Or is that the charter boat horns?

I had better sign off. You can also e-mail me if you would like to know where I think you should forward your harbor concerns.

Sea ya!

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater and yacht broker.

How many megayachts are in town?

While making my daily rounds Wednesday, I left my office with the idea of finding a story for my column. My route first took me to a stop at the Newport shipyard. Then I looked across the bay at Balboa and South Coast shipyards, walked through Lido Village and down Mariner's Mile, drove around Dover Shores, then down to Basin Marine.

I wrapped my day up by attending Wednesday night's Harbor Commission meeting.

Just after the holidays, activity at the shipyards is at cruising speed and at Newport Shipyard the yard was at about one-third capacity. Two boats I had not seen before caught my eye.

One was a red 45-foot Cabo Open Express and the other was a 65-foot Viking Sport Fisher. The word in the shipyard was this was the last Cabo from the Adelanto plant.

Ever since Brunswick purchased Cabo yachts back in 2006, I always wondered how long it would take Brunswick to move the manufacturing of the boats to New Bern, N.C., and their Hatteras plant. Looking down onto the boat from the shipyard always made me feel like a friend was moving out of town. Raising my head and looking across the bay at the Balboa and South Coast Shipyards, activity seemed slower than usual, although you have to remember that the two yards are restricted by the tides on when they can haul and launch.

As I left the yard, I stayed on Lido Park Drive and took the loop around to see which megayachts were in town. In my book, a megayacht is longer than 90 feet.

As I pulled off the Lido Peninsula, I stopped at the Lido Bridge and counted 17 large charter boats in the harbor. While looking at the docks behind the Chart House restaurant, I started to realize that no one is flooring new boats in town. No one. Yes, there are six boats from last season, but that's it!

It was good to see that Larson's Shipyard appeared to be busy and there seemed to be fewer vessels in the repo yard from my last cruise. I began to wonder: Are new boat dealers leaving Newport Beach or have they left already? I am just slow to notice?

I continued my cruise and headed for Dover Shores and the Back Bay. Chuck South was working hard on the log boom off North Star Beach, where they have gathered more than 35 tons of debris from the recent rains.

I had received the normal reports about people damaging their boats after the storms and could only imagine how many more there would be without these log booms. In Dover Shores, boats were being moved around while the homeowner's association completed its dredging. My understanding is the project is half complete. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Dave New from Basin Marine was chairing this project for the homeowners.

At Basin Marine, I found the shipyard to be very busy and, in the corner, I noticed one of the prettiest boats my eyes have ever seen.

When I inquired about the boat, Derek New replied "Oh, Len, that there is a Friendship 40 Daysailor, and she is a gem."

Odds are really good that "Manaaki" will make the 10 most interesting sailing boats list next year. I had missed her because she lives under a full cover on Lido Isle. I also counted 15 megayachts in the harbor.

I have been granted a big interview next week, from someone new in town, so come back next week!

Sea ya!

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

Sailing in paradise

Newport Harbor's 2010 summer sailing season is starting to set into a red sky. When waking up Saturday morning, the sunrise looked red through my eyes as I stumbled, moaned and groaned. While looking for my Excedrin migraine pain reliever, 7UP and sunglasses — in that order — I realized that I had survived one of the most vicious rum squalls since around this time last year. That's correct, it was Long Point Race Week 2010, and "I am on a boat, hawwwa." Next, I had to step down, with only one eye open, into a very skinny shore boat and make my way to breakfast at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club's (NHYC) outstation at Moonstone on Catalina Island.

Now everyone and their brother in the Southern California sailing world was doing their best impression of a zombie while waiting in line for breakfast and coffee. About the only response I got from anyone was a very low-pitched "hey." I sat down with my crew, and took a couple bites of my breakfast and downed about half of my coffee when both of my eyes opened, and, with two deep breaths of air, I thanked God that I was alive and in one of this world's most beautiful places.

One of my crew members started to laugh as we recalled the antics of the previous night and life started returning to our bodies.

  • About this time my mind went back into race mode and I started to wonder about the mistakes I had made on the racecourse the day before. I then noticed I was sitting next to the crew of the Bolt. I asked the owner's son, Carson Reynolds, if he had tacked over to starboard when the westerly breezed finally filled in, or did he sail into it for a little while?

"We tacked as soon as the new breeze reached us," he replied. "We noticed that the larger boats were tacking over to starboard and felt like we might have gone over to starboard a little early, but then, 10 minutes later, we were lifted and going straight to the finish line. What did you do, Len?"

I sailed into the new breeze and then decided to wait for a sister ship to tack so we could cover their breeze.

"Did it work?" Carson asked.

"No, we lost further ground on the whole fleet," I replied. "How did it work for you, Carson?"

"Oh, we won," he said.

It was time to change gears and get ready for my favorite race of the year, from Long Point to Bird Rock (at the Isthmus) and back to Long Point. I truly enjoy the racing tactics of sailing alongside Catalina Island and taking in the stunning scenery of the island's steep cliffs, marine life and the changes of the water's color.

Another entertaining moment came before the start of this race when a crew member of a grey-colored boat let out his own impression of a "Rebel Yell." Seems he sailed into that rum squall a little farther than some of us did the night before.

The day's breeze started out a little light and turned into what the brochure for this race had promised — "epic sailing." I just wish I had noticed more of the right-handed wind shifts sailing up to Bird Rock. I kept sailing back into the island, hoping to gain some of the ground I had lost, but it just never paid off for us. Of course, the run from Bird Rock is a dream. Within this dream, I could not find any wind shifts large enough to make up any ground on our competition. That had to have been the most consistent breeze direction I had seen, down the island, in years.

On Sunday we had enough of a breeze to make it home. We sailed to a second place overall onboard John Schultz's yacht, the Linstar. The wind was light and it took some effort to figure out if heading high off course back to Newport Beach would pay off. Looking at the results, it appears that it did.

And, speaking of results, congratulations must be given to Tom Corkett of the NHYC onboard the yacht Mirage for winning this year's event overall and ORR class A. Other big winners were Craig Reynolds from Balboa Yacht Club aboard Bolt, winning ORR class B and the Boys from Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, Geissman, Plant and Shampain, winning the PHRF Division.

The Bell Trophy is awarded to the winning team from Balboa Yacht Club or Newport Harbor Yacht Club racing in the Long Point Race Week regatta. NHYC had lowest cumulative points of the two yacht clubs and is this year's Bell Trophy recipient. Congratulations, NHYC. I also need to give a shoutout to Bronny Joy Daniels and Joysailing for all the photos she takes every year. Thanks, Bronny. It makes the event that much more fun.

We will back next week with a story about the proposed mooring fee increases.

Sea ya!

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

A chat with a yacht insurer

Jennifer and I had our good friends Julie and Craig Chamberlain over for a barbecue the other night. The four of us started to talk about Newport Harbor politics, building permits and the cost of living.

Though Julie and I go back to second grade, Craig and I met on the racecourse. He is the best offshore sailor I know, and he worked with his father, Byron Chamberlain, at Mariners General Insurance Group, a yacht insurance firm, while I was starting my yacht broker career.

Craig and I quickly became good friends, and I have been sending my clients to Craig for more than 22 years now. I've never received a complaint about Craig's service to his clients. Therefore, I thought it would be a good idea to ask Craig questions about our yacht insurance policies and views around town.

Q: How often should a boat owner contact you to review their policy?

A: Typically once a year to discuss hull coverage limits, changes in navigation requirements, any changes in their personal situation that might require a different liability coverage amount.

Q: Mariners General offers a number of types of yacht insurance and I proceeded to ask what these types are. What is cargo insurance?

A: Transportation coverage while aboard a ship, barges or truck. Yacht policies normally exclude coverage while the vessel is being commercially transported, so a separate policy or endorsement is required.

Q: What is commercial insurance? Yacht policies include a "private pleasure warranty." If a yacht is used to charter, fish commercially or the vessel owner receives any remuneration for the use of his yacht, then additional coverage needs to be purchased to cover that commercial activity. I know you have spent a lot of time in Mexico. What does Mariners General provide that other insurance companies do not, in Mexico?

A: We created two Mexico corporations to write Mexico-domiciled risks, such as homes, autos, businesses, HOAs, medical insurance and Mexican registered vessels. Our programs were designed specifically for Americans and Canadians traveling to, or living full time, in Mexico. It has been an exciting and rewarding experience adapting our business principles to the Mexican culture and creating something new in the marketplace.

Q: What local harbor issues concern you?

A: We are not taking advantage of our incredible harbor. Why not finally build the waterfront boardwalk between the Arches and Ardell? Add an additional pedestrian bridge across PCH at Riverside? Allow more mixed-use development along PCH like you see in most cities around the world? I view Mariner's Mile as the gateway to our city. It should be our calling card, welcoming visitors to town. Increasing the number of restaurants and shops, with marine businesses sprinkled in and having access to other areas of the harbor through the use of water taxis, would all contribute to a high quality experience for visitors. We can accomplish these things, but it will take a very focused and pragmatic effort by citizens speaking through a common voice with very defined objectives to get the City Council to act.

Sea Ya.

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