Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Harbor Report: Proud Bird is classy and smart

By Len Bose
May 23, 2015

Last year I ran out of time to complete my annual story on Newport Beach's 20 most interesting boats. I came up with the idea of blending our interesting boats into my column throughout the year. Now that the year is almost at the halfway point, I decided I had better get started.
When I walked past Deidre and Steve Bird's fighting softened yellow, 38-foot Buddy Davis convertible Proud Bird the other day I stopped, turned around and went back to introduce myself.
I first noticed the boat about four years ago while walking the docks and then again this spring at Basin Shipyard while she was hauled out for her spring maintenance.
Proud Bird is one of four 38-foot convertibles that the legendary Buddy Davis designed and built in Nanchese, N.C. Davis had an extraordinary reputation for building very seaworthy and smooth-riding boats. Best known as a master at capturing the Carolina look, Davis designed and built boats that were known for their sharp entries and dramatic bow known as the "Carolina Flare."

The Birds' first boat was a 25-foot center console Grady White used as a transition boat and after a couple years they started looking for a new boat online. They found the Buddy Davis 38, then known as Last Chance, in Vero Beach, Fla. After many questions they obtained an acceptance of offer, sight unseen, and headed to Florida.
It was love at first sight for the Birds while they made their way through the sea trial and surveys. After the completion of their deal they took the boat down to Fort Lauderdale and placed it aboard the yacht transport ship from YachtPath. Three weeks later Proud Bird was splashed in Ensenada, Mexico, and the Birds then brought her home to Newport Beach.
Proud Bird is now often seen at Whites Cove in Catalina, cruising the harbor or fishing our local waters. The boat is powered by twin Detroit Diesel 485 horse powered 6-71 TI engines. She has a 14-foot beam and displaces 35,000 pounds. Her cruising speed is 18 knots with her top speed reaching 22 knots. She is known for her modified V hull that provides a soft ride that can be wet although it sits comfortably at anchorage.
Her teak interior is satin finished to the highest of standards that shows a grace, beauty and craftsmanship rare compared to today's new boat construction standards. When entering the main salon I had to take a step back to admire the attention to detail and yet simple functionality of this vessel.

To starboard is a large L-shaped settee with a custom high-glossed teak convertible dining table. To port are two campaign-style armchairs with an entertainment center and electric panel hidden within the interior teak cabinetry.
Continuing forward and to starboard is the down galley with teak and holly cabin sole. The galley features a side by side sub-zero refrigerator/freezer with teak-faced doors. Other features include a microwave, large stainless steel sink, stove top and plenty of storage.
Moving forward and to starboard is the guest stateroom with upper and lower berths, locker and privacy door. Across and to port is the head with stall shower and large vanity.
In the bow of the boat is the owners stateroom with a centerline double island berth, hanging locker. This stateroom is to die for and looks comfortable from the moment you lay eyes on it from the boat's cockpit.

The cockpit layout is designed with the fisherman in mind along with the proper yachtsmen. The engine room is accessible from the cockpit along with a tackle station.
The fly bridge helm station is trimmed in teak along with the custom teak helm chairs. Forward of the helm station is a large beautifully appointed bench seat.
Buddy Davis built some 400 yachts between 28 and 78 feet. Proud Bird is only one of four boats built by Davis that I have seen on our West Coast.
To my eye, Proud Bird is a work of art and is why she has been added to Newport Beach's most interesting yachts list. Make sure you give her the whistle of beauty along with two thumbs up to the Birds next time you see her cruising down the bay.
Sea ya.

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

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Harbor Report: Take time to meet the Skipper

Skipper Tim and Fairwind
By Len Bose
May 9, 2015

I recently sat down with a man who needs no introduction, Timothy Bercovitz — better known as "Skipper Tim."
If you sail on Monday night's American Legion Sundowner Series, or in any of the wooden boat regattas up and down the Southern California coast, you must have noticed the 40-foot Mariner wooden hull ketch Fairwind.
Fairwind and Skipper Tim are rarely seen apart, having had one of our harbor's longest love affairs — over 31 years. I recall first meeting the couple close to 20 years ago before the start of a race I was competing in. While sailing toward the starting line I, rather rudely, informed Skipper Tim that I was racing and asked him to sail away from the starting line.
That's when he told me he was also racing. Insert foot, Len. I smiled and went on my way.
Skipper Tim was born in Pyongyang, Korea, in 1931 — his mother was there as a medical missionary. His first meeting with water came after a long train trip across Siberia and Europe when he took a steamer voyage from England to the United States in 1934.
As a young boy, he learned how to sail in a small dingy on Lake Piscataquag in New Hampshire.
Skipper Tim

"We borrowed a bean pole from the garden, an old bed sheet, and some clothesline and went sailing," he said.
In 1956, he moved to California and quickly found Newport Beach and the harbor. He sailed with Ted Ponders on his 36-foot schooner named Albatross. He later crewed on the 90-foot schooner Diosa del Mar and other large boats by the name of Ranger and Lady Ada.
Skipper Tim has owned a 28-foot wooden cutter, which he kept in a slip in the Fun Zone, and later a 36-foot wooden Angelman ketch that he kept on a mooring. This all occurred before he met Fairwind. She has berthed at the American Legion Yacht Club since 1994.
Tim has sailed in more than 25 Ensenada races, and when he first started to race he would go into the American Legion bar and ask "Big John," the bartender, if he could leave his car in the parking lot for a week. For a small donation he was allowed to park his car. This lasted for many years until he was asked to join the Legion.
This was back in 1990 and Skipper Tim has been a pillar at the American Legion ever since, serving as a chaplain, commodore and sergeant of arms for many years. Last year, he won the American Legion's Yachtsman of the Year award, and a couple of years back he was honored by the Southern California Yachting Assn. with the Old Timer of The Year award.
Skipper Tim, who refers to himself as a "God-fearing person," has raised money for Children's Hospital of Orange County by participating in the CHOC Follies over the last 18 years. He has also participated in the Sail for Visually Impaired.
"God introduced me to my boat Fairwind. He has given me the means to live in this area and to be a part of my yacht club. This is a great way to give something back," he said.
Skipper Tim is one of the good ol' boys of our harbor, and I am honored to have him on my friends list. It's simple to add him to your friends list. Just say, "Hello, Skipper" the next time you see him around town, and you will get one of the warmest heartfelt welcomes you have ever received.
While interviewing him, at least five very pretty ladies said "Hello, Skipper" as they walked by. It's good to know the Skipper.

Jet packs in the harbor? Absurd
I have to use this cliche’ for this next topic “ Really! Are you kidding me.  Two and possibly a third City Council member have disregarded our Harbor Commissions recommendation to not allow Jet packs in our harbor. This is a no-brainer, lets see how many more oxymorons I can use to describe this decision. Lets try “controlled chaos”, “organized mess”, “deafening silence”, “serious joke”, “leading from behind.” This is not an oxymoron but I have to leave with “Square peg in round hole.”  Jet packs do not fit in our harbor, it’s that simple. For once council needs to listen to the recommendation made by the Harbor Commission. Make sure you attend this Tuesday nights Council meeting at 7:00 PM.
Mark your calendar for 7 p.m. Tuesday, when the City Council will vote on this topic at 100 Civic Center Drive.
Sea ya.

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

Friday, May 08, 2015

Jet Packs: Letter to Mayor and Council Members

Honorable Mayor and City Council Members,

Attached is another copy of the letter we sent earlier in the week with 5 additional pages for a total of 146 signatures. While this is just a sampling, it is clear that Newport Beach property owners, residents, local business owners, owners of marine businesses, harbor workers, yacht club members, sailing club members, sailing program directors, past harbor commissioners, boaters, professional yacht captains, marine insurance & financial brokers, owners of the 2 largest shipyards in Newport, kayakers, SUPers and other harbor users overwhelmingly agree that the Jetpack type businesses or personal watercraft DO NOT BELONG inside Newport Harbor. Most are surprised that Jetpack America was ever permitted in the first place. Only a handful of people we all spoke to were “on the fence” or against the ban- 2 of whom happened to be friends of Dean O’Malley’s. Even the attendees at Diane Dixon’s town hall meeting on Monday night overwhelmingly supported a ban. These are the people that know our harbor the best and they deserve to be listened to. These citizens pay property taxes, residential and commercial pier and mooring permit fees, business taxes, licenses and permits, marina slip rentals, boat rentals etc. Our quality of life, quiet enjoyment and safety need to be put ahead of the minority of visitors or residents who happen to enjoy the experience. They can still enjoy it outside the harbor or in another harbor that is more compatible.

It is not enough to regulate the activity- the Jetpack business hasn’t followed the existing regulations and enforcement is not realistic. The alternate proposal that has been included in the most recent staff report today is offensive. One operator, let alone two at the same time in the same place is inappropriate. There is NO compatible place in Newport Harbor for this type of business. We urge you to follow the educated recommendation of the Harbor Commission and the vast majority of residents and harbor users and vote to ban ALL water propelled vessels above the surface of the water. Thank you again for your consideration,
Judy and Don Cole.

Letter Number #2
Honorable Mayor and City Council,

Jetpack America’s Operation Plan has an emergency protocol for when one of its customers is knocked unconscious!  Unfortunately, there is NO emergency response plan for if and when a flyer crashes into someone else in harbor, injuring, killing or knocking them unconscious.  What more is there to say?  After months of study, debate, and hearings by the Harbor Commission and its ad hoc Committee, public comment, emails and letters, as well as City Council study sessions and meetings, no one on the City Council can pretend to be unaware that jetpacks pose an unacceptable safety risk to jetpack customers, but more importantly to the other users of the harbor.  Under the Municipal Code, commercial activities that “create a hazard to safe navigation, or otherwise interfere with the rights of others to use the waters of Newport Harbor” should not be permitted.  (Municipal Code, Chapter 17.10, Section 17.10.050, subsection D).

Likewise, no one on the City Council can pretend that jetpacks do not create excessive noise and wakes that have significantly interfered with property owners' right to quietly enjoy their homes and businesses, as well as negatively impacted the public’s right to enjoy beaches and the shoreline around the bay, free from the unremitting noise of jetpacks.   (Mun. Code, Chap. 17.10, Section 17.10.050, subsection A [Commercial activity permits should not be granted if the activity is “likely to create noise which would adversely affect use or enjoyment of waters of Newport Harbor by members of the public, or interfere with the right of those who own property near the waters of Newport Harbor to the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of that property.”]).

Much has been made of the fact Jetpack America has been in the harbor for several years, sort of a plea of entitlement as a successful “long-standing business."  In view of the Municipal Code, however, granting Jetpack America’s permit was a mistake in the first place.  Cast in the best light, if the Harbor Resources Manager had realized the disruption and inherent danger to other harbor users, and the likelihood the excessive noise would impact everyone around the harbor, following the Code would have led him to deny the permit. The permit was granted, however, before we even knew what jetpacks were.  Once we saw and heard them, the surprised and appalled property owners around the bay, the boaters, swimmers, and other harbor users had little recourse but to endure them.  Not that we didn’t protest.  Harbor businesses and residents, and other users of the bay have complained about safety, noise, wakes and law-breaking by Jetpack America almost non-stop.  We’ve written emails and letters and made phone calls to the Harbor Resource Manager and staff, Harbor Patrol, spoken at Harbor Commission meetings, and complained about jetpacks in City Council meetings.  It obviously wasn’t Jetpack America’s sterling reputation in the harbor that prompted the City Council to study whether they belong here.  Dismay and controversy have followed Jetpack America wherever it has gone in the harbor and for as long as it has been here.   

Unless the Council compounds the mistake and continues to ignore the City’s Municipal Code, it cannot vote to continue to allow jetpacks in the harbor.  It is unfortunate, however, that a review of the Staff Report in “support” of the proposed ban on jetpacks confirms prior suspicions that Jetpack America has something of an inside track on a "way to get to yes.”  Jetpack America's arrogant Operation Plan has a starring role in the Staff Report, and it contains many claims and promises. It confirms Jetpack America intends to operate just as it has been, all day, seven days a week, but also that it intends to add even more jetpacks to operate at the same time.  Jetpack America promises to “instruct” its “pilots,” presumably its customers, that they must fly under 5 mph in the harbor.  In contrast, Jetpack America advertises that customers can fly 30 feet high and exceed 30 mph.  Who is kidding who?  Suggesting flyers who are instructed to stay at 5 mph will do so is laughable.  After the first “training flight” when customers take the throttle and control their own speed, the entire objective is to fly as high and as fast as possible until they crash.  Jetpack America certainly doesn’t use the “kill switch” to stop them now from exceeding the speed limit, and I doubt it would commit to doing so in the future.

Jetpacks belong in the ocean outside the harbor.  Despite Dean O’Malley’s claim he just can’t make Jetpack America work outside the harbor, apparently another jetpack business already operates successfully in the ocean.  Jetpack America brags that its equipment works just as well in the ocean:  “The jetpack can operate in most weather conditions, including moderately high seas and moderate winds.” (from Jetpack America’s Operation Plan). The truth is Mr. O’Malley would just prefer to impose his operation on everyone else in the harbor rather than find a way to be successful and keep his customers safer out past the jetty.

I urge the City Council to do the right thing and vote to ban jetpacks in Newport Harbor.  There is nothing charming about them.  Thank you.

Pam Whitesides
resident, property owner, and harbor user

Please write in your letters!