|The old and new channel markers|
It's a little cold on the harbor this time of year and it seems to take me a little more effort to get down to the water before 7 a.m. in order feel the sunrise and watch our harbor wake up.
I have described the waking of the harbor before with the chatter of the sea birds breaking the silence of the new day and the lonely sea lion showing its head from below the water's surface while looking for its morning meal. Taking all this in on this crisp morning makes me ponder what's to come in 2016.
My sea birds have told me that the Army Corps of Engineers has signed off on our regional general permit 54 and the Newport Beach Eelgrass Mitigation Plan. We now have all the permits needed to implement our plan concerning dredging and eelgrass issues. The time has come to raise a glass of your favorite beverage and say "yeeeeaaahhhh" in your deepest voice.
What this means is that we can dredge our slips and commercial marinas more effectively and efficiently for a lot less money.
This has been in the works for so long I am having a difficult time recalling when this project started. I am laughing to myself thinking it came into concept about the same time Marina Park did. At this point I am still unclear what the next step is to activate the RGP 54 and the Newport Beach Eelgrass Mitigation Plan.
The birds around the harbor tell me we will be ready to go by April. Every harbor user should go up to Harbor Commissioner Doug West and Harbor Resource Manager Chris Miller and give them a "well done" for their efforts to get this moving.
Let's head back out to mooring fields and talk about where we left off with our mooring permits. In June, the Newport Beach City Council unanimously voted to change the city code to again allow the transfer of mooring permits and adjust the cost of the annual permits to $35 a foot.
At the same time, a letter was received by the California Lands Commission requesting that the group review these changes with the city and to date nothing has been done. My sources tell me that the City Council understands the sensitivity around this issue and plan on reviewing it in the first part of the new year before billing goes out for 2016.
My gut tells me we will need to keep our eyes on this and hope for the best.
While we are in the mooring fields we should take notice that on the upper end of J field there has been a sunken dredging scow in the harbor for close to two years. The company responsible for the scow is one of the most beloved marine business in our harbor and the powers to be have been very sympathetic and understanding about why the scow sunk and the cost involved in removing it.
But two years is a long time and something needs to be done this year to remove it from our harbor. How and when has been the most recent topic, let's hope this gets resolved with the least amount of pain for all of us in 2016.
Speaking of pain, I noticed in the first part of December that channel marker No. 11, next to Bay Island, got in the way of one of our harbor's larger charter boats and was broken in half with the green light on top of it now flashing under water. Why the Coast Guard still has these horrible channel markers in our harbor is a topic for further discussion in 2016.
A lot of you might recall all the hard work Newport Beach resident Carter Ford did about three to four years ago to change the fixed pole channel marker No. 8 to a floating buoy marker after another vessel ran into it. Obviously it takes a lot of displacement to damage these markers, what we don't always recognize is how often smaller vessels run into them.
You can tell how often vessels run into them just by taking a look. Some are bent over and leaning to one side while others have protective cages around the light beacons. I cannot even begin to estimate the cost of the damage to vessels over the years.
Because of all the different government agencies involved in replacing the markers the process is tedious. Thank goodness Ford is back on the job. Ford is again pointing out how and why floating channel markers work better in our harbor. The floating markers cost $5,000 to replace while the old fixed markers are estimated at $50,000 to replace.
The floating markers are easier to find at night because they float at sea level and don't get lost in the background lights as easily. If you mistakenly bump into one you will only need a little bit of acetone to wipe off the mark on the side of your boat.
I am hoping that changing the fixed markers to floating markers will be a no-brainer for the different agencies and that the City Council will try to be proactive in replacing them rather than waiting for the next one be taken down by some unfortunate mariner.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist for the Daily Pilot.