|Newport Beach Council Member Brad Avery|
By Len Bose
I had a chance this week to talk to one of our newest Newport Beach City Council members, Brad Avery.
I first met Avery in 1979, when he started at the Orange Coast College Sailing Base, and I was attending a big boat sailing class aboard the boat Scandalous.
As we set sail and headed out into the harbor, the boat was greeted by a rather big puff of wind. As it leaned over in the breeze, I and most of the crew put two hands onto the boat. Its Genoa sail needed to be skirted and lifted over the boat's lifelines.
As the call from the helmsmen to skirt the sail was requested, most of us sat tight and looked around for who would be the first to stand up and walk out on the pitching foredeck. Just then, a flash went by me, and the Genoa was skirted.
Avery returned to the cockpit and was also attending to the mainsail. I thought to myself, OK, that's how it's done.
Avery had been doing the big boat thing from the time he was a kid on his father's 8-meter racing sailboat. Avery's father Chuck was one of the first yacht brokers with David Fraser in 1965 in the Lido Village area. Another yacht broker, Ed Cox, was also working in the same office.
Cox opened one of the first sailing clubs in the harbor, and Brad Avery was 14 at the time, washing boats as a part-time job.
"That's how I got into teaching sailing," Avery said. "The sailing instructor did not show up one day, and Cox walked down the dock and said, 'Drop that brush, kid. You are the new sailing instructor.'
"As a kid I would hang out at Richard's Market; they used to have a huge bulletin boat with a chart of the Pacific with pins with boats names that where competing in the TransPac. This is only way we could follow the race at that time.”
|Sailing Ship Ticonderoga is one of the vessels Avery sails in the Caribbean|
After graduating from Newport Harbor High School at the age of 17, Avery packed his sea bag and flew down to Panama, where he signed up as a crew member and sailed through the canal and cruised the Caribbean. On his return to Newport Beach, he immediately stepped on another boat headed back through the Panama Canal and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.
Avery spent some time backpacking around Europe and then sailed back. The next season he returned to the Caribbean and once again to Europe to sail in the Mediterranean. After about three years, Avery returned home and attended school at USC.
After graduating, Avery started working as the director of sailing at the OCC Sailing Base, where he has been working ever since.
I knew Avery had a strong interest in the history of our harbor, so I asked about his favorite stories about the harbor.
"When I got out of journalism school, I had a chance to interview Hans Dickman, who immigrated from Germany after WWI," he said. "Dickman told me a story of riveting submarines during the war before he came over to the U.S.
"Because of the Great Depression, Dickman was able to purchase some waterfront property next to the Cannery, where he opened up his shipyard to repair wooden fishing boats. Another great part of this story is after the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, Dickman found an old market's archway that he placed on a custom trailer and towed it down Pacific Coast Highway.
"The archway was attached to a building already in place, and a Newport Beach icon was born. That whole area was very commercial in those days, and it was a small town at that time."
When asked about some of the changes he's liked around the harbor over the years, Avery said, "That's what I like best about the harbor; the city has done very well to keep the character of the harbor. The iconic buildings, like the Cannery and Pavilion.
"Iconic institutions like the ferry are still there. The mooring fields are the same. Major components of the harbor are still the same, which is really nice."
Avery addressed any concerns about the harbor's future. again pointing out the importance of keeping the harbor's character.
"It's the constant erosion of that character, with the pressure to build maximum square footage of the building next to the water, that is the concern," he said. "We will always have to manage that in the degree that we can. Access to the harbor is of importance with public docks, anchorages, water quality and to find a way that a couple of dredging firms can exist in the harbor so that dredging can be ongoing."
A reminder that at 9 a.m. Dec. 10, the Harbor Commission will be taking other civic leaders and interested members of the public on a two-hour harbor tour aboard one of Balboa Island car ferries.
Boat name of the week: “Galatea."
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist for the Daily Pilot.