I have to assume you all have heard that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol will be handing over the helm to managing the city of Newport Beach moorings fields on July 1st 2017.
Local resident Dennis Durgan has been working hard over the last two weeks in preparation of becoming the new Harbor Master. This task is challenging with Durgan putting in long days getting ready for the up coming watch change. My understanding is that the first six months, of Durgan watch, is being referred to as a trial period.
|Harbor Master Dennis Durgan|
One of the many tasks involved is preparing a fleet of three boats that will monitor the moorings and provide assistance to boaters. The conceptual work example is based from the harbor patrol in Avalon and other anchorages in Catalina. The City has owned a 19-foot center console Boston Whaler named “ Clean Sweep” that has been renamed Harbormaster 1. Harbormaster 1 has recently received engine service, new fenders, VHF radio, radar and chart plotter. The other two vessels the city has charted, from the Newport Aquatic Center, are catamaran coaching vessels. I have not heard yet what VHF channel the Harbor Service workers will be monitoring or how to call them over the VHF radio. If I was to guess, I would start with Channel 16 and call for “Newport Harbor Mooring Services” and follow their lead to another work channel.
The Harbormasters office will be located at Marina Park on the second floor under the Marina Services sign. Office work will include the transfer of mooring permits, the collection of mooring fees, auditing mooring permits for maintenance work, proof of documentation and insurance and assigning guest moorings. In front of Marina Park there will be a string of double ended moorings added to coincide with Marina Parks guest slips.
Other tasks Harbormaster Durgan will be assigned with will be enforcing many parts of the Newport Beach Municipal Code Title 17 http://www.codepublishing.com/CA/NewportBeach/html/pdfs/newportbeach17.pdf. I will assume Durgan will have to focus on 17.20 Vessel launching and Operation, 17.25.010 Docking Regulations, 17.25.020 Anchorage, Berthing and Mooring Regulations, 17.40 Live-Aboards, 17.45 Sanitation and 17.60.040 Mooring Permits. It is my understanding that Title 17 will be amended very soon to included the Duties of the Harbor Master and define their duties.
There are many unanswered questions floating around the harbor regarding this watch change. I keep hearing questions of why the watch change now? Why the urgency of this change and why was it placed on one of the two busiest days in the harbor? Why was the Harbor Commission not even given a chance to make any recommendations? One of the main duties of the Harbor Commission is to “Advise the City Council on proposed harbor related improvements.”
|New Harbor Service boat.|
If you’re wondering what my gut take is on the watch change? The bottom line is it will be better for the harbor in the long run. It has been more than obvious that the need for better code enforcement in the moorings and on the public docks is long over due. The largest task for Durgan will not just be developing the proper tools for the jobs, it will be how to define and implement Title 17. The sheriff department has implemented much of title 17 for a very long time and any type of change is going to ruffle feathers. Change is always going to produce the question of equality. One of the worst things that can happen would have the public reference the harbormaster as the mooring lord. This will not be an easy watch change and I have edited William Goldings quote for every harbor user “He who rides the water of our harbor must have sails woven of patience.”
Speaking of patience, during last weeks Harbor Commission meeting a commissioner asked the city council liaison why the communication line between commissioner and assigned council member shall be discontinued to further notice. The public should question their city council member on what happened and how will this be remedied.
Towards the end of the Harbor Commission meeting local Newport Beach activist Jim Mosher gave one of the kindest accolades to departing commissioner West that I have ever heard. I wish I could have quoted Mosher but the gist of his comment thanked West for his service to our harbor and that Mosher had never seen such positive change, for the better, in the Harbor Commission than the time he served as the chairman. Mosher hit the nail on the head and I should have started clapping with agreement and a final thank you to West.