The end of October is the quiet time around the harbor with most boat owners rubbing their faces and cursing under their berth while completing their maintenance list to match the 2018 calendar.
Although, if you look close enough into the harbor you will notice two groups of yachtsmen with their maintenance lists nearly completed and are overwhelmed with excitement as the start of the BAJA-HA-HA on October 30 and the CUBAR November 11 with both events starting from San Diego then cruising down to Baja California.
The BAJA-HA-HA is for the sailboat cruiser looking for some company as they start their cruise to wherever their dreams will take them: 154 boats have entered this year’s cruise with 63 boats sailing down the California coast from north of Monterey. During this migration, close to 20 cruisers have stopped in Newport Harbor to anchor for the night or to spend a couple of weeks at Marina Park. For me it is always exciting to see so many people reach their goals and start on a new course.
The BAJA-HA-HA will be on the starting inside San Diego harbor with the crews in Halloween costume. I can only assume the Coast Guard will have the start listed in the Notice to Mariners and issue a security alert while all the ghouls sail out of San Diego Harbor. Let’s hope it is not that foggy that afternoon on October 30. The HA-HA has three legs to this cruise, the first from San Diego to Turtle Bay. Then to Bahia Santa Maria, then finish in Cabo San Lucas. The schedules include softball games to beach parties. The fun meter is pegged for 12 days during this event. This one is on my bucket list and I hope to be attending this time next year.
Now, the CUBAR is a power boat rally consisting of yachts, mostly all expedition-style with a few coastal cruisers. From the three boats that stayed with us at Marina Park these were all advanced yachtsmen and this is not their first rodeo.
This is a rally rather than a race with the participants paying close attention to their speed and course. There are scheduled stops in Ensenada, Turtle Bay, Magdalena Bay, Man of War Cove and finishing in San Jose del Cabo. Wine tasting, exploring and fishing are the main activities while at anchor. Good times will be had, and I will always be looking for an invitation to attend this event someday.
By this time, you might be asking why I am writing about something that has nothing to do with our harbor? That’s not true any longer with the addition of Marina Park and the updated mooring system along with our free anchorages. Each cruiser I meet truly enjoyed their stay in Newport Harbor. These cruisers must be telling their friends, because more and more of them are landing in our pond rather than flying by each season. It has been really exciting to be a part of this change and watch our harbor become more boater friendly.
Bringing it back closer to home, we have had the heat turned up around the harbor a couple of times this month and I am not just referring to the weather. If you are a regular reader of mine you might have noticed over the last month that I have mentioned that model coyotes have been the best deterrent to keep sea lions off your docks and boats. Some of you might have even heard the news reports on KNX 1070 news radio and NBC TV news reporting the use of the model coyotes by the City of Newport Beach in the harbor. The interesting fact is just about the same day the radio and TV news agencies reported how effective the coyotes are, the sea lions must have heard them, too. The sea lions have picked up on the stationary position of the coyotes and they are lying all over them now. Best to shift back to the SealStop system, and you can find more information on this at www.sealstop.com. For those of you that did purchase model coyotes, remember that you have to move them around to be effective. Thats kind of funny because my wife tells me the same thing.
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.
Fall is here, the leaves change color and the activity around the harbor cools down a little, so I thought I would take a cruise and report my observations.
October started off with a loud roar from the Huntington Beach Air Show. Activity on the harbor felt more like the 4th of July, let me take that back, the air show seemed to have broken the sound barrier in more ways than one. According to Dave Beek, owner of Island Marine Fuel, “The air show is one of the busiest days of the year for us.” Countless marine industry people were too busy to smile and just had their heads down…working. Marina Park was full and the Dunes launch ramp appeared to be close to capacity. The most common quote I heard was, “I have never seen so many boats out on the Huntington Beach flats at one time.”
Most of the boaters would be heading out of the harbor between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. then returning around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. The fog was clearing up early, the sun was out and there was only a light southerly breeze rolling across the water. It does not get much better than that and the timing could not have been better for all the different harbor users that weekend. Everyone I talked to on the water planned on returning to the air show next year.
As the airshow left with a boom, just the way it came in, people seemed to take in a big sigh, sit back and relax before the next tide change of the holidays approaches. From my cruise around the harbor, the shipyards appeared busy, the repo marina looked empty which I assume is a good indication on our economy. The fishing charter boats looked to be shifting over to more whale watching charters. A pod of Orca whales passed by our coastline this month which has kept the sea lions in the harbor.
As I mentioned in my last column the sea lion population has been a constant irritation to the boats located in A and B mooring fields close to the harbor entrance. The model coyotes are still the leading deterrent to keep the sea lions off your boats and docks. The Coast Guard dock became a target early this month with some great effort, as the sea lion barking moved up the bay.
While walking the docks, it appears most of the marinas are full again along with an increase in brand new boats, which is always good for me and adds a giddyup in my step.
Newport Harbor Yacht Club’s new clubhouse is starting to take shape and there are loud noises that Balboa Yacht Club is moving forward in renovating their clubhouse too. Slips are getting bigger around the harbor, as yacht clubs seem to be adjusting and renovating their clubhouses. My gut tells me it will not be much longer before more condominiums will enclose our harbor.
This thought frightens me: We only have one launch ramp in town and the commercial pier is a third of its size 10 years ago. Accessibility to our moorings is becoming more and more difficult, so where can beginning boaters go to launch their boats? Like I said in my last column “What are you gonna do?”
I guess I’m going to show my age and dream of the past. Rather than wish on my youth returning, I will wish for the small boating clubs to return. I long for the days where we returned from the water, threw burgers on the BBQ, sat down to a simple picnic bench and told sea stories of the day. No big deal that my hat is on, pants are wet, or that the kids are throwing rocks into the water for the longest skip or running around and hiding from each other.
For me and the sport of sailing it appears my bubble has popped and I will have to take my hat off, waddle on up to the bar and order a 10 dollar draft beer and consider that 25 dollar hamburger. Ya ya…I know poor me. But I still like to dream of simpler days and the thought that I am turning into my Dad does not bother me one bit.
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport