Tuesday, February 05, 2019

On the Harbor: About guest moorings and the N2E

Horizon starting the 2018 Ensenada Race   Photo by Joysailing.com

I am sitting in my office today, Saturday, Feb. 2, watching the approaching winter storm front approach; it is due in about 13:00 [1 p.m.] today. With winds reaching some 40+ knots, a number of local sailors are up in Cabrillo Beach waiting for the front to pass over before starting the Los Angeles Yacht Club’s Around Catalina Island Race. This race is one of my favorite races of the season, yet sitting at my desk, still in my robe, with a fresh cup of hot coffee, I am feeling pretty good.
That was up until I had noticed that the Newport Beach City Council at its January 22 meeting had passed a rate increase for guest moorings, raft up permits and mooring extensions. I am feeling like I would rather take on the approaching winter storm front.
Guest mooring was a flat rate of $27 a night; last year we had a winter rate of $18 a night at $1.25 per foot. So let’s do the math. You have a 40-foot boat and you would like to stay in Newport Beach for a night...which tallies to $50, plus a $17 application fee, which takes you to $67. Should you have a bit of a problem and you tangle up the mooring sand line, that will cost you $102 to replace it. So, after every guest mooring rental, the Harbor Department is going to check the sand lines. Let’s say, I am a cruising boater and can get a guest slip – I said slip not a mooring – at Long Beach for $46 a night, and I can get a guest slip in Dana Point for $46, so you know what I am going to do. That’s right, I am going to sail past Newport Beach and show them my pet bird. I always thought the concept around Marina Park and the change in the Harbor Department were to make Newport Beach a friendlier harbor? Now, it appears that the Harbor Department patrol will be carrying bananas aboard the patrol boats.
This price gouging will really affect the local harbor users more than anyone else. For example, we have a number of nonprofit organizations within our harbor that use our guest moorings for boats that they use on a daily basis, or that they are storing donated vessels on. Their mooring fees have just doubled starting on February 21, 2019. Other harbor increases will include a fee to evaluate the possibility of extending a mooring length from zero to $326. Should you want to gather a few friends together for a raft up in the East Anchorage that will now cost $62. If you have a sea lion problem on your moored boat and the Harbor Department deploys a sea lion deterrent, that will cost you $136.
I just hung up the phone with one of my better sources for harbor information and I was surprised to hear that they felt these increases were all in line and comparable to other locations around California. I must just be getting grumpier in my old age and with my concerns regarding the reduction of smaller slips, and the demand and costs increasing for them. My gut tells me we are decreasing the accessibility to our harbor, and to me, that is more uncomfortable than going to sea in the approaching winter gale.

Speaking of going to sea, the 72nd annual Newport to Ensenada Race on April 26 - 28 is starting to show up on my long-range radar. This year, I have volunteered to speak at five different locations regarding race planning, how to sail the course and review how to get your boat home safely. Please mark your calendars for February 28, when I will be speaking, along with Bruce Cooper from Ullman sails, at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club at 19:00 [7 p.m.].
Some people might wonder what keeps me returning to this race, as I have participated in 33 of them. I have to say, it’s all about the good memories from no wind to gale force...the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat. Quotes from past crew members: “Why do we do this to ourselves?” and “We are going to be there before the bars close.” Sleeping in Volkswagen vans to the suites at the Coral Hotel. Falling off donkeys, both statue and real, or waking up with a new hat on. It’s all been good times and I want more while I can get them. That’s why I sail this race and stay for the party.
Sea ya!
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.

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