Friday, March 08, 2013

The Harbor Report: A new sheriff (or two) in town

Len Bose will be sailing on Dave Clark¿s Santa Cruz 50 Adrenalin in the Newport Harbor Yacht Club Islands Race this weekend. (Courtesy LEN BOSE / March 7, 2013

By Len Bose
March 7, 2013 | 3:08 p.m.

Time to catch up on some harbor news this week.
It's been recently announced that Harbormaster Lt. Tom Slayton will be retiring this month. While talking to him on the phone, I found myself stumbling to pronounce his full name, and he said, "You can call me Tom." I then thought to myself, how lucky we have been with our last two harbormasters, and I started to stumble again on who his replacement will be.
One of the many strong points of Lt. Slayton — Tom — was that he would always take the time to explain the harbor issues with me, and he could read the approaching situation. Before I could stumble out another word, he said, "My replacement is Lt. Mike Jansen, and he will keep the same course."
I sat back in my chair and thought, wow, how did he know my biggest concern was that we would fall off course like we did two harbormasters ago? I am starting to like the new guy already and I have not even met him yet.
For those of you who did not know, Tom is retiring at the age of 52 after 27 years with the Orange County Sheriff's Department, the last two years as our harbormaster. "It's time to spend more time with my two kids" ages 8 and 11, Tom explained. "Being the harbormaster has been a great opportunity for me and challenging." He agreed to answer a few more questions and gave me his and Mike's email addresses. I'll just need to take some time and come up with some thought-out questions for them in the near future.
My understanding is that Tom will be attending next week's Newport Beach Harbor Commission meeting, and I assume Mike will also be attending as the commission thanks Tom for his hard work and understanding. I also received more news from the Harbor Patrol that Deputy Carlos Contreras will be retiring this month. Carlos has been a mainstay in our harbor for 17 years and has been our mooring administrator and boat accident deputy during his watch. I have always felt that Carlos was easy to approach and more than willing to help me when I called him. So it looks like there will be a couple of new sheriffs in town. I had to say that; the good news is that we should be holding our same course.
Another important topic coming up is how to use the lower Castaways parcel, which was donated by the Irvine Company to the city a couple years ago, at the corner of PCH and Dover. This is some of the last remaining undeveloped waterfront property owned by the city, and now is the time to start expressing your views on how this parcel should be used. The Harbor Commission's study session is at 4:30 p.m. March 13 at the old council chambers.
In my humble opinion, this property should be used as a boat launch ramp with free access for our commercial marine operators to launch their equipment. I can't express to you how important it is for our harbor to make sure we leave room for our commercial users. This area would also be a great place for a marine recycle center so that boaters can easily depose of used oil, transmission fluid, engine coolant and used zincs.
You might think we have a good boot launch ramp at the Newport Dunes Resort. That's right, it's the Dunes' launch ramp, and if they feel like having a concert on Labor Day, they can close it and tell people to go to Dana Point or Huntington Harbour to launch their boats. When I heard of this happening last year, it just rubbed me the wrong way. The city needs to continue working hard to prove to people that this is a friendly harbor, and telling people that we are closed and to go someplace else is not the way to achieve that goal easily.
As you read this, I am heading out to sea to compete in the Newport Harbor Yacht Club Islands Race. The race starts in Los Angeles Harbor near Angels Gate, then Catalina and San Clemente islands are rounded to port and the finish is in San Diego.
The weather is shaping up to be very challenging conditions, with the forecaster using expressions like "The wind will be so strong it will be blowing dogs off their chains" — that's windy!
I am quite excited to be sailing on Dave Clark's Santa Cruz 50 Adrenalin. This should shape up to be the best sail of the year.
Sea ya.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist

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