Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Harbor Report: The man who monitors the moorings

Deputy Sean Scoles of the Newport Beach Harbor Patrol

By Len Bose
February 13, 2015 | 4:17 p.m.

This week, I had a chance to catch up with Deputy Sean Scoles of the Newport Beach Harbor Patrol. Scoles' duties included monitoring the mooring fields, keeping the moorings' maintenance schedule, contacting derelict boat owners, maintaining a mooring waiting list and anything mooring-related.
This has been the third year that Scoles has given me time to interview him, and we started again with the definition of a derelict boat. He reminded me that boats that are not operational, take on water and are in disrepair all fit into the Harbor Patrol's definition of a derelict boat.
"Just because a boat is ugly does not mean it is derelict," Scoles said. He indicated that there are about five to 10 derelict boats, on offshore moorings, in the harbor at this time. "We are doing our best to contact these owners and working with them to solve the problem," Scoles explained.
Please take note that mooring permit holders no longer have to keep a boat on their moorings. This can be part of the reason we see so many open moorings in the harbor at this time. If you do happen to own a boat that is in danger of becoming a derelict, your best option is to bite the bullet and pay a salvage company to dispose of your vessel.
You should also note that the city of Newport Beach has been awarded a grant from the state referred to as the Vessel Turn In Program (VTIP). This could be one of your best options to solve your problem. Stay tuned for more details on this very important topic.
We then reviewed our mooring waiting list policy. The last time I checked, there were 250 people on the list. Every two years, the people on the list have to respond to a letter that they still have interest in obtaining a mooring. If they do not respond, they are off the list. It is the responsibility of everyone on the waiting list to update his or her phone number or home address.
Next, we talked about guest slips and guest moorings. "Just come to the dock with your boat and bring a photo ID, CF registration and/or Coast Guard documentation with you up to the office, and we will collect the fees and you are on your way," Scoles said.
If you would like to anchor in the designated anchorage area, you just need to drop anchor and can stay for five days in a 30-day period. If you would like to raft up with two or more vessels, you can obtain a marine event application online on the harbor department's website.
Scoles went on to tell me that the best way for the public to help the Harbor Patrol is to contact it at (949) 723-1002 should you see anything out of the ordinary or have a noise complaint. "It's a big harbor, and the more eyes we have, the better," he said.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that 50 people attended this month's Harbor Commission meeting. On the agenda was the Mooring Review/Ad Hoc Committee Formation to examine the current administration of the moorings and to make recommendations to the Harbor Commission, which would then forward those recommendations to the City Council for consideration.
The good news is that Councilman Duffy Duffield was in attendance and spoke to the audience. "We can make this thing work." he explained. He reminded the crowd that now is the time to take part in the system, attend the public meeting over the next couple of months and bring forward a recommendation that the council can pass.
That's the good news; the bad news is that most of the Harbor Commission had to recuse themselves because they are mooring permit holders, belong to a yacht club with moorings or have a possible conflict of interest.
This left Commissioners David Girling, Duncan McIntosh and Joe Stapleton with the whole kit and caboodle. Who really knows what caboodle means, but there was a whole bunch of it dropped on their laps. To make a quorum, the subcommittee needed another commissioner, and by a draw of cards, Brad Avery was selected to vote on the subcommittee recommendation only and not to take part in the subcommittee meetings.
Most everyone attending the meeting who replied to public comments requested the ability to transfer their permits again rather than surrender them back to the city, which is due to take effect in the near future. This will be a huge topic of interest that I will report on over the next couple of months.
Sea ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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