Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Harbor Report: New harbormaster has plenty on his plate

Middle of the dock in Green is our new Harbormaster Lt Mark Alsobrook, surrounded by his team of deputies and professional staff.
 By Len Bose
September 26, 2015

I left off on my last column with informing everyone that we have a new Harbormaster Lt. Mark Alsobrook and I liked what I saw. This week I was able to interview Alsobrook over the phone.

The new harbormaster grew up in the Bay Area and obtained most of his boating experience on his family's boat fishing in Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz. He has been a resident of Orange County for the last 20 years and before the family came along he had his own 30-foot sport fisher.

While attending Cal State Fresno he took criminology courses and in 1997 began serving in the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
Like all deputy sheriff's he started working in the jails and worked his way to a watch commander position at the Intake Release Center in Santa Ana. In 2011 he made sergeant and worked at community programs and services where he oversaw county-wide drug education efforts.

In 2013 Alsobrook was promoted to lieutenant and has been our new harbormaster for the last three months.

Since we recently had a tsunami advisory I thought I would start there and ask what he had learned.
Lt. Mark Alsobrook
"We have a very detailed tsunami response plan," he said. "Any time we can put a plan in action gives us an opportunity to improve.
"Our action plan was implemented in all three harbors, Newport Beach, Dana Point and Huntington Harbor, and everything went smoothly. We have done a self evaluation along with sending the details to the county."

I first noticed Alsobrook at last months Harbor Commission meeting when he commented to the group that he would like to report back next month on Harbor Patrol activity, so I asked what type of topics will he be covering.
"We should be working hand in hand with the Harbor Commission," he said. "We both have the same overriding goals to create and environment so the harbor can be enjoyed by as many people as possible in a safe manner that is ecologically responsible."
I took the opportunity to request more information on noise complaints and code enforcement response.
"The best changes and ideas will be coming from the operators, users, residents and businesses. They have to be heard," he said. "There has to be open communication, sometimes the better ideas come are the grassroots ideas that develop from the community."

I asked what the responsibilities of The Orange County Harbormaster are and what might be his biggest task for the rest of 2015 and 2016. Alsobrook took a rather deep sigh, not sure where to start.
"The short answer is my primary task is to make sure that the deputies and professional staff have the training and equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively," he said.
As for his biggest task in 2015-16, he brought up El Niño and the effects of the expected downpour.
"Boaters should check on their bilge pumps, mooring lines and dock lines," he said. "We all understand that the amount of debris has been building up inland and when the rains hit we are sure to get the big flush. This is going to be a rodeo."

My next question was how can boaters help the harbor department.
"With amount of traffic, boaters need to understand their own capabilities. Not everyone knows the rules of the road — boaters should consider being defensive drivers. Also, personal responsibilities should be kept in mind, for example: personal flotation devices; drinking water; communications; being prepared for breakdowns. These things should be thought of before shoving off," said Alsobrook said.

Our last few harbormasters have been very good, unfortunately three out of four of them retired and one was promoted after only two years into the job. I asked Alsobrook, how long he was planning to stay around?
"I plan on staying as long as they let me stay — I am 10 years from retirement. The harbor has always been a goal of mine. I am just grateful that I can fulfill my dream of working in the harbor department," he said.
Photo taken from "The Log"

I joked with him for a little bit suggesting he will be promoted within the next two years. I asked my contacts around town, how they felt about our new harbormaster, they all said he is a good one.
When I said, "Hello, this is Len Bose," to start our interview, he said, "Hello, Len," with such a positive voice inflection that I felt like I was talking with one of my best friends. Make sure you say hello to our new Harbormaster Lt. Mark Alsobrook before he is promoted.
Sea ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist for the Daily Pilot.

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