Thursday, December 07, 2017

On the Harbor: navigating the Boat Parade route safely

Barge in front of Collins Island
I thought it would be a good idea to run the Christmas Boat Parade route and make observations along the route. The first thing I should mention is that the route of the parade has not changed. I was incorrect in my November 13 column; from last year, the only thing that has changed is the starting and finish point off of Lido Isle.
You should note that during the parade that there will be very little water flooding into the harbor the first two nights. The last three nights the water will be rushing into the harbor with great velocity, so anytime you are headed west you might want to notice your speed over ground. There will be no moon during the boat parade, so it is going to be dark those nights. For those of you that keep your boats at Marina Dunes or plan on returning to the launch ramp, you are going to keep your game on. The channel markers in the Upper Bay are horribly lit, and it is not easy working your way past the shallows.
I was assured that the start of the parade is not like a sailboat race, where everyone is at full speed and crossing the starting line at the gun. The boats will rally off the Bay Shores beach and then in order head for the start line. So, for any of my large charter boat captains that read my column, it would probably not be a good idea to be at the end of Lido Nord between 18:30 to 19:00 from December 13th through the 17th. Dave Beek told me that close to 80 boats are already entered and, “There is good energy all around the parade this year, and I promise the weather will be perfect,” he said.
Once you start the parade and head up Lido Soud, I would take that first turn a little wide just because there are a couple of big boats at the first turn. At 18:38, the front part of the parade will reach the Lido west channel, and you will notice your first yellow racing marker “V”. Most of these racing markers have reflective tape on them with a very dim white light on top of them. As you head along the west side of Lido, there is little to be concerned about. The last mooring K 21, before the Lido bridge, has an old wooden boat on it, lots of room at this turning mark labeled control mark C.
It is wide open as you work your way to the tip of Lido Peninsula/Rhine Channel. There will be a 5 MPH marker there, the speed markers are not lit and will be difficult to find when I mention them along the route. ETA 18:42. The next leg will be along Balboa Peninsula with one of your largest spectator crowds along the beach and at Marina Park. Just after Marina Park, the channel will seem slightly smaller because of the new line of guest moorings. As you pass the American Legion, pick up the private dock at about 11th Street that extends out off your starboard side. As you pass the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, there is the yellow racing mark “R” as you turn to port and head towards Bay Island. Then at turning mark D, there is the green LED channel marker “11” lower in the water.
The whole way down the Peninsula is an easy run with nothing to be concerned about; the channel will narrow as you pass Hills fuel dock than widen soon thereafter. Most of the moorings do have spreader lines between them and it’s ill-advised to cross through them along the whole route. As you arrive at the end of the Peninsula, ETA 19:29, there are a couple of open moorings off your port side. Keep in mind that it is very important to the parade organizers that you do head out the channel entrance and round turning mark F. There are always be a lot of spectators on the jettys and the cliffs of Corona del Mar.
On this next leg in front of the Coast Guard dock and the Balboa Yacht Club ETA 19:37, on the last three nights of the parade, the water will be flooding in and you will pick up to four knots of boat speed in this area of the harbor. After you have passed the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club, you will approach the tightest turning mark in the parade just in front of the Balboa Island bridge. Note that there is a 5 MPH speed buoy in the general area that might be difficult to avoid if it has not been moved. Your next challenge will be the turn to head along the south side of Balboa Island. Remember the current will be shoving you into the island and while traveling next to the BYC mooring fields this will bunch you up.
Your next concern does not arrive until 19:51 just off of Collins Island with racing mark “Q” and a speed limit buoy in the vicinity of your turning arc as you go into the channel along the north side of Balboa Island. All the moorings have spreader lines and at the very end, close to the Balboa bridge, there is a mooring ball that will be very difficult to find. The mooring ball is right next to the Ocean Alexander 42 named “Wish You Were Here,” that you be turning around most of the nights. So, I would take this turn wide as you dare, remembering the water will be pushing towards the moorings on most nights.
Nothing really to concern yourself headed back out towards Collins Island your ETA 20:17. As you round Harbor Island, you will pick up a tug and a barge; everyone is promising that this will be well lit. Again, take it wide and leave it to your port side. Keep in mind the current is always strong here and will be pushing towards the PCH bridge. You should miss racing mark “Y” without any problem. It’s wide open as you go past Bay Shores although you will have to keep in mind that most of the moorings in G mooring field are open and hard to see.
While powering up Lido Nord channel everything should be wide open, although it is unclear while I am writing this, if the barge in front of the OCC Sailing Base will be gone ETA 20:24. If it was me, I would remember to look at the base while driving by to see if the large crane is still there. Odds are good it will be moved, to where is the question?
Up and down Lido should be easy and that’s it!
Remember on December 13 at Marina Park starting at 17:00, Frosty the Snowman and the LA Chargers cheerleaders will be there followed by the live music of OCSA performance Ambassadors and Fireworks at 18:15.
Hopes this helps you, and if you learned anything…you now know where all the racing markers are.
Sea ya.
Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for StuNewsNewport.

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