It's been close to a year since I last checked in with Deputy Sean Scoles of the Newport Beach division of the Orange County Sheriff's Department Harbor Patrol.
For those of you who have forgotten Scoles' duties, they include monitoring the mooring fields, keeping the moorings' maintenance schedule and waiting list, contacting derelict boat owners, and handling anything else mooring-related.
My first question was, "What's new in the mooring fields this season?" Scoles talked about the realignment of mooring fields D, C and A, which is almost complete. He explained that the fields have become more user-friendly because of their realignment — it's much easier to notice the cut-through lanes and maneuver around the moorings.
We discussed mooring maintenance topics, such as making annual checks to your mooring lines and ensuring that the sun, salt and chafe have not rotted them, as well as the importance of bird and sea lion repellent.
"Once the sea lions have marked your boat, they will keep coming back," Scoles said.
He explained the importance of checking your boat once in a while to make sure it's clean and that the batteries can operate the boat's bilge pumps. It's important to note that mooring permit holders do not have to keep a boat on its moorings.
One of Scoles' duties is to keep an eye open for derelict boats, whether on an offshore or a shore mooring. Recently, he and harbor resources supervisor Shannon Levin inspected the offshore moorings and plan to review the shore moorings the first part of February.
I didn't hear it in Scoles' voice, but he must be frustrated considering how long it takes government agencies to go from point A to B. Don't take me wrong. When discussing the state's Vessel Turn In Program (VTIP), Scoles' voice inflects nothing other than progress.
Just to review the timeline, the state awarded a $5,000 grant last July in the form of the VTIP program to Orange County.
The county received the funds this month, and now they must be allocated by the Orange County Board of Supervisors at its end-of-February meeting. No telling how long before $5,000 gets split among three harbors. Scoles said this is the first time the county Harbor Patrol has applied for and received this type of grant, and he remains positive that the process has started.
I then asked about the most common accidents on the harbor. Scoles explained that most are caused by skippers not paying attention.
"Issen glass, boats' plastic windows, can steam up, or your interior lights will produce a type of glare that reduces visibility," he said.
Should you get in an accident as a skipper, you should provide assistance, exchange information and, if you need a report, contact the Sheriff's Department. If you run over a mooring line or into a boat or dock, you need to take responsibility and contact the Sheriff's Department.
Scoles is on the water every day, and I wanted his take on the harbor after last year's dredging.
"The harbor has a much nicer flow of water," he said. "Everything seems so crystal clear lately. I have been down here for a while, and this is the longest the water has stayed so clear. Then again, we have not had any storms or runoff yet."
Scoles is a very easy person to approach and, in my opinion, the go-to guy in the Sheriff's Department. I have observed him to be a very good listener who presents himself as a friend of the harbor.
Saturday, I will be attending my good friend Peter Haynes' boat handling and sail trim seminar at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's open to anyone who wants to learn more about how a sailboat works.
Personally, I enjoy attending this seminar because it reminds me when to shift gears, no matter what boat I am sailing. Registration is $85 and includes lunch and an increase in your boat speed.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.