Two Newport Beach watermen want something more substantial, even majestic, than the utilitarian pole-mounted light boxes that currently loom at the ends of the jetties to guide boaters into Newport Harbor.
Keith Yonkers suggests a small but traditional-looking lighthouse at the end of the western breakwater, which juts farther offshore than its counterpart a couple of hundred yards to the east. It wouldn’t house a keeper, and its light wouldn’t need to sweep 360 degrees around, but it would be more handsome and visible than the weathered, no-frills twin structures that now serve as navigational aids, Yonkers said.
He pitched the project to the city Harbor Commission this week as a public-private partnership.
“Here we are one of the largest pleasure craft harbors in the world, as we all know, but we have these two rusty poles at the end that welcome the sailors back in after a day at sea,” Yonkers told the commission, which agreed to direct staff to contact the Coast Guard for guidance and pass the idea to the City Council.
The current navigational aids consist of flashing lights — green on the west jetty, red on the east — and foghorns behind basket-like slats atop 36-foot-tall metal poles. The west jetty has a green square marker and the east has a neon-red triangular sign, per Coast Guard requirements.
Michael Lawler envisions a harbor entrance not just more aesthetic but also artistic — statues on both jetties that offer a nod to local culture and welcome boaters like sentries.
A sailor on the west side would pay homage to the mascot of Newport Harbor High School. A Poseidon-like sea king, a tribute to Corona del Mar High School, would stand to the east. The 15- to 20-foot-tall statues would accompany the required navigational aids.
“One of the most significant lighthouses we have in the country is the Statue of Liberty,” Lawler said. “I’m not suggesting anything that grand, but that’s the concept.”