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Public boat channel for Huntington Harbour opens Thursday

The new public boating channel to Huntington Harbour opens on Thursday.
(Courtesy of Gregg Smith)

Huntington Harbour Yacht Club commodore Rudy Lopez said he hopes to take his boat out into the ocean on Thursday, weather permitting.

It isn’t just another day for Lopez.

Thursday marks the first day that the new civilian boating channel through the Anaheim Bay will be open to the public, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach has announced.

“I just want to go out there, putz around, get into the open water and come on back,” Lopez said. “I think it’s a historic thing for us as a club. You can take that travel path any time you want, but there’s nothing like that very first day.”

Under the former configuration, which has been in place since Huntington Harbour was developed in the 1960s, civilian boaters had to pass through the Navy base in order to enter and exit the Pacific Ocean through Huntington Harbour. Now, they have their own dedicated lane.

The old channel is becoming part of Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach and being blocked off, said Gregg Smith, public affairs officer for the weapons station.

“It improves safety and security, both for the boating community as well as for the Navy,” Smith said.

The new channel is part of a $154-million U.S. Navy project designed to reconfigure Anaheim Bay, as well as build a new ammunition pier for the Navy. The project is set to be completed in 2024.

The changes in the civilian boating channel at Anaheim Bay, effective Thursday.
(Courtesy of Gregg Smith)

“We have an ammunition pier currently,” Smith said. “It’s actually an ammunition wharf, but it was originally constructed in 1944 and then rebuilt in 1953. It’s not been substantially modified since that time, so yes, we are definitely looking forward to a replacement.”

Smith said the public channel had to be completed before construction could continue. He added that the weapons station hopes to shorten the amount of time that the channel is closed whenever a Navy ship is entering or exiting.

“The Navy ships and civilian boats will still share the outer part of the bay there, where the mouth of the arrowhead jetties are, but it will be a much smaller area of the bay than they were sharing before,” he said.

That is good news to Lopez and the Huntington Harbour Yacht Club, who have been awaiting the channel’s opening.

“We’re located at the southernmost part of that whole channel, so we have a longer way to travel,” Lopez said. “Cutting down a little bit of the time to get into the open water is a good thing.”

Work on armoring the sides of the new channel will continue for several more months.

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