A shipyard out of water

COSTA MESA — Newport Harbor boat owners have been turning to Larson's Shipyard at Mariner's Mile for their boating needs for 66 years.

This weekend, the business will relocate from 2705 W. Coast Highway in Newport Beach to 1001 W. 17th St. in Costa Mesa.

Nancy Dixon, owner of Larson's for the last 15 years, was hoping the move wouldn't have to happen.

Five weeks ago, the rail at the yard collapsed due to deterioration of the soil and gravel below. Dixon waited for the landowner, who was away in Hawaii, to return and assess fixing the rail.

However, Dixon realized that they weren't going to come to a compromise.

"He is not willing to repair it," she said "… he wants us to pay."

However, Larson's can't bear the financial burden.

"The costs are too substantial," said Dixon.

Established in 1944, Larson's is known for having a loyal customer base.

Venus Wintemute, a resident of Irvine, has been going to Larson's for more than 15 years. She said she was saddened by the change.

"I'm really sorry they're going," Wintemute said. "We're going to stay with them, of course, because they've done a great job."

Wintemute vouched for Larson's dedication to its clientele.

"There's a real relationship between them and their customers," said Wintemute.

The boat owner could remember numerous times when she wasn't able to get to her boat to fix something. She recounted one memory of telling Larson's employees she was stuck in New York City, and they answered, "'Don't worry. We'll take care of it.'"

Dixon pointed out that although customers are loyal, they're not all happy with the move.

"I've had customers screaming, 'Where am I going to take my boat?'" Dixon said.

For now, Dixon offers suggestions and hopes she can get back to providing all of her services shortly.

Although location on the harbor has always been important to the bay-based business, it shouldn't affect the business that has become the only full-service yacht company in the region.

There may have been six or so others about 20 years ago, Dixon said, but now Larson's is the only one-stop shop for all yachting needs: brokerage, dive service, maintenance, mechanical work and other services.

"We'll do anything but the wallpaper," Dixon said.

Richard Smith, who has been going to Larson's for five years, doesn't think the move inland will compromise their success. Rather, he said it's a good thing.

"I think in the long run it will be beneficial," Smith said. "It's a much nicer facility … I think the loss of the rail is not significant. You can always get your boat hauled."

Starting Friday, Dixon and her crew started loading up the small items, but the big move is this weekend.

Yet the relocation doesn't seem to faze the owner.

"We'll be up and running on Monday," Dixon said.

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