Newport's treasure of the sea

To traditional yacht clubs on the East Coast, Opening Day signals the melting of ice from its harbor.

Newport Sea Base's celebration Saturday aptly signaled the start of the season with sun and high winds. Director Shana Bannert Aguirre said she checked the weather daily, concerned after Friday's rain.

Hundreds of locals came out to support the Open House, which offered free events such as pontoon boat rides around the bay, tours of the Sea Scout boats and free burgers and hot dogs cooked up by the Newport Beach Firefighters Assn.

"We're always excited about Opening Day," Aguirre said. "It's a formal way to opening people up to the what we do here."

The facility offers family events and classes for youth and young adults.

Their Sea Scout program is open to boys and girls. Aguirre encourages young women to learn about Sea Scouts, since she finds many are under the impression that its only for Boy Scouts.

Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa), Councilman Ed Selich and Mayor Nancy Gardner spoke at the event, giving their support of the facility nestled on the water's edge.

"The Sea Base is so important, not only to Newport Beach but to our county," Gardner said. "It's affordable... you don't have to be part of a yacht club to experience the water."

Gardner called the base "an invaluable asset to our harbor" and pointed to its array of programs aimed at people of all interests and levels — from stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking to canoeing and sailing.

Bridget Steiner, 19, spoke of how the Sea Scouts changed her life.

Bridget joked that she was a shy, timid person when she first started the program, hardly uttering a word during classes. But then she rose through the ranks, leading others and eventually teaching classes, and the marine program pulled her out of her shell.

"The Sea Base has had a bigger influence on my life than any other organization," she said.

Twitter: @joannaclay

Newport Sea Base

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