The Harbor Report: Some mooring tips

This week I met with Chuck South, owner of the South Mooring Co., at the old IHOP on 17th Street in Costa Mesa, and it was an instant flashback for me. Chuck and I walked in and there was Robin, formerly of Robin's Nest and Snug Harbor, with a big "hello, Dad" for Chuck.

I have seen Chuck South on the water for years and he attends most of the Newport Beach Harbor Commission meetings. He always greets you with a smile and hearty hello, and one gets a feeling of trust when you meet him. Maybe that's why the waitress Robin, who is not related to him, called Chuck "Dad" and came back to our table with a menu and Chuck's coffee already in hand.

We sat down and had some lunch and talked about old times and dropped names like Chuck Avery, Ed Cox, Seymour Beek and Mark Sites. Dropping names like this is like the secret handshake of Newport Harbor's "Good Ole Boys" club. Once Chuck realized that I have been working in the harbor for 22 years and had my own stories to tell, we both relaxed and continued telling sea stories.

Chuck South came down to the harbor as a kid to go sailing and dancing at the The Rendezvous Ball Room. In the 1970s he moved from Long Beach to Newport Beach to start working in boat repair and running charter boats.

"Sailing is my passion," Chuck said. "My family sailed and I have always sailed. In fact, I still own my sailboat from the time I was eight years old."

Chuck enjoys single-handed cruising and has spent a lot of time in the Channel Islands and cruising around Mexico. In fact, he is planning a trip to Catalina and an overnight sail around San Clemente Island.

"There is nothing better than spending a night at sea," he said with a half-squinted eye like Popeye talking.

When Chuck's not sailing he is in the mooring business, and when you receive your notice from the county to inspect your mooring equipment, Chuck South is the person you call.

"Anything that has to do with a mooring, I do," he told me with confidence.

I then asked him questions, such as two lines or four lines for double-ended mooring?

"Four lines, Len. Line is cheap insurance," he said.

What are some of the mistakes boat owners can make while tying up their boats?

"Well, moorings move a little," he replied. "Just don't place a loop on your mooring line and expect it to be tied up correctly. Mooring lines always need to be adjusted. A three-quarter-inch line works well with the proper chafe gear and make sure you have through bolted cleats with backing plates under them."

I then asked Chuck about the mooring balls that I see around the bay and that seemed to have sunk.

Chuck replied: "Each mooring ball can float 250 pounds, and when you have 20-foot lines attached to a ball that has been in the water for some time, each one of those lines can weigh a 100 pounds from sea growth. Add that with the growth on the bottom of the ball, and the chain and the mooring ball begins to submerge. You can gather some very interesting critters if you're leaving your lines in the water long enough."

Is it a good idea to have your bottom diver clean the bottom of the mooring ball?

"Well, it would not hurt," he said.

Another thing that can submerge a mooring ball, Chuck told me, is that the chain can wrap around its base. Just take a boat hook and bounce the ball up and down a couple of times and the chain should free itself.

Chuck has a couple of other concerns: the condition of some of the old mooring balls and the "Mystery Rods" that run through these old floats. I came to find out that the old mooring balls are made of fiberglass with iron rods that run through them with loops on either end. After 20 some years, it's a good idea to replace your buoys and make sure they have the new attachments in place.

Chuck's last concern is about available space around the harbor for marine construction companies.

"I am running out of locations where I can launch pilings, docks or haul something out of the harbor," he said.

I personally hope that someday Chuck and other people around our harbor don't say, "I told you so."

At the last Harbor Commission meeting there were two couples from Linda Island. One couple brought their attorney with them, complaining about boaters using the two guest slips behind the 3-Thirty-3 and SOL Cocina restaurants.

They said, "People are having fun and making too much noise."

To me, this is a perfect example of residential living alongside commercial property, and we all know who was there first. So if you follow me here, I sure hope we do not hear "I told you so."

The last item of interest is for people like me who take their dinghies out under the Bay Island Bridge in the summer months. The Harbor Patrol is watching and giving out tickets.

I had to postpone the Junior Awards article until next week because all the results were not complete, so please stay tuned.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.

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