The Harbor Report: How many megayachts are in town?

While making my daily rounds Wednesday, I left my office with the idea of finding a story for my column. My route first took me to a stop at the Newport shipyard. Then I looked across the bay at Balboa and South Coast shipyards, walked through Lido Village and down Mariner's Mile, drove around Dover Shores, then down to Basin Marine.

I wrapped my day up by attending Wednesday night's Harbor Commission meeting.

Just after the holidays, activity at the shipyards is at cruising speed and at Newport Shipyard the yard was at about one-third capacity. Two boats I had not seen before caught my eye.

One was a red 45-foot Cabo Open Express and the other was a 65-foot Viking Sport Fisher. The word in the shipyard was this was the last Cabo from the Adelanto plant.

Ever since Brunswick purchased Cabo yachts back in 2006, I always wondered how long it would take Brunswick to move the manufacturing of the boats to New Bern, N.C., and their Hatteras plant. Looking down onto the boat from the shipyard always made me feel like a friend was moving out of town. Raising my head and looking across the bay at the Balboa and South Coast Shipyards, activity seemed slower than usual, although you have to remember that the two yards are restricted by the tides on when they can haul and launch.

As I left the yard, I stayed on Lido Park Drive and took the loop around to see which megayachts were in town. In my book, a megayacht is longer than 90 feet.

As I pulled off the Lido Peninsula, I stopped at the Lido Bridge and counted 17 large charter boats in the harbor. While looking at the docks behind the Chart House restaurant, I started to realize that no one is flooring new boats in town. No one. Yes, there are six boats from last season, but that's it!

It was good to see that Larson's Shipyard appeared to be busy and there seemed to be fewer vessels in the repo yard from my last cruise. I began to wonder: Are new boat dealers leaving Newport Beach or have they left already? I am just slow to notice?

I continued my cruise and headed for Dover Shores and the Back Bay. Chuck South was working hard on the log boom off North Star Beach, where they have gathered more than 35 tons of debris from the recent rains.

I had received the normal reports about people damaging their boats after the storms and could only imagine how many more there would be without these log booms. In Dover Shores, boats were being moved around while the homeowner's association completed its dredging. My understanding is the project is half complete. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Dave New from Basin Marine was chairing this project for the homeowners.

At Basin Marine, I found the shipyard to be very busy and, in the corner, I noticed one of the prettiest boats my eyes have ever seen.

When I inquired about the boat, Derek New replied "Oh, Len, that there is a Friendship 40 Daysailor, and she is a gem."

Odds are really good that "Manaaki" will make the 10 most interesting sailing boats list next year. I had missed her because she lives under a full cover on Lido Isle. I also counted 15 megayachts in the harbor.

I have been granted a big interview next week, from someone new in town, so come back next week!

Sea ya!

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

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