The Harbor Report: New harbormaster gives off good vibes already

We are at the warning signal for the 2011 boating season.

In the past two weeks I had a chance to meet — if only briefly — Lt. Tom Slayton, the new harbormaster. I also attended the "Harbor Vision" committee meeting and sailed in the Southern California Yachting Assn.'s 82nd annual Midwinter Regatta.

I introduced myself to Slayton, after he spoke at the last Harbor Commission meeting. I immediately noticed a number of good things that made me comfortable with our new harbormaster.

For one, Slayton was there in his street clothes. I cannot tell you why that makes me feel better. It just does.

And while introducing himself to the community, he said all the right things. Although I liked what I heard — that he would keep on the same course and maintain a similar style to outgoing Capt. Mark Long — at the same time, Slayton assured he was there to protect us.

What I liked best was how he introduced Sgt. Steve McCormick.

"As long as I have Sgt. McCormick working alongside me, everything will work out just fine," Slayton said.

I also attended the second Harbor Vision Committee/Task Force meeting, chaired by Harbor Commissioner Ralph Rodheim.

As soon as I walked into the Council Chambers, I knew I was in the right spot when I spotted people like Tom Purcell, Gary Hill, Karen Rhyne, Mayor Michael Henn, Chuck Brewer, Dave Beek and many other harbor users.

My understanding of these meetings is that they gather a consensus for the best use of our harbor, then report back to the City Council through the Harbor Commission.

This last meeting's topic was the area at the top of the Lido Channel and in front of the Lido Village, which you sailors know as "Z mark." I noticed and heard some very interesting reactions and questions during the meeting.

Most of the charter fleet is berthed in this part of the harbor, and it was fun while listening to public comments to watch these business owners bunch up like bicycle riders without any riding pants on. I am sure my time is coming when my business is brought to the table, and these same business leaders will get to watch me drop my tiller extension and spin out of control.

The best question of the night came when Gary Hill asked Chairman Rodheim, "We just completed years of consensus-building on another topic. When we presented our finding to the council, they threw away our recommendations as if it never existed. Can that same thing happen again?"

Rodheim's answer was simple and to the point: "Yep."

My personal feeling is that the council can only burn up so much hay around the harbor, and these efforts will not get thrown back in the toxic waste dump. I take that back; we do not have a toxic disposal unit within reach of our harbor.

It felt good to get back on the water last weekend for the SCYA's Midwinter Regatta, and it felt even better to sail on our local waters. We had 81 sabots racing, 22 Harbor 20s, five Lasers, three Thistles and 10 PHRF boats on the water.

By now you all know I am promoting Newport Harbor's PHRF High Point Series, and the Midwinter Regatta was the first event of the season.

Here are the leaders so far: Chuck Brewer with his Far 40 vessel, the Heartbeat, with 89.6 points; in second place is Joe Degenhardt with his Catalina 38, the Lickety Split, with 85.8 points; and in third place is Roy Reinimar with his Davidson 34, the Violetta, with 70.7 points.

Now I need a favor from my readers. Would you all congratulate the leaders when you next see them? That would be a huge help. Also, tell them how proud they will be to fly that Hi-Point Burgee from their boat.

Sea ya!

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

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