From the Boathouse: Lax Parks oversight means money isn't safe


In my last two columns, I commented about how the California Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) is trying to grab the California Department of Boating and Waterways' (Cal Boating) dedicated funds.

Last week, I mentioned that Parks has been hiding $54 million in special funds' accumulating for more than 12 years. However, these hidden special funds appear to be the tip of the iceberg.

New reports are estimating that the state may have at least an additional $2.3 billion hidden in special funds. That's good and bad news for Californians.

The good news is that the state possibly has billions of additional money to forgo a tax increase initiative and not close parks. The bad news is that state employees are hiding taxpayers' money for purposes yet to be revealed.

Keep in mind that these special funds are not general fund dollars, and are usually dedicated for specific purposes or expenditures. Because the special funds don't compete with the general fund budgeted allocations, they can fly under the radar. In the accounting world, you would call this keeping double books.

I said before that the state's general fund a black hole that should not be back filled by special funds. Once Cal Boating is under Parks, I expect to see our special tax dollars dwindle away. I foresee the infrastructure's grants and loan program disappear.

What will happen to the boaters' dedicated special funds is anybody's guess.

I am on the edge of my helm seat to see the final total of missing or hidden funds, and who will be held accountable as the rocks are turned over one by one.


Excellent Boating

Tip of the week is that King Neptune has waved his scepter for excellent boating sea conditions and weather for boaters to get out on the water this weekend. Boaters venturing past the harbor lines of demarcation will find flat seas that seasoned boaters refer to as a bathtub- or a lake-like conditions. However, I have seen some very nasty lake conditions that could compete with some stormy ocean conditions that I experienced while skippering yachts.

I digress. The swells will be small with a 2-foot west and 1-foot from the south. Winds will be decent for sailing with 10 knots from the southwest direction that will create only 1-foot wind waves in the afternoons.

Remember to keep an eye out for late evening and early morning patchy coastal fog.

Our great summer weather is perfect for a nighttime cruise in the harbor or a nice coastal sail. I will let you in on a little secret: Many times I just drift down the main channel on a summer night if the winds and current are in my favor.

Did you know that when you are drifting after sunset you should turn off your masthead light to display only your starboard, port and stern lights? I know some you who have no idea what I am talking about and that many powerboats only have one switch for all navigational running lights. In other words, the light configuration would be the same as a vessel under sail with the red light to the port, green light to the starboard, and a white aft light.

Once the vessel is underway by a motor, the white masthead light, also known as the steaming light, is displayed from sunset to sunrise. This holds true for all vessels on the surface of the water, whether a powerboat, sailing vessel, submarine or floatplane. The only exceptions are watercrafts less than 7 meters which must have a white light.

And don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, "Capt. Mike Whitehead's Boathouse Radio Show, "broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replayed at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Safe Voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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