The Harbor Report: BYC, harbor lucky to have Ray

As a local yacht broker, it is my job to know a lot of people around the harbor. Some I like saying hello to and some I try to ignore. Then there are those few people I go out of my way to give a big hello to because it just feels good.

One of those people is Ray Dasilva, the assistant dock master at the Balboa Yacht Club. It's always a big friendly hello with Ray, followed by that big smile and then, "How's your back, Len?" Years ago, I pulled my back out and Ray has asked about it each time we meet.

His family moved to California from Brazil when he was 8. Living in Costa Mesa now and spending most of his time taking care of his mother, who is recovering from a small stroke, Ray still finds time to surf and mountain bike. He has worked at BYC for seven years and puts in 40 hours a week. With all that time on one of the busiest docks in our harbor, Ray has seen it all.

"These Indian summers are my favorite time of year. The kids are back at school, the days are a little shorter and the weather is perfect," he said, followed by his deep laughter.

When asked what have been the most precarious moments on the harbor, he said, "February, when those clearing westerlies come down the harbor with a vengeance. Last year we had winds over 40 knots and it's my job to check on the moored boats and make sure their mooring lines are all secured. There is nothing worse than when a boat breaks free in gale conditions and we have to go out and try to gain control of her."

I then asked him if he has seen any recent changes in the harbor.

"Well, there's not as many boats on the moorings as there used to be, and the activity at the club has gone way down over the last three years," Ray said. "It's also been amazing how clear the water is, now that the dredging is almost completed. I can see the bottom of the harbor almost on a daily basis. It appears that there is a lot more marine life around and we have eelgrass coming out of our ears, which is kind of funny, because there was a group of people down here last week planting more eelgrass. Hope the city is not paying for that."

When I asked Ray about the most common mistake he sees boaters make, he said, "People do not always take in account the weather conditions. I have seen a number of people go out and try to place their boats on their mooring alone and get into real trouble. Another one is when people try to fend off from hitting another boat or the dock. They forget that fiberglass is much easier to fix than hands or legs when two boats meet. I try to tell them to grab an extra fender and place it between the other boat or dock, rather than place themself at physical risk."

Ray enjoys his job and works hard at it. When I tried to get out of him what his favorite type of boat is, he just leaned back in his chair with that smile and said, "I like all the boats, Len. You know what, I would like to go out on a sailboat race sometime. I have never had a chance to go sailing before, it looks like it would be a lot of fun."

At 54 years old, Ray moves around the club faster than most people half his age. He is truly one of our harbor's best, and BYC is very lucky to have him as an employee. If you don't believe me, just say hello to him sometime. I promise you, it will make you feel better.

Sea ya.

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

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