From the Boathouse: Working to slim down mussels


Good news for boaters is that the new fee increase for vessel registration has been delayed until next year, 2014. I first mentioned AB 2443, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed at the end of September, in my Oct. 5 tip of the week.

"The law is to levy a quagga and zebra mussel prevention fee on the state's boat registration," I wrote in that column. However, the fee will not include boats used only in salt water, as it is meant for fresh-water infestations of the mussels.

Currently, there are 27 waterways that are infected with either quagga or zebra mussels, and quagga is in the majority. Infected with quagga mussels in Orange County are Irvine Lake, Rattlesnake Reservoir, Walnut Canyon Reservoir, Kraemer Basin, Anaheim Lake and the Black Gold Golf Club pond.

The delay of imposing the fee is because the California Department of Boating and Waterways has to calculate the fee amount, which cannot be greater than $10. You can download a boat-cleaning guide from the Boating and Waterways website at

Remember that the hotel rooms at the Hotel Coral and Marina are almost full, so if you are planning to attend the Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race, you need to make a reservation now.

I will be announcing the start of the race, once again, from the end of the Balboa Pier. Ruby's Diner will host me on its top deck with speakers broadcasting to the pier. In the past, I broadcasted from Peninsula Park with hundreds of people to watch the start, and I expect to recreate the experience from the bluffs of Corona del Mar.

Tip of the week is watch out for the winter storms changing the swell direction from the west to from the south. Very important for boaters to know the direction of the swells if entering a harbor or anchoring in coves that are south-facing. Additionally, the change in swell direction might affect vessels berthed inside a harbor with inside swells or new surges. South-facing entrances and coves can be affected in a couple of ways, like Morro Bay's sand bar, which creates breaking seas at the jetty entrance that can cause the harbor patrol to close the entrance, and coves like Avalon Bay, where the entering swells can snap mooring lines, thus washing the boats into shore or other moored boats.

Every boat owner should check his vessel after every storm or a change in swell direction. The surge or swells can break your mooring lines whether you boat is in a slip or on a mooring can. Just ask a Harbor Patrol deputy how many free-floating boats they recover for the owners after a storm.

Of course, on a good note, southern swells can create a new surf line inside the harbor, and I know a few who have surfed the inside Newport Harbor's east jetty. Plus, south-facing beaches will receive surf, so this is the time for me to bring out the long board.

However, I digress. Southern swells usually have double-digit intervals between the swells, but not during a storm with the wind kicking up the seas. Therefore, cruising in the open ocean can be fine, but check the conditions before you leave your slip.

Remember, this is whale-watching season, so head out to see the giants of the sea.

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. Sundays.

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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