From the Boathouse: On the lookout for winter storms


The winter storms arrived this week, and it looks like the effects on the seas will continue through this weekend. There was a gale warning issued by the National Weather Service, and the winds will be slightly decreasing for the weekend.

Out on the ocean you can expect 2- to 4-foot seas from the west, with wind waves on top from 2 to 4 feet. The northwest winds will still be howling at 20 knots, with gusts reaching in the mid-20s, and these strong winds will make boating in the ocean a rough and wet ride.

The skies will be mostly sunny. So, is it mostly sunny or partly cloudy, and what is the difference? These two terms are easy to confuse, and I personally like the optimistic term, mostly sunny. Mostly sunny refers to more sunshine than partly cloudy, but did you know that there is also partly sunny? Partly sunny actually means more clouds than partly cloudy. Confused?

The daytime air temperatures will be in the high 50s to low 60s, and dipping in the evenings to the mid-40s. However, there is a chance of patchy fog in the morning hours if the winds diminish.

Marina tenants in the West Basin of Dana Point Harbor received news of a rent increase that will take effect March 1. The monthly slip fees will increase up to 10% or 13%, based on the size of the slip.

The county is raising the fees to match the fees at West Basin with the higher fees being charged at the East Basin. At a time when marinas up and down the coast have vacancies, the timing of the fee increase could not be worse. Maybe the county should have lowered East Basin's fee to the lower West Basin rates, instead of simply raising the cost to the recreational boater.

Tip of the week: After rain, you need to check your boat's sea strainers regularly while underway. Sea strainers are the collection baskets that are connected inline after the through-hull raw water pickups. They look like pool drain baskets when you pull the strainers out to clean them.

The sea strainers play an important role in collecting debris sucked up into the hose. The rainwater, especially after the first rains, will flush downstream a lot of debris that has been collecting in the storm drain channels. This debris will clog up the strainers, preventing the normal water flow.

What on a boat has strainers? Strainers are on most engines, including mains and generators, except those with keel coolers; and they're on heating and air-conditioning units, water-makers, raw-water heads, raw-water faucets and raw-water wash-downs.

It is important to check and clean the strainers for these items to operate, and it is vital to keep cooling water to the engines' heat exchangers so the engines will not overheat when operating. If the engines overheat, they can be damaged and require expensive repairs. Additionally, an overheating engine might automatically shut down, causing the skipper to lose control of the boat.

Lastly, the dredging in Newport Harbor's lower bay is coming to an end, but it's a happy ending. This is the first major dredging project in Newport for decades, with a big chunk of financial assistance coming from the Feds. The timing was also perfect for the Port of Long Beach and the dredging company to barge contaminated material to the port's landfill project. This cut millions of dollars off the project's price tag because the contaminated material didn't have to be hauled to the waste sites by trucks.

Now there is less chance of boats running aground, especially during the summer-evening racing programs. Also, good timing to have the project finished before the Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race.

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 live coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replays throughout the weekend. See times at

Safe voyages!

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

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World