The Harbor Report: Thoughts after a sailing tragedy

I have an abundance of what I think is important information to share with you this week. Most of you have read about the tragedy that took place in the Islands Race this last weekend, when one soul was lost while competing in a sailboat race around our local island. I competed in the race, and on my return home, I was greeted with plenty of hugs and attention from both my wife and son. While assuming my king's chair in front of the TV, I reflected on the personal mistakes I had made during the race.

My biggest blunder was that I had not checked my own equipment. My foul-weather gear pants had a rip in them that allowed me to get wet, which means I got cold. My footwear had rotted away and I was leaving pieces of my shoes around the boat. I did not rush to my heaviest foul-weather coat when we went through our first rain squall of the day. Later that night, when I went below for a quick hour's nap, I left my all my foul-weather gear on. These mistakes all made me wet, sweaty and very cold when I came back on deck.

I thought further into my mistakes. I should carry a shape sailing knife, personal flares, whistle and, if I was really smart, a waterproof hand-held VHF radio in my offshore foul-weather jacket. I still need to check my CO2 cartridge in my life harness and replace the pellet that automatically inflates the harness if I am submerged. I can't help but think that a sky diver packs his own parachute, with his personal safety in mind, before each jump. I better start packing my own sea bag with the same type of personal attention to safety. It goes without saying, I will be one of the first ones to sign up for Orange Coast College's next safety-at-sea seminar.

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Speak up on launch ramp

I attended this week's Harbor Commission meeting and study session regarding the Castaways lot that is located next to the PCH bridge, basically on the corner of PCH and Dover. While presenting my idea, I went off on a type of tangent regarding a city land marina with boat storage racks like at Newport Harbor Shipyard. I went on to explain the need for a commercial launch ramp and a marine recycle center. My ideas were, for the most part, thrown into the current. My point is that you have to attend these meetings and voice your ideas; otherwise, you could very easily find something you don't agree with in that location someday.

The first presentation of the Harbor Commission meeting was given by Marshall "Duffy" Duffield, who introduced his idea of a docking system that could replace our mooring fields. You needed to see Duffy's presentation to truly understand all of its features. This idea will save water space, make this type of boat storage more user-friendly, cut down on maintenance and improve the appearance of the harbor. This concept is going to take a huge amount of work to get it started, but if only a couple of City Council members will take a close look at this idea and give it a try — maybe in the mooring field that is located between Balboa Island and Basin Marine — this idea could possibly turn out to be one of the best ideas to improve our harbor since the jetty entrance.

The next subcommittee report was on the topic of a temporary yacht anchorage, which will be placed on the agenda for next month. I hope you are all still reading this? Make sure you attend and voice your opinion on a temporary anchorage being placed in the turning basin in front of Lido Village.

I still can't say enough on how fortunate we are to have Doug West as the chairman of our Harbor Commission and Chris Miller as our harbor resource manager. These two continue to lead the charge for our revised RGP-54 dredging permit that could take effect in April 2014. The task these two have taken is enormous; the process is mind-boggling when dealing with no less than seven government agencies to obtain an RGP that we all can work with. I asked Doug in the simplest of terms, "Do you feel confident that you can complete this task?" His reply: "We will get this done." If you see Doug or Chris, please stop them and say good luck and thank you. Remember a good pat on the back goes a long way in this line of work.

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Ahead on the calendar

This April 7 between 10 a.m. and noon, there will be a meeting at ExplorOcean/Newport Harbor Nautical Museum to discuss safety issues regarding stand-up paddling in Newport Harbor. If you enjoying SUP, you best attend this one; there is more on the table than you can imagine.

This Sunday is the start of the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club's Lorin Weiss Harbor 20 Series. I am still keeping my best set of sails up for this one and am bringing in Craig Fletcher to crew with me. I still want my name on the trophy someday.

Sea ya.

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

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