The Harbor Report: Oh, what a beautiful mooring

This week, I sat down with Deputy Sean Scoles of the Newport Beach Harbor Patrol with the intent of introducing myself and learning more about moorings in our harbor.

The first thing I learned was that Sean is very approachable, and he quickly made me feel comfortable talking to him.

From the start of our conversation, I felt like I was talking to someone I had known for years and would call my friend. Sean has been assigned to the harbor department for the last eight years and worked closely with his predecessor, Deputy Carlos Contreras, as the mooring deputy and boat accident investigator.

Sean duties included monitoring the mooring fields, keeping the moorings' maintenance schedule, contacting derelict boat owners, maintaining a mooring waiting list and anything mooring-related.

I learned that a derelict boat is a vessel that is losing its hull integrity and has a high possibility of sinking. "When a vessel sinks, at a mooring, a number of different agencies have to be notified, and a hazmat team is very often called," Sean explained. "An independent salvage crew is also needed to remove the boat from the bottom of the bay. These costs are all on the owner of the boat and are very expensive."

I was informed that mooring permit holders no longer have to keep a boat on their moorings. This can be part of the reason we see so many open moorings in the harbor at this time. If you do happen to own a boat that is in danger of becoming a derelict, your best option is to bite the bullet and pay a salvage company to dispose of your vessel. You also need to keep an eye open and hope that the city receives a grant from the state referred to as the Vessel Turn In Program (VTIP). These grants will be awarded by July 1. Should Newport Beach be so lucky in obtaining this grant, this will be your best option. Stay tuned for more details on this very important topic.

The mooring waiting list was a joke in the past, but that has quickly changed. The time will come when you can no longer transfer your mooring permit, and should you ever decide that the cost of maintaining the mooring no longer fits into your budget, your only option will be to surrender the mooring back to the city and collect the value of your mooring equipment. I wondered how the waiting list will work?

At this time, there are 250 people on the waiting list. Every two years, the people on the list have to respond to a letter that they still have interest in obtaining a mooring. If they do not respond, they are off the list. When a mooring is returned to the city, the next person on the list will receive the permit and have to pay for the mooring tackle. At this time, it is unclear if the person at the top of the list can pass because they do not like the location of the mooring. It is also unclear if you can trade your permit with another permit holder to obtain that better location.

So I would advise, if you ever considered purchasing a mooring permit and you want a certain location in our harbor, the time is now to act. Another thing I would advise is not to hesitate in contacting Sean with your mooring questions. Like in any office, the person at the front desk is the key holder, and in our case, that's Sally Cooper. Sally has been one of my favorite people around the harbor and always goes out of her way to answer my silly questions. Sean and Sally make a great team, and we are very lucky to have them. In fact, if any county supervisor reads my column, make sure you give Sally a pay raise; she is worth every penny.

Big race this weekend at the Lido Isle Yacht Club. It's the Senior Sabot Nationals, and all of the best of the best in Southern California will be out racing. I plan on going out to watch and will provide a recap of the race in my next week's column.

Sea ya.

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

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