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On the Harbor: Remembering Douglas M. West


I opened up one of those emails this week that just takes the wind out of your sails and then reminds you just how short life is. Or do you recall the last time you had the wind knocked out of you, how long it feels before you get your breath back? That’s how I felt when I opened up the celebration of life invitation for Douglas West.

I wrote a story about him back in 2013, “Digging Doug’s work on the harbor.” You can read it here.

You can find the Douglas M. West obituary here.

These two stories provide you with an overview of his life and what a memorable celebration of life this event will be.

On the Harbor Doug West

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of Paul Blank

Doug West with his wife, Irene

I first met Doug West at a yacht club meeting where he was the chairman of the club’s cruisers. There was a question brought up about the published cruisers’ schedule. West was unaware of the conflict in scheduling and the task of rescheduling was solved the next day. I quickly recognized that West got to the tasks at hand with the highest degree of professionalism.

This is how West became a Harbor Commissioner and Commodore of the Balboa Yacht Club in a very short order of time. The amazing thing is that his improvements to the two organizations are still very much implemented today. Two of the many accomplishments that West completed while as a Harbor Commissioner was creating the Commissions Objectives along with the way to ensure these objectives were accomplished. This type of management skill had not been seen before. West also recognized the need for the Regional General Permit (RGP) 54 to streamlining the dredging permitting process.

West did not only come up with the RGP 54 concept, he got very much involved. According to Harbor Resource Manager Chris Miller, “Doug would take up an active role in reaching an objective. I recall all the different times we would drive up together to all the different government agency meetings. Doug was able to relate and relay different information to me which was invaluable. Still today, I think of Doug West and use many of his techniques at accomplishing goals with attention to all the details.”

I also placed a call to Harbormaster Paul Blank, who I had recalled in previous conversations that West was a mentor for him. Blank pointed out that as a Harbor Commissioner, his professionalism and sensitivity in quietly engaging commissioners to complete their objectives was to be remembered. As a commodore, his skills at brand identity, or why people choose to be members of the Balboa Yacht Club was also a tool to keep in use.

For me, it was West’s personal touch, on topics he knew I had a personal interest in. He would meet with me for breakfast or lunch at his request. He was an extremely easy person to approach while sincerely considering many of my silly ideas. At the same time, I recall a couple of Harbor Commission meetings when he would firmly remind people when they were out of order.

As a yachtsman, West took the same professional approach to maintaining his vessel. I would find him quite often just sitting in the cockpit of his Tiara looking over the harbor…just taking it all in. We spent a lot of time discussing the different coves in Catalina and where we would go if surprised by the weather and how we would anchor at these different coves around the island.

My two favorite quotes from West were while talking about Catalina: “It’s like another world over there.” I can still see the smile on his face each time I walked up to him while he was aboard his boat, Islander. The other quote was “Staying involved with what you love is extraordinarily satisfying.”

Sea ya.


Len Bose is a yachting enthusiast, yacht broker and harbor columnist for Stu News Newport.

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