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On the Harbor: Continuing to tour Newport Harbor with Harbormaster Paul Blank


Let’s continue our cruise with Harbormaster Paul Blank which took place on a cold and wet day on March 30. We left off with how good it felt to me witnessing how much has improved in our harbor since Blank has become Harbormaster.

The Caulerpa algae: This showed up in our harbor last year and has been kept under containment. There is still a concern, because it can become a potentially invasive species if released into an environment, as it is not native. We are hoping that there is no further outbreak. Blank and I left wondering if this algae is only dormant during winter’s cold water.

Upland winter water run-off: Blank was not concerned about the local mountain runoff as we get closer to summer. Most of the water will be running off through the Santa Ana River. We didn’t get that technical while shifting to the runoff debris boom in the Upper Bay. This boom catches most the large items, like telephone poles and mobile homes (just kidding), yet some of the stories I have heard over the years have been entertaining. With the amount of runoff we have had this year, most if not all the large strange objects have already been flushed down and out of the harbor. It’s been noted that bed mattresses and large beaver dams have been seen floating by recently.

On the Harbor picturesque harbor.JPG Part 2

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Photo by Len Bose

Picturesque Newport Harbor

Boat de-watering: I was surprised to hear how many boats are constantly in need of de-watering or pumping the rainwater out of them. Most of the vessels have been on shore moorings around Balboa Island and down the Peninsula. Along with some offshore mooring vessels, in this case, if a larger boat is threatening to sink, the city will call Sea Tow to de-water the vessel at the owner’s expense.

California state grants: This is a long, complex task taking many hours of city staff to apply for these grants. One grant I am familiar with is the Abandoned Vessel Exchange grant (SAVE); this grant has helped the city remove many abandoned vessels from the harbor. You might have noticed those harbor patrol vessels – there is a law enforcement water patrol equipment grant, there are waste pump-out grants, a sign replacement grant and a spill response equipment grant. Most, if not all, of these grants our harbor has taken part in, which require people who are very smart and patient. Obtaining and managing these state grants is extremely tedious and time-consuming. A huge Bravo/Zulu for a job well done must be given to the Blank’s team for obtaining these grants.

Lighting the channel markers: This topic has been discussed for a decade now and we might be taking this task off our desks. Many of the channel markers, all of them in the Upper Bay/Back Bay, are not lighted and should be. Because of the many government agencies, this task has not registered a solid ping on the radar. My guess is Blank has always agreed that this task should be completed, and is tired of me bringing it up every year and wants it off his desk. During our cruise, he encouragingly said, “The application will be completed by the end of April, I want this task off my desk.”

Marine recycling center: Comparable to the channel markers, this idea has been around for the last decade almost coming to reality once maybe even twice. The concept is to copy other harbors like Dana Point, with a couple of recycling centers around the harbor to dispose of motor oils, motor fluids, batteries and all the marine products one should not throw in a general trash bin. Confidence is high that this project will be completed in the near future.

Boating safety: I asked Blank what is one of his boater’s safety concerns that he would like to reach share with the public. “Bow riding is one of my first concerns when you notice people sitting on the bows of boats with their feet hanging over the sides of the boat. When we notice this, we remind boaters this is not a good idea and that we have seen many people having a bad day when someone falls in front of a moving vessel,” Blank said.

These were most of the topics we discussed during our 2.5-hour tour of Newport Harbor, and Blank wanted to remind everyone of the Harbor Summit on Wednesday, April 26 at Marina Park from 5-7 p.m. This summit brings together in one room, most if not all, harbor users from large charter boats to rowing and sailing clubs to discuss their concerns and open a line of communication.

• • •

A huge weekend is coming up at the end of April with the Ensenada Race, which will bring a couple of hundred boats into the harbor starting this weekend with the race beginning on April 28. At the same time, another couple hundred (I’m just guessing) more yachts than we have seen in years will be at the Newport Beach International Boat Show running in Lido Village from April 27-30. This is the mother of all boat shows on the West Coast, with yacht manufacturers, brokers and the entire marine industry all just itching to get back into the game. This will be a must-attend for all you boaters out there who are ready to make your dreams come true. More information on the boat show can be found at

• • •

I am excited to announce that I have recently taken the job as Regional Sales Manager at Duffy Electric Boats and, yes, we will be at the boat show front and center, so please come by and say hello. We will teach you “How to Duffy.” 

Sea ya.

Editor’s Note: This is part two in a two-part story.


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

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