Boating Is Her Calling

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A few years ago, Newport Beach resident Karen Rhyne was at a crossroads.  A talented family law specialist with a flourishing local practice, Rhyne had donated her time and professional talent in the past to help people in need of help with legal issues.

“With my kids grown and out on their own, I knew I wanted to do something to give back to our community, I just wasn’t sure what,” says Rhyne. “What I did know is that I didn’t want it to be work-related, nothing to do with law.”

An avid boater and member of the Balboa Yacht Club since 1988, she was sailing around the harbor with husband, Michael Michel, one day and she decided the prevailing winds were pointed towards finding something boating-related to devote her time and talents to.

Her hunch was confirmed when she submitted an application for a position on the Newport Beach Harbor Commission, She was appointed in 2006, and is currently serving her second term.

Since then, Rhyne has devoted a significant portion of her scarce spare time volunteering to further recreational boating interests, address complicated legislation and harbor issues not only in Newport Harbor, but throughout the state.

In 2009, she was appointed by the Southern California Yachting Association to serve on the Board of Directors of the Recreational Boaters of California, a nonprofit organization dedicated to governmental advocacy that protects and enhances the interests of recreational boaters before the executive and legislative branches of the state and local government.

Each April, Rhyne travels to Sacramento along with her fellow board members from throughout the state for a “legislation day” to discuss with lawmaker the issues near and dear to many boaters.

Lately, these include the significant impact SB 623 could have on the recreational boating industry by proposing to make it illegal to manufacture, sell or distribute in the state marine anti-fouling paints containing copper. Without alternatives that are available, affordable and effective, RBOC maintains that boaters will not be able to protect their vessels adequately from invasive species. Anyone who owns a boat can tell you that it can very expensive when critters attach themselves and do extensive damage to a hull. Regular scuba cleaning helps, but it doesn’t completely ensure protection, and until there are satisfactory alternatives, copper provides the safest defense

Rhyne also notes that efforts by the RBOC to ensure that fuel taxes and registration fees paid by boaters to the state remain dedicated to programs and services specifically for the boating community are also extremely important, and that the board is focusing much of its efforts in this area. In Newport Beach for example, some of this money was used to make improvements to the city-owned Balboa Marina.

Rhyne is the only woman on the Newport Beach Harbor Commission, and one of five women serving on the RBOC’s 19-member board of directors. She said she’s surprised there weren’t more women involved in boating issues.

“I’m just glad to be able to be of service and support something I truly love, which is boating,” says Rhyne with a smile. “I have two grandchildren now, so I want them to have the same special relationship with boating that we have had the pleasure of for so many years here in Newport. It is a big part of our family, just as it is for many families in Newport Beach. That keeps me inspired to stay involved.”

If you’d like to share your recreational boating ideas, concerns, complaints, encouragement, contact Karen Rhyne at [email protected]

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