Boating Past, Present and Future for 2011

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Happy New Year, and it looks like 2011 will be a better year for the boating world.  The last couple of years have been very hard on the marine industry, and the economic indicators show that the nation is slowly climbing up off of the bottom of the recession.   Good news for the boating industry that has survived and for our local marine businesses.

As we leap into the New Year, take a look at our vital local marine businesses and think about all the local jobs that are created in and around Newport Harbor.  Just reflect for a moment on the people you know personally who are somehow related to boating in their work, and then think about how this area would be dramatically different if boating were to vanish.

I spend a large amount of time keeping informed of boating news, not only locally in our harbor but nationally. We have to think globally as we enter the new year and look forward to the advancements in other parts of the world in boat design, construction, environmentalism, and trends and safety – to mention a few. Great things are happening around and on our waterways and I am anxious to see what this New Year holds.

In last week’s column, I left you with a poem. Well, for New Year’s Eve, here is my annual Captain’s Log, past to future.

Captain’s Log:

Time; 00:01 on Jan. 1, 2011

After checking the integrated navigational equipment including the long range and short range radars aboard this mega- yacht, I scan the horizon for other boaters.  I see that we are all alone tonight on the ocean as we cruise back to the harbor on the final leg of our long voyage, and I can see my crew members cheering in the New Year on the bridge’s security monitors.

I know the onboard celebration will not disturb anyone while cruising 100 nautical miles off California’s coast with a sliver of moon reflecting off the ocean.  The yacht is on a course to Newport Harbor, but all of a sudden out of nowhere a nameless ghostly ship sides in on a very close parallel course.

Curiously, I come alongside the cruise ship, and I step out on the bridge wing where I can faintly see the New Year’s celebrations onboard the dark, shadowy ship.  It looks like a reflection of New Year’s past aboard an ancient wooden Brigantine.  I see the captain trying to steer the large wooden wheel as he fights each passing swell while watching a crude compasses and reading hand-drawn charts that resemble worn treasure maps.  Also, I can see the crew cheering in the New Year with mugs of rum being poured from barrels while someone is playing a fiddle.

Oops, I almost hit the side of the cruise ship.  I correct my course and check my electronics but I do not have any targets on my radar, not even this ship.

As I regain course while glancing at a porthole where I can see what looks like the reflection of New Year’s future.

Sleek, fast multihull cruising yachts built with accommodations equaling five-star hotels.  Now, the captains are talking on satellite phones while monitoring the multifaceted electronic displays that control everything on the vessel with just a touch on the view screen.

Wow, the charts are interactive and display information from other vessels in the area via an interfaced satellite Internet system.

The captain’s eye patches have been replaced with thermal imaging equipment, and the windshield heads-up display is impressive.

In lieu of the fiddle for entertainment, the crew is watching the Boathouse TV Show on a high-definition satellite television while the chefs prepare the dinners from an extensive menu.

Hey, is that a — oops, I almost skimmed the side of the ghost ship again when I am suddenly awakened from my nap by the Global Positioning System chart plotter beeping a warning that the harbor entrance buoy is nearing.  I glance from the bridge’s soft leather couch to see my first officer standing his watch.  I know we are getting close to the harbor as I can see the lights on the buildings at Newport Center out of the bridge windows.

As I rise to take the conns to enter the harbor, I cannot help but scan the radars and the horizon for that ship – or was it just a dream?

“All safe, yacht is securely moored at home slip in Newport Harbor.”

End Captain’s Log.

I can imagine that the New Year will bring new innovations and new boaters onto the waters, where I hope you welcome the past, present and future.  As I sign off for my columns of 2010, I want to wish all the readers, and especially, everyone at the Newport Beach Independent a Happy New Year.

And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time.  Join Chandler Bell and me as we talk about “all things boating.”  You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, iTouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at or

Until next week, Safe Voyages!


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