Boating Safety

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Growing up on and off the bay during the 50s and 60s was a very special time.

Vietnam and Watergate jaded the 70s for me, but upon reflection prior to the “go-go” 70s, an innocent and wholesome lifestyle summed up the previous era.

The “Leave it to Beaver” television show really was an example of normal life in America. Boating on the harbor was also much simpler; the boats were smaller and more basic, and a compass was what most people used to get from point A to point B.

In 1964 I was issued my first speeding ticket. This also was my first formal introduction to law enforcement on the bay. I was 14 and no, I wasn’t joyriding in the family station wagon, I was in the family 22-foot Century Raven racing a 13-foot Boston whaler between the Peninsula across from the Lido Isle Yacht Club. I deserved to be cited!

When I appeared at the Santa Ana courthouse with my Mom, the judge looked at the citation, looked at us, and stated he was in unknown territory on this law enforcement issue. I don’t recall the penalty, but I can surmise that being before the judge was probably enough of an issue and I think I stated I wouldn’t do it again. Wheeeeuuuu! Case closed!

Since that first introduction to our Harbor Patrol, I’ve been helped with jump starts on the family tugboat that had a recurring battery issue, and verbally reprimanded when they felt we were pushing it with our mooring usages when we berthed our marine construction barges and docks on our two moorings adjacent to the American Legion.

I can proudly state we never had a barge sink on our mooring, but if we had, big penalties would have been threatened. They also would have insisted on re-floating immediately or they would have billed us for the costs. Other than when Capt. Harry Gage was Harbor Master, we were not cut any slack from the Harbor Department.

This came to mind when I shot a photo of a fire boat racing down the harbor with wide open throttles. The three-foot boat wake caused by this vessel at top speed has also been an irritation to me. The dispatcher stated there was a boat off Newport Coast with a blown exhaust hose taking on water and in need of assistance. Judging by the length of time I heard their siren, they were once again having coffee at Lido Village and raced from one end of the bay to the jetty and the vessel in distress.

Naturally, there was a fire boat parked at the Harbor Department near the jetty which could have responded and saved the huge wake we all experienced along their path, but this rarely is the case. I’ve always been of the notion that our city police department could better represent our needs.

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

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