Cruising Newport Harbor

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Pirates in Newport Harbor
Pirates in Newport Harbor

Recently our family took a short bay cruise on the west side of Newport Harbor.

Once you pass under the Newport Boulevard bridge, a posted sign advises this is a “No Wake Zone.”

This small bayfront area includes the perimeter of Newport Island and a small channel that ends adjacent to Newport Boulevard and 32nd St. Rarely are there other boats cruising this quiet and peaceful area and, with the tighter cruising pathways, the atmosphere helps the skipper see how slow they can cruise and still maintain control of the vessel.

Naturally, only small power boats will pass under the Newport Boulevard Bridge and, depending on the pilot’s skill, the smaller the vessel the better.

Beside the Newport Island city park is the bridge which at high tide is not passable, and for most boats (other than skiffs and inflatables,) is not passable at all.

In fact, if one needs to turn around in the narrower areas, any vessels larger than 12 feet will be quite difficult. This area of the harbor is really for small boats. The bayfront homeowners have larger vessels but I suspect they only come and go and save the cruising for the smaller vessels.

We had 6-year-old grandson Zander, and mom Brandy, aboard for a specific purpose. I promised Zander that pirates had landed and commandeered part of the Bayfront (see accompanying photo). He clearly was in awe and had many questions about how, when and why these scallywags had landed.

Leaving West Newport, something submerged in the water hit the hull as we were cruising. A large portion of the county storm drains empty into the lower bay when it rains.

Cruising off the end of Lido Peninsula we spotted a porpoise. How unusual!

Recently I read an interview with newly elected City Councilman Duffield. One of his priorities will be dredging the upper and lower bays. It’s nice to read that the lower bay is mentioned. It appears to me that the major portion of dredging funds in the last 30 years have been for the birds (the upper bay).

Growing up there was an adequate amount of dredging in the lower bay. This budget item disappeared in the 80s, but has slowly been increasing in recent times.

I recall an era where the California Coastal Commission halted all dredging permits with the notion that dredging killed the worms in the sand, even though there were no scientific studies to document their opinion. This caused many yachts to sit on the mud at low tide.

Maintenance dredging has always been necessary as dredging is what changed our river mud flats into the islands and harbor we have now.

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

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