April Fools’ Day is Sunday, and this day reminds me of all the pranks that we use to play on new crewmembers while on yacht deliveries. However, there were unwritten rules that made the food off limits, and the pranks had to harmless. Well, sort of, anyway. Placing cellophane over the toilet bowl is harmless, right?
However, there is another “April Fool” that you can own for only $69,500,000, and this is not a joke. You can visit the nicest ports around the world aboard your 200-foot Feadship built in 2006 by Feadship member Royal Van Lent & Zonen. She will draw attention as you cruise Newport Harbor, but you will need to call ahead before stopping at one of the fuel docks as the boat holds 33,025 gallons of diesel. You might need to take out a second mortgage on your house because a fill-up will cost around $165,000, which will allow you to cruise 5,000 nautical miles at a speed of 13 knots.
However, on a humorless note are the comments made by Jack Wu in his new newspaper, in his column titled “Wu: Fire pit removal illustrates lack of conservatism” on March 24. Now I want to start by stating that I like Jack. But he like many others are still blaming any pollution in the harbor on the boaters. I have written numerous articles that the boaters are not the ones polluting our waterways, and every landlubber who thinks so should look in the mirror.
“When I lived on Lido, I remember taking my then-6-month-old triplets to the little beach there. Kids were jumping in and out of the harbor, they were swimming in the harbor, and they were drinking the harbor water. All the while yachts and boats (there’s a difference) were cruising by, with their giant twin diesel engines, spewing God-knows-what into the water and into the air.
“The harbor is always covered with a very nice slick of oil, gas and trash, all from the ‘Largest Pleasure Boat Harbor in the Nation.’ And my kids were eating the oil-soaked sand.
“What are the chances, do you think, people will complain about the health hazards these boats have and try to ban them? Are out-of-towners bringing their boats down for the weekend? Nope.”
Now, I want to address each point separately to help educate everyone, so let’s start with diesel engines in the first paragraph. Yes, diesel engines do emit exhaust into the air but nothing into the water except cooling water. The first federal standards (Tier 1) for diesel engines were adopted in 1994 and even more stringent regulations have been phased in over the years. God probably does not know as much as the EPA and AQMD as to what the engines emit and the regulations imposed on the engine manufactures.
You spill a little fuel into the harbor from your boat and you are subject to a minimum fine of $50 and up to $25,000. However, studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of pollution and petroleum in Newport Harbor is from urban run-off produced by landlubbers, so everyone needs to do their share in keeping our waterways shipshape.
Now, the second paragraph blames all the trash in the harbor on the boaters, but again I need to educate. We all know that the vast majority – more than 90 percent – of bay pollution is directly related to the storm drains and creek openings that empty a large portion of Orange County storm runoff into the harbor. Additionally, trash enters the water from the bay beaches, backyards, and people throwing trash out their car windows. Just take a look at the harbor after a rain storm and you can see all the trash that was washed into our harbor. Boaters are under the Marine Pollution Act that states nothing can be tossed overboard into the harbor – nothing. Commercial boats have to have a written pollution and trash management plan, required by the Coast Guard.
Finally in Wu’s last paragraph, wow, where to begin? As I have mentioned, boaters are constantly under attack as the source for all the pollution in our waterways. Some lakes have banned certain boating activity, environmental groups are trying to impose even stricter regulations, and others will not be happy until boating is banned for good.
Now, who are the boaters in Newport Harbor? Everyone uses the harbor from the bayfront homeowner with a boat docked behind their house, to the out-of-towner trailer boater launching at the Dunes, to the out-of-town couple with their boat in one of the harbor’s marinas. Oh, let’s not forget the International traveler touring our beautiful harbor aboard one of the harbor’s charterboats.
Jack, nothing personal, just wanted to educate the readers, and remind everyone to quit pointing the finger at the boaters who do not want to pollute their water playground. You can read Heal the Bay’s report card for Newport Harbor in my July 15, 2011, Indy column.
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 and replayed on Sunday at 10 am Pacific. 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 www.BoathouseTV.com or www.BoathouseRadio.com.
Until next week, Safe Voyages!