Ensenada Race, Harbor Dredging Both Get Underway

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Newport Harbor is a flurry of activity this morning as hundreds of sailors make their final preparations for a finish line that is 125 nautical miles away. While at the same time many of the skippers and crew will be nursing their hangovers from the annual party held last night at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club. I do believe that BCYC’s bash has to be one of the largest pre-race parties in the sailing circle.

In case you are wondering what I am talking about, today is the start of the annual Lexus Newport-to-Ensenada Yacht Race. This is deemed the largest international yacht race in the world, with a few hundred sailboats that will cross the finish line south of the border. The race is organized by volunteers from the Newport Ocean Sailing Association, commonly known as NOSA around the yacht clubs.

I know you have been waiting for my annual weather and sea predictions for the race, and I am still batting 1.000. So, what will the racers encounter this year on their sail down the coast? You can read my neighboring boaters’ weather column on this page.

In past races, I have seen and heard of racers colliding at the start line, naked movies shown at night on the sails, and boats missing the finish line and sailing past Ensenada. However, sailing past the finish line is hard to do these days with the advent of GPS, and in the dark hours there is a laser light at the finish line shining up to the heavens.

Remember “safety first” when on the water, and sailors need to wear their lifejackets and don a personal locator beacon if the seas become rough – especially those on deck after dark. Also, I recommend that the skippers review emergency procedures and safety equipment locations with everyone who will be onboard, before heading to the start line.

Tip of the week is great news that the lower bay dredging is beginning, as reported by Chris Miller who is the harbor resources manager for the city. The bid contract was awarded to R.E. Staite for the dredging project.

Certain areas of the harbor, like a section in front of the Balboa Bay Club’s docks, will be dredged in time to meet the June 30 deadline for disposal of materials at the Port of Long Beach landfill expansion project. Other areas of dredge materials are within the specifications to dump at the LA-3 the offshore disposal site.

There are six EPA-designated disposal sites along the California coast that stretch from Humboldt to the north and San Diego to the south. The sites are managed by the Site Management and Monitoring Plan tailored for each location. LA-3, which lies off Newport Beach, is limited to an annual disposal limit and in the type of material that may be deposited on the sea floor. The ability to deposit the dredged material either at the port or at an offshore disposal site saves the dredging project a considerable amount of money when compared to the other option of trucking the material to an inland dumping location.

There will be dredging under some of the mooring fields, and boaters will have to temporarily relocate their vessels. Miller states, “If you are a mooring permittee and would like to move your vessel to another mooring in the harbor for a few weeks, please contact the Harbor Patrol’s office and they’ll be happy to reassign you on a first-come, first-served basis, no charge.”

He continues, “If you do not want to move your vessel, the city’s contractor will move it, along with the mooring, to a temporary location close by. South Mooring Co. will be assisting the city with this effort.”

Vessels at a dock will most likely not be required to move during the dredging operations. However, those vessels docked at the end probably will need to be moved, and I recommend any vessels in slips close to the dredging also be moved. Those that have seen dredging operations know that splashing and dripping of dredge material is inevitable. Give the workers the space they need to operate without the fear of covering your boat in mud, sand or gunk.

Miller asks that boaters pass along to your neighboring boaters that dredging will occur in sections of the lower bay. Boaters can contact Miller at [email protected] and provide your email address for him to respond.

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!

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