They Come and They Go Around the Harbor

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Times change and so do some of our bayfront residents.

This thought came to mind on a recent boat trip to Emerald Bay. Upon anchoring and getting settled in the cove, I noticed a large yacht I hadn’t seen in a couple of summers. The yacht is about 90 feet and was berthed two houses north of the former John Wayne estate in the private community of Bayshores. The yacht belongs to Nicolas Cage, who lived for a short time at that residence. One evening in the middle of the night he awoke to find a stranger in his bedroom wearing one of his coats and nothing else. A short time later the house was for sale for $10 million dollars more than what he paid for it one or two years earlier.

It was nice to see that he could still enjoy some of the premier events and locations our area offers. I heard the yacht relocated to Marina del Rey. A couple of years have passed since the unpleasant incident, so maybe he will visit us more often. When he resided here and was in town we would see him seated in the stern enjoying a bay cruise and our wonderful sights on the bay.

Through a friend who is a yacht air conditioning and refrigeration expert, I had an occasion to tour the same estate with the captain of one of the new owners’ yachts.

The new owners have a 105-foot yacht and a 160-foot yacht, among others. I’ve noticed ads in several of the yacht magazines I read that both of these yachts are for sale. In addition, I’ve seen the estate is also for sale but at a lower price than Nicolas Cage obtained. It appears the poor economy has affected all aspects of the real estate market.

When going by the residence last week I noticed two Hallet high-speed red power boats. A 50-foot Hallet, permanently berthed and the only 50-footer made by the company, was in its usual berth atop a hydra-hoist. A second 40-foot red Hallet was tied up in front of the dock. I had never seen the second yacht here before.

When reading the list of finishers of the Catalina water ski race, the answer to why the second boat is here came to light. A family member towed a water skier to Catalina and back in the race. The skier was fourth in their class.

I think it’s a marvel that most of the skiers finish the race. The first to finish had an average speed of about 80 miles an hour. What an accomplishment!

Similar to what our poor economy has done to real estate prices, both power and sailing yachts have been affected. If ever there was a good time to buy a yacht, especially power yachts, now is the time.

A recent conversation with one of the many brokers I know was quite interesting. He stated that a power boat three or four years old, hardly ever used since new, that before the poor economy tmight have sold for $500,000 to $600,000, now could be purchased for about $350,000. That is quite a savings.

With the present economy and cost of fuel, the sailing yachts are faring better. There still is some discount due to the economy but not as much. While the cost of fuel is high, most yachts are used very little.

In my opinion, though, excluding fuel costs, the maintenance and upkeep is higher on sailboats, especially racing sailboats. To keep competitive, new sails are needed quite often. The marine elements are quite harsh on winches, halyards and sail lines. Before each race the sailboat bottom is cleaned to ensure top speed. Many times the crew wears matching shirts and shorts, supplied by the boat owner, and the large boats can have a crew of 12-15 people. If the owner is racing outside of our area, room, board and even transportation are also factors.

Years ago we had a wonderful family move in next door to us. As it turned out, Robbie had been a gold medalist in sailing in the 1984 Olympics. He had grown up on Coronado Island and sailed out of the Coronado Yacht Club. He moved to Newport to manage an acclaimed sail loft in Newport Beach. After working here for many years he and his family moved back to Coronado.

For the next 15 to 20 years I would read about him and his winning exploits in boating magazines. He was racing all over the world as skipper for Roy Disney, nephew of Walt. Roy was quite active in many of the elite races from the Transpac (L.A. to Hawaii) to the “Mac” (Chicago, Illinois to Mackinac Island, Michigan) here in the states. Many international races were also won by Robbie and Mr. Disney.

During this time I worked at the same company as Roy Disney’s yacht broker. Over a 15- to 20-year period, Roy probably built at least four yachts to extend his competitive winning streak. All his yachts were named “Pyewacket.” Each one would be bigger and faster, until his last yacht.

That last yacht was smaller and campaigned in the Transpac, and a movie was shot about the crew, boat and race. The crew was from all over the United States and the movie was shown in limited release all over the country.

I was told years ago that Roy and his wife liked to travel in style. They owned their own Boeing 737 converted to yacht appearance and style inside. What a way to go!

Our daughter and her husband lived in the suburbs of Chicago for almost 10 years. On one of our visits to the city I mentioned that I’d always wanted to see the Chicago Yacht Club. As my membership at the American Legion Yacht Club in Newport Harbor, the only Legion Yacht Club in the world allows guest privileges at other yacht clubs, so we drove on over.

It turned out the Mac was being held the following day. I picked up the race program and, lo and behold, the grand marshal for the race was Roy Disney. His yacht still held the race record. Among the hundreds of sailboats surrounding the club for the 100th annual race, was Ragtime, a famous older sailboat racer years ago that’s now berthed  in Newport Harbor. It’s easy to spot, as it’s the only large sailboat here with a black hull. Ragtime’s owner also owns another very noteworthy sailboat here, but that’s for a future article.

Enjoy the summer and our wonderful harbor.

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

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