Harbormaster’s Report: Boat Parade, Rain Storm Response, Buoy Lights, More

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Harbormaster Kurt Borsting at Marina Park.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

Summarized from Harbormaster Kurt Borsting’s report to the Harbor Commission on Jan. 8.


111th Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

Boating activity was heavy in Newport Harbor Dec. 18–22 due to the annual Newport Beach Christmas Parade festivities.

City Harbor Department workers go by Marina Park during the opening night of the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Dec. 18.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

The Harbor Department scheduled additional resources throughout the five nights of the program. This support included land-side staffing at the Marina Park facilities and on-water patrols of the harbor.

In an expanded role versus prior years, one of the Harbor Department vessels (and crew) was utilized as one of the parade’s marshal vessels throughout the program.

It was a good way to showcase the new vessels, Borsting commented.

“We got a lot of nice support from the community, people cheering us on out there,” Borsting said.

Harbor Department crew pose for a photo prior to their Christmas Parade duties.
— Photo courtesy city of Newport Beach ©

Marina Park facilities were well used during the parade week with 23 guest slips near full capacity throughout the parade-week along with 16 parade-related bookings of offshore moorings. Harbor Department services were well utilized, and the parade activities were largely free of incident.

Harbor Department crews also conducted a pre-parade route inspection alongside event organizers and lifeguards.

The purpose of that was to find any potential hazards, he explained, and the only thing needed was the removal of some swim lines near Marina Park.


Harbor Department Response to Rain Storms

A powerful rain storm came through the Southern California area on Dec. 26, and left its mark on several vessels within Newport Harbor.

“It rained a lot and then we went to work,” Borsting said.

In the two days following those rains, Harbor Department staff assisted owners of small vessels by dewatering a total of 45 craft throughout the harbor (both onshore and offshore mooring fields), making contact with owners as needed.

Harbor Department staffer Jackson Halphide recovering dinghies found adrift following December storm.
— Photo courtesy city of Newport Beach ©

“They got a lot of community support,” Borsting noted. “Neighbors saw them and thanked them for going out there and being proactive.”

Several other small craft were also recovered by staff, after having been found adrift. A number of offshore mooring permittees were also contacted, with staff having observed their moored vessels listing or otherwise needing attention following the rains.

One offshore vessel was “near sinking,” Borsting commented. Using all of their pump systems they were able to save the boat from having some “severe issues,” he explained. After doing a file review, it was also brought to staff’s attention that there were several “earlier situations” with that vessel.

“So we will be having some follow-up conversations with that permittee to make sure they can properly care for their property and not put the harbor at risk,” Borsting said.


Lights Atop Various Buoys in Newport Harbor

For the past several years some members of the local boating community have expressed their interest in the city installing lit markers at select locations within Newport Harbor, to serve as after dark boater safety enhancements.

Harbor Department staff are now researching commercially available equipment which meets U.S. Coast Guard requirements and specifications for such an application. Following this research, community outreach efforts will take place with members of the local boating community and harbor adjacent residents to determine if such equipment will in-fact aid boater safety while also not detracting from the enjoyment of harbor adjacent private homes.

Should the results of this community outreach warrant pursuing this concept further, the city will request approval from the USCG to permit the installation of such lighting equipment.


$175K Surrendered and Abandoned Vessel Exchange Grant Awarded

On Dec. 20, the Harbor Department received notice from the state of California’s Division of Boating and Waterways that the city of Newport Beach was selected to receive a $175,000 grant award to aid in the removal of derelict boats from the harbor.

Following its official acceptance by the City Council, the grant can be fully executed and the funds will be available to reimburse the city for the removal and disposal of both abandoned and surrendered vessels from Newport Harbor.

Two derelict boats laden with sea lion squatters are moored near the Balboa Pavilion.
— NB Indy file photo

Following the grant’s execution, use of these awarded funds will be available immediately and through Sept. 30, 2021.

The $175,000 award represents the full amount requested by the city, significantly more than the $125,000 received by the city during the program’s prior funding cycle.

“What’s even more exciting about this is that this represents a 40 percent increase of what we received in the last grant cycle,” Borsting said.

This year was also more competitive, he added.

“I think that speaks highly of what they thought of our application and how the funds were used during the previous cycle, by the city,” Borsting concluded.


New Patrol Vessels Delivered

On Dec. 4 the Harbor Department’s two new patrol vessels were received, inspected and launched into Newport Harbor, following their delivery from Chislett’s Boating of New Hampshire.

City of Newport Beach Harbor Department staffer Chris Whiteside assisting with the inspection of the new patrol boats upon delivery on Dec. 4.
— Photo courtesy the city of Newport Beach ©

The 20-foot, 9-inch center console design vessels have since gone through their break-in period and initial engine services. Harbor Department staffers have undergone introductory training sessions with the new equipment. The boats are now in active daily use.

Preliminary reports from staff about their experiences in the field, related to vessel handling, performance and features, have been very encouraging.

The two catamaran style vessels previously used by the department, under a rental agreement with a local nonprofit organization, were returned.

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