Notes From the Bridge

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I just returned from an ocean voyage and, along the way, we kept diverting our course due to objects we could see floating in the ocean.  Each time, a string of rubber or Mylar balloons floated on the water.

It is really amazing the number of balloons that my crew and I actually see while out on the ocean, and on my deliveries to Hawaii, too.  I only see the balloons that drift out to sea yet I can only imagine the number that drift to inland areas as well.  The damage these balloons cause on the waterways is huge because the sea creatures eat these floating objects thinking that the balloons are food.

Please do not release balloons in the air for any reason, and I think that any event that releases balloons into the air is doing a major disservice to our environment.  Let me know what you think.

I have been receiving a lot of e-mail saying what another great Christmas Boat Parade we had, and I have only received a few e-mails saying otherwise.  The problem they mention, first and foremost, is that the boats in the parade speed to close up a gap.  So, please next year slow down to let the shoreside crowd see your decorations and especially by my area at the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum where people come to watch from all over the world.

Also, I have received negative feedback about this year’s Christmas Boat Parade, not due to the parade but due to the large boats.  One reader wrote that from his house, his view was blocked by the large charter boat in the center of the channel.

My question to him was what view was blocked?  The larger boats are asked to stay in the center of all the channels as to not impede the parade flow.  Additionally, the boats in the parade are decorated on their starboard sides to display the spirit to the homes, parks and restaurants along the parade route.  So, how does the vessels in the middle of the route block any view?  Give me a break and how about being a sponsor of the parade for your party versus a whiner?  There are those who are whiners and those who get involved to make a difference.

I was announcing every night from the Museum and I remember, 20 years ago, you could not navigate in the harbor during the parade.  Now it is no problem anywhere in the harbor, plus after 9 p.m., the harbor is vacant.  Let’s save the parade and encourage boaters to join in, not just whine.

Finally, I have been researching new boating laws for 2012 and both locally and federally, I have found no new laws that affect the recreational boater.  If you know of any new boating laws, let me know, but also include the necessary information such as bill number and author.

I do not agree with the mandatory wearing of lifejacket regulation that is being proposed by some boating organizations and my reasoning is simple.  Boating fatalities and injuries have decreased to unprecedented levels due to educations and awareness.  Of the 72 million who participate in boating, only 672 died in 2010 which is lower than the average for the past 10 years.  If my math is correct then only 0.00093% of those boating died, which I think proves that boating is a very safe activity even though the statistics now include anyone who drowns while swimming from a boat or marina.  What?  Swimming is now a boating-related activity?  I believe that lifejacket manufacturers are lobbying for the mandatory lifejacket wearing.  Let’s not take the fun out of boating with useless and overzealous laws.

Tip of the week is to check out the Daily Pilot’s 103 list of people for 2011.  I humbly accept the 54th rating yet Newport Indy’s Editor, Roger Bloom, takes the 46th pole position.  Tom Johnson is rated as 78th – he is the former Pilot publisher who became the front man for the Newport Indy and he brought me onboard to the Pilot and then to the Indy.

Fellow Indy columnist Jim Fitzpatrick, a. Costa Mesa planning commissioner and water district board member is rated 62nd.

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, Craig Carpenter, 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 or

Until next week, Safe Voyages!

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  1. Ahoy Mike! I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in the NH Christmas boat parade for about 13 years now, usually on the Gerst family’s cutter Elation, and this time on their company PermaDock’s work boat, Polly Mer. My feel for the parade this year was that it kept the high standards set by the previous years. The boats were decorated above and beyond (really liked El Navigante’s USA tribute) and the crowds were certainly out to watch, and participate too! We heard cheers and clapping all over the harbor. I refer to participating in the parade as a three hour love fest because the people onshore are so appreciative and let us know! It takes a lot of work but the love of the crowd sure pay us back.

    Regarding your mention of the speed of the parade: your usual place at the Fun Zone, next to the merry-go-round (RIP), comes right after the ferry. The frequent stops for the ferry cause the parade to back up, and we are then obligated to catch up, as the boats ahead disappear on the other side of the Pavilion. Unfortunately, you happen to be right in the “catch up” zone.

    It’s always great to see you there Mike, and all of the great people at the Fun Zone and all along the route. I hope we’ll see you at the awards dinner at BBC in a couple of weeks.

    Our best wishes to everyone for a great 2012.

  2. Ahoy AdiosRich – the Elation does a great job year after year decorating for the shore side crowds, and thank you for participating in the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade – I know that it is a lot of work every night. I really appreciate your feedback and yes I understand the closing the gap. However, I have people from all over the World and many locals that come to the Fun Zone/Newport Harbor Nautical Museum to watch the parade nightly. Many of the out-of-town folks arrive hours early and expect a grand performance. The parade boats do not disappoint them, but when parade flies by in 10 to 20 minutes – ouch. My announcing is at the start of the parade, so slowing all the boaters down until after the Balboa Pavilion should not be an issue. Flying by and not letting the people view the boats in the parade, nor me able to announce the boats is not the spirit of the parade. Slow down as we have all night, every night.