Tidings from the Waterfront

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Happy New Year!

I would like to start off the New Year properly by again thanking my Harbor High sweetheart and wife of 43 years, Judy, for a wonderful life and her immense help in typing my column and operating the internet for me. Sugar, without you I’m helpless and clueless!

In my last column, I wrote about the launching of the 120-foot fiberglass motor yacht “Silverado,” which I saw being transported down Newport Blvd. over the Coast Highway bridge and on to Lido Shipyard on Newport Harbor.

The Silverado
The Silverado

One of our readers emailed me that my recollection of who built it was in error. Our reader Larry stated that the builder was Willard Marine. As I have stated a few times prior, I write from memory, and I suspect then and in the future I may err. Larry is correct. “Silverado” is berthed in Alaska. She has changed owners since her launching and is available for fishing and sightseeing. As you can imagine, “Silverado” was a massive sight going down the boulevard for her launch. Our research indicated that Barron Hilton owned a yacht named “Silverado” but we were unable to verify this “Silverado” being owned by him. My memory was accurate that she was launched in the early seventies, built in Costa Mesa and is 120-feet in length. I guess I’m not at the feeble stage yet!

By the way, I have received some wonderful notes by email sharing fond memories I have triggered with my columns and they are quite heart-warming. I have been privileged to grow up on Newport Harbor during a unique era that is quite a bit different from the present time. Thank you for reading my column, and if your correspondence is relevant, I’ll pass it on. I don’t want to give the wrong message but I’ve only received one negative note which was by an ex-wife of someone I wrote about and it seemed apparent that it was a woman’s scornful response. Those kinds of messages I choose not to include.

The builder of “Silverado,” Willard Marine, is still in business but has separated from the motor yacht business. They build private and government work boats, law enforcement and safety boats, and military patrol and attack vessels. This change evolved sometime around 2003.

While at the time this builder was unknown to me, I was introduced to their line when in 1962 I saw the first Vega 36-foot at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club on opening day.

Their opening day is usually the Sunday before Mother’s Day which is their official launch of the boating season. A few weeks before, the annual

Willard Vega
Willard Vega

Ensenada Sailboat Race is held which I have enjoyed going out and watching as a spectator since the 1960’s. By this time the winter chill has changed to shirts-off enjoyment. This event has always been my personal beginning of my boating season.

The Vega 36-foot was designed by world famous designer, William Garden, which then led to the Vega 40-foot and the Vega 30-foot. Newport Harbor has berthed several of the 36-foot and 40-foot, and in the late 1970’s and 80’s, the 30-foot Vega was quite common locally. I recall many trips to Catalina and seeing the 30-footers either moored there and/or crossing the channel. All Vega’s were known for being sturdy, solid trawlers which, like most in their day, were a little on the slow side.

I’m looking forward to warmer days, and I’ll see you around the harbor.

Sea Ya,

Skipper Steve

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  1. Hi, so I know this is old news and maybe no longer interesting to anyone but me, but I can attest that that is indeed the Silverado formerly owned by Barron Hilton. I was part of the crew for awhile when he owned it. He was one of several owners.