Most boaters in our harbor, including myself, are “fair weather sailors.” With our unique Southern California warm weather, if it’s a little chilly today, most likely tomorrow or the next day will be warm this time of the year. While it was foggy in the mornings last weekend, the afternoon clearing allowed slightly warmer afternoon conditions.
What’s a local boater to do when it’s cold? Most sail and power boaters have a trailerable “dink” that is for the kids or for getting ashore when anchored. Our unique Southern California surroundings offer warmer weather inland with many lakes within a two hour drive. These smaller boats, whether they are Boston Whalers, inflatables or open skiffs, are light weight and easy to tow.
While winter and spring are sometimes chilly, lakes of Elsinore, Skinner, Perris, Diamond, and Corona are less than a two hour drive with a dry, warmer climate and excellent fishing. Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet has been noted as one of the best fresh water fishing lake in the Western United States.
I’ve asked a lot of people what the number one sport is in the United States. Most people say baseball or football. Next comes basketball. The number one sport in the nation is fishing. More people practice the sport of fishing per year than any other sport.
As our local sea temperature has cooled, the exotics we’ve enjoyed catching have cycled to other locations. The on-shore bass bite has continued and squid is still the bait of choice to fill your fish bag. Those venturing to Catalina can still catch an occasional White Sea Bass.
Outside of our government closed fishing areas, bottom fishing has been fair. Some of the best fillets I’ve eaten are thick white flesh of bottom fish.
If you’re boat-less and want to go fishing, Davey’s Lockers and Newport Landing are still fishing our off-shore fishing grounds, and their crew is helpful, knowledgeable and have the latest sonar scanners to locate the fish. Give them a call and get the latest fish catch counts and then decide if now is a good time to venture out.
For others looking for a good time on Newport Harbor, the isinglass enclosed Duffy’s for rent can keep out the chill. Not only are they warm and include stereos to create the right mood, they will even include food and drinks if arranged in advance.
Please show a little boating courtesy if you do rent a Duffy, sailboats have the right-of-way. Larger power boats can be unwieldy and also have the right-of-way. When close to docks and marinas, be on the lookout for yachts entering and/or leaving their berths. If you see a sailboat or power boat whose operator appears a little oblivious or pre-occupied, they may not be aware of their surroundings and steer clear, even if you have the right-of-way. There’s nothing better to ruin your day than a boating accident or mishap.
As noted last week, the Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade is coming soon. This year’s theme is “Surf, Sand and Santa.” The skippers’ meeting is December 4 at 6:00 p.m. at the Newport Dunes Back Bay Bistro. For other times, our new Editor, Chris Trela, has noted that the Sunday Brunch at the Dunes Bistro is excellent.
Along with the superior yacht decorations, the decorated homes along the route can take your breath away. Skippering a yacht in the parade can do the same. The organized chaos of the fleet will keep any experienced skipper on his toes. As will the glare from the decorations on ones windshield, glare from other decorated boats and the glare of the lights from the bay water. There are kayakers, paddle boarders, rented Duffy’s, and hundreds of spectator boats darting hither and yonder. Finally, there are it seems like a hundred or more small inflatables, Boston Whalers, Mako’s and Grady Whites with large official banners darting in and out of the parade route. Whew! That’s a lot to concentrate on when you’re the skipper responsible for the safety on and off your yacht.
Just as important as the safety surrounding your vessel, usually you have many excited revelers on board. It is equally important to ensure your passengers leave your vessel in the same manner as they arrived. I’ve skippered our boats in probably 20 to 30 years of this event and I found that if I assigned a helper to keep an eye out for our passengers, it would help provide a safe voyage. If I might see a person or circumstance of concern, I would quickly have my helper handle the situation.
One last reminder is for your helper to be alert to excess imbibing. There’s nothing worse to ruin a beautiful evening in the parade than a D.U.I. on your way home. Our city law enforcement has easy pickings during this time of year. Make sure this does not include you!
I was happy to see that “Lucky Louie,” the 10 pound lobster caught in a local trap, was purchased alive by the group “Big Bug Rescue,” and released in the Laguna Beach State Marine Reserve to continue producing eggs for the future.
Steve Barrett is a yacht and marine construction consultant and can be reached at [email protected].