A New Year’s Sail Through Time

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Happy New Year, and hopefully the economic winds of 2012 will help fill the sails for the boating world.  The outlook for the marine industry is improving, with boat manufactures rehiring workers to build new boats, and the inventory of used or brokered boats on the market decreasing, which is a positive indicator.

Our harbor, which defines Newport Beach, will continue to receive care, with the long-overdue dredging for safe vessel navigation.  Our local marine businesses will begin to prosper and the marinas will start to fill up again.  Just reflect for a moment on the people you know personally who are somehow related to boating or the harbor in their work, and then think about how this area would be dramatically different if boating were to vanish.

We all know that boating is a fun, enjoyable activity that allows family and friends to spend quality time together, and builds memories for a lifetime.  Whether sailing the harbor, fishing for the one that got away, or just sitting on your boat at your slip, there is a magical transformation as the daily grinds and stress leave your mind while on the water.

In last week’s column, I left you with a poem. Well, for New Year’s Eve, here is my annual Captain’s Log, past to future.

Captain’s Log:

Time; 00:01 on Jan. 1, 2012

After checking the integrated navigational equipment including the thermal night vision monitor aboard this mega-yacht, I scan the horizon for other vessels.  I see that we are all alone tonight on the ocean as we cruise on the final leg of our long voyage while most of my crewmembers are cheering in the New Year in the main salon, visible on the bridge’s security monitors.

I know the onboard celebration will not disturb anyone while cruising 100 nautical miles off California’s coast with the moon reflecting off the ocean.  The yacht is on a course to Newport Harbor, when we hit a strange patch of thick fog.  As the fog lifts, I see out of nowhere a nameless ghostly cruise ship that sides in on a very close parallel course, but doesn’t appear on my radar.

I curiously come alongside the ship for a better look.  I step out on the bridge wing where I can faintly see the New Year’s celebrations onboard the dark, shadowy ship.  It looks like a reflection of New Year’s past aboard an ancient wooden Brigantine.  I see the formally dressed captain trying to steer with a large wooden spoke wheel as he fights each passing swell while watching a crude compass and reading hand-drawn charts that resemble worn treasure maps.  Also, I can see the crew cheering in the New Year with mugs of rum being poured from barrels – and is that a pig running across the deck?

Oops, a swell almost pushed the cruise ship down on us.  I correct my course and check my electronics and I still do not have any targets on my radar.

As I regain course, I glance at a porthole where I can see what looks like the reflection of New Year’s future.

Sleek, fast multihull cruising yachts built with accommodations exceeding five-star hotels.  Now, the captains are sitting in very plush leather bridge chairs while monitoring the virtual electronic displays that control everything on the vessel with just a touch on remote controller.

Wow, the charts are interactive and display information and messages from other vessels in the area.  The captain’s eye patches have been replaced with 3d glasses for the heads-up display with an impressive view of the seas.

In lieu of the fiddle for entertainment, the crew is watching the Boathouse TV Show on a high-definition satellite television while the chefs prepare the dinners from an extensive menu – and there’s not a loose pig in sight.

Hey, is that a — oops, I almost bounced off the side of the ghost ship again when I am suddenly awakened from my nap by the Global Positioning System chart plotter beeping a warning that the harbor entrance buoy is nearing.  I glance from the bridge’s soft leather couch to see my first officer standing his watch.  I know we are getting close to the harbor as I can see the lights on the buildings at Newport Center out of the bridge windows.

As I rise to take the conns to enter the harbor, I cannot help but scan the radars and the horizon for that ship – or was it just a dream?

“All safe, yacht is securely moored at home slip in Newport Harbor.”

End Captain’s Log.

I can imagine that this New Year will bring new excitement and leisure time to those on the water, where I hope you welcome the past, present and future.  As I sign off for my columns of 2011, I want to wish all the readers and especially, everyone at the Newport Beach Independent a Happy New Year.

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 www.BoathouseTV.com or www.BoathouseRadio.com.

Until next week, Safe Voyages!

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