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The Harbor Column: Good boating conditions for holiday

May 28, 2010|Mike Whitehead

This weekend signals the official start of the boating season, and literally millions of people will be on the water during Memorial Day weekend. Previously known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is the time to remember those who gave their lives while serving this great nation. Let's not forget to thank those who are serving now, and especially any veteran whom you may know.

However, this weekend is one of the largest boating times of the year, and thousands will be on the water around Newport Harbor and off our coast. I am anticipating good boating conditions, with swells in the Pacific to be 3- to 4-feet from the west with a 2-foot swell from the south, and moderate afternoon winds.

I want everyone to know boating safely especially because today is the end of Safe Boating Week. Boater education is important and helps to decrease what I call "Goofy goes sailing" syndromes, where one leaves his common sense at the dock. I hope everyone has a great weekend. I will be enjoying beautiful Lake Arrowhead at my lakeview cabin.

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Question of the week is who knows what happened to channel marker No. 8? Years ago, the Coast Guard eliminated a few of the harbor's channel markers and replaced most of the remaining markers with the new-and-improved pole markers. The only exceptions are the unlit buoy markers in the Back Bay, where one really needs lit markers in that dark section of the bay.

The new markers were mounted on a single steel pole and have a square metal cage structure on top with the solar panels, batteries and two numbered display boards.

The cage structures seem to be a magnet that attracts boats, even though most boats are made of fiberglass. I have observed over the years that most of the new markers are getting hit by vessels, severely tweaking the markers and defeating the goal of decreasing maintenance. Marker No. 8 is not an exception by any means, as that marker must have a very powerful magnet. Hit from day one, the poor marker was repeatedly repaired, but not a day would go by when it wasn't hit again. Either the wrong markers were installed for this harbor, the top cage structures are creating a navigational hazard by hanging out over the waterways, or there are just some people who should not be skippering a boat.

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