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The Harbor Report: This captain has quite a log

January 31, 2014|By Len Bose
  • Capt. Brian Blair, right, with crew member Jesse Drury offloading their catch of black cod.
Capt. Brian Blair, right, with crew member Jesse Drury… (Len Bose )

Last week, I noticed Brian Blair, captain of the 45-foot Ultra Pacific, offloading his catch at the commercial sea wall between the Bluewater Grill and the Cannery restaurant. When I asked to speak to the skipper, Blair quickly introduced himself.

I have to assume many local fishermen and surfers already know the name. Brian Blair was raised in Newport Beach and graduated from Corona del Mar High School. By 19, he had already obtained his captain's license and was running sportfishing charters.

When he was 23, he purchased the Ultra, a 50-foot Delta Marine that quickly became known around the docks as a fishing machine. Blair's reputation grew as one of the hardest-working captains along the California coast.

In 2012, Blair sold the charter company and headed to Millennium Marine in New Brunswick, Canada, where he had the Ultra Pacific built.

"The boat took almost a year to build," he said. "I moved to the boatyard the last three months of the project and then followed the boat to Newport Harbor Shipyard, where we commissioned the boat."

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He designed the boat to fit his needs as primarily a light fisherman. The boat is a 45-foot downeast-style commercial fishing vessel with a 16-foot beam and single diesel. It features two auxiliary generators. When I asked if one of the generators can propel the vessel as a get-home engine, Blair said, "No, we rely solely on that single Man Diesel and provide all the proper maintenance to keep her running."

I have to say that the Ultra Pacific is one of the best-looking vessels in our harbor.

I did not know what a light fisherman is, and Blair explained that he goes out looking for squid and then turns on lights to bring the squid to the surface while the other boats are setting their nets. These types of trips can last from one to three weeks at sea.

The squid fisheries are only open between Sunday and Thursday. On the off days, he is hunting for the next spot.

"We are the hunting dog," the captain explained. "We go out and find the best spots and then attract the squid to the surface. For this service, we get a percentage of the catch.

"It's very competitive. We are all fighting to take the biggest percentage of the quota."

Blair said all of his boat's electronics are Furuno, from auto pilot and radar to sonar and radios, and they are all integrated. He talked about his Nobeltec marine navigation software, how it works through the sonar and how he has been charting the ocean floor bottom to improve his catch.

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