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Sailing / Richard Buffum

Beware the New Breed of Pirates

August 13, 1986

The Skipper Says: The bait barge moored in the Newport Harbor entrance between the jetties was being buffeted by a heavy southerly swell the other day. One of my patrolmen asked the young man aboard the barge what he was doing. The kid said he was trying to hang on and read the help wanted ads.

Captain Harry Gage, Newport Harbor harbor master, gained a good laugh with that story from the sailors at last week's Yachtsmen's Luncheon at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. But what he reported about the rash of boat thefts and gear aboard vessels in the harbor wasn't so funny.

Boats are vulnerable to thefts, which have been on the increase for the past two years, he said. The chief problem of the recovery of stolen boats and gear is identification by the owners.

Gage advised that the following precautions be taken: Maintain an inventory of important gear aboard. Record serial numbers. Mark on the gear with an electric engraver the owner's driver's license number. This way recovered items can be quickly identified by law enforcement officers.

Mark the vessel's ID number in a place known only to the owner. Mass-produced boats can be stripped by thiefs and then can be difficult to identify, even by the registered owner. This is the reason to hide the ID number.

Beware, Gage said, of "model" thieves who assume the role of friendly, honest people. They even wave at harbor patrolmen passing by.

Gage also warned sailors of the navigational impact of the pending dredging of Upper Newport Bay, which, he said, should improve the tidal flush when the project is completed in about a year.

The dredging project, which is now out for bid, will remove 1,153,000 cubic yards of soil and silt, which will be barged out of the harbor. Five to 12 trips a day for about a year will be made by the barges, thus increasing navigational problems in the harbor.

"Skippers should be prepared to know how to act when a barge is moving down on them in an outgoing tide," he said.

Sailing Notes Brad Gates, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner, warns that visual distress signal kits kept on board should be easily accessible in case of emergency, but out of reach of children. A recent incident in the harbor involved a child, supposedly asleep in the cabin, while his mother dozed in the cockpit. The child found and loaded a colored flare gun and shot it in the cabin. The discharged signal round went into a pile of life jackets in the aft storage area, starting a fire. Quick action by harbor patrolmen extinguished the blaze, without injuries.

The 1986 Character Boat Parade in Newport Harbor will be Sunday. Boats will form at 1 p.m. and the parade, throughout the harbor, will start at 2 p.m. This year's theme is "School Days." This 26th annual parade is sponsored by the Commodores Club of the Newport Harbor Chamber of Commerce.

The Balboa Yacht Club will hold its third annual Rowing Regatta in Newport Harbor Saturday. Last year's regatta drew 47 pulling boats. More than 60 are expected this year. Starting at BYC in Corona del Mar, the boats will follow the north side of Balboa Island, crossing beneath the Balboa Island bridge. They will then circle the island and finish in front of BYC. Rowers compete against time rather than racing against other boats, owing to limitations of the 2.2-mile course. The race will begin at 7:30 a.m., to take advantage of generally windless mornings.

Also on Saturday, the Navy Yacht Club, Long Beach Naval Station, has its annual Women Skippers Race, with spinnaker and no-spinnaker classes.

Art Gronsky, retired party boat owner, says albacore fishing is in full swing in the Morro Bay area, but very little action is reported farther south. Yellowtail fishing is good around the oil islands, and marlin are being caught off the east end of Catalina Island, he reports.

Five Newport Beach sailing teams will compete in the Etchells-22 Class North American Championships in San Francisco. The regatta begins Thursday and ends Sunday. Newport Beach sailors competing for the North American title will be Scott Mason, Brett Barnard, Rick Hawthorne, Bill Menninger and Fleet White. Hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club, the race will be in the Olympic Circle in Berkeley, site of the 1972 Olympic trials. About 35 to 40 boats are expected to compete in the six-race series.

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