Entries by NHF Administrator

Balboa Marina Public Dock

Newport Harbor’s newest and largest public dock is now open for recreational boaters.

On Friday, March 29 I had the pleasure of joining Newport Beach City Council members along with officials from the County of Orange, the Irvine Company and State Assembly to celebrate the Balboa Marina Public Pier grand opening.

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Balboa Island Ferry No Longer in Jeopardy

Newport Beach has a handful of iconic attractions that have stood the test of time: The Newport Pier, which replaced the original McFadden Wharf (1888-1939) and is registered as a California Historical Landmark; the Balboa Pavilion, which opened on July 1, 1906 and is the city’s oldest standing building; and the Balboa Island Ferry, which went into service in 1919 to bring cars and passengers across 900 feet of water between Balboa Island and the Balboa Fun Zone.

Michele Gile reports from Newport Beach with Seymour Beek, where many are celebrating that the beloved Balboa Island ferry’s fate is no longer in jeopardy after receiving a $7.9 million grant to convert from diesel to zero-emissions operations by 2025.

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Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival

The 8th Annual Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival will return to the Balboa Yacht Club, June 7 – 8, 2024 with more than 40 wooden vessels of all sizes on display, and a collection of master artisans and craftsmen at work.

This year’s festival theme is “The Art & Craft of the Wooden Boat” in celebration of the creative artistry, intricate craftsmanship, and timeless beauty of wooden boats.
“Event guests will be able to immerse themselves in the centuries-old artform of wooden boat building, and the fine woodworking and artistic details that adorn the boats,” said event chair Stephen Paljieg. “This year’s event will be bigger and better than ever. Its theme captures the essence of the passion and artistry behind these magnificent, one-of-a-kind watercrafts and the inclusion of the master craftsmen who build and keep them in ‘Bristol condition’ takes it to a whole new level of experience.”

On the Harbor: A New Year Update

Welcome to a New Year which takes me back to The Who song, “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” whose message is summarized in the last line, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” and its meaning is “nothing changes and so don’t get fooled again.” Which is a very confusing way to report on what’s going on in the harbor this first month of 2024. So let me backtrack before throwing a few soft punches.

I ended last week by walking through Basin Shipyard and took a moment to talk to owners Dereck and Dave New. As always this time of year, the yard is packed with Dave reporting that they are two months out. So, if you own a boat with outboards or Pod drives, you better call now and book your annual maintenance to be ready for the spring/summer boating season. The yard was full of new Tiara products, but I’m sure there were many other makes of yachts in the yard, yet the pretty ones always grab my attention first.
Q: From a distance it seemed like a quiet year, no oil spills, tsunamis, down aircraft. So what did I miss?

A: There were a couple of severe weather (wind and rain) events this year. We revived the technology we use to notify mooring permittees of approaching weather and urge them to verify their mooring equipment and lines to ensure all are secure. You may recall, there was considerable attention and communication in anticipation of Hurricane Hilary arriving in August. One other of the severe weather events was a strong Santa Ana which stresses the mooring equipment from a different direction than usual, so we have significant concern about boats staying in place when faced with unusual conditions. All in all, things were fine and we greatly appreciated everyone’s preparedness in the face of these severe events.

A Productive Year in Review

2023 was a busy and productive year for the City of Newport Beach, thanks to strong leadership and our extremely professional staff.

We have been working diligently to increase public safety, address quality-of-life issues, and make strategic investments to further improve our great city.

Here’s a look at some of our 2023 successes:

Vessel Owners Invited to Apply for New City Mooring Licenses

The City of Newport Beach has introduced a new license program offering 16 onshore and offshore City-owned moorings to the public in a variety of sizes. Applications for the initial licenses will be accepted through March 1, 2024.

The new program is designed for vessel owners to lease moorings long-term without having to acquire a permit, sub-permit or mooring equipment.

Monthly fees will be charged based on the size of the mooring, starting at $162 a month for an 18-ft. mooring. There is no cost to apply for one of the 16 new mooring leases.

On the Harbor: Catching up with Harbormaster Paul Blank

As winter approaches, I start to look back on the year, and to prepare for the new year. Very similar to looking aft while sailing downwind in a sailboat race. Doing this will keep you aware of the changing conditions. With this in mind, I checked back in with Harbormaster Paul Blank this last week.

Q: From a distance it seemed like a quiet year, no oil spills, tsunamis, down aircraft. So what did I miss?

A: There were a couple of severe weather (wind and rain) events this year. We revived the technology we use to notify mooring permittees of approaching weather and urge them to verify their mooring equipment and lines to ensure all are secure. You may recall, there was considerable attention and communication in anticipation of Hurricane Hilary arriving in August. One other of the severe weather events was a strong Santa Ana which stresses the mooring equipment from a different direction than usual, so we have significant concern about boats staying in place when faced with unusual conditions. All in all, things were fine and we greatly appreciated everyone’s preparedness in the face of these severe events.

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On the Harbor: Recognizing Our Annual Sailing Winners

If you have started to hear Christmas music and noticed holiday TV ads, then you know it’s time for my annual recognition of our harbor’s sailing awards.

I’ll start with the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club’s (BCYC) awards night and the juniors. Sailing director Carolyn Smith stepped up to the podium for her first time presenting awards at BCYC, and she nailed it. One can always tell if the event is someone’s first rodeo, however, Smith’s a pro and she made the night fun and memorable with clear descriptions of the awards she was presenting. The Juniors awards always brings back good times, or even more so by diluting the agony of defeat.

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Two of Hallmark Channel’s biggest stars will be this year’s Christmas Boat Parade Grand Marshals

Nine years ago, when the 106th Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade was held, a few of us thought something was missing.

Not that there was anything wrong with the parade, which was going to feature its usual holiday splendor. But a few people felt it needed a little extra touch that many other parades around the country usually feature.

It was a Grand Marshal.

It almost seems impossible that a parade of this caliber can be held for more than a century without a Grand Marshal. Even much smaller parades in Orange County have them, with some even having multiples for the same parade (Say you Garden Grove Strawberry Festival).

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Newport Dunes unveils Fire & Ice Festival featuring Waterfront Ice Rink and Lighting of the Bay on November 24

Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort has announced their Inaugural Fire & Ice Festival, featuring one of Orange County’s largest waterfront ice rinks, spanning 4,000 square feet. The festival kicks off a season of holiday fun at Newport Dunes with an opening night celebration on November 24, alongside the 33rd Annual Lighting of the Bay, and runs daily through January 1, 2024.

“This year, we celebrate the return of our beloved Lighting of the Bay with a magical holiday experience like never before,” said Phil Ravenna, general manager of Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort. “We are excited to bring a waterfront ice rink to Newport Beach. Skaters can enjoy the lights of the bay as well as our Fire & Ice Festival. We welcome the community to usher in the holidays with loved ones and create new holiday memories in our idyllic bayfront setting in the heart of Newport Beach.”

Newport Beach Breaks Ground on Trash Interceptor

Newport Beach City Council members, joined by state and county elected representatives, held a ceremonial groundbreaking event on Friday, Sept. 15 to kick off construction of the Newport Bay Trash Interceptor, a sustainably powered system to collect floating trash before it enters the Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve, Newport Harbor and beaches.

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ABC Water Wheel

By Phillip Palmer
ABC Eyewitness News, Los Angeles

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (KABC) — Keeping garbage out of the ocean isn’t easy. So enter Mr. Trash Wheel, the 70-square-foot barge gobbling up garbage by the ton to keep the beach and ocean pristine.

Trash in the streets ends up in the river and then from the river, the ocean.

Hoping to reduce the amount of trash making it to the ocean, Newport Beach is set to become the first west coast city to use a water wheel system to scoop up trash headed toward Upper Newport Bay.

“We really need to knock that trash load down. This is not going to be a silver bullet, it’s not going to get everything, but it’s going to get a big slug of stuff,” said John Kappeler, a senior engineer for the city of Newport Beach.

On the Waterfront

By Matt Morrison

For a generation of youngsters who grew up around the Newport Harbor, there’s a legacy to perpetuate. OK, maybe they’re only considered youngsters on a geologic scale, yet together they’ve accumulated decades of passion for the fabulous waterway central to our community. The goal now is to preserve it for generations to come.

We might compare it to fixing up a stately landmark home; the curb appeal is still magnificent but the bones need attention. Dennis Durgan can certainly relate to the analogy.

A residential real estate professional in the community for more than four decades, Durgan grew up on the harbor, beginning in the early 1960’s when it was a seasonal recreation destination. He learned to sail here, then went on to crew in three America’s Cup competitions working with both Ted Turner and Dennis Connor. Now it’s a cause for the future, and not just his own.

“There are numerous issues the harbor has, and will continue to have, as we move forward. There’s more and more people that want to use it,” Durgan explains. “I used to call it the sandbox. Well, the sandbox is overflowing with kids that want to play.”

“With all of their toys…” chimes in Val Lyon, like Durgan, a board member of the Newport Harbor Foundation, established in 2019.

$8.3 million in infrastructure bill to dredge Newport Harbor, but sand projects at standstill

By Laylan Connelly – Orange County Register Officials have secured $8.3 million to dredge Newport Harbor in the $14 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, but sand replenishment projects for two stretches of Orange County coastline were not included. U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel said dredging of Newport Beach’s harbor is long overdue in her announcement […]

Meet Paul Blank, Newport Beach Harbormaster

Corona del Mar resident Paul Blank was named Newport Beach Harbormaster last spring, a grand achievement to cap off an on-the-water lifestyle that began at age 10 with a two-week sailing class offered through the city’s recreation department. The harbormaster’s job is typically described as being a lead ambassador for Newport Harbor, one of the largest recreational harbors in the country, and includes overseeing a dozen or so employees and an annual budget of $1 million-plus. But like most things in the past year or so, the first several months have been filled with surprises. I caught up with him to learn more.

William “Skip” Kenney Named to Newport Harbor Foundation Board of Directors

Newport Harbor Foundation Chairman Dennis Durgan has announced the addition of Newport Beach Harbor Commission Chairman William “Skip” Kenney to the Foundation’s board of directors. Kenney joins former Newport Beach Harbormaster Dennis Durgan, Val Lyon, and Devon Kelly. “As we build out our board of directors Skip Kenney’s almost eight years of service as a […]

Devon Kelly Named to Newport Harbor Foundation Board of Directors

Longtime Newport Beach resident Devon Kelly has joined the Newport Harbor Foundation board of directors. “Devon brings a wealth of harbor history and knowledge to the Foundation’s mission. She has spent her entire life sailing on the bay and volunteering in the community. Her boundless energy is welcome as we push towards taking our harbor […]

Newport Harbor Foundation holds kickoff champagne brunch

It’s been more than five decades since Newport Beach City Councilman Marshall “Duffy” Duffield started his Duffy Electric Boat company. Duffield built his first boat when he was 16 years old. His company has sold tens of thousands of boats and become synonymous with Newport Beach, where Duffy rides on the harbor are the norm. […]

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Newport Harbor Foundation Aims to Return Local Control of Newport Harbor to City of Newport Beach

Last week 175 residents, political leaders, and Newport Harbor supporters donated over $550,000 to kick off the Newport Harbor Foundation. The Foundation’s goal is to return local control of our harbor to the city. We celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Duffy Electric Boat. Duffy’s passion for the harbor spans decades. With 25 miles of […]

Local group announces major fundraising strides toward assuming sole jurisdiction of our Harbor

Some 175 community leaders, harbor residents and elected officials gathered at the Balboa Bay Resort yesterday for a kickoff luncheon acknowledging the fundraising success of the Newport Harbor Foundation (NHF). The NHF announced that they’ve raised more than $275,000 to support an effort to have the Newport Beach Police, Fire and Harbormaster assume sole jurisdiction […]

Balboa Peninsula: Duffy house sells for more than $35 million, shattering record in Newport Harbor

By Sandra Barrera, Orange County Register Remember the waterfront mansion on Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula that generated international buzz with a YouTube video that spoofed Cali Swag District’s viral dance hit “Teach Me How to Dougie?” The video for “Teach Me How to Duffy” helped sell the house for $35.008 million – about 22.2% less […]

NEWPORT BEACH INDEPENDENT: Harbormaster: Year in Review

After taking over management of the moorings from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol last summer, Harbormaster Dennis Durgan provided a “Year in Review” summary for the Newport Beach Harbor Commission on Wednesday. Commissioners asked a few questions and expressed support for the work the Harbormaster team has done over the past 15 months. […]

THE LOG: A State of Transition: Newport Beach Forges New Harbor Department

The city of Newport Beach, steadily considered a premier boating destination, has made strides, in the last year, to improve services, amenities and educational information available to recreational boaters, residents and tourists. A model was also introduced for a freshly conceived Harbor Department, which also happens to be “new to the world,” according to several […]