Friday, October 3, 2014

Newport Beach

What are the odds of finding two places in a row that we totally love? I don't know, but it happened. Maybe we should bye a lottery ticket?

Newport Beach is a fantastic town! The only downside is the crowds. The harbor is huge - very long with a couple of islands along the way. It is filled with mooring buoys and boats - LOTS of boats. There are boats, paddle boards, jet skis, kayaks, etc.. running all over the place all day and night. But what we liked most about Newport Beach is the beach.

The waterfront is a beautiful sand covered beach for as far as you can see. The day we spent on the beach had wonderful breaking ways rolling in. Jan is in total heaven!!!

Jan loving Newport Beach
We spent most of the day walking the beach. In the picture above you can see a pier in the background. We went out to the end of that pier and found a restaurant where we had lunch. We say out on the deck looking out at the ocean while we ate - it was great! The beach is separated from a walking trail by a series of sand dunes. Along the way there were volley ball nets and other assorted beach games setup. The walking trail is cement and runs along the length of the beach. Bikes, walkers, runners, and roller blades were pretty much constant. Right up next to the walkway are beach houses - pretty much packed in right next to each other. Many of them were rentals - generally $2,000 to $3,000 per week - yikes! A lot of them had doors that would open the entire front side of the place making an open air living room facing the beach. Interspersed among the houses were clumps of shops, restaurants, and bars. If I was going to consider retiring in a dirt dwelling, this would be high on my list of places to live. But I seriously doubt I will EVER be in a position to afford even a week there. However, one idea that we have been kicking around is bringing the boat back here next summer for the season.

As we were cruising along looking for the one little spot that is available to anchor your boat we came across the "Google catamaran". This thing is quite a sight - huge and sleek.

One of the reasons we came to Newport was to pick up our new drogue. I had been researching methods of steering the boat should our rudder become disabled at sea and finally decided a drogue was the best option. A drogue is basically some type of device that you drag behind the boat. There are 3 main designs - a mesh made from nylon straps, a rope with several cones attached, or some type of bag. I chose one called the Shark. It is basically a nylon bag with 4 slots cut in the sides. The other option for emergency steering is some type of add on rudder - usually associated with a wind vane steering system.

I would love to have a wind vane. They are a backup to your autopilot (they are a steering device) and they don't use any electricity to steer boat - both very desirable things. But I didn't feel they were the best idea for Rapture. First, they are REALLY expensive and now that we don't have any income, we are trying to keep expenses down. Second - they should be mounted on the stern of your boat in the middle to be most effective. That is a problem on Rapture because she has a stern door in the middle that is by far the best way to board. You can mount a wind vane off to the side, but that causes all sorts of other problems. You can also get a swing mount that allows you to swing the unit to the side, but once again, not a great solution. Another issue is that the steering ability of a wind vane can be very limited based on your point of sail. So, drogue it is!

A drogue really has 2 uses - slow the boat down in big seas and emergency steering. We surely could have used the drogue in the storm that we went through off Cape Blanco. One of our big problems was the boat going too fast. We were surfing down these huge waves at 19 knots - WAY too fast! We would get to the bottom of the wave totally out of control and then often broach. The drogue helps to slow the boat down and helps to keep the stern where it belongs - at the back of the boat.

The second use is emergency steering. To my surprise, it works GREAT! You simply throw the drogue in the water behind the boat and attach the two bridle lines to the primary winches on either side of the boat. Then when you want to turn to port you simply crank on the port winch. That drags the drogue to the port side which then turns the boat. It worked really well!

One of the nice things about the Shark drogue is the company is located in Newport Beach. I bought it while we were in Monterey - north of Newport Beach. So our plan was to just stop on the way by and pick it up. When I told them we were going to pick it up in Newport Beach on our boat they offered to come out on the water with us on our boat and teach us how to use it. Wow! Now that is customer service. So on the appointed day we went into the city dock and there stood Zack Smith - the designer of the drogue. A very nice and knowledgeable guy. It was really a pleasure having him on the boat.

Mike tossing the drogue in the water

Mike and Zack talking strategy

The drogue at work
Sadly our time in Newport Beach was over and it was time to head for San Diego.


  1. Enjoying your blogging's! keep em coming!
    Bob & Claudette

  2. Thank you Bob and Claudette! Did you find a ride on the ha-ha?

  3. Love Newport Beach. Mary Ann's youngest son and his family live near there. We've visited that beach many times. Easy to see why it's so crowded. We will be there in early November. You will of course be long gone by then.