May 3, 2013

Closure of Nelson’s Forces Boat Exodus

Word on the docks is that Alain Thébault’s 60-ft foiling trimaran l’Hydroptere, which is hauled at Nelson’s in preparation for this summer’s assault on the TransPac record, has been given until Monday to find a new homebase.

© 2013 Wolfgang Brinck

If you currently have a boat hauled out at Nelson’s Marine in Alameda, you may only have a few days to get it out of there before it becomes mired in bureaucratic red tape.

We’re sad to report that longtime Alameda boatyard Nelson’s Marine has ceased operations in light of pending litigation with the City of Alameda. We’re told that the official Sheriff’s eviction notice has not been served, but that action is imminent.

Scott Rhoades — a self-described Good Samaritan — and two other volunteers are currently working long hours to alert boat owners of the situation and splash as many vessels as possible before the city officially takes over. After that, boat owners may face substantial bureaucratic headaches to retrieve their property.

"We’ve been splashing three to eight boats a day," said Rhoades, "and others are going out on trailers." He estimates there are roughly 200 hulls in the compound now. Some are in excellent shape and ready to launch, while others, he predicts, "will never move again." Nelson’s has one of the largest dry storage facilities in the Bay Area.

Nelson’s is the most prominent marine business on Alameda’s Ferry Point.

Nelson’s Marine
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The legal issues behind the seizure are both thorny and complex. The Alamedan, an online news organization, quoted Alameda Assistant City Manager Alex Nguyen as saying that, "There’s a slew of issues.” According to The Alamedan, he explained that the eviction action was filed in Alameda County Superior Court in June, and cited numerous code violations that have not been addressed by Nelson’s, and that nearly $37,000 in storm water utility fees dating back to 2007 remain unpaid. 

In addition, the Action Alameda News site reports, "Attorneys for the City filed an unlawful detainer action with Alameda County Superior Court on April 21, saying that the marine services company owed $47,659.06 in back rent as of April 5, less a $9,000 check that hadn’t yet cleared. On April 5, the City delivered a five-day notice to quit or pay rent, demanding that Nelson’s either pay the back rent or surrender possession of the site at 1500 Ferry Point."

The law firm Horner and Singer LLP has been contracted by the City as outside counsel for the Nelson’s case. When we spoke this morning with Attorney Kevin Montee, lead attorney on the Nelson’s matter, he was careful to make the predictable statement that he "cannot comment on pending litigation." However, he did seem sympathetic to the plight of boat owners whose vessels are currently on the property. If you have a boat on site you may call him at (925) 943-6570 to discuss your options.

As this old snapshot confirms, Carl and his father Hal have been associated with the Bay Area boating community for decades.

Nelson’s Marine
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Established in the mid-’80s, Nelson’s has been a major institution within the Bay Area marine community. Its founder, the late Hal Nelson, was instrumental in bringing PHRF racing to the Bay, as both he and his son Carl (the firm’s current manager) were very passionate about local racing.

Not only is this closure a tragedy for the Nelson family, but it’s a sad day when any Bay Area boatyard is forced to shut down operations, as it is all but certain than no new yards will ever open here, given the depth of EPA and BCDC regulations such a proposal would face. Look for more on the Nelson’s closure in the June edition of Latitude 38 magazine.

Marina Vallarta Sold

Marina Vallarta has been sold and new management have plans for cleaning it up.

© Marina Vallarta

The 400-slip Marina Vallarta, the oldest of all the marinas on Banderas Bay, and by far the one closest to downtown Puerto Vallarta, has been sold. This according to Christian Mancebo, former marina manager at the Marina Riviera Nayarit, who tells us he’s the new marina manager at Marina Vallarta.

It’s our understanding that the previous owners of the marina had gone into default on their loan years ago and that the marina had been taken over by a bank(s). In any event, the marina, which is surrounded by countless storefronts, went downhill dramatically. Restrooms were reportedly in terrible shape, some docks were falling apart, and the area had a forlorn look to it. It nonetheless remained a popular marina because of its proximity to the airport and downtown Vallarta.

Christian Mancebo, the new marina manager.

latitude/Richard
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

"We have great plans for the marina, rebuilding a part of it and creating a new way of operating it," says Mancebo.

Sea Otter Spotted in Estuary

Bay Area diver Matt Peterson saw an unusual sight last night on the docks at Alameda Marina last night. "In all my years of working and sailing on the Bay, I’ve never seen one of these guys here before," he says of the sea otter.

© Matt Peterson

At first Peterson was worried the critter might be injured or ill, but after he snapped this pic, the otter ambled to the edge, jumped in and casually swam away. "Wouldn’t it be great if they were reestablishing their range here?" he asks. 

Once prolific on San Francisco Bay, sea otters were hunted to near-extinction on the Bay in a short five-year period in the 19th Century. The good news is that, while the California population of these mammals hasn’t exactly rebounded, it is slowly increasing. Unfortunately, sea otters are highly susceptible to a disease spread by cat feces, and lately sharks seem more interested in them than normal for some reason — sharks don’t typically eat otters. But a U.S. Geological Survey released last August shows a 1.5% increase in the California population since 2010.

We’ve only spotted a couple of sea otters on the Bay over the last several years. But we did see a whale in The Slot last weekend. If you catch a snapshot of a sea otter or another marine mammal in Bay waters, we’d love to see it. Send it to LaDonna.

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An experienced 38-year-old British sailor crossing from Osaka, Japan — where he’d been working for the last three years — to Hawaii, with plans to continue on to Southampton, UK, reportedly fell overboard on Saturday night about 575 miles west of Midway Atoll.
The May issue of Latitude 38 is coming at you! latitude/Annie
©2013 Latitude 38 Media, LLC It’s May Day and you know what that means: Latitudes for all the workers of the world!