Ahoy!

I want to wish everyone a very happy New Year, and it looks like 2013 will be a better year.

As we leap into the New Year, take a look at our vital local marine businesses and think about all the local jobs that are created in and around Newport Harbor. Just reflect for a moment on the people you know personally who are somehow related to boating in their work, and then think about how this area would be dramatically different if boating were to vanish.

I spend a large amount of time keeping informed of boating news, not only locally in our harbor but nationally. We have to think globally and look forward to the advancements in other parts of the world in boat design, construction, environmentalism, trends, and safety — to mention a few.

In last week's column, I left you with a poem. Well, for New Year's Eve, here is my annual Captain's Log, past to future.

Captain's Log:

Time — 00:01 on Jan. 1, 2012

After checking the integrated navigational equipment including the long range and short range radars aboard this mega-yacht, I scan the horizon for other boats with the night vision cameras. I see that we are all alone tonight on the ocean as we cruise back to the harbor on our final leg of a long voyage, and on the bridge's security monitors, I can see my crew members cheering in the New Year.

I know the onboard celebration will not disturb anyone while cruising 100 nautical miles off California's coast with the moon reflecting off the ocean. The yacht is on a course, but all of a sudden out of nowhere a nameless ghostly ship sides in on a very close parallel course.

Curiously, I come alongside their beam, and I step out on the bridge wing where I can faintly see the New Year's celebrations onboard the dark, shadowy ship. It looks like a reflection of New Year's past aboard an ancient wooden Brigantine. I see the captain trying to steer the large wooden wheel as he fights each pass swell while watching a crude compass and reading hand-drawn charts that resemble worn treasure maps. Also, I can see the crew cheering in the New Year with mugs of rum being poured from barrels while someone is playing a fiddle.

Oops, I almost hit the side of the cruise ship. I correct my course and check my electronics but I do not have any targets on my radar, not even this ship.

As I regain course while glancing at a porthole, I can see what looks like the reflection of New Year's future.

Sleek, fast cruising yachts built with accommodations equaling five-star hotels. Now, the captain is talking on a satellite phone while monitoring the multifaceted electronic displays that control everything on the vessel with just a touch on the view screen.

The charts are interactive and the heads up displays are showing information from other vessels in the area via an interfaced satellite Internet system.

The captain's eye patches have been replaced with thermal imaging equipment.

In lieu of the fiddle for entertainment, the crew is watching the Boathouse TV Show on a high-definition satellite television while the chefs prepare the dinners from an extensive menu.

Hey, is that a — oops, I almost skimmed the side of the ghost ship again when I am suddenly awakened from my nap from the Global Positioning System chart plotter beeping warning that the harbor entrance buoy is nearing. I glance from the bridge's soft leather couch to see my first officer standing his watch. I know we are getting close to the harbor as I can see the lights on the buildings out of the bridge windows.

As I rise to take the conns to enter the harbor, I cannot help to scan the radars and the horizon for that ship — or was it just a dream?

"All safe, yacht is securely moored at home slip."

End Captain's Log:

I can imagine that the New Year will bring new innovations and new boaters onto the waters, where I hope you welcome the past, present and future. As I sign off for my columns of 2012, don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead's "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replayed throughout the weekend.

Safe Voyages!

Editor's note: Capt. Mike Whithead publishes this column annually to ring in the new year.

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Huntington Beach Independent. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to mike@boathouse.com or go to http://www.boathousetv.com.