Orange County gained a new harbormaster this month, and said a fond farewell to a retiring harbormaster who made a difference for local boaters.
Lt. Michael Jansen is the incoming harbormaster. The 28-year veteran of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department first joined the Harbor Patrol in 2003 as a sergeant in Huntington Harbour.
As station commander, he oversaw construction of a new Huntington Harbour patrol station in 2007. He later became a lieutenant at the James A. Musick jail facility, but said he always longed to return to the waterfront and someday become harbormaster.
Jansen’s wish came true on March 22, when he officially stepped in to fill the shoes of retiring OC Harbormaster Lt. Tom Slayton.
Slayton, a 27-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, first joined the Harbor Patrol in 1995 as a deputy in Newport Harbor. He was promoted and transferred to another division in 2000, but returned as harbormaster in 2011.
As harbormaster, Slayton quickly gained the support and respect of local boaters by pledging to continue the efforts of his predecessor, Lt. Mark Long — building solid relationships with local boaters and listening to their concerns.
Long had stepped into the harbormaster job immediately after a strange, short period when boaters’ needs seemed to come second to heavy-handed enforcement of harbor codes and ordinances. It was a time when sailboat racers in the middle of competition were being warned that they must strictly comply with speed limits, and locals were beginning to wonder if the people in charge knew anything about pleasureboating.
Long’s sensible leadership went a long way toward mending fences and creating a better harbor environment. And Slayton expanded on that.
Slayton made sure the Harbor Patrol operated with transparency, made himself accessible to locals and sought to better understand the needs of local boaters, harbor users and residents. And locals appreciated it.
Newport Beach Harbor Commissioners gave a special “thank you” to Slayton March 13, presenting him with an award — in the form of a dock cleat — and telling him just how much he would be missed.
“We really admire your professionalism,” said commission chairman Doug West. “And we know that has inspired the fine spirit your deputies have consistently shown in working to protect and serve our residents and visitors to the harbor.”
The Log thanks retiring Harbormaster Lt. Slayton for his exceptional service to local boaters in Dana Point Harbor, Newport Harbor and Huntington Harbour. And we enthusiastically welcome new Harbormaster Lt. Michael Jansen.