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The One with All the Thank Yous

By James Lenthall

I strive to avoid cliché. I turn and run from overt Hallmark moments. I try not to write the easy things. So making this column about offering thanks at Thanksgiving feels like surrender to a recycled formula. Yet during one of the most transformative, busy and challenging years in Dana Point Harbor’s history, for me there have also been so many quiet moments amid the chaos when I reflect on how much this piece of real estate, this harbor, has enriched not only my life, but those of so many thousands of others who have spent a moment or a life here. We have drawn so much from this place, so perhaps now is the occasion to offer some immense gratitude in return. So be it, here are some thanks at Thanksgiving.

Foremost, thank you, Dana Point Harbor, for fostering a wildly diverse community drawn here by your sweeping variety of activities and diversions and delights. Yet ours is also a community united by our collective affection for the sea and seafaring; we come here with an assortment of aspirations, but we’re all connected by our common bond to this harbor’s peculiar character and charm. We’re members of a proud fraternity where relationships are forged, friendships nourished, romances kindled, and enduring memories sown. Personally, it’s this harbor’s foundation for so many of my most cherished relationships for which I am most grateful.

Thank you, Dana Point Harbor, for your generous clubs, organizations, businesses and citizens that atone for the embarrassment of riches we’re so blessed with here by endeavoring to share them with others who may not have the same privilege. Not a week goes by without a whale-watching tour offered to underprivileged kids, or a fishing charter for veterans, or a sailing cruise for the disabled. Our yacht clubs have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity, and have fun doing it. The list goes on. Ours is a community of philanthropists aspiring to convey our good fortune to others.

Thank you, Dana Point Harbor, for your dazzling classroom. For generations, the Sea Scouts program has instilled independence, ocean-mindedness and seafaring skills in our kids. The Ocean Institute inspires ocean appreciation and conservation and provides lessons on America’s maritime past. Our yacht clubs offer youth sailing programs in which kids are introduced to the science and fun of harnessing the wind and skipping across the water, perhaps motivated to continue a path of seamanship. Westwind, Dana Outrigger, and so many others add to the breadth of options to grow on the water.

Thank you, Dana Point Harbor, for such a motivating place to exercise. Sweat drips just a little cooler here. Calories burn faster, or maybe just easier. Walking, rowing, running, paddling, yoga, paddling yoga, Jazzercise (yes, it’s still a thing here). Whatever it is, stepping out is just more rewarding, more inspiring here. By the way, a paddle around the island is 1.85 miles. And it’s almost exactly three miles walking/running from the Harbor Patrol building to the Ocean Institute and back. In case you were wondering.

Thank you, Dana Point Harbor, for being home to so many great shops and restaurants and businesses. The old school tavern at Turk’s, the new school vibe at Waterman’s, fine dining at Harbor Grill, cool Mai Tais at Wind and Sea, the Saturday night lounge at Harpoon Henry’s, the locals’ breakfast at The Brig. And a special thanks to Coffee Importers for the patio where everyone knows your name.

Thank you, Dana Point Harbor, for everyone I missed who contributes to your beauty, your charity, your education, your camaraderie.

Now some very personal thanks to the dear friends and colleagues who contribute directly the joy and reward I find in this harbor. Too many people to name here, so I’ll go with initials. If you see yours and are wondering if I mean you, yes, of course, I do. The DPBA team: SC, AE, AJ, RB and DS. The dedicated DPHAB members: JM, DP and DP, DK, BK, BH, JY, GM, SB and MD. And so many more: GM, MH, B&B F, RM, PH, SS, GH, JM, LH, BM, KH, DH, LB, JD, VC, BR, TS, SL, VS, SL, AC, JU, DW, BW, and, of course, K&J S. Thank you to DR for getting me started on these columns, and LB for carrying them on. And as you read this, please know that I am already punishing myself for those I missed.

And many thanks to you for reading this far. Writing this column has been an unexpected reward and outlet for what’s been on my mind this year about our harbor. Thank you for giving me someone to write for, even if you’re the only one reading this.

Finally, my deepest and most profound thank you to the people who matter most to me. My wife Stephanie, for your love, support and patience as I strive to contribute in some small way to this community; and for your own contributions to this this harbor and all its young sailors. To my boys, Carsen and Riley, who I am raising in this harbor, and who I am so grateful to see enriched by all it has to offer. And to my parents, Jim and Linda, who raised me in this harbor and gave me a place to call home and to dedicate so much of my passion and energy to.

By the way, this is my 10th Dana Point Times column this year and by far the quickest and easiest to write. Offering thanks is thankfully so easy.

Thank you, Dana Point Harbor.

James Lenthall is a lifelong Dana Point resident and boater, and presently serves as president of the Dana Point Boaters Association, chair of the Dana Point Harbor Advisory Board, and as a director on the board of Dana Point Yacht Club.

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