Director sails on to retirement

After 20 years of service, Rick Algert, Morro Bay’s harbor director, will begin the first day of his next 20 years on July 1 — officially retired from this job, anyway.

“It’s been an incredible honor to work for the city,” he said. “I found so much that was rewarding. I’ll miss coming down here, but it’s time to do something else.”

He’s confident the department is in good hands with Susan Lichtenbaum, Eric Endersby and other staff, but his familiar face will be missed especially Fridays, when he’d walk the Embarcadero, keeping current on tenants and waterfront issues.

He was also a familiar face in Sacramento, speaking up for the Morro Bay fishing industry, or in Washington, drumming up dollars for dredging the harbor.

Algert previously worked for the cities of Eureka and Santa Barbara.

“I never planned working in public service, but Paul Nefstead encouraged me — taught me the right response to crisis,” he said.

Algert had just married his wife, Nancy, in 1983. Still a student, they were scraping a living, so he took a desk job with the city of Santa Barbara.

“We had a winter much the same as this year, with one storm after another. March 1, I was asked to substitute for the night watchman at Stearns Wharf. The big rains hit.

“Crashing waves flooded Cabrillo Boulevard, wharf boards popped up, and the Moby Dick Restaurant was destroyed. Paul had been a colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers. Instead of wringing his hands, he mobilized the crew. We cleaned up the mess, and Moby Dick was rebuilt in four months.”

Then-Morro Bay City Manager Gary Napier gave him his first challenge in August 1990 implementing a contentious “live-aboard” ordinance. He’s still proudest of his first negotiated leases at Marina Square.

“I give Stan and Carol Trapp credit for sticking to their vision for the Embarcadero. It was a lengthy process, and many preferred the funky dirt-floor shops to their modern design. Van Beurdens modernized the Flying Dutchman next. I’m glad we maintained Visitor Services at one end and fishing uses at the other.”

The Algerts, including kids Bridgette, Paul and Jamey, purchased 13 acres in Templeton.

“I grew up on an avocado ranch. I like to garden and want to plant a vineyard, get my pilot’s license, travel — maybe start my own business. I know I want to keep working,” Algert said.

For now, his best life-lesson came from retired Harbor Chief Dick Rodgers.

“One day, he took me to the Back Bay and said, ‘Sometimes you just have to shut off the engines.’ ”

Reach Judy Salamacha at jsalamacha@yahoo.com or 801-1422.