วันศุกร์ที่ 26 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Yacht Basin construction continues

By David Snow (Contact) | Demopolis Times
Published Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Demopolis Yacht Basin construction continues, as it will grow to 350 slips, becoming the largest marina on the Tombigbee River.

The project is still in its infancy, but when completed, the 350 slips will be more than four times the current number of 80 slips in the basin.

“Essentially, what we’re doing right now is digging a hole,” said Yacht Basin owner Fred Hansard. “The end product ends up with a marina site in it, but we’re still two years out before we get into it.”

Hansard said the preliminary cost of the construction was $6 million to $7 million for the total project.

“We wish we had done this a lot sooner, but you just have to get started when you can,” he said. “We started in 2002. By the time we get through, we will have moved 1.2 million yards of material to create this hole. We took out everything that we could take out by trackhoe, and now, we’re actually dredging it out. We’re taking it down to 16 feet, which is going to be nice.”

Hansard said the 350 slips would make this the largest marina on the waterway, challenged only by Iuka, Miss.

“The economic impact on this area would be tremendous,” he said. “Even when we start to build on it, though, we wouldn’t put 350 slips in right off. It would be a steady growth, but the full capacity would be 350 slips.

“One of the big markets that we’re looking at is the retirement community. There’s 78 million retirees — ‘Baby Boomers’ — that are fixing to retire over the next five years. I know at one time, they said that each retired person is the equivalent of a $400,000 to a $600,000 business because of the amount of money they bring into the area. Multiply that by 350, and that’s a pretty good chunk.”

Hansard said he would likely sell individual lots, although any other plans are “just on the drawing board” at this point.

“I’d like to look at a condo complex down the road, after we get this in,” he said. “In the next month, we’re fixing to open our third dry-storage yard. That’s a big business.”

Hansard said that the location of the yacht basin at Demopolis is significant.

“Hurricane season opened up a big avenue for us,” he said. “Anything above the 32-parallel (of latitude) is highly important., and we sit at the 32-31 (32 degrees, 31 minutes north latitude). So, we are just prime for all this. You get below the 32-parallel, you end up in what they call coastal waters, and insurance companies don’t like that during hurricane season.”

Because of the higher insurance rates on boats that are docked south of the 32n parallel, the Demopolis site is the marina located as far south as you can go without the higher insurance rates going into effect. For that reason, many people dock their boats here to avoid the higher rates. As the crappie swims, Demopolis is 230 miles from the Gulf coast, a boat trip of about two to three days.

The Demopolis Yacht Basin opened in 1985, and Hansard has been with it since 1986. The construction is certainly the most significant development since its opening, and can be equally significant to the businesses and economy of the City of Demopolis.

วันเสาร์ที่ 20 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Benefit dinner planned for Diver Ed

BAR HARBOR — When the M/V Seal was dashed against the shoreline of Bar Island in late November, the lives of owners Ed “Diver Ed” Monat and Edna Martin were tossed about like flotsam as well. Despite the storm’s ravaging effects, the couple’s spirits were buoyed by the community response when the time came for removing the remnants of their livelihood from the shoreline.

The support continues this Saturday, Dec. 20, at the Town Hill Community Hall when the West Eden Village Improvement Society (VIS) hosts a winter celebration and public supper with all of the donations being given to Diver Ed and Edna.

Richard Simis, whose wife, Lilea, is a member of the West Eden VIS, was available for comment. “Every month we put on a free public dinner and we have known Eddie and Edna for 20 years or so,” said Mr. Simis. “When we heard their boat sank we thought, ‘Why don’t we do a benefit for them?’ It seemed like the thing to do.”

Area establishments such as the Town Hill Country Store, Mother’s Kitchen, and others usually provide food items for the public supper, but the VIS is seeking other donors because they are “expecting a larger crowd than usual because it is for Eddie and Edna,” Mr. Simis said.

Many of the losses suffered from the devastating storm were not covered by the insurance on the boat. Mr. Monat had loaded the boat with supplies for a charter dive, a checkout dive for his students and all of his equipment for the Dive-In Theater. All of that gear was lost in the grounding.

“We lost about $50,000 worth of stuff that wasn’t covered,” Diver Ed said. “That was the hard part. We lost a lot of that stuff. We found our brand new camera smashed up. We had to have three of everything on the boat, backups for backups. That camera we hadn’t even used yet. We might have salvaged the cable out of it and that was the least expensive part of it, about a thousand bucks.”

The list of losses goes on from there. “It is hard even thinking about it. There was so much stuff that it is hard to even put a finger on it,” Mr. Monat said. “We had our whole shop down forward, the gear for students on board, we were trying to get all of that done before scallop season started. It is the time of year where we do a little bit of everything.”

In 2000, Mr. Monat established Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater, a tour in which the customer stays high and dry on the deck of the Seal while Diver Ed peruses the ocean floor seeking out various critters to talk about. Sometimes he brought the creatures aboard for the visitors to experience them up close and personally. Education about the marine environment was the primary motivation.

The Seal was also used for commercial scallop diving and chartered dive tours. The League of Underwater Superheroes is a loosely formed dive club comprising of a group of zany characters who gather on a regular basis to dive and explore the waters surrounding Mount Desert Island with the Seal as their base of operations.

The Town Hill Winter Celebration begins at 4 p.m. A bonfire and caroling by the tree is also on the agenda for the evening. Tractor rides and a public supper are also planned.

The public supper is scheduled to go from 5 to 7 p.m. The Town Hill Community Hall is next to the fire station on Route 102 in Town Hill.

The community outpouring has not gone unnoticed by the couple. “It makes me feel like I have been having the impact on people that I have been meaning to have,” he said. “The whole purpose of what we are doing is to educate people and have a good time at the same time. Obviously, there are enough people in the community that feel like that is an important thing so it makes me feel good to think that I am doing a good job of that.”

The details of the future are unclear, but the one thing for sure – Diver Ed will keep on going: “The worst part is that I lost my boat. The best part is that everywhere I go everyone has been supportive right from when we had to clean up the mess to now. No matter what we do we are going to have a long haul ahead of us getting ready for spring.”

วันศุกร์ที่ 12 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Case over for blast victims

Karen Savini saw two homes destroyed in a chemical explosion at a factory in Danversport two years ago, costing her thousands of dollars and saddling her with several hundred thousand dollars in new mortgage debt.

But she expects to get only about 20 cents for every $1 she spent to rebuild her properties, as part of a $7 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit. The settlement fulfills terms of the nonprofit Danversport Trust set up by residents and business owners.

"There isn't a lot of money to go around," said Savini, whose homes are on Bates and Riverside streets. "A lot of people lost a lot of money with this. None of us will be getting very much."

Multiple lawsuits filed by insurance companies against CAI Inc. of Georgetown and Arnel Co. of Danvers, which jointly operated the factory, are also covered in the settlement. Residents formed the nonprofit Danversport Trust last year to work out a settlement. Separately, a class action lawsuit was filed by a boat owner in December 2006. Lawyers for each group decided last year to work together on a single settlement.

The $7 million represents the total amount of insurance the two companies carried on the factory, which exploded in a fireball Nov. 22, 2006. More than 100 homes, including 26 that had to be torn down and rebuilt, were damaged, along with businesses, boats, and personal property. People have until Nov. 30 to file claims for the settlement. About 200 to 300 claims could be received by the deadline, a lawyer for the residents said.

The settlement calls for $5.5 million to go to insurance companies that have already paid claims estimated at $25 million to residents, businesses, boat owners, and other victims. Since insurance companies are receiving about 20 cents on the dollar paid out, residents can expect to receive the same rate, a lawyer for residents said.

"There is really no explanation as to why they only had $7 million," said Peter A. Lagorio, one of three lawyers representing residents. "It's clear there is not a lot to go around."

Savini said residents, many of whom lived in hotels or apartments for more than a year, know there is limited insurance to go around. But that does not mean they are happy, she said.

"People are just not happy with how their lawyers handled things," she said. CAI and Arnel "lawyers were pretty tough."

W. Paul Needham, a lawyer for CAI and Arnel, said the settlement agreement was the safest financial route for the company. "It was settled for insurance coverage," he said. "It allowed them to move on with their business. It was hard to say 'no' to that."

วันอาทิตย์ที่ 7 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Danish Warship Rescues Suspected Pirates

A Danish warship rescued a group of suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden on Thursday after receivnig a distress signal from the ship, which was floundering in heavy seas, the Danish Navy said.
The Naval Operational Command said the Absalon was bound by international law to help the men and that Danish sailors had uncovered a number of weapons onboard the vessel similar to those often used in pirate attacks on merchant ships.

"Due to the weather, it was not possible to take the troubled ship in tow and it was destroyed in the interest of shipping safety," the Navy said in a statement.

The men were later handed over to authorities in Yemen.

A surge in piracy this year in waters off Somalia has pushed up insurance costs, brought pirate gangs tens of millions of dollars in ransoms and prompted foreign navies to rush to the area to protect merchant shipping.

Pirates are holding about a dozen ships and nearly 300 crew. Among the captured vessels is Ukraine's MV Faina and a Saudi tanker loaded with $100 million of oil.

วันจันทร์ที่ 1 ธันวาคม พ.ศ. 2551

More than 2 months after Ike, oysters take shellacking

At least 60 percent of the crop in Galveston Bay is destroyed, and it will take years and a lot of cash to make things right again
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

When fishermen drag the bottom of Galveston Bay, they are harvesting more than oysters these days. They may snag lumber, a water heater or possibly a television.

Yet even when the fishermen manage to avoid the junk, they're not scooping up the mountains of fresh oysters they are accustomed to seeing.

State authorities estimate at least 60 percent of the oyster crop has been killed. They blame Hurricane Ike's surge on Sept. 13 for burying critical shell reefs where oysters have grown for centuries.

"More and more oysters are dying every day," said Ben Nelson, who at age 70 has operated a large oyster house in Smith Point in southern Chambers County for more than three decades.

Damage to this bay, he said, also will be felt at the dinner table. That's because Galveston Bay usually produces 80 percent of the oysters harvested in Texas, or 3 million pounds worth about $10 million.

In fact, Texas and Louisiana supply 60 percent of the oysters nationwide that customers, especially on the East Coast, pry open and fry or eat raw on the half shell.

Ike's damage was much worse than the destruction caused by Hurricane Alicia in 1983, "or any other hurricane that I've seen," Nelson said.

Lisa Halili, owner of another large oyster house in San Leon south of Kemah in Galveston County, agreed.

"When oysters stay buried so long, they will die. Our oyster production is down 70 to 80 percent from what we used to get. We need to get the debris and silt off these reefs."

At the same time, she and others in her industry are trying to rebuild after suffering catastrophic damage to their boats, docks and buildings.

Ike was by far the worst storm on record for the oyster industry in Galveston Bay, said Lance Robinson, Texas Parks and Wildlife's regional director for coastal fisheries.

Based on a survey of the oyster reefs, this year's crop should be much smaller, Robinson said.

Sediment problem
After oysters spawn, the larvae must cement to a hard surface before they can metamorphose into an oyster. The reefs made from stacks of old oyster shells would normally provide the perfect breeding ground — except that sonar showed the reefs were covered with soft sediment.

"We know some other reefs that were silted over 30 years ago, and they have still not come back in all this time. So it's unlikely these newly damaged reefs will come back without intervention," Robinson said.

Two methods could be used to do it: Pay fishermen to use their commercial oyster boats to rake across the reefs and pull shells out of the sediment to the surface, or use barges to dump new material such as crushed concrete or oyster shells onto the reefs. This also would provide the hard surface needed for them to reproduce.

But whatever is done will require money the state doesn't have.

"For instance, to cover the major reefs (about 8,000 acres) with 6 inches of new material would cost about $320 million. And that does not count the repair of 11,000 additional acres of small oyster clumps, Robinson said.

Besides the sediment problem, the state is looking for money to remove the other junk that now litters the bottom of the bay. For instance, the state has identified 301 boats that sank in the bay. The boats range in size from 16-foot pleasure crafts to giant barges.

Greg Polluck, a deputy commissioner with the Texas General Land Office, estimates that removing the boats alone will cost $20 million. Then another $368 million will be needed to extract debris from thousands of homes that washed into the bay, he said.

"We are talking to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and will be going to the Texas Legislature about this in January," he said.

FEMA funds
The state must pay for the work and then submit its bills to FEMA for reimbursement of 75 percent of the costs.

FEMA spokesman Simon Chabel said debris removal generally would be covered, but reef restoration is "not a frequently reimbursed expense."

Lisa Halili, the owner of Prestige Oysters, said her marina is blocked from sunken boats, and even when a boat can reach the reefs, there is no telling what will be found there.

"One fishing area is covered with all kinds of debris and sand, and another with grass and mud," she said.

The recovery could take years. Even after the reefs have been cleared, it will take at least two years for an oyster to grow to marketable size, which is 3 inches in diameter, authorities said.

Not only will consumers lose a valuable food source if the oyster reefs aren't restored, but the ecology of the bay will be hurt, Robinson said. "Oysters are filter feeders and critical for improving water quality. Even their reefs serve as important breakwaters to protect from erosion," he said.

Season 4 weeks late
Fishermen have seen the destruction to the private oyster reefs since the storm, but did not get a look at the public reefs until Wednesday.

Oyster season, which usually starts Nov. 1 and runs through April, began four weeks late. The state needed time to fix 62 markers knocked down by Ike that identify approved fishing areas.

But W.F. Childress, who has operated an oyster business near Smith Point for 30 years, won't be putting the few boats he has left back in the water again. He is quitting the business.

"Been looking for that bad storm for years, but had always lucked out before this," he said. He pointed to one boat, Miss Tammy, that the storm lifted from the water and then crashed onto pilings that pierced it like a marshmallow on a stick.

"I had tried to get storm and flood insurance but it cost more than my business was worth," he said.

Yet others, such as Nelson and Halili, are not ready to give up.

"The strong will survive," Nelson said.

At the same time, Halili is being forced to operate from a competitor's oyster house until hers is rebuilt.

"It will be a long road back. It could be like this for God knows how long — unless we get some funding," she said.

วันศุกร์ที่ 28 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2551

Case over for blast victims

Karen Savini saw two homes destroyed in a chemical explosion at a factory in Danversport two years ago, costing her thousands of dollars and saddling her with several hundred thousand dollars in new mortgage debt.

But she expects to get only about 20 cents for every $1 she spent to rebuild her properties, as part of a $7 million settlement to resolve a class action lawsuit. The settlement fulfills terms of the nonprofit Danversport Trust set up by residents and business owners.

"There isn't a lot of money to go around," said Savini, whose homes are on Bates and Riverside streets. "A lot of people lost a lot of money with this. None of us will be getting very much."

Multiple lawsuits filed by insurance companies against CAI Inc. of Georgetown and Arnel Co. of Danvers, which jointly operated the factory, are also covered in the settlement. Residents formed the nonprofit Danversport Trust last year to work out a settlement. Separately, a class action lawsuit was filed by a boat owner in December 2006. Lawyers for each group decided last year to work together on a single settlement.

The $7 million represents the total amount of insurance the two companies carried on the factory, which exploded in a fireball Nov. 22, 2006. More than 100 homes, including 26 that had to be torn down and rebuilt, were damaged, along with businesses, boats, and personal property. People have until Nov. 30 to file claims for the settlement. About 200 to 300 claims could be received by the deadline, a lawyer for the residents said.

The settlement calls for $5.5 million to go to insurance companies that have already paid claims estimated at $25 million to residents, businesses, boat owners, and other victims. Since insurance companies are receiving about 20 cents on the dollar paid out, residents can expect to receive the same rate, a lawyer for residents said.

"There is really no explanation as to why they only had $7 million," said Peter A. Lagorio, one of three lawyers representing residents. "It's clear there is not a lot to go around."

Savini said residents, many of whom lived in hotels or apartments for more than a year, know there is limited insurance to go around. But that does not mean they are happy, she said.

"People are just not happy with how their lawyers handled things," she said. CAI and Arnel "lawyers were pretty tough."

W. Paul Needham, a lawyer for CAI and Arnel, said the settlement agreement was the safest financial route for the company. "It was settled for insurance coverage," he said. "It allowed them to move on with their business. It was hard to say 'no' to that."

วันจันทร์ที่ 10 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2551

World's Saddest Web Page

Ever wanted to buy a 25-foot sailboat? Got $200 on you?
It could be yours. Just head to the world's saddest web page, where a company called U.S. Auctions is getting rid of Ike-damaged boats.

Click on a boat, then click through to the auction page, and you'll find boats worth six or seven figures going for three figures.

For $102 (at the moment), you could get a 1967 23-foot sloop. It is, of course, "as is."


Boat does not appear to have been submerged. No holes in hull. Bottom of vessel is in good condition. Fiberglass damage hull/deck joint around entire boat. Rub rail is missing. Tiller and rudder are in good condition. Doors are missing on cuddy cabin. There are scratches to gel coat 360 degrees around hull and in poor condition. Mast and sails are missing. Four winches onboard. The Pearson 23 is a day sailor with small cuddy cabin forward. Large cockpit with seating for 6 people. No batteries. No electronics. Forward cabin, no cushions. No head. Mast is broken off at deck level and missing. Boom is good. No sails. No engine. No trailer included.
As the economy keeps heading south, we remember the old joke about a boat being "a hole in the water into which you pour tons of money," and we can't help thinking there are some former boat owners, paid off by their insurance companies, who aren't exactly cursing Hurricane Ike.

วันเสาร์ที่ 1 พฤศจิกายน พ.ศ. 2551

Haul For Scalloper Bruce Gibbs

CHATHAM — By his own account, scallop fisherman Bruce Gibbs has spent more than three decades playing by the rules, fishing legally and sustainably when not all of his colleagues did. Now, those rules are likely to put an end to his fishing days, leaving the 67-year-old man without a boat, a house or a livelihood.

Under a recently adopted rule designed to weed out inactive fishing permits, federal regulators decided to issue general category licenses only to fishermen who held a permit on Nov. 1, 2004, and who had landed at least 1,000 pounds of scallops in any year between 2000 and 2004. Though Gibbs didn’t have a license on that control date, he was working in the fishery on a leased boat and landed more than 20,000 pounds of scallops.

Gibbs is currently making his third appeal to federal fisheries regulators, and everyone from local harbormasters to Washington lawmakers have sent letters supporting his bid. But with his personal finances in shambles, Gibbs said he can’t go on any longer.

“I’m done,” he said, heaving fishing gear into the back of his truck. Gibbs is getting rid of his gear and has put his boat, the Atlantic Queen, on the market.

Gibbs’ story is compelling and unusual, but he’s not alone. Hundreds of other small-boat fishermen from Maine to the Mid-Atlantic have been shut out by the new scallop rules

Proud heritage

Gibbs’ colorful past includes a stint working with his father as a fur trapper; his father, Stan, was an avid angler and went on to invent the famous Gibbs Lures, which are still in production today. His son first fished commercially for scallops in 1976 aboard the Golden Arrow, out of Wychmere Harbor; his other boats included the Gipper, the Big Red and the Gipper II.

Though the industry was virtually unregulated when Gibbs first went scalloping, declines in shellfish landings prompted more regulations. In the mid ‘80s, the New England Fishery Management Council put in place rules to curb landings, and before long there was a thriving black market in undersized scallops. In 1988, Gibbs helped lead a campaign to bring the problem to the attention of council members.

Even at that stage, there was a clear competition between large boats from New Bedford and other large ports, and the inshore fleet from places like Chatham and Harwich, Gibbs said. Gibbs said the skipper of one big scallop dragger once bragged that he had been fishing in Canadian waters 10 miles over the Hague Line, and when they were confronted by an approaching patrol boat, he had ordered his crew to sabotage some of the fishing gear so they could claim they were just passing through, headed for port. By the late ‘80s, Gibbs was openly arguing for increased conservation measures.

Working 110 to 120 hours per week, Gibbs designed and outfitted his boats, doing most of the engine work and other repairs. By 1988, he was running two boats: one in Fairhaven and one in Saquatucket Harbor. He had fished up and down the East Coast, visiting various ports between Maine and the Carolinas.

The collapse

It was in 1990 that the sea scallop fishery collapsed, and Gibbs lost almost everything. He was forced to sell both fishing boats and declare bankruptcy. During the years that followed, Gibbs was officially out of the fishery.

“I was trying to fight for myself, trying to pay my bills,” he said. His plan was to pay off his debts and rebuild his finances, eventually buying another boat and getting back into the scallop fishery. He made a living clamming and quahogging, and in early 2004 he had an arrangement to lease and ultimately buy a tuna boat, re-rigging it for the scallop fishery. Though he had landed 55 full trips before the control date, the boat and the license were not his, and the sale fell through.

At the time, fishermen didn’t know the significance of that Nov. 1, 2004 control date. Gibbs went on to eventually purchase his current boat, the 51-foot steel-hulled Atlantic Queen. As he did with his other boats, Gibbs completely re-rigged the Atlantic Queen, fabricating much of the gear and welding it in place. It’s a good boat, easily able to handle the weather on the far reaches of Georges Bank, he said.

Regulators put in place limited access permits for larger boats, and inshore boats with lower landings histories received general access permits with a catch limit of 400 pounds of scallops per day. Then the issue became clearer: how to divide up the allowable catch of scallops each year.

Dividing the pie

“The big boats didn’t want to divide the pie up,” Gibbs said. Several years ago, general permit holders began to organize to try and reserve their share of the catch, and Gibbs organized a meeting of around 25 local scallopers at his house. Gibbs was named president of the group, and began attending more and more fisheries council meetings.

“I spoke at those meetings, more than anybody there, just to tell them, this is wrong,” he said. Some of the limited access permit holders argued that the small boats should be limited to 2 percent of the catch, Gibbs said. “They argued that for years. The big boats pushed it.” Eventually, advocates for small boats had the number increased to 5 percent. Gibbs and others argued that the number was still far too low, but to no avail.

Between 600 and 700 small boats found themselves vying for their share of the 5 percent, and slices of the pie became so small that license holders couldn’t make a go of it, Gibbs said. With revenues way down, “they can’t even pay for their dockage, hardly,” he said. So the decision was made to reduce the number of people in the fishery by cracking down on “latent permits,” ones that are not being used but are held by fishermen as an investment or an insurance policy.

To that end, regulators ruled that, unless a fisherman had a valid permit on the control date and had met landings requirements, he or she couldn’t receive a new permit. Under this rule, Gibbs clearly does not meet the requirements for a permit, and so is closed out of the fishery.

Unlike bay scallops, sea scallops are experiencing a strong stock recovery. Various stock assessments and landings reports seem to confirm that there are plenty of sea scallops to be had, Gibbs said.

“It’s not about the resource,” he said of the fishing regulations. “All of this is totally unnecessary. It’s all greed-driven.”

Bob Keese, who runs the scalloper Beggar’s Banquet out of Chatham, said he’s known and respected Gibbs for years. “But Bruce is not alone. There aren’t too many people who are going to be left when this is all said and done,” Keese said. Keese is a member of the fishery council’s scallop advisory panel, and he said he’s fought from the start for a bigger share of the pie for small boats.

“It was very blatantly big business rolling over small business,” he said. At council meetings, a couple of small-time fishermen would be speaking against a panel of four or five highly-paid lawyers and lobbyists representing the big boats, “and they’re really good at what they do,” Keese said.

Keese’s own brother, Andy, was also shut out by the new rules. Andy Keese scallops with Alane, his wife, aboard the Miss Rockville out of Chatham. The two bought their boat just before the control date, and were still outfitting the boat when the control date passed. Because they weren’t fishing, they were shut out.

Appeals pending

In July, Gibbs filed an appeal to Patricia Kurkul, the regional administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service. Chatham Harbormaster Stuart Smith wrote in support of the appeal. Saying Gibbs has “consistently complied with the changing scallop industry” and served the community in various fishing-related organizations, Smith suggested that regulators “grandfather” Gibbs, giving his history in the fishery. It seems unfair, Smith noted, that Gibbs would be excluded from making a livelihood because of circumstances beyond his control.

Harwich Harbormaster Tom Leach also supported the appeal, saying the scallop fishery has been Gibbs’ sole source of income for more than 30 years.

“To see the proverbial ‘rug pulled out from under him’ at this point, being literally blindsided through no fault of his own, seems totally unfair, cruel and unusual punishment,” Leach wrote.

A letter jointly signed by Senator Edward Kennedy and Senator John Kerry echoed those sentiments.

“Given the uniqueness of this case and his long history as a scallop fisherman, we urge you to give his request for appeal the highest consideration,” they wrote. Congressman William Delahunt penned a similar letter.

Gibbs said after his first appeal was denied, he requested a hearing. Instead, he was granted a brief telephone interview.

“That’s not having your day in court,” he said. That request was also denied, and his third and final appeal is still pending, Gibbs said. Shortly after regulators granted his request for a temporary authorization to fish while waiting for word on his appeal, catch limits were met and the fishery was closed. “And guess what? All my bills are due, and I can’t pay them,” he said. Gibbs said he owes a large amount of money on his boat, and has outstanding bills for insurance, fuel and gear. Earlier this month, the town of Harwich notified Gibbs that, if he doesn’t pay his $1,948 dockage fee for the current year, along with a deposit for next year’s fee, the Atlantic Queen will need to be removed from its slip.

Paul Parker of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association said Gibbs is an institution among local fishermen. Over the years, the association has consistently opposed the use of individual fishing quotas, which carve up the resource into shares that can be bought and sold. When permits take on monetary value, “these are the social costs. Great, great people with lifelong careers and dedication to an industry being set aside,” Parker said.

Parker is helping establish the Cape Cod Fisheries Trust, a nonprofit group which aims to buy up fishing permits and lease them out to small boat fishermen struggling to survive. At a certain point, Parker said, it became clear that the quota system was here to stay, and steps needed to be taken to help fishermen to stay in the industry. “This is exactly the type of situation that the fisheries trust is trying to remedy,” Parker said. Three local scallop fishermen have already received permit assistance from the trust, he said, but even those who have permits of their own will almost certainly need to buy additional permits to allow them to land enough scallops to make a living. Parker says he doesn’t know of a single scalloper who can make a living on the landings allowed in his initial permit allocation. It’s not unlike the plight of groundfishermen, who’ve had to invest tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in permits just to remain viable.

Any fisherman on Cape Cod can apply for help from the trust, but some think their energy is better spent fighting the quota system, Parker said. He said he admires Gibbs for fighting a tough fight.

Walking through his yard, Gibbs shows off his collection of antique farm equipment, part of an outdoor collection that includes scallop dredges, fishing gear and other curiosities. He said he has placed his boat on the market, but is not optimistic it will yield anything close to its real value, since it is rigged for a fishery that is so tightly controlled. Like most fishermen, Gibbs has a variety of marketable skills, but after so many years at sea, he doesn’t think he’d be good working on land. He also wouldn’t be happy running a boat for another fisherman.

“I’m not a very good employee,” he quipped.

วันจันทร์ที่ 13 ตุลาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Dream boats for well-heeled only

Kevin Cowherd
October 13, 2008

This is how bad the economy's going: Even the sweater-tied-around-the-neck crowd is hurting.

I found this out when I took in the big United States Sailboat Show this past weekend at Annapolis' City Dock.

On the surface, everything looked fine. The weather was perfect. The place was packed. Some 400 shiny boats were on display. Over 500 exhibitors enthusiastically hawked their wares - one guy was so good I almost bought boat insurance off him, and I don't even own a boat.

But everywhere you went, there was worried chatter on the same topic: the Dow dropping like a car pushed off a cliff.

"Of course it's had an effect on sales," said Dan Nardo, a broker for 24 years with Annapolis Yacht Sales. "If I ask if this downturn has affected your thoughts about buying a boat, nine out of 10 people will say yes.

"But people are still excited," he continued. "There aren't as many people buying. But they're still looking and thinking about their dream boat."

I met Nardo on a gleaming 54-foot Beneteau, one of the pricier boats at $650,000, with teak decks, three staterooms, 42-inch flat-screen TV, all the bells and whistles.

Here's something I learned about boat shows: You have to take off your shoes when you climb aboard these expensive boats.

Apparently, the people selling them don't want you clomping around on their nice new boats and leaving scuff marks all over the place.

So you leave your shoes right there on the dock, which feels kind of strange. And you don't have to worry about anyone stealing your shoes. Believe me, this was not the sort of crowd that steals shoes.

In fact, a lot of these people were wearing shoes that looked like they cost more than my TV.

So if anyone was going to be stealing shoes, it was probably going to be me. But this Beneteau 54-footer quickly became my dream boat, if a guy working in a dying industry can actually dream of owning a boat.

"Three years ago, if you had a pulse, you had a boat loan," Nardo said. I have a pulse, I thought.

"But that's not the case anymore," he continued. "Now you have to have a down payment, income verification and all that stuff." Oh. Well, so much for the dream.

After talking to Nardo, I went to look at an even pricier boat, a 70-foot Hinckley Sou'wester sloop named Misconduct that was selling for $3.5 million. The navigation system looked like something off an aircraft carrier. It had custom-crafted china and glass storage lockers. The owners cabin had a full entertainment system, en suite head and shower.

It made the Beneteau look like a rowboat.

"I take it people looking to buy a boat like this are not the sort of people who worry about downturns in the financial markets," I said to Peter Howard, the Hinckley sales director.

"That's a safe statement," he said.

In fact, people who can afford a boat like Misfortune are the sort of people who, if you mention that the $700 billion bailout doesn't seem to be working, will give you this blank look and say: "Is there something going on with the economy?"

Oh, sure, gas and food prices might be killing you. Your 401(k) might be getting shredded, and you might wonder if you'll be warming your hands over a trash barrel fire this winter.

วันอังคารที่ 23 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2551


LINDA GREENLAW has steered her successful career as a lobster boat captain in Maine's coastal waters into an equally successful second career as a best-selling author. Readers will devour her new novel, "Fisherman's Bend," a fast-paced murder mystery laced with realistic references to fishing and sailing that enhance the story.

Greenlaw expertly blends her vast knowledge of the sea with a masterful ability to write both fiction and nonfiction. She continues to reel in readers, some of whom may have enjoyed her earlier successes, which include "The Hungry Ocean" and "The Lobster Chronicles," well-deserved best-sellers.

"Fisherman's Bend" reprises some of the characters introduced in Greenlaw's first fiction novel, "Slipknot."

Jane Bunker, a Florida transplant now living in the small coastal town of Green Haven, Maine, has jumped ship on her career as a Miami homicide detective to work as a marine insurance investigator. Jane has also agreed to serve as Green Haven's deputy sheriff, making the most of her apparently magnetic attraction to criminal activity. Keeping an eye on Jane is Cal, a taciturn 70-year-old fisherman, who knows she can get herself into a jam. Green Haven's sassy cafe owner, Audrey, dishes while she dishes. Jane's watchful landlords, the Vickersons, are consistently quirky as they experiment with mussels at every meal. New characters are many, each one a believable suspect in the emerging murder mystery.

The story begins with Jane's assignment by the insurance company to investigate a vandalized research boat. She finds it curious that only the undersea archaeological equipment has been damaged.

Although she'd like to explore the topic with the attractive captain, she's referred to an expert scientist with nervous tics. As she and Cal cross the harbor on their return, they discover an abandoned fishing boat carving circular patterns in the water as it motors without its captain. Jane begins another investigation, this time as deputy sheriff. When she becomes a target for violence, she knows she's on the right track. Jane's investigative abilities will be challenged to determine whether Green Haven's recent crimes are related and who is trying to stop her.

Greenlaw's descriptions of coastal Maine will resonate with readers familiar with that region. For those who have read all of Greenlaw's books, the only negative aspect to finishing "Fisherman's Bend" is that we have to wait for her next one. Let's hope it comes soon.

Diane Makovsky is a freelance reviewer in Spotsylvania County.

วันอังคารที่ 16 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2551

Grim scenes greet rescuers in hardest-hit areas

By JON GAMBRELL – 9 hours ago

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Entire subdivisions obliterated. Oil and chemical slicks in the surf where vacationers once frolicked. Longhorn cattle roaming desolate streets. But, most stunning of all, no more deaths.

Grim scenes greeted rescuers Monday as they penetrated the areas hardest-hit by Hurricane Ike, two days after it thrashed the Texas Gulf Coast and left thousands homeless.

The Bolivar Peninsula and the west end of Galveston Island saw some of the heaviest damage from the storm and took the longest to reach as flooded roads, high winds and washed-out bridges blocked search-and-rescue teams. But when help finally arrived to the last unexplored, Ike-ravaged area, there were few people around; they had either gotten out ahead of the storm or escaped afterward.

What remained of the peninsula, a vibrant beach resort of 30,000 residents during the peak season, was a 27-mile wasteland. Ike's storm surge rolled over the skinny spit of land separating the Gulf of Mexico from Galveston Bay and swept away everything in its path.

The water's retreat Monday revealed an apocalyptic scene.

From the air, all that was left on streets once lined with houses were twisted black stilts reaching up from the sandy soil. In other places, concrete slabs were wiped clean by the surge.

Even the helicopters ferrying out survivors had difficulty finding somewhere to land amid the debris.

Rescuers who did make it to the peninsula town of Gilchrist visited the few houses left standing to check for survivors and came back describing a scene of total destruction.

"They had a lot of devastation over there," said Chuck Jones, who led a task force that landed on the peninsula east of Galveston. "It took a direct hit."

One man who collects exotic animals was holed up in a Baptist church with his pet lion.

"We're not going in there," Jones said. "We know where he (the lion) is on the food chain."

As of Monday, no deaths had been reported on the Bolivar Peninsula, which was remarkable given the scope of the destruction. Four deaths were reported in Galveston.

Mary Maxymillian rode out the storm with seven friends in a brick house on High Island, a bit of elevated land in the middle of the peninsula that stayed high and dry. She wants to stay, but the group was running low on fuel for the generators after siphoning some from a boat to keep them going.

"The general consensus is we want relief, we want help," Maxymillian said. "I want to stay, and at the same time I'm scared."

But she worries that if she leaves now, officials won't let her come back for months.

That's exactly the message authorities were giving residents of Galveston.

"Galveston can no longer safely accommodate its population," said city manager Steve LeBlanc, who predicted it would take "days, weeks and months" to get the island cleaned up.

When authorities finally reached the island's hard-hit west end, it was a ghost town. About 20 cattle roamed the abandoned streets, sunning themselves in front of an empty, storm-battered hotel called Escapes!

Gone were the normal beachtown noises of tourists and traffic. The silence was broken only by the rustling of the wind, the cry of gulls and the occasional thump of helicopter rotors. The air was filled with the smell of smoldering wood from fires that have burned since the hurricane.

In one neighborhood called Spanish Grant Beachside, one- and two-story houses erected on cement pilings with garages beneath were pounded to rubble by waves and wind.

Other homes survived with only a few shingles lost.

Deputy City Manager Brandon Wade was one of those whose westend home made it through the storm relatively unscathed. Many of his neighbors were not so fortunate.

"It will take years for the island to totally recover from this," Wade said.

All that was left of one house was a single room balancing precariously on a piling with an air conditioning unit still hanging in its wall mount. Another house was ripped from its pilings, and dumped near the main intersection of Spanish Grant Beachside. A kitchen wall was torn away, and plates and bowls still sat neatly stacked in a cabinet.

Galveston officials said Monday they had examined 90 percent of the homes in the city of 57,000 in their search for survivors. They still had no estimate on the total number of homes damaged or destroyed.

The city's waterfront, normally dotted with tourists at this time of year, was transformed into mountains of splintered wood and other debris deposited there by the storm-churned gulf. Officials warned people to stay off the beaches and out of the water after spotting what appeared to be floating oil or chemical slicks offshore.

Up the coast, other residents came home to their own scenes of despair.

Lori Cooper, who rode the storm with her 16- and 8-year-old sons at a relative's house, returned Monday to find that Ike's surge had swept through the house, washing away many of the family's belongings and depositing the pool table in the backyard.

They had no flood insurance because their home on the outskirts of Bridge City supposedly wasn't in a flood zone.

Although the water had receded, the floors, walls and furniture were coated with a foul mixture of mud and refinery oil.

She made the grim return without her sons.

"I didn't want them to see this," said Cooper, 36. "I'm homeless. I have nothing."

วันพุธที่ 3 กันยายน พ.ศ. 2551

Commanche Raider makes a comeback

Commanche Raider, an old Admiral's Cup racer from the IOR periods of the 1980s, was severely damaged following the adverse weather conditions encountered during last year's Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Skipper Jonas Diamantino decided that a new yacht was necessary for the upcoming Middle Sea Race and is now the proud owner of an ILC 40, rechristened by Diamantino as Commanche Raider II and, once again, sponsored by GasanMamo Insurance.

The boat, previously the Pinta, was designed and built in 1997 and owned by Pedro Campos, the Spanish Olympic sailing champion.

Pinta enjoyed great success along the years, clinching many top prizes in the European sailing circuit.

In 2005, Pinta was sold to a Spanish consortium, only to be bought by Diamantino last April. The boat is an ILC 40, the predecessor of the Farr 40 - one of today's hottest and competitively-raced classes around the world.

Last year, Commanche Raider was the third and final Maltese boat to complete the 697-nautical mile course. It was Diamantino's sixth Middle Sea Race.

"It was a one-time experience," Diamantino recalled. "There were moments when I feared for the lives of the crew, the boat and, of course, myself.

"While the winds were expected to be strong, the northeasterly that hit us on Saturday night was far stronger than forecast.

"I love racing but I wouldn't want to be in those conditions on a regular basis or intentionally. There were some situations that really put the fear of God into the sailors who are not usually easily knocked off their stride.

"I'd never seen conditions like those. The swell was immense and when the squall came through, the sea went completely white around us, completely white.

"Then the hail hit us first and then the wind visibility would go from several miles to less than 50 metres in seconds... terrifying."

"At one point, the fore-hatch blew off its hinges. In atrocious conditions, the hatch was secured back in place. Not before a few hundred litres of water had been taken on though," he continued.

For Diamantino, the Rolex Middle Sea Race is a challenge.

"Preparing the boat, selecting the crew and embarking on a 697-nautical mile voyage are all part of the fun," he said.

Whatever the result, he believes he is a winner just by completing the course.

วันพุธที่ 27 สิงหาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Scrap crooks become the new pirates

Commodity crooks are turning their attention to the sea, with boat owners suffering a spate of thefts aimed at stripping their vessels of valuable metals.

Bronze propellers, lead keels and copper cladding on hulls have all been stolen as higher scrap metal prices bring increased rewards for crooks.
The problem mirrors a surge in metal theft on dry land, as Financial Mail reported last month. Lead from church roofs, copper phone wires and even garden furniture are being stolen for their scrap value.

Crooks are also targeting valuable platinum in the catalytic converters in car exhausts, hacking them from parked vehicles.

Simon Tonks, development manager for specialist marine insurer Navigators & General, says: 'We've seen a huge rise in the number of claims for metal theft in the past year.

'Propellers, plaques, copper sheathing and even ship's bells have been stolen.

'In the past fortnight we've heard about two classic racing yachts that had their lead keels unbolted and taken.'

Natasha and Neil Grant suffered at the hands of metal thieves last month when the propeller was stolen from their Glastron speedboat. The boat was parked on its trailer in the couple's front garden in Brixham, Devon.

Natasha, 36, says: 'It was fine on the Saturday night, but when we hooked it up to the car on the Sunday morning to take it out I noticed that something wasn't right and realised that the propeller had disappeared.'

She and Neil, 46, a long-distance lorry driver, use the boat for fishing and water-skiing. Natasha, who prepares fish at Brixham's fish market, says: 'We try to get out in the boat most weekends, but since the theft we've been stuck ashore.

'Some of the fishermen at the harbour have also had problems, with people in diving gear going underneath the boats to take the propeller.'

Sometimes these thefts are not covered by insurance, with policies limiting cover only to forced theft from the interior of a boat. The advice is always to check before you buy insurance.

Richard Langford, managing director of specialist insurance broker Noble Marine, says: 'People are still very price-focused and looking for cheap cover. They don't read the policy wording and expect everything to be covered and it is not.'

The Grants' insurance with Navigators & General does cover the £430 cost of a replacement propeller. Meanwhile, the couple have moved the boat into their garage.

Dearer fuel has also seen crooks stealing marine diesel from boats. Narrowboats moored on isolated canal banks are particularly vulnerable. There are fears that fuel theft will rocket when a tax rise doubles the price of marine diesel in October (see below).

But unlike the theft of home heating oil, which is covered under home insurance, the loss of marine fuel may not be insured.

Tonks says: 'Fuel is deemed a "consumable store" so it is not always covered under pleasure-craft insurance policies.' Boat owners face other risks too.

Langford says: 'Theft of accessories and equipment continues to be a problem. Outboard engines are being stolen in big numbers, with dozens of thefts reported each month.' A new 60 horsepower engine from a reputable manufacturer such as Yamaha costs more than £5,500, making outboards a tempting target.

Langford recommends that owners post details of thefts on sites such as stolenboats.org.uk. This means there is a public record of the theft and gives anyone offered an engine second-hand the chance to check they are not buying stolen property.

วันเสาร์ที่ 23 สิงหาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Boating on a budget

For Dean Rubin, there's nothing better than taking off on a pleasure cruise from Beverly Harbor on a boat he doesn't own.

"You go down, and the boat is waiting for you," Rubin said. "You enjoy the harbor, come back, get your stuff, and walk away. There are no hassles at the dock. You just get out of the boat and go home."

He and his wife, Tracy, of Beverly, are part of a new trend: Membership clubs that let people get out on the water without the expense and responsibilities of boat ownership.

Mike Saunders brought the trend to Massachusetts in 2005 when he opened a Freedom Boat Club franchise at Marina Bay in Quincy. He now owns similar franchises in Plymouth and Beverly, and there also are locations in Newburyport, West Dennis, Falmouth, and Rhode Island. The Navigator Club in Charlestown, owned by Edward Mancini, offers similar memberships.

Saunders compares it with a country club membership. Just as golf club members call to reserve tee times, boat club members call to request any of the seven boats the club keeps on the Beverly dock. The boats include bow riders, cruisers, fish ing boats, and a sailboat.

The Navigator Club at Constitution Marina in Charlestown is the newest among the on-demand boating clubs, opening this year.

"I was in boat sales and yacht brokering, and saw that a lot of people just didn't have the time to maintain a boat or to deal with some of the traditional boat ownership tasks," said Mancini, who considered opening in Newburyport, where he once docked his boat, before deciding on his current location. "I didn't want to be a franchise guy, and felt I could do a better job. I also have a passion for water, so if I can show prospective members that, it brings new people into boating."

Membership in the clubs provides the same privileges that come with docking a boat at the marina - which can include use of clubhouses, pools, restaurants, or whatever other facilities are available at the marina.

There are different fee structures, including a onetime joining fee of $4,500 for a weekday membership and $5,900 for a seven-day membership, plus fees that come to $2,500/$3,500 annually for the Freedom Boat Clubs in Beverly, Quincy, and Plymouth. Navigator Club fees run from $5,595 for a weekday membership to $7,495 for a seven-day membership.

That's less than the cost of boat ownership, which beyond the purchase price can include insurance, slip rental, harbor fees, maintenance, and winter storage.

"It costs substantially less" than boat ownership on average, "less than half," Saunders said. "Many of our members are previous boat owners who choose this because it's a no-hassle alternative. They don't have to worry about maintaining the boat."

Both clubs offer training programs, but the majority of members are people with some experience on the water.

"I just make a reservation, come here, and jump in the boat," said Joe Sharron of Windham, N.H., a Navigator Club member who used to dock his boat in Newburyport. "It's clean, the facilities are clean, I don't have to worry about maintenance. Somebody else does all that. I just go out, come back, park the boat, and I'm done. It's a great concept."

Donna Wadden of Andover decided to take up boating to celebrate her fifth cancer-free year, but found that the $10,000 she'd set aside "doesn't buy much boat . . . maybe a rowboat." Through word of mouth, she found the Freedom club's Beverly location, and has been a member for nearly three years.

"It's like my dream is back in my hands again," she said. "And in the fall, when my friends complain to me about taking their boats out of the water and putting them into storage, I can say, 'Not me. My crew is putting my boat away.' "

For the Rubins, who formerly owned Yamaha Waverunner jet skis and a Hobie Cat sailboat, the club has allowed them to get back onto the water, which the first-time power boaters hadn't done since moving to Beverly 13 years ago.

"To be near the water and not on it is a crying shame," Rubin said. "We finally said, 'Enough is enough; let's get into it.' "

วันจันทร์ที่ 18 สิงหาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Hot Bay Area Olympians: Scott Gault

Surely you're familiar with the Oakland Strokes. No? You might want to be. It's a great name, for one. For two, rowers will give you some of the most provocative crotch shot pictures of any sport. Oakland Strokes alum and Piedmont High grad Scott Gault competes in a form of rowing known as the Men's Quad Sculls, where four guys pile on a boat and go at it in unison.

The U.S. Men's Quad Sculls rowing team advanced to the finals this morning, rowing 2,000 meters in just under 5 minutes 53 seconds. They'll row at a chance for the gold medal tomorrow. At that point, Scott's 2008 olympics is finished and he'll come back to Piedmont, where he'll resume his life as a dashing pilot and aviation insurance salesman. Something tells us that this guy gets more action than, say, bloggers.

วันอังคารที่ 12 สิงหาคม พ.ศ. 2551

S. Korean Vessel Likely to Get Compensated for Collision

A South Korean vessel that collided with a North Korea fishing boat earlier on Tuesday in the East Sea will likely receive compensation in accordance with related international insurance regulations.

The South Korean vessel was confirmed to have been insured for 850-million won with the Korea Shipping Association and Dongbu Insurance.

However, the insurance payments will take some time given that a third party, instead of the insurers, will investigate and interview the fishermen and crew of the two vessels to determine accountability for the collision.

The 658-ton Dongi-1 collided with a small North Korean fishing boat at 2:35 a.m. some eight kilometers off the coast of the North’s Jangjeon port.

In the accident, two North Korean fishermen went missing and two others were rescued by the South Korean ship.

วันอาทิตย์ที่ 10 สิงหาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Mitigation fund helps fishermen navigate limits to their catch

GLOUCESTER - Some fishermen are bitter about making a deal with gas companies. Others said they had no choice. All said they'd rather not have to take the $12.6 million from the two liquefied natural gas companies that are planning terminals off the North Shore coast.

But if you head down to the docks along Gloucester Harbor and speak with fishermen, they'll also tell you that the $12.6 million could be the key to keeping their depressed industry from collapsing.

"This could end up being the only thing that keeps us in the fish business," said Vito Giacalone, a fisherman and longtime advocate who opposed the LNG terminals that were approved by the federal government last year. In his public comments against the Excelerate Energy LLC and Neptune Energy LLC terminals, Giacalone suggested that any mitigation funds be directed toward North Shore fishermen who would no longer be able to work around the LNG sites - home to fertile fishing grounds.

The state Environmental Protection Agency agreed, and directed the largest portion of the $47 million - $12.6 million - toward the creation of the Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund. With Giacalone serving as president of the nonprofit, the fund just completed its first year. It is designed to subsidize fishermen who want to work more than their standard federal allotment of 48 days a year.

Over the last year, the fund has spent more than $4 million to purchase 25 federal fishing permits. Those permits represent more than 800 workdays at sea, and under the fund's program, North Shore fishermen are eligible to lease the days for an average of $75 a day - a fraction of the going daily rate of $200 to $250. Last year, 63 fishermen took part in the program, with each receiving an average of 13 days. Giacalone said that over time, his nonprofit would spend at least another $6 million to acquire additional federal ground-fish fishing permits.

"The fund is a lifeline, for sure. It means survival for us," said Dustin Ketchopulos, who keeps his boat in Rockport but fishes off the Gloucester coast.

Just 25 years ago, fishing was king in America's most storied fishing harbor. Back then, there were almost 1,000 fishermen working on the harbor, and there were no limits on how many days a year one could work, or how much fish could be caught. There were more than 250 boats in the harbor, and most were used for overnight trips lasting up to 10 days.

"There were so many boats in the water that you could almost walk across the harbor," Giacalone remembers.

But with strict federal regulations introduced to limit overfishing and to rebuild stocks such as cod and flounder, most of those boats and fishermen have disappeared. In the last six years, the new regulations cut fishermen's days at sea from 88 to 48, while setting catch limits such as 800 pounds of cod a day.

วันอังคารที่ 29 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Free Boating Safety Class Coming in August

Reported by: KARK 4 News

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary announces a free Safe Boating Class on August 19th & 21st.

The class will be held at the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, #2 Resource Drive, in Little Rock.

The two part course will begin at 6 PM and last until 9 PM on Tuesday and Thursday. The boater will learn skills necessary to give the student adequate confidence and knowledge in operating a vessel successfully and safely.

Topics covered will include boating rules of the road, legal requirements for boats, boat handling, practical seamanship, docking and other subjects designed to provide a strong foundation for operating pleasure crafts.

Arkansas law requires anyone born after January 1, 1986, be certified by taking a Safe Boating Course before operating a water craft on Arkansas waters. Regardless of age, everyone involved in boat operations is encouraged to participate in the safe boating training to help avoid accidents on the water.

Most insurance companies provide a discount to boat owners who successfully complete the boating course.

The Boat Arkansas certification is recognized nationally. Individuals interested in enrolling can do so on-site or call Joe Zehler at 501-834-6993.

วันอาทิตย์ที่ 20 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Advance to the Past: Fishermen Start to use Sails

Commercial fishermen in the UK are reverting to wind power in response to soaring fuel prices, as skippers rig their boats with auxiliary sails to cut the amount of diesel they use.

The move comes as a new generation of vessels is being developed that will rely almost exclusively on sails.

Higher fuel costs threaten to force many fishermen out of business. The price of the red diesel the industry uses has doubled in less than a year, while fish prices have remained relatively stable.

Deas, chief executive of the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations, said a number of skippers were now using sail power to help them travel the long distances between port and their fishing grounds.

'Skippers are putting on foresails while steaming to fishing grounds offshore,' he said. 'The whole cost structure of the industry has shifted so dramatically as a result of fuel price rises, and in response, vessels are looking at what they can do to reduce costs.

'Fleets are going to have to find ways of reducing fuel dependency. Everyone is looking for the optimum steaming speed and people are looking at a whole range of measures, including sail.'

วันศุกร์ที่ 18 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Gibbs To Set Up Shop In Detroit, Finally Build Aquada Amphibious Car

After the announcement earlier this month that Saleen is teaming with Gibbs for development and manufacturing work on their amphibious Gibbs Aquada, news comes down Gibbs is setting up their corporate offices in the Detroit Suburb of Auburn Hills. After a ten year development cycle, a million man hours of work, and $100 million invested in the project, the final steps are being taken to put the automotive platypus into production.

When the boat-car debuts, it'll be the first major amphibious civilian vehicle since the Amphicar went to market in 1961. The three seat Aquada will be able to hit 110 MPH on the street and about 40 MPH or 35 knots on the water and will sell for about $85,000. Production location has not be set yet, but Michigan is also high on the list for that one as well. We're just wondering how the insurance companies would handle water damage on an amphibious car.

วันเสาร์ที่ 12 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Closures & Layoffs (July 6-12): Sinking Ships

Seven weeks ago, we reported on troubles in the boating industry, specifically Brunswick Corp., one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of consumer marine products, planned to cease production of its Bluewater Marine brands -- including Sea Pro, Sea Boss, Palmetto and Laguna boats.

This week, Brunswick announced it was expanding that action and plans to close 12 of its 29 boat plants by the end of next year, cutting costs by $300 million versus 2007 spending levels. It could also mean the layoff of up to 2,700 employees.

"For the past several years, we have been implementing initiatives to fundamentally change our cost structure by reducing our manufacturing footprint, and leveraging purchases of common components and materials across our brands and operations," explained Dustan E. McCoy, Brunswick's chairman and CEO. "In addition, we have addressed the prolonged downturn in the U.S. marine market by continually reducing production rates throughout our marine businesses, divesting under-utilized assets, exiting or divesting certain businesses, eliminating discretionary spending and reducing headcount. While these efforts have resulted in significant savings, the realities of the current U.S. marine market have caused us to step up the pace and magnitude of these efforts."

"Retail unit sales of power boats in the United States have been in decline since late 2005; however, the rate of decline has been accelerating," McCoy added. "Industry retail unit sales were down 13 percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 and down 21% in the first quarter of 2008 compared with the respective year-ago quarters. Further, these reductions were recorded off of an already low base. Total unit sales of power boats in the United States in 2007 were at their lowest in more than 40 years."

"An uncertain economy, high fuel and food prices, slumping home sales and values, rising unemployment and other factors continue to erode U.S. consumers' confidence and are reducing their ability and desire to purchase discretionary items such as boats, and billiards tables and fitness equipment for their homes," McCoy explained. "For our planning purposes, we are not assuming that these pressures will abate any time soon. As a result, we are planning for an environment in which the U.S. marine market will be smaller in the near term, and we will resize our company accordingly. Our objective is to thrive and prosper while the U.S. marine market remains under pressure and to outperform when we see a rebound in demand."

Brunswick now plans to close four plants in addition to eight plant closures already completed or announced. Brunswick will also continue to reduce the number of models and option packages, focusing on those that are popular and clearly resonate with consumers.

"Our immediate focus remains on managing pipeline inventories at our marine dealers, as well as enhancing our solid liquidity at Brunswick," McCoy said. "We will continue to produce at rates below retail demand to lower pipeline inventories. A reduction in production rates also results, unfortunately, in the need for fewer workers."

The company said that it had notified employees that it would be reducing its hourly and salaried work force at certain of its marine plants by 1,000. Further work force reductions of approximately 1,000 hourly and 700 salaried employees across the company's marine business units and staff functions are still be contemplated as additional plant closures and consolidations and other cost-cutting measures are completed.

วันพุธที่ 2 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2551

Recovery begins slowly for flooded river towns

The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 1, 2008; 7:43 PM

ST. LOUIS -- Some towns along the Mississippi River are beginning the slow task of recovery, even as water remains high.

With the river finally receding from near-record levels, the Federal Emergency Management Agency opened disaster recovery centers in the Missouri towns of Clarksville and Winfield on Tuesday.

The river is dropping as much as a foot a day in Clarksville and Hamburg, Ill., though the pace of the decline is expected to slow, said Ben Sipprell, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. Many towns can expect the river to remain well above technical flood stage for weeks to come.

A few haven't hit high-water marks yet. The Mississippi was expected to crest 12.6 feet above flood stage in Chester, Ill., and 10.5 feet above flood stage in Cape Girardeau, Mo., both on Wednesday. No major problems were expected.

Up to 3 inches of rain was possible over the next five days in central Missouri, but there was no indication the rainfall would impact the crests.

The damage south of St. Louis has been minimal compared to that to the north. In Clarksville, even small signs of progress were met with enthusiasm.

A market under new ownership opened Tuesday to pump gasoline and sell groceries, services the town had been without for about a year, even before the flood hit.

"I had to go in and give them a hug," Mayor Jo Anne Smiley said.

Other shops in the town known for its arts, crafts and antiques won't reopen until perhaps August, Smiley said.

"The antique mall, you can only get to that by boat, and that's the biggest source of tax revenue for the city," she said.

The river continued to press against sandbag walls that protect the small brick buildings downtown. An estimated 14,000 volunteer hours were needed to build the barrier that was still being monitored around the clock. But officials said the receding river allowed for a paring back on the use of pumps and generators.

Five homes and two businesses in Clarksville remained cut off from water service, and another 35 homes were relying on bottled water.

FEMA spokesman Don Bolger encouraged flood victims to register for disaster assistance even if they have insurance. They could qualify for supplemental grants or low-interest government loans.

วันจันทร์ที่ 30 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2551

'Sulpicio nixes ship refloating, wants full insurance claim'

Agence France-Presse

SAN FERNANDO, Romblon - The owner of a sunken Philippine ferry is unwilling to see its vessel refloated because it would not be able to claim full damages from insurers, a maritime official said Saturday.

The senior official said that the submerged Princess of the Stars, which contains hundreds of dead bodies inside, could easily be refloated but the shipping line and authorities were stalling.

The ferry, which sank off the central island of Sibuyan with 850 people aboard in a typhoon a week ago, has an intact hull with air pockets that could be used to float it once more and put it the right side up, the official said.

However, declining to be named, he said the owners, Sulpicio Lines, and the coast guard "are not pursuing that tact because they are waiting apparently for the insurers to conduct their own investigation."

"If they re-float the vessel, Sulpicio will not be able to claim damages for a total wreck," the senior official said.

The 24,000-tonne vessel is sitting upside down on a reef off Sibuyan, part of its hull jutting from the waters. Only 57 survivors have been found and it is believed that most of the bodies of the dead are trapped inside the hull.

Coast guard and navy divers, assisted by US navy frogmen, were trying to retrieve dead bodies from the ship but the already slow-moving operation was suspended on Friday after it was discovered that the vessel was carrying a shipment of a toxic pesticide that might leak into the water.

The maritime official said the pesticide complicated the operation but remarked that the coast guard should have had blueprints of the ship and other documents from Sulpicio Lines identifying its cargo before the retrieval operations began.

The site of the sinking, earlier a hive of activity with rescue divers and their boats criss-crossing the waters, was quiet on Saturday with only a boat from the Bureau of Fisheries seen taking water samples for testing.

Nanette Tansingco, mayor of the coastal town of San Fernando, closest to the ill-fated ship, said she had barred fishermen from the area due to the pesticide threat.

"We will be doing a lot of studies in the area to make sure no one gets ill from eating fish," she said.

Officials earlier said that they found no trace of the pesticide in the waters but are not taking chances and have subjected the divers to medical tests to make sure they did not ingest any poison.

Coast guard spokesmen said they could not be sure when they would be able to remove the pesticide from the ship or when they could resume efforts to retrieve the bodies.

They said it was up to Sulpicio Lines to provide the essential information needed to remove the shipping container that holds the pesticide but they did not know when that information would be forthcoming.

The slow recovery of dead bodies has angered relatives who have trooped to Sulpicio Lines offices in Manila and the central city of Cebu waiting for word of their loved ones.

Sulpicio Lines has had at least three other major accidents since 1987, when its Dona Paz vessel collided with an oil tanker, killing around 4,000 people in the worst peacetime maritime disaster in history.

The government suspended the company's operations until further notice, while anti-corruption campaigners are planning a class action lawsuit. A board of inquiry is also conducting hearings on the company's possible liability.

วันพุธที่ 25 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2551

Updated: Mass. woman rented plane hour before fatal crash

OWLS HEAD — A Massachusetts woman died Saturday morning when the small plane she was flying crashed near Crockett’s Beach.
Janet Strong, 73, of Topsfield, Mass. died in the crash.

The plane, a Piper Cherokee PA28, belonged to the Knox County Flying Club. Knox County Regional Airport Manager said that the plane had not been airborne long and was not enroute to another location.

Strong rented the plane that morning, according to Maine Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland. She waited an hour to take off because of fog.
Strong was in the area to visit friends.

The bottom of the small plane, including a wheel, was visible about 200 feet from the end of Point View Lane which runs off to the west of Crockett’s Beach Road.

Owls Head firefighters, Rockland firefighters and emergency medical crews as well as South Thomaston emergency crews responded.

Neighbor Keith Simmons, who lives at the end of the road where the crash occurred, said he heard the engine and then the loud crash.
Simmons helped bring a Rockland paramedic to the plane in his rowboat. A marine patrol boat also was at the scene within a half hour or so of the crash that was reported at about 10:30 a.m. The woman’s body was found under a wing of the wrecked plane.

The woman’s body was removed at about 11:30 a.m. and taken by marine patrol boat to Crockett’s Beach where it would then be put in an ambulance.

Simmons said the sun was out when the crash occurred although there were thick fog banks around which enveloped the crash site shortly after it occurred.

The tide was coming at the time of the crash and the plane was being covered by 11:30 a.m.

The Federal Aviation Administration was contacted. The FAA and the National Safety Transportation Board were to investigate. The flying club had insurance on the plane and it was expected to be removed by a boat salvage operation.

The Coast Guard responded with 25-foot and 47-foot boat crews from Station Rockland. A Hercules fixed-wing aircrew from Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine conducted a fly over of the crash site.

The area where the plane went down was very shallow and Coast Guard boat crews were unable to access the plane in the three-foot water..

“In cases like this we depend on our local partners and their resources for assistance,” said Lt. Lisa Tinker of the Coast Guard, the command duty officer at Sector Northern New England. “The Maine Marine Patrol crews were able to navigate the shallow depths to access the downed aircraft.”

วันจันทร์ที่ 23 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2551

Fuel prices drain charities' volunteer base

By MARTIN DeANGELIS Staff Writer, 609-272-7237

ATLANTIC CITY - The Ladies Invitational Bluefish Tournament is always a fun day for Danielle Brooks and her friends, so they really wanted to be in this year's edition of the tournament Saturday.
They like the cause it supports - it raises money to provide free mammograms and other breast cancer-related services to women who don't have health insurance. Plus they like to fish, and they like to compete with other women who fish.

The only trouble was, the only boat they could get their hands on this time was big, a 52-footer. And big boats have big fuel tanks, which means they also have big fuel bills - especially these days, with fuel prices jumping like a freshly hooked sailfish, pushing $5 per gallon at some area marinas.

So Brooks and her friends decided to send out e-mails asking their family members and friends for help paying the $3,000 worth of expenses it took to be in the tournament - much of that just on the fuel. And they got enough support to fish again this year, but the head of the tournament says high fuel prices definitely cost her cause this time around.

Last June, Kim Kirk says, there were 79 boats in the tournament, which ended up raising $70,000 for AtlantiCare's Mobile Mammography program. This year, the number was down to 68 - and that was after a big rush of entries the day before the lines hit the water. As of Thursday, she had just 39 boats registered, about half of last year's total.

"I would have liked last year's numbers, but considering the economy, it's better than it might have been," Kirk said Saturday, adding that she heard lots of talk around the tournament about fuel prices - including from some women who said the cost kept them out of the competition.
And local people associated with other good causes - even ones that don't seem as oil-dependent as boat-based fishing tournaments - say their organizations are also being burned by rising oil prices.

The American Cancer Society has a program called Road To Recovery, which involves volunteers picking up and driving cancer patients to doctors' visits and other treatments. And while most of the volunteers - many of them former patients themselves - are still willing to help, a few drivers have been forced to drop out, an executive in the local chapter says.

"The South Jersey region, from Burlington County to Cape May, is 3,000 square miles," said Sheila Williamson, a regional vice president. "Some of our patients are being treated in Philadelphia or other places out of state, and it's really a challenge to find (volunteers) willing to drive them to Philadelphia."

The Community FoodBank of New Jersey's Southern Branch hasn't lost any volunteers, because most of them live fairly close to its warehouse in Egg Harbor Township, Evelyn Benton says. But oil prices are having an "awful" effect on her organization, the executive director adds, because three commercial-size trucks are a key part of the operation.

"We have to pick up food and we have to deliver food: That's not an option for us," Benton says. "And we've been paying over $4 a gallon for diesel for months now."

The trucks average about 8 miles to the gallon, and she doesn't see any help coming down that road.

"They haven't come out with good (fuel-efficiency) technology for commercial trucks, and even if they did, it's way too expensive for us," Benton said. "Until those things become cheap, a charity is never going to have one."

But unless something changes, the food bank will keep collecting and delivering food to its largest customers, other charities, for a total of 23 cents per pound - 18 cents for the food itself and the other nickel for delivery. That's in spite of the fact that it actually costs 32 cents per pound for the food bank to do what it does, and the only change likely to come there is higher real costs.

"We increased our fuel budget this year by 15 percent, and we're already way over budget," she says, adding that the 23-cent cost figure is set by national rules. But even if the local food bank could raise its rates on its own, she doubts the customers could pay.

"Our charities are smaller than we are, so you sort of hate to pass along the costs to charities that can afford it less than we can," Benton says. "A lot of people are struggling, but people who are poor are in an even worse situation, and so are organizations that support the poor."

Gilda's Club South Jersey, based now in Somers Point, offers emotional support to people with cancer and their families. Sarah Griffith, the executive director there, says she's starting to see a drop-off in people showing up for some of its social activities.

"Not in our core programs, but I have noticed a little bit of a decline" in attendance, she says. "And we've started saying, 'Hmm, I wonder if that has something to do with gas prices? ... People are saying, 'Do I have to do this? No I don't - I don't have to drive.'"

But the only way to get in the Ladies Invitational Bluefish Tournament was by boat, and Kim Kirk is glad that women got onto 68 boats Saturday to support its good cause - despite the costs. But she understands how money would hurt her turnout.

"For people with bigger boats, you're talking $1,500 a day for fuel," she says. "That's a hard chunk of change to bite off at one time."

To e-mail Martin DeAngelis at The Press:

วันศุกร์ที่ 20 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2551

Fuel Prices Pinch Boaters Budgets

While many of us grumble about the money it takes to put gas in our car, people who spend time boating on area lakes are looking at ways to stay afloat. On average, the price for fuel on local water ways runs about a dollar more than it does on the road.

It takes anywhere from $4.50 to $4.70 a get your boat on the water. With prices like that, a lot of people are sticking to a pretty tight budget.

"I was thinking it would be $100 for a fill-up," says Gina Maida who is boating with her family on Table Rock Lake. "So I put $300, $350 in our budget."

Families like the Maidas can make that tank of gas go further with some conservation efforts.

The U.S. Boat Owners Association says only load what you need so your watercraft isn't weighed down. Do regular tune-ups on your engine and prop. Keep your boat well maintained so it can move through the water without too much drag. Travel with the tide, or even think about anchoring in a cover rather than cruising around and burning fuel.

While the tips will help you stretch your dollar at the lake this summer, local marinas say they don't expect the high prices to keep people off the water.

"They're still gonna boat," says business owner Kelly Swanson. "You've got a big investment in a boat and insurance. You're not gonna let it sit in the garage to gather dust."

In some ways, the fuel prices are actually helping local business owners. Because it's so costly to drive, a lot of people are taking advantage of local lakes and parks rather than paying to travel far from home.

Another way to save money is to use the Missouri Department of Revenue's tax exempt gas plan.
By keeping track of your fuel use for your watercraft and by filling out 3 forms, you can get a refund.

Learn more about this refund at these links:



วันจันทร์ที่ 16 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2551

Live it up on the Bonsai river boat

Well in the case of the "Bonsai I"

dragon boat, you get an extraordinary dining and entertainment experience on the Sai Gon River. (The original American Country&Western song title was, You Load 16 Tonnes and What Do You Get?) The reason for the title is that this ship, skillfully constructed using sao wood (Hopea Odorata) from Khanh Hoa Province, weighs over 340 tonnes. It is the largest existing dragon boat in Viet Nam and is a replica of a royal Vietnamese-style dragon boat, once only used for the emperors.

We were curious as to who conceived the idea and carried out the formidable task of constructing such a unique vessel and thus tracked down the father - daughter team behind its creation.

Believe it or not, it all began in a small Austrian village of 800 people. Stefan Ernest and his daughter Madlen Ernest worked together to bring Stefan’s dream to reality. Madlen wished to move out of her small town and decided to study hospitality management. Her special field of study was river cruises. She began by working on river cruises between Amsterdam and the Black Sea. She had always wanted to see Asia and ended up in Viet Nam. Stefan became interested in cruise lines because of Madlen’s chosen profession and in November 2003 he arrived in Viet Nam on holiday. He had previously considered India or Thailand, but chose HCM City as he felt that Viet Nam presented the greatest opportunity and with so much potential that he decided to build his dream boat here. He had been a master woodworker in Austria and with his skills in carpentry and wooden construction, he tackled the task of re-creating a beautiful replica of Viet Nam’s past history. The exterior design and artistry remain faithful to the ships of the 19th century, but the interior is a state-of-the art plan, carefully constructed to provide the utmost in tasteful decor and safety.

The 40m long boat can carry up to 170 passengers in stately comfort. The interior design allows for individual seating at formal tables or can be converted into a "conference cruise" mode. Due to the size and weight of the ship, it cruises steadily and smoothly. Upon inspection, we were impressed with the many safety features and "Austrian" thoroughness – even to the point of having international insurance coverage. The crew’s numbers often reach as many as 50 persons, including music performers, waiters, kitchen staff and the captain’s mates – and we almost forgot – the magician!

He began as a security guard and, upon seeing the original magician perform, was mesmerized – he studied, practiced and became a better magician than he ever was as a security guard.

The European management details extend to special details of decor and service. Candles on the tables and staff queries as to whether one is a smoker or not (removing the ashtray if the answer is "no") present an altogether truly unique experience in HCM City; originating from Bach Dang pier, opposite to Ham Nghi Street. Check their website for booking availability and details – http://www.bonsaicruise.com.vn/ VNS

วันจันทร์ที่ 9 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2551



That's the money fisherman Harold Greenidge will get as compensation to replace his rotting fishing boat and for loss of earnings.

Justice Randall Worrell, who handed down the decision in the No. 3 Supreme Court yesterday, ordered Government to shell out $275 000 for the cost of a replacement vessel and to pay Greenidge $249 405 in loss of earnings for a five-year period.

Greenidge will also get the $350 cost of the report from master marine surveyor Anthony Hinds and the fees of two attorneys.

Justice Worrell, who stated that liability was not an issue since the Crown had accepted liability from inception, said it was simply a matter of assessment.

"It is quite clear from the evidence, and it is not disputed, that Mr Greenidge used that vehicle for his occupation," said the judge.

"It is also quite clear that Mr Greenidge's vessel was not a new vessel. It is quite clear the vessel was of some age."

He said the court had accepted Hinds' evidence that the vessel was now worthless and that $275 000 would meet the cost of a fully outfitted replacement vessel.

In addition, the judge said the court had accepted $79 881 as the income that Greenidge earned in any given year from fishing.

However, he said there was a four-year period – July 2002 to December 2006 – when Greenidge made no effort to work or to "mitigate his losses".

"And that has to be taken into consideration," the judge said, adding the money for loss of income would be taxed for income tax and National Insurance.

However, the judge said he would not be awarding exemplary damages since he did not think the Crown intended any malice.

The fisherman's boat, X134 Blue Lightning, was intercepted off St Vincent on July 21, 2002, and British naval officers removed three men – two Barbadians and a Vincentian – who they said were spotted throwing ten bales of marijuana overboard.

The charges were dropped but the confiscated boat was never returned.

Greenidge sued the Attorney-General and the Commissioner of Police for an abuse of their discretion and asked for an order of certiorari quashing the decision to impound the boat; the money to replace it; loss of earnings calculated at $80 000 a year; exemplary damages and interest.

He was represented by Hal Gollop, Steve Gollop, and Hilford Murrell, while Senior Crown Counsel Wayne Clarke and now former Principal Crown Counsel Dennis Hanomansingh represented the Crown.

Justice Worrell, however, stayed his decision for six weeks.