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.

วันพุธที่ 4 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2551

Oceanic Whitsunday Boat Show

Next weekend, Abel Point Marina and its carpark are the scene of the Whitsunday Boat Show, now in its seventh year and sponsored by Oceanic Insurance Brokers and Meridien Marinas Abel Point.

An Airlie Beach Rotary community project, designed to attract visitors to the town during a quiet dip in the calendar, the boat show now attracts more than 8,500 people and has secured over 100 exhibitors for this year’s event.

Among them are Bavaria Yachts Qld, Mustang Marine, Club Marine, Furuno, Malibu Boats, R Marine, Sailfish Catamarans, Sealegs, Sunrunner, Sunsail and many more.

There is also a marine-themed art show with a $12,000 prize, plenty for the kids, the Yamaha Fishing Tank and the Customs vessel.

'It’s just got a great atmosphere and plenty of genuine buyers,' says boat show organizer, Dalwyn McErlane, adding that Airlie Beach and its surrounds have built a reputation over the past decade as a marine hub for boaties and industry alike.

More at www.whitsundayboatshow.com

วันอาทิตย์ที่ 1 มิถุนายน พ.ศ. 2551

Gas Price Hikes A Challenge For Boaters

EAST LYME — - The next time you feel like complaining about what it costs to fill your gas tank, consider the situation of Ken and Wendy Pratt.

The Pratts, retired employees of United Technologies, spend their winters in Middletown, but their home away from home during the summer months is a 33-foot Grady-White cabin cruiser, the Wenweken III, rocking in its slip at the Boats Inc. marina looking out on Niantic Bay.

The Wenweken III, as Ken Pratt will proudly tell you, is "outfitted to the max," with GPS navigation, satellite weather, outriggers for eight fish lines, cable TV, surround-sound stereo, a full galley and bath. The Pratts love to entertain their 14 grandchildren on the boat, motor across Long Island Sound for lunch, or overnight on fishing junkets 100 miles out to sea along the Gulf Stream.

But there's a major cost issue during this year of ascending gasoline prices and growing concern about global oil supplies. Marine gas generally sells at 50 to 75 cents a gallon over auto fuel, and last week, as the Memorial Day weekend approached, fuel was already selling at $4.66 a gallon on the East Lyme docks. By the height of the power boating season in July, the Pratts and their marina friends expect to pay $5 or more a gallon for fuel.