Monthly Archives: January 2012

Miami Marina Fire Reminds Boaters About Fire Prevention

A major fire raced through a marina in the Miami district of Coconut Grove, Florida, reducing four yachts to charred hulls. While no people were seriously injured in the blaze, the Grove Harbour Marina fire is estimated to have caused up to $7 million in property damages. Capt. Rand Pratt, owner of Sea Tow Key Biscayne, worked round-the-clock along with local firefighters, the U.S. Coast Guard and fellow Captains from four different Sea Tow locations to help fight the fire and clean up the marina in its aftermath.

“It was a real tragedy what happened to these beautiful yachts,” said Capt. Pratt. While there has been no determination of the cause of the Grove Harbour Marina yacht fire to date (an investigation is ongoing), he said this incident should remind all boaters to review and rehearse their fire-prevention practices.

Most boat fires are caused by fueling or electrical issues.

  • Make sure you have the proper size and type of marine fire extinguishers for your boat. Depending on the size of your boat, you may need more than one fire extinguisher. The U.S. Coast Guard Federal Requirements are available online at
  • Mount the fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location so you can get to it in an emergency.
  • Inspect your fire extinguishers regularly to make sure they are fully charged.
  • Before fueling, have all passengers leave the boat and shut off all flames (stoves, ovens, grills, etc.). Close all windows, doors and openings to prevent fumes from entering the boat.
  • While fueling, keep the nozzle in contact with the tank to prevent sparks and do not overfill the tank, so you leave room for the fuel to expand. Do not smoke! Wipe up any spills and dispose of the rags.
  • After fueling, open all the windows, doors and openings and run the exhaust blower for four minutes.
  • Before starting the engine, perform a “sniff” test of the bilge and engine compartment. If you smell gas, continue to use the blower until all of the fumes are gone.
  • To prevent electrical issues, inspect the electrical connections in your boat frequently. Also, inspect any shore power connection lines that you may be using before plugging them into your boat. If any wires are frayed or you see sparks, immediately shut off the power source and get the issue repaired before using it again.
  • Be cautious when using heaters in enclosed spaces, especially when unattended.

How to Deal with a Fire

  • If a fire does break out on your boat, make sure everyone puts on a life jacket.
  • If possible, position the boat so the fire is downwind. Turn off the engine and any other electrical equipment.
  • NEVER use water on a gasoline, oil, grease or electrical fire.
  • Get your fire extinguisher ready to use. Use the PASS method.
    • Pull pin
    • Aim at the base of the fire
    • Squeeze handle
    • Sweep from side to side
  • Call for help on your VHF Radio or cell phone. Prepare to abandon ship.

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State Boating Projects Receive Federal Grants

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced more than $7.5 million in competitive grants to 10 states for 11 projects to support recreational boating through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant program.

“Recreational boaters and anglers contribute to our nation’s thriving outdoor recreation economy and play an important role in conservation of our rivers, watersheds and oceans,” Secretary Salazar said. “These competitive grants will help provide quality opportunities and access to America’s great outdoors for our nation’s boaters and anglers, while creating jobs by funding major construction projects to build docks, boat slips and facilities.”

Outdoor recreation, including boating and fishing, contribute an estimated $730 billion to the U.S. economy each year, Salazar noted.

The Service will also release approximately $2.5 million to 26 states, commonwealths, and territories willing to match a smaller, non-competitive grant program known as “BIG Tier 1” funding.

Grantees use Boating Infrastructure Grant funds to construct, renovate, and maintain facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 10 days or less) that are 26 feet or more in length and used for recreation. Grantees may also use funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating.

Funding for the Boating Infrastructure Grant program comes from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, formerly known as the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund, which boaters and manufacturers support through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and boat fuel.

The 11 projects receiving the competitive grants include:

The Docks at Manderson Landing, Tuscaloosa, Alabama BIG Grant: $199,568
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management will partner with the University of Alabama to construct a floating dock with eight handicap accessible slips, a pumpout, dockside electric service, a pedestrian access ramp, retaining wall, and a gangway ramp providing ADA accessibility for transient non-trailerable recreation boaters. Non-Federal Match:  $368,000
  Total Project Cost: $567,568
Rockwater Marina, North Little Rock, Arkansas BIG Grant:  $1,028,425
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will partner with LAD, LLC, MariCorp U.S., LLC, the City of North Little Rock, the North Little Rock Visitors Bureau and the Arkansas Department of Health to create 25 transient slips and fuel services for recreational vessels up to 70 feet long at Rockwater Marina. Non-Federal Match: $578,489
  Total Project Cost:   $1,606,914
Slidell Municipal Marina at Heritage Park, Slidell, Louisiana   BIG Grant: $1,500,000
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries will partner with the City of Slidell to renovate existing bulkheads, construct 42 additional floating lay along docking spaces, and install safe walkways for boaters to access the park and downtown area at its current Heritage Park location. Non-Federal Match: $1,001,000
  Total Project Cost:  $2,501,000
Garrison Bight Marina Transient Dock, Key West, Florida BIG Grant: $500,000
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will partner with the City of Key West to replace the transient dock restroom, bathhouse, laundry facilities and electric wiring at the Garrison Bight Marina. Non-Federal Match: $400,000
  Total Project Cost: $900,000
St. Pete Beach Transient Docks, St. Pete Beach, Florida BIG Grant: $219,750
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will partner with the City of St. Pete Beach to construct 12 new transient boat slips. Electrical, water, and pumpout utilities will be provided. Non-Federal Match: $91,285
  Total Project Cost: $311,035
J. P. Coleman State Park, Iuka, Mississippi BIG Grant: $802,560
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks will partner with Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors, the Tishomingo County Development Foundation and The Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District to construct 20 transient boating slips at the J. P. Coleman State Park marina. Non-Federal Match: $451,440
  Total Project Cost: $1,254,000
Wethersfield Cove Marina, Wethersfield, Connecticut BIG Grant: $494,650
The State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will partner with the Town of Wethersfield to construct a transient boat marina, consisting of seven transient slips and 51 moorings designated for the use of transient, non-trailerable recreational vessels. Non-Federal Match:   $298,400
  Total Project Cost:  $793,050
Market Pier Docks, Washington, DC BIG Grant: $1,423,110
The District of Columbia, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development will partner with the private development team of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront, LLC for the redevelopment efforts of the District’s Southwest Waterfront. The project includes the construction of 54 transient slips with ADA accessibility. Non-Federal Match:  $1,423,111
  Total Project Cost: $2,846,221
Gratwick Park Marina, New York BIG Grant: $686,919
The New York Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will partner with the City of North Tonawanda and the Lumber City Development Corporation to install new transient docks with utilities, replace bulkheads and provide a landside restroom. Non-Federal Match: $241,350
  Total Project Cost: $928,269
SouthSide Works Marina, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania BIG Grant: $405,377
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission will partner with the City of Pittsburgh’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, in collaboration with the Soffer Organization and Fox Chapel Sea Ray Inc. to construct 16 transient boat slips and other transient amenities and services adjacent to the South Shore Riverfront Park on the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh.   Non-Federal Match:    $238,079
  Total Project Cost: $643,456
Oyster Point, San Mateo County, California BIG Grant $250,000
The California Department of Boating and Waterways will partner with the San Mateo County Harbor District to replace an existing 156-feet long transient dock with a wider transient dock of the same length, with upgraded electrical service and new gangway. Non-Federal Match: $350,000
  Total Project Cost: $600,000

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World’s Largest Yacht Too Big to Park

Maybe there is such a thing as too much yacht.

Roman Abramovich arrived in the French port of Antibes this week aboard his boat, Eclipse, which is the largest yacht in the world at more than 530 feet.

The Russian billionaire and his girlfriend were apparently planning to stay at Mr. Ambramovich’s villa in town. Because I guess the boat’s 30 cabins, two swimming pools and disco hall proved a little confining.

Yet when they pulled up to the Antibes dock, they encountered a problem: no parking space.

Antibes is the largest yachting harbor in Europe. But apparently, there is only one berth big enough for Eclipse. But it was already taken by Saudi Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal and his 265-foot yacht Kingdom 5KR. (5KR was featured in the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again.”)

According to a report in the Daily Mail, a port official said that Abramovich and his family were welcome to disembark, but “with a yacht this size it was not possible.”

Abramovich had to suffer the indignity of docking offshore and taking one of the boat’s tenders in to shore.

With so many super-yachts now in the water, Antibes has plans to build more extra-large berths. For now, however, the billionaire yacht owners of the world will have to fight for parking spaces.

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Burt Rutan’s Boat-Plane Project

Bored in retirement, legendary aerospace engineer Burt Rutan is working on a new project, a high-speed winged boat that can double as a seaplane, so he can fly between lakes and rivers near his new home in Coeur d’Alene, a lakeside resort in northern Idaho.

Famed for designing a series of innovative aircraft and spacecraft, Rutan began building planes of his own design in the late 1960s while working as a project engineer for the US Air Force. He founded Scaled Composites in Mojave, California in 1982, where he became famous for designing Voyager, the first plane to fly around the world without refuelling in 1986. More recently, Rutan designed a flying car, which got off the ground for the first time in July.

However, his crowning achievement was SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately funded craft to fly a human into space. A follow-on design, SpaceShipTwo, is intended to carry six space tourists to altitudes of about 120 kilometres, but so far has only glided in the air.

But when Burt Rutan says “seaplane”, you know he’s not thinking of the propeller-powered pontoon planes that have been flown for decades. Instead, his plans draw inspiration from large wing Russian ships or “ekranoplans” built during the Cold War (see above). Essentially boats with wings and aircraft engines, they could rise up to 20 or 30 metres above the water. Rutan is thinking of a much smaller wing-boat that could reach high speeds in boat-mode on the water then take off and fly.

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Ride of the Future is Part car, Part boat

Part car part boatIt can handle road, sand, ice and even water – and won’t make a mark on the environment. The all-terrain vehicle, which has a top speed of 100km/h and works like a hovercraft, can move seamlessly between different surfaces.

Chinese designer Yuhan Zhang, aged just 21, created the spectacular car – called the Volkswagen Aqua – for a competition sponsored by the German car manufacturer. It features a shiny, sleek design with four fans and integrated airbags that inflate to make the vehicle hover.

It’s also totally environmentally friendly – its two motors are powered by a hydrogen fuel cell which boasts zero carbon emissions. One of the motors inflates a “skirt” around the vehicle to lift it off the ground, while the other drives it forward and controls the vehicle’s direction.

Mr Zhang said: “There is no better form of transport than an air cushion vehicle because it travels equally well over land, ice and water. “I hope Aqua will one day become an affordable supercar that is widely available to the general public.”

The competition asked designers to come up with a “Chinese off-road vehicle”. Aqua is based on technology that is currently available.

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What is AIS?

AIS is initially intended to help ships avoid collisions, as well as assisting port authorities to better control sea traffic. AIS transponders on board vessels include a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, which collects position and movement details. It includes also a VHF transmitter, which transmits periodically this information on two VHF channels (frequencies 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz – old VHF channels 87 & 88) and make this data available to the public domain. Other vessels or base stations are able to receive this information, process it using special software and display vessels locations on a chart plotter or on a computer.

If you like tracking ships or just like being nosey, you can use the Marine Traffic website to do just that. You can move around the map and zoom in on your area and see what commercial traffic is there, what direction it is moving and at what speed is it moving. Living on the Delaware River, I often see commercial ships that I wonder about so I just look them up real time as they pass by. Use the following link to visit the Marine Traffice site.

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Underwater Music By The Tank Bangers

Ran across this recently and thought I would pass along. I haven’t gone diving in years but this reminds me of the beauty of the sport. To see what this environmentalist group is up to, use the following link to their website. Tank Bangers

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GHOST Military Watercraft Claims a World’s First

What does it take a nation to secure its people these days? Looks like the marines are preparing themselves well as they gear up with what they claim is the first Ghost military watercraft of the world. Developed at New Hampshire’s Juliet Marine Systems (JMS), the first prototype of the Ghost marine platform is said to “be invisible to enemy ships’ radar”. Moreover, it is also reportedly “faster and more economical than existing military vessels” as the makers claim it to be the “world’s first super-cavitating watercraft”. Also state heads and VIPs used to travelling in armored cars can opt for an ultra-secured way to cross the seas in such a watercraft.


 JMS adds, “GHOST is a combination aircraft/boat that has been designed to fly through an artificial underwater gaseous environment that creates 900 times less hull friction than water. Manned by a crew of three, the primary intention of these watercrafts is patrolling of naval fleets, and protecting them against pirate attacks. It can also carry thousands of pounds of weapons, including Mark 48 torpedoes”.

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Cold Weather Boating Requires Extra Caution and Preparation

WASHINGTON – While the majority of boaters in colder parts of the country have winterized their boats or put them into storage until spring, many still rely on their vessels for hunting, fishing or necessary transportation in cold weather, substantially increasing their risk of a deadly accident. Extra caution and preparation should be taken before heading out on the water in winter.

The U.S Coast Guard says the importance of wearing a life jacket becomes even more critical when the danger for hypothermia is added to other concerns.  Sudden immersion in cold water can have severe physiological consequences, such as cardiac arrest, fast loss of body heat (the body loses heat 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air) and involuntary inhalation of water (gasping) that results in drowning.  Most Coast Guard-approved life jackets when worn are designed to keep the user’s head above water while awaiting rescue.

In addition to wearing a life jacket, wearing the right clothing also can contribute to a more enjoyable and safer cold weather boating experience.  Consider layering clothing, including a wet suit or dry suit, to help ward off the effects of hypothermia.

Following are some additional tips for safe winter boating:

  • Assess the risks – envision what can go wrong and be fully equipped and prepared.
  • Leave a float plan with a responsible individual who knows your intentions, location, and who to call if you fail to return as scheduled. 
  • Carry a VHF radio or EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon), signal flares and other means to draw attention to your location.
  • Be aware of and prepared for the shock of sudden immersion and incapacitating effects of cold water – dress to get wet and carry a change of clothing in a waterproof container.
  • Maintain situational awareness on the water – be aware of activity around your vessel and potential for fast-changing weather conditions.
  • Boat safe and sober – save the alcohol for when you’ve safely returned.
  • Be sure your vessel is in good operating condition and has the necessary safety equipment on board before you leave the dock.
  • Refresh your seamanship skills…take a boating safety course.

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Sovereign Superyacht Comes With Its Own Limousine

Trying to decide between buying a flashy limousine or a fancy yacht? Why choose when you can have both? Well, if you’ve got a spare $132 million that is…

Created by luxury boat and car designer Gray Design, the Sovereign combines the best of both worlds – a superyacht that comes with a matching limousine that can be lifted onto land using on-board cranes.

The Swedish company released a similar car-boat combo last year called the Strand Craft, but has gone one step further with Sovereign.

 The vessel took “design cues from exclusive limousines” and the yacht looks like a much larger sea version of the car it comes with.
“We thought about a typical person on board one of these yachts and asked: how do they travel on land? Well – limousine,” Gray Design boss Eduard Gray told CNN.

Sovereign super yacht

Sovereign super yacht
Overstated luxury is the theme of this vessel, which features furniture designed by Armani. Picture: Gray Design

With three decks over the 100m length of the yacht, designers say the Sovereign “keeps an extremely low profile by current standards”.

 But with a swimming pool, golfing green, ten guest suites, a nightclub, private cinema and a helicopter pad, “low profile” may not be the right term.

For all its extravagance though, the Sovereign proves it is possible to be excessive and eco-friendly. It uses a wind turbine in the yacht’s mast and solar panels on the cabin roof to generate clean energy to run itself.

The Daily Mail reports the boat is still in the engineering stage, but should enter production soon.

Sovereign super yacht

Sovereign super yacht
The Sovereign also boasts a swimming pool, jacuzzi, private cinema, golfing green and helipad. Picture: Gray Design

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