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Featured Stories on Boating and Boater Safety

Jury-rigging, mentors and the call of the sea

In 2009, Rich Wilson became only the second American to finish the Vendee Globe.Editor’s note: In 2008-09, Rich Wilson became only the second American to finish the Vendée Globe, the non-stop single-handed sailboat race around the world that has been called the “most grueling and dangerous prolonged competition on the planet.” Wilson, 58 at the time and a severe asthmatic, came in ninth among 11 finishers (out of 30 starters), sailing 29,000 miles over 121 days in his Open 60 Great American III. He endured broken ribs, a facial gash, a climb up the mast on his run to Cape Horn, sleep deprivation and fear. He recounts his adventure in his just published “Race France to France: Leave Antarctica to Starboard,” available in paperback and e-book formats. The next edition of the Vendée starts Nov. 10.

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Ocean racing’s A-Team is French

At its core, the Vendee remains a human adventure first and a sports event second. That is what is so compelling.The French are the major-leaguers of short-handed ocean racing, yet many U.S. sailors are unaware of the great French ocean races and racers.

I offer two comparisons:

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Enlivening classrooms

For 15 years, sitesALIVE! (www.sitesalive.com) has produced programs linking adventures and expeditions with K-12 classrooms to get students excited and engaged and to show them real people doing real things in the real world.

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Setting boats ablaze in the name of safety

Daniel K. Rutherford has spent 30 years as a certified marine investigator, looking into fires, explosions, sinkings, boat disappearances. His job is to determine the cause of boat casualties and he investigates about 150 claims a year.

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Understanding boat fires

Here is some insight from Daniel K. Rutherford's three decades as a marine investigator:
• Most fires, excluding arson, are fuel- or electrical-related — "If it's a fuel fire, we're probably dealing with a leak in a hose or fitting, maybe a tank," he says. "It's probably a single-source leak of some kind that results in gas vapor accumulation with some sort of an ignition spark."

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