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Fair winds or foul: tough times for some tall ships

It's been a tough few years, but those who have experienced the benefits of sail training are rallying to find long-term solutions.The Ocean Classroom Foundation, a nonprofit sail-training organization that closed its doors at summer’s end after 20 years of educating students at sea, has sold its tall ships — Harvey Gamage, Spirit of Massachusetts and Westward — to operators who plan to put one, maybe two, of the schooners back on the water in semester-at-sea programs and the third into service as a dockside attraction in southern Maine.

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‘Do whatever it takes’ to get a search resumed

The Coast Guard covered 25,000 square miles in two separate searches for the crew of the 39-foot sailboat Cheeki Rafiki.The search for survivors from the sailboats Niña and Cheeki Rafiki ended badly for both, with no lives saved. Yet friends and family of Cheeki Rafiki’s crew fought for a second Coast Guard search and won, with help from a massive political and public relations blitz, while the push for renewing the search for Niña fell on deaf ears in New Zealand.



A will to win drives this maritime lawyer

James Mercante in his office at Rubin, Fiorella & FriedmanThree decades of dissecting accidents on the water has made James Mercante a very cautious boater. The New York City-based maritime lawyer has handled such high-profile cases as the sinking of the Silverton 34 Kandi Won in Oyster Bay, New York, on July 4, 2012, in which three children drowned, and last year’s accident when a powerboat struck a barge moored at the Tappan Zee Bridge on the Hudson River in New York, killing two people.



Questions of character

Two high-profile maritime tragedies have left many with a vexing question:

Are captains bound by law to go down with the ship?

Capt. Henrik Kurt Carlsen became a hero in 1952 for his refusal to abandon the Flying Enterprise after a wave cracked the freighter's hull.Lore or law: The captain must go down with the ship? Answer: Lore. How about the master being responsible for his passengers and crew? Answer: law.

“The master’s primary responsibility is the safety of his passengers and crew,” says Richard Dein, a retired Coast Guard officer and expert witness who has worked as a master on passenger ferries and towboats.



Errors in judgment

Responsibility for several recent tragedies rests not only with the captains, but also with the systems that put them in place

Three recent maritime accidents made most of us aware, once again, that going to sea can be a risky business. In fact, the most recent passenger ship accident, in April off South Korea, was the 100th passenger vessel lost since 2002.



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