Few things fire the imagination like a mystery at sea, where distances are vast, the heart of the deep is fickle, and ships and crews meet their end in ways upon which we can only speculate. Ships are lost or abandoned; crews disappear; ghost ships drift through fog-shrouded water; skippers go missing or, as we have just seen in the news, are found adrift and mummified.
By most accounts, the relocated Progressive Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key was a winner — a lovely venue overlooking Miami’s downtown skyline and Biscayne Bay, easy-to-find exhibits under air-conditioned tents and sea trials on boats tied up at temporary docks just a few minutes’ walk from the upland sales displays.
When Texan Pat Zagar moved his boat salvage business three years ago, he had to find a way to dispose of the 200 hulls stored on his property. “I’m in the boat recycling business, and I could not find a place that would take the fiberglass,” says Zagar, 57, of Houston, who dismantles boats for parts and sells them. So he dumped them into a landfill, where the fiberglass will sit for years. It cost him $40,000 to trash more than 1,100 tons of hull material.
Blackbeard’s flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, inspired fear in the hearts of early 18th century mariners who dreaded the pirate crew’s plundering, but the vessel’s remains have become the linchpin of a hugely successful “heritage tourism” industry in coastal North Carolina. Recent lawsuits allege the state has reneged on agreements to share profits from the shipwreck with the salvors who discovered the infamous ship.
As investigators probed the loss of El Faro and lawyers sued on behalf of some of the 33 crewmembers lost when the cargo ship sank Oct. 1 in Hurricane Joaquin, Maine Maritime Academy mourned the loss of five of its own in the disaster.
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