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Featured Stories on Boating and Boater Safety

There’s a heroic side to the alleged shooter

Vance Bunker, the lobsterman accused of the Matinicus shooting, is a local hero who helped save three men after their tugboat sank one brutally cold night in 1992.

(From left) Paul Murray, Vance Bunker and Rick Kohls.The air that Jan. 16 was minus 4 F — so cold a thick layer of sea smoke hung over Penobscot Bay. Though stars were visible overhead, visibility across the water was very smoky. The wind was blowing 40 mph when the 75-foot tug Harkness, chugging back to Mount Desert Island, began taking on water off Matinicus.

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Plummeting prices don’t help

The lobster fishery has had some very, very good years

— but also some tough ones — from the mid-1980s right up to 2007, when lobsters were fetching as much as $12 a pound wholesale at the dock. This summer, lobstermen have been getting $2.50 a pound, a 19-year low.

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The elements of seaworthiness

A seaworthy boat handles well, is stable, sheds water quickly, and has plenty of reserve buoyancy

Keeping the water on the outside of the boat is the most basic aspect of seaworthiness.A seaworthy boat to my mind is one that can reliably and safely carry out its function or mission. In that context, you would expect a runabout to stay afloat, handle well and ride comfortably in a light chop on inshore waters.

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For want of a drogue

Solo sailor Nicholas Barham had no way of slowing the speedy Tahiti Belle’s rush to destruction.

Barham awaits rescue aboard his battered Val 31 trimaran. Barham was asleep in a darkened bunk aboard his 31-foot trimaran Tahiti Belle, his dreams troubled by the same concerns he had when awake: Can the rig hold up in this gale?

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What I learned on Tahiti Belle

1. Life jackets: Never use a life jacket without crotch straps and, preferably, a spray hood built into the collar. It is also well worth thinking about having a buddy line and two of the combined red flare/orange smoke canisters the lifeboat crews use attached to their life jacket waist straps.

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