Dispatches

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Couple admits they spied for Cuba

A well-known boating couple late last year admitted in federal court that they had spied for Cuba for the last three decades, receiving coded instructions over shortwave radio and passing them along.

The Myerses agreed to serve prison sentences under a plea deal.

Walter K. Myers, 72 — aka “Agent 202” — pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit espionage and wire fraud. His wife, Gwendolyn Steingraber Myers, 71 — aka “Agent 123” and “Agent E-634” — pleaded guilty to conspiring to gather and transmit national defense information.

Under a plea deal, Walter Myers agreed to serve a sentence of life in prison, and his wife agreed to serve up to 7-1/2 years, according to the Department of Justice. Both agreed to give extensive debriefings to U.S. law enforcement officials before they are sentenced. The couple’s attorney, Bradford Berenson, says in a statement that the couple was motivated by personal conscience, not greed.

The story of their arrest was reported in the August 2009 issue of Soundings. (Search the archives at www.soundingsonline.com — keyword: Myers.)

A tribute to nautical persistence

A cruising powerboat that a Tacoma, Wash., man built in his back yard over the course of 25 years, but didn’t live to see launched, might be splashed after all.

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George De Shon died in March 2008 at the age of 82. A quarter-century earlier, he began building the 50-footer he and his wife, Merna, planned to go cruising aboard during their retirement. When he became sick five years ago, they put it up for sale, and word began to spread of the 50-foot boat being built in a 75-foot work space. De Shon continued to work on the vessel until his death.

The family eventually donated the boat to Dave Hallstrom and Scott Liles, who are splitting the costs of moving it and the remaining work to be done with two other partners. Last fall, friends and family watched as a 220-foot crane lifted the 50-footer out of George De Shon’s back yard.

The boat needs an engine, but the interior is almost complete, down to the dinnerware and towels. The estimated value of the home-built boat is $450,000. A local newspaper reports Hallstrom has agreed to take Merna and her family on the boat’s maiden voyage, which they hope will be in the spring.

—    Elizabeth Ellis

A coup for Hunt coupes

The customer is always right. That’s a creed most successful businesses follow.

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Customers wanted coupe versions of three of Hunt Yachts’ popular models — the Surfhunter 29, Surfhunter 33 and Harrier 36 — and now they’re getting them. A Surfhunter 29 Coupe was launched last summer in Newport, R.I., and two Harrier 36 Coupes are scheduled to be delivered in the next few months.

“Adding a hardtop and side windows allows those at the helm and in the settee area to be more comfortable in an air-conditioned [or heated] area, extending not only the coupe’s cruising capability, but also adding days to the boating season,” says Ray Hunt, director of manufacturing and engineering at Portsmouth, R.I.-based Hunt Yachts.

The hardtops can be ordered with an optional sliding sunroof; twin opening hatches are standard. In addition to the overhead openings, sliding side windows allow more natural ventilation.

Champagne was the order of the day when Hunter and Lynne White launched their new Harrier.

The builder finishes the boats’ bridge deck areas with wood. Large tempered glass windshields on three sides provide excellent visibility. The layout varies by model size, but all three coupes are offered with a standard L-shaped settee to port, extending aft from a companion seat, with a helm station to starboard.

Twin 380-hp Yanmar diesels are the standard power for the Harrier 36 Coupe, but it’s also available with Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System — twin IPS400s (300-hp diesels) or IPS500s (370-hp diesels) — as well as jetdrives. The Surfhunter 33’s standard power is a 380-hp Yanmar, while a single 375-hp Volvo Penta gas sterndrive is standard on the Surfhunter 29. All three cruise at 24 knots and top out at more than 30 knots. Pricing was unavailable at press time.

Contact: Hunt Yachts, (401) 324-4201. www.huntyachts.com

—    Chris Landry

In Our Wake

On Feb. 8, 1895, the 163-foot three-masted schooner Louis V. Place was sailing in a gale with winds of more than 50 mph off New York’s Long Island. The ship was carrying 1,100 tons of coal, with a captain and crew of seven. In near-zero visibility, the anchors, sails and rigging froze to the ship. With the captain disoriented and the crew suffering from hypothermia, the Louis V. Place drifted broadside onto a sandbar some 350 yards off the beach near the Lone Hill Lifesaving Station. Waves washing over the deck drove crewmembers to lash themselves to the rigging. A lifesaving crew attempted a rescue by firing a line with a Lyle gun. Despite repeatedly landing within reach, no effort to retrieve it was made. Dense porridge ice initially hindered the launch of a surf boat, and by the time a boat reached the ship, six men had either frozen to death or, like the captain, fallen into the sea. Two of the deceased hung ghostly in the ship’s rigging. Of the survivors, one died a month later and the other reportedly “went mad.”

This article originally appeared in the February 2010 issue.