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Dispatches: A Hydra cat with pod power

Custom builder Hydra Powerboats, of Cream Ridge, N.J., is building its first sportfishing catamaran with Cummins MerCruiser Diesel Zeus pod-drive propulsion.

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Designed by company owner Jack Domick, the Hydra 45 is being constructed with Kevlar, carbon fiber, composite coring and infused epoxy and vinylester resins.

"Right now this boat is about 30 to 40 percent complete," says Domick, who spoke with Soundings in mid-August. "All of the large components are resin-infused, and now we're even doing hatch covers and small pieces with infusion. Everything is high-end."

The cat is for a Northeast bluefin tuna fisherman who needs a soft ride and beam-sea stability, says Domick, who started his career building 140-mph offshore performance boats in the mid-1980s.

The Hydra 45, which has a beam of 16 feet, 2 inches, should get slightly more than 1 nautical mile per gallon at a 30-knot cruise with the Zeus system's twin 480-hp diesels,  Domick says. Fuel capacity is 500 gallons.

The boat has a centerline helm station inside the pilothouse - two steps up from the cockpit - with seating abaft the helm and companion seats. Overnight accommodations include a double berth in the port sponson and a head, shower and sink in the starboard sponson. The raised wheelhouse also allows room for a midcabin. Wide side decks and an open bow allow fishing from anywhere on deck, Domick says.

In addition to diesel pod drives, Domick will power the Hydra 45 with diesel surface drives or triple or quad outboards. This boat, with twin Zeus drives, costs $1.2 million. It is expected to be completed next spring. Hydra Powerboats, (609) 758-7800.

— Chris Landry

The senator who kicked the hornet's nest

The marine community had strong reactions to the news that Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts bought a $7 million New Zealand-built yacht while local builders struggle to find work.

"Darn, that would have been a wonderful job for a Maine builder," Jane Wellehan, president of the trade group Maine Built Boats, told the Boston Herald. "If someone comes to build a $7 million boat, that would employ half the population of some towns for a year or two. Boatbuilding is such a critical component of our coastal economy."

News that Kerry was docking the 76-foot custom sloop in Newport, R.I., and seemingly avoiding more than $500,000 in Massachusetts excise and sales taxes also raised some ire. A few days after the news broke, Kerry said he would voluntarily pay the $500,000.

"We've reached out to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and made clear that, whether owed or not, we intend to pay the equivalent taxes as if the boat's home port were currently in Massachusetts,'' Kerry said.

Owner regains kayak that drifted hundreds of miles

When a wave knocked a kayaker from his craft off the Cayman Islands, he focused on escaping a riptide and getting back to shore. The "surf ski" kayak was as good as gone.

Six weeks later, it was found some 600 miles away off Key Largo, Fla., and a Coast Guard search for the paddler ensued, according to published reports. The search turned up nothing. The Coast Guard traced the kayak back to South African manufacturer Fenn and then to a Florida distributor. It posted a notice of the recovered kayak on a paddling enthusiast website, where a friend of the paddler's saw it. The kayak was returned to the owner by the dealer who originally sold it to him.

Authorities believe the kayak drifted northwest past Cuba, through the Yucatan Channel and into the Gulf Stream to Key Largo.

Boating deaths rose in '09 despite drop in accidents

The Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety in August released its Recreational Boating Statistics 2009 report, which shows a 3.81 percent increase in boating fatalities and a 0.81 percent increase in related injuries. However, the number of accidents decreased 1.23 percent.

The Coast Guard recorded 736 fatalities, 3,358 injuries and approximately $36 million in property damage from 4,730 recreational boating accidents in 2009. "Nearly 75 percent of the 736 people who died in boating accidents in 2009 drowned, and 84 percent of those victims reportedly were not wearing a life jacket," says Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the Coast Guard's director of prevention policy.

This and other reports are available online at

In our wake

The 147-ton schooner Frances E. Waters was carrying lumber with a crew of six when the Great Storm of October swept across North Carolina's Outer Banks Oct. 23, 1889. After the storm passed, she was found on the beach at Nags Head, N.C. There were no survivors. The wreck sat on the beach for 89 years until a storm floated it southward into a pier. Today, a section of the hull is on display outside the Nags Head Town Hall.

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue.