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Dispatches - May 2010

A Carolina-bred 28-footer

With its broken sheer, flared bow and cold-molded construction, the Harrison Boatworks 28 Center Console Sportfisherman is about as Carolina as you can get.

The Harrison Boatworks 28 Center Console Sportfisherman has relatively flat aft sections for an efficient running bottom.

"The goal with this boat was to create a center console that has a high-end finish and great seakeeping capabilities - and one that could go moderately fast without requiring two or three outboards that guzzle fuel," says Patrick Harrison, owner and operator of Harrison Boatworks, Roanoke Island, N.C.

The progression of deadrise from the transom to the forefoot makes the 28 an excellent sea boat, says Harrison, who designs and custom-builds a variety of boats, including a 39-foot express sportfisherman, a 60-foot convertible sportfisherman, 19- and 21-foot tunnel skiffs, and a 17-foot flats skiff. Its relatively flat aft sections (11 degrees of transom deadrise) provide a stable fishing platform and an efficient running bottom, he says.

"This boat's bottom does not require 500 or 600 hp to get on a plane," he says. "It planes at very low rpm with very little bow rise."

Harrison has built two of the center consoles. A single 300-hp Yamaha HPDI 2-stroke powers the latest hull, pushing it to a top end of 39 knots, with a 30-knot cruise. He has not yet calculated fuel-burn rates, but he says the 28 is "extremely fuel efficient" with this engine. It'll burn even less with Yamaha's new V6 300-hp 4-stroke, which is the likely power choice going forward, Harrison says.

Harrison cold-molds the 28-footer using epoxy resin to fuse alternating layers of okoume marine plywood and fiberglass, for a strong lightweight hull, according to the builder. LOA is 29 feet, 6 inches, and the beam is 9 feet, 3 inches.

Harrison's most recent boat, with the 300-hp

2-stroke, has a price tag of $150,000, with a trailer and fold-down upper steering station. The boat also has a cuddy cabin with V-berth, electric head, and teak decks and washboards.

Contact: Harrison Boatworks, Roanoke Island, N.C., (252) 473-0161.

-    Chris Landry

In Our Wake

In the early hours of May 15, 1930, the four-masted schooner Azua, bound for Bermuda with a cargo of coal, was struck and sunk by the steamer City of Atlanta off Barnegat Light, N.J. Three members of the Azua crew died in the accident, though early radio reports from the City of Atlanta erroneously stated all seven crewmembers had been rescued. The City of Atlanta, which was steaming from New York City with 22 passengers and cargo, suffered bow damage above the waterline and eventually reached its home port of Savannah, Ga.

The steamer captain, John M. Diehl, was also in command of the City of Rome when it struck and sank a U.S. submarine off Block Island, R.I., in 1925, with a loss of 35 lives. On Jan. 14, 1942, the City of Rome left New York for Savannah under a different captain when a German U-boat torpedoed the port side abaft the engine room bulkhead. Six hours after the strike, the freighter Seatrain Texas rescued five survivors of the 47 crewmembers.

An explosive find

A British Coastguard survey vessel recently turned up a World War II remnant in the harbor of the southern port town of Portland: a

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1-ton German parachute mine.

The mine was located by sonar equipment during a routine shoreline survey and was hoisted from the water - then carefully replaced once the crew realized what they had on their hands. An explosive ordnance disposal team was called in and, after divers identified a safe location in the outer bay, disposed of the mine in a controlled explosion.

As the name implies, parachute mines were attached to parachutes and dropped from aircraft. They were timed to detonate at roof level rather than on impact to maximize the blast's destruction. The Luftwaffe also used them as magnetically triggered sea mines.

Active hurricane season meteorologists are forecasting a much more active hurricane season than last year for the Atlantic Basin. "This year has the chance to be an extreme season," says Joe Bastardi, chief long-range meteorologist and hurricane forecaster. "It is certainly much more like 2008 than 2009 as far as the overall threat to the United States East and Gulf coasts."

Bastardi is calling for a total of 16 to 18 tropical storms, 15 in the western Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. A typical season averages 11 named storms, two or three of which impact the U.S. coast. He forecasts seven storm landfalls, five of them hurricanes - and two or three of those hurricanes will be major landfalls in the United States.

Drivers for increased storm activity include a rapidly weakening El Niño, warmer ocean temperatures in the Atlantic tropical breeding grounds, weakening trade winds and higher humidity levels.

Bastardi says the upcoming season compares to those of 1964, 1995 and 1998 in terms of storm setup - all were major impact seasons for the U.S. coast. The Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.

This article originally appeared in the May 2010 issue.