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Sunshine State tops

Best Beaches list

America’s Best Beaches, the annual top 10 list by coastal expert Stephen Leatherman (aka “Dr. Beach”), this year ranks a Florida beach No. 1 in the nation.

Fort De Soto Park’s North Beach, near St. Petersburg on Florida’s central Gulf Coast, takes top honors on the America’s Best Beaches 2005 list. “Fort De Soto Park offers something for everyone; there’s great fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, bird-watching, camping, biking, walking trails and a dog park,” Leatherman says. “There’s even a 105-year-old fort on-site that’s a landmark of Florida history.”

A total of three Florida beaches made this year’s list, along with three in Hawaii. The other nine beaches in the top 10: 2. Ocracoke Island, N.C. 3. Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii 4. Caladesi Island State Park, Clearwater, Fla. 5. Fleming Beach, Maui, Hawaii 6. Coast Guard Beach, Cape Cod, Mass. 7. Coronado Beach, San Diego 8. Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Fla. 9. Main Beach, East Hampton, N.Y.; 10. Hamoa Beach, Maui.

Since 1991 Leatherman, a Florida International University professor, has issued his annual list of top 10 U.S. beaches. Each list comprises the best swimming beaches in the country, based on criteria evaluating scientific and ecological factors, as well as facilities and management. Once a beach is declared No. 1, it is retired from the Best Beaches survey.

More information on Dr. Beach’s 2005 top 10 list can be found at www.nhbc.fiu.edu.

Cup T-shirt, booze boat

for sale on eBay

Ben Nathan, the New Zealand man who took a sledgehammer to the America’s Cup in March 1997, planned to auction the T-shirt he wore during the act.

Nathan placed the shirt up for bid on eBay, according the New Zealand Herald. The T-shirt, which was splattered with blood when Nathan cut his hand smashing the Cup’s glass case, touts sovereignty for New Zealand’s indigenous Maori people. Nathan told the newspaper he would have sold the hammer, too, but police destroyed it after he was arrested.

Nathan was jailed for three years and told New Zealand news outlets he is a reformed man. He plans to use any money from the auction for a life-coaching business for former convicts and unemployed people.

A British businessman who in 2004 attempted to sell tax-free alcohol and cigarettes offshore aboard his 50-foot boat — until United Kingdom Customs got involved — is offering the vessel on eBay.

Philip Berriman, 46, was asking $18,000 for the former lighthouse supply boat, according to the Hartlepool Mail newspaper. Among the first 22 bids, none topped $200.

“Customs are making my life impossible,” Berriman told the newspaper. “Whenever I take the boat out and come back they are all over me.”

Berriman and a partner reportedly purchased large quantities of alcohol and cigarettes from Germany, where the duty is less, and attempted to sell them 12 miles off northeast England. A customs agency cutter was dispatched to shadow the boat and inform any customers they would have to pay a duty on the goods when they went ashore. Few customers ventured out.