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‘Virtual’ circumnavigation kicks off summer season

Summer Sailstice, the global “holiday” created to celebrate sailing on the solstice (and the weekend closest to it), has partnered with the Ocean Conservancy to promote ocean preservation.

“Beyond connecting sailors worldwide in a celebration of sailing, Summer Sailstice has a longstanding goal of promoting strong bonds between sailors and the sea,” says event founder John Arndt.

The new partnership debuts June 23 and 24 with a new “virtual event,” a collective circumnavigation of the globe. To participate, sailors sign up on the Summer Sailstice Web site (www.summersailstice.com ) and pledge a donation to the Ocean Conservancy for each mile they sail in support of a collective, worldwide circumnavigation. Sailors can log their miles on the Summer Sailstice Web site, and the goal is for all participating boats to sail a combined 26,000 miles, the equivalent of a complete circumnavigation.

Forum to address water access issues

Working Waterways & Waterfronts — A National Symposium on Water Access brings together experts from many fields to explore solutions to the loss of water access hindering boaters, commercial fishermen and water-dependent businesses along the nation’s coastline.

Organizers say the conference, sponsored by Virginia Sea Grant and scheduled for May 9 to 11 at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel, will present an array of “tools” that municipalities and individuals can use in their home communities to protect and preserve waterfront access. Presentations will highlight case studies of successful preservation programs initiated in 14 states, from Maine to California. In addition, a panel of legal experts will discuss regulatory options available to state and local governments.

Conference registration is $375; the daily rate is $115. Registration may be completed online through the conference Web site at

www.wateraccess2007.com, or by calling College of William and Mary Conference Services at (800) 249-0179.

Captain pleads guilty but ‘did nothing wrong’

The captain of the Ethan Allen — the 40-foot tour boat that capsized on New York’s Lake George in October 2005, killing 20 elderly passengers — pleaded guilty in March to a misdemeanor charge in connection with the fatal accident.

Richard Paris, 75, and his employer, Shoreline Cruises, pleaded guilty to a violation of the state’s navigation code as a result of the sinking. Paris and the company each paid $250 fines; Paris also was ordered to serve 210 hours of community service.

At the sentencing Paris reportedly said he was sorry about the accident but believes he wasn’t responsible for causing it. “As far as I was concerned, I did nothing wrong. It was strictly an accident,” Paris told NewsChannel 13 in Albany, N.Y. “I pled guilty just to get this over with and get back to somewhat of a normal life.”

Paris and Shoreline Cruises were indicted in February on charges that Ethan Allen was overcrowded and that Paris had an insufficient number of crewmembers on board, reports say. A number of lawsuits naming Paris and Shoreline Cruises as defendants also have been filed in federal court by survivors and relatives of the victims.

— Jason Fell

Calif. sets new regs for marine emissions

Beginning Jan. 1, 2008, California will introduce a new, more stringent set of exhaust emission regulations for sterndrive and inboard gasoline marine engines.

“Unlike previously enacted outboard engine and personal watercraft emission regulations, which placed the compliance burden exclusively on marine engine manufacturers, the compliance burden and liability for the SD/I regulation will be shared between the dealer, boatbuilder and engine maker,” says John McKnight, the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s director of Environmental Safety and Compliance.

Under the new California regulations, the state will require all boats outfitted with gasoline SD/I engines manufactured after Jan. 1, 2008, to be equipped with catalyst technology. There are only a few exceptions to this rule; 4.3-liter and 8.1-liter engines manufactured by General Motors (GM will stop producing these models after 2009) and some phased-in Indmar engines (the company began its phase-in program this year) will still have an opportunity to sell these engines uncatalyzed.

Engine manufacturers are also required to certify their engines meet the appropriate model year emission standards with the California Air Resources Board. www.arb.ca.gov