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Trouble finds schooners on opposite coasts

It was a tough start to the summer for two wooden schooners, as both found the bottom the hard way — on the same day, but on separate coasts.

Around noon June 23, the 95-year-old 133-foot Seattle-based Adventuress ran aground in Wasp Passage in Washington’s San Juan Islands. The crews of a local ferry and tow boat safely removed all 27 people on board, mostly schoolchildren on a field trip.

CoastGuardAirStationPort Angeles sent an MH-65C helicopter to the scene, and Coast Guard Station Bellingham sent a rescue boat. Adventuress was freed a few hours after the grounding, with no injuries and minimal damage to the vessel reported.

About six hours later, the 97-year-old 84-foot knockabout schooner Sylvina W. Beal ran hard aground on a rocky shore in fog near Indian Island, New Brunswick, a half-mile into Canada. Winds were 8 mph, with visibility about 100 yards in calm seas, according to the Coast Guard. The vessel was carrying 41 passengers, mostly North Carolina youth on a church outing, and all were safely evacuated by the Coast Guard. No injuries were reported.

A rising tide began to refloat the schooner at around midnight, when Coast Guard crews noticed the ship had taken on about 1,500 gallons of water. Three pumps dewatered the vessel, and it was towed to Coast Guard Station Eastport, the schooner’s home port. Both incidents were under investigation.

Boating industry rallying boaters

This year’s federal reauthorization of the Clean Water Act includes a provision involving ballast water discharge that lumps together recreational boats and commercial vessels, prompting a public call-to-arms by pleasure boating organizations.

A lawsuit filed in federal court in California targeting transoceanic ships that discharge ballast water, which may contain invasive marine species, led to the federal mandate of the Environmental Protection Agency. “The federal courts required EPA to draft a permitting regime that puts individual boaters under the same penalty system as corporate industries, even though discharges from a rowing dinghy or motorboat are quite different than those from a large commercial ship with ballast water,” says BoatU.S. vice president of government affairs Margaret Podlich.

As stated, the legislation could require recreational boaters to file similar paperwork and pay fees associated with what is currently required of commercial vessels. A 79-foot threshold is being discussed by federal agencies and recreational boating industry advocates.

The proposed Clean Boating Act of 2008 (S. 2766 and H.R. 5949) would exempt recreational boaters if passed before the legislative deadline of Sept. 30. For more information, visit, or contact Mat Dunnat or (202)737-9760.

Switlik life raft alert issued

Switlik Parachute Co. is warning owners of its life rafts that there may be a problem with the inflation system. Switlik says it has had reports of S-2630 inflation valves failing to operate properly and not discharging the CO2 cylinder into the life raft during annual service and standard five-year operational and inflation testing.

Inspection of the valves indicated changes in the consistency of the lubricant and a degradation of the piston O-ring material, according to the company. The result is the O-rings adhering to the pistons and valve bodies, causing the inflation valves to malfunction.

“This is not obvious and could cause false reliance on a life raft that, if needed, may not inflate and function as a life-saving device,” a company statement says.

Switlik has implemented a corrective action that mandates replacement of the S-2630 inflation valves currently in service and urges owners to have their rafts serviced as soon as possible. Contact Switlik Parachute Company at (609) 587-3300, or visit for details and a listing of local service stations.

Accidents decline over last five years

The Personal Watercraft Industry Association released an analysis of boating safety data showing the number of boating accidents decreased in 35 states from 2002 to 2006. Further, the decline in boating accidents in 22 states exceeds the five-year national decline of 13 percent.

Vermont (83 percent decrease) and Hawaii (71 percent) ranked first and second for the most improved boating safety records. Florida and California — the states with the most registered boats — each saw a 24 percent decrease. According to the Coast Guard data PWIA used in its analysis, accidents involving PWC have declined 31 percent over the same period.

In a separate study, recreational boating fatalities fell in 2007, according to figures announced by the Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Division. Fatalities dropped from 710 in 2006 to 688 in 2007, the lowest figure since 2004 and third lowest since the Coast Guard began collecting statistics specifically related to recreational boating.

Stop piracy using ‘all necessary means’

Condemning all acts of piracy and armed robbery against vessels off Somalia, the United Nations Security Council has authorized a series of measures to combat those crimes.

By the terms of resolution 1816 (2008), which was unanimously adopted, the council decided that the states cooperating with Somalia’s transitional government would be allowed, for a period of six months, to enter its territorial waters and use “all necessary means” to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea in a manner consistent with relevant provisions of international law.

The text was adopted with the consent of Somalia — which lacks the capacity to interdict pirates or patrol and secure its territorial waters — following a surge in attacks on ships, including the hijackings of vessels operated by the U.N.’s World Food Programme and numerous commercial vessels, including a cruise ship.

EPA finalizes new emissions regulation

The Environmental Protection Agency has published a final rule in the Federal Register that is designed to reduce exhaust emissions from diesel-powered recreational boats. As originally proposed, the rule — “Control of Emissions of Air Pollution from Locomotive Engines and Marine Compression Ignition Engines Less Than 30 Liters Per Cylinder” (Vol. 73, No. 88) — would have required U.S. diesel-powered recreational vessels with engines greater than 2,000 kW (2,682 hp) to install catalyst after-treatment systems.

A diesel catalyst aftertreatment system requires urea, a chemical compound derived from ammonia and carbon dioxide, and low-sulfur fuel (less than 15 ppm). The final rule exempts recreational-boat builders and instead requires engine manufacturers to meet more stringent Tier III requirements.