Skip to main content

In the news

Titanic wreck site protection proposed

Proposed legislation was sent to Congress this summer that would create an international agreement with the United Kingdom, Canada and France for increased protection of the RMS Titanic wreck.

The agreement would effectively stop unregulated salvage and other potentially harmful activities to the wreck site by designating it an international maritime memorial to those who died in the sinking and whose graves “should be given appropriate respect,” according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.

If enacted, the legislation will implement the agreement called for by Congress in the RMS Titanic Maritime Memorial Act of 1986. Once it is signed into law, the agreement will become effective for the United States. NOAA will lead in regulating dives to the shipwreck for the United States. The agreement is at various stages of approval in the other three nations.

PassageMaker gets new publisher

Rob Dorfmeyer has been named publisher and general manager of PassageMaker magazine. He assumes the responsibilities of Laurene Parlatore, who co-founded the Annapolis, Md.-based publication with her husband, Bill Parlatore, the editor-in-chief, in 1995. The magazine focuses on the boats, people and lifestyle of cruising under power.

Dorfmeyer is a longtime boater who spends time with his family aboard their Tiara 40, Reelaxation, on the Great Lakes. A member of the Catawba Island Club in Port Clinton, Ohio, he has cruised the Great Lakes extensively, as well as the East Coast and Intracoastal Waterway.

Both PassageMaker and Soundings are owned by Dominion Enterprises of Norfolk, Va.

Inside the mind of a powerboater

Nationwide Insurance has taken the pulse of the country’s power sports enthusiasts with its annual America at Play consumer survey. In the survey, more than 2,500 powerboaters, motorcyclists and RV owners answered questions about themselves and their favorite motorized pastimes, from fuel prices to lifestyle and usage trends. Findings among powerboaters include:

• 92 percent place great emphasis on operating their vessels safely

• 80 percent have taken a safety course

• 83 percent say their boat allows them to spend quality time with family

• 65 percent agree the social aspect of boating is as enjoyable as boating itself.

Records are made to be broken

The 105-foot maxi trimaran Groupama 3 has set records for both distance sailed in a 24-hour period and crossing the North Atlantic. French skipper Franck Cammas and crew set out July 19 from Ambrose Light off New York and made England’s Lizard Point in 4 days, 3 hours, 57 minutes, 54 seconds, averaging 28.65 knots over the 2,925-mile course. Groupama 3 bested the record set by Bruno Peyron and crew a year earlier aboard the 121-foot trimaran Orange II by 4 hours, 26 minutes.

In the course of breaking the record, Groupama 3 also set a new 24-hour mark. At an average speed of 33 knots, the trimaran covered 794 miles in 24 hours — 27 miles farther than Peyron sailed in a 24-hour period last July.

The trans-Atlantic record was established in 1905 when Charlie Barr sailed the 185-foot schooner Atlantic over the same course in 12 days, 4 hours, 1 minute at an average speed of a little more than 10 knots.

Nordhavn fleet arrives in Gibraltar

A trio of Nordhavn trawlers consisting of two 55-footers and a 47-footer completed an Atlantic crossing in mid-July, arriving in Gibraltar after a 3,800-nautical-mile Med Bound rally that began in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., May 28. The fleet reported no major gear failures despite enduring gale-force winds and rough seas during the last few days of the final leg.

“We all feel a great sense of accomplishment and are delighted that we have done what so few human beings ever get to do: cross an ocean aboard a small, well-found yacht,” says Milt Baker, Med Bound leader and captain of the Nordhavn 47 Bluewater.

Nine Nordhavns from 40- to 62-feet set out from Fort Lauderdale, bound for Bermuda, though a 50-footer had to abort due to a stabilization problem. The remaining boats converged at Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Hamilton, where they stayed for a week before five returned to the United States; the other three continued to Horta in the Azores and finally Gibraltar. Baker estimates burning just less than 3,000 gallons of fuel for all three legs combined, traveling at an average speed of 6.8 knots.

What would be the charge for that tow?

A 95-foot expedition motoryacht completed a voyage from Florida to Australia with the owner’s 38-foot sportfishing boat in tow. Maverick, one of Dutch builder Vripack’s Doggersbank Offshore designs, is a twin-screw displacement yacht powered by 385-hp Caterpillar diesels. She traveled 30,060 nautical miles towing the 12-ton sportfisherman, Wrangler, which the owner used as a tender of sorts.

The voyage involved a passage through the Panama Canal and stops in Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Fiji and New Zealand before arriving at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Maverick was built in 2000 by the Kuipers Shipyard in Woudsend, Holland, as Alexa S and rechristened in 2004 by her second owners. Maverick has since returned to Florida, where she was sold again and bound for California.

Hurricane trackers using new model

NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction and its NationalHurricaneCenter forecasters are using the Hurricane Weather and Research Forecast Model to predict the track and strength of storms this hurricane season.

Developed by scientists at the NOAAEnvironmentalModelingCenter, HWRF is a new computer model that will serve as the operational backbone for current and future hurricane track and intensity forecasts by meteorologists at the NationalHurricaneCenter in Miami.

HWRF, a coupled ocean-atmosphere model, will use advanced physics of the atmosphere, ocean and waves in one prediction system, providing unparalleled understanding of the science of tropical cyclone evolution. Its output gives meteorologists an analysis of the hurricane in three-dimensions from real-time airborne Doppler radar, according to NOAA. It will make use of a variety of observations from satellites, data buoys and hurricane hunter aircraft. No other hurricane model accesses this wide of a range of meteorological information.

“Over the next several years, this model promises to improve forecasts for tropical cyclone intensity, wave and storm surge, and hurricane-related inland flooding,” says Mary Glackin, acting director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

Debris field found, but when did she sink?

The crew of a research vessel this summer spotted the remains of a boat off Georgia’s JekyllIsland and contacted the Coast Guard, prompting the launch of a rescue helicopter and vessel to investigate. The Coast Guard found a debris field that stretched some 30 miles. One piece, part of the stern, had the vessel name Turmoil on it, along with a home port of Brunswick, Ga.

As rescue coordinators tried to identify the owner it was discovered that Turmoil was a 65-foot shrimp vessel last registered in 2005 to a Brunswick man, according to the Coast Guard. When contacted, the man reportedly told the agency he had sold Turmoil in 2005.

When the new owner was tracked down, he reportedly told investigators that the vessel had sunk some time ago in about 300 feet of water as he attempted to tow it out of Brunswick. That Coast Guard says that the lack of marine growth on the debris would indicate it hadn’t been at sea for an extended time period. A spokesman for the Coast Guard says the circumstances surrounding the incident will continue to be investigated.