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Loran not only survives, it’s in line for an upgrade

After two years of fighting to save Loran from the chopping block, President Bush’s 2009 fiscal year budget proposal includes $34.5 million for modernizing the navigation system. The Department of Homeland Security announced in February that it plans to move toward an enhanced version, dubbed eLORAN, that will back up the GPS system. eLORAN will “mitigate any safety, security or economic effects of a GPS outage or disruption,” says DHS spokeswoman Laura Keehner.

The new system uses high-powered transmitters and low-frequency signals (not microwatts and microwaves) and is unlikely to be disrupted or jammed by abnormalities that would disrupt the Global Navigation Satellite System. It also can act as a static compass.

eLORAN is an enhanced version of Loran-C, which has long been used by mariners and aviators and was originally developed for civil marine use in coastal areas. The signal strength and penetration capability of eLORAN also will provide support to first responders and others in environments that GPS cannot support, such as under heavy foliage, in some underground areas, and in dense high-rise structures. The system will use modernized transmitting stations and an upgraded network. The Coast Guard operates 24 Loran stations nationwide.

Boat registration dips; Florida again is No. 1

U.S. recreational powerboat registrations were down in 2006 compared to the previous year, according to the NMMA’s recently released 2006 U.S. Recreational Boat Registrations Statistics report. A total of 12.7 million vessels were registered in 2006, while 13 million were registered in 2005.

The report also ranks the 50 states by the number of powerboats registered. Florida again received top ranking, with 988,652 — up 1.5 percent from the state’s 2005 totals, with personal watercraft registrations largely responsible for the increase. California ranked second overall with 893,828 registrations, and Minnesota third with 862,937. The remaining top 10 states are Michigan (828,529), Wisconsin (635,751), Texas (596,934), New York (497,974), South Carolina (436,075), Ohio (412,256), and Illinois (383,615).

$60,000 in grants for enviro-projects

Interlux announced that it will award $60,000 in grants at the Miami International Boat Show in February 2009. Seven $5,000 grants and one $25,000 grant will be given to groups or organizations that undertake a project that makes environmental improvements to their waterfront communities.

Any group — yacht club, civic organization, family, friends — is eligible to enter the Waterfront Challenge. In fact, new groups of three or more eligible people can be formed for the sole purpose of entering.

“We are excited about launching a program that empowers the boating community to preserve the one thing we have in common: water,” says Bob Donat, Interlux vice president of marketing.

There is no charge to enter, and an online registration form must be completed at Projects must be new — not ongoing or already sponsored — and completed by Nov. 1. Judging will take place between Nov. 6 and Jan. 4, with grants awarded at the show.

For more information, visit the Web site, or contact Douglas Bernon at (401) 855-2351 or .

Transplant surgery for damaged coral

Producing juvenile corals from the larval stage for transplantation is better for the health and longevity of coral reefs because it produces new coral, rather than moving around existing fragments collected in the field, according to the National Coral Reef Institute.

As of late February, the institute — in a NOAA-funded research project — had raised more than 100 juvenile mustard hill corals and more than 300 great star corals, both essential species for the development and growth of reefs. The juvenile corals are kept in indoor aquaria at the NCRI facility at the NovaSoutheasternUniversityOceanographicCenter near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. When ready, they will be relocated to an outdoor coral husbandry system. If the corals successfully grow large enough in the outdoor system, they will be transplanted to damaged reefs.