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Level heads prevail in dicey island grounding

A North Atlantic storm that produced gale-force winds along the western shores of the British Isles pummeled the commercial fishing fleet, driving two large vessels aground. The late-January storm blew a steady 50 mph (Force 9) with gusts to 80 mph, knocking out power to hundreds of homes along the Scottish coast and dumping several inches of snow on higher elevations, according to British news reports.

The 14-man crew of the English-flagged, 82-foot steel longliner Spinningdale sought shelter in the lee of St. Kilda, Scotland — among the most remote archipelagos in the British Isles. The main engine quit around 5 a.m. Feb. 1, according to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The tide, wind and seas pushed Spinningdale onto rocks at the foot of Hirta — the main island in the group — where it was battered against high sea cliffs. The captain triggered a DSC alert (digital selective calling), which prompted the launch of an MCA helicopter.

Crewmembers took shelter in Spinningdale’s wheelhouse for about three hours before each was hoisted to safety. There were no serious injuries, though four crewmembers were treated for hypothermia and one for a broken finger. The vessel remained hard aground on the rocks with its hull punctured for three months before Netherlands-based Mammoet Salvage began work by removing approximately 2,000 gallons of diesel. The owner, Burlort Ltd., and insurance company debated how to proceed.

After an investigation, the Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents commended Spinningdale’s skipper for ensuring crew safety and maintaining morale while awaiting rescue. The inspector recommended the ship owner supply crews with immersion suits, even though there is no statutory requirement to do so.

Part of the National Trust for Scotland, the St. Kilda archipelago is a bird sanctuary with one of the world’s largest colonies of northern gannets, as well as puffins, Leach’s Storm-

petrels and other seabirds. With the possibility of rats from the ship invading the island and threatening the bird population, QinetiQ — a British defense technology company with a station on the island — set out baited traps on the cliffs above Spinningdale and up to 150 feet inland. No rats were found. QinetiQ staff also recovered debris from the vessel, including a 60-by-20-foot fishing net, according to a QinetiQ spokesperson.

A day before Spinningdale ran aground, the same storm system drove the cargo ferry Riverdance onto a beach in Blackpool, England. The 381-foot ship had developed a 60-degree list when cargo shifted after it took a huge wave on the beam, according to MCA. The 10 crewmembers and four passengers on board were safely hoisted off. MCA reported no fuel pollution from the incident. Efforts to refloat the ship failed, and on-site scrap operations were begun.

— Rich Armstrong

Restored Trumpy has a mission

A classic Trumpy motoryacht will emerge this spring from a bow-to-stern refit to serve as a floating showcase for marine products at East Coast boat shows.

Originally launched as Sinbad in 1969, the 63-foot Trumpy will be relaunched June 20 as Showtime, making her debut June 23 at the American Superyacht Forum in Newport, R.I. Sponsors include Raymarine, Interlux, Awlgrip, Imtra, Ronstan and Edson, among others.

“Showtime will showcase the finest in marine design, craftsmanship and product development,” says marine marketing consultant Jock West, organizer of the tour. “The yacht will feature a wide range of products that can be used on all sizes and types of boats, power and sail.”

Showtime will be open for public tours at the following eight boat shows:

• WoodenBoat Show, Mystic (Conn.) Seaport, June 27-29

• Newport (R.I.) International Boat show, Sept. 11-14

• Norwalk (Conn.) International Boat Show, Sept. 18-21

• U.S. Sailboat Show, Annapolis, Md., Oct. 9-13

• U.S. Powerboat Show, Oct. 16-19

• Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) International Boat Show, Oct. 30-Nov. 3

• Miami International Boat Show, Feb. 12-16

• Palm Beach (Fla.) International Boat Show, March 26-29

J&J Marine in Somerset, Mass., is refitting the yacht, a project that includes building and installing a new mahogany pilothouse, galley and three Tecma heads. L&L Electronics took care of upgrading all navigation systems. For information, visit .

Piracy figures up by 20 percent

There were 49 pirate attacks reported to the London-based Piracy Reporting Centre in the first three months of 2008, compared to 41 for the corresponding period in 2007, the ICC International Maritime Bureau states in its quarterly report issued April 16.

A total of 36 vessels were boarded and one vessel hijacked. Seven crewmembers were taken hostage, six were kidnapped, three were killed and one was missing. In the majority of incidents, the attackers were heavily armed with guns and/or knives.

Nigeria ranks as the No. 1 spot this quarter, accounting for around 20 percent of the incidents, with 10 reported. Many of the attacks were concentrated off Nigeria’s former capitol of Lagos. India and the Gulf of Aden were second with five reported incidents each. The incidents in India were low-level attacks aimed at theft from vessels. The attacks in the Gulf of Aden were aimed at hijacking vessels and taking them to ports on the eastern coast of Somalia, a notorious area for hijackings and the abduction of crew for ransom.

For information, visit .