In the News

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A boat built like

a brick ... outhouse

Young sailors in the Buffalo, N.Y., chapter of Sea Scouts expect another season of drawing curious stares aboard Me and Brix, “The world’s first and only brick boat.” That designation, given by Ripley’s Believe It or Not, comes from the brick-face finish the scouts have on their Irwin 25 sloop.

The “brick” boat came about from a conversation between the scouts and their leaders about the various materials used to build boats, says Bill Zimmerman, a leader and director of the Seven Seas Sailing School at RCR Yachts Skyway Marina, where the boat is kept.

“One scout quipped, ‘They’ve never made a boat out of brick,’ so we had to test that theory,” Zimmerman says.

The scouts and leaders applied Flexi-Brick to their sloop’s hull and deck house. FlexiBrick is a flexible quartz sand and polyacryl brick-on-mesh product that can be applied around curves. Foam support was used inside the Irwin to compensate for the added weight.

Me and Brix was featured in a Ripley’s syndicated comic strip, which appears in newspapers worldwide. Zimmerman says a professor in New Zealand contacted the scouts to request plans for the brick boat with the intention of building a second one.

The next generation

of Furuno’s NavNet

Since its release in 2001, Furuno’s NavNet has been voted Best Integrated Navigation System by the National Marine Electronics Association for three consecutive years.

In March Furuno USA introduced NavNet vx2. Like the original version, NavNet vx2 uses an Ethernet-based network to transfer information between components. More options are available in the new version to connect and interact with your PC, and add multiple displays and components to the network. NavNet vx2 also allows users to customize their marine electronics with more than 50 different display mode options. Other upgrades include a choice of Navionics Gold XL3 or C-MAP NT Max charts. www.furuno.com

U.S. tower opens

Croatian franchise

Marine assistance provider Sea Tow Services International has opened its first franchise in Croatia. Situated on the Adriatic Sea, Croatia’s cruising grounds are known for their small islands, Mediterranean villages and clear water.

Owned and operated by brothers Christian and Wolfgang Dauser, Sea Tow Croatia will comprise five locations: Istria, Kvarner, Kornat, and Central and South Dalmatia. The five ports will service the country’s 200 nautical miles of coastline.

There are some 19,000 recreational boats on Croatian waters — fiberglass sail- and powerboats mostly in the 25- to 35-foot range — and more than 70 percent are from other European countries, according to Thomas Wollmer, owner of Sea Tow Europe Operations.

“Croatia is a very young country, so the boating community is also very young,” says Wollmer, “and there is little support.” Budget-constricted coast guard and marine police units regularly have to answer calls for assistance with, “Not today,” according to Wollmer. They will, of course, respond to a mayday.

The Sea Tow Croatia fleet will consist of 26-foot Twin Vee power catamarans customized for towing with twin 150-hp Mercury outboards. They will be painted yellow, with the same Sea Tow logo as in the United States.

Sea Tow also announced in March the continued expansion of Sea Tow Services Australia, with the addition of towing operations in Perth and Broken Bay. www.seatow.com; www.seatow

europe.com

Like a product?

Tell West Marine

The West Marine 2005 catalog began arriving in mailboxes around the country in March, with thousands of new products in its 1,136 pages, according to the marine retail giant.

This year the company has introduced a new “gear feedback” program allowing customers to write reviews of products online at www.westmarine.com, and to read other boaters’ comments on more than 50,000 boating, fishing, sailing and other products. To submit a review, click “Read/Write” next to the Shopper Rating, or e-mail reviews directly to gearfeedback@westmarine.com.

The catalog is also available at West Marine’s 276 retail locations.