IN THE NEWS

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‘Hot line’ for boating safety

Canada’s Office of Boating Safety had been promoting a toll-free telephone number that, when dialed, encouraged New Brunswick boaters to operate their vessels safely. Instead, it appears that the number connected callers to a phone-sex offer.

The government hurriedly tried to shut down the line after receiving complaints, according to the CBC news. Officials believe the problem may have stemmed from when the federal transportation department took over the Office of Boating Safety from the Canadian Coast Guard last year. The toll-free phone number may have been returned to a database when it was disconnected, and picked up by the phone-sex company.

Paddling across the Arctic Ocean

Polar explorers Lonnie Dupre and Eric Larsen are attempting to tackle the Arctic Ocean in canoes during its most treacherous and volatile time of the year. It is said to be the first summer crossing of the Arctic Ocean.

The Minnesotans began their 1,240-mile journey May 10 in specially modified canoes capable of being paddled or pulled. Their planned four-month odyssey crosses the frozen ice cap from Cape Arctichesky, Siberia, to the geographic North Pole, then on to Ellesmere Island. While such expeditions have been completed during other times of the year, extreme temperature swings, freeze-thaw conditions, heavy fog, and shifting ice floes have prevented a summer crossing. Dupre and Larsen intend to be the first.

Florida-based ACR Electronics is lead sponsor and official safety equipment supplier for the One World Expedition project. Along with other ACR safety gear, Dupre and Larsen each will carry the new TerraFix 406 GPS I/O personal locator beacon. ACR also has provided the duo with the new Firefly3 rescue strobe light and Hot Shot signal mirror. www.oneworldexpedition.com, www.acrelectronics.com

Blind circumnavigators under way from Mexico

On Oct. 11, 2004, Scott Duncan and Pamela Habek put the Golden Gate Bridge astern in a bid to become the first legally blind people to sail across an ocean or circumnavigate the globe (see January Soundings). Their Valiant 32, Tournesol, is outfitted with special equipment to help them trim sails and steer a course, including a talking GPS receiver and collision avoidance radar detection.

They began the next leg of their voyage May 4, leaving Marina Paradise Village in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, bound for Niku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands. The sailors plan to arrive in Sydney, Australia, in late December. Upon completing this phase of the circumnavigation Duncan and Habek will be the first visually impaired sailors to ever cross an ocean.

“One of our primary goals is to spread a message of independence to disabled children and adults, as well as to the greater non-disabled population,” says Duncan. www.blindsailing.com

Zodiac ups life raft service intervals

Zodiac of North America says the new three-year service intervals for its Zodiac and Avon life rafts will save owners time and money over the life of the equipment. The service intervals are the longest of any life raft manufacturer in the United States, according to Zodiac, and make it easier for consumers to maintain the quality and safety of their rafts.

The three-year period applies to all Zodiac and Avon life rafts manufactured on or after Sept. 1, 2004, and remains in effect for the first 15 years. The rafts must be serviced annually after that. The new schedule replaces earlier requirements that life rafts be serviced annually after the first three years. Zodiac says continual improvement in product quality made extending the service intervals possible. www.zodiacmarineusa.com

Summer Sailstice set for June

The fifth annual Summer Sailstice, an event for sailors to celebrate anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere, is scheduled for June 18 and 19, the longest weekend sailing days of the year. To participate sailors need to sign up at www.summer sailstice.com, then go sailing the weekend of the Sailstice. By signing up, sailors also are eligible to win prizes donated by The Moorings, Hunter Marine, West Marine and other marine businesses.

Shackleton adventure available on DVD

Trapped on the Antarctic ice pack more than 1,000 miles from civilization in 1915, polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his 28 crewmembers endured for nearly 15 months in what has become one of the greatest survival stories of all time. Shackleton’s leadership inspired a fierce will to survive in his crew, as they faced starvation, insanity and death.

Retrace the adventure in “Shackleton’s Voyage of Endurance,” released on DVD by WGBH Boston Video. (The program originally aired on public television.) The two-hour documentary features rare footage and photos from the expedition’s photographer. The images capture the daunting conditions the crew survived, as well as the faces of men pushed to their limits. Personal correspondence and diaries detail the most gripping moments of the crew’s ordeal.

The DVD sells for $19.95 and is available by calling (800) 949-8670, or visiting shop.wgbh.org.