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News notes

Suspect held in theft of two yachts

A Florida man who allegedly posed as a prospective yacht buyer has been arrested in connection with the thefts of two yachts.

John Millan Bellard, 36, was charged with grand theft in connection with two separate incidents in Fort Lauderdale and Martin County, according to the Stuart (Fla.) News. Authorities told the newspaper they believe Bellard stole a 54-foot Hatteras from a Fort Lauderdale brokerage firm. The yacht was recovered after being located near Alligator Reef in the Keys. Bellard was arrested April 4 by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers.

Bellard also is a suspect in an incident last summer in which a man posing as a buyer took a 65-foot Hatteras from Palm City’s Marine Max dealership, according to the newspaper. That yacht was also recovered in North Palm Beach, but the thief had disappeared.

Permit delays kill dockominium plan

Plans to build luxury dockominiums in the St. Petersburg, Fla., area have been scrapped because of a delay in obtaining federal permits for improvements to a marina at the site.

Developer Burke Hedges told the St. Petersburg Times on April 4 that he and his partners have dropped the project, citing a failure by marina owner Ray Varner to obtain required permits from the Army Corps of Engineers. A contract to close on the property at the site of the marina expired March 28, according to the newspaper.

Varner had applied for a permit to make improvements at his 4-year-old Anclote Village Marina but, rather than wait for the lengthy permit process to run its course, Varner went ahead with the work, Army Corps of Engineers spokesman Joe Bacheler said. The work included dredging, dock reconfiguration, and construction of a sea wall.

When authorities last year discovered the violation, Varner paid a $25,000 “donation,” which was used for improvements at a local park. He also established a manatee education program, Bacheler said. Varner’s application is still pending with federal authorities.

Federal speed zones finalized for Florida

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has adopted a permanent set of speed zones in some of Florida’s inland coastal waterways, as part of the effort to protect manatees.

The regulations finalize emergency boat speed zones the agency put in place last year, according to Fish and Wildlife spokesman Chuck Underwood. The zones are similar to state speed zones that were ruled unconstitutional two years ago after a group of boaters challenged the state’s authority to ticket boaters.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is expected to reinstate those manatee areas. The federal zones were adopted in case the state zones are challenged in court, but Underwood said the federal regulations would be dropped if the state drafts “equal or better” regulations.

The new regulations governing the speed zones in Lee County will be published in the Federal Register. The speed zones can be found at http://

28th annual waterway cleanup a success

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida is lauding the contributions of over 2,200 volunteers who came out in boats and shoreside March 12 to participate in the 28th Annual Waterway Cleanup.

Broward County residents removed over 50 tons of trash and debris from the waterways, rivers, canals and shorelines, according to organizers.

“Once again, the amount of trash collected was lower than the previous year,” says Gordon Connell, MIASF director of association services. “We’re very pleased to be able to positively impact our waterways and our community.”

Cruisers rendezvous, boat show on tap

Massey Yacht Sales & Service will host its second annual All Cruisers Rendezvous & Boat Show, May 20-22 at Regatta Pointe Marina in Palmetto, Fla.

Factory representatives from Hunter and Catalina are among the seminar speakers and will answer questions before and after the seminars aboard the boats. Other speakers are from Mastery Engine Centers, Doyle-Ploch Sailmakers, Tropica Marine and Best Rate Yacht Finance.

New and pre-owned sail and power yachts are available for inspection.

For information call Massey at Palmetto (941) 723-1610; St. Petersburg (727) 824-7262; or Fort Myers (239) 334-3674.

New e-newsletter for Southern cruising

Rhumb Line News, a monthlye-newsletter focusing on the 10 cruising areas of Florida, was launched in March. Its objective is to help cruisers plan their Southeastern cruises with the greatest safety and enjoyment. The publication reports and evaluates significant changes in aids to navigation from the Georgia state line to Mobile Bay. Also covered are entertainment, educational/cultural events, and openings of restaurants and clubs within the cruising grounds.

The e-mail format allows economical and quick production and distribution of emergency bulletins such as bridge or channel closures or dredging. Changes in scheduling of local events is also covered.

According to the publishers, Tidewater Publishing Services, the newsletter complements annual cruising guides as well as general boating publications. A full year of the e-newsletter costs $19.95. For more information or a subscription, log on to