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Tampa show exhibitors report interested shoppers

Nearly 18,500 people attended the three-day 2008 Tampa Boat Show in September at the Tampa Convention Center. Exhibitors reported strong sales and a large number of leads.

More than 600 boats were on display at the 2008 show with several boats of all makes and sizes sold at the show, including more than 30 entry- to mid-level boats, representing millions of dollars in retail sales for local boat dealers.

Other popular show features included a variety of fishing and boating seminars; the Miss GEICO offshore racing boat; a Go Green Boating Zone of eco-friendly marine products; and free boat rides.

Charter firm adds pilothouse trawler to fleet

This 34-foot pilothouse trawler from American Tug is a new charter option in southwest Florida.

Southwest Florida Yachts added the Heather Michelle, a 34-foot American Tug pilothouse trawler, to its charter fleet for cruising the protected and scenic Gulf barrier island corridor from Sanibel/Captiva to Boca Grande.

While on the cruising vessel, you can enjoy dolphins, manatees and tall wading birds in their natural environments, says Barb Hansen, owner-manager of Southwest Florida Yachts, North Fort Myers.

Hansen says Heather Michelle is available for charters for $1,483 for three days in the summer and $1,873 for three days in the high season. But, through 2010, the company is awarding extra cruising days for free during the company’s 25th anniversary celebration. Summer charters receive two extra free days of cruising for charters of three days or longer. High season charters of three days or longer receive one extra cruising day at no additional charge. www.swfyachts.com

Yacht builder launches online parts store

Grand Banks Yachts launched a new online parts store at www.GBparts.com. Customers can visit the Web site to order and purchase a variety of Grand Banks and OEM parts, including hardware, electrical components and special-order items such as the builder’s signature handmade teak steering wheel.

Each part on this site includes a large photo image, description, specifications and pricing information. Purchases can be made directly from the site using a secure credit card transaction system.

“We wanted to give our owners the convenience of online ordering, and to do it right,” says David Hensel, director of brand and marketing for Grand Banks. “The Web plays such a central role in the way customers connect with Grand Banks, this is just one more example of how we try to meet the rising demand for online support.”

GrandBanks.com was awarded “Best Manufacturer Site” by the NMMA in 2006. www.grandbanks.com

Japanese cargo vessel operator pleads guilty

Hiong Guan Navegacion Japan Co. Ltd., operator of the commercial cargo ship Balsa 62, agreed to plead guilty Nov. 10 in U.S. District Court in Tampa, Fla., to conspiracy and to falsifying and failing to properly maintain records meant to ensure environmental compliance, the Justice Department announced.

Specifically, Hiong Guan agreed to plead guilty for falsifying the oil record book kept on board the Balsa 62. Federal and international law requires that all ships comply with pollution regulations that include the proper disposal of oily water and sludge by passing the oily water through an oily water separator aboard the vessel or burning the sludge in the ship’s incinerator. Federal law also requires ships to accurately record each disposal of oily water or sludge in an oil record book, and to have the oil record book available for the Coast Guard when the vessel is within the waters of the United States.

According to the plea agreement, from June 2007 through February 2008, Francisco Bagatela, the chief engineer of the Balsa 62, directed other crewmembers and personally participated in the operation of a bypass pipe, also referred to as a “magic pipe,” which was used to circumvent the pollution prevention equipment on board the ship, thereby transferring oily water and sludge directly overboard and into the ocean approximately twice a month. On Feb. 25, Robert Racho replaced Bagatela as chief engineer and continued the use of the magic pipe. Both Bagatela and Racho deliberately concealed these illegal discharges from the U.S. Coast Guard by not recording them in the ship’s oil record book.

On both Oct. 31, 2007, and May 31, 2008, the Balsa 62 arrived in the Port of Tampa with its falsified oil record book. The Coast Guard conducted an investigation of the ship on May 31, based in part on information from crewmembers aboard the ship. At that time, the officers on board presented the falsified book. The Coast Guard subsequently located evidence on board the ship corroborating the crewmembers’ allegation that the ship had been unlawfully discharging oily waste.

The maximum penalties that the company Hiong Guan faces include fines of $500,000 per felony count, a term of probation of five years and a special assessment of $400 per felony count. According to the plea agreement, Hiong Guan agreed to pay a $1.75 million fine and implement a detailed environmental compliance plan, which requires monitoring of its fleet-wide operations over the course of three years.

Digital nav firm adds new Bahamas charts

Navionics recently added Bahamas Special Edition to its Gold+, Platinum and Platinum+ marine cartography products. Available as a new special chart area, the Bahamas Special Edition charts cover the northern Bahamian waters from Grand Bahama and Abaco down to Long Island in the south, as well as the southeast coast of Florida.

Navionics’ new Special Edition charts provide exclusive, surveyed content with spot sounding and depth contour detail that has previously been unavailable. The charts are available in Navionics’ range of good, better, and best solutions.

Bahamas Special Edition chart packages are available at marine and sporting goods stores throughout the United States and Canada at a retail price of $129 for the Gold+ edition, $199 for the Platinum edition, and is included free with the purchase of Navionics Platinum+. For information, call (800) 848-5896 or visit www.navionics.com.

EarthNC Version 2 charts for Google Earth

One year after the release of EarthNC electronic marine charts comes Version 2.0 of the free EarthNC Online (www.http://earthnc.com/online) and retail EarthNC Plus (www.http://earthnc.com/earthnc-plus) electronic marine charts for Google Earth.

New features for EarthNC Online and Plus include new layer organization for faster load times, additional chart notes and information, more than 500 integrated ‘Waterview’ bridge pictures for inland waterways and new ‘Submit Information’ links with photo upload capability and a corresponding EarthNC User Layer for user-submitted photos and notes.

EarthNC Plus, EarthNC’s flagship product for Google Earth charting, additionally gains a new seamless chart loading option; new layer view options for land features, non-navigable areas and deep depths; a shaded depth area overlay option; and an integrated beta of EarthNC Premium Ocean Weather with 5-day wind, wave, temperature and current forecast maps.

For more information and screen shots of version 2.0 enhancements, go to

www.http://earthnc.com/earthnc-version-20-released.    

Cruising guidebook buys Bahamas guide

Waterway Guide Publications, publisher of Dozier’s Waterway Guides and Waterway Guide Magazine, purchased The Bahamas Cruising Guide by Mathew Wilson.

The guide, which has been published since 1998, is the leading guide to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos providing in-depth navigational information, shoreside attractions and comprehensive yellow pages. The Bahamas Guide will join Waterway Guide’s annually updated editions of the Northern, Chesapeake Bay, Atlantic ICW, Southern and Great Lakes guides.

“The encyclopedic amount of information covered in the guide, its design and format has made The Bahamas Cruising Guide the market leader in that area,” says Jack Dozier, publisher of Waterway Guide Publications. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Waterway Guide.”

With more than one million copies in circulation, Dozier’s Waterway Guide has been a trusted resource for cruising boaters for more than 60 years. Each annually updated guide runs approximately 400 to 500 pages and retails for $39.95.

To learn more, visit www.waterwayguide.com.

This story originally appeared in the January 2009 issue.