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News Notes Florida

Grim news from nation’s boating capital

With nearly a million registered boats and a year-round boating climate, Florida also tops the list for on the water deaths. A recent study indicates that Florida has more fatal boating accidents than any other state in the country.

According to information compiled by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, 212 people died in the state between 2003 and 2005 due to boating-related accidents, a news report says. There were 80 deaths alone in 2005. Most of those were caused by drowning.

It appears that 2007 is on track to being another deadly year on the water for Florida boaters, the conservation commission says (See accompanying story, "Florida fatality numbers 'worrisome'"). As of early April there were 18 reported boating accident fatalities in the state.

Most boating-related accidents occur on smaller boats and involve only a single vessel, the release says. After examining boating accident reports, FWC officials found that the primary cause of accidents is driver inattentiveness.

“The FWC is urging boaters to take boating safety seriously and focus on two critical messages: Pay attention to your surroundings; and wear your life jacket,” an FWC captain says in a press release.

— Jason Fell

Boatbuilding executive remembered as a leader

Ron Pickle, vice president of manufacturing for Hargrave Custom Yachts, died at age 66 in Fort Lauderdale April 14 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. His fiancée, Joyce Phillips, sons Tim and Jeff Pickle, and two grandchildren, Kayla and Logan Pickle, survive him.

In a career spanning almost five decades, Pickle will perhaps be remembered best by friends in the industry for his compassion for other people as much as for his skills as both a top executive and boat company owner in the marine industry.

Pickle’s career began in 1959 when he graduated from high school in Lancaster, Pa., and joined Trojan Yachts as a carpenter’s apprentice. Over the next 24 years he rose through the organization to become plant manager and finally vice president of sales, manufacturing, and engineering for the 600-man firm.

He left Trojan in 1983 to start his own boat company with longtime friend and business partner Don Seith, forming American International Marine, which manufactured center consoles. He sold the company to Larson in the late 1980s. Together he and Seith also set up Princess Yachts U.S. and began importing the English built yachts into North America through a national dealer organization they established.

In 1992 Pickle started American Fiberglass Technologies as a consultant to the industry and handled special assignments for Schoell Marine, Fountain, Wellcraft, Hargrave, Kenosha, Celebrity, and Bombardier, and finally joining Hargrave Custom Yachts in 1999 as vice president of manufacturing.

In an emotional speech to Hargrave employees, company president Mike Joyce credited Pickle with making major contributions to the success of that company. “Ron Pickle served in every possible position in this industry from errand boy all the way up to CEO and factory owner. Ron Pickle not only handled all his operating responsibilities at our company with distinction but also served as a teacher, motivator, mentor and head cheerleader for everyone in this company, including me. God made very few people like Ron Pickle and we feel truly blessed to have worked with him.”

Tow captain takes helm of 3 Georgia ports

TowBoatU.S. Brunswick, TowBoatU.S. Valona, and TowBoatU.S. JekyllIsland, are now under new ownership with the purchase of the operation by Capt. Douglas Schultz. Four towing captains and port manager Capt. Patrick Hogan who were with the previous operator will continue with the new company, also known locally as Southeastern Marine.

Schultz, a JekyllIsland resident, has three towing vessels: a 28-foot Boston Whaler based at TowBoatU.S. Brunswick at Golden Isles Marina in St. Simons; a 25-foot Parker based at TowBoatU.S. Valona; and at TowBoatU.S. JekyllIsland a 25-foot Boston Whaler is home ported at Jekyll Harbor Marina.

Boaters in need of towing assistance can reach TowBoatU.S. Brunswick/

Valona/Jekyll Island by calling the company directly at (912) 638-7751; by VHF radio on Ch. 16; or through the BoatU.S. toll-free Dispatch Serviceat (800) 391-4869 or visit for information.

Tow service opens on New Orleans lake

TowBoatU.S. has returned to a hurricane-ravaged Louisiana waterway that is beginning to make a turnaround. Capt. Mark Tupper has opened TowBoatU.S. Lake Pontchartrain on the lake’s NorthShore at Mariners Village Marina in Mandeville.

Tupper says that it makes sense to open the port now because, “boating activity on the lake has shifted to the northern end, and there has been a flood of insurance money since Katrina.”

Retired from 28 years in the oilfield service industry, Tupper is a Coast Guard-

licensed captain who has done yacht deliveries and is currently the assistant manager of the West Marine store in Mandeville. He has equipped TowBoatU.S. Lake Pontchartrain with a 23-foot Aquasport.

Boaters in need of towing assistance can reach TowBoatU.S. Lake Pontchartrain by calling the company directly at (985) 373-6330; by VHF radio on channel 16; or through the BoatU.S. toll-free Dispatch Service at (800) 391-4869 or visit for more information.

C.G. Foundation sets record for fundraising

Last year was a milestone year for the Coast Guard Foundation. For 2006 the foundation raised $8 million in cash and cash equivalents and secured a $2 million charitable remainder trust from a donor who was rescued by the Coast Guard, bringing to $10 million the total amount raised. A CRT like this one enables donors to contribute property like securities, artwork or real estate, and will benefit Coast Guard units when the benefactors pass away.

“Our benefactors, volunteers and staff can be proud of what they accomplished in 2006,” says Foundation chair Ross Roeder. “Their contributions enabled the Foundation to increase the number of scholarships awarded to children of enlisted personnel, and to increase support for the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Academy in many other ways.”

The amount of cash and cash equivalents raised in 2006 represents an increase of $1 million over 2005’s results, and $3 million more than what was raised in 2004, prior to adopting a new fundraising strategy and enhancing the Foundation’s professional staff. This year 60 young people are attending the college or university of their choice, thanks to Foundation scholarships. Likewise, more than 1,200 Coast Guard members will receive grants to advance their careers and pursue baccalaureate degrees. In addition, almost $1 million worth of performance enhancing equipment will be provided to sea- and land-based units, and academic and athletic excellence will be strengthened at the Coast Guard Academy.

The Foundation once again received a four-star rating by Charity Navigator, the country’s premier watchdog group for assessing the effectiveness of non-profit organizations. Less than 1,500 of the 1.6 million American charities receive this designation.

In other news, the Coast Guard Foundation recently unveiled a newly designed Web site with comprehensive information about the foundation, its history of helping and its staff.

The address for the new Foundation Web site is .

Remembrance gathering for S&S executive

Tony Roumeliotes of Sparkman & Stephens lost his battle with lung cancer April 15, at the age of 56.

He is survived by his wife, Dr. Linda Sternau-Roumeliotes, sisters Dusty Spiliotis, Helen Cristaldi and brother Demetri Roumeliotes.

A private family service is planned in his hometown of Haverhill, Mass., followed by a gathering of remembrance this summer aboard his classic S&S yacht Legend.

Sailing was Roumeliotes’ passion and his resume of racing achievements is extensive. He has been a familiar figure in classic yacht regattas throughout the world, and had been a yacht broker for S&S for the past six years.

Direct flights available to Chub Cay, Bahamas

Chub Cay and Gulfstream Connection Airlines announced direct flights to the exclusive island in the Berry Islands, Bahamas are now available.

“With the island’s redevelopment well on its way, including the opening of the newly expanded marina, finishing touches on villas, accommodations, and the clubhouse along with a full slate of tournaments and special events taking place, there is a strong demand for regularly scheduled flights,” says Kaye Pearson, chairman of Chub Cay Club Associates.

Gulfstream Connection is providing direct round-trip flights four days a week — Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday — from Sheltair/Jet Center located at the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. Air travel cost including taxes is $175/one way. Flight time one way is 45 minutes.

For reservations call Gulfstream’s exclusive Chub Cay Reservation numbers: toll-free (877) 226-2040 or (954) 985-5241. Reservations can be made from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.

Company pays nearly $10 million for Fla. marina

The St. Joe Co. recently purchased Bay Point Marina in Bay County near Panama City Beach, Fla., from Bay Point Marina Co.

Under the terms of the agreement, the company invested $9.8 million for the acquisition. Subject to permitting, plans are to expand and improve the marina in the next two years. The marina has 136 slips and can accommodate yachts up to 120 feet.

The company also owns and operates the Port St. Joe Marina in Port St. Joe, Fla., on St. Joseph Bay.

Coastal Marina Management, headed by Scott Burt, will manage both marinas.

The St. Joe Company is based in Jacksonville, Fla.

Cruising school holds summer school classes

North Fort Myers, Fla.–based Florida Sailing & Cruising School, the liveaboard yacht school, has announced 2007 summer school pricing specials that allow four people to take any sail or power yachting course and pay tuition for only three students.

Students can take advantage of the substantial discount by signing up for a course between July 1 and Oct. 31. Courses are designed for a maximum of four students, two per cabin. An experienced Coast Guard-certified captain provides personalized instruction.

During the summer special period, tuition for four people living and learning for three days aboard a Grand Banks 32 trawler is $3,285 instead of $4,380. For four sailors, tuition for the three-day Bareboat Charter course is $2,685 instead of $3,580.

Florida Sailing & Cruising School’s Powerboat 103 course, an eight-day course that includes an offshore excursion aboard a twin-engine trawler, is $8,985 for four powerboaters instead of $11,980.

Four sailors who take the 12-day Offshore Adventure course, a combination of Sailing courses from S101 to S106, pay $9,585 instead of $12,780.

For information go to or call (800) 262-7939 or e-mail .

Nautical archive exhibit to open in Tampa

Odyssey Marine Exploration, a leader in the field of deep-ocean shipwreck exploration, announced that its subsidiary, Odyssey Marine Entertainment, will open Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure, an interactive shipwreck and treasure exhibit at the Museum of Science & Industry in Tampa, Fla. The exhibit is scheduled to run from June 22 through Jan. 31, 2008.

The 12,000-square-foot exhibit and retail store will use existing assets previously developed and built for Odyssey’s Shipwreck & Treasure Adventure in New Orleans and add a newly developed “Pirates” module. The interactive multimedia exhibit allows children and adults to learn about the history of shipwrecks and pirates, and also experience the research, search, archaeological recovery and conservation involved in the quest for deep-sea knowledge and treasures.

In addition to having the opportunity to closely inspect shipwreck artifacts, exhibit visitors will also get to experience the various steps in shipwreck exploration.

Developers eye $250M waterfront project

Tower Investments, LLC, a real estate investment and development company headquartered in Northern California, has purchased the majority interest in the $250 million Cumberland Yacht Harbor project in Nashville, Tenn.

Development plans include a waterfront lifestyle community and marina that will be constructed on the Cumberland River at a site 10 minutes by water and land from Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville.

The Cumberland Yacht Harbor is located on a 43-acre site on the Cumberland River at Mill Creek, near the intersection of Briley Parkway and Lebanon Road. The project will feature luxury villas constructed alongside a 13.5-acre harbor with a marina accommodating more than 200 boats up to 100 feet. There will also be public docks and slips for transient boats. The project will include about 30,000 square feet of space for restaurants and specialty retail shops.

Mercury wins powerboat endurance race

For the 15th time in 16 years, Mercury Marine won the grueling 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat race this morning in Rouen, France. The top 12 finishers were powered by Mercury outboards.

Rouen tests both man and machine as boats run nonstop, with the exception of fuel stops and driver exchanges, for 24 hours. Mercury has powered more first-place finishers at Rouen than any other engine builder.

Team Vauban Humanis, a Mercury S3000 race outboard-powered Molinari hull, won the 44th running of the world’s most demanding powerboat race. Team Vauban Humanis also won the Class 3 competition. Pilots Christophe Boyard, Xavier Savin and Cedric Deguisne completed 851 laps for the win. This was a record-tying fourth Rouen victory for lead driver Boyard, and a first for teammates Deguisne and Savin.

Team Vauban Humanis finished 21 laps ahead of fellow Mercury S3000 race outboard powered Team Dynamic Performance. Class 3 competitors Team Casino Forges Eaux and Drakkar Inshore No. 18 rounded out the top four overall with 822 and 816 laps completed, respectively.

Anniversary celebration to benefit boaters

The BoatU.S. Cooperating Marina program, which offers boaters discounts on fuel, transient slips and repairs, celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year with 870 marinas participating across the country.

“As the price of nearly everything is rising, this discount program has become very popular with recreational boaters,” says Cooperating Marina program director Jim Schofield.

The Cooperating Marina program requires marinas or boatyards to offer discounts to boaters carrying a BoatU.S. membership card. This can include up to 10 cents off per gallon of fuel, 25 percent off transient slips or 15 percent off repairs.

“About 300 of our Cooperating Marinas offer some sort of fuel discount, which will certainly be popular this summer,” added Schofield.

Marinas participating in the program are listed in the annual BoatU.S. Member Services Directory — sent to over 670,000 BoatU.S. members — and can have their own Web page on Web site.

Old Hemingway haunt sees a revitalization

Known as the Big Game Fishing Capital of the World and one of the world’s best dive destinations, the Bimini Isles have long been a popular cruising and fishing area for boaters.

“Bimini was a man’s ‘getaway with friends’ destination, long before the term ‘mancation’ was coined,” says Stanley Levine, founder of Bimini Heritage, a development aimed at revitalizing Bimini’s historic Alice Town.

Since pirates and rum runners took refuge here, and Ernest Hemingway made it a favorite retreat in the 1930s, Bimini has remained a popular destination for adventurers of all types. Bimini was discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1512 while searching for the fountain of youth.

Today, the new boy’s club seeks refuge from the long days of fishing at the island living vacation quarters at Big John’s Hotel, perched atop Big John’s Conch Shell Bar. With a launch this past August in conjunction with the Annual Ernest Hemingway Festival, Big John’s Hotel and Conch Shell Bar was the first Heritage Village revitalization project to be completed.

Setting a new standard in Bimini’s hotel accommodations, the seven fully renovated rooms provide guests with the luxuries of a boutique hotel while maintaining the charm of island living in a world-class fishing destination.

This casual retreat boasts open floor plans that reveal views of Bimini’s bay front.

The original Big John’s was a popular watering hole during prohibition but was later closed down. After a fire destroyed the famous Compleat Angler bar last year, townspeople appealed to Bimini Heritage LTD to include the restoration of Big John’s in their “Heritage Village” development plans.

New facilities a first in the Caribbean

Ocean World Marina and Casino officially opened in December in the Dominican Republic with a live concert by The Beach Boys.

Centrally located in the Caribbean on the north shore in Cofresi, just three miles west of Puerto Plata, Ocean World Marina and Casino are the newest additions to a $100 million complex that also includes Ocean World Adventure Park. Developed by investor Ludwig Alfred Meister, Ocean World is the first facility of its kind in the Caribbean.

Beyond the full-service marina, the complex includes a casino, theater, gourmet restaurants, and an animal park where visitors can swim with dolphins and other marine life.

Ocean World Marina, now the only full-service marina between the heavily traveled Florida/Bahamas area and the Puerto Rico/Eastern Caribbean region, has 104 wet slips that can accommodate vessels up to 250 feet.

Each slip is serviced with TV, R/O potable water, electricity, Internet access, 24-hour security, and telephone. The controlling depth is 12 feet. The marina building offers amenities such as weather service, laundry and showers, food/liquor delivery, car rental services, concierge services, shops and a marina store. There is also a fuel dock and repair services.

The government of the Dominican Republic has officially appointed Ocean World Marina as a port of entry complete with immigration and customs facilities. The 35-acre complex also features more than 200 roofed dry rack storage slips for vessels up to 35 feet.

For more information about Ocean World Marina, Casino or Adventure Park visit , or or call (809) 291-1000.

Foundation announces safety grant winners

The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water has awarded nearly $50,000 in grants to 23 nonprofit groups from Alaska to Florida to spread the message about safe boating practices. Since 1988 the Foundation has awarded more than $750,000 in boating safety grants to fund projects that promote responsible boating at the local level. Funds are derived from the voluntary contributions of the 670,000 members of BoatU.S.

For information about how to make a tax deductible donation to help keep programs like these afloat, go to .

‘Pirate ship’ powered by jet drive

Setting sail on a pirate ship is a fine way to enjoy a few hours out on the water off the coast of Palm Beach, Fla. Powered by a 150-hp JetPac from Sword Marine, the Black Prince is a 48-foot tour boat that plays host to family theme parties by day and adult cruises by night.

The JetPac is a self-contained marine jet propulsion system — a stock automotive engine coupled to a waterjet enclosed within a fiberglass shell.

Capt. Mike Kiernan says he was looking for a diesel alternative to his gas-powered engine when he stumbled across the Sword Marine Web site earlier this year. He needed a more fuel-efficient engine and was impressed with the JetPac’s claims of improved energy efficiency and better handling.

Kiernan says installation went smoothly and the JetPac has lived up to and exceeded his expectations. “The boat has improved maneuverability and the fuel efficiency is much better than I expected,” he added.

Kiernan’s long-range plans include building more pirate ships as commercial tour boats with the JetPac as its primary source of propulsion.

For information about the Black Prince or JetPac, visit www.longreachpirates . com or .

Florida dealership earns recognition

MarineMax Clearwater of Florida recently received certified status from the Marine Industry Dealership Certification program — marking the certification of the 200th dealership.

The program was launched in mid-2005 and, to date, nearly 450 dealerships are enrolled — 200 of which have completed the process and earned the official “Marine Industry Certified” designation.

In particular, the MarineMax chain of dealerships has embraced the concept of dealership certification. Of the 200 Marine Industry Certified retail outlets, nine are MarineMax dealers and 46 MarineMax locations have attended Dealership Certification Launch Workshops, their first necessary step to become certified under the program.

Sailing school rolls out ‘master’s degree’

Fort Myers-based Offshore Sailing School is continuing a program it launched last fall designed to quickly and economically give sailors confidence at the helm. Colgate Offshore Accelerated Sail Training provides confidence in handling sailboats.

With a COAST certificate in hand, graduates join a select group of achievers who share the highest ranking Offshore status, earning the equivalent of a master’s degree in sailing in less than two years, according to the company.

Curtis Clark of Miami, the first graduate, described his reason for pursuing the COAST program, “because it provides a structured and progressive series of courses that took me from novice to an advanced level while allowing me to lock in a fixed tuition cost.”

All tuitions are slated to increase in the coming years, and if purchased separately, tuitions for the four courses would total $5,680.

For information and reservations, call Offshore Sailing School at (800) 221-4326 or visit .

NFL tight end goes deep

Recently, New York Giants tightend Jeremy Shockey visited Costa Rica for some fishing at the Bahia Escondida Big Game Lodge. The destination, located in Golfito, is a sportfisherman’s haven. Guests stay in the fully renovated former management house of Chiquita Banana.

Capt. Tommy Lynskey takes guests out aboard Shamrock, his 51-foot Whiticar, which is renowned for raising huge fish in the Costa Rican waters, Caribbean and U.S. East Coast.

This off-season, four-time Pro Bowl New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey hung out the “Gone Fishing” sign, swapping pads and cleats for billfish trolling bait.

Shockey said he enjoyed “some of the best fishing on the Pacific” with friends at the exclusive destination. Lynskey said Shockey, one of the NFL’s most colorful premier players, landed four of 12 sailfish, but lost a blue marlin.

Charter service offers summer cruising specials

Southwest Florida Yachts has announced its 2007 summer specials for chartering power and sailing yachts through the barrier islands.

Owner-operator Barb Hansen says June charters of three days or more will be discounted 10 percent with submission of a coupon available on the Southwest Florida Yachts Web site, www.

From July through October, the discounts are even deeper. Charters get two free days of cruising with any charter booked three days or longer. Thus, five days aboard one of its 32-foot power yachts would cost just $1,186 instead of $1,653. During the high season the same vessels charter for $2,066 for five days.

The savings for chartering a Grand Banks 42 — a five-day cruise that normally costs $3,444 in the high season will, with the summer season specials, cost just $2,175.

Savings on sailboat charters are also impressive. Chartering Southwest Florida Yachts’ 32-foot Catalina sloop from July though October costs $1,120 for five days instead of the high season rate of $1,815.

One marine Web site acquires another, a Web site featuring worldwide online boat rental reservations, has expanded its online presence with the acquisition of from

“ will now serve as a portal to the reservations system and boat rental locations listed in the database will receive complimentary advertising on,” says Ken Hilderbrandt Jr., founder of

Boat rental locations list their available boats free on and customers pay a small, refundable fee to reserve boats through the Web site’s live interactive calendar. The unique service helps to increase turnover for rental operators (especially in slow season). Each rental location can self-update listings at any time. will now also offer boat rental operators related support services and products such as credit cards, standardized rental agreements and boat tracking devices.

For information, visit or , or call (631) 286-7816.

Marine retailer honored for water safety

West Marine, the country’s largest retailer of boating supplies and accessories, was awarded with a regional Letter of Commendation from the National Water Safety Congress for its outstanding contribution to water safety.

Through West Marine’s Youth Boating Grant, the company donated youth life jackets to the Alabama River Lakes loaner life jacket program. Aside from jump-starting this initiative for Alabama River Lakes, West Marine’s donations were distributed to more than 100 children during the summer recreation season using more than 300 miles of boat ramps, campgrounds and swim beaches.