News notes - Florida and the South

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Nordic Tugs dealers host first annual tug fest

Nordic Tugs dealers are hosting the first annual National Nordic Tug Fest, July 12-13, at dealer locations nationwide. The event will feature tug tours, sea trials (by appointment), barbecues and door prizes.

“This is the first time Nordic Tugs and our dealers have partnered to organize a national sales event,” says David Goehring, executive vice president of Nordic Tugs, adding the event “will provide a fun venue for prospective customers to learn more about Nordic Tugs.”

For information about a Nordic Tug Fest in your area, you can contact a local Nordic Tugs dealer, a list of which can be found at www.nordictugs.com .

In other news, the Seattle office of the U.S. Department of Commerce recently bestowed Nordic Tugs with an Export Achievement Award in recognition of the company’s successful move into foreign markets.

With economic indicators pointing to a potential slowdown in the domestic boating market, Nordic Tugs’ executive staff made the decision in 2006 to research international export opportunities. Working with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the company looked first to the European market, in part because of the strength of the euro.

Garmin develops new charts for Tampa Bay

Navigation software produced by Garmin is the first to feature manatee and Homeland Security zones in Tampa Bay. The electronic charts were developed through a partnership between Garmin, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s Manatee Awareness Coalition (MAC).

The information is available on all new Garmin GPS chart plotters, as well as on the navigation chips (SD cards) boaters can buy to update their existing chart plotters.

“This marks a breakthrough that can save a lot of manatees,” says Kipp Frohlich, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section. “We tried unsuccessfully for years to get any mapping company to put the zones in their map covers. Garmin stepped up to the plate and did it.”

Boaters using the updated electronic charts will see manatee zone boundaries highlighted as they scroll over portions of Tampa Bay where slow-speed zones have been established, such as Old Tampa Bay and the Manatee River. Homeland Security zones — including those around MacDill Air Force Base and the Port of Tampa — are also displayed on the chart plotter. In addition, a pop-up window tells boaters whether the area is idle speed, slow speed or no-entry, and also whether speed restrictions are seasonal or year-round.

Garmin plans to add zones in other Florida waterways to future software updates.

Boaters may also purchase an SD card with updated navigational charts for the U.S. coast, the Bahamas and Intracoastal Waterways, including the speed and security zones in Tampa Bay, for $199, with a $125 refund upon return of the card to Garmin. www.garmin.com

Historic Florida Keys schooner gets new life

The last tall ship assembled in Key West, the 69-year-old Schooner Western Union, returned to its island home April 12.

Backed by a local grassroots organization formed to preserve the historic vessel and keep it home-ported in Key West, the 130-foot Western Union spent four months in a Miami shipyard undergoing surveys and repairs necessary for Coast Guard recertification.

“The Key West flagship is home,” shouted Captain Lenn Verreau, who has skippered the Western Union for 12 years. About 150 local officials and residents responded to the arrival with boisterous cheers and applause as musicians played seafaring songs.

“People in Key West love the Western Union, and they know it’s supposed to be here,” says Theo Glorie, founder and board member of the Schooner Western Union Preservation Society.

Launched in 1939, Western Union is the last surviving example of a traditional American coasting schooner. It served the Western Union Telegraph Company for 35 years and is believed to be the world’s only surviving sailing cable ship, according to local maritime historians.

Though it recently spent 10 years as a local tour vessel, maintenance and renovation costs forced the previous owners to cease the ship’s operations. In late 2007, they donated it to the society on the condition it be restored and remain in Key West.

Board members hope the ship will pass Coast Guard inspections in May so it can resume day sails, sunset cruises and charters to offset operating costs. A campaign is under way to raise approximately $500,000 for its complete restoration. www.schoonerwesternunion.org

Yamaha reformulates its marine four-stroke oils

The Yamaha Marine Group recently announced it has a new four-stroke marine engine oil formulation, which the company claims reduces wear and provides cleaner operation.

Yamalube 4M engine oils, both 10W-30 and 20W-40, have a new low-phosphorus formulation that is fortified with molybdenum compounds, which reduce wear caused by the sudden changes in engine speed common to four-stroke marine engines.

Independent testing shows the new oil provides added wear protection — an 85-percent reduction in wear over the prior formulation, according to Yamaha. These oils have properties and additives automotive oils don’t. In addition, they continue to contain a proprietary mixture of detergents that help clean internally lubricated parts and dispersants, which help to carry trapped dirt away from the engine to the oil filter. The end result is cleaner oil.

In other news, Yamaha has put its marine care products under the trusted Yamalube brand. Products affected include fuel additives, adhesives and lubricants, which will now bear the name Yamalube. www.yamahaoutboards.com

Annual captain, crew appreciation day a big hit

Westrec’s Sunrise Harbor Marina welcomed about 1,400 guests at the Eighth Annual Captains & Crew Appreciation Party April 12. This year’s event hosted an array of Dorothys, Witches, and various other characters from “The Wizard of Oz” movie. Guests came in full costume to enjoy the elaborate food, wine and entertainment, all of which is made possible by more than 40 sponsors.

Engineer David Partridge of M/Y Veronika won a weekend for two at the luxurious Sunrise Harbor Apartments for “Best Costume” as the nearly naked Tin Man and the crew from M/Y Corrie Lynn will enjoy gift certificates from the Blue Martini for the Best Group Costume. They came in costume as the Flying Monkeys and stole the show.