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News Notes – Florida & the South

Boaters urged to report collisions with manatees

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are looking to the public for help in conserving the Florida manatee population. The agencies are encouraging boaters to report accidental watercraft collisions with Florida manatees through a new joint effort.

Agency officials want people to understand that conserving manatees is the goal, and boaters can help by voluntarily reporting incidents involving these animals. Anyone who strikes a manatee or observes a manatee being hit by a boat is asked to call the Commission’s Wildlife Alert hotline at (888) 404-3922. Boaters should be prepared to provide the incident location, weather conditions, boat specifications and other relevant information.

“We want everyone to know that people who are operating their boat lawfully and responsibly should not be afraid to report accidental collisions with manatees,” said Ken Haddad, executive director of the commission.

“Management decisions are made based on sound science. The public can play a vital role in helping collect this data and, in turn, have a direct role in future manatee conservation efforts.”

The goals of this self-reporting are two fold, advocates say.

First, a quick response could increase the chance of an injured animal being rescued, treated successfully and ultimately returned to its natural habitat. Second, scientists can gain an improved understanding of other boat strikes. If scientists can match the marks on the animal with the type of boat or propeller causing the wound, it will provide a better understanding of what kinds of boats, motors, or other circumstances cause the most problems for manatees.

Bill Allbright, the government affairs chairman of the Florida Council of Yacht Clubs and a volunteer at the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, has been the driving force behind this new initiative.

“No one operating a boat responsibly and legally intentionally runs over a manatee, but I think people don’t report it because they fear they will get in trouble,” Allbright says.

“People who disregard the law must be held accountable, but we understand that people operating their boats responsibly and legally might accidentally hit manatees,” said Sam Hamilton, regional director for the service. “Under such circumstances, we treat accidents as what they are — accidents.”

For information on the agencies’ manatee programs, go to: Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

Verado Owner’s Club holds its first rendezvous

The Verado Owner’s Club, founded by Glen Ersly to encourage the free exchange of information about the Mercury Verado engine, hosted its first Owner’s Rendezvous, June 9 to 11, at Bimini Sands Resort on Bimini Island, Bahamas.

Attended by 28 boats and more than 90 guests, the rendezvous was sponsored by Mercury Marine, BMW, Simrad, SunDance Marine, Wellcraft Marine, RayMarine and a host of smaller vendors.

Mercury Marine sent their top Verado Platform Managers and Department Heads of the Verado Group and the Smartcraft Group.

The event offered the opportunity for Verado executives to gather data and information from 28 different power platforms, talk to their owners one-on-one, and introduce the new Enertia Propellers to the attendees. Mercury intends to use this core group of owners as an on going “test group” to track data and other owner usage information.

A fishing tournament during the rendezvous got the group out on the water.

The Verado Owner’s Group is a collection of Verado engine owners from around the United States. There are no membership fees and they are not affiliated with Mercury Marine, although Mercury does interact with the club on an ongoing basis.

For information about the Verado Owner’s Club, contact Glen Ersly at or Dottie Rutledge at (561) 483-8710.

For information about Mercury Marine’s involvement in the rendezvous contact Steve Miller, Verado Platform Manager at .

Florida community considers boat lock

Belle Glade, Fla. has received a $1.5 million state grant for an engineering study for a boat lock on Lake Okeechobee, which local officials say could spur ecotourism and attract developers.

The lock was a priority of local and Palm Beach County officials during recent economic summits, and receiving the grant was a boon for the rural community, said Houston Tate, city manager.

Locks provide a holding area for boats to move between different water levels. Eight of them are along the lake’s edge, but none in Palm Beach County, where boats instead launch from marinas inside the three-story dike surrounding the lake.

A recent project feasibility report says the best place for the lock is on the Hillsboro Canal.

Several federal and state agencies would need to approve a lock, which could cost at least $15 million.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built most of the lake’s locks in the 1960s. During the 1970s, it agreed to build a lock in Belle Glade, but that never happened.

—Beth Rosenberg

Collect wooden models of Hemingway’s Pilar

The Ernest Hemingway Collection announced it had awarded the license to produce handcrafted wooden replicas of Ernest Hemingway’s beloved fishing boat, Pilar, to Old World Trading Company of Farmingdale, N.Y.

A 28-inch museum-quality replica of Pilar was built to scale from blueprints, and two decorative models, in 28-inch and 15-inch sizes and fashioned from photographs of the famed fishing boat. All are now available in retail stores and online at www.oldworld

In building the Pilar replicas, master boatbuilders ran the ship through a mini shipyard, said Old World Trading Company President Mark Von Zwehl. “The pieces are all handcrafted with particular attention to detail, built just like a real ship — the planking, the ribs and some working parts.”

The original Pilar, a 38-foot Wheeler Playmate, is now docked at Hemingway’s Finca Vigia estate in San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. The boat has been well-maintained and kept under cover, but is currently undergoing some minor restoration work.

The original was teal and black, and the new replicas from Old World Trading Co. will be offered in both teal and black, and red and black, Von Zwehl said. Both models come fully assembled.

“Hemingway was the ultimate sportsman, and the Pilar and its captain, Gregorio Fuentes, are widely believed to be the inspiration for the novella ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ and its protagonist, Santiago.” Von Zwehl said. “Producing these ships with the blessing of the family and the Ernest Hemingway Collection gives us great pride.”

Offshore Sailing School expands courses

The newest Offshore Sailing School program, available at Florida campuses, is an expansion of the Learn to Sail in a Day classroom course offered each year at seasonal boat shows.

For $195 new sailors and those seeking a refresher can immerse themselves in a full day of learning aboard Colgate 26s, with Offshore Sailing School’s certified instructors.

“It allows those with desire but little time to get a day of solid learning in waters near home,” explains Doris Colgate, president and CEO of Offshore Sailing School.

Those who sign up for Learn to Sail in a Day actually take the first day of Offshore Sailing School’s classic three-day Learn to Sail certification course. The Learn to Sail in a Day experience is available every week throughout the year at Offshore Sailing School’s four Florida locations. The day includes 1-1/2 hours of preparatory classroom instruction, followed by two three-hour sailing sessions with Offshore’s expert instructors. A one-hour break for lunch occurs between sailing sessions.

Learn to Sail in a Day represents a savings of more than a $100 (normally $298 for each day of the course). Participants will receive Steve Colgate’s Basic Sailing Theory textbook. Anyone who wishes to continue on with the course and achieve certification may do so on a space-available basis, by paying the balance of the full course fee.

The 10 Offshore Sailing School locations include four in Florida (Captiva Island, St. Petersburg, Fort Myers Beach and the Keys); Tortola, British Virgin Islands; Abaco, Bahamas.

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

Mariners Club to hold annual seminar in Oct.

The Fort Lauderdale Mariners Club Annual Marine Seminar is scheduled for Oct. 24 and 25 at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Resort and Marina. Insurance Agents, Brokers, Underwriters, Marine Surveyors, Admiralty Attorneys, and Marine Industry Professionals will gather at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 Resort and Marina Oct. 25 before the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show for a daylong seminar titled “Exclusions, Defenses and False Pretenses.” Seminar attendance is limited to the first 500 registrants. The Fort Lauderdale Mariners Club is a non-profit club dedicated to the interchange of information and to improving the ethics in the marine business community.

Early registration is $350; after Sept. 20 it will be $400. Cost for the reception only is $125; $150 after Sept. 20. Continuing education credits are approved for Florida insurance agents, marine surveyors and attorneys.

For information on registration contact Susan Rose, (954) 522-7755, or Tammy Ventimiglia, .

Learning the ropes on donated boats

Through the Coast Guard Foundation’s Boat Donation Program, the Coast Guard Academy recently received Glory, a J/44. The J/44 is a good training platform because it performs well as both a racer and cruiser.

The Coast Guard Foundation is seeking boats for use in the academy’s Sail Training Programs. Racers and cruisers in good condition and generally in the 35-foot to 45-foot range are needed.

The Coast Guard Academy uses sailing as a means to prepare cadets for service in the United States Coast Guard. All academy cadets learn to sail and navigate, and explore the sea aboard a variety of sailing vessels.

In the last few years the academy has received donations of a Wauquiez Centurion 42, Swan 37, Nelson Marek 43 and the J/44.

For information about the Boat Donation Program, or to learn how to donate a boat, call Jill Nosach at the Coast Guard Foundation at (860) 535-0786 or visit .

New Charleston agent for Neil Pryde Sails

Tom Bissell has signed an agreement to be the Neil Pryde Yacht Sails agent for South Carolina and surrounding waters.

Bissell has been involved with Neil Pryde since the 1970s. He worked for Neil Pryde Ltd. in Hong Kong, building sails, and sailing a variety of offshore racing boats and dinghies. Upon returning to the United States he became the national sales manager for the Neil Pryde Boardsail division.

Bissell has competed in the Olympic Finn Trials and the TransPac.

Marine veteran earns Golden Anchor Award

The Marine Industries Association of South Florida has honored industry veteran George Irvine of PipeWelders Marine in Fort Lauderdale with the 2006 Golden Anchor Award.

The award recognizes an individual “for a lifetime of achievement and extra ordinary accomplishment benefiting the marine industry.”

The June 3 MIASF Annual Awards was held at the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach. Industry partners John Ziegler of the Waterfront News, Shary Patton of ASA Promotions, and the management and staff of Yachting Promotions, Inc. were also honored with Awards of Excellence at the gala for their contributions to the marine industry in the past year.

Irvine began his career in the marine industry when he started a marine and recreational division at the Owens Corning Fiberglass Company in New York in the late 1950s. He then joined the Hatteras Yacht Company and helped produce the first fiberglass yachts and eventually became the company’s executive vice president. Later George became president of the Chris-Craft Corporation, for which he created a whole new line of boats and built an innovative two-piece mold for the 74 motoryacht, which was the biggest mold of its kind at that time. Sine 1977 when he purchased PipeWelders, George Irvine has helped shape the South Florida marine industry.

New mixed-use project in Jacksonville, Fla.

A $200 million mixed-use development in Jacksonville, Fla., will combine four multifamily buildings with 700 units and 75,000 square feet of retail space and 150 slips built by Bellingham Marine.

Homeowners in Harbor Town at Pablo Creek can virtually moor their boats in their backyards so enjoying time out on the water is never more than a few steps away.

Located south of Atlantic Boulevard and west of the Intracoastal Waterway, this project is the first of its kind in the Jacksonville area. Homes facing the water are expected to sell for up to $1 million each, and will include a 50-foot slip. The slips are full service with power, phone and cable hook-ups. A pump-out station is also available on-site.

116-slip marina proposed for St. John, U.S.V.I

St. John, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, is on its way to getting its first marina.

Coral Bay Marina LLC’s application for a coastal zone management permit to build a 116-slip marina has been completed. The Department of Planning and Natural Resources will soon review the plan.

The marina would be located on 1.5 acres adjacent to the Island Blues restaurant. The marina would include the island’s only marine pump-out operation, a desalination plant, a fuel dock for boats, and retail and office space.

A public hearing with the Coastal Zone Management Committee will be scheduled, following the planning department’s review. A final decision is expected about 30 days later.

St. John is the only U.S. Virgin Island without a marina.

Fishing seminar scheduled in Sarasota

Women of all angling abilities can acquire and fine-tune fishing skills at the “Ladies, Let’s Go Fishing!” seminar scheduled for Aug. 18 to 20 at the Sarasota Yacht Club.

Hosted by Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the program offers a weekend of educational fishing activities for beginner and intermediate levels both in a classroom and on the water.

Registration for the seminar, which should be made one week in advance at the latest, is $120, including meals, T-shirts, goody bags, door prizes and more. The fishing adventure, with fishing tackle and bait provided, is additional. Contact: LLGF at (954) 475-9068 or e-mail: .