News notes – Florida & the South

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‘Secret’ Florida spot named top U.S. beach

Coastal expert Stephen Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” has named Caladesi Island State Park in the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area America’s Top Beach for 2008.

Leatherman unveiled his annual list of the top 10 U.S. beaches live via satellite from CaladesiIslandState Park.

Labeling it his “favorite getaway beach,” Leatherman lauded the pristine barrier island’s “powder white” sand and “warm, crystal-clear” water in bestowing it the No. 1 spot, nudging it into first place from the No. 2 ranking it received in both 2006 and 2007.

Situated two miles out in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Dunedin, the 3-mile long island, dotted with palm trees and protected by mangrove stands on its bay side, is accessible only by boat or the Caladesi Connection ferry. There are no paved roads or vehicles, but amenities such as beach cabana rentals, an onsite café, and a marina with full electric and water hookups make this “well-kept secret” a “great place to decompress,” according to Leatherman.

Other Florida beaches honored this year include third-ranked Siesta Key, near Sarasota, and ninth-ranked CapeFloridaState Park in Key Biscayne, near Miami. Beaches in Hawaii, California, North Carolina and Long Island, N.Y., rounded out the top 10.

Leatherman, who is the director of FloridaInternationalUniversity’s Laboratory for Coastal Research, is one of the world’s leading authorities on coastal sciences, having authored or edited more than 16 books and written hundreds of journal articles on the subject. www.FloridasBeach.com

Airship to patrol South Florida Straits

The Navy, in coordination with the Coast Guard and the recently created National Office of Global Maritime Situational Awareness (OGMSA), will conduct a six-week series of evaluations off Florida’s southern coast using an airship in a maritime surveillance role this summer.

The lighter-than-air platform (nonflammable helium) will fly patrols for up to eight hours to test both the systems and crew mission loading and fatigue factors. The airship, a Skyship 600, which is owned and operated by Airship Management Services and leased by NAVAIR PMA, is manned by a three-person crew, including two pilots and a crewmember. They will receive operational, technical and administrative support from both Coast Guard Sector Key West and Naval Air Station Key West.

The 6,797 cubic meter (240,000 cubic feet), helium-filled Skyship 600 can carry a wide range of equipment and its operators (or up to 12 passengers). It has been demonstrated the ship can fly for up to 52 hours without refueling.

Bertram eliminates use of harmful toxin

Miami-based Bertram Yacht announced it has eliminated the use of acetone from its manufacturing processes, another step in the sportfisherman’s implementation of “green” initiatives.

Acetone is used by many boat manufacturers for cleaning of fiberglass, tools and equipment. Although it is an effective cleaning agent, acetone poses certain health, safety and environmental concerns. The act of eliminating the material has introduced benefits for both the environment and the employees of Bertram Yacht, the company said in a statement.

Bertram also is disposing of contaminated materials and making strides in its recycling efforts. The company has lowered the amount of styrene in the resin and gelcoat used in production and employs a special dust collection system, which collects the workshop dust and filters it into a sealed container. The plant also recycles a range of materials including copper, copper wire, steel, aluminum scraps, and fluorescent and steel tubes.

Florida boat exhibitions announce merger

Show Management and Sail America have announced the merger of Strictly Sail St. Pete and the St. Petersburg Boat Show to create an all-new “super show” called the St. Petersburg Boat Show & Strictly Sail.

The new show will be held Dec. 4-7 at the MahaffeyTheaterYachtBasin in St. Petersburg, Fla. A crowd of 25,000 is expected to attend.

The show will feature a dedicated in-water sailing area that will accommodate up to 50 sailboats, an on-land sailboat display, three air-conditioned seminar tents, and a large air-conditioned accessories tent that will have a dedicated sailing section for up to 100 10-by-10-foot sailing-related booths. www.showmanagement.com

Search suspended for missing pleasure boater

The Coast Guard suspended its search for a Louisiana man who reportedly fell overboard in late June, 37 miles south of Great Inagua, Bahamas.

The Coast Guard’s Seventh District command center in Miami received a report by the crew of the 97-foot motor vessel Miss Glo that Paul Callais, a 39-year-old resident of Gonzales, La., was missing and may have fallen overboard after the motor vessel endured a heavy wave. The Miss Glo crew was traveling from Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, to the Cayman Islands.

Coast Guard crews searched nearly 2,820 square miles of the Caribbean Sea for Callais.

“The decision to suspend a search-and-rescue case is always a difficult one,” says Lt. Matt Moorlag, Coast Guard Seventh District spokesman. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Paul Callais.”

New megayacht service offered on Grenada

Camper & Nicholsons Marinas has announced that berths at the Port Louis development on the island of Grenada are available for sale and annual rental.

The marina, expected to be completed in spring 2009, will have a capacity for 60 yachts ranging between 100 and 300 feet in length. The marina currently operates 50 berths. When completed, the new marina will offer more than 350 berths for craft from 33 to 100 feet, including 10 berths for craft more than 300 feet.

Situated on the lee side of the island, services at the marina will include wireless broadband and cable TV, electric carrying buggies and carts, car parking and 24-hour security.

For marina inquiries, contact anna. tabone@cnmarinas.com .

U.S. Power Squadrons now issuing MMSIs

The United States Power Squadrons (USPS) is now an official source for Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) numbers, which corresponds to the Coast Guard’s Rescue 21 System.

USPS also has a seminar titled “Using VHF and VHF/DSC Marine Radio” that explains how to select and use the new radios and their advanced features. In the seminar, attendees will be able to observe simulated calls and take home a CD to practice on their own. The seminar also comes with a waterproof “Quick Guide.”

By registering a MMSI number for their vessel, through their GPS, boaters provide key information to the Coast Guard about their vessel and its owner.

To evaluate requirements or to obtain your free MMSI for domestic use, go to www.usps4mmsi.com or call (888) 367-8777.