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News Notes – Florida & the South

Shipwreck found off Florida’s east coast

A shipwreck found recently off the east coast of Florida stretches more than a half-mile on the ocean floor.

Tim Gidus, president of Gold Coast Explorations, explores the mystery wreck.

Tom Gidus of Gold Coast Explorations, a division of Wreckovery Salvage, discovered the shipwreck using a JW Fishers magnetometer, as well as metal detectors.

In the spot where the largest magnetic anomaly occurred, divers confirmed there was an iron cannon lying partially covered on the seafloor, as well as a ballast pile, according to Wreckovery Salvage. Artifacts salvaged include a pewter bowl and several olive jars. Historian Robert Marx, after preliminary archival research, suggests the ship may be the Espiritu Santo el Mayor, a 400-ton galleon that sunk in a storm in 1632.

For information, go to

Sailing has new showcase

Concourse Under Canvas comes to the Jacksonville International Boat Show, April 17-19, at Metro Park and Marina in downtown Jacksonville, Fla.

This boat show and nautical festival will feature production manufacturers as well as unique sailboat designs and sailing gear.

“The Jacksonville International Boat Show has been a very strong-selling show for sailboats and sailing accessories for the past 13 years,” said event producer Jimmy Hill of CurrentProductions.US. “Concourse Under Canvas comes to the event at a time when the market is hungry for sailing.”

For information, contact Hill at (904) 759-2758, or visit

Own a boat? Get a tax break

Recreational boat owners who paid state sales taxes on a boat purchase, or those who secured a bank loan to finance a boat, may have some tax deductions available when filing their 2008 federal income tax return.

For those who paid substantial state sales taxes on a new- or used-boat purchase last year, the Tax Extenders Act of 2008 offers a federal tax benefit with a deduction for state sales taxes.

For owners with a secured boat loan, mortgage interest paid on the loan may be deductible from federal income taxes, using the “second home” mortgage interest deduction. (A boat with a galley, head, and a sleeping birth is considered a second home.)

For those who fall under the Alternative Minimum Tax — which is calculated differently — most deductions are unavailable. For information, go to and download Publication 936 or the Fact Sheets.

Seven-day sailing course for women

Sea Sense, based in Sarasota, Fla., is offering a seven-day course exclusively for women.

The course will take place in the Abaco Islands, in the Bahamas, aboard a 40-foot sloop. The curriculum includes seamanship, sail trim, navigation, man-overboard prevention and recovery, engine maintenance and docking.

The course runs April 19-25 and costs $2,750, which includes instruction, on-board accommodations, all docking and fuel costs and most meals.

For information, visit

Seagrass exhibit at Fla. Aquarium

The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Fla., recently opened a new educational exhibit to increase public awareness about the state’s seagrass ecosystems.

“Seagrasses are essential to the ecology of Florida’s waters, especially Tampa Bay,” says Gov. Charlie Crist, who attended the official opening. “Preserving and protecting the state’s seagrasses is critical — not only to our marine environment, but also to our economy and quality of life.”

Florida’s multimillion-dollar recreational and commercial fishing industry depends on healthy seagrasses to protect young fish and shellfish, coral reefs and other marine life, including sea turtles, manatees and wading birds, according to the aquarium. Florida is home to seven species of seagrass.

The seagrass exhibit is a joint venture between the aquarium and The Ocean Foundation.

For information on The Florida Aquarium, visit

This article originally appeared in the Florida & the South Home Waters Section of the May 2009 issue.