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News Notes Florida & the South June 07

Bertram Yachts earns honors

A Miami-based builder of sportfishing yachts for over 45 years, Bertram Yachts has been selected by the South Florida Manufacturers Association as the 2006 Manufacturer of the Year.

“This award is a symbol of the hard efforts and dedication of the entire Bertram Yachts team,” says Joe Bubenzer, president of Bertram Yachts, who accepted the trophy at the awards banquet on March 14.

The Manufacturer of the Year is selected from the 160 member companies of the SFMA. The selection was made by a 13-member selection committee who visited Bertram along with other candidates and selected Bertram based on the following criteria: 1) Company growth, 2) Commitment to employees, 3) Commitment to quality, 4) Commitment to community, 5) Continuous improvements in manufacturing and 6) Product innovations.

The committee particularly noted Bertram’s tripling of revenues and doubling of its workforce since 2003, continuing improvements in quality, overall plant improvements in the facility via 5S programs and significant employee training programs.

New Web address for Caribbean monitoring

Melodye and John Pompa, mainstays of the Caribbean Safety and Security Net, a radio net that receives crime reports daily from Caribbean cruisers, have moved their Web page from to, according to the couple.

They say the new Web site will let them add as necessary pages covering newsworthy issues related to crime against cruisers.

The Pompas, who cruise on their sailboat Second Millennium, run the Caribbean Safety and Security Net (SSB 8104.0 Khz, 8:15 a.m. EST) and keep an archive of crime against cruisers in the east Caribbean on the site. They update the site monthly and send the information to 15 Caribbean government and tourist associations.

The couple, who live on their boat off Grenada’s Carriacou island, have been instrumental in bringing crime against cruisers to the attention of Caribbean governments and bringing together tourism ministers, police, port authorities, coast guards and delegations from the yachting community and marine industry to talk about curbing crime.

Besides archiving crime against cruisers by date, anchorage, island, type of crime and outcome of investigation, the Web site offers advice to cruisers about how to prevent crime.

— Jim Flannery

C-Map upgrades its Bahamas charts

Enhancements to C-Map’s newest version of its electronic charts for the Bahamas include the addition of 25 new C-Marina charts for key Bahamian ports, including Treasure Cay Marina, MarshHarbour, WestBay, Great Exuma Island Marina and Turtle Cove Marina.

Exclusive C-Marina charts include details right down to individual slips as well as locations and information about important port services. C-Map, which was recently purchased by Jeppesen Marine, has also added more NavRef aerial photos of Bahamian harbors and inlets, designed to provide improved visual orientation for boaters in unfamiliar waters.

The spring release also includes a first for MAX Bahamas Charts — the addition of Wavey Line chart data. Derived from paper charts, the data deliver the highest level of detail available for the Turks and Caicos Islands and gives boaters additional detail in the outer BahamasIslands and the Dominican Republic.

Overall, about 40 new charts have been added to the company’s spring ’07 Bahamas MAX C-cards (NA-M022, NA-M033 and NA-M034) — as well as a new NT+ chart title (NA-C306) for those with older NT+ chart plotters.

New Bahamas charts can be purchased through authorized C-Map programming dealers: $199 for Wide and $249 for MegaWide titles.

Marine design firm carries on sans founder

David Glasco, chief designer and naval architect under Tom Fexas, is leading the Stuart, Fla., design office at Tom Fexas Yacht Design, says company president Regina Fexas in a release following Fexas’ Nov. 29 death.

“The design office … is in full speed and its team is very excited with the good [prospects] for the future,” she says, adding the company recently signed contracts for a 55- and 64-foot motoryacht, and was negotiating a contract to design a 51-foot sportfisherman.

Fexas says her husband left behind drawings of profiles of more than 100 yachts, many of them never built. She says some of the current design team had worked with Fexas for more than two decades. Glasco, who has a marine engineering and naval architecture degree from the University of Michigan, has been with the Stuart, Fla., firm since 1998.

“The quality and tradition that made Tom Fexas Yacht Design famous worldwide will continue,” says Regina Fexas.

— Jim Flannery

523-footer to be scuttled off Key West

After 10 years of fund-raising and permitting, a project has begun to sink a retired military ship off Key West, Fla., to serve as an artificial reef.

In March the decommissioned U.S. Air Force missile-tracking ship Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a 523-foot ship that also monitored NASA space launches from 1963 to 1983, was towed from the James River Naval Reserve Fleet in Fort Eustis, Va., to Colonna’s Shipyard in Norfolk, Va.

The ship also saw action as a film set in the 1999 movie “Virus,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis and William Baldwin.

The ship is to become the second-largest vessel ever intentionally sunk to become an artificial reef, according to maritime and recreational diving experts. Currently, the largest ship ever scuttled for an artificial marine habitat is the USS Oriskany, an 888-foot Navy aircraft carrier sunk in May 2006 about 21 miles southeast of Pensacola, Fla. To date, the second-largest vessel, the 510-foot landing ship dock Spiegel Grove, was scuttled in May 2002 about six miles off Key Largo.

Artificial Reefs of the Keys has $3 million in commitments from two Monroe County government entities, a $1.3 million pledge from the City of Key West and other funding resources to help defray the estimated $5.7 million price tag to properly sink the ship, according to Joe Weatherby, the project’s coordinator and founder of ARK.

Make-ready and cleansing is being coordinated by ReefMakers, and is expected to take about a year. The ship is slated for scuttling about six miles off Key West in spring 2008.

“She’s an eye-popper and doesn’t look like anything else out there,” Weatherby said, noting the large electronic tracking dishes that are to be removed and then reinstalled on the ship before sinking. “Portions [of the ship] will come up to within 40 feet from the surface, making it a world-class dive.”

Havana yacht club to celebrate milestone

The Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba is making preparation for its 15th anniversary celebrations on May 31.

The club is a rarity on the Communist island nation in that it advocates the development of recreational nautical traditions in Cuba.

In celebrating its anniversary, the club has organized a program of nautical activities that include a lightsail regatta, row race, nautical ski competition and shore fishing tournament. The itinerary will also include a conference on “Ernest Hemingway & Sport Fishing” to be held at the Ernest Hemingway Museum.

The club has more than 1,700 members from 48 countries.

‘Lift and launch’ marina wins city approval

The City of Fort Lauderdale Planning and Zoning Board approved plans in March for The Harborage Club – Fort Lauderdale to proceed.

Offering a departure from traditional rack storage facilities, the modern building design by Chicago architectural firm RTKL, The Harborage Club – Fort Lauderdale combines contemporary architecture with distinctive characteristics that are the signatures of this international firm.

The computerized lift and launch system was created by Dallas-based engineering firm Ace World Companies, who designed precision crane and hoist technology for the space shuttle program and the defense department. Using a unique bar code system, the automated intelligence system locates and delivers boats up to 45 feet and 15 tons, while emitting only a tenth of the noise level of a conventional diesel forklift system. Included in the structure is an automated, robotic parking system delivering vehicles to the front door.

The Harborage Club will provide a hurricane resistant, climate-controlled, dry storage facility with deep-water access from its 16th Street Seminole Canal location. An array of yacht club amenities will include a rooftop infinity pool, spa, women’s and men’s locker rooms and concierge services, which will stock and fuel boats for an extended stay or day cruise.

Sun Splash divers return to the Keys

Warm water will welcome water-lovers at Island Sun Splash ’07, slated for June 10 through 16. Organized by the Upper Keys Association of Dive and Snorkel Operators, the event includes activities for everyone from experienced diving experts to families visiting North America’s only living coral barrier reef for the first time.

Special events directed at youngsters are a hallmark of Island Sun Splash.

“Kids are the future of diving so let’s get them involved,” says Kenny Wheeler, one of the event’s organizers.

Discover Scuba diving classes are to be offered so visitors can get their first taste of diving. Snorkeling lessons are set to make sightseeing from the water’s surface a fun and safe experience.

Underwater photography and video seminars are to be accompanied by photo and video contests, with separate divisions for kids and adults.

Shallow reefs and wrecks in calm, clear water await newly certified and less- experienced divers, while advanced divers can make the journey down to various shipwrecks off the Upper Keys.

For extremely experienced divers, seminars are to focus on deep technical diving.

Modern treasure hunter Carl Fismer is to conduct two seminars on the 1733 Spanish Fleet that was forced onto Keys reefs by a powerful hurricane. Fismer plans to lead tours to local wreck sites after each session.

Rounding out the Island Sun Splash roster of events are kayaking trips, introductory sailing lessons and a fishing clinic at the Worldwide Sportsman store in Islamorada.

A family barbecue and awards party is to climax the week of fun, education and entertainment.

Admission wristbands to Island Sun Splash cost $20 per adult and $10 per youngster age 10 to 14. Children under 10 are admitted without charge.

New tow service added to Port St. Joe

BoatU.S. Towing, the nation’s largest on-the-water towing service for recreational boaters, has added a location on Florida’s Panhandle with the opening of TowBoatU.S. Port St. Joe/Mexico Beach, located just north of Cape San Blas.

This is the third towing port for Capt. Andrew Adams, who also operates TowBoatU.S. Destin and TowBoatU.S. Panama City, which brings the total number of TowBoatU.S. ports in the Panhandle to nine.

TowBoatU.S. Port St. Joe/Mexico Beach has a 25-foot Mako with twin 200-hp outboards stationed at Mexico Beach Marina.

Boaters in need of towing assistance can reach TowBoatU.S. Port St. Joe/Mexico Beach by calling the company directly at (850) 348-0762; by VHF radio on Ch. 16; or through the BoatU.S. toll-free Dispatch Service at (800) 391-4869.

For more information on towing plans visit .

Annual regatta festival returns to Lauderdale

HospiceCare of Southeast Florida has scheduled its 11th annual Regatta and Island Festival for May 18-19. All sailboat racing and cruising enthusiasts are invited to the event, which raises funds for HospiceCare.

This unique festival will include island cuisine, Cuban-made Matusalem Rum, a silent auction and a steel drum band. The festival begins at 6:30 p.m. and admission is complimentary, but food tickets are available for $65.

On May 19, the Hospice Regatta fleet will set sail at 11 a.m. on a 12-mile course. This will provide some tough competition in a relaxed atmosphere offering a variety in classes and skill levels. The race teams are invited to raise funds as well for a worthy cause: the care of patients and families facing end-of-life decisions.

For information call Holly Barnes at (954) 467-7423 or visit

Florida cruising boosters tout Alaska cruising

Barb and Vic Hansen, owners of the chartering firm Southwest Florida Yachts, are well-known advocates of cruising in Southwest Florida. Now, the boosters of Florida yacht cruising are boosting cruising in Alaska, too.

The Hansens have invited others to cruise with them in July along the wild Southeastern Alaska shoreline aboard Ursa Major, a 65-foot classic Malahide trawler. Ursa Major cruises from Sitka to Petersburg July 9-15 and back to Sitka July 17-23.

The cruises were scheduled at the height of the whale and bear season and the vessel will turn into quaint harbors with fishing villages and nose into fjords with calving glaciers and waterfalls. The vessel carries kayaks for passengers to explore the wildlife, waterfalls and other natural features of the shoreline.

The cost is $3,500 per person per week, which includes all meals prepared by a gourmet chef. The vessel has two double cabins available for one couple or two single persons per cabin. The two cabins share a large head with shower.

For information, visit, call (800) 262-7939 or e-mail .

Power Squadron holds annual meeting

At its Jacksonville, Fla., conference in February, the United States Power Squadrons celebrated its 92nd year. Delegates came from as far away as Maine, Oregon and California.

The highlight of the week was the reelection of Chief Commander Ernest G. Marshburn of Greenville, N.C., to a second year as the 50th leader of the organization founded at the New York Yacht Club in 1914.

Since its founding, the USPS has become America’s largest boating educational organization, with more than 50,000 members in more than 450 squadrons. Its volunteer members give their time and energy by teaching boating courses and seminars, providing vessel safety checks, and assisting the National Ocean Service in updating the nation’s 1,000 nautical charts.

For further information, go to or call (888) 367-8777.

Yacht designer honored as a ‘star’

The Design Center of The Americas honored Dee Robinson with a Stars Of Design Award in January. The award recognizes “the very best in Florida-based design talent.”

Fort Lauderdale-based Dee Robinson Interiors was selected as the recipient of the inaugural award in the Yacht Design category by a panel of professionals and members of the national, regional and South Florida media.

Robinson has more than 200 new yacht construction and refit projects to her credit. Her portfolio ranges from 70-foot semi-production models to 180-foot custom steel yachts. Her most recent projects include aluminum tri-deck semi-displacement motoryachts and full-displacement, ocean-going megayachts meeting the highest standards of MCA certification.

Thunderboats to run like lightning

Some people feel an adrenaline rush crossing over the Keys’ Seven Mile Bridge at 50 miles per hour. Others do it by going under the two concrete-supported bridges at more than 100 miles per hour.

That’s the challenge facing offshore powerboat racers at the 2007 Marathon Offshore Grand Prix, slated for May 18 to 20. The race’s unique course encompasses the Old Seven Mile Bridge, once part of a historic railway stretching from mainland Florida to Key West, and the contemporary Seven Mile Bridge that is the centerpiece of the famed Overseas Highway spanning the Keys.

The course runs roughly seven miles per lap, starting in Florida Bay and proceeding westward to the first checkpoint. Racers make a 90-degree left turn to head to the Atlantic Ocean, passing between the new and old Seven Mile Bridge concrete foundations. Two more hard left turns point the racers back to the bay side, again speeding through the narrow pass between the bridges’ concrete foundations. A right turn in the bay takes racers across the finish line or to a hairpin left turn that completes each lap.

Races can be viewed from the Old Seven Mile Bridge, MM 47. Spectators also can view the races from the shoreline walkways just north of the old bridge on the bay side.

The race is sanctioned by Superboat International Inc. For information, call (305) 743-5805.

British cruise line to base ship in U.S.

Fred Olsen Cruises has announced plans to base its latest acquisition, a 617-foot ship named Balmoral, in the United States for the 2008-’09 winter season.

The ship will sail from its British base port of Dover in October 2008 on a trans-Atlantic voyage via Canada and ending in New York.

This will be followed by a 12-night fall foliage itinerary to Boston, eastern Canada, and returning to New York via Portland, Nantucket and Newport. Balmoral then proceeds to her winter home of Miami taking in Bermuda, Port Canaveral and Nassau.

Balmoral’s Caribbean program will consist of 11 cruises of 12, 14 and 16 nights comprising two standard 14-night eastern and western routes, with adjustments to allow for convenient air travel over the Christmas period. The range of ports goes from Guatemala and Cozumel in the west to Barbados in the east; and from The Bahamas in the north to Isla Margarita in the south of the region. 

Balmoral’s smaller size — only 34,242 tons and 987 passengers — means she is able to visit ports that larger ships miss or have to anchor a long distance out. For instance the little island of Bequia is only a few minutes’ tender ride from Balmoral. In both Road Town in Tortola (British Virgin Islands) and Santo Thomas de Castilla (in Guatemala) Balmoral’s neat size allows her to tie-up at the dock, thus avoiding a tender transfer completely. 

For information, e-mail Steve Kravitz at .