News Notes – Long Island Sound

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Yacht club opens spring frostbite series

40-degree temperatures and 15- to 20-knot breezes made Mystic River Yacht Club’s opening frostbite regatta March 29 a real challenge for the JY-15 sailors who showed for competition.

Of the seven teams that posted to brave the conditions, only five started Race 1 and only three boats finished the second race. Too much wind meant sailors had to retreat to the clubhouse for an early chowder lunch.

Winning the regatta with two first-place finishes was Clemmie Everett of the Mystic River Yacht Club, sailing with Mallie Buffam. There was a tie for second place between Matt Champney of the Ram Island Yacht Club and Matt Paige from the Stonington (Conn.) High School Sailing Team.

More teams are expected to post as the weather turns milder. Keep track of the cumulative standings at www.mysticriveryachtclub.com, or stop by to watch the races from the docks at Mystic Shipyard or by boat.

Conn.River yacht club celebrates milestone

Seventy-five years ago, 55 avid frostbiters decided to form a yacht club on the Connecticut River in Essex. The Essex Yacht Club was founded on the principles of friendship and a love of yachting. It began as a clubhouse on the second floor of the Essex Steamboat Dock. The members eagerly began racing their dinghies on the weekends and cruising on the Sound.

The members eventually moved from the second-floor clubhouse to a leased building and finally in 1980 to the present full-service yacht club with 350 members.

With experience and new membership, the club gained respect and members began winning races throughout the area and later in national and international competition. Members have crewed on yachts that won the America’s Cup, the Bermuda Race and the Olympics.

To celebrate its diamond anniversary, the club is hosting a two-day party for members. The festivities for club members will start with a boat parade and barbecue at 6 p.m. on May 16. The boat parade will feature both sail and power boats owned by club members. All the yachts will be dressed with flags. The parade will pass by the Connecticut RiverMuseum and end at the yacht club.

May 17 will bring an Ideal 18 regatta in the afternoon and the season opening ceremonies at 5 p.m. Following the ceremonies, there will be cocktails, dinner and dancing to the music of Bob Hugh’s 18-piece Big Band orchestra.

New film explores Long Island Sound

A Connecticut documentary filmmaker recently mailed 500 free copies of his new film to every sixth-grade class in Connecticut and sent more to area nature centers and educational facilities.

Thanks to a $24,854 grant from the Department of Environmental Protection’s Long Island Sound License Plate Fund and a corporate contribution from the XL Corporation, Scott Tucker’s Expedition New England produced a 30-minute documentary DVD about Long Island Sound entitled “More than a Sound, a Symphony of Life.”

While the program is designed to inspire everyone to protect the estuary shared by Connecticut and New York, it is specifically geared to capture the hearts and minds of Connecticut’s youth.

Tucker and his family took a camera underwater while scuba-diving to show the wildlife that depend upon Long Island Sound for survival. Also featured are the coastal estuaries of Southern Connecticut, bringing the viewer face to face with reptiles such as the Diamondback Terrapin and arthropods like the Horseshoe Crab that call the Sound home.

The crew teamed up with scientist Dr. Jennifer Mattei, of SacredHeartUniversity, to tag and monitor horseshoe crabs and joined the staff of Project Oceanology on their educational vessel to take students onto Long Island Sound.To learn more about how to see this program on your local cable station, go to www.expeditionnewengland.com.

Anniversary edition of L. I. guide published

Any boater who cruises Long Island Sound or ventures south to Cape May, N.J., north up the Hudson River into the canals, or northeast toward Block Island should consider the updated information and advice in the expanded 11th edition of “Embassy Cruising Guides: Long Island Sound to Cape May, N.J.”

The inaugural Maptech cruising guide collection came out in 1988 for the Sound. The book’s breadth has increased over the last few editions and the new version, at 570 pages, features expanded geographic coverage that benefits even the Great Loopers. With contributing editors Betsy Frawley Haggerty, Kim Kavin and Tom Schlicter, Maptech has expanded the Hudson River and New Jersey Coast sections, added a chapter on the New York State Canal System, and included a new “Captain’s Guide to Cruising the East Coast.”

The guide, which works hand-in-hand with the detailed NOAA charts in Maptech’s ChartKit Region 3, is available for $44.95 nationwide in marine stores and direct from Maptech at www.maptech.com , or you can call (888) 839-5551.

Marina sues over mooring permits

A New York marina has filed a $15 million lawsuit against a Long Island village over the issue of mooring permits.

Seymours Boat Yard in Northport filed the suit against the Village of Lloyd’s harbor and several town officials, citing the village unfairly awarded mooring permit contracts to another marina. The suit also alleges the village does not have a proper process for awarding mooring permits.

The saga began last fall when Dave Weber, general manager of the family-owned Seymours, was the leading bidder for a contract with the nearby town of Huntington to provide mooring and launch services from the town dock. The contract was previously held by Coney’s Marine in Huntington, which was also named in the lawsuit.

Weber says he thought the contract meant he would also be granted the permits for operating moorings in Puppy’s Cove, a body of water between Huntington and LloydsHarbor. But a majority of the 200 moorings fall under the jurisdiction of the Village of Lloyd’s Harbor, which has a separate governing body. There does not appear to be a process for those permits to change hands, according to the suit. Coney’s has held the mooring permits for 13 years.

Village officials declined comment while the litigation is pending.

Weber says he invested $200,000 for a new launch and mooring equipment. He was banking on charging boat owners fees for use of the moorings. The marina anticipated receiving about $400,000 each year from the mooring rentals and related services.

— JoAnn W. Goddard

MarineMax comes to New Rochelle waterfront

On April 9, the town of New Rochelle in New York’s WestchesterCounty welcomed MarineMax Yachts and Brokerage to their new location on 2 Pelham Road right next to the town marina.

“New Rochelle has been aching for a dealership for years – this is the QueenCity of the Sound,” says Bill Massa, sales executive for MarineMax. “And the city has been actively soliciting businesses to the waterfront.”

The location had previously been a kitchen cabinet store, but when the space became available, the town jumped on the opportunity. The grand opening included hors d’ oeuvres and champagne for attendees and concluded with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“When some of our prime retail space opened up, we sought a tenant that would help us build the reputation of our marina as a preferred boating destination,” says Capt. Salvatore Gugliara, harbor master for the town marina. “MarineMax was a great fit.”

Four months and roughly $200,000 later, MarineMax showroom and offices were ready to open their doors. With room for roughly 10 boats up to 26 feet on display, this branch will retail Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Sea Pro, Meridian and Azimut yachts.

“Having this location here expands New Rochelle’s recreational and economic potential,” says New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, who assisted in the ribbon cutting. “Their success is our success.”

MarineMax is based in Clearwater, Fla., and is one of the largest recreational boat and yacht retailers with 90 locations nationwide. The new location will offer customers pre-owned and brokerage boat plans and events such as boating classes and overnight excursions with other customers and their families. www.marinemax.com

— Elizabeth Ellis

CG Auxiliary receives grant for safe boating

Long Island-based Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 22, supporting Coast Guard Station Eatons Neck, has received a Boating Safety Grant from the BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water. The competitive annual grant program is designed to help nonprofit groups, associations, organizations and other waterway users to spread the message about safe boating practices at the grassroots level.

This year the safety grant program attracted 149 applications from around the country and the Coast Guard Auxiliary was one of 23 to receive funding. The Coast Guard Auxiliary will use the funds to place “Wear It!” signs at boat launch facilities from Oyster Bay to Mount Sinai on Long Island’s NorthShore to promote the wearing of life jackets.

The Auxiliary’s safety officer Richard Rothamel said, “Each year, nearly 700 boaters drown. Most would have been saved had they been wearing life jackets. These signs will serve as a last-minute reminder to wear your life jacket.”

Since 1988, the Foundation has awarded nearly $750,000 in Boating Safety Grants to fund projects that promote responsible boating on a local level. A list of all 23 recipients, as well as grant applications and guidelines are available online at www.BoatUS.com/Foundation .

New tug dealer on the East Coast

The builders of American Tug, Tomco Marine Group, have announced a new dealer for the Northeast. Prestige Yacht Sales, with offices in Stamford and Westbrook, Conn., now sells the American Tug 34, 41 and the new American Tug 49 Limited.

“The American Tug has already found a following in the Northeast,” says Michael Frank, president of Prestige Yacht Sales. “We have watched the fleet of smart-looking American Tugs and their owners cruising Long Island Sound and New England. This is a line of well-made yachts that our customers will enjoy.”

Prestige Yacht Sales has two American Tugs currently being completed by Tomco Marine Group in La Conner, Wash. Both will be specially equipped for the Northeast including the new flybridge option.

Prestige Yacht Sales will present the American Tugs at the Newport Spring Boat Show and at the Norwalk and Fall Newport Boat Shows. In addition, Prestige Yacht Sales will be coordinating owner’s events, seminars and a rendezvous for the American Tug owners. www.prestigeyachtsales.com

Electronics navigation firm offers free charts

Lowrance, a world-leading brand in marine electronics since 1957 and GPS navigational systems since 1992, announced a limited-time, free digital-map promotion.

Anyone who purchases a color Lowrance LMS sonar/chart plotter combo or 5-inch color GlobalMap chart plotter from an authorized Lowrance dealer between April 10 and July 7 will have a choice of a free plug-and-play Lowrance Fishing Hot Spots PRO or Lowrance LakeMaster ProMaps mapcard, or a Lowrance NauticPath USA coastal chartcard — redeemable with a mail-in coupon and proof of purchase – $99 product value.

For information, visit www.lowrance.com or call (800) 324-1356.

Dealer marks a milestone

Hellier Yacht Sales, founded in New London, Conn., on Oct. 18, 1968, by John R. (Bob) Hellier, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

Ownership was transferred to Wayne L. Burdick June 16, 1977, and Vincent J. Petrella became part owner in 1997 before retiring in July 2007. Hellier Yacht Sales has remained a small, intimate business throughout the years with six or seven employees. Hellier was conceived and sustained upon people, products and business relationships, according to the present owners.

Hellier was the first sailboat dealership in the country to be certified under the new NMMA/MRAA Certified Dealership program and is also a Certified Professional Yacht Broker (CPYB) endorsed brokerage house.

Hellier has represented Caliber, Freedom, Pearson, Seaward, Tartan and currently Catalina, Jeanneau and Island Packet Yachts.

“We are thrilled to celebrate 40 years in business and we owe a debt of gratitude to our employees, manufacturers and customers, all of whom have helped us reach this milestone. We look forward to many more years of exceeding our customers’ expectations,” said executive vice President/GM Rick Dieterich.

New Pearl Seas cruise ship is launched

Guilford, Conn.-based Pearl Seas Cruises recently announced their new ship was launched at the Irving Shipyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This is the first of several ships the company plans to build for world service.

The line’s new ship can carry 214 guests and features 108 suites — all with private balconies. The ship will be outfitted with the latest navigation and communication technology, in addition to Rolls Royce active wing stabilizers.

The 2009-10 schedule is available on the Web site and showcases the cruise line’s 29 itineraries, visiting more than 100 unique ports throughout Eastern Canada, New England, Canadian Maritimes, Caribbean, Central America, Panama Canal and the Great Lakes.

For information, or to request a color brochure, call (800) 983-7462 or visit www.pearlseascruises.com .