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News Notes - New England

Sunset Cruise

Thirty scientists and crew took one last cruise off Woods Hole, Mass., on Nov. 4 aboard the 187-foot Albatross IV.

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The National Marine Fisheries Seervice retired the research vessel after 45 years of service. Built at Southern shipbuilding in Slidell, La., the ship was launched in April 1962 and commissioned in Mary 1963.

Monster waves in Maine remain a mystery

Residents of Boothbay, Southport, and Bristol, Maine, witnessed something strange this fall: in 15 minutes, the water rose 12 feet and receded three times, ripping up docks and pulling boats away from their moorings, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

“All of a sudden around 3 p.m. there was this massive rushing out of water,” says Elena Smith, 28, part owner and waitress at McSeagull’s Restaurant, Boothbay Harbor, in a phone interview with Soundings. “We’re right on the water and I’ve worked there for five years and five summers, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Meteorologists are baffled by the cause, but not by the occurrence. Theories include a powerful storm squall or the shifting of mountains of sediment from a steep canyon in the ocean. Smith says the customers were anxious about the occurrence, but her staff managed to calm everyone down.

“Some of the floating docks in front of the restaurant got torn up,” says Smith. “There were whirlpools in different spots and it was pretty scary. But our 60-year-old building was just rebuilt and has brand new pilings, so we weren’t too worried.”

The last rogue wave that appeared in Maine was in 1926 at Bass Harbor, according to the Globe. There were no injuries reported in this latest incident, but 17 years ago a series of 12- to 15-foot waves ravaged the coastline of Daytona Beach, Fla., tossing dozens of cars and injuring 20 people. Meteorologists say a squall line surge, which occurs when a fast-moving storm sweeps over the water, can create such a wave. Explosive decompression of underwater methane could also be a factor, and weather stations are gathering information from locals to find out what exactly occurred Oct. 28, asking banks and businesses to see if the event was recorded on their security tapes.

“I’m just glad nobody died,” says Smith. “It was so odd to see. You look at the same calm water for 12 hours a day every day, and suddenly everything changes.”

— Elizabeth Ellis

A showcase of “Made in Massachusetts” boats

The annual Boatbuilders’ Show on Cape Cod returns to Hyannis Feb. 13-15 at the Resort Conference Center and organizers hope it offers a taste of summer in the heart of winter.

More than 3,000 people visited the show in 2008, more than doubling the producers’ expectations. Boaters will find more than 40 exhibitors and an even larger variety of custom-built sail and powerboats on display under one roof, a showcase of “Made in Massachusetts” boatbuilders.

“Smaller builders of custom boats are often lost in the maze of mainstream boat shows,” says Scott Dayton of Hyannis Marina, a key organizer of the Boatbuilders’ Show. “So buyers looking for the kind of craftsmanship and unique designs usually found only in limited-production boats have few opportunities to go on board and compare workmanship and features. Very much like the Maine Boatbuilders’ Show when it started years ago, this is an opportunity for smaller builders to show off their craft in a larger venue, some for the first time outside of their own showrooms.”

The show also features boatbuilding demonstrations and unique boating products on display. Admission is $5. Children under 12 are free, and plenty of free parking.

Public input sought for Kennebec River study

The Coast Guard is conducting a waterways analysis review of the Kennebec River in Maine to determine the effectiveness of aids to navigation in the river.

The following areas are under review for the Kennebec River:

• Sequin Ledges to the Bath Rail Road Bridge

• North of the Bath Rail Road Bridge to Augusta

Because of difficulties in keeping aids on station north of the Richmond/Dresden Bridge, the Coast Guard seeks to make all aids to navigation between the Richmond/Dresden Bridge to Augusta seasonal aids.

Mariners and other concerned parties are invited to comment on the aids to navigation within these waterways. Questionnaires can be obtained by calling (207) 741-5442. Any comments or recommended changes to aids to navigation should be received no later than Dec. 15. Comments can be e-mailed to or mailed to: USCG Sector Northern New England, Aids to Navigation Officer, 259 High St., South Portland, ME 04106, ATTN: BOSN4 Jeff Chase.

Museum will ‘stabilize’ 19th-century kayaks

In the New Bedford Whaling Museum, art conservator Alexandra Allardt, principal of ArtCare Resources in Newport, R.I., is cleaning and treating a trio of native Alaskan kayaks from the museum’s collection so future generations can learn more about the native Alaskan peoples who made them.

Alexandra Allardt cleans one of the three 19th century Alaskan kayaks being treated at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Visitors are encouraged to ask questions and return often to see her progress as she cleans the kayaks of layers of accumulated airborne grime attracted to the surfaces over the years by the oil-based dressings that preserve the animal skins (primarily walrus, seal and caribou) used to make the boats.

Allardt says the goal of her work, which is funded by the museum’s ECHO (Education through Cultural and Historical Organizations) grant, is not to restore the kayaks to their original pristine state, but rather to stabilize their condition and preserve what she can of their original construction materials and methods.

The kayak currently undergoing treatment came into the museum collection in 1904. It originates from Cape Epsenberg, Alaska and dates to 1878.

Mystic Seaport names new president and CEO

Stephen C. White, former headmaster of the Fay School in Southborough, Mass., has been named president and chief executive officer of Mystic Seaport and was scheduled to assume his position Jan. 15. Retired Coast Guard Rear Admiral Doug Teeson, the museum’s current president and CEO, announced he was resigning from the position earlier in 2008.

“It was important to find a successor capable of building on Doug’s many achievements,” says Richard Vietor, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees. “We’ve found that person in Steve White — an experienced educator, successful fundraiser and someone with a deep passion for sailing and for Mystic Seaport.”

White served 18 years as headmaster of Fay School, the country’s oldest junior boarding school, founded in 1866. Fay School now educates an international student body in grades 6-9 as boarding students and day students in grades 1-9. During White’s tenure, Fay School increased its endowment and also completed a $20 million campaign designed to support key elements of the strategic plan, including compensation, scholarships, program development and campus expansion.

“What inspires me about Mystic Seaport is the pervasive sense of a clear mission — connecting Americans with the sea — and how palpable it is in everything the museum does,” says White.

Yacht club officers picked at annual meeting

Mystic River Yacht Club elected a new slate of officers at their annual meeting in October. Officers for 2009 include Tony DeLima, commodore; Forrest Cramer, vice commodore; Gerry Leger, rear commodore; Dom DeGaetano treasurer; Virginia Seccombe, club secretary and Mike Cavanaugh, fleet captain. Kevin Miller will function on the board as past commodore.

The new slate of officers for the Mystic River Yacht Club pose in formal yacht club attire after the annual meeting.

Bill Volmar was elected to join the board of directors and will serve with directors Jessica Morrissey, Pam Gibbs, Catherine O’Brien and Philip Shreffler.

Kevin Miller was presented with an inscribed clock to thank him for his service to MRYC, having done two tours of duty as commodore. The club’s 2008 Order of Merit plaque went this year to Jessica Morrissey for her boundless energy in bolstering MRYC’s membership.

Winter liveaboards can face unique hazards

In Maine, the Coast Guard, the Portland and South Portland fire departments, and the Portland Harbormaster are joining forces to educate the public of the hazards of living aboard boats during the winter.

Authorities speculate that in today’s economic climate more people may choose to live aboard year-round. Emergency officials have reached out to marinas in Maine to identify people who plan to live on their boats this winter.

Primary dangers include carbon monoxide poisoning and fires from using small heaters in confined spaces. Working carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers should be installed and easily accessible.

South Portland Fire Chief Kevin Guimond urges liveaboards to tell local emergency responders where their boats are docked for the winter and to mark them accordingly. “Our paramedics and firefighters can’t help you if we can’t find you,” he said.

Waterway Guide updates editions

Dozier’s Waterway Guide, the only cruising guide that is annually updated by experienced on-the-water cruising editors, announced the release of their 2009 Atlantic ICW, Chesapeake Bay and Southern Waterway Guides.

Waterway Guide has expanded its coverage of the Mid-Atlantic region into two separate guides. The new Chesapeake Bay edition will guide cruisers exploring the Chesapeake Bay, the Delaware Bay and the Delmarva Coast from Cape May to Norfolk. The new Atlantic ICW edition takes cruisers along the Intracoastal Waterway from Norfolk, Va., to Jacksonville, Fla.

“The new Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic ICW Waterway Guides not only include significantly expanded coverage, but also feature improved coverage maps with indexed page numbers, expanded Goin’ Ashore articles with town maps highlighting local points of interest, larger and easier to use marina locater charts, and easy-to-reference tide tables and weather station maps,” says publisher Jack Dozier.

The 2009 Southern Waterway Guide features more than 500 pages of mile-by-mile navigation information on Florida’s east coast, the St. Johns River, the Okeechobee Waterway, the Keys, Florida’s west coast and the Gulf of Mexico to Brownville, Texas.

Two additional 2009 Waterway Guides, the Northern and Great Lakes editions, will be available in February 2009, followed by the new Bahamas Waterway Guide in the spring.

This story originally appeared in the January 2009 issue.