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These stories and others appear daily on www.soundingsonline.com, which also contains a searchable archive of past Soundings stories.

Man goes overboard; empty boat circles on

Florida emergency workers in November had to corral a boat that was racing in circles off Port Everglades after its owner fell overboard. The unmanned boat, with the words “Don’t Hate” printed on the side of the hull, was spotted and reported to the Coast Guard, according to a report in the Miami Herald newspaper.

Coast Guard officials contacted a private salvage company to help round up the boat, and one worker managed to jump aboard and take the helm. The boat’s owner apparently had been thrown overboard and was rescued by a good Samaritan. It wasn’t immediately known what caused the skipper to lose control of the boat.

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A prestigious Henley-on-Thames rowing club has denied membership to a British woman who rowed more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic early last year. Roz Savage, 38, says on her Web site at www.rozsavage.com that she is upset that the Leander Club, which calls itself the “world’s oldest and most renowned rowing club,” admits male Oxford University rowers but not women. Savage has rowed twice for Oxford in the Oxford and Cambridge race. In its rejection letter to Savage — who in 2006 became the first woman to compete solo in the Atlantic Rowing Race — the club says, “Unfortunately, the committee is of the opinion that Miss Savage fails to meet the criteria we use in assessing ‘proficiency of oarsmanship,’ which is a measure of excellence rather than endurance.”

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A fishing boat skipper, who admitted to scuttling his 80-foot trawler for the insurance payout more than a decade after the boat sank, was sentenced in late November to 32 months in prison. The 53-year-old Scottish man, who says he now has found religion, pleaded guilty to creating a fraudulent scheme to obtain an insurance payout and to giving false information to insurers, the Scotsman newspaper reports. The man confessed the crime to a friend at a local church two years ago because he apparently was overcome by guilt. He received $1.1 million from his insurer for the loss.

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The 115-foot hollow steel mast of the two-time America’s Cup winner Columbia, now a flagpole in New York, was being refurbished this fall. The mast has been used as a flagpole in the privately owned Queens, N.Y., community of Forest Hills Gardens since 1915, the New York Daily News reports. The mast apparently was rusting and was taken down to be sanded and repainted. “Any preservation of the legacy of the America’s Cup … is well worth the effort and important in terms of protecting and promoting the history of the city,” an America’s Cup spokesperson says in the report. Columbia, a Herreshoff design, was the first yacht to win two consecutive America’s Cups, taking the honor in 1899 and 1901.

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As of Jan. 1, 2007, the Coast Guard is prohibiting the use of 121.5 and 243 MHz EPIRBs. The agency says the change is in preparation for Feb. 1, 2009, when satellites that process distress signals will detect only those from 406 MHz beacons. The new regulation applies to all Class A, B and S 121.5/243 MHz EPIRBs. However, it doesn’t affect the use of 121.5/243 MHz man overboard devices, which are designed to work with a base-alerting unit and not the satellite system. The 406 MHz beacons are required by law to be registered with the Beacon Register Database. The EPIRBs can registered by calling (888) 212-7283, or online at www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov .

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A California woman in November was found guilty of helping her husband and several accomplices kill a wealthy couple for their yacht. The 25-year-old woman was charged with two counts of first-degree murder, according to an Associated Press report. Prosecutors reportedly argued that the woman and her husband approached Tom and Jackie Hawks about purchasing their 55-footer, Well Deserved, and persuaded the couple to take them out for a ride. Once under way the accused couple and a number of accomplices allegedly overpowered the Hawkses, forced them to sign over ownership of the yacht, tied them to an anchor, and threw them overboard. The woman faces life in prison without parole when she is sentenced in February. Her husband and an accomplice could face the death penalty if convicted.