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

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

Titanic survivor dies

The last surviving American who was a passenger on the Titanic died at her home in Massachusetts in April at age 99. Lillian G. Asplund was 5 years old when she and her family boarded the liner in 1912 and was said to be the last survivor with memories of the sinking, the Associated Press reported.

Asplund lost her father and three brothers, including a twin, when the ship sank. Her mother, Selma, and brother Felix — who was 3 at the time — survived. Selma Asplund died in 1964 at age 91, and Felix Asplund died in 1983 at age 73. There are at least two other Titanic survivors living in England, according to the news report, but they were too young in 1912 to have memories of the sinking.


A British woman who was learning to sail recently sank her boyfriend’s 47-foot yacht after running onto rocks off Dorset, England. The 33-year-old woman from Wiltshire was at the helm, and her boyfriend, a 42-year-old merchant banker, was below when the incident happened, England’s Telegraph newspaper reported. The couple jumped onto rocks after the $450,000 yacht capsized. A lifeboat crew rescued the man, and a helicopter crew later rescued the woman, who was reportedly too scared to jump into the lifeboat. “I don’t know if I’ll ever sail again,” the woman says in the report.


Gipsy Moth IV, the 53-foot ketch that Sir Francis Chichester sailed around the world, ran aground on a reef off a tiny South Pacific island 150 miles from Tahiti. The yacht was said to have sustained damage to the starboard side in the late-April grounding, England’s Isle of Wight County Press newspaper reported. The cause wasn’t immediately known. Three teenagers who were sailing around the world as part of a two-year charity project were removed from the yacht and flown to Tahiti. The remaining crew stayed with the ketch, awaiting help from a salvage crew. Chichester, at the age of 65, sailed Gipsy Moth IV on a 274-day solo circumnavigation in 1966 and ’67, and is recognized as the first person to sail alone around the world with only one port of call (Sydney, Australia).


An Oregon man recently celebrated his 106th birthday with a jetboat ride down the Rogue River. Dick Burns of Grants Pass spent about 30 minutes on the boat in April, courtesy of Hellgate Jetboat Excursions, NBC’s KOBI-TV reported. Despite his age Burns says the ride didn’t frighten or tire him. “I just jump in the boat and go. Nothing bothers me. I do all right,” he says in the report. Burns apparently has a penchant for taking risks on his birthday. A person with the nursing home at which Burns is a resident says in the report that Burns has ridden in a balloon, a helicopter and on a motorcycle in years past. Burns reportedly hasn’t decided yet what he’ll do for his 107th birthday.


A Florida woman under way on a 19-foot boat was hospitalized in April after a 3-foot sturgeon jumped out of the water and hit her in the face. The impact knocked the 31-year-old Kenneth City woman off her feet, Florida’s Gainesville Sun newspaper reported. Her lips and wrist required stitches, and she suffered facial injuries, abrasions on her shoulders and a fractured spine. The woman and her fiancée were traveling at 30 to 35 mph on the Suwannee River near Bell, Fla., when the fish leapt from the water, the news report says.


An Alabama man who was asked to help pull a disabled boat trailer off a highway discovered it was towing a boat that had been stolen from him more than a month earlier. Denny Grisham was using a small excavating machine along Baldwin County 65 when he noticed the commotion, Alabama’s Press-Register newspaper reported. The trailer’s axle apparently had frozen. “This boy asked me if I could use my excavator to get the boat off the road,” Grisham says in the report. “I get over there, and it’s my boat that’d been stolen six weeks ago. I found my own boat.” Grisham called local police and waited for them to arrive. Investigators later traced the boat to a Foley, Ala., man and arrested him at his home. Two additional stolen boats and an outboard were recovered from the property, the news report says. The driver pulling the trailer wasn’t arrested.