Archive for » February 19th, 2012«

Doing the Great Outdoors indoors at Dow Diamond

Saturday looked like spring from indoors and felt like winter
outdoors, but at the Dow Diamond, the Great Outdoor Expo celebrated
the outdoors, indoors.

Within its enclosed concourse crowds milled from boat display to
land sales office to tackle and hunting gear dealer booths.

Fishing and shooting simulators competed for visitor attention with
the aroma of jerky, the sound of spirited small-talk hunting and
fishing stories, and the sight of tons of alluring hunting and
fishing equipment. Concessions stood ready to allay hunger and
thirst.

And, there’s another full slate of it planned for today, as the
Expo, sponsored by the Dow Diamond and Cumulous Communications,
makes its third annual run.

Upstairs Saturday morning, Dixie Dave Minar, noted wild game chef
and proprietor of Oscar Joey’s Roadhouse in Birch Run, shared
cooking tips in a seminar.

Thanks at least in part to the aromas he created preparing venison
forestiere, his audience doubled during his talk. He seasoned his
talk with tips:

• Sear wild meats to seal in juices, since they’re so low-fat

• A jaccard needle tool’s tiny holes produce more tender
meats;

• Use a meat mallet and “tunk down the meat a little bit;” the
tenderized meat lays flat in the pan;

• When lowering meat into hot oil, start closest to you and work
away to keep hot oil from splattering you;

• If adding and burning off alcohol (he used Jim Beam whiskey in
his recipe), hold it away from an above-stove screen so not to
ignite any built-up grease there.

The most common wild game mistake? Minar had a quick answer:
“Overcooking wild game to the point it becomes liver-like. It dries
out, because it has absolutely no saturated fat. That (overcooking)
is why people say they don’t like it. You want it medium rare, or
even rare.”

As attentive as was his audience as he cooked, its members were
even more focused on the samples he shared at seminar’s end.
Between nibbles of some of Minar’s work, Bill Wojcik of Bay City
said it was his first Outdoor Expo visit. “We heard it was getting
bigger and bigger every year, so we figured we’d come over.”

Downstairs, Mike McAdams of Kawkawlin shouldered a crossbow offered
by Northwoods Outfitters of Pinconning, and although he said he
didn’t expect to buy one (“I’m putting my money into a street rod”)
he seemed to be taking careful aim.

Midland native Joel Lundberg, a DNR conservation officer recently
posted to his home town, fielded questions and passed out fish and
wildlife literature and posters.

Handing two youngsters moose and elk antlers, Lundberg asked them,
“Can you imagine wearing two of those on your head, and then
walking through the woods?”

At another seminar upstairs, volunteer hunting and trapping
educator Daryl Hendershot of Gladwin introduced youngsters to those
subjects.

Among his audience were Molly and Barron Bowman, 5 and 3,
respectively, with their grandfather, Phil Bowman. “We’re getting
our fishing stuff,” said the grandpa, “getting ready for spring,”
and, sure enough, they had some kid-sized gear they’d bought at the
show.

Elsewhere, kids oohed at a baby tiger and young kangaroo in a wild
animal display, while hunters, boaters, anglers and others of all
ages found plenty to grab and hold their interest.

The Great Outdoor Expo continues from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at
the Dow Diamond. Admission is $5 for visitors age 10 and up;
younger attendees are free. Dow Diamond concession stands are
open.

Copyright 2012 Midland Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Police boat on West Side served personal purposes – The Spokesman

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SEATTLE – Federal fish cops in Seattle bought a $300,000 luxury boat to spy on whale-watching tours – but didn’t go through an appropriate bidding process, held barbecues onboard, ferried friends and family across Puget Sound to restaurants and resorts, and used the boat for what one visitor called “a pleasure cruise.”

When confronted, one federal employee in Seattle misled inspectors about how the vessel was used, and one interfered with federal investigators, according to an internal investigation by the Commerce Department. Those documents were released Friday by U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

At issue is a 35-foot, 14-passenger boat purchased by federal agents with the National Marine Fisheries Service using money seized from fishermen who violated the law.

The 2008 purchase wasn’t illegal, according to the Commerce Department, but federal agents manipulated the acquisition process and misrepresented the urgency and need for the vessel.

The fisheries service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has a law enforcement branch employing special agents with the same powers as the FBI.

The boat ultimately was used for just 119 hours, according to the documents, and remains moored in Western Washington.

“The sad truth is that it was a fishermen-funded party boat for bureaucrats,” Brown said on the Senate floor.

Brown, a harsh critic of NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco’s environmental policies, has repeatedly called for her resignation after a series of scathing inspector general reports in 2010 that criticized heavy-handed fisheries enforcement and mismanagement of an asset-seizure fund.

Last week Brown received a heavily redacted follow-up report about misuse of a Boston Whaler bought by the Seattle law enforcement branch.

In a statement, NOAA officials said the agency has since “conducted a top-to-bottom overhaul of its enforcement program.”

The Seattle office in 2006 sought to buy a $146,000 boat to police halibut fishermen and to keep tabs on San Juan Island whale-watching tours without tipping them off.

But after shopping online and at boat shows and talking to other cops, one agent instead submitted a request for the Whaler. The 345 Conquest comes standard with a 20-inch flat-screen TV, hardwood cabin floors and vanity countertops, which cost more than twice as much as the original request: $300,787.

Questions were quickly raised.

“I don’t understand from the document exactly what NOAA is purchasing the boat for,” one agency-procurement official wrote in 2008. “Why is this exact model the only one that meets the minimum requirements?”

That official said the whole process was “wired from the start to get that one boat.”

The first time a fisheries-service agent boarded the boat in June 2008, he brought his wife and a friend. They ran out of gas, called Seattle Harbor Patrol and had to be towed back to the Ship Canal. They refueled and motored the boat through the Ballard Locks to the dockside Boat Shed Restaurant in Bremerton, had dinner and then returned to Seattle.

A month later the same agent took the boat to Poulsbo for lunch and went back to Seattle. He picked up some friends who brought aboard a six-pack of beer and sped down to Gig Harbor for dinner at Tides Tavern. One passenger told investigators the trip was “every bit a pleasure cruise.”

Twice that summer, while the boat was moored at Elliott Bay Marina, a fisheries-service employee grilled burgers and hot dogs with a small group that included at least two other special agents. A supervisor told an employee his wife could come aboard any time and “kick back and watch TV.” One agent later told investigators the gatherings kept up the vessel’s appearance as a recreational boat and not an unmarked police vessel.

Once in August 2008, the boat ferried around a special agent’s visiting parents to Blaine, in Whatcom County. The boat that day blew out a $10,000 engine as a result of what investigators called “operator error.”

The agency has since banned use of the boat and is in the process of selling it, agency spokesman Connie Barclay said in an email.

Recent stories in Nation/World

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Boat Show Bounces Back From Sluggish Economy

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Thousand Of Visitors Pack Fairgrounds For Annual Event, Organizers Say

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Boat, Sport and Travel Show opened on Saturday at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to larger than expected crowds.

In past years, event organizers said the sluggish economy took a toll on the event’s attendance and sales, but this year everything was off to a good start as thousands of people came to see the latest boats, RVs, fishing rods and reels, RTV6’s Myrt Price reported.

“Everything went down when the economy went bad, but everything is definitely coming back. This year has been way much stronger. We’ve seen a lot of boat sales already,” vendor Scott Leppert said. “I’ve already talked to more people in a little bit of time than I did last year in one weekend.”

Vendor Debbie Schumann’s company rents house boats. She said she saw an interest as soon as she opened her booth.

“We had three fellows show up a little while ago and they wanted to book with us right now,” Schumann said.

Companies that offered excursions in Canada also noticed that boat show visitors didn’t hesitate to book a trip.

“This show is probably busier than the one I was just at in Minneapolis, so it’s a good sign,” vendor Brian Wallace said.

Along with the vendors, organizers said visitors came from neighboring states.

“At one time, the Boat Sport and Travel Show only served the state of Indiana, then it started to grow out to (Cincinnati), Louisville, Dayton and Columbus,” said Marketing Director Todd Jameson. “I think there has been a lot of negative publicity about the economy, but I would like to think the economy is coming along.”

The 10-day Boat, Sport and Travel Show runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on both Saturdays and from 10 p.m. to 5 p.m. on both Sundays. It continues from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Friday next week.

Tickets for adults are $13, $8 for children age 6-12, free for age 5 and under. Seniors can get in for $11.

Copyright 2012 by
TheIndyChannel.com
All rights reserved.
This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Bass boat basics

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Stolen sail boats big loss for city's youth sailing program

EUGENE, Ore.–The city of Eugene is searching for two sailboats, stolen out of their secured fleet yard this week.

The boats were used by the city’s youth sailing program and are each worth about $6.000, bought with one-time use city funds last year.

It’s a huge loss for the program, which purchased the boats to save money, rather then renting them.

Recreations Services Manager Craig Smith says the thieves left behind the sails, rudder, and the runner board, making the boats completely unusable.

If you have any information on the boats whereabouts you’re asked to call the Eugene Police.
 


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So you want to buy a new boat

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It’s boat buying season. Walk the aisles at a sport show or stand in a dealer’s showroom and you’ll find rows of boats all polished, fully loaded, and ready to go out the door with new owners.

The options are numerous, both in size and style of boats. The days of simply purchasing a small fishing boat seem gone, as most modern boats are now built for specific uses and needs.

With so many models and manufacturers to choose from, a plethora of dealers selling them and a wide range of price points, buying a new boat can be a daunting task if you’re not prepared.

As we move into the heart of the boat buying season, Jason Westre, owner of Westre’s Marine in St. Cloud, offered some valuable information during a recent interview for choosing the boat that best fits your needs.

Westre knows that purchasing a boat, either of the new or used variety, is a major investment for people. As a result, potential buyers need to make sure they spend their money wisely and on the type of watercraft that maximizes their investment.

Like any major purchase, it’s important to spend within your means. But Westre points out that it’s paramount to do some research and shopping in order to get the best boat package you can with the money you have to spend.

He says to look at all the costs involved including insurance, licensing, and any other intangibles that go along with purchasing that new boat. He always advises people “not to pull the trigger” until they know about all the costs that come with buying a boat.

“We all have a budget, whether it’s for a car, four-wheeler or boat and you want to get as much as possible for your money,” he said.

“Picking the right boat for your specific needs is probably the best place to begin the process and then look to stretch your dollars as much as possible.”

You have to start your search by figuring out what the primary use of your boat is going to be. Do you fish, ski, or are you looking for a boat that allows you to do both?

Look at the various motor and steering options as well. You’ll find boats with inboard and outboard motors, tiller models and steering wheel boats with consoles so as a buyer you have to decide the option that best suits your objectives once you get on the water.


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Luxury NOAA undercover boat got more use as pleasure cruiser

SEATTLE _ Federal fish cops in Seattle bought a $300,000 luxury boat to spy on whale-watching tours _ but didn’t go through an appropriate bidding process, held barbecues onboard, ferried friends and family across Puget Sound to restaurants and resorts, and used the boat for what one visitor called “a pleasure cruise.”

When confronted, one federal employee in Seattle misled inspectors about how the vessel was used, and one interfered with federal investigators, according to an internal investigation by the Commerce Department. Those documents were released Friday by U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass.

At issue is a 35-foot, 14-passenger boat purchased by federal agents with the National Marine Fisheries Service using money seized from fishermen who violated the law.

The 2008 purchase wasn’t illegal, according to the Commerce Department, but federal agents manipulated the acquisition process and misrepresented the urgency and need for the vessel.

The fisheries service, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has a law-enforcement branch employing special agents with the same powers as the FBI. They police the Endangered Species Act and other crimes against marine creatures, from poaching to fishing commercially in closed waters or out of season.

The boat ultimately was used for just 119 hours, according to the documents, and remains moored in Western Washington.

“The sad truth is that it was a fishermen-funded party boat for bureaucrats,” Brown said on the Senate floor Friday.

Brown, a harsh critic of NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco’s environmental policies, has repeatedly called for her resignation after a series of scathing inspector general reports in 2010 that criticized heavy-handed fisheries enforcement and mismanagement of an asset-seizure fund.

The blistering reviews focused almost exclusively on fisheries agents in New England and managers in D.C., one of whom was reassigned after shredding documents.

But this week Brown received a heavily redacted follow-up report about misuse of a Boston Whaler bought by the Seattle law-enforcement branch.

In a statement, NOAA officials said the agency has since “conducted a top-to-bottom overhaul of its enforcement program. We hired new leadership, implemented new policies to ensure consistent enforcement practices nationwide, and put in place better accounting and oversight” of its asset-forfeiture program.

The Seattle office in 2006 sought to buy a $146,000 boat to police halibut fishermen and to clandestinely keep tabs on San Juan Island whale-watching tours. Agents wanted to make sure the tours weren’t harassing endangered orcas, but feared tour operators were well-behaved when agents approached in marked boats.

But after shopping online and at boat shows and talking to other cops, one agent instead submitted a request for the Whaler. The 345 Conquest comes standard with a 20-inch flat-screen TV, hardwood cabin floors and vanity countertops, which cost more than twice as much as the original request: $300,787.

Questions were quickly raised.

“I don’t understand from the document exactly what NOAA is purchasing the boat for,” one agency-procurement official wrote in 2008. “Why is this exact model the only one that meets the minimum requirements?”

That official didn’t even know it had been purchased until approached by investigators two years later. He said the whole process was “wired from the start to get that one boat.”

The first time a fisheries-service agent boarded the boat in June 2008, he brought his wife and a friend. They ran out of gas, called Seattle Harbor Patrol and had to be towed back to the Ship Canal.

They refueled and motored the boat through the Ballard Locks to the dockside Boat Shed Restaurant in Bremerton, had dinner and then returned to Seattle.

A month later the same agent took the boat to Poulsbo for lunch and went back to Seattle. He picked up some friends who brought aboard a six-pack of beer and sped down to Gig Harbor for dinner at Tides Tavern. One passenger told investigators the trip was “every bit a pleasure cruise.”

A few days later, the same employee briefly got stranded in the boat in a shipping lane while taking his wife to a restaurant in Everett.

Twice that summer, while the boat was moored at Elliott Bay Marina, a fisheries-service employee grilled burgers and hot dogs with a small group that included at least two other special agents. A supervisor told an employee his wife could come aboard any time and “kick back and watch TV.” One agent later told investigators the gatherings kept up the vessel’s appearance as a recreational boat and not an unmarked-police vessel.

Once in August 2008, the boat ferried around a special agent’s visiting parents, eventually dropping them off at the Semiahmoo Resort in Blaine, Whatcom County. The boat that day blew out a $10,000 engine as a result of what investigators called “operator error.” The boat’s first use in an actual undercover capacity didn’t take place until the next summer.

When internal investigators learned about the boat in 2010, one employee gave such contradictory answers, investigators called the statement “disingenuous and not credible.”

NOAA officials, in a statement, said, “NOAA cannot discuss the nature or results of specific personnel actions. Appropriate action has been or will be taken.”

The agency has since banned use of the boat and is in the process of surplusing it, agency spokesman Connie Barclay said in an e-mail.

___

(c)2012 The Seattle Times

Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

_____

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Russell Coutts ready to change sailing's image

Russell Coutts wants to change the image of sailing.

Somewhere along the line, sailing became perceived as a soft sport, largely because of the big money required to participate in the sport.

If anyone’s going to put the rough back in the seas, though, it will be Mr. Coutts, the head of the Oracle Racing team that will be defending the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013.

“People have a vision of sailing,” said Coutts, a no-nonsense New Zealander who may be the greatest sailor in the sport’s history. “But it’s really nothing like that. At the America’s Cup here, boats will be flying close to 50 miles per hour toward the shore before turning.”

Coutts would know. The four-time America’s Cup winner was out in the bay all week testing the 45-foot sailboats that will be used in qualifying rounds for the next two years. The main event, in 2013, will feature 72-foot versions of a similar design.

Luckily, this past week’s sessions went better than the sessions last June. The captain and his crew flipped their catamaran upside down in heavy bay surf. Coutts got the worst of it.

“I went straight through the wing,” said Coutts of the crash, which sent him flying through the fixed, fiberglass sails that propel the new boats. “Busted up a few of the panels in the sail. Suffered a few cuts and bruises. But it was OK. You should get punished out there for your mistakes.”

If you haven’t seen the flip, you can watch Coutts take flight on YouTube (bit.ly/mGsJXl).

One thing he learned from both training sessions is that the Cup will be a high-risk, high-reward proposition.

“San Francisco Bay is very windy,” said Coutts. “The reward for pushing the boats will be high. If you’re conservative, you’re going to get trounced. And that means you run the risk of capsizing. Will you see one? Almost certainly.”

Now there’s an image.

Indy newcomer? One of the biggest names in Formula One racing is coming to the Bay Area next weekend to test drive an IndyCar.

That’s because Rubens Barrichello is thinking of making the jump from the Formula One circuit, which he’s been an integral part of for nearly 20 years. It would be quite a coup for IndyCar racing, considering Barrichello’s background.

He is the iron man of Formula One, playing both a leading and supporting role on some of the most famous teams in the sport. Perhaps most famously, he teamed with the great Michael Schumacher on the Ferrari dynasty of the early 2000s.

In 322 career starts, the Brazilian driver has achieved 11 wins, 14 poles, 68 podiums, 106 top-five finishes and 171 top-10s. He has been runner-up in the championship twice (2002 and 2004).

He’s coming to Infineon Raceway next Saturday and Sunday to test drive a car from KV Racing Technology, for whom Barrichello’s best buddy, Tony Kanaan, races. The test laps will be open to the public, for free, from around 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

The KV team is run by Bay Area-based Kevin Kalkhoven and Jimmy Vasser.

But the main draw for Barrichello is Kanaan.

“Tony Kanaan is like my brother. He invited me to the test, and he gave me all the secrets needed to drive an IndyCar fast,” said Barrichello, who said the main difference was that Indy race cars are heavier. “I listen to all he has to say about IndyCars, and he would be happy if I could join him. … I would be, too.”

That last part remains to be seen. KV has a car for Barrichello, but it’s still looking for the money.

“It’s purely coming down to sponsorship,” a team spokesperson said. “But we are very close.”

In the meantime, Formula One fanatics can get a good look at a legend next weekend, testing his skills on the windy turns of Infineon.

Asked to compare the Sonoma track with those of Formula One legend, Barrichello took a wait-and-see approach.

“Every track has something good and challenging, even if we are talking about slow speed stuff,” said Barrichello. “Tracks in Europe have a very high standard of safety, so I need to go to Sonoma and check it out, before I can really compare.”

Johnson visits home: Good to see Oakland native Josh Johnson back in the Bay Area this week. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback has been splitting time between working out in Florida and promoting his Fam 1st Family Foundation here in the Bay Area.

Johnson, entering his fourth year in the league, is a free agent and would be an intriguing target for the 49ers. He played for Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego, and the coach still speaks very highly of his former QB.

Johnson said he’s leaving it all in his agent’s hands. He just wants to get a chance to play. He has been sitting behind Josh Freeman for three years in Tampa, seeing limited action.

Johnson, who will be 26 next season, could be an attractive option for a team that needs some insurance at the position. For the 49ers, he’s someone who’s familiar with Harbaugh’s system and Harbaugh’s personality.

Johnson smiled the other night when asked about his old coach. “He used to run hills with us, throw up and keep going,” said Johnson, shaking his head. “That’s the kind of guy he is.”

Al Saracevic is The Sporting Green editor. E-mail: asaracevic@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page B – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle


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Annual boat show sees increase in sales with new models and warm weather

Big Air Wakeboard Show

GRAND RAPIDS – There may be a light glaze of ice on the water, but indoors, its boating season.

The Grand Rapids Boat Show featured more than 200 boats and 70 exhibitors showing the latest in nautical gear.

“Absolutely (I like the boat show),” said Alan Rehfus of Grand Haven. “I like getting on the big boats. I’m just a big dreamer.”

Rehfus does have a power boat, and said the show is comparable to the previous year’s.

His friend, Patrick O’Connor of Zeeland, said boat show time is always an exciting one.

“It’s a prelude,” he said. “When it’s boat show time, then you know boating season is just around the corner.”

Attendance is up 10 percent over past years, said Henri Boucher, show producer.

“You can definitely see that the sunshine and warm weather invigorated the crowd,” Boucher said. “There’s better made boats in all categories.”

Pontoon boats are experiencing the most growth and increase in features, now that they go faster and have more seating.

There’s better power systems, hull design and creature comforts in all categories as well, Boucher said, and sales have increased after a lull.

Gull Lake Marine of Kalamazoo General Manager Kevin Miller said he had sold six units as of Saturday, worth $280,000.

Shoppers’ main concerns are safety and capacity, he said.

E-mail the author of this story: mamante@mlive.com or subscribe to her updates on twitter.com/1mamante.


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Wisconsin yacht company to expand – Green Bay Press

OCONTO — The parent company of Cruisers Yachts and Rampage Sport Fishing Yachts has acquired the assets of Azure sport fishing boats, a move expected to add jobs in Oconto.

The announcement by KCS International Inc. was made Friday at the Miami International Boat Show.

Production tooling from Azure’s plant in South Carolina will be moved to Oconto with the first Wisconsin-built boats in the Cruisers Sports Series rolling off the line in May or June.

The purchase of Azure is expected to create 185 new jobs in Oconto over two years, according to the company.

“This is an exciting time for our company,” Mark Pedersen, president of KCS International, said in a press release. “We are sending a message to our dedicated employees that KCS intends to be in the boat business for a long time.”

Boat and shipbuilding is one of the key industries in the region with Oconto-based Cruisers, Marquis Yachts in Pulaski, Palmer Johnson in Sturgeon Bay and Burger Boat in Manitowoc among those producing yachts and fishing boats.

Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, ACE Marine in Green Bay and Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay are key players in both commercial and governmental contract work.

“This is as positive news as you can get,” said Bruce Mommaerts, director of the Oconto County Economic Development Corporation Inc. “A company with a good reputation is making investments and bringing manufacturing into the state and into the community.

“There are quite a lot of people who are skilled in boat building throughout northeast Wisconsin — be it Marinette, Green Bay, Pulaski, or Oconto County — and this gives them an opportunity at employment they have been trained in,” he said Friday.

KCS also announced it added Spencer Ship Monaco to oversee the new export development team for Central and South America, the Far East and Australia.


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