Archive for » February 21st, 2012«

Dometic reports positive feedback from dealers at Miami Show

February 21, 2012
Filed under News

SOLNA, Sweden – Dometic Marine dealers reported a solid year for traffic and sales, Ken Taranto, vice president of aftermarket sales for Dometic Marine, said in a statement.

“The Miami Boat Show was very solid this year with good traffic and many interested buyers,” Taranto said. “Dometic, as usual, had excellent dealer participation at the booth and feedback from the dealers was universally positive. Ice was a popular category, with buyers expressing interest in both Dometic’s personal ice maker and the newly introduced Eskimo EI540 Ice Flaker.”

He added that several Dometic dealers who had booths at the show reported taking orders at their booths and generated a significant number of leads for follow-up after the show.

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Making a Difference: Kids fishing for (and catching) success

 By Mark Potter, NBC News

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — On a morning fishing trip to a reef near the South Florida coast, 13-year-old Ray Moody was having the time of his life as he reeled in an exotic-looking species.

“Hey, it’s a parrotfish,” he yelled. “It’s blue, it’s a slippery blue one.”


Brad Houston/NBC News

Anthony Del Valle, 16, gets a turn at the helm of Rich Brochu’s fishing boat.

Standing near him along the boat rail was 16-year-old Anthony Del Valle, who had also hooked one. Captain Rich Brochu offered encouragement and a quick angling lesson: “It looks like you may have something there. Yep, keep that rod tip up.”

The weekend trip was part of an after-school fishing program that Brochu, a former police officer and construction company owner, started at his daughter’s school in Boynton Beach six years ago to help kids from low-income areas experience the excitement of fishing. Since Brochu opened the Florida Fishing Academy, more than 4,000 students, ages 8 to 18, have signed on to learn the thrill of the catch.

Watch the story tonight on “Nightly News” at 6:30 ET.

“It’s almost like playing a sport. You don’t know what’s on the other side; there’s a kind of mystery to it,” Brochu said. “If they catch a fish that’s like 3 inches, it’s the biggest smile. They love it.”

Along with ocean conservation, catch-and-release fishing techniques, boating safety and first aid, Brochu also teaches the kids how to avoid peer pressure, the dangers of drug abuse and the advantages of keeping busy and off the street corners.

“All the kids benefit from activities like this. You know, it gives them something to look forward to,” he said. “Obviously, we want to give them a choice in life and hopefully do something better with their life.”

In a high school classroom recently, Brochu and Bob Cawood, another fishing captain who helps teach the program, planned to teach knot-tying, But first, they took a few moments to talk about the dangers of smoking.

“Cigarettes can cause mouth cancer. If you think that’s true, raise your hands,” they asked. Most hands went up. A short time later, the two men began teaching how to tie a clinch knot and made a game of it by insisting the students tie them behind their backs. The room erupted in noise and laughter as the students tried to see who could do it fastest.

Brad Houston/NBC News

Youngsters get a taste of the sea aboard Ray Brochu’s fishing boat.

Excitement also broke out at gymnasium in Riviera Beach when elementary school students learned how to cast toward plastic fish scattered along the floor, and during foot races for which the children had to first put on life jackets correctly before running to the other side of the room.

A boating reward

For students in the program who stay in class, keep out of trouble and do some volunteer work, there is a special reward most of them would never have a chance to experience otherwise. At a dock in Riviera Beach is a colorfully painted 38-foot fishing boat that students can go out on to fish with Brochu and Cawood.

“Some of these kids have never been on a boat, never been on the beach. That’s one of the goals, to get them out here,” Brochu said.

Derrick Campbell, an instructor at Village Academy in Delray Beach, is convinced the fishing program and the promise of boating trips work to inspire good behavior.

“They’re more disciplined. They don’t act up,” he said. “They know that there’s something at the end of the rainbow.”

Vickie Verzi, a single mother, wholeheartedly agrees. She believes the fishing program has been “the salvation” of her teenage son, Donnie, by keeping him engaged and away from troublemakers.

“It taught him how to fish,” she said. “It gave him an interest in something that was good for him, and it gave him a direction in life.”

Donnie now volunteers on the boat and is known among his friends as an accomplished angler.

Anthony Del Valle’s mom, Tania Serrano, is also a fan of the program. “It’s a new passion, and it keeps him busy,” she said.

A shark-fishing trip is a particular source of pride for Anthony, and his mom couldn’t be happier.

“A lot of people are like, ‘wow, shark fishing?’ and I’d rather have him out shark fishing than be hanging out with the sharks on the street.”

For Anthony, the fishing boat not only gives him something to do; it also brings him a sense of inner peace.

“It gives me a second chance to do something I like and stay out of trouble,” he said while cranking his fishing reel. “It just puts me in my own world.”

Sharing the experience

The nonprofit Florida Fishing Academy program is paid for by donations, grants and fundraisers. Among the supporters is famed marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey, whose foundation wrote large checks to support the school and also supplied the colorful vinyl wrap that covers the boat hull.

“What a win, win, win situation,” said Steve Stock, president of Guy Harvey Inc. “What a great sport this is, but way beyond that, if we can turn some of these kids’ lives around, pretty good.”

Brad Houston/NBC News

Janel Scholine and Nick Corzo, in the background, cast their lures.

During the recent weekend trip, 16-year-old Janel Scholine reeled in several fish and said she was thrilled to learn a new skill.

“I love it. It’s awesome. I didn’t know anything about fishing, and now I do,” she said, beaming. In fact, Janel learned so much that she is now a volunteer instructor teaching as many as 50 children at a time an academy program called Angling For A Healthy Future.

Layne Reyka, also 16, says fishing with captains Brochu and Cawood is a lot of fun and matches his personality: “I’m very competitive, so it’s definitely the pursuit and the hunt, whether it be a big fish or a small fish — preferably a big fish!”

For Brochu, the size and the success of the program are a surprise. His plan had been to work just with the kids at his daughter’s school. Since then, he said, the Florida Fishing Academy has taught in 46 Palm Beach County schools.

“I set out for one goal, and that was to save one kid,” he said. “Now it’s one child at a time, and we’ve saved a lot.”

The reward, he said, is in hearing from parents how well their kids are doing and in watching kids fully engaged in a sport he and Cawood love.

“Bob and I are both on their level. We just enjoy it. It’s a great time sharing the experience with them. We’re living the dream.” he said. “Making a difference is more important to us than making money.”

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Women's sailing race is announced

Sammie EvansSammie Evans will compete in the race as part of Team Beaudacious

An international women’s transatlantic sailing race from Plymouth to Antigua has been announced.

The first Women’s Offshore World (WOW) series will start from the Devon city on 28 October.

The two-handed race will cover 3,300 miles (5310km) from the city to Falmouth Harbour in Antigua.

Organisers said they had already received interest and applications from France, Spain, Turkey, Tunisia and Italy.

Sam Joseph, from Team Concise, one of the organisers, said: “These are really competitive women and they’ve been racing against the guys all over the world and we thought, why not give them their own race?

‘Stamina and endurance’

“This is the first ever transatlantic race for women. They are all going to be racing on identical boats, so it will be a really big test of who wins. “

Sammie Evans, from Torquay, will race as part of Team Beaudacious.

She said: “It will be fantastic to take on an all-girls race and hopefully go out there to win the title for the British team. It will be great to be out there on the international circuit.”

The course has been organised by Team Concise, Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC), Antigua Yacht Club and has also involved Plymouth University.

RWYC said: “The course is designed to test the sailing and navigational skills of the women crew as well as their stamina and endurance.”


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Boat sales expected to hit highest level in 5 years

Recreational boating sales are expected to rise to their highest level since 2007 as consumer confidence improves. The increased optimism is reflected in the expanded Progressive Insurance New England Boat Show, which occupies 360,000 square feet at the Boston Convention Exhibition Center in South Boston through Sunday.

This year’s exhibit space is 40 percent larger than last year’s, and the turnout from dealers and manufacturers is the strongest since 2008, said Joe O’Neal, the show’s manager.

Entry-level models, such as pocket cruiser sailboats and mini-trailers, are considered two of the strongest categories, O’Neal said. So are pontoon boats, which are primarily designed for freshwater use.

“In general, almost everybody is seeing an uptick,” O’Neal said.

Dealers are displaying 750 vessels from 150 manufacturers, with power boats accounting for about 80 percent of the inventory.

Area boat dealers say they expect a rebound in sales in 2012, part of a gradual recovery that picked up speed last year.

Sales rose 23 percent in 2011 from 2010 at Russo Marine in Medford, CEO Larry Russo said, with most of the growth coming from sales of boats 35 feet and up. Business accelerated in the last three months with nine new boat sales, triple the amount of activity the previous year.

“Those buyers are high-end, high-net-worth individuals and they’re not dependent on conventional financing,” Russo said. “They’ve been sitting on the sidelines during the downturn and they can afford their luxuries.”

Russo has 52 boats from five manufacturers on display, after obtaining rights to sell Bayliner boats last year when dealers in central Massachusetts and Rhode Island went out of business.

In 2008 and 2009, many dealers survived on used-boat sales, which accounted for up to two-thirds of sales, Russo said, and many repossessed boats flooded the marketplace.

“Those have flushed themselves through the system and we’re seeing the migration back to new-boat sales,” Russo said, estimating new boats now account for 55 percent of business.

Boat dealers also are seeing more business in so-called re-powering jobs – installing new engines whose energy efficiency is up to 50 percent greater than older models. 3A Marine in Hingham has done more than a dozen installations since the start of the year. A 150-horsepower engine costs about $14,000 to install.

“It’s a big part of revitalizing the older boats and bringing them up to the current emission standards,” said Jack White, sales manager at 3A Marine Service in Hingham. “They’re also a lot quieter.”

3A Marine has seen an increase in fishing and pleasure boats this year as well.

“Even though everybody has been negatively affected with the economy, I think a lot of people have just decided we’re going to live and continue on with their recreation,” White said.

Boat sales plummeted 55 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to the Chicago-based National Marine Manufacturers Association. During the same period, used-boat sales declined 7 percent.

The industry’s fortunes are closely tied to consumer confidence, which has been improving nationwide and locally.

“When they’re feeling good about their job today, they’re more likely to make an investment,” said Thom Dammrich, president of the manufacturers association.

The group predicts nationwide 2012 sales of new boats and engines at $7.5 billion, up 6 percent from 2011.

Financing options have improved for consumers, said Tom Smith, president of Sterling Associates, a Northbridge financial services company. More local credit unions are offering boat loans, prompting national lenders to lower their rates to compete, Smith said. Average interest rates are just under 5 percent.

“The consumer is in a lot better shape,” Smith said. “He has more choices. There are more lenders that have come into the market.”

Steve Adams may be reached at sadams@ledger.com.

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Fishing boat attacked by great white

Independent Newspapers

An inflatable fishing boat has survived an attack by a great white shark off Strandfontein. Photo: Helen Bamford

An inflatable fishing boat has survived an attack by a great white shark off Strandfontein.

The boat was anchored two miles out to sea when the shark attacked.

Its crew was fishing for smooth hound sharks, which are preyed upon by great whites.

One of the passengers had just pulled a smooth hound on to the boat when a great white stuck its head out of the water and took hold of the side of the boat. The shark bit down, puncturing the boat, held on and thrashed for over a minute.

The boat, 8m long and 3m wide, was carrying five passengers and its two owners, Kevin Overmeyer and Chad Battle.

Graham Classen, one of the passengers, said: “I was less than an arm’s length away from the shark and all I could see were its giant rows of teeth. When it thrashed back and forth it shook the boat.”

Classen said he was still shaken.

“It was horrific. I thought the boat would sink. A nearby vessel radioed to see if we were going to need to bale.

“It is only because of the owners, Kevin and Chad, that everyone made it back to land. They had the anchor up and us off to safer waters in minutes.”

The attack left a gash about half a metre long as well as a number of the shark’s teeth in the boat’s hull, which workers in Kalk Bay harbour admired on Monday.

Overmeyer and Battle, friends since the age of 13, have owned and operated their tour company, CKAT Coastal Adventures, for four years.

They say this is the first time anything like this has happened.

“We see great whites quite often in this area, but they have never attacked our boat or one of the fish we were pulling up.”

The summer months are when great whites get the closest to fishermen as the seal population is low and they feed on fish.

“The fish come to the warmer water near the coast and the sharks follow,” said Battle.

Classen and Battle said the shark was about 7m long and its teeth were 5-6cm long.

michael.engelmann@inl.co.za – Cape Argus


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Is Middle East becoming the international sailing capital?


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Editor’s note: MainSail is CNN’s monthly sailing show, exploring the sport of sailing, luxury travel and the latest in design and technology.

(CNN) — Over the past decade the Middle East has made a massive move to secure some of the world’s major sporting events. Abu Dhabi won the right to host a Formula One Grand Prix beginning in 2009, Qatar was successful in its FIFA World Cup bid for 2022 and the world’s top tennis players and golfers regularly head to the region for big tour tournaments.

Among the sporting push in the region is sailing; nine teams are currently taking part in the “Sailing Arabia – the Tour” — the Middle East’s version of Europe’s Le Tour de France a la Voile. The event sees the fleet sail throughout the region from Bahrain to Oman.

It is the second time it has been held but it is not the only sailing competition to take place in the region this year.

“We do always try to approach the prime events,” says Faisal Abdulla Al Sheikh from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority. “Of course (there is) the Volvo Ocean Race, the first ever Middle East stop over.”

The United Arab Emirates was this year included in the Volvo Ocean Race for the first time in its 39-year history. The 39000 nautical mile challenge, that sees six professional crews race across the world over eight months, incorporated a Cape Town to Abu Dhabi leg.

The decision to include the Middle Eastern stopover provided unique challenges. Parts of the leg were shrouded in secrecy because of concerns over piracy. It was split into two sections and the race boats had to be loaded onto a cargo ship and taken to Sharjah in the UAE for the final sprint to Abu Dhabi.


A modern race with a classic design


Omani women prepare for offshore debut

See also: Abu Dhabi: Stepping out of Dubai’s shadows

“For us the race is aiming at being a very global competition so we need to expand,” says Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race. “We need to make sure we cover as many markets as we can and Abu Dhabi and a few other players wanted to be serious about sailing.”

“Obviously there is an economic factor,” he adds. “There’s no doubt that this region is less affected by the crisis we have in Europe.”

See also: Volvo Ocean Race: The ‘Everest of sailing’

Since its launch in 2008, Oman Sail has taken nearly 6,000 Omani children sailing, over half of which have been females.

Trainee female sailors prepare their boats for sailing during a training session in Massanah in Oman.

As her boat capsizes during training, a particpant of the programme tries to turn it around.

Oman Sail say that the programmes aim is to “not only instil confidence and teach valuable, transferable life skills but also create jobs and unique opportunities for women.”

Following a training session in Massana, the female trainee sailors relax by jumping into the water.

Double Olympic gold medal winning sailor Shirley Robertson with a young sailor and her head mistress.

At the launch of the Oman Sail Womens Sailing Program, the head of media and marketing, Salma Al Hashmi presented the 30 women with their certificate.


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Oman’s women take to the water

Other sailing organizations too are seeing the financial benefits of the Middle East. The independent sailing company Pindar began its push into the region around four years in Bahrain. Pindar set up sailing programs and launched the boat “Kingdom of Bahrain” — which in 2009 was briefly held by Iranian authorities when the crew was accused of straying into Iranian waters en route to Dubai for a race.

Pindar CEO, Andrew Pindar, sees the Middle East as providing a lot of economic opportunities for organizations like his. “There is a lot of stability in the region and a lot of investment,” he says.

Pindar says its warm climate and location are huge draw cards for the sailing world. “For most of the year it has good sailing conditions; warm water, good winds,” he says. “It’s in the middle for people coming from Europe and Australasia,” which Pindar adds is ideal for competitive sailing.

But it’s not only the competitive sailing world that is being drawn to the Middle East, with the large expat community and corporate world providing a new sailing audience. Pindar says the opportunities are available in the Gulf, as long as organizations are willing to put in the hard work. “If you go there with the right idea or the right approach then people will back you, but they don’t do it immediately.”

The CEO says there has been a real push for sailing in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and thinks the Volvo Ocean Race’s presence in the Middle East will do a lot to boost the sport’s profile.

Unlike that event, participants in “Sailing Arabia – the Tour” compete only for the pride of winning. The fleet is a mixture of professionals and amateurs, with many only having a few months experience on the water.

Oman Sail runs the event and its CEO David Graham says the organization is trying to promote competition amongst the Gulf nations. “Sailing has always been in the Middle East, it has very deep and strong roots,” Graham says. “What’s becoming more of a focus now is the sport of sailing.”

See also: Oman women’s Olympic ambitions

Oman Sail aims to promote sailing and has established pioneering initiatives to encourage people across Omani society to take up the sport. In the past three years it has taught thousands of children how to sail and is helping develop a women’s squad in an effort to boost Oman’s Olympic chances.

“Without doubt sailing is on the upwards spiral in the Middle East,” says Graham.






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Slow Boat Brewery



Slow Boat Brewery
Daniel Hebert, Slow Boat Brewery’s master brewer.

With the recent opening of Slow Boat Brewery in Beijing, the city’s number of Western-style microbreweries officially doubled — to two. But according to both brewers, there’s a growing and largely untapped market in China’s capital as disposable income rises and beer-swilling residents clamor for more variety at the pub.

Late last year, Slow Boat held an evening tasting of its beers, whose flavor resembles brews of the U.S. Pacific Northwest such as Sierra Nevada. The beer ran out in just 45 minutes, despite the brewery quadrupling its offerings to four kegs from a prior event.

“It was a little embarrassing,” said the brewery’s chief executive Chandler Jurinka, though he added that it was also an encouraging sign of demand.

Mr. Jurinka and Slow Boat co-founder Daniel Hebert are looking to open a tap room and sell their beer directly to local bars and restaurants in the meantime, with each pint typically retailing for about 40 to 50 yuan ($6.35 to $7.90). The brewery currently carries six standard beers, with a new seasonal beer introduced each month. At the moment it produces 60 hectoliters per month — about 100 kegs — but plans to expand to three times that capacity.


Slow Boat Brewery
American Porter, a beer from Slow Boat Brewery, Beijing’s second microbrewery.

The other brewpub in town is Great Leap Brewing, set in a classic hutong in Beijing’s Gulou neighborhood. A brewpub veteran in Beijing terms, it produced its first batch in September 2010 and opened its doors the following month.

Great Leap’s owner, Carl Setzer, has been living in China and Taiwan for eight years and says he took a cautious approach to setting up shop. “Because Beijing had very little in the way of microbrewing and beer culture, we took it slowly,” he said.

Mr. Setzer initially brewed beer on Sundays and opened the brewpub for only three days a week, Thursday through Saturday. His wife helped out while he continued to work full-time as a manager in a consulting firm. Last January, Mr. Setzer left his job to dedicate himself wholly to his beer business.

U.S. microbrew beer exports to China hit a record in 2010, with sales reaching $546,000, five times the level just five years ago, according to figures from the U.S. Agricultural Trade Office in Beijing. And beer consumption overall is rising, too: SABMiller reported that China saw volume growth in beer consumption of 6% from 2005 to 2010, higher than the world average growth rate of 3.3% or the emerging-market average of 5.7%. In 2010, Chinese drinkers consumed 31 liters per capita, or 40.89 billion liters, according to Credit Suisse.

Great Leap and Slow Boat take differing approaches when it comes to ingredients. Slow Boat uses nearly all imports, including malt, hops and yeast, because it’s “comforting for local Chinese to know the ingredients aren’t Chinese, because of all the food scandals,” Mr. Jurinka said.

By contrast, Great Leap uses local hops and highlights a range of Chinese ingredients, from Sichuan peppercorns and Yunnan coffee beans to organic honey from Shandong province and a variety of teas. ”You don’t have to import quality,” Mr. Setzer said. “You can have good-quality things that are made in China, using existing ingredients.”

That appeals to the local market, he said, because “those people become strong advocates for what we’re doing. It proves you can do well-done, craft, artisan brewing in China without having to make it look American or European.”


Great Leap Brewing
The courtyard of Great Leap Brewing, a brewpub in Beijing’s Gulou district.

Great Leap, which currently produces about 300 kegs a month, usually has a dozen or so beers in stock, ranging from pumpkin and cinnamon-rock ales to oatmeal and mocha stouts, as well as standards like pale and blond ales for 25 to 55 yuan ($4 to $8.70) a serve. Domestic beers like Tsingtao and Yanjing typically retail for about 15 to 30 yuan ($2.38 to $4.76) at bars and restaurants, and closer to 6 yuan ($0.95) in supermarkets.

With the ripe market, Mr. Setzer has his sights set on expansion and expects to move into semi-nationwide distribution of kegs and bottles by the fall, for which the brewery conducted a trial run from September to November last year.

Great Leap’s hutong bar is currently closed for the winter as it focuses on setting up a new distribution facility, but the brewery is still holding pop-up events around Beijing and also has kegs available for order.

Mr. Setzer says he wants the brewery to maintain an artisan product, but doesn’t think the company can avoid going big when “there’s no such thing as a mid-sized company as far as size and scope in China.”

Foreigners are among the breweries’ most loyal customers, but both said they’ve been heartened by interest from locals.

“We didn’t think that would be the case right off,” said Mr. Jurinka, but in Beijing, “the disposable income and wealth levels have reached a level where these things are now accessible.”

With relatively low per-capita rates of beer drinking, China has plenty of room for growth, Mr. Jurinka said. Besides, he added, “Why would you ever order a Tsingtao when you can order a craft beer?”

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Fishing boat crashes into world’s longest pier

A fishing trawler crashed into Southend Pier damaging part of the walkway and forcing the pier to close.

The council told a local radio station that the accident
happened some time between last night (Thursday February 16th) and
this morning.

An eyewitness told BBC News that the boat hit the pier about
a quarter-of-a-mile off shore.

It will be closed for the rest of the day so engineers
can assess the damage.

Southend Pier is the world’s longest pleasure pier,
measuring over 1.3m long, and is a Grade II listed building. It’s the second time in six months that the pier has been
struck by a vessel. In September a barge was blown into the pier during high
winds.

More stories like this:
Boat explodes and sinks off Beccles Quay
Ferry runs aground with captain locked in toilet


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Miami Boat Show Attracts High-End Crowd

Copyright © 2012 National Public Radio®. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Signs of a strengthening economy could not have come at a better time for the Miami Boat Show. The show is held every year on President’s Day weekend, and it’s an important event for the boating industry and also for those in the market for yachts. NPR’s Greg Allen stopped by to see the latest things for floating on or even under water.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Nothing says disposable income quite like a boat show. And while there are small runabouts, even kayaks for sale, that’s not what the Miami show is all about.

SCOTT NAULT: We’re selling yachts. So we sell 34s up to 54 foot.

ALLEN: Scott Nault of Meridian Yachts takes me aboard one of the company’s 54-foot boats on display. It’s one that was just sold for $1.3 million.

NAULT: Here we got the bar. The galley’s right here. There’s a glass window that comes up right here. So you can close it off.

ALLEN: The power glass window comes up.

NAULT: Yeah. It’s a nice feature. It opens up the galley to the cockpit for entertaining.

ALLEN: Also admiring the boat was Nathan Pfeffer. He’s down from Greenville, Ohio for the winter. I asked him if he was thinking of buying one like it.

NATHAN PFEFFER: Oh no, not this size boat. This is much more than I’d be willing to bite off. We’re more in the market for smaller boats, 36- to 40-foot trawlers probably.

ALLEN: The Miami Boat show draws an affluent crowd. I did see people who looked ready to put down a million dollars for a boat. But, as for talking about it, as one man said, I’m not interested in that kind of thing.

Not far away at the Miami Convention Center, Greg McCauley with Marine Technology was showing his company’s products.

GREG MCCAULEY: This is a catamaran. It’s an offshore catamaran.

ALLEN: But that really doesn’t begin to describe it. It’s a sleek 48-foot long performance catamaran capable of reaching speeds as high as 180 miles per hour. It has twin 750 horsepower engines and a leather-appointed interior that seats eight. And that’s it – no galley, no sleeping space, no room for fishing rods. I asked McCauley what customers use them for.

MCCAULEY: Basically, most of the time pleasure boating, or poker runs – a lot of poker run boats.

ALLEN: Poker run, what does that mean?

MCCAULEY: Poker run’s where you get a bunch of boats together and all and you go from one destination to another. And usually at the end of it – on one evening they’ll have like a party. And you get a poker hand. And whoever has the best poker hand wins the prize.

ALLEN: Exhibitors at the boat show say the last four years have been bad for them, as they have been for the rest of America. Many boat dealers went out of business. Manufacturers consolidated and tightened their belts. But boat show manager Cathy Rick-Joule has been tracking sales at the boat shows this year and says things are looking up.

CATHY RICK-JOULE: We found that the consumer confidence is improved. Sales seem to be improving. People coming back in the door, ready to make a purchase, is there. Our manufacturers are saying that the energy is remarkably different than it has been in the past couple of years.

ALLEN: There are not one, but two companies here selling submarines. Although Jay Lee with a company from Seoul, South Korea is quick to point out that his is not actually a true submarine.

JAY LEE: It’s a semi-submarine. It floats on the top. And the only cabin is underneath the water. So you can see under the water.

ALLEN: It’s called the Ego, a glass-enclosed cabin that’s suspended under a small pontoon boat. It’s powered by a small electric motor and moves along at just 5 miles per hour. Lee says the company’s founder designed it because he wanted to go underwater, but doesn’t like swimming.

LEE: You don’t need to get a scuba diving license and boating license. Just go inside this Ego and you can see underneath the water.

ALLEN: And it’s priced at around $50,000. With a small boat lift and crane, just the perfect toy for your $1.3 million yacht.

Greg Allen, NPR news, Miami.

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Federal fish cops caught partying on government-bought ‘luxury’ boat

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U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., has called for the resignation of the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) after he disclosed documents that show federal fish investigators going rogue on a government purchased, $300,000 “luxury boat” in Seattle.

The fish cops bought the boat in 2008 to spy on private whale-watching charters in Puget Sound so the charters didn’t break federal rules by getting closer than 100 yards to the whales.

But according to an internal investigation by the Commerce Department released by Brown on Friday, the cops used the boat exclusively to host parties, family barbeques, and to tool around the Puget Sound visiting restaurants and resorts, doing thousands of dollars of damage on the boat in the process.

The investigation was spurred by a whistleblower who questioned the acquisition and use of the boat. According to the documents, federal agents, using National Marine Fisheries Service money, bought the 35-foot, 14-passenger boat in 2008. Money for the boat came from the pockets of fisherman who had violated the law and paid fines.

The purchase itself wasn’t illegal. However the report found that federal agents “manipulated the acquisition process,”  misrepresented the need for such an expensive boat, and then lied about the acquisition and misled investigators. 

Brown called the boat a “booze cruise” during a speech on the Senate floor after release of the investigation.

“For a government vessel, that’s pretty flashy,” Brown said holding up a picture of a different boat, but one of the same model as the one used by the cops. “Take a look inside. That’s a fully-appointed bar, the latest in on-board entertainment systems, and leather furniture complete with the ice chest and tackle rack,” he said. 

Read the full, scathing speech here.

Brown has no love for NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco and her avocation of, among other things, privatizing the East Coast fishing stock by imposing the kinds of “catch share” rules that Alaska uses. Brown and other East Coast politicians and fisherman have said that such plans put small fisherman out of business.

They also say that such a system leads to the kind of corruption recently brought to light when U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s top fishing aide Arne Fuglvog was busted for cheating on his own catch shares while serving on the regulation-setting North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

Brown has repeatedly called for Lubchenco’s resignation, particularly following a 2010 Inspector General’s report that found widespread dysfunction within NOAA and the agency’s enforcement of its fishing policies. Among other things, the report focused on the how it levies fines against private fisherman, and how it spends forfeiture funds — the kind of money used to buy the luxury boat.

“As you’ve seen here today, NOAA has a culture of corruption that has created a chasm of distrust between the agency and the fishing industry,” Brown said on Friday.

Contact Amanda Coyne at Amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com


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