Archive for » February 28th, 2012«

Suppliers Tap Rising Tide In Niche Marine Market

By Joseph Palenchar — TWICE, 2/28/2012

LAS VEGAS – The market for marine audio is small,
but many aftermarket autosound suppliers won’t leave
any niche unexploited, especially one that is growing
modestly and could accelerate further in the coming
years as powerboat sales pick up.

Multiple autosound suppliers have introduced new
marine-rated head units, amps and speakers, and
some suppliers are adding marine head-unit features
previously available only in their automotive head units.
Dual, for instance, is adding stereo Bluetooth with
AVRCP, and direct USB control for iPods/iPhones. Kenwood added control of Pandora
on a USB-connected iPhone and control of song
selection on USB-connected Android phones.

Head units that connect the new outboard SiriusXM
universal tuner have been added by Clarion, Dual, Kenwood,
and Sony.

The introductions follow a return to growth in the
boat market after five consecutive years of declines,
according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association
(NMMA). The association estimates 2011
wholesale boat-sales growth of 16 percent in units and
18 percent in dollars to about $30 billion. The group
also forecasts continued growth through 2015.

Despite the five-year decline in boat sales, aftermarket sales of marine audio products didn’t suffer much, some
marketers said. “Consumer electronics retail sales are
primarily an upgrade and replacement business, and
because of this we did not experience a large downturn
when the sales of new boats declined during the recession,”
said Jim Warren, senior VP of merchandising at the
50-store Car Toys chain.

Kenwood senior VP Keith Lehmann pointed out that
boaters need to replace marine radios and speakers
every two to three years if the boats aren’t stored in
dry storage during the off-season.

Some marketers contend marine audio sales
are rising and could get a further bump up in
the coming years in part because of the upswing
in boat sales.

“Over the last two marine seasons, we have
seen a nice uptick in premium sound solutions,
including a nice lift in wakeboard tower systems,”
said Warren. “All in all I would classify
the category as healthy and experiencing modest

With boat sales on the upswing again,
marine-audio growth could accelerate in
a few years when those boats’ OEM audio
products require replacement, marketers

“It’s a good thing that more boats are being built,” said
Warren. “With certainty, the aftermarket should enjoy
benefits of the increased sales.”

Retailers, however, didn’t wait for boat sales to turn
around to step up their marine-audio efforts. Retailers such
as Best Buy, Car Toys and Mickey Shorr created separate
marine-audio displays separate from their regular car audio
displays to take advantage of an incremental sales opportunity,
said Kenwood’s Lehmann. Crutchfield similarly has
a separate marine audio section on its website.

For these and other dealers, here’s what select suppliers
plan to offer:

Clarion: One of the company’s two digital media receiver
introductions is a marine unit, the M502. It features
connector for the universal SiriusXM tuner, control of
Pandora on a USB-connected iPhone, Parrot Bluetooth,
and compatibility with Clarion’s marine wired remote controls.
From the head unit, consumers will be able to control
basic Pandora functions as well as the app’s thumbs
up feature.

The MF-1 one-way RF remote is designed for marine
and in-car use. It communicates with an RF dongle that
plugs into a head-unit interface designed to connect
heads to OEM steering-wheel controls.

The remote controls on/off, volume, track up/down and
play/pause functions and is priced at a suggested $199.
The company’s first two Class D amps, designed for
marine and car use, incorporate RCA audio-signal
sensing technology to turn them on when they detect
audio signal from a head unit. The feature
makes it unnecessary to connect the amps to
a switched-power wire for automatic turnon,
though wires must still be run to the
vehicle’s battery for power and ground.

One is the four-channel XC6410
rated at 4×85 watts RMS into 4 ohms,
4×125 watts into 2 ohms, and bridgeability
to two channels. The two-channel
XC6210 is rated at 2×85 watts into 4 ohms,
2×125 watts into 2 ohms, with bridgeability
to one channel. Both feature high- and
low-pass filters and will retail from $300
to $400 on an everyday basis.

JL Audio: Three speakers include the
company’s largest coaxial with 8.8-inch
woofer at $599/pair in white or $609/pair in titanium. Also
new are two speaker pairs intended for mounting on wakeboard
towers or other tubular structures. Both are coaxial
models with 7.7-inch woofer at $599 and $799/pair.

Kenwood: Two CD-receivers are the $190-suggested
KMR-550U and $120 KMR-350U, marking a new opening
price point down from $140. The introductions join
a current $300-suggested model. Both models are also
accompanied by the $120 KCA-RC55MR and $60 KCARC35

The KMR-550U is a full-featured model with universal
SiriusXM port, control of Pandora on a USB-connected
iPhone, and control of music stored on a USB-connected
Android phone loaded with Kenwood software. Androidphone-
stored songs can be selected by title, artist, album
and mood when the phone is placed in mass-storage
mode. The USB connection also charges the Android

In its 2011 car line, Kenwood offered multimedia-navigation
units that charged Android phones and allowed
users to navigate songs only by folder and by
using track up/down controls.

The KMR-350U also controls Pandora on
a USB-connected iPhone and provides USB
control of music on Android phones equipped
with the free Kenwood app.

The KMR-550U is available in February, and
the KMR-350U is available now.

Rockford Fosgate: To complements its marine
speaker selection, Rockford is launching
its first four marine amps, all Class D models
shipping in the second quarter. The selection
consists of two 4/2-channel models stable to 2
ohms at $449 and $299 and two 1-ohm stable
mono amps at $399 and $499 and capable of
delivering 750 watts and 1200 watts, respectively,
into 1-ohm loads.

The brand’s marine-speaker selection got its
first purpose-built speaker for installation on the
wake towers of ski and wake-boarding boats.
The speakers look almost light spotlights. A 6.5-
inch 4-ohm 75-watt RMS model and an 8-inch
4-ohm 100-watt model ship in the second quarter
at $599 and $699/pair, respectively.

Sony: The entry-level marine CD-receiver is
debuting at an expected everyday $140 replaces
a current model and adds universal Sirius
XM connector, new digital processing tuner,
slot-load design, and piano-black faceplate,
which mobile electronics business manager
Takahiro Noguchi called a new trend. Other
features include RDS FM tuner, MP3/WMA CD
playback, front aux in and white LCD display.

Two speakers replace similar models but feature
improved cosmetics with water-resistant
coating and detachable grilles.

The $69/pair dual-cone XS-MP1611 and
$129/pair two-way speakers both feature 6.5-
inch driver. The former is rated at 65 watts RMS
and the latter at 70 watts. Sony will also package
the dual-cone speaker pair with the CDXM20
head unit at $190.

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Fishing boat assists stricken cruise ship

A French fishing boat has reached a stricken cruise ship adrift in the Indian Ocean and is towing the vessel to Seychelles’ main island, the ship’s owner said.

The Italian Costa Allegra, carrying more than 1,000 passengers and crew members, began drifting without power on Monday after a fire in its generator room.

Costa Cruises said on Tuesday that an earlier plan to tow the vessel to the nearest island of Desroches had been aborted because security conditions for mooring the ship and offloading the passengers and crew “would not have been assured”.

Two tugs were approaching the cruise ship to assist the Seychelles-based tuna purse-seiner Trevignon pulling the Costa Allegra, which is now due to arrive at the main island Mahe on Thursday morning.

“Helicopters will ensure continuous supply of food, comfort items, flashlights in order to mitigate guests’ discomfort given the difficult conditions on board,” Costa Cruises spokesman Davide Barbano said in a statement.

Srdjana Janosevic, the Seychelles’ presidential spokeswoman, earlier confirmed that the French vessel had reached the ship and that it was towing the Costa Allegra to Desroches.

But an evacuation off Desroches Island would have presented the ship owner and local authorities with a tricky and expensive logistical operation.

The 636 passengers and 413 crew would have had to use the ship’s lifeboats to land on the island, and ferries or a fleet of small private planes would most likely then have shuttled the passengers to Mahe.

Seychelles authorities still face a logistical headache finding accommodation in Mahe for all those onboard. “Right now we are in consultation with the hotels on Mahe to find out how many beds are available. It’s a busy time of year,” Janosevic told Reuters.

No injuries

Monday’s fire aboard the 188-metre Costa Allegra occurred only six weeks after one of its sister ships, the Costa Concordia, hit a reef and capsized off the coast of Italy, killing dozens of people. Both ships are operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by the Florida-based Carnival Corp.

Officials said the blaze was extinguished without causing any injuries, and that the vessel was stable and upright.

The luxury ship was sailing about 320km southwest of the Seychelles when the fire broke out and it sent a distress signal, the company said.

A spokesman for Costa said the passengers included 130 each from Italy and France, 100 from Austria and 90 from Switzerland.

Cosimo Nicastro, a spokesman for the Italian coastguard, speaking to Al Jazeera, said the ship had no electricity or air conditioning.

Captain Giorgio Moretti said on Monday night from company headquarters in Genoa that the fire in the ship’s generator room had left it without power.

The officials, who were in regular contact with the Allegra’s crew members, said emergency generators were keeping the ship’s command room illuminated and instruments such as its radio functioning. But the rest of the ship apparently was dark as night fell, with passengers gathering in the ship’s communal areas, rather than retiring to their cabins.

The 28,597-tonne Costa Allegra left northern Madagascar, off Africa’s southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising towards Victoria. Costa said the Allegra had been due in Victoria on Tuesday.

The much larger Costa Concordia capsized on January 13 after hitting rocks off the island of Giglio. Divers and rescue workers are still searching for the bodies of seven people who remain missing.

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Sailing On Ice? Yeah, That's A Sport.

Sarah Harris /North Country Public Radio

Come Sail Away: Retired high school science teacher — and adrenaline junkie — Andy Sajor rides his ice boat on a frozen Lake Champlain in New York. Perfect ice sailing conditions call for cold temperatures, a strong breeze and a thick sheet of ice — but not too much snow.

The minute I learned that ice sailing was an actual sport, I wanted to give it a try. I watched YouTube videos of wooden boats with big white sails zooming across the ice on steel runners. It seemed like such a rush: Imagine racing over a frozen lake on a wind-powered sled, hitting speeds that top 40 miles an hour.

So I was delighted when Andy Sajor, of Plattsburgh, N.Y., offered to let me hitch a ride over an icy Lake Champlain. The 13th largest lake in the country, Champlain sits between upstate New York and Vermont and has emerged as one of the best ice sailing venues in the U.S.

We meet at Chazy Landing on the New York side of Lake Champlain, 12 miles from the Canadian border. It’s bright and windy. The ice stretches for miles, dotted by camps of shanties set up by ice fisherman. I’m bundled up in four layers of winter clothing. Sajor hands me a crash helmet and ski goggles.

“I noticed on our way up here that there was a new plate [of ice] that formed last night,” he tells me. “It’s gonna be gorgeous if we don’t get any snow on it and it stays cold like this.”

Enlarge Andy Sajor/North Country Public Radio

For her ride around the lake, reporter Sarah Harris claimed the ice boat’s only seat while Sajor balanced the plank next to her. Together, they reached a top speed of about 48 miles an hour.

Andy Sajor/North Country Public Radio

For her ride around the lake, reporter Sarah Harris claimed the ice boat’s only seat while Sajor balanced the plank next to her. Together, they reached a top speed of about 48 miles an hour.

Now that I’m out on the ice, and not watching YouTube videos, I get a little nervous. Sajor says he isn’t sure how fast we’ll go, but he’s brought a GPS so we can find out.

“With enough wind, we’ll probably get up on one runner decently and you’ll get to feel a little bit of the harum-scarum,” he says.

We climb into Sajor’s 12-foot-long DN, ice boat. It’s T-shaped with a long, horizontal plank at the back. There are two runners on either end of the plank and a runner at the bow that allow the boat to skim across the ice. While I sit in the boat, Sajor perches above the runner, demonstrating a ridiculously good sense of balance. Then he takes the biggest risk of the day and asks me to steer.

“When we’re steering the boat, if we want to go to the right that means the tiller which you’re holding goes to the left,” he says.

The boat starts moving, then we catch a breeze and it accelerates — a lot. We fly across the lake, runners rumbling. Eventually, we make it back to the landing without hitting anything or tipping over. My fingers are so cold I can’t feel them, and I’m a still shaking a little from the speed and the rattle of the ice against the runners.

Sajor checks his GPS — our top speed was about 48 miles an hour.

“We were only out there for an hour and we did a little over 10 miles,” he says.

As we pack up, I suddenly understand why ice sailors like Andy Sajor are so devoted to this sport. It’s exhilarating, zooming across a plane of frozen water like that. All that’s overhead is the sky; all that’s driving you is wind and sail.

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Westwinn Group reports sales gains from shows

Westwinn Group reports sales gains from shows

Posted on 28 February 2012

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Westwinn Group, the Canadian-based builder of Kingfisher, Jetcraft and Harbercraft boats, is reporting strong results from recent Western boat shows.

“Buyers are excited with the upgrades we made to our popular 16- and 18-foot Falcon line. Based on feedback from our angler community, we zeroed in on fishability, value and overall performance,” company president Andrew Klopak said in a statement.

“The new 20-foot Discovery series, featuring our console-forward design and class-leading storage, also struck a chord with buyers,” he added. “Buoyed by an improving economy, healthy fish stocks, together with the performance advantages that heavy-gauge aluminum boats offer, the robust return of the offshore buyer is also very exciting.”

Westwinn Group, based in Vernon, British Columbia, distributes its three welded aluminum brands through its network of 40 dealers across North America.

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A fishing way of life is threatened

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GLOUCESTER, Massachusetts (CNN) — By daybreak, much of this town has already been at work for hours.

Fishermen have long since cast off aboard boats named for their sweethearts and chugged out to sea before sunrise.

Clad in yellow and orange rubber suits, these seafarers drag giant nets across the ocean floor during 12-hour work days, hauling back fish that they will later bring to market.

For about 400 hundred years, fishing has sustained communities such as Gloucester along America’s northeastern shores, where thousands of seafood processors, wholesalers, distributors and retailers make a living off the waterfront.

Dennis Robillard scans his radar screens in search of fish.

“It’s kind of the bread-and-butter and the backbone of the community,” said Dennis Robillard, who has scooped up fish off the coast of Massachusetts for more than two decades.

Now the federal government is contemplating what for generations seemed inconceivable — restricting or shutting down most of the cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine, a region that extends from Cape Cod up through Nova Scotia.

A recent government survey found that Gulf of Maine cod, considered a top earner for fishermen in the region, are in far lower numbers than what experts had thought.

Just three years earlier, the government had projected the area was well on its way to recovery after decades of overfishing. Since then, federal regulators gradually raised cod catch rates to nearly five times the sustainable level — with those allowed rates based on what are now reported as overly optimistic and incomplete estimates.

The new data now suggest the stocks are so depleted that even if the fishing industry were to shut down, codfish would still not recover by 2014 to the levels mandated by federal law. Beginning in May, that will trigger a legal requirement that fishermen bring in around 22% less cod than they caught last year. But next year is the big one — the industry could face more than an 80% reduction from prior years’ catches in the Gulf of Maine.

“This is total Armageddon now for the fishery,” said Vito Giacalone, a third-generation Gloucester fisherman and policy director for the Northeast Seafood Coalition, an advocacy group for the fishing industry.

“What happens when you do everything right and they still shut you down?”

Cod also swim alongside other fish, which means the proposed reductions would impact other industry staples such as flounder and haddock, even though those populations are considered to be far healthier.

While larger trawlers capable of traveling to more distant fishing grounds are expected to survive, the reductions could cost most of region’s smaller crews their jobs.

“We basically have a balloon payment now to make up for those years (of overfishing),” said Steven Cadrin, a scientist at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, who worked on the assessment.

Cadrin and others say a year isn’t enough time to make up the difference and meet federal mandates, which he says could signal an end to much of the region’s small-boat fleet.

Cod fish are hauled aboard a fishing trawler in the Gulf of Maine.

Environmentalists say depleted stocks show the region needs time to recover.

“The coastal fishermen are facing an impossible situation through no fault of their own,” said Peter Shelley, a lawyer with the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental advocacy group.

“But once those fisheries are gone, that’s it.”

Codfish aren’t about to become an endangered species, according to Sam Rauch, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s fisheries service. The coming restrictions are about protecting the overall size of the cod population, which has been at a steady but low level for decades, and complying with federal law.

Confronted with possible drops in domestic supply, industry analysts say U.S. cod consumers will likely look elsewhere, importing more from countries such as Canada and Norway.

“It will affect the local fresh market,” said Cadrin. “There’s a lot of frozen cod on the market from elsewhere.”

Aboard the Julie Ann II, a not-quite-paid-off fishing trawler named for Robillard’s wife, talk of cutbacks is a source of anxiety.

“If they cut half the quota, that’s my last day here,” said crew member Kevon Hughes, hauling back nets from the day’s catch — a mixture of cod, lobsters and flounder.

The sun rises aboard a fishing trawler in the Gulf of Maine.

“I’d have to leave.”

Hughes, his face pink from the biting cold of a winter wind at sea, says he’s tired of the uncertainty.

“I’m sick of everybody else running my life, my income,” he said. “It’s up to them. It has nothing to do with me.”

Fishermen say the cod report doesn’t actually reflect what they’ve seen out on the water. Surveys come from murky science, they say, that rely on catch records, government observers and random samplings at sea.

“Fish have tails. They move,” said Giacalone, emphasizing the difficulty of counting unseen fish in a region the size of Indiana that nearly spans the length of New England.

“The data they have is ‘best available,'” he said. “We’re going to destroy 400 years of fishing based on what’s ‘best available’?”

Cadrin, a former NOAA scientist, said the science is “not much different than a weather report” and considers the issue more of an “administrative crisis than an environmental one.”

But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the work is based on three years of additional data, and includes better technologies as well as records of fish discarded by recreational agencies — something that wasn’t tallied in 2008.

“We just have a much more realistic picture of the stock,” said NOAA spokeswoman Teri Frady. “The really troubling thing here is the low number of young fish coming in.”

Other factors, she noted, like shifts in water temperature and natural predators, also likely contributed to the depletion of a once cod-heavy region.

“Cod fishing in New England is like cowboys out west,” said Frady, stressing New England’s historical ties to the bottom-dwelling ground fish. “They don’t call it Cape Cod for nothing.”

Her agency’s report has become a hot topic among interests groups and legislators in New Hampshire and Maine, though especially in Boston, where a wooden carving of a codfish still hangs from the House of Representatives.

Massachusetts ranks second, behind California, in the number of jobs supported by the fishing industry. And Gulf of Maine cod brought in nearly $16 million to the regional economy in 2010, before distribution sales were tallied.

“When I was a kid growing up, people would ask who your father went fishing with as a way of identifying who you are,” said Mike Parisi, 62, owner of Amanda Marie Fishing Charters in Gloucester.

Fishermen work on docks in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

“It’s been a way of life here.”

Recreational fishing on charter boats, like the one Parisi owns, now account for more than 30% of the region’s total catch.

The danger, industry advocates say, is a loss of market share.

“You can’t expect the fishery to come back in the same way after taking years off,” said Jackie Odell, executive director of the Northeast Seafood Coalition. “Your suppliers and consumers just go elsewhere. It takes years to develop those kinds of relationships.”

The issue garnered national attention last year when Senate lawmakers petitioned NOAA to reevaluate its findings.

“The most recent Gulf of Maine cod assessment threatens to further exacerbate a number of issues our fishermen already face, with potentially disastrous consequences,” Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, wrote in a letter, asking for a new assessment.

NOAA declined the request, citing time constraints that prevented it from conducting another report ahead of the 2012 fishing season.

“The only real solution is more fish,” said Frady of NOAA. “Unless we just decide to make fishing less efficient.”

Agency officials also point out that their assessment had been reviewed by other independent scientists and would likely yield similar results.

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Boat and sailing show opens March 2

MINI regatta by the Philippine Sailing Association

It began as a passion, a passion for boating and sailing, and from that passion was born a mission: To stage a premier exhibition that will gather manufacturers and enthusiasts in one venue for a weekend of shopping, exchanging ideas, sailing and festivities.

Today, the 4th Sea-Expo, the country’s only nautical lifestyle exposition, will hold its annual exhibit showcasing anything and everything that has to do with the water or the ocean, from March 2-4 at One Esplanade, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

A showcase for national and international manufacturers of nautical lifestyle accessories, yachts, water sports equipment and boats, the 4th Sea-Expo is hoping to receive about 5,000 guests this year.

Around 20 big boats will be in the exhibit area, along with booths featuring everything from boat parts, navigation systems, paddle works, surf boats and dive gear to just about every imaginable summer gear there is. Aside from exhibitors from Australia, Hong Kong, and other international companies, this year will see the addition of a helicopter company.

“It sounds unusual but it actually makes sense to bring in a helicopter company into the exhibit. This is especially useful for resort owners who might need a luxurious transportation for their special guests,” said Bianca Jison, event manager of Sea-Expo.


Rising market

Jison noted that the growing number of international exhibitors only shows that the Philippine market is steadily rising as well. While it’s a very niche market aimed for the very rich—a boat will cost at least $1-1.5M—she said the market’s growth has been encouraging, especially with boating and sailing having become popular even among celebrities. Willie Revillame reportedly owns a few boats, and Manny Pacquiao is said to have recently purchased one.

“Some of the guests are boat-owners who might be looking into purchasing a second boat, some are resort owners, and some are really interested in the lifestyle itself,” she said.

This year’s main feature is the Lagoon 500, a 50-foot catamaran that is currently based in the country. The Lagoon 500 has already visited neighboring Asian countries.

FLOATING Dock by Tektwin Marketing, Inc.

There will also be services for repairs, seminars, yacht cruises (first-come, first-served basis), live bands playing jazz music to reggae, and a guest DJ who will spin retro and fresh music. The Philippine Sailing Association will once again stage a mini-regatta.

The Sea-Expo is chaired by boat-builder Angelo Olondriz. An entrance fee of P150/day for adult guest is required at the gate; free admission for children below 15 years old.


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Successful Boat Show

GOOD TURNOUT: Show Manager Jennifer Maricle and Brad Smith of Brad’s Boat Sales paused for a photograph in front of his display at this year’s show.

GTR Newspapers photo

The Tulsa Boat, Sport Travel Show was held recently. With 445,000 square feet of exhibit space, the show ranks as the nation’s fifth largest according to the Consumer Travel Agency.

The Marine Retailers Association of America ranks the Tulsa show in the top 10 in the nation for attendance. It is also the largest single and longest running event held in Tulsa, with the exception of the State Fair.

Updated 02-27-2012

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Cruise line: crippled ship to reach land Wednesday


NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A French fishing vessel on Tuesday began towing an Italian cruise ship drifting powerless in the Indian Ocean to a nearby Seychelles island, but was not expected to reach the tiny resort island until Wednesday, officials said.

Seychelles authorities said they are making arrangements to evacuate people to the island of Desroches and then to transfer the more than 1,000 passengers and crew members to the main Seychelles island of Mahe by plane and fast boats. Desroches is a small, exclusive coral-lined island that has seen such visitors as Prince William and Kate Middleton before the two married.

The Costa Allegra lost power Monday after a fire in its generator room only six weeks after one of its sister ships, the Costa Concordia, hit a reef and capsized off Italy. No one was injured in the fire Monday, but the blaze set the cruiseliner adrift at sea in a region where Somali pirates prey on ships.

Two tug boats continued to steam toward the stranded cruise ship on Tuesday but were not expected to reach it until the afternoon. The tugs will tow the Costa Allegra back to the Seychelles’ main port — Port Victoria — under escort by the coast guard and military.

The cruise ship company said that a helicopter took off from Seychelles’ main island on Tuesday and will take food, satellite phones and VHF radios to the ship. Guests have been asked to prepare their luggage for disembarkation.

Photos released by the Seychelles on Tuesday showed hundreds of people milling outside on the decks of the Costa Allegra. Taken by an Indian navy plane, the photos showed calm seas and an upright ship.

The Costa Allegra has 636 passengers and 413 crew members on board. The fire knocked out power to the ship’s engines as well as to its lights and air conditioning.

The power burnout came six weeks after the Costa Concordia capsized, killing 25 people and leaving seven missing and presumed dead. Both ships are operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by the Florida-based Carnival Corp.

However, company officials rushed to play down concerns.

The Costa Allegra is adrift “and being pushed by the current. It is stable and upright,” Giorgio Moretti, the director of nautical operations for Costa Crociere SpA, told reporters in a conference call late Monday from company headquarters in Genoa, Italy.

Costa Crociere said the Costa Allegra is not expected to arrive to Desroches island until Wednesday morning

“It’s a big ship and to tow it, to move it across the waters, is a heavy task,” said Seychelles presidential spokeswoman Srdjana Janosevic. She said that everything is calm on board the cruise ship and that no one is hurt.

Italian Coast Guard officials said emergency generators were keeping the ship’s control room illuminated and communications equipment such as radios running. Officials said the cruise liner was holding steady, despite 5-foot (1.5 meter) waves in the area and passengers were being kept in the ship’s big communal rooms, not in their cabins.

Moretti, a longtime Costa captain, said he expected the 636 passengers aboard would spend the night on outside decks. Among them were 212 Italian, 31 British and eight U.S. passengers, he said. Four of the passengers were children ages 3 or younger.

The Allegra, whose Italian name means “merry,” or “happy,” had left northern Madagascar, off Africa’s southeast coast, on Saturday and was cruising toward Port Victoria when the fire erupted. Costa said the Allegra had been due in Port Victoria on Tuesday.

The general region where the cruise ship was adrift — off the coast of Tanzania — has seen a rash of attacks by Somali pirates. In 2009, an Italian cruise ship with 1,500 people aboard fended off a pirate attack in the Indian Ocean far off the coast of Somalia.

Moretti said an armed nine-member Italian military team on anti-pirate duty was aboard the Allegra, but he insisted the maritime region where the ship was now “isn’t a high risk area for pirates.”

“If pirates attack, the armed guards on board will respond. But as far as I am aware, no pirates have been sighted in the area,” said Janosevic.

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SAILING | Elis shake off winter rust

With only one day of practice, the No. 4 Yale coed sailing team pulled off a tight team victory this weekend.

A three-pair team represented the Bulldogs at the two-day Bob Bavier Team Race, which marked the team race season opener for the team. Hosted by the College of Charleston on the Cooper River in South Carolina, the race saw the team sail to a 23–4 victory, edging past No. 9 Stanford’s record of 22–5 and No. 2 Charleston’s third-place record of 21–6.

In team racing, each of a school’s three boats face off against another school’s fleet of three boats. A team’s score is equal to the sum of the ranks of its three boats, and the team with the lowest score wins the round. Each school competes in a total of 27 rounds.

“This victory was a great place to start off this season,” sailing head coach Zachary Leonard ’89 said. “We’re still trying to shake the rust off, and we’ve got a lot of improvement to make, but we were pretty solid across the board.”

Leonard added that the weekend provided good sailing conditions for competition, despite the freezing weather.

By the end of the first day, the Bulldogs were in third place with an 11–4 tally, but went on to win all 12 races the next day. The tournament result came down to the last race against Stanford, in which crew member Genoa Warner ’12 said the Yale team narrowly beat the Cardinal. Warner added that team members did not even know the overall score until after the entire event.

Leonard attributed the team’s victory to the experience of the three skippers, Joseph Morris ’12, captain Cameron Cullman ’13 and Chris Segerblom ’14.

While colder weather in the Northeast meant that the team only had one full day of practice before the event — compared to nearly a month for some of the Bulldogs’ western and southern rivals — the team had weekly meetings during the winter offseason to discuss team race strategy.

Heather May ’13, who crewed for the Bulldogs, said the team has not changed its racing strategies over the years, but focused on how they would implementing them during the meetings. She added that she was pleased by how the team performed, and at this point the team’s technique just needs fine-tuning.

The Bulldogs will train for the first week of spring break in Florida after competing next weekend at the Eckerd Intersectional in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Leonard said the team’s training program in Florida will depend upon the weather conditions there.

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Cincinnati water sports fan creates boating games

Cincinnati entrepreneur Al Buchweitz has spent his life in product and service development and sales. His latest endeavor is a personal, and fun, one, a line of games designed for family play in the water.

Buchweitz’s new company, BoatFun Sports, targets casual boaters looking for activities while they’re anchored and lounging in the water. That’s something Buchweitz, a longtime boater, and his family enjoyed, playing games to pass the time.

“We would water ski and tube and wake board, then go party on the boat. We’d just hang out in the water, but were an active bunch,” he says. They’d throw tennis balls, and even played a modified version of water-bound baseball where batters hit from the boat, and took a quick jump in the water to round two bases.

“We would have a lot of fun, and I realized that this idea of having fun in the water is pretty common,” especially with rising gas prices, he says. “People all over the country tie boats together and hang out in the water.”

His first product, boat basketball, launches this spring. A plastic hoop attaches to the side or back of the boat or a dock. Strap on a life jacket, and users can play hoops. It’s a simple idea, but one Buchweitz hopes is the first of many that BoatFun Sports will add to the market.

“It’s the first of its kind, and we’ve filed provisional patents (for its design),” Buchweitz says. The product is set for sale directly to consumers through the web in April. In the meantime, Buchweitz has been attending boat shows across the country, pitching the product.

“I’ve been making contacts and getting market feedback and it’s been awesome. The number of people that park boats is huge, and they really love the idea of having something for their families to do,” he says.

After this spring, Buchweitz wants to release more products, but he declined to say what’s up next.

“But they’re pretty common sense ideas if you just think about it,” he says.

BoatFun Sports isn’t his first foray into entrepreneurship. He also invented the STAX 80, a line of desktop computer support stands and trays. Before starting his current, self-funded business, Buchweitz held several positions at LexisNexis and was an associate pastor at Vineyard Community Church.

By Feoshia Henderson
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