Archive for » April 27th, 2012«

Hidden treasures found at rummage sale

There’s nothing that can’t be found at a garage sale, according to Winfield resident Carol Dinelli.

“You just have to wait,” she said.

Dinelli was one of several rummage sale-goers who visited the annual All Church Garage Sale this morning at First United Methodist Church, 424 Forest Ave., Glen Ellyn.

The sale runs until 7 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

At garage sales in the past, Dinelli’s found a pontoon boat, a small cement mixer, a chain saw and new dog crates.

Bob McKeating, of Wheaton, also attended the sale this morning, where he found a bicycle and golf pull-cart.

Others who attended the event, such as Linda Novak, of Glen Ellyn, said she frequents garage sales and has found unique items, including a Victorian bedspread.

“It was a gorgeous Victorian bedspread with roses on it. It was probably never used and I bought it for $5,” she said.
 


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Ocean races halted after fatal crash

SAN FRANCISCO — Sailboat racers were grumbling Friday after the Coast Guard temporarily stopped races in ocean waters outside San Francisco Bay following a deadly yachting accident.

“We’re all saddened by what happened,” said Chris Larose, a San Francisco sailor who was to participate in an offshore race Saturday that is now prohibited. “But to cancel the race is overreaction. Tragic accidents occur in all kinds of competitions. We don’t stop fishing boats from going out when one of them is lost.”

Larose and others said they support a review of safety procedures after an April 14 race turned tragic, but they’re disappointed that offshore races are prohibited until the reviews are complete.

During the race, five crew members of the 38-foot boat Low Speed Chase died when the vessel was hit by waves while rounding the Farallon Islands.

Race organizers are now holding the Offshore Yacht Racing Association Duxship Race almost entirely within San Francisco Bay. A second race, the Single-handed Sailing Society Farallones Race scheduled for May 12, will also have to adopt a similar alternative route or cancel the race entirely.

The restriction issued Thursday requires racing vessels to stay within the bay. Yacht racers are required to obtain a permit from the Coast Guard.

“This temporary safety stand-down from offshore racing will allow the Coast Guard and the offshore racing community to further our common safety goals,” said Coast Guard Capt. Cynthia Stowe.

Stowe said the “stand-down” will allow the Coast Guard and the offshore racing community to study the accident and race procedures to determine whether changes are needed to improve safety. U.S. Sailing, the governing body of yacht racing, is leading the safety review, which is expected to be completed within the next month.

Laura Munoz, executive director of the Yacht Racing Association, which was the organizer of Saturday’s canceled off-shore race, said she understands the views of sailors like Larose who wanted to race into the Pacific.

“But we do think it’s a good idea to a take a breather” to examine safety procedures, Munoz said.

The Yacht Racing Association also organized the April 14 race that prompted the “stand-down” of offshore racing.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press



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MarineMax Reports Second Quarter Fiscal 2012 Results


CLEARWATER, Fla., Apr 26, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) —
–~ Substantial Year-Over-Year Earnings Improvement ~

MarineMax, Inc.


/quotes/zigman/220759/quotes/nls/hzo HZO
+0.18%



, the nation’s largest recreational boat
retailer, today announced results for its second fiscal quarter ended
March 31, 2012.

Revenue was $144.0 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2012 compared
with $115.8 million for the comparable quarter last year. Same-store
sales increased approximately 26% compared with a 5% increase in the
comparable quarter last year. Net income was $2.3 million, or $0.10 per
diluted share for the quarter ended March 31, 2012 compared with a net
loss of $4.5 million, or $0.20 per share, for the comparable quarter
last year.

Inventories decreased approximately $19 million, or 8%, to $206.2
million from the December quarter. Inventories were up year-over-year,
primarily due to the Company adding new brands and the timing of the
receipt of product from manufacturers. Typically, the March quarter end
coincides with peak industry inventory levels.

Revenue increased $27.9 million to $235.8 million for the six months
ended March 31, 2012 compared with $207.9 million for the comparable
period last year. Same-store sales increased approximately 16% compared
with a 1% decrease in the comparable period last year. The Company
reduced its net loss by $7.3 million for the six months ended March 31,
2012 to $1.9 million, or $0.08 per share, compared with a net loss of
$9.2 million, or $0.41 per share, for the comparable period last year.
The Company’s net loss for the six months ended March 31, 2011 was
reduced by $1.4 million related to the favorable resolution of accounts
receivable and inventory repurchases from a manufacturer whose brands
the Company no longer carries. Without this item in the prior year, the
Company improved its year-over-year earnings by $8.7 million.

William H. McGill, Jr., Chairman, President, and Chief Executive
Officer, stated, “I am very proud of our team’s accomplishments. We have
now put together six consecutive quarters of new boat sales unit growth,
capitalizing on the improvements we have made in our business over the
past few years as we navigated the persistent challenges faced by our
industry. Total revenue during the quarter was up considerably over the
prior year, with same-store sales growing 26%, while gross margins
improved, despite an increased weighting toward larger product that
traditionally carries lower margins. The increase in gross margin also
reflected our continued growth in our higher margin businesses of
service, parts, accessories, finance and insurance. We also demonstrated
meaningful expense leverage which will result in strong cash flow and
earnings growth when our sales further recover.”

Mr. McGill concluded, “We ended the quarter with our inventory at
anticipated levels along with improved aging as we enter what has
traditionally been our strongest sales period. We look forward to the
upcoming summer boating season and are cautiously optimistic that the
initial improvement in the industry is sustainable. With more positive
consumer sentiment, generally improved economic conditions, coupled with
our team’s ability to enhance and improve our customers’ lives through
boating, we are well positioned to build on the progress we are making.”

About MarineMax

Headquartered in Clearwater, Florida, MarineMax is the nation’s largest
recreational boat and yacht retailer. Focused on premium brands, such as
Sea Ray, Boston Whaler, Meridian, Cabo, Hatteras, Azimut Yachts,
Grady-White, Bayliner, Harris FloteBote, Nautique and Malibu, MarineMax
sells new and used recreational boats and related marine products and
provides yacht brokerage and charter services. MarineMax currently has
54 retail locations in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado,
Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri,
New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island,
Tennessee, and Texas and operates MarineMax Vacations in Tortola,
British Virgin Islands. MarineMax is a New York Stock Exchange-listed
company.

Use of Non-GAAP Financial Information

In this release, the Company discloses pro forma, or non-GAAP, measures
of net income and earnings per share. The Company believes that this pro
forma information provides greater comparability regarding its ongoing
operating performance. These measures should not be considered an
alternative to measurements required by accounting principles generally
accepted in the United States (GAAP), such as net income and earnings
per share. These pro forma measures are unlikely to be comparable to pro
forma information provided by other companies.

Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking as
defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such
forward-looking statements include the Company’s assessment that its
growth has come from business improvements it has made over the past few
years; the Company’s belief that it will achieve meaningful expense
leverage and improved cash flows and earnings growth as its sales
recover; and the Company’s assessment that the industry is
starting to experience improvement in new unit sales, which should
enhance its operating results. These statements involve certain risks
and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially
from expectations as of the date of this release. These risks include
the ability to reduce inventory, accomplish the goals and strategies,
general economic conditions and the level of consumer spending, the
Company’s ability to integrate acquisitions into existing operations and
numerous other factors identified in the Company’s Form 10-K and other
filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.



        
                                                            MarineMax, Inc. and Subsidiaries
                                                                        Condensed
                                                          Consolidated Statements of Operations
                                                                       (Amounts in
                                                       thousands, except share and per share data)
                                                                       (Unaudited)
                                                                                  Three Months Ended                   Six Months Ended
                                                                                       March31,                            March 31,
                                                                          ----------------------------        ----------------------------
                                                                                2012              2011              2012              2011
                                                                          ----------------- ----------------- ----------------- -----------------
        Revenue                                                            $    143,992      $    115,756      $    235,779      $    207,946
        Cost of sales                                                           109,614            88,961           175,827           157,569
                                                                             ----------        ----------        ----------        ----------
             Gross profit                                                        34,378            26,795            59,952            50,377
        Selling, general, and administrative expenses                            30,994            30,446            59,564            57,887
                                                                             ----------        ----------        ----------        ----------
             Income (loss) from operations                                        3,384            (3,651)             388            (7,510)
        Interest expense                                                          1,203               836             2,420             1,679
                                                                             ----------        ----------        ----------        ----------
        Income (loss) before income tax benefit                                   2,181            (4,487)          (2,032)          (9,189)
        Income tax benefit                                                         (116)              --              (116)              --
                                                                             ---------- --     ----------        ---------- --     ----------
        Net income (loss)                                                  $      2,297      $     (4,487)    $     (1,916)    $     (9,189)
                                                                          == ==========     == ========== ==  == ========== ==  == ========== ==
        Basic net income (loss) per common share                           $       0.10      $      (0.20)    $      (0.08)    $      (0.41)
                                                                          == ==========     == ========== ==  == ========== ==  == ========== ==
        Diluted net income (loss) per common share                         $       0.10      $      (0.20)    $      (0.08)    $      (0.41)
                                                                          == ==========     == ========== ==  == ========== ==  == ========== ==
        Weighted average number of common shares used in computing net
        income (loss) per common share:
             Basic                                                           22,652,294        22,329,156        22,622,196        22,283,970
                                                                             ==========        ==========        ==========        ==========
             Diluted                                                         23,253,524        22,329,156        22,622,196        22,283,970
                                                                             ==========        ==========        ==========        ==========
        




        
                                                  MarineMax, Inc. and Subsidiaries
                                                              Condensed
                                                     Consolidated Balance Sheets
                                                    (Amounts in thousands, except
                                                      share and per share data)
                                                             (Unaudited)
                                                                                              March 31,         March 31,
                                                                                                2012              2011
                                                                                          --------------    --------------
                            ASSETS
        CURRENT ASSETS:
            Cash and cash equivalents                                                        $    29,042       $    21,436
            Accounts receivable, net                                                              23,010            19,987
            Inventories, net                                                                     206,212           190,160
            Prepaid expenses and other current assets                                              3,296             3,603
                                                                                                 -------           -------
                                                                                                 261,560           235,186
                Total current assets
        Property and equipment, net                                                              101,415           101,107
        Other long-term assets                                                                       782             1,264
                                                                                                 -------           -------
                Total assets                                                                 $   363,757       $   337,557
                                                                                          ====== =======    ====== =======
                            LIABILITIES AND STOCKHOLDERS'
                            EQUITY
        CURRENT LIABILITIES:
            Accounts payable                                                                 $     8,924       $    11,982
            Customer deposits                                                                     10,477             9,556
            Accrued expenses                                                                      24,643            26,028
            Short-term borrowings                                                                120,092            90,031
                                                                                                 -------           -------
                Total current liabilities                                                        164,136           137,597
        Long-term liabilities                                                                      4,307             4,675
                                                                                                 -------           -------
                Total liabilities                                                                168,443           142,272
        STOCKHOLDERS' EQUITY:
        Preferred stock                                                                               --                --
        Common stock                                                                                  23                23
        Additional paid-in capital                                                               213,271           208,992
        (Accumulated deficit) retained earnings                                                   (2,170)           2,080
        Treasury stock                                                                           (15,810)         (15,810)
                                                                                                 ------- -         ------- -
                Total stockholders' equity                            195,314           195,285
                                                                                                 -------           -------
                Total liabilities and stockholders' equity        $   363,757       $   337,557
                                                                                          ====== =======    ====== =======
        




        
                                                             MarineMax, Inc. and Subsidiaries
                                                                     Reconciliation of
                                                              Non-GAAP Financial Information
                                                                  (Amounts in thousands,
                                                             except share and per share data)
                                                                        (Unaudited)
                                                                                    Three Months Ended                  Six Months Ended
                                                                                         March 31,                          March 31,
                                                                             --------------------------        ----------------------------
                                                                                  2012             2011              2012              2011
                                                                             --------------- ----------------- ----------------- -----------------
        GAAP net income (loss) as reported                                    $      2,297    $     (4,487)    $     (1,916)    $     (9,189)
        Less the resolution from a manufacturer whose brands we no longer               --              --                --            (1,410)
        carry
                                                                                ----------      ----------        ----------        ---------- --
        Non-GAAP proforma net income (loss)                                   $      2,297    $     (4,487)    $     (1,916)    $    (10,599)
                                                                             == ==========   == ========== ==  == ========== ==  == ========== ==
        GAAP diluted net income (loss) per common share                       $       0.10    $      (0.20)    $      (0.08)    $      (0.41)
                                                                             == ==========   == ========== ==  == ========== ==  == ========== ==
        Less the resolution from a manufacturer whose brands we no longer               --              --                --             (0.06)
        carry
        Non-GAAP proforma net income (loss) per common share                  $       0.10    $      (0.20)    $      (0.08)    $      (0.47)
                                                                             == ==========   == ========== ==  == ========== ==  == ========== ==
        Common shares used in the calculations of net income (loss) per         23,253,524      22,329,156        22,622,196        22,283,970
        common share
                                                                             == ==========   == ========== ==  == ========== ==  == ========== ==
        


SOURCE: MarineMax, Inc.



        
        MarineMax, Inc. 
        Michael H. McLamb, Chief Financial Officer 
        727-531-1700 
        or 
        ICR, Inc. 
        Brad Cohen, 203-682-8211 
        bcohen@icrinc.com
        


Copyright Business Wire 2012

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Fishermen face 80 percent cut on yellowtail quota

BOSTON (AP) — An 80 percent cut to the catch of yellowtail flounder in prime New England fishing grounds is set to deal a vicious blow to a fishing industry already edging toward ruin.

The cut on yellowtail in Georges Bank, combined with major problems with other species, left regional fishery managers pondering Thursday whether to ask the U.S. commerce secretary to declare a federal disaster for the fishery, although they took no immediate action.

The Georges Bank fishing grounds, located to the east and southeast of Cape Cod, are frequented by larger, offshore vessels with the greater range to reach it. Last year, U.S. groundfish fishermen on Georges Bank were allotted about 1,140 metric tons of yellowtail. This year, they’re getting about 218 metric tons, effective May 1.

The cut comes after the most recent research showed diminishing numbers of yellowtail and the U.S. saw its portion of the stock, which it shares with Canada, shrink to its lowest level.

Yellowtail are not among the region’s most valuable fish. But the low catch limits on them prevent fishermen from chasing the more valuable or abundant fish they swim among.

New Bedford fisherman Carlos Rafael said it’s a devastating cut that will keep him away from abundant winter flounder stocks.

Rafael, who owns three dozen boats that target bottom-dwelling groundfish, said his operation is large enough to keep going, even though he says he’ll like have to shut down 20 of his boats. But smaller operations? “No way in hell they will survive,” he said.

Vito Giacalone, a fisherman and policy analyst with the Northeast Seafood Coalition, a Gloucester-based industry group, said the New England industry could lose 30 million pounds of fish this year, which accounts for more than half the value of the fishery.

The coming yellowtail cut got a bit lost amid a series of other problems and crises, Giacalone said.

For instance, cuts in the catch of cod in Gulf of Maine – 22 percent this year, with a far larger cut pending next year – are threatening to wipe out the industry from Provincetown to Maine. Also, some fishermen in the Gulf of Maine are being shut out of key fishing grounds for two months, starting in October, to protect harbor porpoises.

“Things are falling apart all around us on the regulatory level,” Giacalone said.

On Thursday, members of the New England Fishery Management Council considered asking U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson to determine whether a disaster declaration was warranted, before deciding on further internal discussions.

The council did vote Thursday to form a group that will focus on the yellowtail problem, including studying modifications to the sharing agreement with Canada.

As recently as 2004, the U.S. share of the yellowtail in Georges Bank was 76 percent.

Tom Nies, an analyst for the council, said the division of the stock was once based more heavily on how much each country caught there. Now, he said, it’s based largely on the percentage of yellowtail that scientific survey vessels find actually swimming in each country’s section of Georges Bank.

That’s led the U.S. percentage to fall to just 49 percent this year.

Combine that with research showing lower numbers of yellowtail, and the subsequent cuts to protect the population, and you have the massive May 1 cut.

Rafael said while the cuts directly affect yellowtail in George Bank, other regions will feel it because larger boats like his will divert their fishing to other areas to avoid yellowtail.

Jackie Odell, of the Northeast Seafood Coalition, said the scope of the yellowtail cut will prove “unbelievably profound” in an industry already struggling to avoid collapse.

“We’re always in kind of crisis mode,” she said. “But this is everything coming at the industry at once.”


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OPEN HOUSE: Good clean sailing fun on Lake Nipissing

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Friday, April 27, 2012

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  • OPEN HOUSE: Good clean sailing fun on Lake Nipissing

By HENRY VAN BRUSSEL, for Community Voices

Updated 2 hours ago

Sunday was Earth Day. If picking up an environmentally friendly hobby isn’t incentive to try sailing, then maybe the prices at the pumps is.

Often confused as a yacht club, the Blue Sky Sailing Club, located at the North Bay Marina, is for people who do not own a boat but would like to sail.

The club uses only 20 litres of fuel in a season to get in and out of the marina. You have to try it to appreciate the quiet power of wind when the motor shuts off and the main sail is raised.

The club is holding an open house May 2 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the North Bay Public Library boardroom. Our boats will launch June 2.

We’ve also launched a Facebook page to offer contests for free sails, Commodore for a Day for kids and to update members about the regatta, astronomy cruise, meteor shower sail and other club events on Lake Nipissing this summer.

There are programs for everyone. Learn to sail, rent a boat if you qualify and take part in social events. Experienced members introduce novice sailors to the sport with groups sails every Saturday at 10 a.m. and Monday at 6 p.m.

Sailing teaches self reliance and makes you more conscious and respectful of the weather by learning the signs of winds and forming clouds.

The club installed a weather station last year with live readings near the waterfront, charts and history available on its website.

North Bay has micro climates and Lake Nipissing to the east can have different weather compared to weather readings at the Jake Garland Airport or the French River, and the winds are different from Trout Lake.

The club is a non-profit organization with family and social memberships. Some members own boats which the club rents to other members or uses for social sailing or group sailing and instruction.

A popular way to learn the basics of sailing is through the 10-hour Pinch Hitter Course.

Boat ownership costs are shared by the membership through dues and rental fees. Annual dues are $100 for a family or full membership and $50 for a social membership. Participants in group sails pay $10 per sail.

All the work is done by volunteers so members can get the complete experience of boat ownership. Many members end up buying their own boat after sailing with the club for a year or two.

Let’s go Sailing.

For more information email blueskysailingclub@gmail.com.

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  •  Community / Local happenings / ArticleBlue Sky Sailing Club Open House Share ShareBlue Sky Sailing Club Public Open House, Wednesday, May 2, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, North Bay Public Library, Worthington Street. Learn to Sail or Join us[…]By: Doing my part | Comments
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Brunswick 1Q profit rise on lower costs

Boat and sporting-goods maker Brunswick Corp. said Thursday its first-quarter profit jumped 44 percent, as lower interest expenses and a reduced income tax provision offset a slight drop in sales.

The Lake Forest, Ill.-based company, which makes a wide variety of products ranging from boats to bowling balls, earned $39.7 million, or 43 cents per share, up from $27.5 million, or 30 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding one-time items, the company said it posted an adjusted profit of 45 cents per share for the recent quarter.

Total revenue about 1 percent to $974.2 million from $985.9 million, as sales at the company’s marine engine segment fell 2.3 percent to $489.4 million on lower global sales of sterndrive engine products.

Boat segment and fitness segment sales were both relatively flat at $306.4 million and $157.1 million, respectively. Sales at the company’s bowling and billiards business rose 3 percent to $89.9 million.

The results beat Wall Street predictions. Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 37 cents per share on $963.4 million in revenue, according to a FactSet poll.

The company partially credited the better-than-expected results to a 22 percent drop in interest expense to $18.1 million and a 20 percent drop in its income tax provision to $10.5 million.

Based on its first-quarter results and current market conditions, the company narrowed its full-year profit prediction to a range of $1.30 to $1.50 per share, saying it expects significant sales growth in the second half of the year. The company previously predicted a profit of between $1.20 and $1.50 per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet expect a profit of $1.45 per share on $3.93 billion in revenue.

Brunswick shares fell 11 cents to $26.79 in morning trading.


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Fish Report is good, thanks to rain

Meet representatives from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission on May 3-5 atCabela’sin Hamburg as part of the kickoff to Cabela’s “Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?” contest in Pennsylvania.

Commission Executive Director John Arway will be at the store on May 3 as the agency announces the list of lakes anglers can target to find specially tagged species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, perch, rainbow trout, brown trout, walleye, crappies, bluegills, channel catfish and more.

Last year, only 25 percent of the tagged fish that were put in Lake Nockamixon were caught and turned in for prizes, and one angler who didn’t realize what the tag was returned it catch-and-release.

One of the tagged fish in 19 participating states is worth a $1 million grand prize that will be doubled if the participant is using or has downloaded the Cabela’s Fish recon app to his or her smartphone.

Rules and requirements are available at the store or online at http://www.cabelas.com/fishformillions. Participants must be preregistered to claim a prize. The first 500 participants to sign up at the store beginning May 3 will receive a free hat, according to Cabela’s event coordinator Harold Luther.

The Delaware Valley Flyfishers are conducting an “on-stream fly-fishing techniques” seminar 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday at the stream side Heritage Fly Shop in the Little Lehigh Parkway. Registration for the event is $50 and includes lunch. A valid state fishing license and trout permit are required.

To register, call 215-245-0677.

Lunkerfest 2012, the second annual trout fishing contest sponsored by the Lehigh River Stocking Association, will take place May 19 at East Penn Boat Launch in Bowmanstown, along the Lehigh River. Registration will begin at 7 a.m. with fishing 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in boats, wading or from shore.

The association, which stocks the river with legal-sized trout, will be stocking 800 trout in the 14- to 30-inch range the morning of Lunkerfest with 100 trout tagged for prizes. Participants must possess the proper fishing license and trout permit.

Entry fee is $20 for adults and youth 12 and older. Kids under 12 can enter for free. The registration fee is $15 for early mail-ins. Go to http://www.lrsa.org for more information.

Freshwater report

Pecks Pond Boat Rentals, Tackle Bait, Dingmans Ferry, (570-775-7237) peckspondrentals@yahoo.com; http://www.peckspond.com: Roger says trout fishing has been very active. Spinners are working in the Big Bushkill and Lackawaxen. David Konitsky from East Stroudsburg said he was throwing back trout while using his most irresistible lure: the Thomas double gold blade and Joe’s flies March brown spinner fly. Pickerel fishing on Pecks Pond started out well with some nice catches on silver spoons, and even a few bass were being caught and released on spoons.

Willie’s Bait Tackle, Cementon (610-261-2767): Willie says the fishing has picked up. Dave Reitz of Schnecksville caught a 22-inch, 5-pound rainbow trout in the Little Lehigh on PowerBait. Ed Meyer of Northampton caught a 19-inch, 2-pound brown trout in the Bushkill on PowerBait. Crappie fishing has been pretty good at Shohola using minnows, mostly fatheads. Striper fishing at the shore is a little slow. Lehigh River trout fishing has been good using night crawlers, spinners or minnows. Area streams doing well include the Hokendauqua, Coplay, Little Lehigh and Jordan. Beltzville has started to produce striped bass on large shiners and big stick baits.

Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy, 4642 Kernsville Road, Orefield (610-398-7609): Bob says the water conditions are nice now with a little bit of tint. Fatheads are working better than rosy reds. Night crawlers and butter worms work if you find out where the fish are, such as from Wehr’s Dam on the Jordan down to Scherersville. People are happier fishing now that there’s some real water and the fish are less spooked. Reports are coming in of big fish in the Wehr’s Dam area. The spring gobblers are being sighted everywhere. A lot of youths were successful on Saturday and the adults are keyed up for a clear, cool morning opener this Saturday. The gobblers are gobbling.

Archery @ the Glenn, Allentown, (610-791-7665): Brian says he caught a 17.5-inch smallmouth bass on Blue Marsh Lake on Thursday. Local streams continue being filled with trout, and a lot of nice ones at that. Minnows, butter worms, spinners and PowerBait top the list of baits. Tom Shields of Allentown stopped in last week for minnows and returned two hours later with three nice fat 15- to 16-inch trout from the Little Lehigh. Craig Walck of Allentown nails them regularly after work with butter worms. Lehigh River muskies are going for big spinners and extra large shiners. Big lakes are being stubborn to turn on, but the smaller lakes and ponds have turned on.

Heritage Fly Shop, Little Lehigh Parkway, Allentown (610-248-8836): Dave says the Little Lehigh is back to normal, but fishing has been slow. Tan Caddis are a good bet. Sulfurs are starting to appear in the evening. Delaware Valley Flyfishers are here on Saturday for an on-stream seminar.

Mike’s Bait Sports Shop, Nazareth, (610-759-2905): Mike says there are decent numbers of shad, even after the rain, but it’s been spotty where some anglers get one or two, and others 30. Trout fishing definitely picked up after the rain with worms, minnow and spinners moving into the mix of baits that are working well.

Klotz’s Bait Shop, Hellertown (610-838-7970): Caroline says Ken Peoples of Center Valley caught a rock bass. A 16-inch fallfish on a shad wrap, and a 16-inch walleye in the Delaware.

Cabela’s, Hamburg, (610-929-7000): Jon Reilly says recent rains have increased fishing opportunities all across the region. Trout fishing continues to be brisk across Berks and Schuylkill counties with many stringers being filled by fishing slow, with presentations of live baits such as night crawlers, fatheads and rosy reds, as well as Berkley Powerbaits. Shiners are racking up big catches of catfish in the area, including at Kaercher Creek Dam, Blue Marsh Lake and Ontelaunee Dam. Crappies are plentiful and big in Ontelaunee, always known as one of the state’s premier crappie and big-bass destinations. Fatheads fished slow, as well as Cabela’s Action Tail lures and Cabela’s Fisherman Series Grubs have been working well. As the water warms, big bass can be taken on Cabela’s Fisherman Series Creature Bait, which resembles a bass-hating salamander.

Saltwater report


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Boaters wanted

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He also likes the timing. He said after the big shows, there are still a lot of leftover boat buyers who now have a last chance to get a boat and still get a full season’s use. Finally, he said, he likes the price. “It’s a very affordable show and we can pass the savings along to the customers.

Coastal will be bringing a number of boats from its Tidewater line, including 18-, 21-, 23- and 25-foot models.

The show will also be featuring boats from Contender, Pursuit, Cobia, Rinker, Everglades, Sea Ray, Glacier Bay, Carolina Cat, Ranger Tugs, Cabo, South Port, Cape Horn, Pioneer, Alblemarle, Boston Whaler, Key West Skiffs, Hinckley Yachts, Yellowfin, Ocean Yachts and many more.

In addition to the boats, the Strictly Boaters Show will feature nearly 60 on-land exhibitors featuring marine electronics, engines, insurance and financing.

Returning to this year’s show will be the Demo Dock, that will feature demonstrations from manufacturers and suppliers.

Among them will be Boat Boy, also known as Delaware Valley Marine Services, to help new boat owners, or those who just need some advice, on how to run their boat and provide hands-on training on docking techniques.

Also on hand will be Barnacles Divers, specialists in underwater boat maintenance. They will conduct demonstrations of in-water hull inspections and will also be offering 25 percent off their standard maintenance dive. Sea Safety International will also be conducting in-water demonstrations of Viking Life Rafts.

Another returnee will be Bob Frick, Sr. of RR Boatworks who constructs custom-made, hand built traditional Garvey and sneakboxes. He will be offering demonstrations of his craft as well.

For more information on the Strictly Boaters Boat Show, visit strictly boaters.com


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Boaters wanted

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He also likes the timing. He said after the big shows, there are still a lot of leftover boat buyers who now have a last chance to get a boat and still get a full season’s use. Finally, he said, he likes the price. “It’s a very affordable show and we can pass the savings along to the customers.

Coastal will be bringing a number of boats from its Tidewater line, including 18-, 21-, 23- and 25-foot models.

The show will also be featuring boats from Contender, Pursuit, Cobia, Rinker, Everglades, Sea Ray, Glacier Bay, Carolina Cat, Ranger Tugs, Cabo, South Port, Cape Horn, Pioneer, Alblemarle, Boston Whaler, Key West Skiffs, Hinckley Yachts, Yellowfin, Ocean Yachts and many more.

In addition to the boats, the Strictly Boaters Show will feature nearly 60 on-land exhibitors featuring marine electronics, engines, insurance and financing.

Returning to this year’s show will be the Demo Dock, that will feature demonstrations from manufacturers and suppliers.

Among them will be Boat Boy, also known as Delaware Valley Marine Services, to help new boat owners, or those who just need some advice, on how to run their boat and provide hands-on training on docking techniques.

Also on hand will be Barnacles Divers, specialists in underwater boat maintenance. They will conduct demonstrations of in-water hull inspections and will also be offering 25 percent off their standard maintenance dive. Sea Safety International will also be conducting in-water demonstrations of Viking Life Rafts.

Another returnee will be Bob Frick, Sr. of RR Boatworks who constructs custom-made, hand built traditional Garvey and sneakboxes. He will be offering demonstrations of his craft as well.

For more information on the Strictly Boaters Boat Show, visit strictly boaters.com


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Treasured junk is headed home to Taiwan

Click photo to enlarge

A historic Chinese junk that was trundled off Bethel Island last weekend has been biding its time on Benicia’s waterfront, waiting to make the final leg of its journey.

And if the weather cooperates, a barge will carry the old vessel to the port of Oakland on Friday where it will be lowered onto a container ship that’s returning to Taiwan on Monday.

“This is so exciting,” murmured Calvin Mehlert as the San Jose resident videotaped the first stage of repatriating the fishing boat that had carried him across the Pacific Ocean more than a half-century earlier.

“Poor thing has been abused for so many years.”

And indeed, Free China bears many scars from a storied life that brought her to the Delta boneyard, where she languished for years while waiting to be turned into scrap metal and wood.

But more than five decades after leaving Taiwan, the junk that’s thought to be one of the last traditionally built Chinese commercial vessel left in the world is heading home.

The trip is a long and complicated one that’s been coordinated by Parker Diving Service, a Sausalito-based boat salvage company.

The relocation began last week with a Benicia-based house moving company towing the junk from Bethel Island to Fulton Shipyard in Antioch and up a ramp to a waiting barge.

The barge then made the approximately 4½-hour trip to Benicia, where steel braces were added to stabilize its valuable cargo in choppy waters en route

to the port of Oakland.

In addition, two, 24-foot steel beams were welded onto the base of the junk at a 90-degree angle to the keel to protect the fragile vessel from being crushed by steel cables as a crane hoists it onto a container ship.

Free China then will make the 18-day trip to the port city of Keelung, where it will be restored and displayed at the National Museum of Marine Science and Technology.

Free China is an approximately 80-foot, 40-ton fishing vessel that was constructed about a century ago, but the first 50 years of its travels remain a virtual mystery.

All that’s known is that the ship spent time with smugglers in Taiwan and China, changing hands among its unsavory caretakers when they were imprisoned.

But the boat emerged from obscurity in 1955 when an American and five Taiwanese fishermen who had never sailed before took it on a headline-grabbing journey 6,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean.

Arriving in the Bay Area, Free China underwent pronounced changes in the decades that followed: One owner saddled her with a massive diesel engine; another took a chain saw to her stern.

These days Free China bears little resemblance to that eye-catching vessel with its large rectangular sails and upturned prow captured on film as it sailed toward the Golden Gate Bridge in 1955.

Nor have the elements been kind to this relic with its faded stripes of peeling paint. For the past eight years, the vessel has sat on blocks in a Bethel Island storage yard in East Contra Costa County, abandoned when money for repairs ran out.

But the winds of fortune shifted, and on April 19 the rare Chinese junk began its journey back to Taiwan.

Free China’s return is largely the work of Dione Chen, a Sunnyvale woman whose father was among the six men who made history when they entered the junk in a yacht race.

The voyage

Reno Chen, like most of the other young men who would become his traveling partners, was working aboard a modernized fishing vessel after World War II.

“After the war, fishing companies were abandoning junks in favor of big motorized ships,” said Mehlert, a Sacramento native who worked at the U.S. consulate in China before joining the Free China crew. “These junks were abandoned in the mud flats up and down rivers and along the coast, where they gradually just decayed.”

But a handful remained active, and they caught the eye of fisherman Paul Chow.

He noticed that the junk sailors often didn’t have radios to receive typhoon warnings, instead taking their cue to flee from the big boats that would turn around and head back to shore.

To Chow’s frustration, the junks often beat the powered ships because they took advantage of high winds.

“It would tick me off and then I thought, ‘I would like to get my feet on one of those junks,’ ” Chow said. “Then I saw in the newspaper about a yacht race from Rhode Island to Sweden.”

Inspired to enter, Chow rallied a crew of fellow fishermen and started looking for a boat, finding a 50-year-old junk after scouring the offshore islands.

“The junkmaster was in jail for smuggling, but they contacted him and he raised his price: It was more than the boys had when they put all their belongings together and sold them,” Mehlert said.

Eventually, Mehlert said, the governor of Taiwan agreed to chip in enough money to make the purchase if the sailors would agree to name the junk Free China, a reference to that territory’s desire for freedom from Chinese communism.

“It’s like the Spirit of St. Louis to the Chinese,” Chow said.

The name would make a bold political statement if the junk entered the race.

But delays foiled that plan, which had them sailing south through the Panama Canal to join the trans-Atlantic race. Crew members were forced to turn back shortly after weighing anchor when they realized they lacked some necessary equipment, and their second departure took them directly into a typhoon.

“We could have turned back, but we said no way,” Chow said.

The ship survived the storm but the mechanisms used to control steering were damaged, so a passing 10,000-ton ship bound for Japan towed Free China back to port.

The rest of the trip went smoothly, although the crew didn’t arrive in San Francisco until August 1955 — two months after the race began. In fact, the winner of the race had flown to the Bay Area to greet the Taiwanese sailors, whose arrival was met with great fanfare.

So unusual were Free China and her crew that they inspired a documentary and a book.

Chow gave the boat to the San Francisco Maritime Museum in hopes it could be maintained as part of the collection, and the crew disbanded.

Three of them since have died; the rest are in their 80s. Chow taught college physics in Southern California and wrote a book about the Free China. Loo-chi Hu immigrated to New Zealand in 1967, and Mehlert has been spending his time lately helping shepherd the Free China home.

Second life

But Free China didn’t make a smooth passage into retirement.

The museum deal never panned out, and a board member of a San Francisco maritime history association bought it for a dollar.

He passed it on to a man who installed a steering wheel from the Staten Island Ferry and a giant motor, altering the junk’s classic design.

In 1989 the junk was sold again, this time to Govinda Dalton, a pirate radio activist who admired its Manchurian cedar logs and camphor bulkhead.

Dalton made the Free China his home for 10 years.

“The woman I was living with and our child, we would go out to Angel Island and anchor,” he said, explaining that he worked at the time as a tree trimmer, a job that paid well and didn’t require a lot of hours. “We basically tooled around the Bay, would drop an anchor and hang out for a while.”

It was Dalton who took a 14-inch chain saw and sliced off the back of the junk to the horror of Free China’s former crew members. In 1996, he hauled the junk out of the water at Bethel Island to work on it and ended up turning it into an illegal radio station that broadcast throughout the island for a summer.

The boat ultimately needed more maintenance than he could afford, however, so Dalton left it at the boat storage facility.

Rescue and retirement

But one man’s junk is Dione Chen’s treasure.

For the past four years, she has struggled to find the boat a permanent home.

“Even though it’s been changed over time, the story that it has to tell makes it a rare historical artifact,” said Hans Van Tilburg, a maritime archeologist who featured Free China in his doctoral dissertation.

Judging by the style of iron fasteners that join the wood pieces and the caulking materials used to seal the seams, he estimates the boat is about 100 years old.

Chen initially took on the project to learn more about her own roots, however.

“I did this to honor my father, (and) I wanted to inspire other people to capture their history, talk to their parents while they’re alive,” she said.

As a girl, Chen hadn’t attached much importance to the stories her father recounted of his ocean-faring days, but after he died in 2007 she decided to track down the junk.

“It was in terrible shape,” she said, recalling the first time she laid eyes on Free China after so many years. “Without knowing the history, it (was) just a boat — a boat in bad shape.”

When Chen learned of its historical significance and impending destruction, she swung into action.

Chen’s inquiries led her to a group of individuals who not only shared her enthusiasm for the undertaking but had the expertise to help.

Among them was a professor of ancient Chinese maritime activities, a marine surveyor, and a small boats curator at the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

Chen also created a website to solicit help, and began contacting anyone who might further the cause with advice or money.

Since then she’s made countless dozens of calls and emails, reaching out to organizations from the Smithsonian Institution and maritime museums in Hong Kong and Shanghai to the Chinese Historical Society of America.

As word of the project spread, some who recognized Free China’s potential as a tourist attraction contacted her as well, among them a Hong Kong real estate developer and speculators from Lake Tahoe and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Chen’s break came when a Taiwanese reporter suggested she contact that country’s president. The government responded by forming a task force to investigate the project’s merits, and in 2010 those emissaries recommended the boat be saved.

“This old gal lasted so long, so many former owners passed away,” Chow said. “The only living ones are Govinda and me. And it’s going to outlive us.”

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Contact Sean Maher at 925-779-7189.


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