Archive for » May 12th, 2012«

St. Joseph Township chief, trustee clash over sale of fire equipment

– The St. Joseph Township trustee and fire chief are at odds – again.

The township’s fire chief, Jerry Lencke, said he received an email from Township Trustee Richard Uhrick last week informing him that the department’s rescue boat, motor and trailer had been sold.

“That was the first I knew of it,” Lencke said, “and the buyers were picking it up that very evening.”

While the trustee is within his rights to sell and buy fire station equipment, Lencke said efforts to discuss the situation have been rebuffed by Uhrick.

But Uhrick said Lencke knew that equipment was up for sale.

The boat contained safety vests, underwater strobe lights and throw bags – rescue equipment that the crew will now have to buy and replace, Lencke said.

The two rarely speak to each other, Lencke said, but had he known of the pending sale, he would not have had an hours-long water rescue training session the night before for 15 firefighters.

Uhrick said it’s a matter of downsizing. The township used to be responsible for about 40,000 people, but because of its annexation by Fort Wayne, that figure is now about 5,000, he said.

In December, the township advisory board didn’t approve Uhrick’s recommendation to do away with the township fire department, which is mostly volunteer-staffed, and contract services with the Fort Wayne Fire Department.

Board members did, however, approve Uhrick’s recommended contract for 2012 with the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority. That move eliminated paid staff within the township’s fire and ambulance operations, he said.

“Between 75 (percent) and 80 percent of our runs are medical in nature,” Uhrick said. “When we agreed to contract those calls out to Three Rivers Ambulance, there was no need for paid firefighters.”

Since January, he has terminated three full-time paid firefighters, saving $120,000 a year, Uhrick said. He has also ended the agreements of four volunteer firefighters who lived in the firehouse in exchange for responding to all calls between midnight and 6 a.m.

Those rooms have been locked, Lencke said, as well as a bathroom with a shower.

True, Uhrick said, but there are still two other available bathrooms and a night room with six bunk beds.

But it’s the loss of staffing that Lencke said is what will hurt the most.

“We basically don’t have anyone to cover from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.” Lencke said. “Sure, we can call for mutual aid, but we’re at the point where we have to do it every time. When are these other townships going to get sick of us using all of their resources?”

Uhrick said the township will sell more fire equipment, including a rehabilitated bus and pump engine. The township is expected to generate about $750,000 on the equipment sales, he said.

Uhrick said the department would still have a large quantity of state-of-the-art equipment and vehicles.

“They have very nice equipment, some that other departments forced to use 50-year-old equipment would love to have,” Uhrick said.

Lencke said he just wishes the township would confer with the fire department before selling the equipment.

vsade@jg.net


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Charity givens ten fishing boats to Sri Lankan village

TEN boats bearing the names of the Island’s parishes have been donated to poverty-stricken fishermen in Sri Lanka whose lives were shattered by the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004 and civil war.

Over £24,000 was raised in the Island by Jersey-based charity JETSURE (Jersey Tsunami Relief for North East Sri Lanka) after the tsunami killed up to 40,000 people in Sri Lanka.

The fund-raising was organised by the charity’s committee led by Dr Saravana Pavan, a former associate specialist and surgeon in orthopaedics and trauma at the General Hospital.

‘Some of the fishermen who received the boats were in tears – it was very rewarding to be able to support them in this way’ he said.


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Sea Ray Boats lays off 65 in Flagler – Daytona Beach News

PALM COAST — About 65 workers were laid off this week at the Sea Ray Boats Inc. facility in Flagler County, company officials confirmed Friday.

“We did have a reduction in force this week at our Palm Coast manufacturing facility,” said Daniel Kubera, director of media relations and corporate communications for Brunswick Corp., Sea Ray’s parent company, in an email response to questions. “Employees were informed earlier in the week. Approximately 65 were affected of a total employee population of about 420.”

Kubera said the layoffs were part of “the normal ebb and flow of the boating industry” and the company is “continually adjusting our production to better match demand in various industry segments.”

Flagler County Director of Economic Opportunity Helga van Eckert said the layoffs do not necessarily mean the local economy is souring.

“You never like it when companies lay off,” she said. “I think this is just one of those industry-specific things that you see.”

Van Eckert said certain industries have fluctuations in sales and production and “it goes up and down” depending on the season.

“I wouldn’t say this is an indicator of what we’re going to see going forward,” she said.

Flagler’s jobless rate of 12.2 percent in March was the highest in the state, according to figures from the Department of Economic Opportunity. The statewide unemployment rate for March was 9 percent and the national jobless rate for the month was 8.2 percent.

Kubera said the boating industry “remains stable” with demand for smaller boats outpacing sales of larger boats, including the kind made at the Palm Coast facility. He said he is unaware of layoffs at any other manufacturing facility in the company’s boat segment, which includes a Boston Whaler plant in Edgewater.

In its latest quarterly earnings report, released in April, Brunswick reported first quarter 2012 net sales of $974.2 million, down from $985.9 million during the same period in 2011. Earnings per share were 43 cents for the quarter, up from 30 cents during the same period last year.

“Our first quarter increase in earnings per share demonstrates the continuing success of our business strategy,” Dustan McCoy, Brunswick chairman and CEO, said in a news release.

For the company’s boat segment, Brunswick officials said net sales increased 1 percent in the quarter compared with the same period in 2011 and the company posted operating earnings of $2.8 million, compared with a loss of $4.8 million for the first quarter of 2011.

McCoy offered an upbeat assessment of the company’s future performance.

“Although a number of the factors that negatively affected sales and earnings in the first quarter will continue into the second, we are planning for significant sales and earnings growth in the second half of this year,” he said in the earnings release.



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Fishing boat hits breakwall – Ashtabula Star

May 12, 2012

Fishing boat hits breakwall


By WARREN DILLAWAY – warren@starbeacon.com



Staff Writer
The Star Beacon


Sat May 12, 2012, 09:00 AM EDT

ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
A leisurely fishing trip turned into a harrowing experience for five men Friday evening when their boat hit a breakwall adjacent to Lake Shore Park.

The boat engine stalled and while the men on board attempted to change an engine filter, the vessel struck the breakwall, according to a boater and Petty Officer Second Class Bill Campbell of the Ashtabula Station of the U.S. Coast Guard. Two of the men were able to get off the boat and onto the breakwall while the other three stayed in the boat, according to Campbell.

“The vessel became disabled outside the breakwall and hit the rocks,” Campbell said. He said the call came into the Coast Guard station at 6:59 p.m.

“We launched our 25-foot response vessel. When we arrived a Good Samaritan vessel had already begun to tow the boat to shore,” Campbell said.

He said two occupants left the boat and walked about a quarter of a mile on the breakwall back to shore.

“We had notified the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the (Ashtabula County) dive rescue and a (Coast Guard) helicopter from Buffalo,” Campbell said. After it was clear everyone was safe the dive team and helicopter were called off and a representative of ODNR Division of Watercraft arrived to talk with the men.

Ashtabula Township Fire Department responded to the scene but nobody was transported, Campbell said.

The Ashtabula Station Coast Guard crew did a routine safety inspection of the vessel.

“This is a happy story,” Campbell said.

“That was a scary feeling,” said passenger Jackson Ashley of Cleveland.

Dan Addair, of Kingsville Township, was one of the two passengers able to reach the breakwall.

The assisting vessel was able to safely tow the boat to the Lake Shore Park boat launch area where the men were met by the Coast Guard crew, Campbell said.

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2012
The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio. All rights
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Olympics-Brazil looks to flex its sailing might in London

Brazil is known as a soccer
powerhouse. But if Olympic medals are any measure, it might just
as well be known as the country of sailing.

The South American nation has enjoyed more success on the
water than in any other discipline and Robert Scheidt is one of
its biggest names.

While not quite the household character in Brazil that
former soccer ace Ronaldo is, he’s not far off, at least when
the Olympics come along.

“Brazil has won more Olympic medals in sailing than any
other sport and although Brazilians don’t know how it works 100
percent, they know it and they know the heroes,” Scheidt told
Reuters in an interview in his home city of Sao Paulo.

“When we win people stop us on the streets and congratulate
us. We know we’ll never be as popular as football, which is like
a religion here, but we are doing what we love and we have a
great level of support to help us make our dreams come true.”

Scheidt and his partner Bruno Prada are almost invincible in
the Star class. The pair won seven of nine competitions last
year and have been at the top of the world ranking almost
non-stop since July 2010.

They are the favourites to win the gold at the summer
Olympics in London.

If they do, Scheidt would become Brazil’s greatest ever
Olympian, overtaking another sailor, Torben Grael, the one-time
king of Star. Scheidt has two gold and two silver medals, one
behind Grael’s tally of two gold, a silver and two bronze.

“I think that Robert Scheidt is among the best top 10
sailors of all time,” said Murillo Novaes, a yachting
commentator for ESPN Brasil and author of a book on Grael.

“He is so good because first and foremost he has natural
talent, sailing is second nature to him. Over and above that he
is very disciplined and that Germanic focus is what makes him
the phenomenon that he is.”

SAILING POWERHOUSE

There are good reasons Brazil is a sailing powerhouse.
Brazil has 4,554 miles (7,329 km) of coastline and many of the
immigrants who came here over the centuries have been from
sea-faring cultures in places like Portugal, Italy, and
Scandinavia.

Scheidt made his name in the solo laser class, winning the
world junior title in 1991 and his first Olympic gold just five
years later. He dominated laser for a decade, winning eight
world titles and three Olympic medals, before moving to Star
with Prada in 2005.

The two classes are totally different, with Scheidt
comparing Star’s larger keelboats to trucks alongside the
smaller and sportier laser vessels. Scheidt and Prada quickly
got the hang of them, though, and the pair took silver at the
Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Now they believe they are in pole position to go one better.

“We have come on hugely since the silver in Beijing,” said
Prada. “We are much more mature, we know the boat much better,
and that makes us more confident, and as this is a psychological
game too, we are much more sure of what we are doing.”

The pair are already familiar with the Olympic course at
Weymouth, having sailed there four times. Last year, they took
to the water on exactly the same dates the Olympic races will be
held to try to anticipate conditions.

They are hoping for varying weather during the seven-day
competition and will be praying for wind. Windless days drag the
competitors down to the same level, Prada said. As the Brazilian
pair are not specialists in any particular conditions, they feel
they have the best chance if there is a bit of everything.

“We really liked Weymouth, much more than Beijing,” said
Scheidt, who was given the honour of carrying the Brazilian flag
into the opening ceremony four years ago.

“EUROPEANS TRAIN DIFFERENTLY”

“There are more clouds so you can see the wind easier. The
wind is stronger and then there is also the chance of having a
tail wind and that enables us to catch the waves, which is the
way we like to sail.”

Scheidt says there are similarities between Brazilian
footballers and sailors. On the water, as on the football pitch,
Brazilians tend to be creative, especially compared to
Europeans, who are more pragmatic.

“Europeans train differently, they train lots more short and
intense regattas, whereas Brazilians do longer training, looking
to use the speed of the boat,” Scheidt said.

“We know how to surf the waves and use their power.
Europeans are more about tactics and the fundamentals, the
start, which line to take, how to attack, how to defend. We are
free-er, in part because we don’t have the same infrastructure.”

Tactics, however, might be less decisive this time around.
In a bid to make sailing more accessible to a larger audience,
organizers have introduced some important changes, such as
putting GPS trackers on boats that allow spectators to follow
the races online.

And for the Olympics, there’s an additional change that
could prove pivotal. In addition to the six regattas of around
four hours each, a final medal race has been introduced that is
a pared-down, point-to-point run over 30 minutes. The winner
gets double the points for that sprint, essentially making it a
medal decider.

Scheidt and Prada are well aware of the pressure their
favouritism carries. But they are not resting on their laurels.

“We have been doing this for 30 years so we know how to deal
with pressure,” said Prada. “I think that the most important
thing is not to think you’re the man, you need to keep working
hard and that’s what we’ve been doing.”


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Spring Water: Sea Ray-Scout seeks to fill void with warmer weather boat show

By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier

Playing off record crowds at a major Charleston boat show in January, a dealer is aiming to keep up the momentum with its own event next week.

Sea Ray-Scout of Charleston is holding a Spring Boat Show and Sale April 27-29 at Charleston Harbor Marina, B Dock, in Mount Pleasant.

Historically, there was always a Charleston spring boat show, said Jim McClellan, general manager of the Sea Ray-Scout outlet on Daniel Island.

The show has not been held for the past few years as the boating industry sagged locally and across the country. Watercraft sales started to recover in 2011 and are more or less back to normal this year.

The 32nd annual Charleston Boat Show at North Charleston Convention Center, backed by the local boat dealers association, drew an all-time-high 11,000 people in January.

Meanwhile, local reps are reporting a sales uptick in 2012.

We are having a great year, McClellan said.

He said this is a good time to hold a show and sale, with the prospects of a larger, more widespread event in the future.

The general manager expects maybe 4,000 people to attend the three-day show and sale. Admission and parking are free. The dealership choose B Dock because it has four slips there already, plus it is a short walk from the marina parking lot.

The event will showcase a variety of boats from 17-foot runabouts to 60-foot yachts. The dealership intends to display at least one edition of all its brands: Sea Ray, Summerville-based Scout, Boston Whaler, Meridian and its newest line, Bennington pontoon boats.

Sales people will be on hand to make deals, and prospective buyers can make appointments for test drives. We strongly recommend people do this, he said. Every boat has its idiosyncracies, and piloting before buying helps the purchaser get a feel of the vessel.

Sea Ray-Scout holds a similar show at Charleston Harbor Marina in the fall. The spring event, he says, will be a little smaller but will still have a good selection of the boats we carry. He expects 14-18 of the dealership models for 2012 to be on display.

The spring show and sale, he said, should have a slightly different clientele from the dealerships event in October.

You know, this time of year, you get new boaters, McClellan said. In the fall, shoppers tend to be existing owners looking to upgrade, fix up their boats or take advantage of sales promotions. He expects shoppers from Sea Ray-Scout parent Hall Marine Groups five sister stores in the Upstate and Charlotte to attend the show.

While predicting a moderate turnout next weekend, McClellan believes the people who do attend will be going for a specific reason. They are here to buy a boat.

Purchasers are facing good prospects. I think the biggest thing is interest rates are low, McClellan said. The rates are 4.5-6 percent with 10-15 year terms. Meanwhile, buyers can get extended warranties of five to six years on engines. Mercury brand is offering special promotions.

Its been a positive year, McClellan said. Boaters are ready to get out on the water.

SEA RAY SCOUT SPRING BOAT SHOW AND SALE:

Date: April 27 – 29, 2012
Location: Charleston Harbor Marina, near Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant.

Admission, parking: Free.
Times: noon-6 p.m. Friday, 1-6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Contact: Jim McClellan, general manager

Phone: 843-747-1889
Email: jim@searayofcharleston.com

Website: www.searayofcharleston.com

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.


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Filipino-Chinese ocean comradery fades amid row

For years Filipino and Chinese fishermen peacefully shared the rich harvests around a tiny South China Sea shoal, but today threats, harassment and fear have replaced ocean comradery.

While Filipino fishermen still ply their trade at Scarborough Shoal about 230 kilometres (140 miles) from the Philippine coastal town of Masinloc, they say rifle-brandishing Chinese personnel on rubber boats are intimidating them.

Shortly after returning from two weeks at the shoal, crewmen from a 15-metre (50-foot)-long outrigger, said the Chinese shadowed them whenever they sought to fish inside the shoal.

“They sent their rubber boats to follow us and circle our vessel. They didn’t make threats but it was dangerous because sometimes we almost collided,” boat mechanic Glenn Valle, 40, told AFP.

“We were afraid because all the boats were moving and they were sticking close to us, close enough to touch our outriggers.”

Fishing boat captain Zaldy Gordones, 34, said each Chinese rubber vessel carried about eight men in grey camouflage uniforms with rifles and long-lensed cameras, which they used to photograph the Filipinos.

The rubber boats were deployed by Chinese surveillance ships that have been posted near the mouth of Scarborough for more than a month to assert China‘s claim over the rocky outcroppings, according to the Filipinos.

The Philippines says the shoal is part of its territory because it falls within its exclusive economic zone.

But China claims as its historical territory virtually all of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit atop huge oil and gas reserves as well as being home to important fishing grounds.

The nearest major Chinese landmass to Scarborough Shoal is 1,200 kilometres northwest of the shoal, according to Filipino navy maps, but China insists it discovered the area first and thus has legal claim to it.

The rival claims flared into a major diplomatic dispute on April 8 when Philippine authorities accused Chinese fishermen of taking endangered species, such as clams and corals, from the area.

Philippine efforts to arrest the fishermen were thwarted when two Chinese surveillance vessels arrived at the scene.

Since then, non-military ships from both countries have been deployed there in a war of nerves between the two governments that has severely tested their diplomatic relations.

Fishermen from Masinloc have been making the journey to the shoal for two decades, a trip that can take eight to 14 hours depending on sailing conditions.

The waters around the shoal are renowned for the rich bounties of fish, which congregate around the rocky outcroppings.

While coastal areas have been largely depleted, the Filipinos know they can return from a trip to the shoal with boats packed with anchovies, tuna and scad.

Despite the rival claims, boats from the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan and other countries all regularly visited the shoal, which is also a refuge during bad weather, according to Masinloc residents.

The fishermen used hand signals to communicate, said boat mechanic Valle, recalling how they would ask Chinese crew for help.

“If we wanted to ask for water, we just held up a container and made a drinking motion and they would give us water,” Valle said, adding the Vietnamese were even more generous.

“They gave us rice and noodles even if we didn’t give them anything.”

Masinloc’s local fisheries officer, Jerry Escape, said stories were common of fishermen from different countries bartering food, water and cigarettes with each other.

“There has been no ill-treatment of any fishermen reported,” he said.

But Chinese fishermen also had a reputation for taking marine species that were protected under Philippine law such as sea turtles, corals and giant clams, according to Masinloc people.

“For our fishermen, there are things that are prohibited but for the Chinese, nothing is prohibited. They take what they want,” said Nestor Daet, 55, local head of a volunteer environment protection group, Sea Guardians.

Masinloc fishermen were warned to avoid the shoal to keep from getting caught in any possible crossfire immediately after the stand-off began.

But there was no ban and Masinloc coastguard deputy officer Norman Banug said he now even encouraged them to go back out there.

“If (the Chinese) see no Filipinos fishing there, they will think they can take over that area,” he said.


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North Carolina fishing boat brings nearly 13,000 pounds of swordfish to the Lobster House

CAPE MAY — Word was out — a transient fishing boat had hit a swordfish bonanza out in the Gulf Stream off Cape May and the North Carolina boat was coming to the Lobster House dock to unload.

The 60-foot Big Eye was loaded with almost 13,000 pounds of swordfish, 3,000 pounds of mahi mahi and 2,000 pounds of tuna. It found the hot spot 160 miles out and caught the fish in just six days. A previous trip got a similar load of fish, but it took 16 days. The boat wanted to unload and get back out fishing.

“We got some special fish because we got big fish. Nobody else has got them,” Big Eye Capt. Chris “Chompers” Hanson, 39, of Wanchese, N.C., said.

Hanson, who has been swordfishing for 14 years, and is featured on Discovery Channel’s “Swords: Life On The Line”, has seen the good days and the bad days. Friday was a good one for him and the Lobster House dock.

It’s a side of the commercial fishing industry the public doesn’t know much about. The Lobster House has its own boats, and buys some seafood for its fish market and restaurant patrons, but sometimes other boats, some from a long way away, fill their holds off the New Jersey coast and head to the nearest dock to unload, or as they call it, “pack out.” When they cash in, so does everybody else.

“It’s the trickle-down effect,” dock owner Keith Laudeman said.

A local trucker will haul the fish to market. The boat needs fuel, ice for freezing fish and food for its crew. There are handling fees, and the crew of the Big Eye will likely spend some money in the local economy.

On Friday morning, the dock was buzzing with activity as dockworkers hauled swordfish, the largest weighing an estimated 550 pounds, out of the Big Eye. Forklifts moved the fish around as workers iced them down. A refrigerated box truck came in to haul the fish to market.

A fish broker from Boston arrived to check out the catch and get ready to move it up a chain that will mean a healthy payday all around.

“By the time it gets to the plate, a dinner table or a restaurant, it could be six different hands going up the chain,” said Charlie DiPesa, who works for F.J. O’Hara Sons, the Boston wholesaler buying the catch.

The federal government says seafood will generally increase sixfold in value as it makes its way from boat to consumer. It can depend on the condition of the fish, the current market price and how much it gets moved around.

DiPesa said this catch will head to Boston on Sunday morning but some could be then be sold to markets in New York, Baltimore or Philadelphia. He could only give approximate values for Big Eye owner/operators Hanson and Anna Strawser, who will then dole out shares to the four members of the crew.

“It depends on the condition and the market. I’d say $5 to $6 per pound back to the boat for the swordfish, $3 a pound for the small tuna and $10 for the large tuna, and $3 to $3.25 for the mahi mahi,” said DiPesa.

At $6 a pound, the largest fish would be worth $3,300 to the Big Eye and almost $20,000 by the time it is eaten.

Fishermen will unload in their home port if they are fishing nearby. Swordfish have a pretty large range, heading south in winter and north in summer, so boats often unload in other ports. Hanson said he fishes as far south as Puerto Rico in the winter and north to the Grand Banks off New England in summer. He uses a method known as long-lining that employs lines of baited hooks set out from the vessel.

The scale wasn’t big enough to weigh the largest fish. Hanson said he had six swords over 400 pounds and 10 more than 200 pounds. The port of Barnegat Light has a swordfish fleet and is used to such sights. Hanson noted the Barnegat Light boat Frances Ann is also catching big swordfish offshore. But the port of Cape May doesn’t have a large long-line fleet and Laudeman said he hadn’t seen so many big swordfish since the 1970s. It drew other fishermen to the dock.

“It’s been 20 years since we saw fish like this,” Peter Hughes, of Atlantic Capes Fisheries, said as he took pictures on his cell phone.

Penny Rickenback, a Pennsylvania artist who comes to the dock in the mornings to paint watercolors, was also excited, though she said she has seen gigantic halibut unloaded from a boat in Alaska.

“I think it’s tremendously exciting. It’s amazing they still catch them that big,” Rickenback said.

That could be part of the swordfish success story. The fish was in trouble a quarter-century ago, due mostly to overfishing by other countries. Swordfish are caught by about 50 different countries and managed by an international body called ICCAT, or International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. In 1987, the average swordfish caught was just 56 pounds and they don’t spawn until they reach at least 100 pounds. In 1991, spawning stocks were 40 percent of 1978 levels.

The U.S. was at the forefront of conservation efforts and now stocks are fully restored. U.S. catches are up 40 percent since 2006, though landings are still about 1,000 metric tons below the country’s 3,907 metric ton annual quota. A lot of boats stopped fishing for them during the lean years and have been slow to return.

Strawser said they would head back out as soon as they can get ready. She also said they wouldn’t hesitate to pack out here again.

“It’s a nice fish house — a really nice set-up,” she said.

Contact Richard Degener:

609-463-6711

RDegener@pressofac.com


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