Archive for » March 22nd, 2013«

Hidden Cove Boat Race Friday Afternoon on Lake Henry in Winter Haven

At 1:30 p.m., 12 people will compete in the Hidden Cove West Sail Club’s cup race.

Commodore Maurice Reynolds said the club was originally made up of people living in the many 55-plus retirement communities around the lake off Old Lucerne Road.

“We use small boats,” he said, explaining that most sailboats are 15 to 17 feet long and manned by two people.

Because the boats can capsize easily, there will be other folks on the lake to fish the sailors out of the water if something goes wrong.

“We want a good breeze, but we don’t want it too windy,” said David Buss, the club’s flagman. “If they tip over, we have to go out and bring them back up.”

The race begins at the Hid-den Cove West dock. Buoys in the water define the course, which is to the east side of the lake, back to the west side, then back to a buoy.

A pontoon boat on the lake will carry the flagman and the scorekeeper.

Buss said that although the club has active sailors, it also has members, like him, who don’t sail anymore.

Membership in the club is $5 per year and meetings are on the second Wednesday of the month at R Place restaurant on U.S. 27 in Haines City.

Reynolds said the cup race each March means the sailors are ready to return north — and in his case, to Canada.

“We’d like people to come and watch the race,” Buss said. “We’re also having a party afterward at the clubhouse.”


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Sailing to the Tortugas

There are very few things that can motivate someone to get out of bed at 5:30 am on a cold and windy winter day, even if this particular winter is a mild Florida one. However, the prospect of a day trip to one of the most remote national parks in the United States, which can be reached only by boat or seaplane, is something to enthuse even the most jaded traveller. The streets of Key West seem deserted, as my sister and I make our way to the ferry terminal to head out to the Dry Tortugas, a chain of seven uninhabited islands over 100 km offshore. The first Europeans to discover the islands were the Spanish when explorer Juan Ponce de León landed here in 1513 .

At the ferry terminal, we find to our disappointment that instead of a cheery welcome we are being greeted by the offer of a refund. The captain and crew are explaining that the two-hour ride is likely to be very rough because of the strong winds and we are entitled to a full refund if we choose not to sail.

Going back is really not an option because first, we don’t have another day to come back and second, we were not going to chicken out just because of rough winds. We have been on boats and turbulent flights before, so what could be new? We assume the crew is being over-cautious and clamber aboard, refusing offers of refunds and motion sickness pills.

Tossed about

We are soon to find out how just seriously we have underestimated the warnings. The ride aboard the catamaran Yankee Freedom II begins peacefully and we admire the receding coast of the Key West islands over breakfast (a serious mistake, as 95 per cent of the passengers will find out in about 20 minutes, the remaining 5 per cent being the crew). Just as some of us begin to get complacent, the catamaran enters the deep water channel connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico and the waves, which until now had just been mere blimps, suddenly become monstrous. The catamaran does not roll; it pitches up and down violently and most of us are desperately clutching the tables in front of us. The waves seem to be throwing the entire boat up in the air and then catching it, over and over again.

The turbulence seems unending, and by the time we reach the shallower waters around the Tortugas, most of us have lost count of the number of times we held out our hands for sickness bags. I am so tired that I miss the magnificent facade of Fort Jefferson, the largest all-masonry fort in the US, which creeps up on Garden Key, the island where we dock.

Tortugas is Spanish for turtles and the islands abound in them. The Dry in the name derives from the fact that none of the islands have fresh water. As we begin our tour, we don’t spot any turtles but are warned to keep a sharp eye out for the resident alligator in the vast moat that encompasses Fort Jefferson on six sides.

The fort’s history is fascinating. Construction started in 1846, as the islands were seen as strategic in protecting American interests in the Gulf of Mexico but the plans soon ran into trouble. The task of supplying material and supplies for workers on the island must have been well near impossible. I wonder how gruelling the voyage would have been in days when there weren’t any stabilised catamarans. Yet the fort rose, despite all odds, to massive proportions. Its most prominent feature is the trompe l’oeil gun ports on the facade to deceive enemy ships.

Beaches and birds

Life on the island was far from pleasant. Drinking water was a problem. The moat’s faulty design meant that water was contaminated with sewage, making disease rampant. The seriously ill were moved to Hospital Island, one of the other islands in the Tortugas. Seclusion also took its toll on the morale of soldiers and families. In fact, the lives of the park rangers today, posted all year on the island with no Net or mobile phone connectivity, seems as bleak.

The beaches are one of the best reasons to visit the Tortugas. The water is warm enough all year around and perfect for swimming and snorkelling. On a clear day, you get spectacular views of the coral reefs and fish. Unfortunately for us, visibility is at an all-time low because of the heavy winds and we spend the afternoon splashing around the beaches.

The walk on the moat around the fort truly takes our breath away — at some points the moat wall only rises marginally from the water and it feels almost like we are standing on a narrow strip of land between two oceans.

The Tortugas are a bio-diversity hot spot. Apart from marine life, the place teems with birds. Most islands are closed to visitors since they are nesting grounds, but our island yields gulls, terns and plovers.

It’s almost time to leave, and we look longingly at some of the tourists smart enough to bring supplies to camp overnight. Apart from the spectacular sunset, the night sky would have been a treat. Armed with sickness pills, we climb aboard the ferry again but our two-hour journey back is perversely uneventful.


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Boat sales are sailing

Queensbury

During the worst of the now-receding recession, Jon Brodie was selling fewer recreational boats from his Yankee Boating Center locations in Lake George and Albany. But as credit loosened and buyers returned, his business revived and he now plans a fourth location this summer in the Thousand Island region.

“We have seen sales slowly increase and improve,” said Brodie, who with his brother co-owns a boat business started on Lake George by their parents 44 years ago. “The banks are still very selective about who they will loan to, but it has gotten looser. Buyers are coming back.”

Brodie is among about two dozen dealers that are part of the eighth annual Great Upstate Boat Show, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Adirondack Sports Complex, 326 Sherman Ave.

Buying a boat usually takes credit and, for a while, credit was hard to get, and expensive. The annual interest rate to finance a boat purchase was as high as 8 percent, but now is 4 percent or less, depending on a buyer’s credit score, said Brodie.

And interest rates are likely to stay low for the immediate future. This week, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said rates will be kept low until the unemployment rate, currently at 7.7 percent, drops below 6.5 percent.

Sales from the boat show slowly, but steadily, climbed after bottoming out, said Roger Phinney, executive director of Eastern New York Marine Trades Group Association, which runs the show. The association represents more than 50 marinas, boat dealers, service providers and marine-related businesses.

Last year, the show generated about $3.3 million in sales, up from $2.2 million in 2011 and $1.9 million in 2010, he said. “The credit crunch really hurt, both dealers who needed financing for showroom inventory, and buyers,” said Phinney.

In addition to displays of all things boating, the show also will include information on a growing issue that recreational boaters face — invasive aquatic species inadvertently spread by boats that move from one body of water to another.

Both the Lake George Association and the New York Sea Grant will provide information about controlling invasives by making sure boats are cleaned, drained and dry before launch.

Some towns and environmental groups around Lake George, which has been hit with two new invasive species in the last three years, plan to buy boat washing stations this summer, as debate around the lake continues on whether a mandatory boat inspection program is needed.

Phinney said the association supports a voluntary boater education program, but has qualms about a mandatory program out of concern that unlimited access to the lake could be lost.

“You are not going to get everyone to do a voluntary program. There is always someone who is going to break the rules,” Phinney said. “But there are a lot of places to launch on the lake. If you cannot control all of the access all of the time, the lake is still vulnerable.”

bnearing@timesunion.com518-454-5094@Bnearing10

More information about the boat show is available online at greatupstateboatshow.com

If you go

More information about the boat show is available online at greatupstateboatshow.com


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Tour SXM Welcomes New Management to St. Maarten’s Sailing and Power Rafting Day Sails and Excursions

The Cruise Excursion Company, Tour Sxm, the Original Owner of the Popular Golden Eagle Catamaran Sailing Tour Welcomes New Management to Their St. Maarten Team. Tour Sxm Has Been Running Excursions, Sailing, and Day Sails for over 20 Years in St. Maarten. Running Sunset Cruises and Day Sails Around the Caribbean Ocean is Not Something That is New to Adam Reeve, Who Has Moved to St. Maarten This Past May with His Wife Kim to Take over the Excursion Operation.

Philipsburg, St. Maarten (PRWEB) March 22, 2013

Sailing in St. Maarten comes easily to the new manager, Adam Reeve. He has been working in the day sail / power rafting / boat tour industry for over 8 years. He began in St. Thomas where his family owns and operates another tour operation company called Cruise Ship Excursions.

The new management team has taken over the operation Out Island Charters, re-branding it “TourSXM.com” which currently runs 3 tours in St. Maarten: The Golden Eagle Catamaran, Power Rafting and the Explorer Party Boat.

Tour SXM offers full day and half-day sails, island tours, lagoon tours, private charters, fishing charters, catamaran tours, and much more.

“We have the most skilled and fun loving captains and crew who will make your excursion unforgettable” said Reeve.

For every tour, guests are welcomed aboard with a rum punch welcome drink and then will sail the Caribbean waters to reach the most desired snorkeling destinations and best kept secret beaches surround the island. Tour SXM has captured an example of their day sail excursion sailing around St. Maarten on this video about sailing in St. Maarten.

You can book your tickets at: http://www.TourSXM.com. Lucky tour goers may spot dolphins swimming alongside the boats or catch a glimpse of exotic fish, stingrays, whales and other deep-sea creatures. Out Island Charters’ office located at Bobby’s Marina in Philipsburg.

The Golden Eagle Catamaran, the most popular tour, is a 1/2 Day or Full sail and snorkel around St. Maarten / St. Martin. This custom designed million-dollar vessel is built to US Coast Guard and S.O.L.A.S. worldwide safety standards.

The Double Decker Explorer Party Boat tour begins on a charter bus and is run by local tour guides and will teach tour goers of the history, architecture and sights of the island. This tour includes a shopping trip in Marigot, the capital of the French side of the island. Tour goers will then board the party boat at the marina for a lagoon cruise.

Power Rafting is the third and newest tour offered by Out Island Charters. This tour is offered as a full day or half day, it fits up to 25 people and includes a snorkeling stop, beach stop and a lunch stop for the full day.

With a strong presence among the cruise lines, Tour SXM is now offering on island bookings. Tour SXM is located at Bobby’s Marina in Philipsburg .

For more information visit them at http://www.toursxm.com or call 1-721-543-0068

Adam Reeve
Tour SXM
+1 721-543-0068
Email Information


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Palm Beach International Boat Show: After recession, industry is on rebound

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The boating industry is on the rebound after being hit hard by the recession, organizers of the 28th annual Palm Beach International Boat Show said on Thursday.

“Boat sales dropped dramatically and now we’re seeing, since the start of the year and the end of last year, people are starting to buy boats again,” said Andrew Doole, a senior vice president at Show Management, which manages and produces the boat show.

Doole said billions of dollars in sales at the Miami International Boat Show in February had made vendors in West Palm Beach optimistic.

Some boats — paddle boats — are being sold at the show for as little as $1,000.

Others, such as the 223-foot Kismet, the largest yacht ever docked at the boat show, are being sold for as much as $100,000 million.

“You know, I think at the end of the weekend, there are going to be a lot of boats sold,” Doole said.

The boat show has grown from showcasing around 200 boats in the 1990s to more than 600 boats this week.

Forty thousand people attended the boat show last year, organizers said.

“They have almost everything your imagination can desire,” said Kristin Eisenschneider, a Palm Beach Gardens resident who visited the boat show on Thursday. “This is such a nice boat show. It’s not too big. You can see it in one day. And, that’s wonderful.”

The boat show runs through Sunday, March 24th.

Schedule, ticket info: Mobile users: http://bit.ly/pInxIr
 

Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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Blue Planet Cruising School Joins the Virgin Island Sailing School Family to Offer ASA Certification At All Levels

By Steve Keating ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – Rory McIlroy’s decision to skip the Arnold Palmer Invitational surprised the tournament host, who expressed his disappointment on Wednesday that the world number one was not at Bay Hill this week. The 83-year-old Palmer said he had jokingly suggested he might break McIlroy’s arm if he did not show up but did not try to force the young Northern Irishman into making an appearance. “Frankly, I thought he was going to play, and I was as surprised as a lot of people when he decided he was not going to play,” said Palmer. …


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