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Dwight Tracy & Friends Yacht Sales signs agreement to provide exclusive …

Dwight Tracy Friends
March 27, 2013
Filed under News

Palm Beach, Florida – As the Palm Beach International Boat Show opened, well-known yacht brokerage firm Dwight Tracy Friends and boat manufacturer Blackfin Boats Inc. jointly announced their launch of a strategic partnership for the marketing, sales and exclusive worldwide distribution of a new, expanded line of thoroughly modernized Blackfin sportfishing boats and yachts.

According to DTF founder and CEO Dwight Tracy,

“Unbeknownst to most, Blackfin has during the past decade continued quietly building, in small numbers, superbly hand-crafted center console and open sportfishing boats. These contemporary products are firmly based in, and evolved from the legendary bloodline that pioneered offshore fishing in small craft. Recently, the company decided to expand its current production and product line, to meet a rapidly growing market demand. They contacted us to discuss how best to ‘re-introduce’ the Blackfin brand, which for the past ten or so years has been, perhaps, the best kept secret in the boating marketplace. We felt that their exceedingly high quality product range would very nicely complement our current strong dealership and brokerage coverage in yachts from 45’ on up to more than 180’ LOA. The Blackfin line currently ranges from 27’ to 34’, and will soon re-expand to include express sportfishing yachts 34’ to 42’ LOA. The result of our discussions is a long- term agreement for DTF to become the exclusive sales and worldwide distribution arm for Blackfin boats. Needless to say, all of us involved are extremely pleased with the partnership, and really excited about bringing this sportfishing legend back to a level of deserved prominence.”

Blackfin Boats Inc. principals Gustavo Cardona and Jose Suarez added,

“We build boats, terrific boats, whose bloodlines trace back to the original Blackfin offshore sportfishing boats that were proven in the best test tank in the world, the open sea. Building high quality boats is what we do, what we do best, and what we want to continue doing. So, when we decided the time had come to expand both our production numbers and our product line, we carefully looked around for a Florida-based firm that could provide us with a turn-key marketing and sales solution. By far, the best candidate for the job was Dwight Tracy Friends. Their home office is relatively close to our facility. Their principals and associates have in-depth experience in marketing and branding boat and yacht lines. And their accumulated years of experience in the marine industry totals more than a century. We are very pleased to have come to an agreement with them, and we look forward to a great future together.”

In order to assure a smooth transition from its current level of production to one more in line with presently growing market demand, Blackfin engaged marine technical and business consulting firm, the Port Royal Group, to plan and manage the expansion, as well as work with them in terms of new model development. The Port Royal Group is headed up by Phil Friedman, who has a long and varied background in the marine industry, as a boat builder and marine operations and business manager and consultant. Said Friedman,

According to Tracy, Friedman is perfectly suited to help in the plan to carry current-day Blackfin to re-emergence as a powerhouse in the sportfishing boat marketplace. Not only does Friedman have significant hands-on boatbuilding experience, but during several years as president and CEO of Palmer Johnson Yachts, was responsible for executive management of two major shipyards with annual gross revenues in excess of $60 million and nearly 600 employees across the country. And prior to his stint at PJ, he was VP- Operations and CFO for a multi-location luxury yacht dealership and chain of boatyards, so understands issues and problems both on the manufacturing side and on the marketing, distribution and sales side.

Said Friedman of his latest undertaking,

“When Dwight Tracy, whom I’ve known personally for many years, asked me to take a look at getting involved with this project, I literally jumped at the chance. My “spiritual” connection with Blackfin boats dates back to the early 1990s, when I was testing, evaluating and writing about boats as Senior Editor for Power Motoryacht magazine. Blackfins have always struck me as paradigm examples of how, every so often, a multiplicity of factors coalesces to produce a superior vessel, whose performance in the broadest sense of the term is very difficult, if not impossible to improve on. To my mind, they are true “classics”, albeit today fully modernized in terms of materials and production technology.”

Asked what Blackfin Boat Sales upcoming promotional activities will be, Tracy said that they will be interesting and novel, but declined to disclose details at this point. He did, however, say that a Customer Loyalty Promotion was in the making, and that current and previous owners of Blackfin boats are invited to contact the company for further information and the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this exciting time in the history of Blackfin Boats. He also invited current and previous owners of Blackfin boats to share their experiences and opinions with other former and new Blackfin owners at

Dwight Tracy Friends is described by those familiar with the firm as a tight knit, family- oriented organization, with a sterling reputation built upon honesty, integrity, and dedication to professionalism and a tireless work ethic. DTF founder CEO, Dwight Tracy, is the former owner and chief executive of the Allied Marine Group (AMG). Tracy was widely credited with transforming AMG from a single-location operation to a global marine powerhouse, and for helping make brands such as Hatteras, Azimut, and Ferretti virtual household names in this country.

As the Palm Beach show wrapped up, the Blackfin and DTF guys were seen smiling broadly in reaction to the tremendous level of interest, well wishing, and praise for their displayed product they received throughout the show. Their latest Blackfin® 34 Open, which garnered so much positive comment at the show, was headed back to Fort Lauderdale, where it will be available for demonstration rides by appointment.

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Sailing to Freedom: Private-public partnership promotes boating access for disabled

Carrie Zundel, left, and Cheryl Thomas wave as their boat passes during the Shenanigans on the Lake regatta on Saturday.    Lance Shearer/Citizen Correspondent


Carrie Zundel, left, and Cheryl Thomas wave as their boat passes during the Shenanigans on the Lake regatta on Saturday.

Lance Shearer/Citizen Correspondent

Amanda Burkholder tends to her sailing during the Shenanigans on the Lake regatta.    Lance Shearer/Citizen Correspondent


Amanda Burkholder tends to her sailing during the Shenanigans on the Lake regatta.

Lance Shearer/Citizen Correspondent

Starter Bill Meisner signals the next race during the Shenanigans on the Lake regatta on Saturday. In the Adaptive Sailing Program at Sugden Regional Park, disabled sailors get to experience the freedom of sailing.    Lance Shearer/Citizen Correspondent


Starter Bill Meisner signals the next race during the Shenanigans on the Lake regatta on Saturday. In the Adaptive Sailing Program at Sugden Regional Park, disabled sailors get to experience the freedom of sailing.

Lance Shearer/Citizen Correspondent

Racing sloops jockey for position rounding the buoy during the Shenanigans on the Lake regatta on Saturday.    Lance Shearer/Citizen Correspondent


Racing sloops jockey for position rounding the buoy during the Shenanigans on the Lake regatta on Saturday.

Lance Shearer/Citizen Correspondent

There is nothing like the freedom of sailing on the water, turning the power of the wind into forward motion, gliding along with the rudder and sheet alive in your hands.

Allowing the developmentally disabled to experience this feeling of independence and control is the impetus for Collier County’s Adaptive Sailing Program. Run by the county’s Parks and Recreation Department in conjunction with the Freedom Waters Foundation, the initiative allows youths and adults, many with Down’s syndrome and autism, the thrill of captaining their own ship, in a safe and supervised environment.

The program operates four days a week during the cooler months, using access sloops specially designed for maximum safety and stability, or tip-proofness. Those who can sail without assistance cruise around the 60-acre lake at Sugden Regional Park solo, while those who need a little more assistance are paired with a volunteer co-captain.

But once a year, the sailors put their skills to the test, and challenge each other in a full-fledged sailing regatta. Called “Shenanigans on the Lake,” the regatta is in its ninth year at Sugden, and it took place last Saturday. About a dozen developmentally disabled clients participated in the races, with nearly three times that many volunteers helping out. Some joined the clients in a sailboat, some manned the committee boat anchored in the lake and running the races, some roamed around in outboard-powered safety boats, and some remained on shore, rigging the sails and handling logistics. The volunteers joked and horsed around as they helped, seeming to enjoy themselves as much as the clients.

A stiff breeze raised ripples on the lake, and caused the volunteers to reef the lone sail on each sloop, reducing the sail area and costing some speed but helping to avoid capsizing. Like any racing sailors, these skippers “jilled about” between races, sailing off in all directions. But when starter Bill Meisner on the committee boat called out the next race on his bullhorn, a gaggle of boats assembled by the starting buoy, and the race was on.

These captains were way more laid back than most racing sailors. No fouls were called, no protests recorded, and sailors and committee took a laissez-faire attitude toward exactly which side of the buoys the boats were supposed to go.

Freedom on the water is exactly what clients get from adaptive sailing, said Sugden Regional Park manager Michael Toolan.

“You get them out of their wheelchair or their walker, doing something totally on their own,” he said. “You can see the satisfaction on their faces.” The “committee boat” for the sailing races is actually a ski boat used to tow waterskiers during waterskiing events, and those are also provided for the disabled, in the adaptive skiing program.

“People say the disabled can’t do this,” said Toolan. “I say, ‘come watch.’” The Adaptive Sailing Program was recognized by the National Association of Counties with a 2012 Achievement Award, a countrywide prize honoring innovative government programs, for extending water-based recreation opportunities to all.

Freedom Waters Foundation, Collier County’s partner in the adaptive sailing program, provides a wide range of programs allowing people who would not normally be able to get out on the water to enjoy the experience. They offer Fishing for Fun, giving those with disabilities, youth at risk, and now returning veterans the chance to land the big one. Yacht outings for children with cancer or special needs are also provided, thanks to the generosity of local boat owners who donate their time and their craft for three-hour excursions, along with the opportunity to participate in boat parades and family fun days.

Those interested in finding out more about the Freedom Waters Foundation, a nonprofit group, and helping fund their therapeutic aquatic programs, are invited to come out for what else? a boat cruise. On April 17, Freedom Waters hosts its inaugural Caribbean Sunset Cruise, featuring the “flavors and rhythms of the Caribbean.” With boarding at 6 p.m., the Naples Princess will head out for sunset sightseeing, serenaded by the sounds of the seven-piece West Side Tropico band. Casual Caribbean dress and dancing shoes are encouraged, so break out your calypso shirt and huaraches. Tickets cost $50, with a cash bar.

For tickets or more information, call (239) 248-1120, or go online to

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Sailing in the U- boats ‘ deadly wake

Off the starboard bow!’

    Campbell and La Salle ranged over the sea with their
glasses. It was oily smooth and the shimmering haze created a blur at any
distance, obscuring a clear view.

   ‘Where-away?’ Campbell cried.

   ‘Four points off the bow. Looks
like he’s surfacing.’

   As one, La Salle and Campbell
trained their binoculars along a line forty-five degrees off the ship’s course.

   ‘I’ve got him,’ La Salle said. ‘He’s
coming up all right.’

   ‘By God, so he is!’ Campbell
cried. ‘How far? What’s the range?’

   ‘About 3,000 yards.’

   Campbell pulled the other’s arm.
‘Don’t let him see we’ve spotted him. Not yet.’

   They steamed on. At 2,000 yards
the U-boat’s deck broke the surface.

   ‘Right! Turn hard a’port. Make it
look like we’re making a run for it!’ Campbell crossed to the voice pipes. ‘Chief,
increase speed but not much. I don’t want to go over nine knots. We’ve got a
sub in sight. Stand by.’

   The ship began a tight turn to
port. The submarine, just over a mile away, seemed to follow. As the ship’s
stern swung through the line of their previous course, La Salle saw men coming
out of the conning tower hatch. Three were heading for the gun position forward
while two figures in officers’ headgear stood in the tower training binoculars
on Farnham.

   ‘Looks like a 3 ½ inch,’ La Salle
said as the U-boat crew raised the gun from its lowered position. La Salle
identified it as a Ubts L/30, 88 millimetre. Somewhat less powerful than the
newer 4.1 inch version, but frightening enough. They called it the Schnelladekanone – quick loader. The name was well-deserved. A sharp crew
could fire a dozen rounds a minute. That translated into a delivery of more
than two hundredweight of high explosive in sixty seconds. Rather more than
their twelve pounder could manage.

   ‘They’re getting ready to fire,’ he
said, almost under his breath.

   ‘They probably think we’re not
worth a torpedo,’ Campbell said brightly.

   ‘Not very flattering, is it?’

   ‘Well, they do cost the Kaiser a
thousand guineas apiece!’

   ‘So however highly we think of
ourselves, we’re actually worth less than that. Quite upsetting, isn’t it?’

   Campbell emitted a short bark, a
peculiar noise that, La Salle had learned, was as close as he ever came to

   ‘Never forget it, my boy!’

   La Salle chuckled, mostly at the
thought of how their mood had changed. Suddenly, in the face of mortal danger,
they were exhilarated. Day after day of criss-crossing the same stretch of
ocean, seeing nothing, depressed them mightily. They worked at remaining
optimistic and each man had his own way of dealing with the monotony, but the
thought of the war pursuing its course without them crushed the spirit. Every
man in the ship was a volunteer. They thirsted for action. Now, with the
prospect at hand, they were like excited schoolboys. This was the game they
longed to play.

   La Salle saw a flash at the
muzzle of the U-boat’s gun. Before he could utter a word the air was filled
with a high-pitched moan and then an explosion as a shell landed just off their

   ‘He’s hoisting a signal,’ he said,
aware of a drumming in his chest, a dryness in his throat.

   ‘Can you make it out?’

   ‘ML. STOP.’

   ‘Happy to oblige.’

    Campbell called the engine
room, ordered STOP then picked up
the adjacent speaking tube: ‘Campbell here. The sub has ordered us to stop. I
want the panic party on deck with the Baronian crew. Await my orders.’ He turned to Fisk, the
navigator: ‘Is the position up to date?’

   ‘Yes, sir.’

   ‘Right. Let’s swap rig then.’
Campbell shucked off his reefer jacket and passed it to Fisk. Then he handed
over his old trilby. As Fisk put them on, Campbell nodded with satisfaction. ‘You’ll
do,’ he said.

    La Salle joined them in the wheelhouse and traded
jackets with Jenkins.

 ‘You’d better have this
too,’ La Salle said, loosening the silk scarf around his neck, adding with a
smile: ‘Oh, Jenkins. I want it back.’

    Jenkins grinned. ‘If all goes well I’ll be able to buy
myself one,’ he said cheekily.

    ‘Cut the chat now,’ Campbell
snapped. ‘And I don’t like talk about prize money.’

    ‘Yes, sir.’

     Jenkins joined Fisk on the bridge. La Salle and Campbell
crouched down, hiding themselves from view below the wheelhouse glazing.
Campbell had his trench periscope in one hand.

   ‘Can you hear me, Fisk?’

   ‘Yes, sir.’

   ‘Where is he?’

   ‘Coming up on the port quarter.’

   ‘Fully surfaced?’

   ‘Yes. Hang on. He’s hoisting
another signal: T.A.F.’

   ‘Bring-Me-Your-Papers,’ Campbell intoned.
‘Well, Fisk you’d better do as he says. Now remember, you must be the last off
the ship. Direct the boats to go clear of the bow. The Baronian crew should do the same. Take the tender to make a
show of giving him our papers. Jenkins, can you hear me?’

   ‘Yes, sir.’

   ‘You know the drill. Make sure
the boats are not in my line of fire.’

   ‘Yes, sir.’

   ‘Good luck to you.’

   La Salle heard the sound of boots
on the companion ladder and shouts coming from the deck. Campbell put his
trench periscope up to the glazing, turned, then lowered it.

   ‘Nothing yet,’ he said. ‘He must
be abaft the beam.’ Campbell picked up the voice pipe linked to the hidden
guns. The firing positions had peepholes and were better placed to see what was
happening astern. ‘Campbell here. See anything?’

   A distant voice said something
like ‘abeam – port side.’

   ‘How far?’

   ‘About 600 yards.’

   ‘Stand by. Good luck.’

   Campbell slid on his stomach to
the port wing of the bridge and raised his head to a spyhole drilled into the
woodwork below the rail.

    ‘Good God, Julian,’ he
exclaimed. ‘Those idiots from Baronian are all over the bloody ocean!’

   La Salle wriggled over to the
spyhole. Fisk had got the Baronian
crew away first in their boats, but instead of pulling clear towards the bow
they were hanging off, apparently unsure of which direction to head in.

   ‘They are between us and the
U-boat,’ he said.

   ‘Damn them!’ Campbell hissed. ‘If
they don’t shift I shall fire anyway.’

   ‘They’re moving now,’ La Salle
said. He saw one of Farnham’s
boats pulling hard away from the ship with Jenkins in the bow, wearing his
clothes. Fisk, with Campbell’s jacket and trilby, was in the other boat. Would
they fool a U-boat commander into thinking the master and his crew had
abandoned ship in a panic? It was vital the submarine had no inkling that the
true skipper and his gunners were hidden aboard, waiting for the moment to
spring their trap.  The Farnham boats were being rowed awkwardly, as if by
inexperienced and frightened men. A perfect panic party, thought La Salle. But the U-boat commander had had
enough of time-wasting. They heard the report of a gun and almost
simultaneously the ship shivered along its length as a shell crashed into the
hull amidships. Splinters of steel shot past the wheelhouse with an angry whine
and a great cloud of choking smoke enveloped the bridge.

   ‘See anything?’ Campbell asked,
suppressing a cough. Before La Salle could reply the scream of another shell
split the air above their heads.

   ‘He’s aiming at the bridge!’

   They scrambled towards the hatch
in the floor of the wheelhouse. La Salle threw it open and Campbell signalled
him to go first.  Halfway down the
ladder, La Salle felt giant invisible hands take hold of his head and squeeze
until he thought it would burst. The pressure wave from the blast of a shell
sent him tumbling down, dazed and deafened. He was aware of Campbell’s full
weight striking him on the shoulders as everything went silent and dark. Slowly,
the unseen giant crushing his skull relented. The pressure eased. Campbell lay
beside him, his upper lip moving soundlessly over a bloodied chasm where his
mouth had been. Most of his jaw was missing. Instinctively, La Salle raised a
hand to his own face, felt it gingerly, rubbed his fingers over his skull. It
seemed to be as he had always known it. He felt his head begin to clear, he
even made out a dull sound as the ship shook from the impact of another round
from the submarine. Campbell was trying to say something. La Salle couldn’t
hear properly and Campbell’s face was like a lump on a butcher’s block,
although something moved in what remained of his mouth. Did he say “engage”? La
Salle reached out for the bottom rungs of the steel ladder and pulled himself
to his knees. He raised Campbell to a sitting position but his head lolled and
he seemed distressed. The only light came through a deck prism but La Salle could
see Campbell’s tongue was shredded, his jawbone gone. He laid him out flat on
the sole of the small passageway. Campbell vomited, convulsed violently and La
Salle turned his head sideways. ‘Please, please,’ he murmured aloud. ‘Don’t let
him choke.’ His eye caught something behind Campbell’s left ear. A shell
splinter, jagged and shiny was sticking out of his skull. It had burned the
hair around the wound and La Salle found himself wondering, almost as a matter
of idle interest, how far it had penetrated. His hearing was beginning to
return. The ship was being struck below the waterline now. Someone would have
to command the gunlayers. The shell that hit the bridge would have destroyed
the voice pipes. No question of that.

    Campbell stirred, trying to lift his arm. The hatch in the
wheelhouse had slammed shut as they fell, but there was a strong smell of
smoke. Fire! Terror rose in La Salle’s throat. The ship was taking a hammering.
Who knows? Perhaps the gun crews weren’t even there anymore. He was seized by
an urge to escape. It would be possible, by following the passageway, to emerge
on deck, slip to the starboard side and dive into the sea. One of the boats
would pick him up, surely. He was aware of a searing heat from above. Anything
would be better than being roasted alive in a blazing steel oven.

   La Salle shook his head, as if
trying to banish a bad dream. He pulled off his jersey, rolled it up and
tenderly placed it under Campbell’s head. He hauled himself upright, hand over
hand up the rungs of the ladder; steadied himself. The ship was taking a heavy
list to port. There was thick smoke in the air now. He felt his way to the
door, opened it carefully. The bridge was on fire. Black smoke hid the forepart
of Farnham from him, but he could
see the dummy deckhouse that housed the twelve pounder. It was intact. Further
aft, the mock lifeboat that concealed the six pounder was still there. The
U-boat put another shell into the ship’s waterline. La Salle could see nothing
of the boats but the exploding rounds were drawing a hail of splinters like a
white-hot curtain of metal around the ship. He slid aft on his belly with the
zinging sound of shrapnel so close even his muffled ears could hear it. At the
deckhouse he raised his head slightly. He could see the submarine now, clearly
visible over the bulwark as the ship leaned groggily to port. La Salle crawled
round to the starboard side of the house, putting it between him and the
U-boat. He hammered on the false side panels with his fist.

   ‘Roberts! It’s La Salle.’

   Someone spoke through a spyhole: ‘What
the bugger’s going on? No bloody orders, the ship feels as if she’s sinking.
Where’s the skipper?’

   ‘He’s wounded. I’m in command.’
Uttering the words took La Salle aback. Yes, it was true. He was in command. ‘The
submarine is a few hundred yards off the port side, but the ship’s listing
about ten degrees. You’ll have to get your elevation right pretty smartish.’

   ‘All right,’ Roberts said. His
voice had gone strangely calm.

   ‘Are you in touch with Edwards?’

   Edwards was manning the six
pounder under the dummy lifeboat. Roberts said he still had voice pipe
communication with him.

   ‘Good. Tell him to stand by. Get
one of your men to pass on my order when I give it.’

   ‘Right. We’re ready.’

   La Salle smiled. Roberts and his
men had been in their tiny enclosure, without being able to move, not knowing
what was happening, for almost two hours. “Ready” hardly did it justice. La
Salle glanced at the mast. It was still standing, flying the Danish colours. He
took a deep breath, clambered to his feet, sprinted towards the cleat holding
the flag halyard. A white ensign was furled in a piece of small stuff at the
base of the mast. He undid the halyard, tugged down the Danish flag.

   ‘Stand by!’ he shouted at the
deckhouse. ‘Let go!’

   He pulled on the halyard, sending
the Royal Navy’s white ensign aloft. In the same instant the sides of the false
deckhouse flew outboard with a clatter. Roberts and his men already had the twelve
pound gun swinging towards the port side. One man was on the rangefinder calling
out as his mate wound the elevating wheel furiously. Another had a new charge
in his hands. Despite himself, La Salle jumped as the gun fired. He ran down the
sloping deck. A geyser of water was tumbling into the sea fifty yards from the

   ‘Short! Elevation! Elevation!’

    He looked back at the U-boat. Two figures in officers’
headgear stood in the conning tower, training their binoculars on Farnham’s gun. La Salle glanced at Farnham’s dummy lifeboat. It had folded open like a cracked
walnut to reveal the six-pounder and its crew. The gun fired. La Salle whirled
around to see a shell explode just over the U-boat. The U-boat’s gun crew had
just put another shot into the ship’s waterline, forward of the beam. Good, La Salle thought. The engine room is well aft of
. One of the German officers was
gesticulating at his gunners, pointing wildly at Farnham. Now they were shifting their aim, from Farnham’s waterline to her decks and the men at the guns. The
U-boat crew raced to reload. La Salle counted in his head. It took five seconds
to load and fire the Schnelladekanone.
Two … three … four.  On five, Farnham’s
twelve pounder spoke again. This time
the shell exploded only feet from the U-boat, in line with its gun. The German
gunners were knocked over by the blast. As one man staggered to his feet the
officers disappeared from the conning tower. They’re getting ready to dive, La Salle thought. They’ll finish us with a

   For the first time, he thought about the men in the
boats. When the U-boat had dispatched Farnham it would resurface. Then, La Salle knew, the
submarine commander would machine-gun the boats. The Kaiserliche Marine had declared
Britain’s mystery ships “pirates”. Anyone on board one could expect to be shot.
He thought fleetingly of Fisk, Jenkins, Captain Foster and his son. Well, young
Foster was probably already dead. He caught sight of Roberts behind the twelve
pounder. The gunlayer’s face was eerily expressionless. Roberts was barely twenty,
a thin, intense Welshman whom the others treated with care. As a gunner, few
could equal him. La Salle saw something in his eyes; a cold eagerness. Roberts
seemed entirely unafraid. La Salle envied him.

     They had re-loaded.
Roberts pulled the firing cord. To La Salle’s immense joy he saw the round
strike in precisely the position in which he would have placed it if he had had
the power to drop it on the U-boat himself. It hit the submarine’s hull high
up, square on the turn of the deck. When the smoke cleared he could see buckled
plating. The U-boat’s gun had tilted to a strange angle. Two of the gun crew
had disappeared completely. The third was lying under the gun. As he took this
in, Edwards fired the six pounder. This time, the shell struck the base of the
conning tower. It appeared to have little effect. La Salle felt a sickening
sensation in the pit of his stomach. It was notoriously hard to penetrate the
pressure hull of a U-boat, especially with a relatively light charge. He felt
suddenly impotent, angry that everything they were doing was right, but not
enough. The bully was too big for them. The U-boat was making way, angling
forward slightly. He was diving. No one came out of the conning hatch for the
gunner lying on the deck. They were getting away.

   ‘Keep firing!’

   Roberts did not need to be told.
His next shot hit almost the same spot as his previous round and this time they
were rewarded with a glimpse of jagged metal. Within seconds the damaged area
was below water as the submarine crash dived. Edwards fired into the conning
tower as the U-boat disappeared, a good hit, but then there was no target to
aim at.

   La Salle jumped up on to the gun

    ‘What do you think, Roberts? I thought I saw a hole in her.’

   The gunlayers nodded.

   ‘That last round got through,’
Roberts said. ‘I’m sure of it.’

    There was a sudden lurch as Farnham slipped sideways. Below deck, metal was grinding on
metal. A bulkhead has gone, La
Salle thought. The ship was listing close to fifteen degrees.

   ‘She’s going down,’ one of the
gunlayers muttered. ‘If he doesn’t torpedo her, she’ll find her own way to the

    There was one serviceable lifeboat on the deck. It
looked more or less unscathed. They could put Campbell in it and tie it
alongside, ready to board if the old ship went. But La Salle felt a resistance
to the idea of abandoning their ship. There was a hotness in his blood. All
cowardly thought was gone. He wanted to carry on fighting.

   ‘We’re not done yet!’ he cried. ‘Stand
by the gun. I’m going down to the engine-room.’

   Farnham was carrying a cargo of pit props. It was not genuine
freight, but part of an experiment Lieutenant Commander Campbell had persuaded
the admiralty to try. Campbell argued that a ship filled with wood would float
even if badly holed by a torpedo or gunfire. It would give them an extra chance
to fight back, he had said. To an extent, he had been proved right. Without
the wood in her holds Farnham would probably have sunk by now,
La Salle thought.    But would it continue to keep her afloat?

   He ran to the hatch over the
boilerhouse and slid down the steel ladder. There was two feet of water at the
bottom and the watertight door to the engine room was shut tight. He kicked at
it with his boots.

   ‘Chief! Chief! It’s La Salle.
There’s water out here but you can open up. Chief! Can you hear me?’

   There was a sound of sliding
metal as the dogs on the watertight door moved. It swung open. The water was
above the sill and it streamed through. Chief Dilkes seemed unperturbed. La
Salle looked around the engine room. Two stokers stared back at him blankly.
The engine space had not been hit. La Salle could have cried with relief.

    ‘Chief, you’re all right?’

   ‘Yes. But I don’t want too much
water in here. I still have the fires going.’

   ‘Can you make steam? Can we get
the pumps started?’

   ‘We can try. What’s happening out

   ‘The skipper’s wounded. I’ve
taken charge. We hit the submarine. It’s dived. We must try to make way. I
don’t want to be a sitting duck for a torpedo.’

   Dilkes nodded, as if this was all
the information he would ever need. He turned to his stokers, issued a brief
command and walked to the controls.

   ‘I’ll try the pumps now,’ he

   La Salle clapped him on the back
and splashed out of the engine-room. On deck he found Roberts scanning the sea
to port. Farnham’s boats were
pulling hard back to the ship, but Roberts’ attention was focused on a patch of
sea somewhat farther away.

   ‘There’s something over there,’
Roberts said, pointing into the middle distance. He handed his binoculars to La
Salle. There was a disturbance on the water, a furious bubbling.

   ‘He’s blowing his tanks,’ La
Salle shouted. ‘He’s coming up! You did get him, Roberts. You did!’

    The submarine began to
surface at an odd angle, the stern slightly higher than the bow.  ‘That’s why he couldn’t get off a
torpedo,’ La Salle murmured to himself. He became aware of movement at the twelve
pounder. The gun fired.

    ‘Roberts! He might be surrendering!’

    He threw out an arm, pulled at Robert’s shoulder. Roberts did
not shift his attention from the breech of the twelve pounder. He shrugged off
La Salle’s hand. The gun fired again. In the numbing split-second that followed
the crash of the big gun, La Salle saw the afterpart of the U-boat fly into
pieces like a joke cigar. Almost immediately he heard a double thump of two
explosions, the second much more powerful than the first.

   ‘His stern torpedo!’ One of
Roberts’s gunlayers was shouting, throwing his cap on to the deck. ‘His bloody
stern torpedo!’

   The U-boat seemed to hang
suspended over the sea, then it rolled slightly, swung like a pendulum and,
with the bow pointing skyward, slid vertically out of sight. No one moved. They
all stared at the same bubbling patch of sea.

   ‘Did you see anyone? Did you see
anyone coming out of her?’ La Salle asked at last.

   ‘I think the hits on the conning
tower probably jammed the hatch,’ Roberts said, in a voice that could have been
commenting on a good ball at a village cricket match. ‘Nicely bottled up in
there, they are.’

   The word “are” struck La Salle
like a slap. Of course. They were still alive. Most of the thirty or so men in
the submarine would have survived the explosion of the torpedo. Now they were
sealed in a steel coffin heading for the bottom in 500 feet of water. His mind
flashed over the scene. Dark inside, probably. Plenty of air for now. But not
for long.






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High school sailing team in Seattle regatta

The Orcas High School sailing team traveled to the big city for a long weekend of practice and racing in mid-March.The weekend started with a Friday afternoon practice with the UW sailing team. Sam Parish (OIHS ‘09 Alumni) and the rest of the UW team had boats rigged and ready to get on the water for some team racing. Tuning tips and race strategies were discussed as well. When the team got back to shore, ISAF rules writer Dick Rose led a forty-five minute rules QA for the team.

“His definitions and diagrams of the rules in action helped all of us a lot,” said Orcas coach Burke Thomas.

Saturday brought cold temperatures, rain and wind and a long day on the water. The team had a couple capsizes, but sailed very well, in the puffy unpredictable breeze. Twelve races were completed by the end of sailing Saturday.  Seniors Rhys Thompson and Annie Ryder grabbed a couple first place finishes in a fleet of 26 boats. Sunday was cold but had clear skies and 10 races were completed, in a shifty southwest wind. Orcas grabbed 4th overall in the gold division and second in the silver division. Complete scores and regatta report can be found at

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Palm Beach show reports attendance increase

Palm Beach show reports attendance increase

Posted on 26 March 2013


Organizers of the Palm Beach International Boat Show say attendance increased by 3.7 percent from last year, and manufacturers and brokerages are reporting that sales were strong.

Denison Yacht Sales sold two boats — a Beneteau 34 GT (Gran Turismo) and a 52 Buddy Davis sportfish, and qualified clients are interested in two of the company’s brokerage boats.

“While the crowds seemed a little lighter to us, people brought their checkbooks, which is great,” Denison Yacht Sales president Bob Denison said. “I am glad we did [the show] and we will continue to invest in the show. From a brokerage’s point of view, it’s everybody’s favorite show because it has a very qualified crowd and it’s relaxed and it’s a well-run show.”

Denison carries five brands — Greenline, Beneteau and Beneteau GT, Austin Parker and Monte Carlo.

The 2013 event was the largest show since 2008, according to Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, CEO of Active Interest Media and Show Management, producer of the four-day event that ended Sunday.

AIM also owns Soundings Trade Only.

The amount of land display area shot up 22 percent to 89,000 square feet this year, compared with 73,000 in 2012.

“We filled every available square inch and went scrounging for more space and still had to turn away a few exhibitors,” Zimbalist said at a media breakfast on the first day of the show. “The show has been growing multidimensionally. We have some of the biggest boats we have ever had.”

The largest was the 223-foot Kismet.

The number of new boats in the water increased 31 percent, from 186 new boats at the 2012 show to 244 this year. The 58 boats that made up that increase consisted of 44 boats under 60 feet; nine from 60 to 80 feet; and five larger than 80 feet.

The number of brokerage boats in the water was up by 25 percent — there were 299 in 2013, compared with 239 in 2012. Total boats — new and used — were up by 28 percent, from 425 to 543.

More manufacturers of boats and marine products attended the show, according to Zimbalist. For instance, Viking Yachts representatives were available at the HMY Yacht Sales display, he said.

Representatives from Ferretti Yachts were on site, too, along with their brokerage arm, Allied Marine. I interviewed Brett Keating, the Ferretti Group’s vice president of marketing for the Americas.

Ferretti Yachts and Allied prefer not to disclose specifics about the number of boats sold at the show, but “it was a positive show — it was great,” Keating said. “And we were quite happy with the results, and next year we’ll definitely be back, and hopefully with even more boats. That’s the plan.”

Ferretti and Allied representatives noticed an increase in qualified buyers this year, Keating said. “The show has the potential to grow even more — in attendance and in number of boats,” she said.

Mike Strassel, a broker with RJC Yacht Services Charter in Fort Lauderdale, sold a 2003 54-foot Hatteras at the show.

Strassel said he and some other brokers believe that local qualified buyers — boaters from Fort Lauderdale and Fort Pierce — are skipping the Miami International Boat Show to avoid the traffic and parking challenges. “But the local Floridian is going to the Palm Beach boat show and buying boats — it’s a great boat show,” he said.

The show’s relaxed atmosphere draws customers to the Palm Beach event, said Strassel. “It has a real community spirit and lots of boats, from $200,000 10-year-old small motoryachts all the way up to yachts like the $10.9 million 147-foot Lady M that I had at the boat show.”

You’ll also find niche markets at the show, such as retro mahogany runabouts, motoryachts and dayboats. Roger O’Neill, owner of O’Neill Craft, sold two of his 28-foot retro cruisers. His boats consist of fiberglass hulls and teak or mahogany from the hull up. He showed two of his vessels, which list at $252,000, at the show.

“We had lots of interest,” he said. “We had people on the boats all day, every day.”

— Chris Landry


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Hilton Head rowing, sailing center to get final town review

The Hilton Head Rowing and Sailing Center now appears fit for launch, picking up approval Tuesday from a town design board.

The center is to be built off Squire Pope Road, along Skull Creek. It will feature a pier for fishing and crabbing; a floating dock for launching boats; fenced boat storage; a 1,400-square-foot picnic pavilion; and restrooms, according to final plans approved unanimously by the Town of Hilton Head Island’s Design Review Board.

However, the project may return to harbor if the town decides to build a portion of the dock out of a material other than southern yellow pine, as planned.

The board looked at photos of floating docks built from plastics Tuesday, but some members said they would not approve of the material because it looks — as board member Jake Gartner described — “cheap.”

“You’re asking for a rowing center, and you want it to look pretty, but how functional will it be for the rowing community?” asked Lou Strayer, coach of the Hilton Head Island Crew and member of the Carolina Sailing Center and Palmetto Rowing Club.

Strayer urged the town board and staff to build the plastic docks, which he said were “accepted as standard in the rowing community.”

Wood might become slippery when wet, and sea water will warp and erode the planks quicker than a plastic dock, Strayer said.

He said one of the rowing club’s boats was punctured last week by a screw that had loosened from the warped, wooden planks of a county-built dock on Pinckney Island.

Only a small percentage of island residents would likely see the dock, and safety should override aesthetics in this instance, according to board member Galen Smith, who said he is a boat owner who has slipped on wet, wooden docks.

The town will consider plastic-dock materials as a design alternative in the construction bidding process, but the decision to use them will depend on their cost, which was unavailable Tuesday, project manager and assistant town engineer Bryan McIlwee said.

“I have a budget that I have to maintain. If (the plastic dock) is close to the same, then we’ll have to make a decision on functionality and what serves the community the best,” McIlwee said.

If the project gets the necessary state permits as expected, the construction bidding could begin later this spring, said McIlwee.

The design was criticized at previous meetings because it did not offer convenient water access for kayaks and small sailboats. Among the critics was Strayer, who called for a beach launching site.

The plans reviewed Tuesday did not include a beach launch because state permitting agencies would not approve dumping sand on the shoreline, according to project architect Tom Parker Jr., who is on the review board but abstained from voting.

Todd Theodore, who works for Wood + Partners, which collaborated with Parker’s firm Lee Parker Architects and Applied Technology Management, also abstained from voting.

Construction, which could begin in early fall, is estimated to cost $760,000 and would be funded by the town’s tax increment financing revenue, town public projects director Scott Liggett said last month. The town would also contribute $67,000 a year for operation and maintenance costs.

The Hilton Head Island Recreation Center will manage the center with help from rowing and sailing clubs and coaches. The rec center is considering developing adventure camps and kayaking and youth sailing programs at the park, according to Frank Soule, its executive director. He said any new costs to the center would be covered by program fees.

Related content

  1. Hilton Head sailing, rowing center design approved March 1, 2013
  2. Hilton Head rowing, sailing center plans speed forward, Sept. 10, 2012
  3. Hilton Head rec board gives nod to rowing, sailing center plans, March 9, 2012

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