Archive for » February 10th, 2014«

Iran Sends "Fleet" To U.S. East Coast On Comic Relief Mission

Don’t fear the Iranian “fleet” that is sailing toward the U.S. East Coast. You have more to fear from your bathtub boats than from this ostensible armada.

“The Iranian Army’s naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa,”declared Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad, commander of Iran’s Northern Navy Fleet, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Admiral Haddad pointedly added that “Iran’s military fleet is approaching the United States’ maritime borders, and this move has a message.”

Unfortunately, Iran’s gunboat diplomacy may send the opposite message, namely highlighting just how feeble is the gunboat part. Haddad speaks of the “Iranian Army’s naval fleets”, which not only sounds like a peculiar oxymoron coming from an admiral of the Navy (which presumably is a separate branch from the Army), but also raises the question of what “fleets” he’s talking about. The expeditionary force appears to be the Iranian Navy’s 29th Fleet, which consists of a whopping two ships; the destroyer Sabalan and the helicopter carrier Kharg, which left the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas on January 22 for the Atlantic Ocean, according to Iran’s Press TV.

Iranian warship Sabalan. Wikipedia photo

But the Sabalan is a relatively small 45-year-old British-built frigate armed with just four Chinese-made anti-ship missiles and a single big 4.5-inch caliber gun. The ship made history after it was bombed and nearly sunk by U.S. Navy A-6 aircraft in April 1988 after it fired on American planes that were retaliating for Iranian minefields laid in the Persian Gulf (the Sabalan’s captain was nicknamed “Captain Nasty” for his attacks on neutral merchant ships). The 37-year-old “helicopter carrier” Kharg carries just three helicopters, notes the War is Boring blog  ; it’s actually a tanker and replenishment ship to refuel Iranian warships.

These vessels will obviously be closely monitored by the U.S. Navy, though the U.S. Coast Guard could probably take them out should hostilities flare. Of course, this assumes that the Iranian duo will make it to the East Coast in the first place. The Iranian military has suffered decades of sanctions that have impeded the flow of spare parts. Bandar Abbas is about 6,000 miles from New York, which leaves plenty of empty ocean for two old and maintenance-deprived ships to break down. Perhaps some passing American warships will offer them a tow?

What’s funny is that I wrote virtually the same story more than two years ago. The Iranian armada never materialized then, and who knows if it will now?  But if it does, what purpose does this expedition serve? If Iran means to intimidate or deter the U.S from, say, bombing its nuclear facilities, then it can best do so by threatening to either block oil tanker traffic in the Persian Gulf, or unleash terror attacks by Hezbollah. A couple of decrepit ships off Boston harbor won’t cause more than a chuckle.

In the meantime, considering what happened the last time the Sabalan fired on American forces, Captain Nasty is advised to be on his best behavior.

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Mid-Atlantic Boat show arrives ‘bigger and better’ in Charlotte on Thursday

— Boating season is coming.

And so is the biggest boat show in the Carolinas. The Mid-Atlantic Boat Show will be held Thursday-Sunday, Feb. 6-9, at the Charlotte Convention Center. It’s also expanding. The show includes an extra 45,000 square feet of space compared to last year. The show will include more than 100 vendors.

“We’ve had three boat shows and at all of them the number of visitors has been up, the boat sales are up,” said Russell Gray with Southeast Productions, which runs the show.

When the economy dipped several years ago, some boat dealers went out of business and most manufacturers cut back on production. Now the industry is seeing a rebound. A half dozen dealers, including Boat Sales of Lake Wylie, are doubling their space this year compared to last. Lake Wylie Marina has a central location, and a side spot fishing display between interactive fishing and diving exhibits.

Matt Sellhorst with Lake Wylie Marina said new additions this year include a 2014 Sea Ray 240 SunDeck outboard deck boat and Sea Ray 410 SunDancer that may be the “biggest boat at the show.” The marina is part of the Hall Marine Group, which is pooling its resources from several sites for the show.

The fishing boat display will have “saltwater fishing experts from our coastal stores and freshwater experts representing Crestliner (aluminum fishing boats), Scout Boats and Boston Whaler,” Sellhorst said.

Vic Winebarger at Boat Sales brought three boats to his first show in 2011, then six the next year and seven last year.

“Last year we sold 16,” he said. “This year we’re taking 18.”

Winebarger said shows in Toronto and Chicago are up. He’s looking at a 20 percent increase in his show investment this year, based on previous shows. And all that despite frigid and icy weather in places, including Lake Wylie where sales are up early this year compared to last.

“We’re selling boats in the snow, so that’s a good sign,” Winebarger said.

Action isn’t limited to boat dealers. Companies like Dock Masters Marine Construction make the annual trip to Charlotte in hopes of meeting all sorts of potential customers under one roof.

“Yes we are in it again this year but nothing new, just the same set up,” said owner Perry Johnston.

New this year is the Be A Diver Scuba Experience sponsored by the Divers Equipment Manufacturers Association. “Big Wave” Dave will be set up in a 15,000-gallon heated pool where guests can explore with a certified scuba instructor. Equipment is provided and the experience is free for ages 10 and older. Ages 10 and 11 must be accompanied by a parent in the pool, and ages 12-17 must have a parent nearby.

Another 4,000-gallon tank will be stocked with largemouth bass for the Bass Tubs of Oklahoma display. Bass fishing seminars will be held throughout the weekend demonstrating techniques and gear used by the pros. The display is presented by Chase Devereaux.

Guests can try their hands fishing at the Western North Carolina Trout Catfish Fishing Pond. Catfish will be added this year to the popular pond simulator. There will be a small fee to fish.

John Marks •  803-831-8166

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OKI 24-Hr Race Results Announced

OKI 24-Hr Race Results Announced

Auckland, February
9, 2014 – The 2014 OKI 24-hr Race results are in, with Andy
Maloney and Nicholas Heiner coming through on the winning
boat, sailing for Mansons TCLM Ltd with 118 laps – almost as
many as Chris Dickson’s 120 lap record.

“These are true
champions,” said Murray’s Bay Sailing Club Commodore Dave
Gunn. “You can’t just cruise around in this competition and
this year we had very good but very tough sailing

“Conditions were perfect,” agrees winner Andy
Maloney from Murray’s Bay Sailing Club. “It was great
having wind all night with lots of hiking. It was very
physical, but very fun.”

Maloney says the most challenging
part was the lack of sleep, followed by the physical demands
of the sailing due to the conditions.

“Campaigns are so
expensive so the winnings will go towards that,” says
Maloney, who will be heading to Europe in March to

Partner Nicholas Heiner sailed the final lap.
Coming off the water he said: “I’m actually still feeling
pretty fresh.”

To recover, he said it’s important to eat
well, drink enough and get some sleep. “Then, we’ll be back
into it,” says Heiner.

Last year’s winner, James Sandal
won the solo category, racing through the night without
breaks. He was passed dinner from the dock to eat on the way
around and says: “Now, I’ll probably sleep for a week.”

said his knees and hands hurt the most but he’d definitely
attempt the solo event again and his advice to future solo
competitors in the OKI 24-hr race is: “Have a plan – warm
clothes at night and plenty of food. It was really
challenging, but exciting.”

First in the Youth category
was Panasonic Toughbook’s Trent Rippey and Cullen Le Roy on
114 laps. Women’s winners were Olympians Sara Winther and
Susannah Pyatt, with Laura Lowther, sailing on MacKay Boats
with 109 laps.

Omani sailor Ahmed Alhasano was competing
as part of his month-long training in New Zealand, he says:
“It was very windy, we’re not normally used to that, but we
loved it.”

The annual event is a fundraisers for
Murray’s Bay Sailing Club to develop youth sailing and
local business Comworth Technologies, distributor for OKI
printers, has been sponsoring the race since 1989. /


Comworth has been the exclusive distributor
for OKI since 1985. A family business, Comworth has a long
tradition with sailing sponsorships. Founder

Charlesworth is a past Commodore of the Royal New Zealand
Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) and many RNZYS events have been
supported, as well as the Auckland BMW sailing regatta. Both
David and his son Mark, who works in the business, are both
still actively involved in yacht racing through

About OKI
OKI specializes in the design,
development, manufacture, and marketing of business printing
solutions that empower organizations to communicate more
effectively. A subsidiary of Tokyo-based OKI Electric
Industry (established in 1881 as Japan’s first
manufacturer), OKI Data fields
representatives in 120 countries to offer innovative,
leading-edge products and services worldwide. For more
information, please visit


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