Archive for » June 5th, 2014«

Florida is number 1 again in boating

With more miles of coastline in any state except Alaska, Florida is a prime location for water recreation including boating. As Florida population, jobs and income are increasing, residents are spending more money on discretionary items like boating.

So, it should come as no surprise that Florida is number 1 for boat sales, far ahead of any other state in the nation.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) has just released its U.S. Recreational Boating Statistical Abstract, and Florida is again at the top of the charts.

Leading the nation for 2013 in sales of new boats, motors, trailers and accessories, the top state was Florida, with $1.93 billion in boat-related sales. Not only did Florida sales approach the $2 billion mark, but they were up a hefty 14 percent from 2012.

Florida has consistently led the nation in boat sales, with Texas coming in second. California, which once ranked third, has fallen to tenth place with boat sales of $429 million. California is still struggling with high unemployment and a slow economic recovery, and boat sales have not rebounded as well as Florida.

Nationwide, boating suffered a slowdown as a result of the 2007-2009 recession, when people cut back on nonessential spending including boats, motorcycles and other products.

Boat sales are growing, NMMA reports, especially versatile boats that can tow water skiers or wake boarders. Outboard boats are especially popular, along with personal watercraft, where a person sits on, rather than inside, a boat.

Other states rounding out the top ten for 2013 boat sales are: Michigan, Delaware (which has no sales tax), Minnesota, New York, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Louisiana.

For Florida, according to NMMA, recreational boating generates an overall economic impact of about $10.35 billion, including about 83,000 direct and indirect jobs that come from spending by boaters.

Nearly 1 million boats are registered in Florida, more than any other state, plus about 300,000 more boats are brought into Florida during the year by out-of-state visitors.

Boat making has been a significant contributor to Florida jobs, though less so in recent years. With nearly all of the top boat-buying states east of the Rocky Mountains, some boat makers have followed their customers and moved East, including to Florida. One local example is Catalina Yachts, which closed its California plant to consolidate its manufacturing here in Largo.

Boston Whaler, which despite its name is based in Florida, this year announced an expansion at its facilities near Daytona Beach, which will create new full-time jobs.

However, a number of boat makers have moved out of Florida, citing costs, land issues and better financial opportunities in other states such as North Carolina and Georgia.

Nevertheless, boating remains a small but highly-visible Florida industry, and boat manufacturing jobs still are a source of income for some low-skilled workers.

Not only that, boating provides enjoyment for literally millions of residents and visitors as well as others who simply like to sit by the water and watch the boats go by. Boats are a welcome part of the Florida lifestyle.

With 1,197 miles of coastline and more than 11,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways, Florida is a boaters’ paradise.

— Joseph Santangelo is a former reporter for the Bergen Record newspaper in New Jersey. He has written for magazines in Connecticut and Massachusetts and worked in business, government and community service. He writes from Clearwater.

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Modi government wants to make 'dead' Yamuna navigable

New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) Can you visualise boats sailing on the almost dead Yamuna river in Delhi? The Narendra Modi government is exploring the possibility of making the river – and possibly other rivers as well – navigable to transport people and goods. Roads and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari had called a meeting of Delhi government officials on the issue and sought their opinion on it, a top government official said.

The newly-elected BJP-led government is planning to create a national waterway grid by linking major rivers in the country to ferry people and goods.

“Minister Gadkari asked us whether Yamuna river can be made navigable. He has asked us to come up with suggestions to make it possible,” another Delhi government official told IANS, requesting anonymity.

Sources in the government said top officials of Delhi government’s environment department, Delhi Jal Board and Irrigation and Flood department were present at the meeting.

“We will have to study the feasibility of the project. There will be a meeting with the minister on this issue soon. We have already apprised him of the current status of the river,” said another official.

However, environmentalists find the idea as “not well placed”.

“The idea of rejuvenating Yamuna for navigation is not well placed. The Yamuna river has never had appreciable water during the lean season,” said Manoj Mishra, convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan.

“It is to be seen whether they construct a water barrage and then make Yamuna navigable. But then it will not be Yamuna but a canal,” Mishra told IANS.

The Delhi government has already sent a team to Gujarat to study the feasibility of replicating the successful model of the Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project for cleaning the Yamuna. This happened after a meeting between Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and Modi last week.

The Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project is an initiative by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to develop the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad and is touted as a very successful project in riverfront rejuvenation in India.

A staggering Rs.6,500 crore has already been spent on cleaning the Yamuna, but in vain. Successive governments have framed a number of policies and plans to revive the dying river, but most of the work either remained on paper or could never be implemented.

According to the Central Pollution Control Bureau, 3,000 million litres of Delhi’s sewage is released into the Yamuna everyday making the river, which is considered sacred by Hindus, as just a “sewage canal”.

The Yamuna is the largest tributary of river Ganges in northern India. Originating from Yamunotri Glacier at a height of 6,387 metres, it travels a total length of 1,376 km through Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. It has a drainage area of 366,223 sq km (40.2 percent of the entire Ganges Basin) and merges with the Ganga at the Triveni Sangam in Allahabad.

According to experts, most of the river channel of the Yamuna and its tributaries is not suitable for navigation. Low flow of the river further restricts this activity. At a few locations, boats are plying on a need-based basis, mainly for crossing the river. Earlier timber logs and sleepers were floated down from the upper Himalayan areas but now this practice too has been replaced by road transportation. There is, however, scope to use the Yamuna river between Agra and Allahabad for navigation, experts aver.

(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at

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Safer, cheaper America's Cup

The next America’s Cup should be safer and cheaper than last year’s thrilling but deadly competition, though sailors will still be on the ragged edge as they compete for sport’s oldest trophy.

Australian Olympic champion Nathan Outteridge was steering Artemis Racing’s AC72 during a training run on San Francisco in 2013 when the yacht capsized, killing British sailor Andrew Simpson.

It triggered a series of safety recommendations, most of which have been kept for the 35th America’s Cup, the rules for which were published on Wednesday.

The event, due to be staged in 2017, will feature smaller boats than the 72-foot catamarans that killed Simpson – and costs have been kept down.

But Team Australia chief executive Iain Murray said upper wind limits introduced after the Simpson accident have been scrapped, and the eight-man AC62 catamarans at the 2017 America’s Cup will be just as tricky to handle.

“They’ll be going the same speed and they’ll be just as difficult to sail,” Murray told AAP.

“There’s going to need to be a lot of respect for the ocean in sailing these boats.”

The other protocols published on Wednesday – seven months after Oracle Team USA staged one of the greatest comebacks in sports to beat Team New Zealand – include plans for a World Series in 2015 and 2016, consisting of six regattas each year at venues around the world.

Murray said Australia could host a couple of those events. Sydney Harbour, Melbourne, Hamilton Island and WA are possible venues.

Team Australia is being bankrolled by Hamilton Island Yacht Club and its billionaire owner, wine baron Bob Oatley.

The World Series will be used to seed a qualifying competition for the America’s Cup proper.

The winner of the qualifiers – whether it’s Oracle or a challenger – will get a bonus point in the America’s Cup match, which will be a first-to-seven event.

The final venue for the America’s Cup match has not been decided. Oracle remains at loggerheads with San Francisco City, the host of the 2013 regatta.

Murray said San Francisco was the likely venue again, but significant negotiations needed to be worked through.

“We all hope it will be San Francisco but there’s some commercial arrangements need to be sorted out,” he added.

San Diego and Bermuda are among the other possible venues, and a final decision is due by December.

Team Australia is the challenger of record and had the right to help set the protocols for the 35th America’s Cup.

Murray described the process as a “vigorously contested document” with disagreement on a number of key points.

Organisers have tried to keep costs under control, but each team will have to pay $3 million just to enter the event, with tens more millions likely to be spent on boat building, team wages and transportation costs.

Despite the costs involved, Murray said he expected six teams to contest the event, including Oracle, Australia, Sweden’s Artemis Racing, Italy’s Luna Rossa, Emirates Team New Zealand.

British sailing legend Ben Ainslie is expected to unveil a British challenger next week.

Murray said Australia, skippered by Olympic sailing champion Mathew Belcher, would have a comparatively small budget and would not splash out on the kind of big wages enjoyed by rival teams.

The protocols also include a stipulation that 25 per cent of each crew come from the team’s home country.

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