Archive for » August 26th, 2017«

Vessels decorated with light sail in inaugural Venetian Boat Parade

Along with a City of Milwaukee Fire boat and Police boat escort, 14 vessels clad extensively in themed lighting took part in the inaugural sailing festival. The decorations and complexity of illuminations were multiplied by the mirror-like water at night.

Presented along with support from the Milwaukee County Parks, the idea for the free parade was to entertain Milwaukee residents with a pageant of light and raise funds for the Milwaukee Water Commons, to support their work with kids and water conservation. Proceeds were collected from the boat registrations and refreshment sales.

Volunteers from McBOAT invested a great deal of effort to plan and enlist the small flotilla, and coordinate with the Coast Guard and Homeland Security to hold the event. The combination of sailing ships and motor boats attracted hundred of families and spectators along the route, many arriving well before sunset to get a coveted spot for viewing.

“We really did not expect so many people to attend, attendance was more than we could have imagined. The power of social media brought in numbers that took all available parking, then filled the grass parking,” said Mike Johnson, President of the McBOAT Board of Directors and organizer of the Venetian Boat Parade. “People staged from the breakwater pier, along the marina office area and piers, to the grassy area between Center Marina and South Marina, by the Sailing Center, and east up to O’Donnel point.”

Johnson had dreamed of the Venetian Boat Parade since 2013, and this year he finally had the chance to make it a reality. A panel of judges scored the boat decorations, and presented a best-of-show award after the parade concluded. The naval contestants included a Captain Morgan themed tiki bar, American pride tropical island, 1970s disco club, and assorted spectaculars of colored lights and kitsch.

As a nonprofit organization, the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center provides educational and recreational sailing programs to those who wish to gain access to Lake Michigan and learn to sail regardless of age, physical ability, or financial concerns. McBOAT’s mission is to advocate on behalf of McKinley slip tenants, provide an outlet for boating education, and maintain a working relationship between the tenants and the McKinley Marina Staff.

“People can’t wait to see the Venetian Boat Parade next year,” added Johnson. “They were telling us that with all the attention this has created, they imagine more boats will want participate next year. Some really thanked us for an amazing night that Milwaukee has not seen before.”

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Maine lobstermen tap into union network for retail sales

A few months after buying a lobster pound and processing plant, Maine’s lobstering union is now tapping its connection to unions across the country to rack up online retail sales and reap greater financial returns for its members.

The union is now shipping live Maine lobster caught by its 400 members anywhere in the country. The path these lobsters will take on their way from the ocean floor to your door is completely unionized, from the Vinalhaven lobsterman who traps it to the Rockland truck driver who picks it up from a transfer boat to the Lamoine plant worker who packs it to the UPS teamster who delivers it.

Dwayne Bradford, a union driver, waves to the Fox Island Lobstering crew after loading their union-caught lobster from Vinalhaven onto a union truck.


Anyone can buy them, of course, but the Maine Lobstering Union is definitely looking to make the most of a nationwide union network.

“We have been fighting years for a sustainable fishery here in Maine and now we are fighting for sustainable fishermen for future generations to come,” said David Sullivan, manager of the union’s new mail-order business. “That means diversifying our business operations, owning as much of the supply chain as possible, and taking advantage of our strengths, working with our union brothers and sisters.”

This month, the union launched a direct-order website,, where customers can buy lobster and watch videos of the union fishermen hauling traps in roiling seas and talking about why they fish, accompanied by bluesy guitar riffs. The videos also tell the story of the union, which formed in 2013 in the wake of a severe lobster price drop.

By cutting out the middlemen – the lobster dealers and distributors – and negotiating discounted shipping rates from UPS, the lobstering union believes it can capture a bigger share of the profits from retail sales and save consumers money at the same time, Sullivan said. It is charging $9 a pound for its lobsters, and shipping them in boxes that range from 5 to 50 pounds.

A customer in Phoenix, Arizona, which is about as far away from Maine as you can get in the continental U.S., would pay $81 for the 5-pound box of Lobster207 lobsters, which includes shipping. That same customer could pay from $89 to $184 to buy the same amount of live lobster from other retailers listed in the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative’s directory of online Maine lobster retailers.

“As a union operation, we really worked hard to get shipping rates that help us make lobster affordable for the everyday person,” Sullivan said. “Out in Kansas City, the only place you’re going to find lobster is at a fancy restaurant. Most grocery stores don’t even sell it there. It’s a luxury item. But we are making it affordable for everybody.”


The union opened its online doors in July through a mass email sent out to union members across the country, Sullivan said. In its first month, Lobster207 has shipped to as far away as Florida and California, with a lot of orders coming from the Midwest, where most grocers do not sell live lobster. It is also selling to a lot of former Mainers who now live out of reach of the New England specialty.

About 80 percent of orders placed in the first month have come from union members, Sullivan said.

Lobster207 makes it easy, and more politically correct, for a local to feature lobster on an event menu, including retirement or holiday parties, conventions or charity fundraisers, Sullivan said. For example, union lobster will be on the menu for an upcoming Guide Dogs of America golf tournament, a favorite charity of the International Association of Machinists, which is the lobstering union’s parent organization.

For the union lobstermen, the website is the tool they’ve been waiting for to sell their own lobsters to the world, Sullivan said.

One of its members, Aaron Smith of Jonesport, was recently eating dinner at 44 Degrees North in Milbridge. When tourists at the pub learned that he was “a real live lobsterman,” they asked him if they could buy lobsters directly from him, and perhaps have them sent to their home to enjoy once vacation was over. In the past, he would have had to tell them that’s not how it works in Maine.

“Now that we’ve got the online operation up, they said yes, go to our website, and they pulled out their phone right there in the restaurant and showed them how to find their business, buy their lobster, watch their stories,” Sullivan said. “The guys, they’re so proud of that. The dividend from the online business will be nice, but they really love the fact that they’re selling their own lobster now.”

The Maine Lobstering Union formed in 2013 in the wake of an infamous 2012 spring glut that drove boat prices to a season average of $2.69 per pound, down from about $4 per pound during recent years and the lowest yearly average in 20 years. The union has at times had up to a 500-person membership, but not all pay their $62.70-a-month union dues on time.

In February, the union voted to buy the wholesale side of the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound in Lamoine, which has a tank that can hold up to 180,000 pounds of lobster, for $4 million. Members from Jonesport, Mount Desert Island and Vinalhaven now sell their lobsters directly to the union cooperative for storage at the Lamoine facility and eventual sale.

Union fishermen who sell to the co-op will get market price for their lobster, but they will also get a share of cooperative profits, or a dividend, at the end of the year once operational costs, like trucking and employees, are covered. In time, the union hopes to expand its buying territory to the whole Maine coast.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

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Twitter: PLOvertonPPH





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Meredith Zoning Board cites reasons for denial of boat storage proposal

MEREDITH — The denial of Doug Frederick’s application for a special exception that would have allowed the storage of boats on property currently housing the American Police Motorcycle Museum was based on the opinion that it would be incompatible with the town’s zoning ordinances.
No one from the public offered any testimony against Frederick’s request to continue allowing Meredith Marina to store boats on the property. The marina wants to purchase the property and move its sales offices from Bayshore Drive to the 2.29-acre property at 194 Daniel Webster Highway.
Frederick had been allowing the marina to store boats at no charge, pending the sale, but code enforcement officer Scott Lecroix informed him that boat storage is not a permitted use in the Central Business District, so Frederick would need to seek a variance from the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Frederick appealed the administrative decision, but did not file the paperwork within the allotted time, and the Zoning Board voted not to accept the appeal at its Aug. 10 meeting.
The application for a variance included documents showing a history of using the property for boat storage. Prior to serving as home to the motorcycle museum, it had been the home of Burlwood Antiques.
In its notice of decision, the Zoning Board used the five criteria established through case law, which questions whether granting a variance will be contrary to the public interest; whether it serves the spirit of the ordinance; that granting it would provide “substantial justice”; that the values of surrounding properties would not be diminished; and that literal enforcement of the provisions of the ordinance would result in an unnecessary hardship.
The board concluded that literal enforcement would not create a hardship because there are no “special conditions” about the property that would warrant a variance; that boat storage would be unsightly to passers-by; that it would be contrary to the public interest because having vehicles pulling boats on trailers into traffic “would be problematic, and injurious to the public interest” and “create unnecessary traffic congestion and safety issues;” and that there would be adverse impacts on the character of the area because it would not support other businesses in the area.
“It’s the board’s position that boat storage is not similar to auto sales, service, and repair, and the other permitted uses in the Central Business District,” Chairman Jack Dever wrote. “Boat storage is not a retail operation on its own, and moreover has significant traffic impact potential due to the towing of trailers, which the other businesses do not have. Also, the Board maintains that the spirit of the ordinance is to restrict boat storage to marinas, which are restricted to the Shoreline District.”
Frederick has maintained that the tractor-trailers delivering furniture to Ippolito’s and food to McDonald’s are comparable to the boat traffic that the marina would generate, noting that most of the activity at the marina would be in the spring and fall when boats were going into or coming out of the water. Both of the neighboring businesses supported his application, he said.
Frederick said he intends to appeal the Zoning Board’s decision.

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Gulfstream Shipbuilding builds ship for Homeland Security

Walton County’s Gulfstream Shipbuilding Company has built a ferry for the Department of Homeland Security.

This was Gulfstream’s first contract to build a boat for the cabinet department.

Joe Heinz, sales engineer for Gulfstream, said there is a government website where job opportunities are posted.

“They needed a designer and builder for this project, which we could supply, so all we needed was an architect,” said Heinz. “The competition to get the contract was pretty competitive from all over the country.”

The initial contract was awarded in 2016.

Gulfstream worked with Naval Architect C. Fly Marine Services to design the welded aluminum, mono hull, diesel propelled, passenger/vehicle ferry with a 6-by-6-foot draft and a 100 horsepower hydraulic dual prop thruster.

With four Caterpillar C32 diesel engines, the vessel’s top speed is 26 knots (30 mph). The design is similar to a crew boat.

The 118-foot by 27-foot by 10 1/2-foot boat is certified to carry 149 passengers, crew and freight on a main passenger deck. It also has a pilot house and can carry vehicles.

The boat was designed and built for Eastern coastal waters and to able to operate in and around the waters of the Eastern Long Island Sound and Gardiner’s Bay. It will be used to transport workers to the government-owned Plum Island.

The vessel is named the Edward V. Kramer for a U.S. Air force veteran who worked at Plum Island for more than 60 years and passed away two years ago.

This vessel was launched July 12 and will be delivered in the fall.

“This is a significant milestone for our shipyard and crew who have been honored to efficiently produce a custom, highly capable vessel for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” said Heinz. “This is the fourth vessel that Gulfstream Shipyard has built and delivered to operate near the Eastern Long Island Sound waters. We are proud of our 35-plus year history of building strong aluminum crew boats for all types of conditions.”

The Freeport shipyard was founded 35 years ago by the late Jim Murray. The Murray family built and own the Solaris dining yacht. The company is a custom boat builder specializing in steel and aluminum vessels up to 300 feet.

The business is now owned by the Murray’s friend and maritime expert Stuart Reeves.

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