Archive for » August 30th, 2017«

Turkish boat builder Sirena Yachts launches US headquarters in Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale, long regarded in the maritime community as the yachting capital of the world, is adding to its international clout with the entry of another foreign boat manufacturer.

Turkish shipyard Sirena Marine has established Fort Lauderdale as its new U.S. headquarters for its Sirena Yachts division.

The boat builder makes luxury vessels ranging from 56-feet to more than 100-feet in length, with prices starting at $1.5 million.

Sirena’s decision to establish a year-round sales presence in Fort Lauderdale was spurred by its successful debut of two yacht models in February during the Yachts Miami Beach boat show, Constantinos Constantinou, Sirena’s head of North American operations said Wednesday.

Driving a boat is not like driving a car – Quad

I do not know what made me think of it, but it happened years and years ago – maybe it was our upcoming session of Boating Skills Seamanship.

We were at the Chicago Boat Show at McCormick Place. I had a question about our current boat and was waiting for a salesman to get free. We were standing next to a large boat with a fly bridge, way over our heads. However, they were not so far above us that the salesman’s voice to a potential customer was not clearly understandable.

Potential Customer obviously was a nonboater who wanted to get on the water, but was a little hesitant about his lack of skill. “It is just like driving a car,” he was told. “You do not need any special knowledge. Boat rules are just like car rules, in fact, boat rules are based on car rules.”

He was partially right. The rules are similar, but boat rules were first and driving rules are based on them.

I started paying attention to the sales pitch. The salesman was saying, “You do not need any special skills, it is just like driving your car. You turn the wheel and the car goes in that direction. Nothing special about it.”

I remember thinking that I knew a lot of the boat salesmen in town and none of them would try such a dangerous pitch as that. A couple of them even registered their customers for the next Boating Skills Seamanship course. I wished I could talk to Potential Customer without the salesman around. I stepped back a few feet so I could see up to their level and got a look at Potential Customer. He was wearing a nice sportcoat with a mock turtle neck under it.

However, my turn came up with a salesman on my level and I could ask a question and get it answered. About a half-hour later, my wife, Judy, and I saw Potential Customer again, and we went up and introduced ourselves. “From a couple of your questions I gathered that you were skeptical about some of the information the salesman was feeding you,” I said. He agreed and said that what he had asked was if there was any place he could learn about handling a boat.

I assured him there was and that the Coast Guard Auxiliary had a booth on the lower level. We went to the booth, and he found a class starting in a couple of weeks just a few blocks from his home.

However, Quad-Cities area boaters do not have to hunt for a course – just show up at 7 Thursday evening at the Coast Guard Auxiliary Station at Sunset Marina. The textbook, which you can share, is $30 and the course is free.

Trip update

Our “Loopers,” Greg and Doreen Younberg, have long since passed up the junction of the Tennessee River and the Tennessee-Tombigbee route to the Gulf and have continued up the Tennessee past Huntsville, Ala., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Knoxville, Tenn.

On the way, their son Noah passed on some great news: He had caught an 8-pound, 18-inch largemouth bass up here in the Midwest. On their way, they got introduced to a new barbecue sauce called Stick Fingers which they claim is close to heaven.

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Cleveland High School wrestling coach Joey Knox hires fellow former Mocs

First-year Cleveland High School wrestling coach Joey Knox has completed his staff, and he went back to his college roots to do so.

The former Southern Conference champion and two-time NCAA tournament qualifier for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga arranged for two other UTC SoCon champs to help with the Blue Raiders: Niko Brown and Nick Soto.

“I reached out to Niko because I knew he was interested in coaching. His passion is helping people, and he’d been thinking about coaching,” Knox said.

In turn, Brown contacted Soto.

Photo by
Contributed Photo
/Times Free Press.

UTC assistant coach Niko Brown watches the match against Purdue Friday at Maclellan Gym.

UTC assistant coach Niko Brown watches the match…

Photo by
Angela Lewis Foster
/Times Free Press.

UTC wrestler Nick Soto applauds for a teammate as UTC defeats VMI by a team score of 35-3 on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, at the Maclellan Gym on the UTC campus in Chattanooga, Tenn.

UTC wrestler Nick Soto applauds for a teammate…

Photo by
John Rawlston
/Times Free Press.

“Nick had been around, giving lessons and helping kids. He just loves the sport of wrestling,” Knox said. “He’d been living in Florida trying to decide what he wanted to do with his life, and Niko told him how much Cleveland had helped him.”

Brown and Soto are working as teacher assistants while gaining their teacher certifications.

In addition to his credentials as a wrestler — a SoCon championship and a pair of NCAA tournament qualifications plus a top-10 NCAA ranking — Brown served as an assistant to Mocs coach Heath Eslinger from 2014 through April of this year.

“I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do when Joey called. Going to Cleveland was a big change and unexpected,” said Brown, who had thought of leaving the sport to enter private business. “I had two knee surgeries and couldn’t wrestle, and the longer I was out of wrestling the more miserable I was.”

Soto, a three-time high school All-American at Springstead in Florida, was a four-time SoCon champion and four-time NCAA qualifier. He has spent his time since graduating from UTC in 2015 working in boat sales in Vonore and then in Clearwater, Fla.

“I always loved being in Chattanooga and felt there was where I needed to be,” he said. “Cleveland has a history as a great wrestling program. The opportunity opened up, and here I am.”

The two new additions join Sean Russell and several volunteers, but they provide a unique opportunity for Cleveland wrestlers.

“You’re going to be hard-pressed to go to any high school program and find the caliber of coaches with the diverse weight classes,” said Knox, who assumed the head coaching reins when Josh Bosken resigned. “Nick will be working with the lightweight guys, I’ll be with the middleweights and Niko will work with the heavier weights. There is so much specific attention from talented wrestlers who can relate to the kids.”

Brown also noted the diversity of the group.

“You’ve got three D-I athletes on one coaching staff. We all wrestled at the same place, we all had success at the college level and we have different styles and techniques,” he said. “We learned differently and teach differently, but I think we can collaborate on styles.”

Soto said he already had learned much from Knox, Russell and Brown.

“I’ve learned a little bit of everything,” he said. “I’ve picked up a few techniques and I’m learning about the direction of the program and building relationships with kids. It’s great to see it and be a part of it.”

Contact Ward Gossett at or 423-886-4765. Follow him on Twitter @ wardgossett.

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On Roads Turned Waterways, Volunteers Improvise to Save the Trapped and Desperate


Christian Collard climbed onto a 16-foot fishing boat as he and a group of volunteers searched a flooded Houston neighborhood.

Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

HOUSTON — The men from East Texas had just boarded their boat here, when there was a sudden jarring bump underneath.

“Fire hydrant,” explained Cody Cullum, 33, with a weary shrug.

The men were riding down an urban sea off Beltway 8, in the dark. It was long after midnight on Tuesday in this residential section on the outskirts of Houston, and under the surface of floodwaters the color of coffee and cream lay the now invisible hallmarks of city life — gutters, sidewalks, front steps and mailboxes. In parts, the waterline left a visible sliver of the tops of abandoned cars and almost reached the bottom edge of stop signs.

The volunteer rescue boat and many others like it are a sign of how the response to one of the worst disasters in decades in Texas has been, in many ways, improvised. Recreational vehicles — airboats, Jet Skis, motorized fishing boats — have rushed to the aid of people trapped in their homes, steered by welders, roofers, mechanics and fishermen wearing shorts, headlamps and ponchos. The working class, in large part, is being saved by the working class.

“Since Monday morning at 1 a.m., we’ve pulled out 81 people, six dogs and one cat,” said Arik Modisette, 29, a sales representative for a construction company and a former soldier who lives in Lufkin, Tex., about 120 miles northeast of Houston. Asked if he had hesitated before deciding to come to Houston, Mr. Modisette replied, “No, it was no matter what, they need us. Let’s go.”


A staging area for a volunteer rescue operation on Tidwell Road near a flooded neighborhood on the outskirts of Houston.

Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Alongside a huge local, state and federal disaster response was an equally giant volunteer rescue effort that operated with little official guidance. State troopers referred requests for boats in some cases to the civilians. Burly volunteers traded information and resources with deputies and officers. At the Beltway 8 offramp that served as a boat ramp, recreational boats with painted images of Texas flags and scantily clad women on the sides shared the waters with police vessels. It was hard to tell, in the darkness, who was being paid to be there and who was not. Similar relief efforts have played a major role in scores of other natural disasters, but the scale of the one unfolding in Houston post-Harvey has involved hundreds of volunteers — perhaps thousands.

Back on the water, Mr. Modisette and his three friends and relatives on his 16-foot flat-bottom boat were sleep-deprived, hungry and armed. They smoked cigarettes. They cursed. The engine kept dying. One of them showed the small gash in his foot from where he had slipped in the waters. Another huffed and puffed as he pulled the boat through the shallow water with a rope. And although they were soaked from a steady hard rain, they had become experts in navigating the rushing river known, before Harvey, as Tidwell Road.

“Last night about 4 in the morning, we nailed a mailbox,” Mr. Modisette said as he steered the boat. “We didn’t see it. It was underwater. You have to imagine the roads.”

All the men on the boat live in Lufkin: Mr. Cullum, who works in home construction; Christian Collard, 22, a pastor at an Assembly of God church; and Jason Henson, 47, a contractor who is Mr. Modisette’s uncle. They were joined by a fifth man, Perry Henson, 51, who was getting some rest and was not on the boat early Tuesday. When the men saw the devastation on the news, they put Mr. Modisette’s boat on a trailer and drove to Houston.


Harvey Flood Rescues: ‘We Got About 100 People Out’

Texans with boats are patrolling neighborhoods around Houston and bringing residents stranded by flooding to safety.

By BARBARA MARCOLINI on Publish Date August 28, 2017.

Photo by Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times.

Watch in Times Video »

At a gas station in Lufkin, they told a man where they were headed. “He handed another guy that was with us three $100 bills,” Mr. Modisette said. “Texas people just stick together.”

Mr. Modisette, who has a wife and two children, stood at the wheel early Tuesday, unshaven, with his wet white mesh cap turned backward, tobacco in his mouth and a Coca-Cola can in the cup holder. He wore a camouflage rain jacket — his old Army jacket. He and the others were headed to a church. Word had spread that a large group, including children and disabled people, was trapped inside. Information was sketchy, unconfirmed and continually shifting.

On the way, they saw something large in the water by a tree. Mr. Cullum shined the spotlight.

“I think it’s a mattress,” Mr. Collard said.

The darkness, the water and the rain turned everything askew. Lights approaching them in the distance seemed to come from cars, but as they passed they turned out to be from boats. The only sounds were the hum of boat engines and vehicles, the constant drumming of rain and the beeps from the Zello app Mr. Modisette and others had downloaded onto their phones, which functioned as a walkie-talkie radio system for volunteer boat rescuers.


Mr. Collard, a pastor from Lufkin, Tex., perched on the front of the fishing boat.

Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

The water suddenly got shallow, and the boat was grounded outside an apartment complex. The group stopped police officers and other volunteers, debating where to go and how to get there. The flooding was as unpredictable as the havoc it had wreaked: low in parts and high in others. The waters required a vessel that could travel smoothly on both land and water, and they had one but not the other.

A law enforcement officer in a raised police truck told the men that he was unable to help them — he was on the way to assist a trapped pregnant woman. Another emergency worker told them the big trucks were out of gas and the people in the church would have to wait until morning. Later, they would learn that all the people had been evacuated by rescuers in trucks and a helicopter.

As the men debated their next moves in the shallow water, a crowd of evacuees and rescuers approached at an abandoned gas station. They helped three people onto their boat: Jose Rangel; his sister-in-law, Cecilia Gutierrez; and her husband, Elias Pena. Emma, Ms. Gutierrez’s dog, crouched at her feet.

“It seems like we’re just a bunch of refugees, you know,” said Mr. Rangel, 37, a welder supervisor. “We see this on TV all the time and we think that it’s never going to happen to us, but here we are.”

Mr. Modisette sped the boat back to the staging area off Beltway 8, where the volunteers had first put the vessel in the water. For a long time, no one said anything. They looked at the water world around them, the headlamp on Mr. Rangel’s forehead shining in the dark.

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