Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Crochet Coral

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the world's largest living structure, covering over 130,000 square miles. Unfortunately climate change has become a major threat to the reef, creating environmental concerns like coral bleaching (when stress causes the organism to lose its color, eventually leading to the demise of the coral colony). Some scientists say the reef is in so much danger it could actually disappear within the next 20 years.

Organizations like the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace have been working on ways to save the reef for years. And the Institute for Figuring has recently come up with their own creative way of paying homage to the reef—by crocheting a reef made of wool!

This is just one of the many beautiful examples that crocheters from around the world have contributed to the woolen reef. Click here to view photo galleries of other works and to find out more about the threats facing the reef.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Findings at Feadship

I'm presently overseas on a tour of a few shipyards in Holland and Germany, and I thought I'd share some news from my visit to the two Feadship yards today, Royal De Vries and Royal Van Lent.

Perhaps the biggest news is "small" news, specifically the 39- and 45-meter series projects each yard (respectively) has underway. While some people thought adding a semicustom series to each yard's offerings would be risky, it's not adversely affecting them. Royal De Vries has two SL39s (as the series is called) in production, with a third yacht expected to start next year. Royal Van Lent has the second and third launches in its F45 series sitting side by side in one of its build sheds. The first F45, Space, was delivered this summer and should be cruising the Med as you read this.

In fact, Feadship hopes to have the yacht on display at the upcoming Monaco Yacht Show. If negotiations with the owner are successful, you can expect to read my first impressions here.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Latrell Sprewell Loses Yacht

Milwaukee's Best has suddenly become Milwaukee's Bust.

Former basketball player Latrell Sprewell had his 70-foot yacht repossessed this week, according to a report in the newspaper Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. A federal marshall seized the Azimut, which Sprewell bought in 2003, from a storage facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, after North Fork Bank claimed he was in default on the monthly mortgage payments of $10,322. In fact, North Fork states that the insurance hasn't been maintained either.

Even though Sprewell had the yacht registered to LSF Marine Holdings LLC, court documents apparently show that he guaranteed the bank loan personally. North Fork wants Milwaukee's Best sold so that it can recoup the $1.3 million that it says remains on the loan.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

PMY Podcasts

If you've poked around our Web site lately, you may have noticed we're now featuring podcasts. If you haven't, you're in for a treat. Simply enter "podcast" in the search box at the top of the homepage, and you'll see the lineup we have so far. (You can also download them from iTunes; search for "Power and Motoryacht.") There's my interview with Feadship's Henk De Vries about a new concept project Royal De Vries has in the works, and there's Capt. Bill Pike speaking with Volvo Penta's Clint Moore about a new facility the engine company is building to address the big-yacht and even megayacht markets.

In the next few weeks, we'll have even more. Those of you who enjoy reading "At Sea" will hear a recent column come to life, courtesy of Pike himself, and you'll hear Kim Kavin, our resident charter expert and owner/operator of Charterwave, give advice on how to find a reputable charter broker for your next on-the-water vacation.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Big Weather + Big Seas = Beat Up Boat

Me and the crew onboard the 43 Viking, Blinky III, had just finished fishing the White Marlin Open. We thought it would be good to head home from Ocean City, Maryland, to Long Island, New York, one day early in order to beat some bad weather heading south. The trip home would run 155 miles, and with east winds not predicted to go over 15 knots, our 45-degree heading (once we passed Manasquan, NJ) at 24 knots would have us home in about six or so hours.

Well, the crew was in good spirits as the first 136 miles passed uneventfully with the iPod cranking and memories of the weeklong fishing trip already growing into tall 'tails'. Then the radar lit up the deepest red I've ever seen. It expanded out 24 ugly miles from its center. This was a big thunderstorm moving from the west, which was about to collide with an increasing wind from the east. Our problem: The only place we could go was through the thinnest band in the middle. The storm was moving too slow to wait it out and the east wind was picking up to 25-plus (not predicted). We decided to proceed slow and steady.

The second we crossed into the red zone, we were smacked with a qualified gale on the beam. For the next three hours we slugged our way through 30-35-knot-plus winds, rain, and eight- to 10-foot vertical walls of water smashing down on Blinky. The waves were hitting hard enough to actually push water through the ziplock-tight zippers in the isinglass. It was getting a bit hairy. The vessel literally slid down a couple of larger waves as our speed slowed to four and five knots. The 36,000-pound boat was being tossed like a salad.

We managed to get a call to land to confirm our float plan with a family member, and kept on a 30-minute call schedule to confirm our position. Life jackets were brought out and a secondary life raft was made ready just in case.

Luckily, with four experienced crew onboard and a sturdy boat beneath, we crawled through the storm with little more than some bruised bodies and one more war story to tell.The power of the wind and storm was evidenced in what remained of our brand-new ensign. Old glory had gone from a wonderfully double-stitched expression of freedom to straggly and sad-looking strands of thread in less than 20 miles of heavy wind and big seas.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Merrill-Stevens Set to Grow

Megayachts aren't the only things getting bigger these days: The service yards they head to are as well. Case in point, Merrill-Stevens, the Florida-based yard that got a green light for a $55-million expansion in late July.

Located on the Miami River, Merrill-Stevens wants to take over some land adjacent to its current spot to create a yacht-repair staging dock and training/apprentice facilities. While construction won't begin until 2009, when the project is complete, the yard should be able to service yachts to 250 feet.

But refit and repair aren't the only things that will be addressed. In an interesting move, Merrill-Stevens is also emphasizing the beautification of the waterway, so it plans to add two pedestrian paths along the river and dress up the general landscaping of the facility. It also is working with the Historical Museum of Southern Florida to create a historical exhibit space that will include everything from photos to tools used in the marine trades to showcase how the industry has evolved in the state.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Cautionary Tale

Last Wednesday, a 61-foot Weaver sunk in six feet of water in Alabama’s Perdido Pass. The Tar Baby, as she was known, was en route to the Orange Beach Billfish Classic when her operator ignored a marked channel, opting instead to enter the Pass between the jetties and beach. In doing so, she ran into submerged rocks and ultimately sank in the shallow waters.

Tar Baby’s operator was arrested for boating under the influence, though it remains unclear whether he or a dockhand was running the boat. Fortunately, no injuries were sustained, save (of course) for the boat’s.

Marine Police Public Information officer Rick Miller told the Orange Beach Community Web site, “No one who has been drinking should drive a boat because the water is very unforgiving. And if you are going to drink, you've got to have a operator who is licensed to operate the vessel." Certainly, these photos serve as a good reminder for us all.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Summer Cruise

Reality hit as soon as I stepped onto the shaky dock: I was so excited about going on this boat cruise since the beginning of summer that I’d forgotten I get motion sickness.

Luckily, group managing editor Eileen Murphy had come prepared with anti-puke pills, which made the three-hour cruise along the East and Hudson Rivers on PMY’s Cranchi Atlantique 50 named Office Ours so enjoyable. The boat is beautiful and elegant, with cream-colored leather seats in the saloon and aft deck, where I spent most of my time indulging in the breeze while the rest of the gang (or crew) enjoyed the view from every vicinity of the boat. I snapped pictures of practically everything we passed—the Statue of Liberty, the Mayor's mansion hidden behind bushes, which publisher Dennis O'Neill pointed out to me, and five bridges, these being Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Manhattan, Queensborough, and George Washington. I can totally see how being out on the water in a luxurious boat can become an addiction; it’s one of the most relaxing things I’ve experienced, and I can’t wait to do it again!

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Vision Indeed

Here's your first look at the new Vision 68 built by Horizon Yachts. She was recently delivered from the yard in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to Seattle, as her owner plans to keep her in Canada.

Measuring just shy of 70 feet, she packs a lot into her package, thanks to designer Greg Marshall: four staterooms (each with private heads) below decks and an optional enclosed skylounge with a day head and an observation settee aft of the helm. The 20’6” beam should make all of the spaces comfortable, as should Soundown insulation for vibration and sound control. And expanses of windows in the VIP stateroom and the master stateroom plus a skylight in the saloon keep the interior bright.

If you’re in the Pacific Northwest, keep your eyes out for this lady, which is expected to cruise at 15 knots thanks to twin 1,000-hp Caterpillars. She probably won’t be hard to find, considering her owner plans to travel throughout the region with a friend who owns an 82-foot Horizon.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Foul Antifoulant

Bottoms up boaters. Starting on January 1st, 2008, the IMO’s zero-tolerance ban on Tributylin (TBT) will be in effect. Prior to 2003, the biocide TBT was a common additive to antifouling, keeping legions of hull growth at bay. Unfortunately, as TBT leached out of the antifouling, it settled on the seabed, where it continued to be effective at suppressing life. High levels of the toxin were found throughout the aquatic food web, including inside the carcasses of poisoned dolphins and otters. And although the effect on these environmental poster-children was grim, TBT's imposition on one mollusk, called the dog whelk, was...let me just say, disturbing: "TBT causes dog whelks to suffer from imposex: females develop male sexual characteristics such as a penis. This causes them to become infertile or even die. In severe cases males can develop egg sacs."

Although an IMO ban on applying TBT to vessels has been active since 2003, the upcoming 2008 ban will go further, requiring any vessel with TBT in its antifouling to have its bottom either sealed with an approved sealant or stripped and repainted. Vessels over 24 meters (~79 ft) and under 400 gross tons will be required to have both a TBT-free antifouling certificate and documentation of the work (ie: a paint receipt, etc.)

The European Union has surpassed the IMO's ban with even stricter legislation; if your vessel attempts to voyage through European waters without TBT-free antifouling, she may be subject to a fine and will not be allowed to enter any port.

Even without Europe on your itinerary, if your vessel's bottom has not been repainted in the past 5 years, it’s time to adjust the lift's slings for a haul-out. As you open your wallet to purchase the updated paint, just remember this: an androgynous whelk is a friend to no man.