Monday, March 31, 2008

Moms on the Water

On May 11, 2008 people everywhere will wax lyrical about how much they appreciate their moms. Why the well-deserved outpouring? Because that second Sunday in May is Mother's Day; a day for praise, cards, and breakfast in bed. And—in the eyes of MarineMax—it's also a great time for moms to hit the water.

Participants in MarineMax's Mother's Day Celebration (held on May 4, 2008) can attend one of the company's Women on Water boating classes. These sessions will be held at 60 MarineMax dealership locations nationwide and will introduce women to boating-basics such as maneuvering, line handling, and docking. I attended a WOW class back in July and was very happy to go toolin' around in a Sea Ray 44 while learning how to back in and use a marine radio.

If you are a mom, have a mom, or know a mom who has any inclination to learn more about boat handling, the Mother's Day event promises to be a good introduction to boating and a great way to spend a spring Sunday. Classes are open to the public but registration is required. For more information, check out MarineMax's web site.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Octopus Vs Shark

This footage of an aquatic battle for survival is just too amazing not to post. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

More Mega Marinas

There are more and more ports opening marinas that cater to the megayacht crowd. I recently checked out the Port Louis Marina in St George’s, Grenada near the base of the Antillean Windward Islands. But you don’t have to go that low in latitude to find brand new big-boat marinas.

Newport, Rhode Island’s Forty 1ยบ North is beginning its first full season May 10th. It will have slips available for vessels from 45 to 250 feet, 480-volt electrical service (made possible by over 7,000 pounds of cable), shuttle launches, and a slew of other services you’d expect from a top-notch marine facility.

The marina also has private event spaces and restaurants. The Grill restaurant, located dockside, boasts exotic foods such as the Kobe Beef Burger, as well as Newport classics like clam chowder.

For more on other new dockside facilities, check out the upcoming article, “Monster Marinas” that will appear in our May issue.

Al Copeland, Offshore Racer, Dies

Al Copeland, the colorful character known for his love of extreme speed in the boating world and spicy fried chicken in the fast-food world, died last weekend, only a few months after being diagnosed with a malignant tumor in his salivary glands. He was 64.

Just as his Popeyes Famous Chicken changed the way many folks ate, so, too, did his passion for offshore powerboat racing change the way many people viewed the sport. If you ever witnessed the races, you'll recall his screaming-yellow boats as they zoomed across the horizon. His Popeyes Offshore Racing Team met with success from the 1980's right through to the early 1990's and is reportedly to this day the team with the most wins. Some of the awards he won include the Harmsworth Trophy (a.k.a. Harmsworth Cup) and the National High Point championship (six times out of six tries).

Though Copeland had his share of serious accidents and made more than a few enemies with his speed-demon ways (there are stories of him flying past other boats at more than 100 mph), he also had his fans. If any of you encountered him or watched him race, share your experiences here.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sewage Steward

How much would you pay to let someone else empty your boat's holding tank every time it needs it? A new company is hoping about $250 a year.

Klean Marine, a start-up based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, believes many boaters would line up for the service, especially those who dump their waste illegally and then feel guilty about the pollution it causes.

The company is starting a beta test program in South Florida this summer. If you're interested, check out its Web site. If the pump-out service proves popular, the company also plans to expand nationwide to be able to service cruisers who cover a lot of coastline every year. For about $250, that means your holding tank is emptied for you everywhere you go.

What do you think of the idea? Comment below.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Say Your I Do's at Sea

When my brother got married on Upper Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, guests took a pontoon boat to Chapel Island for the ceremony. But on the west coast of Florida, the chapel comes to you!

Based out of St. Petersburg, Weddings on the Water's 60-foot floating chapel has seating for 100 guests, a private bridal suite, and a captain that will perform non-denominational weddings. It also has stained glass "portholes" and is powered by twin 125-hp Cummins diesels.

Wooden Boat Couture

Boaters tend to don decidedly, well, “boaty” garb. I mean, you’ve got custom t-shirts, navy blazers, boat shoes—even foul weather gear. Here’s a more unusual “boaty” accessory to throw into the mix: the wooden hull handbag. That’s right, you heard me. A wooden boat purse.

Cristi Silvester and Steve Thomas, an award-winning boat restorer, are the brains behind Cristi-Craft, a California-based company that creates handcrafted bow and stern handbags. Customers can select from several eras and styles, though the transom purse is the company's most popular offering. Each wooden "bag" can be finished with a custom stain, upholstery, waterline, number, and bottom paint to match a full-size boat. And each purse is finished with either a handle or a shoulder strap, depending on what the customer prefers.

Cristi-Craft says the purses, which start at around $500, make great gifts for wooden-boat enthusiasts and/or the wives of said devotees. I say they certainly rank as one of the more striking "boaty" accessories I've seen as of late.

So You Wanna Be a Crab Boat Captain?

Anyone who has watched the Discovery Channel's Emmy-nominated series The Deadliest Catch, which returns to TV this April, has seen what it's like to make a living plying the waters off Alaska's unforgivable Bering Sea: Danger in the form of Big Wind, Big Storms, Big Waves. But if all goes well, there's also Big Money! Well, Liquid Dragon Studios and the crew of the Northwestern (Sig Hansen, the boat's captain pictured here) have spent three years developing a virtual way for you to feel what its like to be in the wheelhouse of a Bering Sea crab boat.

The game, created for Xbox, is called Deadliest Catch Alaskan Storm. You start by selecting one of five different boats to run, some of which are the series' featured boats like the Cornelia Marie, Sea Star, and the aforementioned Northwestern. Once you've selected your boat and choose a crew from a roster of 20 real crabbers (Hint: Choosing the boat and crew will effect the game's outcome), you head out in search of Alaskan gold, crab.

The realism of the game is enhanced by the fact that more than 34,000 miles of Bering Sea for the game was created from an actual United States Geological Survey. Deadliest Catch Alaskan Storm also includes more than 4,500 lines of dialogue, U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Missions, 100 crew interviews, and a virtual tour of a real crab boat. Not only are you looking for crab in challenging conditions, part of the game involves trying to best the Northwestern's lifetime catch of 20 million pounds of crab. Good luck...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

One Megayacht, for Sale, on eBay

Some things you just can't make up.

The owner of the 117-foot Tiffany is apparently so strapped for cash that not only has he been trying to sell her on eBay, but he apparently has no qualms revealing to the world in her listing there that she's been repossessed by the bank. The story just gets stranger when you realize the owner is a hot-shot music producer: Scott Storch, who has worked with artists ranging from Christina Aguilera to Beyonce and 50 Cent.

Here's the direct quote (complete with the all-capital-letters it was written in) from the eBay listing:
THE BOAT IS BEING SOLD UNDER DISTRESS, OWNER BOUGHT HER AND NOW GOT SHORT ON MONEY. OWNER STARTED REFITTING THIS YACHT A MONTH AGO....To replace Tiffany in today's market would cost well in excess of 19 Million Dollars. The owner will consider taking a boat in trade or even property.
Too bad Storch—or whoever he hired to write the listing—can't get all the facts straight: The builder's name is misspelled ("Devenport" instead of "Devonport").

And too bad Storch's troubles don't seem to have an end in sight: Bidding ended without the reserve being met.

Friday, March 7, 2008

"A Hump Like a Snow-Hill!"

Melville would be proud. Researchers in Alaska have spotted the elusive “white whale” just two miles off the coast of Kanaga Volcano far out the Aleutian chain in the Bearing Sea. This one is not the sperm whale that Ahab sought, but instead, a nearly white Orca (true albinos rarely live long in the wild).

The NOAA researchers were conducting acoustic soundings off the coast when one of the crewmembers spotted the snowy creature that had evaded researches since it was first seen years before.

"I had heard about this whale, but we had never been able to find it," said Holly Fearnbach, one of the researchers. Reportedly, the NOAA boat tagged along with the pod of 12 whales for around 30 minutes as everyone aboard snapped photos.

And as a side note, for a list of memorable Melville quotes, click here. The site contains one of my favorites from the opening chapter of Moby Dick that anyone stuck with a case of cabin fever this winter and an urge to go boating can commiserate with; it is a little dark and melodramatic, but humorous as well:

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fit for a Prince

In what the spokesman of Clarence House is calling an attempt to cut carbon emissions, Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, have opted to travel around on their junket to the Caribbean aboard a yacht instead of by plane the Associated Press reported today. Although the spokesman said the trip aboard the yacht would “advance...environmental protection,” we all know that it’s simply the best way to island hop.

The couple’s tour includes Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, the active volcano of Montserrat, and Jamaica. They’ll be taken to the places aboard Leander, the 245-footer owned by British businessman Donald Gosling and built by Germany’s Peenewerft Shipyard.

Leander was ranked #42 in our 2007 edition of PMY’s World’s 100 Largest Yachts. The charter price for the Prince and Duchess was undisclosed, but according to our guide to PMY's World’s Most Expensive Charter Yachts, Leander is tied for 8th place at $566,463 a week. For an interactive map of the deck plans of Leander, click here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Shark Attack!

Well, sort of. At last month's Miami International Boat Show, Power & Motoryacht held its annual party to thank the marine industry for supporting us for more than 20 years. As is our usual approach, it was a costume party. This year's theme: the movies. As a result, people came dressed as their favorite film characters, ranging from Batman and Robin to Scarlett O'Hara and even the shark from Jaws.

In fact, that shark (a.k.a. our very own Capt. Richard Thiel) was interviewed on Miami's Plum TV. Check out the video here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Women's Boating, Part Deux

In July, I was lucky to attend an afternoon-long, Women on Water class hosted by MarineMax. Well, my good fortune has continued: last Monday I traveled to Sarasota, Florida to spend a week attending powerboat handling classes through SeaSense, the women's sailing and powerboating school.

Mine was a five day long beginner/intermediate powerboat handling course that was held on a 42-food Grand Banks called Paper Moon(see photo above). In addition to our fantastic instructor, Captain Patty, I had two other classmates. One was studying for her captain's license and the other was eagerly readying herself to spend several months cruising in the Bahamas with her fiance. The fact that we were a small group meant there was a significant amount of individualized attention, which was certainly a good thing: We were fed a lot of information in just a few short days.

Lessons covered everything from basic line handling to understanding tide charts. Captain Patty talked us through engine troubleshooting, led us through man overboard drills, taught us proper radio etiquette, and we practiced (and practiced) chart plotting. Of course we also dedicated much of our time to docking, both at fuel docks and backing into slips.

Though less-than-ideal conditions kept us off the water at times, we each got significant hands-on experience. What I found most surprising was that for someone with relatively little experience, I really wasn't nervous about the prospect of trying my hand at docking a 40-foot boat. It wasn't arrogance. It was a testament to the fact that my fellow SeaSensers, led by Captain Patty, were kind, enthusiastic, and above all, very supportive. I don't know if that's the nature of all boating classes or my course in particular. But I do know that the class left me feeling very fortunate indeed.