Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rain, Rain, Go Away...

As I write this, the entire Power & Motoryacht staff has gathered in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island, for our annual strategy meetings—except we're not out on the water, we're indoors. In conference rooms. Without windows.

But it's actually a good thing, because for the past two days, it's been raining cats and dogs. And in general, these strategy meetings turn out to be great for us and for you, so you can imagine how much more productive we'll be without distractions of boats bobbing on the water. We're brainstorming new article ideas and designs, new content for our Web site, etc. In fact, a big focus this week is the redesign we're planning for powerandmotoryacht.com.

The powers that be are keeping us editors pretty busy through Friday, so we likely won't get a chance to blog much. But know that when we're back, we'll have more to share with you.

That is, if we can get home without having to build an ark first...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Icon-ic Build

If you've received a copy of the new May issue of Power & Motoryacht, no doubt you've read the "Design Portfolio" about a relatively new megayacht builder, Icon Yachts. Icon is a Dutch yard that, among other things, is constructing yachts on a modular basis and with set hull forms and machinery-space layouts. These, the yard's management firmly believes, speed up build time and result in other efficiencies.

Yet another example of the efficiencies: Every hole down to 15mm was already cut in the steel of these 62-meter vessels, Hull nos. 1 and 2, when the hull plates were cut, instead of waiting until the structure was assembled.

Meanwhile, work on Hull no. 3 is underway at one of Icon's subcontractors.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Radar Overload?

Early last week, my brother Chip and I happily saw our 31-foot Ocean Master Expeditor, get dunked for the season. We're always happy to see her out of shrink wrap on in her slip. We decided to give her a good cleaning and wax the topsides. When we got down to the boat, Chip started tooling around with the electronics he'd just re-installed after making some modifications to the electronics box. Well, he turned on the Northstar 6100i plotter-radar and after a few minutes we saw the picture you see here with spoke-like lines shooting out.

Baffled by what we saw, we inquired with Northsar about the image as we'd never seen it before. Well, we got the answer (see below):

"The odd spoking you're seeing is caused by interference of another nearby radar. Or, If you have another radar on your boat—you should use Interference rejection = HI. It will go away. Interference is circular like this on the longer ranges. You also have the GAIN up quite high on the longer ranges....too much "speckle". Very common to see this spoking in a marina..."

We're happy to report everything is back to normal. If you see a similar problem this season, rest assured it's not major and easily corrected.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Was it the Rivets?

According to a recent article in the New York Times, it was more than just an iceberg and poor watching keeping that sank the Titanic. The rivets were also to blame.

It seems that the overloaded ship builder Harland & Wolff ran into a series of setbacks in obtaining enough rivets for the 411-foot cruise liner. It opted, among other remedies, to outsource rivet making to local forges. Many of the forges were unskilled in making rivets, a process that was “tricky” according to Dr. Jennifer Hooper McCarty, who wrote her thesis on the Titanic’s rivets and was also a co-author with Tim Foecke of a new book called, “What Really Sank the Titanic”.

Iron rivets, instead of steel rivets, where also used in essential places throughout the Titanic, further compromising her hull’s integrity. Iron rivets were on the bow where the iceberg struck.

Representatives of Harland & Wolff dispute the claims, calling the information in the book circumstantial at best.

Monday, April 14, 2008

America's Port, Reality Show

This morning, I woke to a panicked call from my boyfriend, Ben. He's been out of town for a few days, and won't be back until tomorrow. "Will you please, please tape 'America's Port' for me?" he practically squealed. (Sorry, Ben.) Well, there was no need for his consternation: My DVR was already set to record. Because...Hello my name is Catherine, and I'm an "America's Port" addict.

"America's Port" is a reality show that airs on the National Geographic Channel on Monday nights at 10 ET. This eight-episode series provides a behind-the-scenes look at the enormous Port of Los Angeles, the nation's leading seaport in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value. From loading and unloading cargo hundreds of feet in the air to the grim task of searching for bodies underwater, there's certainly a lot that goes on at this center for trade, and most of it is pretty interesting to watch.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Safe Boaters Wanted!

If you're the kind of boater who always makes sure your guests know proper behavior onboard and what to do in an emergency, then the National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) can use your help. The U.S. Coast Guard is presently seeking people to fill some open positions on the council's board.

Just because you're a Regular Joe, don't think you can't get involved. In fact, the NBSAC is comprised of members of the general public as well as representatives from the boating industry, national recreational-boating organizations, and state-level departments responsible for boating-safety programs. The council works closely with the Coast Guard and in turn with the Secretary of Homeland Security on federal regulations and other matters relating to boating safety.

For further information, or to download an application, click here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ethanol Lawsuit

If a federal class-action lawsuit filed earlier this week eventually succeeds, Big Oil will pay big bucks for what the plaintiffs claim is deliberate misinformation regarding ethanol.

The suit seeks to represent boat owners who have fiberglass fuel tanks and who filled them with ethanol-blended gasoline from a California retailer. The suit also seeks to represent all California residents who own boats with a fiberglass fuel tank that had to be replaced because of damage caused by ethanol-blended gasoline bought from a California retailer.

Kabateck Brown Kellner, the lead firm on the case, claims that when Methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) was banned in many states in 2004 because of environmental concerns, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and other oil companies selected ethanol as an octane-booster replacement. However, the lawsuit further states, consumers weren't educated about the differences between MTBE and ethanol-mixed gasoline, nor were they informed about "the disastrous effects ethanol has on fiberglass marine fuel tanks." Ethanol dissolves the resin and therefore the tank, and eventually the boat's engine and other systems are affected, since the dissolved resin enters the fuel system.

The lawsuit also states that ethanol-blended gasoline harms the environment due to phase separation, in which water attracted by ethanol remains in the bottom of the fuel tank while the gasoline floats to the top. "The environment pays the price for Exxon and Chevron's deception each time a damaged fuel tank leaks gasoline into the water," says Brian Kabateck, managing partner of Kabateck Brown Kellner.

BP, Shell, Valero, Tesoro, ConocoPhillips, Tower Energy, PetroDiamond, and Big West were also named in the lawsuit.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Blackbeard Pirate Festival

The ninth annual Blackbeard Pirate Festival will once again unfold in downtown Hampton, Virginia. It’s an event suitable for the entire family (even pets) with provided entertainment for children, such as historical reenactments and a treasure hunt. Meanwhile, yacht enthusiasts can go to appreciate vessels of the past. Tall ships will be in display along the waterfront, in addition to two-full scale replica vessels on which the reenactment of Blackbeards’s battle against Lt. Maynard will take place. Go to celebrate the waterfront’s history with fun, eighteenth century-inspired activities, costumes, and ships. The festival occurs from May 30th to June 1st. Friday’s main event is a Grand Pirates Ball. Saturday evening will close with a fireworks spectacular beginning at 9:30.

Those looking for dock space during the Blackbeard Festival should call marinas near this downtown location to confirm details and availability – such as, Downtown Hampton Public Piers (757/727-1276), Customs House Marina (757-868-9375), Bluewater Marina (757-732-6774), and Sunset Boating Center (757-722-3325).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

In the Middle of Nowhere

Tired of fighting crowds of boats at the local anchorage or waterfront pub? Want to really get away from it all? Then do what I did and head for The Sea of Cortez. The Moorings has a base in La Paz, at the southern end of the Sea from which you can charter--bareboat or captained—a very well-equipped 44-foot power catamaran. The scenery is unbelievably striking, like a lunar landscape surrounded by the bluest water you can imagine. And there's virtually no other boats there.

To give you some idea of just how untouched this area is, check out this video. I shot it from the top of a tiny islet called Isla Coyote (excuse the feet), on which 20 to 30 fishermen somehow live. How's that for an unspoiled vista? Right at the beginning you'll see a small, white building. That's the island's church. Right after that you'll get a quick look at our charter boat off in the distance, and then at the end you'll see a small outboard-powered panga. It belongs to the fishermen, who are headed out to get us a lobster. The cost? About $10 for a 12-pounder.

Look for a feature story with lots of photos in the July issue of PMY.

115-Foot Sportfish

This is no April Fool's joke; you're looking at a 115-foot sportfisherman. The vessel comes courtesy of Turkish builder LOGOS Marine. She was designed by Ed Fry. The yacht is powered by triple Caterpillar C32 ACERT engines with ZF gears and trolling valves. The boat is expected to hit speeds in excess of 30 knots.

And no one can complain about fish-fighting space, as the cockpit measures 23 feet wide. Large refrigerated fish boxes double for cold stowage on long voyages. To port is a cleaning station, on center a tackle locker and entry to a shower and six-person sauna. (What's a sportfish boat without the sauna, really?)