Nautical News: For the week of June 26th, 2011

SENATOR SCOTT BROWN DRILLS NOAA OFFICIAL AT HEARING

Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown co-chaired an investigative hearing with Senator Tom Carper from Delaware at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. The focus of the hearing was on NOAA’s and the National Marine Fisheries Service mismanagement and use of the asset forfeiture fund which consisted of fines, penalties, and proceeds from the sales of fishermen’s properties collected by NOAA’s overzealous law enforcement agents. U.S. Inspector General, the Honorable Todd Zinser, was present at the hearing and told the Senators that up to 47 million dollars collected from the fishermen were missing and that other money collected from the fishermen was spent to purchase a luxurious pleasure boat, bought more cars than the agency had drivers, and paid for NOAA employees’ trips to Europe.

NORTHEAST FISHERIES OFFICIAL PAT KURKUL TO RETIRE

Patricia Kurkul, the Northeast regional administrator for the NOAA’s fisheries service, announced she plans to retire at the end of this year. Kurkul has been New England’s top fishing regulator since 1999. The timing of this announcement is a little suspect in light of the recent investigative Senate hearing in Boston pertaining to NOAA officials’ misbehavior.

CAPE COD BOAT WORKER MISSING AT SEA

Coast Guard, state police, and local authorities searched unsuccessfully for a missing 21 year old East Falmouth man after the 18 foot boat he was operating was found in Nantucket Sound going in circles. There was no apparent damage to the boat. The missing person was identified as Daniel Andrade, who worked at Little River Boat Yard in Mashpee. He was delivering the boat to its owner in New Seabury at the time he went missing. According to boatyard workers, it was picture perfect day weatherwise, but because of the cold water temperature, by the end of the day the search changed from a search and rescue mission to a search and recovery mission. Ultimately the search was suspended after more than 180 square miles were searched. A couple of days later, the missing man’s sneakers were found washed up on the beach.

CAPE COD BOATER DIES AFTER BOAT CAPSIZES

And in an unrelated incident, a 69 year old Orleans man died after the boat he was operating capsized. He was close enough to shore that neighbors saw the accident and called 911. Local firemen pulled the man from the water and started CPR until paramedics arrived. He was taken to Cape Cod Hospital where he was pronounced dead. It was not known whether the man had a previous health problem or whether he drowned after the boat capsized.

COAST GUARD WANTS NEW KILL SWITCH REGULATION

The Coast Guard is developing a new regulation to require the installation and use of lanyards and engine cut-off switches for boats less than 26 feet in length. The lanyard attached to the ignition switch will turn off a boat’s engine if the operator is ejected from the boat. The Coast Guard is seeking public comments on the use of lanyards. They believe it will prevent boating injuries and casualties caused when people are struck by a riderless boat. The Coast Guard has posted 29 questions in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and is accepting comments until September 6. Boaters can also make comments to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

OPERATION DRY WATER IN EFFECT

Coast Guard units, along with local and state marine law enforcement officers, will be out in force today across the nation for Operation Dry Water, an annual campaign focused on the enforcement of boating under the influence laws. Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher is against federal and most state laws. Boaters caught operating under the influence will find their voyage terminated and their vessel impounded. Additionally, penalties can include arrest, fines, loss of boating privileges, and even loss of automobile driving licenses. The agencies participating in Operation Dry Water will have breathalyzers on board to test those suspected of boating under the influence.

TALL SHIPS COMING

The US Navy and Operation Sail Inc., a nonprofit based in Washington, said in a joint news release that the tall ship fleet will be coming to Boston next summer to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the role the USS Constitution played in that conflict. As many as 120 tall ships have been invited. Planned activities include parades of sail, public tours of the vessels, and air shows according to organizers. President Obama has also been invited to participate in the festivities, and organizers are hopeful that he will attend ceremonies in Boston.

ACCIDENT IN BOSTON’S CHARLES RIVER LOCKS

Nautical Talk Radio received a news tip from some members from yacht clubs on the Charles River. Apparently while some boats were waiting in the locks, a new employee hit the wrong button and opened the wrong door. We were told that an 8 foot wall of water rushed into the lock causing damage to the boats. One eyewitness said the “floats” inside the locks also broke off.

WILD TURKEY LIVING ON BOSTON’S SPECTACLE ISLAND

Park rangers on Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor claim a wild turkey has taken up residence there. Turkeys are not very good flyers, so nobody is quite sure if the bird made it there on its own or if it was brought there by a person. The rangers are warning visitors to Spectacle Island not to feed the bird. So far, the turkey has not been a nuisance to anyone, so there are no plans to relocate it. The rangers said they would let Mother Nature take its course as long as the turkey does not become too aggressive.

MESSAGE IN BOTTLE FOUND IN SCOTLAND

And last on today’s nautical news, a glass bottle, cast into the Gulf Stream off New England one year ago as a farewell gesture to a departed Massachusetts sailor, turned up last week on a beach in Scotland. Bound with tape and sealed with wax, the rum bottle carried handwritten tributes to Mattapoisett resident Ken MacKenzie, a lifelong sailor who died of cancer last year at the age of 69. The bottle was launched from the deck of a 76 foot sailboat last June while competing in the 2010 Newport to Bermuda race. The irony of it all is of course that MacKenzie was Scottish and the tribute bottle ended up in Scotland. Truth is stranger than fiction.

About John Shea