Nautical News: For the week of May 12, 2013


Tragedy struck the America’s Cup this week when the Swedish team’s 72 foot long catamaran boat capsized trapping Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, its strategist, underwater. Doctors on chase boats and on shore performed CPR, but were unable to revive the 36 year old sailor. Simpson was a citizen of Great Britain and won two Olympic medals, a Gold in 2008 and a Silver in 2012, in the Star class of sailing. He was considered one of the best sailors in Great Britain. British newspapers reported that Simpson leaves behind a wife and an infant. This is the second time a sailor has died during training for the America’s Cup. In 1999, Martin Wizner of the Spanish Challenge died almost instantly when he was hit in the head by a broken piece of equipment, but no deaths have occurred during the actual racing since its inception in 1851. In last week’s accident, one other sailor was slightly injured, but he and the rest of the team were all rescued. Stephen Barclay, CEO of the America’s Cup Event Authority said it was unclear what effect the death will have on the America’ Cup races, which are scheduled to begin in July, but there is no doubt the accident could sink the America’s Cup races.


Closer to home, the season’s first boating fatality in Massachusetts happened this past week on the Taunton River. Police said a 47-year-old Taunton man, one of two passengers in the 17 ½ foot boat, died after being struck in the head when the boat struck a tree in the river. The driver of the boat and the other passengers received minor scrapes and bruises. The operator of the boat was arrested and charged with drunken boating homicide and negligent operation of a boat after failing several sobriety tests and admitting that he drank four or five beers, along with vodka, before the crash. Prosecutors said the man was drunk and speeding at the time of the accident. An OUI boat homicide charge carries a maximum punishment of 15 years in a state prison, or a maximum of 2 ½ years in a jail or house of correction and a $5,000 fine, according to state law.


More than 200 boating industry leaders went to Washington to discuss challenges that face their industry and their businesses. Before they met with their representatives in Congress. National Marine Manufacturers Association’s president Thom Dammrich warned his members that Congress, with one quick stroke of a pen, could wreak havoc on their industry. Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West, Virginia, told everyone how much he loved boating. He called his 54 foot Sea Ray docked at the D.C. marina “the most important part of his and his wife’s life” and said the boat serves as a useful political tool getting his democrat and republican friends together for a meeting on the water. The Senator said he was strongly opposed to ethanol, supported dredging projects, and promised to fight restrictions that prevent boaters from accessing our national parks.


Legislators in the state of Maine approved a bill that would ban the sale of corn base ethanol if two other New England states pass a similar law. In addition, the Maine’s legislators unanimously endorsed a resolution urging the federal government not to require gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol, a blend known as E15. Proponents of the ban said that ethanol in gasoline hasn’t helped the United States cut down on carbon pollution, and the additive is damaging small engines and boat motors. Plus, the use of corn in gasoline has forced the price of corn and food products to go up as well the gasoline prices. According to the AAA, about 95 percent of car owners could face the possibility of voided warranties on their vehicles if they fuel up with E15.


Two Carnival cruise ship passengers sharing a cabin, identified as a 30-year-old man and 26-year-old woman, went missing somewhere off Australia’s eastern coast. However, crew on the ship didn’t realize it until the ship docked in Sydney and the missing couple’s luggage went unclaimed. Police have examined onboard video and believe the couple went overboard from a deck halfway up the side of the ship, which is quite a way to fall. This incident is the latest in a series of high-profile, bad luck incidents involving the Carnival cruise lines.


Earlier this year, the environmental group Oceana reported that 30 percent of seafood tested nationwide in the United States was mislabeled. Now in their latest report, Oceana blames Illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing as the primary cause of the seafood fraud. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, according to Oceana, accounted for 20 percent of the annual global fishing catch. Oceana further reported that this illegal fishing around the world has caused economic losses in the billions of dollars and has undermined decades of conservation by American commercial fishermen.


The Florida Highway Patrol stopped a Ford F250 pickup truck as it towed a brand new 28 foot Regulator center console down the highway. The Florida Highway Patrol were tipped off by the Customs and Border Patrol that the boat was stolen from the Regulator factory in South Carolina. An agent in an airplane was following the truck and boat down the highway. Officials said this type of boat is now the choice of drug and migrant smugglers, and that South Florida also serves as an ideal location to send stolen boats, cars and trucks to the Caribbean and Latin America. Apparently, the F250 pickup truck was also stolen. The driver was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property. The Customs Border and Protection Office of Air and Marine is the world’s largest aviation and maritime law enforcement organization with more than 1,200 federal agents, operating from 84 air and marine locations, with 276 aircraft and 289 maritime vessels.


Convicted Ponzi stock trader Bernie Madoff’s 88 foot yacht named Bull is back on the market for $5.5 million. Madoff paid $7.9 million to the Italian shipyard when it was built in 2007. Madoff’s boat was thought to have been sold last year to buyers from Russia, but they failed to come up with the money. Now, a yacht broker acting on behalf of the liquidators of Madoff Securities International is seeking “credible offers” for the yacht that is still like new. Europeans say the yacht is a real steal.


After receiving numerous complaints about the loudness and the irregularity of the privately owned Borden Flats Lighthouse’s foghorn in Fall River, the Coast Guard has agreed to shut the horn off and decommission it. However, the foghorn mounted to the Braga Bridge, about 1,000 yards northeast of the Mount Hope Bay lighthouse is still operational and maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. A posting on the Borden Flats Lighthouse Facebook page alerted readers that if you are on the bay navigating at night or in the fog, please don’t run into the light, which is now operated as a bed and breakfast.


And last on today’s nautical news, residents of a Quincy senior apartment complex near the ocean are complaining about a constant “low tide” smell. The persistent rotten egg smell has lingered over The Moorings at Squantum Gardens for about six weeks and according to the senior residents, the smell is unbearable. City officials said they do not know what is causing the smell 24/7 and have hired chemists to test water samples for the presence of bacteria. So far, those tests have come back negative – no bacteria. A city councilor suggested it might be red tide causing the smell, but officials with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries said no, not red tide, but maybe another type of algae is causing the smell. Now a local shellfisherman has offered his opinion saying he thinks the smell is coming from rotting shellfish that were killed by a virus. No matter what is causing the low tide smell, it appears the seniors will just have to hold their noses and let Mother nature run its course.

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