Nautical News: For the week of September 29, 2013


Last week we asked if anyone was watching the America’s Cup races. As it turned out, if you didn’t watch the last few races, you missed some of the most exciting races in America’s Cup history. After being penalized with two losses in the best of 17 series, Team Oracle USA found themselves down 8 – 1 and on the brink of elimination. In what is now being called one of the greatest comebacks in American sports, Team Oracle USA went on to win the next 8 races in a row to win and keep the America’s Cup. They defeated Team New Zealand in the final winner take all race by 44 seconds. The previous time the Cup was decided in the last race was in 1983 when Australia II defeated Dennis Conner’s Liberty off Newport, R.I. The Australians were down 3-1 and came from behind to win 4-3, ending America’s 132 year winning streak. We congratulate this year’s winner, Team Oracle USA.



Quincy firefighters put out a boat fire at the Wollaston Yacht Club on Monday afternoon. There was one person on the boat at the time of the fire, but there were no reports of any injuries. The boat was declared a total loss. The fire was caused by a small burner in the cabin of the boat being used to make some coffee.



Officials investigated neighbors’ complaints of a mysterious odor in the Fore River near the Quincy Shipyard. What they found was a milky substance leaking from a barge tied up to the pier. The substance leaking into the water turned out to be animal fat. A spokesperson with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said that his agency had never seen a spill with this type of material before. The company that owned the barge said the animal fat was used to make soap and candles and that the fat posed no threat to the environment or to the public. Even so, Clean Harbors was hired to contain and clean up the fat.



A dead juvenile female blue shark, 5 to 6 feet long, was discovered in Hingham harbor near the boat ramp. Hingham police said there were no visible signs that the shark had been hooked or gaffed. A scientist at the New England Aquarium said the cause of death had not yet been determined, but felt it was most likely caught and released by a fisherman. However, blue sharks are so common in our coastal and offshore waters it is possible that it died of natural causes and washed up in the bay.



The Coast Guard is investigating how a 154-foot barge carrying gravel struck the New Bedford hurricane barrier causing substantial damage to the barrier’s fender protection system. However, the gates of the barrier were tested and are functioning. The Army Corps of Engineers said the hurricane barrier is fully functional. It is believed that last week’s moon tide played a role in the accident when the 54-foot tug, Thuban, heading out of New Bedford Harbor and pulling the barge, Hydra, had the allision. The tug boat’s captain reported the accident to the Coast Guard.



The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department said a 71 year old Massachusetts man died in an accident while launching his boat with a friend on the Connecticut River. When the boat hit the water, it began drifting down river. The man, wearing hip waders, went after the boat, but lost his footing and fell. He then began to swim after the boat. According to his friend, it didn’t take long before he started going under. The friend went after him and pulled his buddy from the river and called for help. Emergency crews arrived and attempted lifesaving measures but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.



Geraldo Rivera donated his 68-foot aluminum sailboat named Voyager to the Maine Maritime Academy. His schedule as a TV reporter made it difficult for him to use the boat, so he decided to give it up, but Rivera said he simply did not want to sell the boat because it was so much a part of his family. He wanted to make sure it would be put to good use and properly maintained. He recalled sailing the boat with his family to the international dateline on New Year’s Eve 1999, to be among the first people to experience the new millennium. He also sailed the Voyager up the Amazon River, a trip that was featured on the Travel Channel. His last trip on the boat was sailing it to the academy.



A 420 million year old fossil that links ancient fish to human evolution has been found in China. Scientists said the newly discovered fish fossil may be the first creature on Earth to have a face. It clearly has jaw bones and cheeks. The fossil disproves the long-held theory that modern animals evolved from a shark like creature with a frame made of cartilage. Instead, this fossil is another branch in the tree of evolution that shows that man evolved from a fish with bones.



And last on today’s nautical news, forty-thousand letters; 40,000 members. For 40 consecutive years Lois Bouton has written letters to Coast Guard men and women, earning her the nickname the Coast Guard Lady. Bouton reported to boot camp on September 3rd, 1943. After a month of basic training, she then spent five months in radioman school in Atlantic City, N.J., where she learned Morse code. While in radioman school, she met her husband, who served in the Army, on the Boardwalk. After World War II, she taught first grade at a school north of Chicago, while her husband became a barber at the nearby veterans hospital. In her spare time, she visited patients at the hospital who were in the Vietnam War. In 1974, she and her husband moved to Arkansas. It was here that Bouton became the Coast Guard Lady. Missing the contact with veterans at the hospital, she wrote to Coast Guard units in Alaska and asked them for addresses of isolated stations and lighthouses. She sent cards and letters to friends stationed with her during the war. To this day, she stays in contact with those shipmates. Now she is over 90 years old, but can’t stop writing letters. I wonder how much she has spent on stamps.

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