Nautical News: For the week of December 22, 2013


The Coast Guard suspended its search for a fisherman who went overboard from the fishing vessel Lydia & Maya approximately 32 miles southeast of Cape Ann. Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Boston received a call just after noon on Thursday from the 71 foot fishing vessel Lydia & Maya reporting that a 47 year-old male crewmember had fallen overboard and they were unable to find him. He was wearing yellow pants, orange overcoat, and no lifejacket. Coast Guard boats from Stations Gloucester and Provincetown searched as did the 270 foot Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma and the 87 foot Cutter Ridley. Air Station Cape Cod also sent a helicopter. The fishing vessel Lydia and Maya’s homeport is Boston. The water temperature at the time was 47 degrees, the air temperature 40 degrees and seas were 2 to 4 feet with 20-knot winds.



Coast Guard Petty Officer Third Class Travis Obendorf, who was injured last month while rescuing crew members from a disabled fishing vessel off Alaska, died this past week at a Seattle hospital from injuries sustained during that rescue. A report released by the Coast Guard stated that the 166 foot fishing vessel named the Alaska Mist was adrift without power in the Bering Sea off Alaska. Coast Guard Cutter Waesche (WAY-shee), in which Obendorf was aboard, responded to help the fishing vessel removing its 22 person crew. Obendorf was seriously injured while assisting in the transfer of the first fisherman and recovering a small boat. At the time of the accident, winds were blowing 40 to 46 mph and 10 foot seas. The Coast Guard cutter’s commanding officer, Capt.John McKiney, said Travis Obendorf’s willingness to help others “even amidst the dangerous environment of the Bering Sea,” embodies the Coast Guard’s core values. He will be sadly missed.”



The Coast Guard’s icebreaking operations got underway in New England after the season’s first extended cold spell. Icebreakers went to work to keep the navigation channels open in our local bays and rivers wherever commercial vessels travel. It is also essential to keep these channels open to facilitate a search and rescue operation. In addition to our icebreakers, the Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts daily reconnaissance flights, providing updated information about ice conditions, which is then transmitted and posted to the Homeport site for waterway users. Ice operations are one the Coast Guard’s eleven statutory missions.



Chatham Harbormaster Stuart Smith was placed on paid administrative leave while town officials conduct an investigation into his conduct on the job. Police Chief Mark Pawlina, who last year became boss of the harbormaster, insisted there was no criminal investigation. Town residents said that it was controversial move for the town manager to put the police chief in charge of the harbormaster. Residents felt that the harbormaster should either be independent or under control of the town manager or even better, placed in a department that handles Coastal Resources or Environmental issues. Last year, Chatham residents voted at town meeting 226 to 109 in favor of the town manager supervising the harbormaster. However, that vote was nonbinding.



The Recreational Fishing Alliance says saltwater anglers may get big gift this Christmas. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings just unveiled a draft proposal to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The draft proposal is titled Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act, which governs the recreational and commercial harvest of fisheries in Federal waters. It would renew and amend the Magnuson-Stevens Act which was last authorized by Congress in 2006. The proposal could give regional fishery managers increased flexibility to deal with the complexity of fishery issues and provide economic stability and certainty to fishermen and fishery dependent communities according Senator Hastings. He further added that it would also improve data collection and increase transparency so that management decisions are based on sound science and all who are impacted by the law can have an active role in the process.



It was hoped that for the first time since 2009, boat sales in 2013 would top 200,000 new boats sold. Aluminum pontoon boat sales were leading the way, but in November, things took a turn for the worse. Cold stormy weather that spread across most of the U.S. was to blame. Boat sales in most of the aluminum and fiberglass categories declined in November for the first time since April. Even so, industry leaders said total number of boats sold in all 50 states for 2013 will be up about 6 percent. The breakdown was as follows: sales of sailboats, personal watercraft, jet boats, and 14 to 30 foot power boats fell, while sales of 31 to 62 foot powerboats increased.



Geologists now believe that there are diamonds under the ice in Antarctica. They say that a kind of rock that often contains diamonds has been found under the ice for the first time. The rocks are called kimberlites and are known for where diamonds are often found. It is named after the South African town of Kimberley, the site of a late 19th-century diamond rush. So the icy continent could be quite valuable except for one thing. Mining in Antarctica is banned. It is protected by an international treaty signed by the United States and China that preserves the continent for scientific research and wildlife, from penguins to whales. That treaty expires in the year 2041.



And last on today’s nautical news, the other day, the band REO Speedwagon canceled their upcoming concert series at SeaWorld in Orlando. Other performers who have canceled their performances at Sea World were the Bare Naked Ladies, Willie Nelson, and Heat. They all protested the theme park keeping whales in captivity. A CNN documentary movie titled Blackfish tells the story about the largest male killer whale in the world kept in captivity for years. The killer whale at SeaWorld has actually killed three people – a rookie trainer who accidentally fell in his tank, a drifter who snuck into his pool, and a veteran trainer who was dragged under and mauled during a dinner show. Is it time to let this great whale go back into the wild?

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