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Posts from the ‘News from the water’ Category

Back on the water

Well, it’s been a few years but it all comes back quickly – except I never was a racer. This past Wednesday evening was only my second sailboat race. The first was several years ago for fun in my then Catalina 30. This time I have the good fortune to be invited to crew on a similar boat, but rigged out for class racing. Even got to fly a spinnaker! Proud to report, we came in first — (full disclosure, we were the only boat in our class). I’ve signed up for the season of Wednesday night races to the extent I can manage. Looking forward to sailing with a good crew and some fun time on the water. Pix follow……

Circling for the start
Good crew, good boat

Hospice fun & filling the cup!

Now a Catalina 30 outfitted for cruising is not your typical race boat. That said, normally once a year, usually at the Hospice Cup, she gets a chance to stretch! This is the year.


Hospice3Heading for the start

One of 36 boats in the Hospice Class (i.e. we’re most of us non-racers), with a high handicap (PHRF 198) we got the early start in a pursuit style race. That is, the slow boats go out first and other faster boats likely pass us on the way to the finish line. The day began cloudy, but cleared and warmed turning it into a beautiful day to be on the water. Over eighty boats were participating the the Hospice races, and many others were out to watch or simply sail.

Hospice2The fleet behind us

On the down side, the predicted winds were right on – less than 10kts. In fact, mostly what we had were in the 4-6kt range. The start and the first legs across the Bay were on a reach and, while slow (4-5kts) we were at least moving in the right direction. Turning on the far mark set the fleet directly into the wind – the beginning of the end! After several upwind tacks we were approaching the turn for home when the winds died. We were then drifting in the wrong direction with the incoming tide — enough, and with a call to the race committee we reported us as DNF.


Disappointing as it was as a race, we had plenty of other DNF company, and the after party was terrific! Moreover, it was a great success for Hospice with over $30K in donations for that great cause.




Freedom of the seas

Is that a reality? The implication is that we can get on our boat and sail anywhere that our draft allows – unobstructed. Just stay clear of the debris gyre, lost containers and other floating hazards. Moreover, we can anchor wherever our fancy suggests, and for however long a time we’d like. While a far more complex issue, there are a few highlights worth noting.

One could argue that international laws about entry and exit aside, and associated costs, at a global level this isn’t too far from the truth. But now scale down to U.S. coastal waters where the vast majority of us sail, and it becomes a bit more problematic. Regulations relating to obstruction of navigation, safety and restricted areas imposed mostly for security reasons are minor nuisances. On another front, we are on the cusp of expanding off-shore development to include large array wind energy generation. New permitting along the east coast (e.g. MD & VA) promises such development in areas that are commonly transited by sailors. To what extent those developments will become hazards to navigation, or interfere with current wind flow patterns, remains unclear. Such wind energy development is well along in other parts of the world.

windBureau of Ocean Energy Management photo

A good review of the status and extent of off-shore wind development globally can be found at the BOEM web site .

Of more immediate concern for most of us is the growing interest in some States to control traditionally free water travel along their coasts and inlets. These are clearly ‘waters of the U.S.’ and subject to Federal jurisdiction – generally the Army Corps of Engineers. A case in point is the effort underway in parts of Florida to impose local ordinances that would effectively close many anchorages. These proposed ordinances fly in the face of established State law and policy, yet State agencies are caving to pressure from waterfront residents to follow a process leading to such outcomes. Already many communities have established mooring fields – usable for a fee – that restrict anchoring opportunities spatially and economically. Hopefully, saner heads and existing State laws will prevail, and the movement of boats up and down the east coast of the U.S. will continue unimpeded.

**Those who care about such things should complete the Seven Seas Cruising Association’s survey at . Hearings are imminent in Florida.

It must also be added that the ‘Corps’ continues to suffer from budget restrictions that prevent the effective control of shoaling along the AICW. The controlling depth of 8ft MLLW is specified in Federal statute, and is not maintained in many areas. With occasional depths below 5ft the passage of deeper draft boats is restricted. This impediment to travel on the AICW has become chronic and is progressive, making future use of the Waterway problematic.

Change is inevitable, and an essential part of life, but freedom to wander on the waterways of the world feels equally essential – at least to some of us who sail.

Miami Boat Show

It’s hard to not compare the Miami Show with the great Fall Annapolis Sailboat Show. While not as large with fewer boats and spread out over several locations, it still is an exciting Show. After helping out the Passport Yacht folks in Annapolis for the past few years, I signed on as broker in time for Miami. Passport builds semi-custom, high end sail boats from 47 to 62 feet. Older brokerage boats include 40 foot models from the late ‘80s – all of which are still sailing.


 It’s great to be associated with a company so dedicated to producing the highest possible quality product. These boats, in my opinion, compete favorably against any of the other high end sailing yachts – including Oyster and Hylas that I had the chance to explore at the Show – they were parked right next to us.







The Show was busy with steady traffic, but weather up north apparently limited travel for some.  It was also my first time to see a bit of Miami as well as travel the length of the Keys. It was an interesting, if long, drive from Key West to Ft Lauderdale where I left the car. We car-pooled back to the Show to save on parking and facilitate moving one of the boats back to its home berth. It was also fun to meet so many folks, including other members of sailing networks that I knew only from on-line postings.

At the end of the Show, I got to sail on the 2013 470 center cockpit (my favorite Passport) back to Ft Lauderdale. It was a sunny day with 10-15kts of breeze making for a steady broad reach run of about 5 hours up the Florida coast at 5-7kts. What a great sailing boat!


This was a great way to begin closing out this adventure. Next week crew flies down from Annapolis to help sail/motor back north – reversing last Fall’s trip down the AICW. Given the cold winter back home, we’ll be moving slowly to allow time for Spring to arrive and hopefully warming temps.

Poplar Island Progress

What a great restoration story!

See pictures and description of the restoration of Poplar Island. Tremendous progress has been made in about 15 yrs, from a beginning when only about 4 acres of the original island remained.

Follow the link below for an outstanding photo essay…….


                                 Photo by Steve Droter

Bay Progress

The Chesapeake Bay Program released the Bay Barometer report the end of January giving a mixed review.  Progress needs to be recognized while understanding that persistence and new efforts will be needed to stay on a positive restoration track. The report is a science-based snapshot of a range of health indicators. Bay Barometer: Bay impaired, but signs of resilience abound

For more information on the Bay and restoration programs follow the link…

A New Game in Town . .

A New Game in Town Promises

More Effective Conservation

Earlier this week, a diverse group of dedicated conservationists from business, non-profit conservation and environmental groups and other natural resource professionals gathered at the Fleet Reserve Club on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The gathering was organized by the Conservation Leadership Council (CLC) whose mission is to –

“advance innovative approaches to America’s environmental challenges through policies rooted in fiscal responsibility, limited government, market entrepreneurship, community leadership, and public-private partnerships.”

Politically conservative-minded leaders have been at the forefront of innovative conservation since the early days of President Teddy Roosevelt. They have led and supported efforts in land and species conservation and restoration. They firmly support the objectives of the high profile efforts under the Endangered Species, Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. It is equally critical to understand that they firmly believe there are more effective ways, as we go forward, to accomplish those goals than the top-down, regulatory-heavy approach represented in those acts and supported by their politically liberal colleagues. While there are sharp and significant differences in policies and approaches to resource conservation, there is immense common ground for those willing to explore it.

Conservation need not be partisan. While progress has been achieved under current legislation and regulation, the most effective conservation actions nearly always grow from the bottom up with on-the-ground efforts in communities and local areas. This will be increasingly true as we move past the easier to the more difficult challenges and solutions, and public funding shrinks. Innovative ideas are tested, results are measured, partnerships are built, often against a background of contentious issues and conflicting beliefs and policies. Solutions grow out of the honest exchange of information, the development of mutual respect and trust among all the interested parties. Processes are transparent. These efforts do not always come easily, but results are universally supported and lasting. Progress is measureable – a critical element to continuing support.

The Conservation Leadership Council is a group whose efforts promise to advance conservation across the Country, and diminish the harsh partisan battling that is counter-productive to sustainable progress. They provide a beacon to follow through the challenging waters of resource conservation in the coming years. They are personal  friends and professional colleagues, and have my full support.  For more, visit .


ICW fishing

A timely reminder from the folks at ‘Take me Fishing” as boaters prepare for going south down the ICW. There’s some fine fishing to be had along the way —


The Intracoastal Waterways – An angler’s paradise

“Whether you’re a newcomer to saltwater fishing or a seasoned pro, the ICW offers some of the most accessible and enjoyable light tackle action in the country.

The Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) is comprised of various bays, inlets, saltwater rivers and other manmade water canals that offer boat passage and protection from the open sea. There are three separate ICW regions: the Gulf of Mexico ICW stretches from south Texas to the panhandle of Florida, the Florida Gulf Coast ICW connects Tarpon Springs to Ft. Myers, and the Atlantic ICW reaches from the Florida Keys all the way to Virginia.

ICW waters are typically calmer, and readily accessible to smaller recreational fishing boats. They’re also home to prolific schools of baitfish, as well as larger sport fish that migrate, feed, and breed there. Indeed, the ICW is the ultimate “inshore” fishery in America.”

…………… for the full story go here

Good news for crab lovers!

Fed figures show Md. led nation in 2011 crab catch


Posted: 5:41 pm Wed, September 19, 2012
By Associated Press


Maryland’s crab harvest last year led the nation. That’s according to figures released Wednesday by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Nearly 200 million pounds of blue crabs were landed nationwide last year, with Maryland accounting for more than 25 percent of the harvest. Louisiana was second with 22 percent and Virginia third at 19 percent

Good Bay News from MD and VA

Progress continues on improving Chesapeake Bay conditions. While slower than many would like, it is worth noting that population within the Bay watershed continues to grow bringing addition challenges. Those who depend on the Bay for a livelihood, and as a recreational resource appreciate the progress!

_____________________from the HarvedeGracePatch, July 9. 2012……..

Maryland has met its milestones to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced Monday.

The 2009-2011 milestones are part of the state’s Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), which puts the state on track to achieve its next two-year goal, as well as the 2017 goal.

“There are some challenges so large that we can only tackle them together. Restoring the Bay is one of them. And all of us are here today because we understand that the choices we make together for our Bay matter for our health, our environment, our quality of life, our economy and for future generations,” O’Malley said, according to a statement. “We have worked closely with our local partners to create and carry out a Watershed Implementation Plan that works for each individual community, and do it in an open and transparent way. Thanks to our hard work together, we have achieved our 2009-2011 milestones, and we’re on track to meet our 2012-2013 milestones.”

O’Malley’s announcement came at the Chesapeake Executive Council meeting Monday in Virginia.

See Maryland’s 2012-2013 goals via BayStat.

The progress includes planting 429,818 acres of cover crops, which prevented about 2.58 million pounds of nitrogen and 86,000 pounds of phosphorous from impacting the Bay, according to the statement. That figure met 123 percent of the cover crop goal, the statement read.

Improvements to state and local wastewater treatment plants led to the prevention of more than 1.5 million pounds of nitrogen from reaching the Bay—meeting 165 percent of the state’s wastewater nitrogen reduction goals, the statement said.

More than 106,000 pounds of nitrogen—88 percent of the state’s two-year goals—were prevented from reaching the Bay through improved site-design and retroactively installing stormwater management systems in developments, according to the statement.

The Healthy Air Act prevented more than 331,000 pounds of nitrogen from reaching the Bay on an annual basis from 2009-2011, the state said, reaching 100 percent of its goals.

The state, according to the release, also planted 895 acres of forest buffers to help naturally remove nutrients, meeting 166 percent of its goals in the process.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly, legislation passed this year will help us to protect, restore and support healthy waterways and drinking water while preserving farm and forest land, all of which will benefit Maryland families with clean water for years to come,” Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers said in the release. “Clean water is the foundation of public health, economic health and Marylander’s quality of life for the future.”

Also in the release, the state said Maryland is on track for its 2012-2013 goals, and in partnerships with Virginia, the Bay’s blue crab population is at the highest level in recorded history.


More  news ……………….

Virginia making progress on bay cleanup goals, groups say

// By: Rex Springston | Richmond Times-Dispatch
Published: July 10, 2012 Updated: July 10, 2012 – 12:00 AM


Virginia met six of nine goals set in 2009 for restoring the Chesapeake Bay, environmentalists say.

“Virginia has made considerable progress in meeting its first bay milestones,” said Ann Jennings, Virginia director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, an environmental group.

“Even in those areas where the state fell short — certain farm conservation practices and reducing lawn fertilizer — new or anticipated programs coming on line and ongoing policy ‘tweaks’ can ensure greater progress,” Jennings said in a statement.

The bay foundation and Choose Clean Water, a coalition of groups supporting the bay cleanup, analyzed nine key interim goals, called milestones. The groups announced their findings Monday.

According to the analysis, Virginia met its goals for restoring wetlands, planting grass buffers by streams, managing storm water, dealing with septic tanks and reducing nitrogen and phosphorus — key bay pollutants — flowing from sewage-treatment plants.

The state fell short, however, on increasing the planting of cover crops, planting streamside trees and managing pollution that runs off urban areas.

“All states exceeded in some categories and fell short in others, which is not surprising in this first milestone effort,” the environmentalists said in a news release.

Doug Domenech, Virginia’s secretary of natural resources, said the state is more focused on reducing pounds of pollution than meeting the individual goals.

“Virginia has already met and exceeded its nitrogen reduction goal for 2013 by 680,000 pounds!!” Domenech said in an email.

The bay foundation “should take a more comprehensive view of the program instead of focusing on the few practices we may have missed,” Domenech said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Friday that major sewage treatment plants exceeded their goals, an achievement that prevented 2.5 million pounds of nitrogen from entering waters leading to the bay.

Virginia’s efforts to reduce the plants’ nitrogen and phosphorus releases date back to the mid-2000s.

Leaders of the federal and state bay cleanup established the milestones to better gauge states’ progress. The first set of milestones covers actions from 2009 through 2011.

Meanwhile, the Chesapeake Executive Council, a group of federal and state leaders that sets policies for the cleanup, elected Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent C. Gray its chairman Monday.

The group met near Lorton at Gunston Hall, which was the home of George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Gray succeeded federal Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson.

Efforts to clean the bay have been under way since the mid-1980s. The latest plan aims to put enough pollution controls in place by 2025 to restore the bay — with most of the controls in place by 2017.

The effort could cost Virginians more than $15 billion, according to state estimates.

In addition to federal agencies, the cleanup involves Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.