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.

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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.

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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 http://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy-program/renewable-energy-guide/offshore-wind-energy.aspx .

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 https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/FLA-ANCHOR . 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.

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 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.

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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!

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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…….

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                                 Photo by Steve Droter

http://www.chesapeakebay.net/blog/post/photo_essay_poplar_island_restoration_brings_critical_habitat_back_to_bay

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… http://www.chesapeakebay.net/

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 www.leadingwithconservation.org .

 

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 http://www.takemefishing.org/community/anglers-legacy/anglers-legacy-enews-quarterly/2010_archive/september-2010/intracoastal-waterways