Sailing News & Views

Big Midwest Presence at the Miami International Boat Show
by Dave Gorwitz

Every where I turned was a reminder of home. Here we were in beautiful Miami at one of the biggest boat shows around - sailboats, power boats, yachts, water, sun, temperatures in the 80’s - what a perfect way to leave the February snow and cold of home in Wisconsin behind for a while.

The Miami International Boat Show is big. Really Big. So big that it is split into several venues. There are thousands of exhibitors at the Miami Beach Convention Center and many more at the Strictly Sail site at Miamarina at Bayside. More still at Sealine Marina. Big boats. Really big boats. Little boats. Really little boats. And everything in between. Huge galleries of boating gear and equipment. The Miami show is like walking through the best boating catalog or magazine you can imagine.

Starting our day at Strictly Sail we walked in the gate and instead of being 1,500 miles south we were right back at home. A young lady from Harken (Pewaukee) greeted us with some complementary sun block and lip balm and we all immediately agreed that despite the great ice boating conditions back home, Miami wasn’t all that bad of a place to spend some time.

Walking down the dock we ran into Gary Edelman of Black Dog Marine (Milwaukee). Gary was giving sailboat rides for the NMMA’s Discover Sailing program. It reminded me that our little corner of the world is a pretty important player in the boating community. Glancing through the show directory we found listings for dozens more exhibitors from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.

Over at the Convention center we visited the booths of Carver Boat Company (Pulaski) and Cruisers Yachts (Oconto). Both were displaying large motor yachts. Just across the exhibition hall were more big boats from Bluewater (Mora, MN). In each booth we visited with the folks from back home.

There is shuttle service provided to get you from site to site. Seminars cover topics ranging from sportfishing to choosing the right catamaran. There is a festival atmosphere. Food and beverages are readily available. In all there are more than 2,300 exhibitors and 2.5 million square feet of exhibition space. There is no possible way to experience this show in a single day. Yet everywhere you turn is a small reminder of boating back home and winter seems to have gotten just a little shorter.

Boating Safety Continues Gains in U.S.
Number of boats nearly quadruple while fatalities decrease almost 60 percent.

According to data from the United States Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety, the U.S. continues to take the message of boating safety to heart. Final data is not yet available, but through December 15 of last year there were 678 deaths.

Comparing the projected number of 709 casualties in 2000 to the 734 in 1999, this represents a three-percent decline. Since 1997 (821 fatalities) the reduction is nearly 14 percent.

As this number continues to lower, the number of registered boats increases. A long-term look at the data underscores an overall improving record for recreational boating. While registered boats have grown from 3.5 million in 1962 to 12.7 million in 1999, boating fatalites in the same period posted a high of 1,743 in 1973, and 2000-s preliminary low mark of 709. This marks an almost 60 percent decline in deaths compared to a more than 350 percent growth in the number of boats on the waterways.

Meanwhile, the reduction in child fatalities (12 and under) is also dramatic, dropping 56 percent from 1992-98. Another safety measure, fatalities per 100,000 numbered boats owned, shows that number dropping from 32 in 1962 to 4.2, an all-time low, in 2000.

USCG sources indicate that much of the improvement points to greater life jacket, or personal flotation device (PFD), use, illustrated by a significant downward trend in the number of drownings as a percent of total fatalities - from 83 percent in 1993 to 70 percent in 1998. But boat operators are advised to take precautions against capsizing and falls overboard, which lead to drowning. USCG statistics also show that more than 16 times as many boaters drown using open motorboats versus personal watercraft because PWC operators wear PFDs. Sailboats hardly even show-up. With proper PFD usage, USCG officials estimate the lives of 500 boaters could be saved each year.

NMMA president Thom Dammrich says the recreational boating industry feels so strongly about the PFD issue that NMMA’s board of directors has adopted a resolution calling for NMMA members to show PFDs being worn in all consumer advertising. It also states that the industry will support PFD wear in its Discover Boating campaign, an effort to educate future boaters about the benefits of the boating lifestyle.

“The industry has done a great job of self-management to reduce the number of boating fatalities, but more needs to be done in the area of PFD usage,” says Dammrich, pointing to the USCG research that says nine out of every ten drowning victims do not wear PFDs. “NMMA and its members will continue to reach out to educate the public on the benefits of wearing life jackets to significantly reduce this number,” says Dammrich.

Other fatalities, according to the USCG, are linked to preventable factors involving operator inattention, careless and reckless operation and inexperience. Small boats under 16 feet in length are most often involved and nine out of ten fatalities are on boats where the operator had not completed a boating safety education course.

“These numbers indicate that simple precautions can keep improving boating’s safety record, and that everyone should feel secure getting on a boat,” says Dammrich.

For more information contact NMMA Communications manager Dan Green at 312-946-6269;

Great Lakes Basin Hydrology

The Lake Superior basin received record high precipitation for April, exceeding the previous record high by 1.15 inches. The Lakes Michigan-Huron basins also received above average precipitation, whereas precipitation was below average on the lakes Erie and Ontario basins. All of the Great Lakes Basins have received above-average precipitation for the last 12 months. During April, the record rainfall combined with melting snow to provide Lake Superior a record net supply of water. The net supply of water to lakes Michigan-Huron was also above average, whereas the net supply of water to lakes Erie and Ontario was below average.

Comparison of April monthly mean water levels to long-term (1918-1999) average show lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario were 10, 23, 12, 7 ans 2 inches, respectively, below average. Boaters should be aware of increased hazards to navigation due to current low water conditions.

Set Sail with the History Channel and Re-live Captain Cook’s Journey

Did you ever want to experience the most ambitious journey undertaken in maritime history? How about spending a grueling six weeks sailing North to Australia along the South China Sea and tracing part of Captain Cook’s journey along the way? The History Channel and the BBC are looking for crewmembers for their upcoming special, THE SHIP, which is sure to make the past come alive like never before. This special is being filmed in September and October of this year and will air in the second half of 2002.

Previous saiing experience or not, we are looking for fit men and women volunteers who are able to withstand the physical and mental demands of living and working onboard a tall ship. Onboard, we will place a mix of experienced sailors and others completely new to sailing. Within the constraints of your own safety and health, you will live and work exactly as the original crew did by undertaking a journey of six weeks throughout the South China Sea.

THE SHIP will partially replicate the first journey of Captain Cook (1768-1771). Cook was asked to observe an eclipse on the other side of the world and to discover a completely uncharted continent. For this program, however, The History Channel and the BBC are creating an exact replica of Cook’s “Endeavor” which will have low ceilings, cramped conditions and only one toilet: a hole on the edge of the ship’s front.

Thoughout the six weeks of filming, the crew will be assigned experiential tasks and tests. Each of the recruits selected for the voyage will live the life of the person whose rank they are allotted: some will discover the life of an officer while others will experience what it is like to live as a marine. Most will explore the life of a lowly seaman. In addition, a natural historian, artist and astronomer will be aboard to represent the complement of gentlemen who joined Cook’s ship on its scientific expedition.

To become a voyages on THE SHIP please write us a brief statement of 500 words or less and tell us about yourself and why you think you’d be able to take on this challenge. Please remember to include your name, address and daytime telephone number as well as any relevant sailing experience. Main your statement to: THE SHIP, c/o History Cahnnel Viewer Relations, 235 East 45th Street, New York, NY 10017 or log on to for further details.

All entrants must be over the age of 21 and a citizen of The United States or Canada. Entrants must also have a valid passport and be available for six weeks from September-October 2001.