Sailing News

3 Chicago Mac Racers Rescued off Sinking Sailboat

On July 19th, three Race to Mackinac 2007 participants were heading home to Chicago through the Onekama Township channel - near Lake Michigan. By around 8:15 p.m. the U.S. Coast Guard had found the boat aground. They tried to free the vessel but choppy 4-6 foot waves stopped them. A privately-owned tug boat freed the sailboat from its stuck position. At this point is where the 40 foot sailboat started taking on water and it soon sank in 15 feet of water. The three racers were ultimately rescued safely from the water by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Homeland Security – Out to Lunch

Contrary to what you may be hearing from U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials lately, recreational boating has never been safer.

According to the latest available statistics for 2004, more people died in bathtubs and swimming pools (847) than in recreational boats (676). Operating a boat is far safer than riding a bicycle, motorcycle or off-road vehicle. In fact, you have a much greater chance of perishing from a fall involving a bed, chair or furniture (838) or falling from a stairs or steps (1,588) than you do in falling from a boat.

“Recent calls by Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Coast Guard officials that recreational boating would be safer if boaters were “certified” and required to show proof of identification is just not backed up by the facts,” said BoatU.S. President Nancy Michelman.

“The rate of recreational boating fatalities per 100,000 boats has been cut by 75 percent and the number of boating fatalities has been reduced by 58 percent since the implementation of the landmark Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971,” Michelman noted.

Currently, Congress is considering Administration-backed legislation that could result in licensing boaters in the name of national security because the Coast Guard does not believe it has the authority to require a boat operator to produce identification absent probable cause.

“Requiring millions of recreational boat owners to be licensed and tasking the already overburdened Coast Guard with implementing a duplicative system solely to identify those operating a boat will be costly to develop, take years to implement and will not result in a demonstrable improvement in national security,” said BoatU.S. at a recent “summit” meeting held under Homeland Security Department auspices.

Instead, BoatU.S. believes a comprehensive waterway security program needs to be established. It would be far simpler and much less costly for the Coast Guard to ask Congress for the authority to require boat operators to produce the same identification now required to board a commercial airline flight. In addition, the Coast Guard should substantially expand its Waterway Watch program to enable thousands of recreational boaters to be the Coast Guard’s eyes and ears on the waterways and, it should clearly mark security zones – both public and private – to ensure that boaters know where they can and can not go.

Crow’s Nest Yachts Becomes the Great Lakes Sales Representative for Passport Yachts

This is the first time great lakes sailors are being offered the opportunity to locally purchase a bluewater cruising boat that is customized, from the inside out and outside in. The result is a boat that is a true reflection of how she will be used. PASSPORT's unique approach to each boat begins with standard hull shapes from Robert Perry and Bill Dixon, and multiple configurations of rigging and layout developed in collaboration with previous owners. These are simply thought starters, after a thorough programming of the owner's needs, the final design evolves with the owner's input. Finally the resultant design on paper is given a thorough engineering review to confirm that the construction integrity has not been compromised in the process.

As Crow’s Nest Yachts approaches its 30th anniversary, they have been able to observe the growing trend in great lakes sailors to explore the world's oceans. They felt that the great lakes sailors deserved a personalized yacht with world class construction, and a fair price.

For more information please contact: Reeve Hutchinson, Crow's Nest Yachts, phone (651) 739-2880 or email:

DNR issues safety reminder for boaters to stop that prop

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds boat operators to make sure they turn off their engines when people are in the water near the back of the boat. This safety message comes after an accident on Monday in the Twin Cities where a man was injured by a boat propeller.
“Even a slowly turning propeller can inflict serious or fatal injuries to anyone caught by its spinning blades,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. “Sometimes the propeller can be turning even when a motor is in neutral, or someone can bump the shift lever into gear accidentally, and injure or even kill anyone in the water near the stern of the boat,” he said.

The DNR has a new sticker available that warns boaters to shut off their engines when picking up or dropping off skiers or tubers.

A “Stop that prop” sticker can be obtained for free by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Email the DNR at

Sailors Set to Circumnavigate Lake Ontario

Port Credit Yacht Club are putting the finishing touches on preparations for Saturday's start to the 17th running of the Lake Ontario 300 Yacht Race.

Sponsored by Solmar Development Corp., the race is considered one of the most challenging long-distance yacht races in Canada and on the Great Lakes.

A record number of yachts from Canada and the United States settled into Port Credit yesterday to begin making final preparations for the 300-nautical mile circumnavigation of the lake.

The Solmar Lake Ontario 300 is one of five major long-distance yacht races on the Great Lakes, and is the only race starting and/or ending in Canada.

The race can also be observed live via the internet, by visiting
Each boat is equipped with a transponder.

'Earth Voyager' Brings Message to St. Clair River

The message is simple.

And it only makes sense.

Yet mobilizing Americans and Canadians to stop polluting and clean up the Great Lakes is not always easy.

That's why a group of volunteers is bringing the fastest sailing vessel on the Great Lakes to the Sarnia/Port Huron area this summer, draped in banners that read: "Our Water, Our Future, Ours to Protect."

She's called the Earth Voyager and she draws a crowd wherever she goes," says Janice Littlefield, a Port Huron woman who is part of the crew bringing the 60-foot trimaran from Rochester N.Y. to the St. Clair River.

By next week, the Earth Voyager should be moored in the Black River and ready to attend special events on both sides of the border, said Littlefield.

Littlefield is not only a boat enthusiast, she is also the co-chairperson of the Binational Public Advisory Council (BPAC). Littlefield fears her group's work for the environment is not well understood by Canadians or Americans, even though they've been at it for 20 years.

Years ago, the International Joint Commission identified 43 areas of concern in the Great Lakes, including the St. Clair River. To ensure public involvement in the cleanup, 43 BPACs were created to act as advisers. In Sarnia/Port Huron, an international BPAC has worked with government and industry for decades and made some obvious inroads, Littlefield said.

"There's been major sediment removal and remedial action plans that have cleaned things up," she said. Now, as the international group begins work to improve fish and wildlife habitat in the Great Lakes, BPAC wants to get its message across to the community.

When Ray Howe, the owner of the Earth Voyager, offered to donate his sailboat and bring it to Bluewaterland with the help of Port Huron sailor Wayne Jurs, Littlefield jumped at the opportunity.
"We plan to use her as an icon to promote restoration and protection of the Great Lakes," she said. "She's a high-profile boat and turns heads no matter where she goes." She's also a boat without borders, Littlefield added. "She's available any time Canadians want her for special events."

The Earth Voyageur was built in 1989 and has raced primarily in Lake Ontario. She holds several elapsed time records in her class, including the Bayview Mackinac and Trans Superior races. Her mast stands 95 feet off the water and, when her sails are up, "she's a real beauty," Littlefield said. "We see this as an excellent opportunity to engage and educate the public."

Over the next 18 months, BPAC will be involved with an extensive survey to determine where habitat has been lost in the Great Lakes and what the possible causes may be.

"BPACs in the U.S. and Canada work very well together and we're doing very important work," said Littlefield. "We need to get the word out to ensure there is continued U.S. and Canadian government funding."

By Cathy Dobson

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