Sailing News

Author at Wooden Boat Show

The man who survived the July 4, 1999, windstorm in his small boat on the open waters of Lake Superior will be a guest speaker June 23 at the North House Wooden Boat Show & Summer Solstice Festival, in Grand Marais, Minnesota.

Marlin Bree, of Shoreview, Minn., was caught in the "Green Storm" in his 20-foot home-built wooden boat on Lake Superior and survived downbursts estimated at 100 miles per hour. He was sailing alone out of Grand Portage and the storm that devastated the BWCAW roared onto Lake Superior. Bree and his centerboard sloop, the Persistence, were caught as they neared Thompson Island, a small island guarding the mouth of Thunder Bay.

In his 11 a.m. presentation, Bree will show a videotape of his boat and tell how the boat survived a near pitchpole and several near capsizes as they fought to stay survive in what NOAA later described as a rare progressive derecho.

Bree is a former magazine editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and is a past president of the Minnesota Press Club. He has been in Grand Marais as the guest of the Cook County Historical Society. In 2004, Bree won the grand prize in the Boating Writer's International writing contest for his first-person account of his surivival in the July 4, 1999, derecho. His book, Wake of the Green Storm, was on's regional best-seller list for more than a year.


MP Davidson Announces NEXUS Has Expanded to All Canadian Waterways

Patricia Davidson, Member of Parliament for Sarnia-Lambton, on behalf of the Minister of Public Safety, the Honorable Stockwell Day, announced today that the NEXUS program has expanded to all Canadian waterways. This will allow eligible Canadian recreational boaters to expedite their border clearance between Canada and the United States.

NEXUS is a joint initiative of the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that facilitates quick and secure entry into Canada and the United States for pre-approved, low-risk travelers.

In December 2006, the NEXUS Air, Highway and Marine programs were harmonized into one trusted traveler program. NEXUS members are now “in for one, in for all” and can cross the border using any of the three modes at participating locations.

NEXUS is an initiative under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America that provides a framework to advance collaboration between Canada, the United States and Mexico in areas as diverse as security, trade facilitation, transportation, the environment and public health.

“Canada’s new government is delivering on its commitment to make our borders smarter and more secure for Canadians,” said Minister Day. “As of today, Canadian recreational boaters who are part of the NEXUS program will be able to take advantage of this great program.”

“I encourage Canadian boaters to apply for a NEXUS membership because using a NEXUS card is a more convenient, time-saving and secure way to cross the border,” said Ms. Davidson. “Instead of waiting on arrival to get border clearance, NEXUS members can now call 30 minutes to four hours ahead of time to a telephone reporting centre in the marine mode.”

“The success of NEXUS has been instrumental in creating a secure and streamlined crossing process for good neighbors on both sides of the border,” said W. Ralph Basham, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “I look forward to the continued success and expansion of NEXUS, and a continued strong working relationship with the Canadian government and Canadian citizens.”
For more information, please visit the NEXUS Web site at or call 1-866-NEXUS-26.

New Research Vessel Based Out of Marquette, Michigan

The Lower Harbor in Marquette, MI is about to have a new resident.

The Department of Natural Resources' research boat, the Lake Char, will be based out of Marquette, Michigan. It will be sailing and doing research during the warm months and will dock in Marquette when Lake Superior gets cold and snowy. "This is the first of a whole new generation of fuel-efficient and environment-friendly boats to ply the Great Lakes for the research community," explained David Andersen of Andersen Boat Works.

The Lake Char will be surveying the number of foreign lake trout, their age, growth rates, health, diet, survival rates and reproductive rates. The data collected will provide researchers with the best ways to evaluate fishing regulations as well as keeping track of new species of fish. "Lake Superior is in very good shape compared to other Great Lakes in terms of fisheries, so it's more of a long-term monitoring that we're doing," said Phil Schneeberger of the Marquette Fisheries Station.

The crew is still putting the finishing touches on the boat, which will launch on Lake Superior in early May.

Why Boats Sink In The Springtime

With the return of warm weather, boaters are once again cruising America’s waterways. But some may be in for a rude surprise when they find their boat sinks at the dock just after being put in the water. According to the April 2007 issue of BoatU.S Seaworthy newsletter, spring brings its own unique challenges to preparing and maintaining a boat in seaworthy condition.

“While not widespread, sinkings at the dock this time of year are easily avoidable,” said Seaworthy Editor Bob Adriance. “However, a spring sinking can ruin a boating season since repairs may well have to wait because marinas and boatyards are very busy outfitting and launching boats.” After combing through the BoatU.S. Marine Insurance claims files for the most common causes of springtime sinkings, Adriance has the following tips for boaters:

• Hose clamps: Winterizing an engine in the fall often requires the removal of coolant hoses. But sometimes boaters are in a rush and the hoses aren’t reattached and clamped properly. Adding to this, cramped engine boxes mean that the hoses and the clamps holding them sometimes can’t be visually inspected easily. In the spring you’ll need to ensure all of the hose clamps are securely tightened in place.

• Hoses: During the winter as the water inside them freezes, some hoses can lift off their attached seacock (valve). However, with spring’s warmer temperatures the water now melts, and if the seacock was left open last fall, water can pour into the bilge. Double clamping with marine-rated stainless hose clamps, inspecting hose attachment locations, or keeping seacocks closed can all save you from a spring sinking.

• Spring rains: Combine heavy rains with poorly caulked ports, deck hatches, fittings, chain plates and scuppers clogged by last fall’s leaves and you have a recipe for sinking. Just 100 gallons of water weighs over 800 pounds so a boat with a low freeboard only needs to sink a few inches before cockpit scuppers (drains intended to remove water) submerge and water starts to enter the boat. Larger boats with cracked or improperly caulked fittings that are located just above the waterline can also inadvertently let water in when they become submerged. Ensure that rain rolls off the boat and not into it.

• Sea strainer: For inboard/outboard and inboard powered boats, if not properly winterized, the intake sea strainer can freeze over the winter, cracking or bending the inspection bowl. And if the seacock was left open the boat will sink as soon as ice in the strainer thaws or the boat is put in the water. Always inspect the strainer for cracks or other damage.

• Stuffing Box: If the stuffing box’s packing material that seals the prop shaft is not tight, a steady drip will slowly swamp a boat. Also remember that no stuffing box should leak when the prop shaft is not moving. Stuffing boxes need to be inspected routinely, regardless of the season.

Donate Your Boat To Science

National Assocation of State Boating Law Administrators Accident Investigation Program to Stage Boat Collisions

If you’re a boater with a passion for forensic science – and you have a trailerable boat or PWC that you might consider using as a tax write off, a new program funded by a grant from the U.S. Coast Guard could help the nation’s waterway accident investigators improve training and better understand boat collision dynamics.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) is using the grant to glean information from a series of staged, two-vessel collisions starting this September in Virginia. A variety of powered, trailerable watercraft, from bass boats, open runabouts and pontoon craft to small cabin cruisers and personal watercraft will be involved. After the staged collisions are performed, NASBLA intends to relocate the subject vessels to the National Transportation Safety Board’s Training Academy in Ashburn, VA, where they will be used in future NASBLA boating accident investigation training.
The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is assisting NASBLA in its quest to secure donated boats for testing. Officers from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries will help conduct the tests and TowBoatU.S. Potomac Marine is assisting with the on-scene logistics of the staged collisions.

Watercraft owners who wish to donate their boat will receive verification of the IRS 501(c3) donation for the fair market value. Boats need to be in operating condition, including propulsion and include a trailer. Boat, motor and trailer certification of legal ownership and assignment is also required and may include either Certificate of Title, Certificate of Number or a Manufacturer’s Statement of Origin.
To donate your boat or if you have questions about the types of boats NASBLA is requesting, call 859-225-9687 or email:

The BoatU.S. Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit education and research organization primarily funded by the voluntary contributions of the 670,000 members of BoatU.S. TowBoatU.S. is part of North America’s largest network of on-the-water towing services for recreational boaters.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Teams Up With the “Wear It!” Life Jacket Campaign to Promote the “Be a Survivor!” Essay Contest

Contest launches during National Safe Boating Week (May 19-25th) continues through Labor Day
The Coast Guard Auxiliary recently announced that it will support the campaign effort by distributing information on life jackets and the “Be a Survivor!” contest during Vessel Safety Checks beginning National Safe Boating Week and proceeding through Labor Day.

“The ‘Be a Survivor!’ entry forms will have significant visibility, as they will also be distributed through West Marine, the contest co-sponsor,” said Rebecca Hall, a spokesperson for PCI Communications, who represents the National Safe Boating Council.

The initial focus of the collaboration between the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the “Wear It!” campaign will be in those states with the highest number of accidents and fatalities, which includes California, Florida, Texas, New York, Michigan, Louisiana, Minnesota, Washington, North Carolina, and Missouri. “However, our goal is to get the message out nationwide that a life jacket on a boat is like a seat belt on a car – just wear it!” said Ed Sweeney, Chief of the Public Affairs Department for the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Contestants are encouraged to submit an original story (350-700 words) that describes how you or someone you love was saved by wearing a life jacket. Winning stories will encourage a “survivor’s attitude” by convincing others to wear their life jackets whenever they are out on the water.
All entries must be received no later than September 4, 2007.

Winners of the “Be a Survivor!” contest will be announced by October 15, 2007. Contestants will have the chance to win one of three great prizes, provided courtesy of West Marine, and may also have their story published in a future edition of the National Safe Boating Council’s book, Saved by the Jacket.
For more information on the “Wear It!” life jacket campaign, or the “Be a Survivor!” essay contest, visit

The Boat Insurance Maze: Important Buying Tips From BOAT U.S.

Unlike home or auto insurance, boat insurance policies can vary widely from one company to the next. Which type is best for you? BoatU.S., the nation’s largest recreational boat owners association, has some tips for you.

· Ask around: How an insurance company handles a claim and lives up to expectations is a great indicator of the policy’s real value, so ask your friends about their insurance claim experience. Was the company prompt? Did they keep the policyholder informed? How helpful were they in processing the claim?

You can also research potential insurance carriers at The ratings are the industry’s benchmark for assessing an insurer’s financial strength; look for an “A” rating (excellent) or better. State insurance regulatory agencies are also a good reference and can be found online.

· Homeowner’s or separate policy for the boat? Consider buying a separate insurance policy for the boat, rather than adding it to your homeowner’s policy as the latter often limits certain marine-related risks such as salvage work, wreck removal, pollution or environmental damage. Whatever amount the boat is insured for, it should have a separate but equal amount of funds available for any salvage work. This means that you’re compensated for the loss of your boat and not having to pay additional, out-of-pocket costs to have a wreck removed from a waterway.

· Agreed Value vs. Actual Cash Value: These are the two main choices that boaters face and depreciation is what sets them apart. While it typically costs more up front, an “agreed value” policy covers the boat at whatever value you and your insurer agree upon - there is no depreciation if there is a total loss of the boat (some partial losses may be depreciated). “Actual cash value” policies, on the other hand, cost less up front but factor in depreciation and only pay up to the actual cash value at the time the boat is declared a total or partial loss or property was lost.

· Boaters are different: A good insurer will tailor your coverage to fit your needs so there will be no surprises. For example, bass boaters may need fishing gear and tournament coverage as well as policies that allow them to easily trailer their boat far from home. You may want “freeze coverage” if you live in a temperate state because ironically, that’s where most of this kind of damage occurs. “Hurricane haul-out” coverage helps foot the bill to move your boat to dry ground when a storm approaches. And if some boaters are only concerned about potential injuries or property damage, or they just need to meet the requirements of their marina’s slip contract, a liability only policy may be just the ticket.

For more info, visit or call 800-283-2883. BoatU.S. is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters.

All contents are copyright (c) 2007 by Northern Breezes, Inc. All information contained within is deemed reliable but carries no guarantees. Reproduction of any part or whole of this publication in any form by mechanical or electronic means, including information retrieval is prohibited except by consent of the publisher.