Sailing News

Stowaways Die After Being Tossed Into the Ocean

The crew of the Bahamas registered ship "M/V African Kalahari" threw seven stowaways into the sea near Port of Durban, South Africa.

Four Ukrainian crewmembers, including the shipmaster, have been arrested in South Africa for throwing seven stowaways into the ocean, rather than bringing them back to port, as required by international conventions. The crew was arraigned in a South African court, after two of the Kenyan men died.
Five survived the ordeal and reported the incident. The ship's last port of call was the Port of Mombassa, where it offloaded fertilizer and the stowaways got onboard the vessel. There have been other reported incidents of ship's crews throwing stowaways overboard to avoid the cost of taking them back home. If evidence is found to implicate the captain in ordering the stowaways to be thrown overboard, he will face murder charges.

Since 1983, nineteen Kenyan stowaways have drowned in mysterious circumstances, and, in that year (1983), 11 Kenyans drowned in the shark-infested waters off Somali after being thrown overboard the Greek cargo ship "MV Garifalia."

International regulations require shipmasters to repatriate stowaways to the country of origin or to the port where they boarded the vessel. Ship owners must meet the cost of repatriation. The majority of African ports have been blacklisted as conduits for stowaways.

Sea Scouts of Chicago

Sea Scouts of Chicago are looking for a few good sailors with experience to mentor Sea Scouts in the skills of seamanship. Pass your knowledge and love of sailing to the next generation of future sailors.
Our three Chicago boats are 32 to 40 feet in length and located at Montrose, Monroe, and Jackson Park Harbors. Sea Scouts have been teaching sailing for 75 years in Chicago.

Join fellow mentors and benefactors at the Sea Scout Benefit at Chicago Yacht Club - Monroe St., on April 6, 2006. Call Bill Luksha - Skipper for information at 847-644-8609.

U.S. Navy Captures
Pirates off Somalia

The U.S. Navy boarded an apparent pirate ship in the Indian Ocean and detained 26 men for questioning, said the Navy.

The U.S. guided missile destroyer "USS Winston Churchill" fired two warning shots during the chase, which ended 55 miles off the coast of Somalia, the Navy said. U.S. sailors boarded the dhow and seized a cache of small arms. They found 16 Indians and 10 Somali men aboard a traditional dhow.

The dhow's crew and passengers were questioned aboard the "Churchill" to determine if they were pirates or legitimate crew members. U.S. Navy investigators said that pirates hijacked a vessel six days earlier near Mogadishu and, thereafter, used it to stage pirate attacks on merchant ships.

The "Churchill" is part of a multinational task force patrolling the western Indian Ocean and Horn of Africa region to thwart terrorist activity and other lawlessness during the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

The Navy said it captured the dhow in response to a report from the International Maritime Bureau in Kuala Lumpur that said pirates had fired on the "MV Delta Ranger," a Bahamian-flagged bulk carrier that was passing some 200 miles off the central eastern coast of Somalia.

Wanderlust Lures Sailor on Worldwide Voyages that Combine Work with Thrill and Adventure


To put a nautical twist on a familiar saying, behind every good sailor is a good boat. For Mike Harker - world traveler, photographer, television producer and adventurer - his boat is his platform for work, exploration, and a life quest that has taken him around the world. And a few times, that boat has also delivered him from almost certain catastrophe.

Harker, 57, was born and raised in southern California, and even as a child felt the calling of the sea - and a life of adventure. He was a competitive water skier at the age of 10 and a national champion at 16. He won his first local sailing regatta at 16.

Harker is also credited as a pioneer in the early hang-glider movement, but in 1977, a tragic glider accident caused a fall from over 400 feet that put him in a coma for 11 months and left him paralyzed from the knees down. Doctors said he would never walk again, but Harker’s positive energy proved the skeptics wrong. Not only does he walk, but he’s developed a career as a photographer/cinematographer on assignments around the world, working at a grueling pace few can manage. Throughout his entire lifetime he has traveled across the globe doing everything from teaching water and snow skiing to shooting sports fashion photography and adventure video for worldwide clients such as Volkswagen, Head and Adidas, among others.

“It’s hard for me to sit still for long,” said Harker. “I feel like I am missing something that’s going on somewhere.”

He resurrected his early sailing interest with the purchase of a Hunter 34 sailboat in 2000, and quickly learned how to sail offshore on the California coast. In 2001 he visited the Hunter factory in Alachua, Florida and watched Hull #1 of a 466 model being built, which he immediately purchased through H & S Yachts in San Diego, CA. Eighteen months later he sailed single-handed across the Atlantic.

Harker specially equipped his Hunter with an extended nav station that houses video editing gear. Harker travels around the globe in his “high-seas production studio,” shooting sports fashion photography and footage for an adventure-themed television show originating in Germany. He was recently selected as one of the “Top 25 Most Courageous Sports Figures” by Outdoor Life Network, and his life story was featured in a half-hour TV documentary called “Profiles in Courage” which aired in July 2004 on the network.

Harker is preparing for a two-year sail around the world launching in winter 2006. He is touring the U.S. in speaking at Strictly Sail events, where he shares stories of his voyages and adventures.

In his current boat “Wanderlust,” Harker sailed 24,000 miles in 22 months, much of it single-handed, on journeys that encompassed crossing the Atlantic twice and included trips to the Mediterranean and the South Pacific, to name a few. Still considered by many to be a novice sailor, Harker amazingly endured - single-handedly - four days of 40-48 knot gale force winds off Nova Scotia, where he strapped himself in the companionway and guided the boat with his auto-pilot. He also sailed through a 300-mile long band of squalls in the Pacific that had 10-foot waves crashing over the boat.

The fact that Harker and other Hunter owners are comfortable with venturing into bluewater surprises some. Harker says he is always the star of the harbor when he sails into town with Wanderlust’s distinctive custom navy blue hull with a white boat stripe that evolves into an arrow piercing the red bow. “In exotic ports you don’t see a lot of American boats,” said Harker. “I get a lot of comments like ‘What’s a Hunter doing here?’”

Hunter Marine was co-founded in 1973 by Warren Luhrs, an avid sailor and third-generation boat builder. From the beginning, Luhrs and team had to prove to nay-sayers that a boat mass produced with an assembly line production boat method was indeed tough enough to withstand the rigors of extended offshore cruises. As an example, Luhrs and Steve Pettingill won the 1,500 mile 2002 West Marine Caribbean 1500 Cup race from Virginia to Tortola, BVI in a Hunter HC50.

Hunter’s current bluewater cruiser product line has expanded, with Hunter claiming the largest percentage of the 38’ and over sailboat market share over the past five years. John Peterson, Hunter Marine’s director of sales and marking, attributes this directly to the market becoming better educated about Hunter’s passagemaking capability.

Harker says the best testimony he has to Hunter’s strength and performance is his experiences and trials. “My Hunter has sailed through three gale force storms,” said Harker. “it hasn’t a crack or a creak.”
Harker’s adventure stories and the beautiful photography he shows at his seminars often elicits envy and awe from audiences. He also can’t help but brag about his boat during the presentations.

“My 466 is one of the best boats out there. It’s got a light displacement, it’s fast, maneuverable, stable and solid,” said Harker. “I’m so happy with my choice, I tell people about it all the time!”
Hunter Marine is the largest sailboat manufacturer in North America.

Biodiesel Delivery Assists in Hurricane Relief Effort

Biodiesel advocates donate fuel to help power relief ships before fleeing Rita

A biodiesel advocate participating in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort himself became an evacuee, of Hurricane Rita, after successfully fueling relief ships with biodiesel.

The Veggie Van Organization, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Venice, Calif., recently partnered with West Central, a farmer-owned biodiesel company based in Iowa, to transport 13,000 gallons of biodiesel to the Gulf Coast. The donated fuel powered a shrimp boat-turned-relief boat, a former military ship owned by Sub Sea Research, and emergency generators for makeshift medical facilities aboard the vessel. The ships left on Sept. 16 and took 12 tons of food, water, ice and other relief supplies to the victims in devastated areas near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

Biodiesel is a non-toxic, biodegradable fuel made from renewable resources such as soybean oil and other fats and vegetable oils that works in any diesel engine.

“There are times when no camera can capture the essence of a moment,” said Josh Tickell, biodiesel advocate and founder of the Veggie Van Organization, who made the journey to Louisiana to assist in aid to the victims. “I thought I was looking at a scene from 'Apocalypse Now.' But it kept me going to know that by providing fuel for the relief ships, we were doing something important to help the victims.”

Tickell grew up in Louisiana and has been promoting biodiesel since 1997, when he toured the United States in his biodiesel powered “Veggie Van.”

After almost a week working aboard the ship and in towns devastated by Katrina, Hurricane Rita halted Tickell’s participation in the relief effort. “In less than 24 hours, I went from being a second-response relief worker to an evacuee,” he said.

In advance of Hurricane Rita, he fled the area in the Veggie Van. Tickell said while trying to leave the area, the van was damaged by debris falling from a passing truck. After a passerby offered him a ride, he was forced to abandon it.

“I made a mental list of what I needed from the van and said goodbye to the old girl,” he said. “She had been a valiant servant and a good friend, but there was no way I was going to hang around and wait to see what Rita would do to her.”

Tickell is unsure about the fate of the van today, but he knows the area in which he left it was severely damaged.

Tickell and the National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the nonprofit trade association representing the biodiesel industry, will continue to help coordinate fuel donations where needed.

“We’re very proud of the efforts the Veggie Van Organization and West Central have made on behalf of the biodiesel industry, and we hope to contribute further to the relief efforts,” said Joe Jobe, chief executive officer of NBB. “Food companies are sending food, clothing companies are sending clothes, and individuals are sending money. As a fuel industry organization, we are trying to help relieve fuel supply shortages in the regions affected by Katrina and now Rita.”

Jobe noted that biodiesel, a biodegradable, non-hazardous fuel, is an especially important alternative in times when the nation’s fuel supply is threatened by natural disasters or other events.

Former President Bill Clinton publicly endorsed the use of biodiesel in the hurricane relief effort and in other applications. Speaking recently at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a global conference to develop policies and implement solutions to the world’s most challenging problems, Clinton thanked Tickell’s team for the organization’s effort.

“Biodiesel America is committed to mitigating climate change and increasing America’s energy independence through public school education on biodiesel and restoration of the coastal areas of Louisiana with biodiesel-generated support systems,” Clinton said. “Their initial investment of $50,000 will lead up to a million dollars in services to assist the immediate recovery of southern Louisiana oil-producing and fishing towns….this is a very, very important thing…I hope you become a household name in America.”

“It is an honor to have President Clinton join our current president in showing such strong support for biodiesel,” Jobe said. “Biodiesel crosses party lines. It crosses many sections of our society. Most Americans agree it just makes sense to use biodiesel when they hear of the environmental, economic and energy security benefits it offers.”

Dr. Bailus Walker, a vice president of the American Public Health Association, noted that biodiesel is a good fit for this type of relief work, because it significantly reduces emissions compared to regular diesel, including those that pose a health threat.

“Biodiesel’s health benefits extend beyond keeping hospitals and emergency vehicles running at this critical time,” Dr. Walker said. “Because biodiesel reduces air toxics, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and other harmful emissions, it can be particularly helpful to people who have pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases as well as contribute to overall better air quality for everyone.”

Biodiesel has the highest energy balance of any fuel and can be used in its pure form (B100), or blended with petroleum diesel at any level. Nationwide, more than 500 major fleets now use biodiesel commercially, and more than 600 retail filling stations also make it available to the public.

To follow the journey or make a donation, visit Readers can learn more about biodiesel at

Trout Unlimited Applauds Open Rivers Initiative

Conservation group sees new NOAA program as having “phenomenal potential to restore our home waters”

The national conservation organization Trout Unlimited (TU) today applauded the Department of Commerce’s creation of a grant program designed to remove barriers to fish passage in communities nationwide, calling it “a progressive initiative with phenomenal potential to restore our home waters.”
Announced at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation, the Open Rivers Initiative will provide funds through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to help towns tear down obsolete dams and improve the many culverts that block fish attempting to swim upstream.
“Given significant, secure and continued funding,” said Chris Wood, a TU vice president, “the Open Rivers Initiative could make a much-needed contribution to our nation’s overall aquatic health. We have seen the resurgence of life that followed dam removals in waters like Maine’s Georges and Wisconsin’s Onion Rivers, so we know that such efforts can lead to positive change. And we can’t wait to see the improvement in fish populations that will follow a series of small dam removal projects in communities country-wide.”

NOAA estimates that there are 2.5 million dams across the country, many less than six feet tall and some up to 200 years old. The Open Rivers Initiative will target dams where community consensus and the dam owners support removal, the dam no longer serves a useful purpose, and removal will have the greatest benefit to anadromous fish like salmon, striped bass and shad.

“One of the beauties of this program is that it can address troubled stocks of native, sea-run fish while improving water quality and boosting local economies, by increasing the numbers of anglers and boaters drawn to an area,” Wood said.

The idea for the ORI originated in part from discussions held regarding the current plan for the removal of dams on Maine’s Penobscot River. Upon its completion, the Penobscot project stands to make a major contribution to the recovery of the endangered Atlantic salmon, shad and striped bass. “On the Penobscot, we created a replicable model for cooperative river restoration, and in the ORI, we anticipate and welcome the means for replicating the model over and over again,” Wood said.

Trout Unlimited is North America’s leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization, with more than 140,000 members dedicated to the protection and restoration of trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.

U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admits Security Remains an Issue

Admiral Thomas Collins said millions of pleasure craft, fishing boats, and ferries are hampering security because there are so many of these type boats. However, he indicated that the U.S. Coast Guard is working on realistic solutions to mitigate risks, while respecting boaters' rights.

Security targets include recreational boats, fishing vessels, and ferries that carry tourists and commuters. Specific initiatives will be presented to President Bush as a part of a National Maritime Security Plan.
Admiral Collins was the key note speaker at the U.S. Maritime Security Expo in New York City last week. He said that protecting the rights of the 58 million recreational boaters in the country is important.

Also included in the Commandant's concerns are an estimated 110,000 fishing boats and ferries that ply U.S. waters. "How do we screen for explosive devices on a ferry system that moves millions of people, particularly commuters, without constipating the whole system?" Collins asked.

An additional concern addressed by Admiral Collins are the millions of containers and cargoes that enter the U.S. port system each year. It would be "illogical" to screen every container, but security can be reached by targeting ships and crews, and cargoes and containers that might be of risk.

Zebra mussel discovery in Rice Lake in Brainerd raises alarms for Mississippi River


The alertness of a boy on Rice Lake in Brainerd has led Minnesota Department of Natural Resources biologists to the latest unwelcome discovery of zebra mussels.

While cleaning a bait bucket suspended from the family dock, Gil Millette noticed a small zebra mussel attached to the outside of the bucket. His father brought the mussel into the Brainerd DNR office. A subsequent search found more zebra mussels near the Millette's property on Rice Lake, an impoundment of the Mississippi River.

"This discovery is extremely serious for the river," said Gary Montz, zebra mussel coordinator for the DNR.

"The presence of this invasive poses a major risk to the river downstream. It is likely that zebra mussels have become established in other areas of the river or adjacent backwaters that we haven't discovered yet."

Zebra mussels can have serious impacts to aquatic ecosystems, recreational activities and businesses. In other rivers where zebra mussels have become abundant, they have killed many native mussels. This invasive also has the potential to impact fish populations. Recreationists in some zebra mussel infested waters report cuts and scrapes from the sharp shells. This invasive could also increase costs to businesses and utilities that use Mississippi River water. Those water users may be forced to implement new preventative actions to keep zebra mussels from blocking pipes and reducing water flow.

This most recent discovery of zebra mussels occurred during the state-proclaimed Invasive Species Awareness Month, a time to further remind citizens of the threats posed to the state's lakes, rivers and lands from non-native species such as Asian carp, Eurasian watermilfoil and buckthorn.

"This discovery yet again speaks to the importance of stopping aquatic hitchhikers by cleaning boats and not transporting water from infested waters," Montz said.

The DNR will expand public education and awareness efforts in the Brainerd Lakes area aimed at educating boaters and recreationists on ways to prevent the spread. Previously, zebra mussels were discovered in Lake Ossawinnamakee north of Brainerd, from which waters flow into the Pine River and ultimately the Mississippi River.

Boaters should take the following precautions to help prevent the spread of this invasive, whether boating in infested waters or not:

• Carefully remove all aquatic plants from watercraft, trailers and equipment

• Drain all lake water, including water in live wells, bilges and bait buckets, before leaving an access site

• Wash watercraft in hot water or let dry thoroughly for five days before launching them in other waters

• Follow the above precautions for any recreational equipment used in our waters, such as docks, swimming rafts, floats and other gear.


A nine-foot snake, thought to have stowed away on a ship sailing from Africa to London, has been found in the vessel's rope locker.

A dock worker made the discovery at Tilbury, east London, and the African Rock Python is now being cared for at an animal rescue centre.

Iain Newby, who runs the specialist sanctuary near Southend, Essex, said he would try to find it a new home.

"It's in quite good condition but it's quite aggressive," he said.