News, recent developments, and generally useful information from around the Chesapeake.

January 20, 2011

Notice to Mariners

 

Temporary Choptank security zone at Cambridge

 

The Coast Guard will establish a temporary security zone in designated waters of the Choptank River off Cambridge, Md., for the Democratic House Conference Retreat Thursday, January 20, through Saturday, January 22.
During this period, security zone enforcement may limit the navigation by commercial and recreational waterway users.

The security zone will include all waters of the Choptank River, within 2,000 yards of the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina's Breakwater Pavilion.

The waterways within the security zone will be closed to recreational and commercial boaters Friday from noon  to 10 p.m. Commercial boaters may be allowed to transit the security zone at the discretion of the Coast Guard. For vessels seeking authorization to enter or transit the security zone, contact the Coast Guard at 410-576-2529, 410-576-2512 or via marine-band radio on VHF channel 16 
 


  
 January 19, 2011

Police Blotter

 

Jet ski serial numbers altered

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) charged Erik Todd Weyant, 27, of Middle River, Md., for altering serial numbers on jet skis.  NRP stopped Weyant's truck on September 26 when they observed a jet ski with the serial numbers removed in the bed of the truck.  NRP acted on three search and seizure warrants, which netted five jets skis, two identification numbers, trailers and jet ski engines. NRP charged Weyant with two counts of removing/obliterating a manufacturer's serial number, six counts of maintaining an item with a removed manufacturer's serial number and two counts of possessing a manufacture's serial number for fraudulent purposes. A trial date has been set for April 6 in the District Court of Maryland for Baltimore County. 
 
Oyster violations arrest

NRP arrested John Hunter Haddaway, 23 of Tilghman, Md., for poaching oysters from an Oyster Sanctuary. The NRP observed Haddaway dredging for oysters approximately five miles northwest of Crisfield, within the Tangier Sound Oyster Sanctuary on January 17 at 11:58 a.m.  NRP seized 12 bushels of oysters from Haddaway's boat and returned them to the sanctuary. Haddaway was charged with taking oysters from a sanctuary. A trial date has been set for March 31 in the District Court of Maryland for Somerset County. 
  


  
January 12, 2011

Police Blotter 

Three charged with crabbing violations

 

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) has charged three individuals with selling crabs without a commercial license.
 
"During a four-month investigation we obtained a search warrant for the seafood dealer where the crabs were being sold, giving us what we needed to charge these individuals," said Sgt. Art Windemuth, NRP Public Information Officer. 
  
Stephen Mark Mullikin of Cambridge was charged with 42 counts of catching and selling crabs without a commercial license and 39 counts of possession of female crabs without a license.
 
Wesley Matthew Finneyfrock of St. Michaels was charged with 12 counts of selling crabs without a commercial license, 10 counts of possession of female crabs without a license and one count of possession of undersized hard crabs.
 
William Christopher Bradley of St. Michaels was charged with 12 counts of catching and selling crabs without a commercial license, 10 counts of possessing female crabs without a commercial license and one count of possession of undersized hard crabs.
 
The crabs were harvested between June and September 2010.  The maximum fine for each count is $1,000.  A trial is scheduled on January 20 for Mullikin. Trials for Finneyfrock and Bradley are scheduled for February 17. All three will be tried in the District Court of Maryland for Talbot County. 
 


 
January 10, 2011

Police Blotter

From the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP): 


Oyster vessel strikes navigational aid

 

On January 7 at 11:30 a.m., NRP investigated a commercial boating accident that occurred in Saint Clements Bay and St Patrick Creek in St. Mary's County. Louis Charles Hodges of Colton Point, Md., was operating a 20-foot commercial oyster vessel in St. Patrick's Creek when he struck a navigational aid. The impact injured Hodges, and two other occupants of the vessel.  All three individuals were transported to St. Mary's hospital for minor injuries.

Two charged with oyster violations

 

On January 6, 2011, NRP charged Norman Benjamin Murphy, 59, and Dennis Louis Jones, 59, both of Tilghman, Md., with possession of undersize oysters. The charges were the result of a routine check of a commercial seafood establishment in Tilghman. During this check, officers located six bushels of oysters that contained 52-percent undersize oysters.


Man charged with oystering on suspended license

On January 6, NRP charged Richard Nicholas Fluharty, 24, of Tilghman with four counts of harvesting oysters while his oyster license was suspended and one count of possessing 27-percent undersize oysters. Fluharty was observed unloading six bushels of oysters. A check of the buying stations records revealed that Fluharty also sold oysters on December 30 and 31 and January 4. 
 


 
January 10, 2011
 
Bay News
 
Here is an explanation of the recent Bay fish kill (see story below: January 5) from the Chesapeake Bay NOAA: 
  

Water Temps May Have Affected Fish Kill

 
This week, roughly 2 million dead fish-primarily young spot-have washed ashore in the middle part of the Bay. Scientists are investigating to determine why this happened, and their working theory is that the fish kill was caused by cold water stress.
 
But the water gets cold every winter, and fish kills like this aren't seen often-why would cold water kill fish? Bay water temperatures that fell quickly and early may be the answer.
 
Spot and croaker-the fish comprising the bulk of the fish kill-usually move south before water temperatures become a problem for them. They are cued to migrate by the length of the day, which decreases as we move toward winter. In this case, they may have started their migration a little late relative to the early cold temperatures. The fact that the vast majority of the dead spot were juveniles may simply be the result of greater cold sensitivity of younger fish, or that they have slightly different migration behavior than adult fish, or both. The stress caused by the cold could also make them more susceptible to other possible causes of death.
 
This theory is supported by data from the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System, which tracks water temperature. For the month of December 2009, the CBIBS Annapolis buoy recorded a mean temperature of 43.8 degrees Fahrenheit, but in 2010, it was only 39.5 degrees. And the CBIBS website also shows that the minimum buoy temperature at the buoy in December 2009 was 39.5-but in 2010, it was 33.7. While these differences may seem small, they may be very large for young spot trying to stay warm enough to survive. 
  
 
  
 

These graphs show the decline in water temperature in December 2009 and December 2010. While the 2009 graph shows a more gradual decline, the 2010 graph features several sharp steps down, which may have caught the fish by surprise. Notice, too, that the y-axis in 2010 is 2 degrees lower than 2009.
 
NOAA also tracks sea surface temperature from satellites. NOAA CoastWatch's East Coast Node uses satellite observations to determine water temperature and levels of chlorophyll in the surface waters of the Chesapeake Bay and other nearby waters. This series of images uses color to show the dramatic drop on temperatures-see the change from mostly blues to mostly purples and even a little pink at the northern reaches of the Bay, indicating colder water. 
 

 
Scientists from Maryland state agencies are performing autopsies on fish killed in the event to decisively determine the cause of death. While cold water stress is a leading contender, we need to wait until the autopsy results are known to rule out any other factors. While 2 million fish may seem like a lot, it may not have a dramatic effect on the whole coast-wide population. Programs that monitor fish populations will keep a keen eye on spot this coming year, just to be sure.
 
The Chesapeake's coldest months-January and February-are still ahead. While the northernmost CBIBS buoys have been pulled for the winter, six buoys in the Bay remain, so you can track temperatures at those locations to see just how cold the water gets.
 
Here is the story on the Chesapeake NOAA website: http://chesapeakebay.noaa.gov/fisheries-hot-topics/water-temps-may-have-affected-fish-kill


 

 
January 6, 2011

Police Blotter

 

Rock Hall man's commercial license suspended

On January 5, at 11:30 a.m., the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) charged Daniel Leroy Dierker, 32 of Rock Hall, Md. with engaging in the striped bass gill net fisheries while his commercial license was suspended.

Dierker was operating a commercial fishing vessel that was gill netting for striped bass in the area of Love Point in the Chesapeake Bay. Dierker's commercial license was suspended until January 18, 2012. Under this suspension, Dierker is prohibited from engaging in the commercial harvest of finfish.

A trial is set for March 2 in the District Court of Maryland for Queen Anne's County.


Duck hunters fall through ice

On December 31, NRP responded to Back Creek off the Sassafras River after receiving a 911 call that two duck hunters had fallen through the ice. Officers could see the victims in the water approximately 500 yards from shore, and got to within 100 yards of the victims by accessing the area on a point in Knights Island Preserve. The victims were able to make it to shore under their own power at the direction of NRP.

Jeffery Lynn Marker, 41, of Walkersville, Md., was treated and released at the scene. His son was airlifted to safety by Maryland State Police aviation and flown to John Hopkins for further treatment. Christopher Markoe was hunting with the two victims and made the 911 call. 
 


 
January 6, 2011

Bay News

 

Waterman drowns after oyster-dredging accident

 

A Maryland waterman died Tuesday, January 5, after he was knocked from his boat into the icy waters of the Bay at the mouth of Goose Creek and Fishing Bay, according to the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP). Samuel Edwin Todd, 59, of Crocheron, was power-dredging for oysters at about 9:30 a.m. when the dredge he had just emptied failed to drop back into the water. Instead, it swung back toward the deck and struck him, knocking him overboard, the NRP said.

Todd's mate called for help over the boat's VHF radio then went on deck and flagged down a nearby waterman. That waterman found Todd, face down and unconscious, and pulled from the water. Todd had been in the 39-degree water for more than 10 minutes and was not wearing a lifejacket, according to the NRP.

Elliott Island Volunteer Fire Department personnel arrived and tried unsuccessfully to revive Todd. He was then taken to Peninsula Regional medical Center in Salisbury, where he was pronounced dead.

Todd's body was taken to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy. The NRP and the Coast Guard are investigating the incident. 
 


 
 
January 5, 2011

Bay News

 

Two million dead fish in Bay

 

The Maryland Department of the Environment estimates that two million dead fish, primarily spot, have been reported floating in the Bay between the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tangier Sound. The agency believes the kill has been caused by cold-water stress rather than any environmental cause. For a link to the Baltimore Sun story, click on the link below. 

Bay fish kill reported, Baltimore Sun  
 


 
January 2, 2011

Bay News  

  

Wave takes life of captain and first mate off Bermuda

 
The captain and first mate of the Greek-flagged merchant vessel Aegean Angel were killed by a very large wave during rough weather off Bermuda on Thursday as they were making an inspection of the deck for storm damage. A third man, the 2nd mate, was seriously injured by the same wave.
Shortly afterward, the U.S. Coast Guard received a call from the Greek Minister of Citizen Protection reporting the tragedy and requesting assistance for the injured crewman. However, hazardous conditions that included 65-knot winds and seas greater than 15 feet kept the Coast Guard HC 130J Hercules and MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter grounded until Sunday, when they were finally able to leave Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C.
In addition to recovering the injured man from the Aegean Angel, the Coast Guard transferred a new captain and first mate onto the vessel. The injured man, a Greek Cypriot, was flown to Bermuda, where he was transferred to a local hospital.
With the new officers onboard, the Greek vessel, which had been scheduled to stop in Bermuda, about 180 miles away, changed course for Freeport in the Bahamas. The Aegean Angel was enroute from Tallinn, Estonia, to Houston, Texas, with a shipment of fuel oil.
Interestingly, in 2008, the Aegean Angel played a crucial role in the rescue of 11 mariners adrift on a life raft 300 miles south of Puerto Rico. The crewmen had abandoned ship after large waves caused their Korean-flagged vessel's cargo to shift, causing it to lose steering, then capsize and sink. 
 


 
December 28

Bay News

 

Million Dollar Rockfish dates changed because of weather

 

Due the severe weather in Virginia Beach earlier this week, the Million Dollar Rockfish Challenge Registration and Captain's Meeting will be moved to Wednesday, December 29, at Marina Shores Marina.
Registration will begin at 3 p.m. with the rules meeting at 6 p.m. Tournament fishing days will be moved to Thursday, December 30, through Sunday, January 2. The awards banquet will follow the tournament's final weigh-in on Sunday, January 2, at the big tent located in the Marina Shores parking lot.
 
It is important to remember that Chesapeake Bay fishing will be allowed on both Thursday, December 30, and Friday, December 31. But since the Bay season closes on the 31st, Saturday, January 1, and Sunday, January 2,  will be coastal fishing only. The tournament has also received permission from the insurance company to keep both the $1,000,000 World and $250,000 Virginia State record cash payouts available provided participants leave from a Virginia Port and return to the weigh site in Virginia by boat without making landfall.
 
Three important points must be followed to qualify for that state and world record payouts are:
 
1. Anglers are not allowed to fish over the 3 mile EEZ line.
2. Anglers must leave from and return to a Virginia Port by boat without making landfall anywhere prior to weighing your fish at Marina Shores Marina.
3. No payouts will be allowed for fish caught South of the Diamond Shoals Light.
4. If you fish in North Carolina Waters, you will need a North Carolina License.


December 28, 2010
 
Search & Rescue

 

Maryland NRP rescues two duck hunters stuck on Hart-Miller Island

 

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) broke through ice and faced rough seas to rescue two duck hunters that had become stuck on Hart-Miller Island in the Chesapeake Bay on Monday, December 27, during severe weather.
The two hunters had intended to hunt on the island but became stranded when the weather worsened. The two apparently left Rocky Point boat ramp at about 8 a.m. in a 14-foot aluminum boat, which immediately took on water from the rough seas.
The pair called 911 for help from the island. Police say Todd Troxell, 40, of Codorus, Pa., was issued a citation for negligent operation. He told officers he did not check weather reports before setting out on his trip. 
 


 
12.23.10

Search & Rescue
 

Going after rockfish poachers

 

The Coast Guard, state and federal agencies are intensifying efforts to stop the illegal poaching of rockfish off the Atlantic coast this winter season.
The Coast Guard is working to raise awareness of the federal regulations governing rockfish and to increase enforcement efforts to protect the migration and spawning of the fish from illegal poaching.
Rockfish populations are moving farther off shore into warmer waters and fishermen are often pursuing the fish beyond the authorized state waters. Atlantic rockfish may not be caught, harvested or possessed in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). A person caught fishing for rockfish outside of three nautical miles and into the EEZ is subject to fines starting at $100 per fish.
The Coast Guard has established an Atlantic Striped Bass Reporting Hotline at 757-398-6598. The public is encouraged to report any suspected poaching activity to the hotline. Calls should include a description of the activity, those involved, the location and the time of the suspected offense. Such information greatly increases the effectiveness of law enforcement operations.


 
12.15.10

Search & Rescue

 

Coast Guard and Hampton Fire Department crews respond to fuel leak

 

Coast Guard crews along with the Hampton Fire Department responded to a diesel fuel leak at the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina hotel Tuesday afternoon, December 14.
At approximately 4:15 p.m. the Coast Guard was notified of a fuel leak at the hotel. Crews from the Hampton Fire Department responded and deployed harbor boom to contain the leak.
Coast Guard investigators  reported that approximately 900 gallons of diesel fuel had been discharged onto the property surrounding the hotel with at least 100 gallons spilling into the Hampton River. The leak originated from an underground storage tank, which supplies the hotel's emergency generator.
Coast Guard investigators reported that the leak has been secured.  LCM Corporation has been contracted by the hotel to conduct clean up of the spill.
"The harbor boom was deployed to keep the spill from spreading into the adjacent waterway," said Petty Officer 1st Class Joseph Yonker of the pollution investigations branch from Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads. "The boom contained the majority of the diesel fuel spilled into the water."
The cause of the fuel spill is under investigation. 
 


 
12.3.10
 
Police Blotter

 

More watermen charged with oyster violations

 

On December 3, at 9:30 a.m., the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) charged Patrick Barlet Murphy, 48, and Glenn Marshall Foster, 27, both from Tilghman, with catching oysters on a sanctuary and possession of unculled and undersize oysters.
An NRP Officer, aboard the patrol boat Worcester spotted the commercial fishing vessel, the Azelyn Leslie, dredging for oysters in the marked Tangier Sound Oyster Sanctuary at 8:30 a.m. The sanctuary is located about six miles north of Crisfield in Tangier Sound. Strong winds of 20 knots and three to four-foot seas prevented the NRP Officers from boarding the suspected poachers on the oyster bar; the Azelyn Leslie was escorted to Deal Island for safe boarding and inspection.
 
Upon inspection, officers found 15.5 bushels of oysters on the vessel; 10 percent were found to be unculled and undersize.  The oysters were seized and returned to the oyster sanctuary.  
 
A court date of February 17 at 1:30 p.m. has been in the District Court of Maryland in Somerset County. 
  
 


 
11.29.10

Police Blotter

 

Waterman charged with 35 counts of rockfish violations

 

On November 24, the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) charged Jerome William Janda Jr., 55,  of Tilghman, Md., with multiple rockfish violations after an investigation relating to illegal fishing activities in the Tilghman area.
 
On November 10, at 2:35 a.m., NRP officers observed Janda Jr. and his fishing vessel exit Knapp's Narrows without using his navigational lights and proceed to a pound net located on the south side of Poplar Island in Talbot County.  The officers observed the occupants of the vessel fish the pound net and then dock at Lowes Wharf. At 4 a.m., the officers confronted Janda Jr and the two other occupants on the vessel-Jerome William Janda 3rd, 28, of Tilghman and Burton Robert Curtis, 25, of unknown address. The officers found the individuals loading untagged striped bass onto a truck. The officers seized the 2,731 pounds of untagged rockfish.
Using information on Janda Jr.'s allocation card, officers initially believed that Janda now was 1,784 pounds over his seasonal allocation limit. However, subsequent investigation into a seafood dealer's records indicated that Janda Jr. was illegally checking in striped bass caught using a pound net as fish caught by a commercial hook and line fisherman. This meant that Janda Jr would have reached his own limit on October 6, had the catch been checked in properly. Instead, according to the NRP's calculations, he now had exceeded his quota by 7,568 pounds, or about 2,273 fish.
 
Commercial fisherman are allowed to catch striped bass by using three gear types: 1. hook and line, 2. drift gill nets, and 3. pound nets.  In addition, each gear type has specific catch limits during specific periods of the year. Also, a striped-bass pound net license and a striped-bass drift gill net license may not be held by the same person simultaneously. All commercially taken striped bass must be tagged and checked into a designated check-in station. (Janda Jr had a pound-net license that had a 3,760 pound quota.) The 2010 pound net and hook and line season runs from June 1 to November 30. The last segment of drift gill-net season runs December 1 through December 31.
 
Jerome Janda Jr was charged with 21 counts of using striped-bass allocation permits assigned to another person, 19 counts of using striped-bass tags assigned to another person, 14 counts of exceeding the seasonal allocation limit of striped bass, one count of possessing striped bass greater than 36 inches commercial size, one count of possessing an undersize flounder, one count of possessing an untagged striped bass, and one count of operating a vessel at night without proper navigational lights.
 
Jerome Janda 3rd was charged with one count of aiding and abetting exceeding the seasonal allocation limit of striped bass and one count of possession of untagged striped bass.
 
A court date has been set for February 17 in the District Court of Maryland in Talbot County. The maximum penalty for each count is $1,000, plus $1,500 per each striped bass. The investigation is on-going and additional charges may follow.


 
11.23.10

Bay News: Oyster strike update
 

Watermen return to work

 
Eastern Shore watermen have called off their three-day strike in protest of falling oyster prices. Most of the striking watermen-predominantly from the Eastern Shore of Maryland counties of Talbot, Somerset and Dorchester-were back on the water late last week, having decided that settling for less money was preferable to earning no money at all.
In mid-November, oyster prices dropped from $45 a bushel to $35 a bushel, with a threat of even lower prices to come. Historically,oyster prices have remained fairly high until after the peak demand period is over-generally after the first of January. This year, oysters from North and South Carolina as well as the Gulf of Mexico are flooding the market, buyers say, driving the price down. Maryland watermen have also been hampered by new state restrictions that have put several major oyster beds off limits in an effort to bolster the Bay oyster population. 
 


 
11.20.10

Police Blotter 

 

Illegal sea bass seized by Maryland NRP

 
On November 6, the following individuals were cited by the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) for possessing under-size sea bass.  Each citation carries a maximum penalty of $500.
 
1. Donzell Henry Marshall, 50, of Capital Heights, Md.
2. Michael L. Little, 43, of Clinton, Md.
3. Larry Horace Fulton, 53, of Baltimore, Md.
4. Desiree Antoinette, 47, of Lewes, Del.
5. Elvin Philip, 37, of Frederick, Md.
6. Lijia Yu, 56, of Rockville, Md.
7. Yang Chang, 40, of Baltimore, Md.
 
One hundred and fifty five sea bass were seized and donated to Diakonia, a crisis shelter in West Ocean City, Md.
The season for black sea bass in Maryland opened on November 1 and will close on December 31.  Sea bass must be at least 12.5 inches long measured from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, excluding the filament.  A person may possess a maximum of 25 sea bass per day.  


 
11.19.10

Bay News

 

Fire destroys VIMS Eastern Shore facility

 

An early morning fire tore through the main research building of the Virginia Institute of Marine Research's Eastern Shore Laboratory on Friday, destroying nearly all of the building's contents. The fire at the College of William and Mary's Seaford Hall in Wachapeague, Va., was reported at about 5 a.m. on Friday, November 19; firefighters arrived on the scene within moments. The cause of the fire is under investigation. No one was in the building at the time of the fire.
The 2,368-foot Seaside Hall contained a small library, classroom space, offices and laboratories. All of the building's lab equipment and materials, including a shellfish collection and specimens of fish and invertebrates dating to the 1960s were lost, according to Mark Luckenbach, the lab's director. The computer data survives, however, since it was regularly backed up to servers located in other buildings.
Also destroyed were the materials and equipment belonging to two state biologists for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Division of Natural Heritage, who were leasing space in Seaside. 
 
More Bay News

Maryland's Eastern Shore watermen strike to protest dropping oyster prices

Finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place, dozens of watermen on Maryland's Eastern Shore have decided to go out on strike to protest a significant drop in prices they are being offered for their oyster catch. Arguing that demand for the tasty Bay bivalves should remain high through New Year's Eve, watermen say they are baffled by a sudden drop from last week's $42 per bushel to this week's $35. So up to 85 percent of watermen in some Eastern Shore counties have decided to stay in port this week in an effort to negotiate higher prices.

Adding to the watermen's frustration is that the state of Maryland recently put much of its remaining oyster fields off limits in order to try to rebuild the state's dramatically reduced oyster population. This keeps the harvest numbers lower and increases the importance of that per-bushel price.

But that's not all. Maryland watermen are also competing with markets elsewhere in the east, including North Carolina-where oysters are plentiful and the price low (currently $20 per bushel)-South Carolina and the Gulf of Mexico-where oysters are once again flooding the market in the wake of this summer's massive oil spill. 

 


 
11.17.10

Bay News 

 

Mallows Bay Update

 
Work on the new 50-foot boarding pier, concrete boat launch, access roads, and parking area at Mallows Bay Park on the Potomac River is now •complete. The $397,000 project was finished this fall and dedicated in late September. The new facility puts boaters onto the Potomac near Nanjemoy Bay in Charles County, Md., right near good fishing and right in the middle of the Mallows Bay Ghost Fleet. This is the final resting place for 169 World War I cargo vessels, the largest ship graveyard in the Western Hemisphere.


 
11.9.10
 
Search and Rescue 

Overdue boater located in Tangier Harbor

 
Rescuers located a man reported to be overdue from Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield, Md., on Monday, November 8. Located was Albert Casale, 56, of Millsboro, Del.
Casale's wife contacted Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders at 4:15 p.m. Sunday, reporting that her husband, who had planned to go out rock fishing Saturday aboard Nemo, his 30-foot sailboat, did not return as expected.
Sector Baltimore watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast, conducted call-outs on channel 16 and contacted local marinas in an attempt to locate Casale. After contacting Somers Cove Marina, watchstanders learned that Casale's vessel was not in its slip and that his vehicle was still in the marina parking lot.
At 7:20 p.m. Coast Guard 5th District watchstanders in Portsmouth, Va., coordinated with Casale's cell phone carrier to establish a position based on the last call made to Casale's cell phone. The position was determined to be west of Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay.
A 25-foot Response Boat-Small crew from Coast Guard Station Crisfield along with an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., as well as the Coast Guard Cutter Albacore, based in Virginia Beach, Va., began searching the area Sunday evening.
At 9:30 a.m. a Virginia Marine Resources Commission officer contacted Station Crisfield watchstanders to report that he found a vessel in the Tangier Harbor matching the description of Casale's sailboat.
A Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Elizabeth City and an RB-S from Station Crisfield were then diverted to Tangier Harbor. The Coast Guard  arrived on scene, established contact with Casale and found him not be in distress. Casale reported that he had lost cell phone reception and was unaware that the Coast Guard was looking for him. 
 


 
11.7.10

Search and Rescue
 

 

Agencies search for missing boater on Patuxent River

 
Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) and other first responders search for missing boater, Timothy Dale Bourne, age 50 from Port Republic, Md., in the Patuxent River near Broomes Island.  Bourne was a passenger in a fishing vessel that sank after it experienced engine trouble.
 
At 6:30 pm on Saturday, November 6, Thomas Eric Johnson, age 46 from Hollywood, Md., was returning from fishing in his 20-foot Wellcraft when the vessel experienced engine trouble.  Johnson anchored the vessel and called a nearby marina for assistance.  While Johnson and the other two occupants, Julius Lamond Camp, age 37 from Leonardtown, and Bourne waited for assistance, the vessel took a large wave over the stern causing it to sink.
 
All three occupants put on life jackets and jumped into the water.  A jet skier, who heard the victim's call for help responded to their location.  The skier was able to relay Johnson and Camp to shore.  The jet skier could not locate Bourne, who was separated from the others due to the strong current in the river.  Johnson and Camp were transported to Calvert Memorial Hospital for hyperthermia.
 
Officers from the Natural Resources Police, Coast Guard, and members from St. Leonard VFD, Prince Frederick VFD, Solomon's VFD, and Benedict VFD searched the area by vessel.  The Maryland State Police aviation personnel searched the area by air.  The search continued until midnight.  The search resumed Sunday morning, with the addition of NRP's Underwater Operation Unit using side scan sonar.
 
NRP Special Operation Division is continuing the investigation into the cause of the accident.

Update: Missing boater's body recovered

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) said Sunday evening, November 7, that the body of missing boater Timothy Dale Bourne, age 50 of Port Republic, Md., was recovered at 1:30 p.m. on November 7, approximately 120 yards south from where the vessel had sunk in the Patuxent River.   
Recovery was made by members of the Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department and the Calvert County Dive team. Bourne's body was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for autopsy. 


11.6.10

Maryland NRP rescues five near Breezy Point


NRP responded to a water rescue that occurred at 11:15 a.m. Saturday, November 6, in Chesapeake Bay, one mile south of Breezy Point.  During this rescue, the vessel was taking on water and had five people on board. Units from NRP and Prince Frederick VFD were able to transport all five occupants off the vessel, which was eventually towed back to shore.


11.2.10
 
Bay News 

Super sailing Saturday

 
Boating programs on television are few and far between, which makes this Saturday a red-letter day for enthusiasts. Look for three sailing programs this Saturday, November 6, on ESPN Classic. This synopsis comes from the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Annapolis.

Saturday, November 6
11 a.m.
Thomson Reuters Presents: Man Against Nature: Long Distance Racing

Gary Jobson presents an in-depth look at the challenges and rigors of racing sailboats in long distance competitions. Join the crews of several boats as they race to Bermuda, across the Atlantic Ocean, on the Great Lakes and even around the world. A special focus is on the roughest ocean races on record including the 1979 Fastnet Race and the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race.

Noon
Rolex Presents: 2009 New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup

In 2009 the New York Yacht Club hosted the inaugural Invitational Cup. Nineteen amateur crews from 14 counties competed in a series of races in identically matched 42 foot yachts. The onboard footage of these teams in action shows amateur racing at its best.

1 p.m.
Rolex Presents: America's Cup 12 Metre Era Retrospective

Last September, 350 sailors who competed for the America's Cup in the 12 Metre Class between 1958 and 1987 gathered in Newport, Rhode Island. Throughout several days these champion yachtsmen remembered the greatest moments of the America's Cup. This program features the most exciting moments of ten America's Cup matches that took place during this era. There are interviews with winning skippers Ted Turner, Dennis Conner, Ted Hood and Bill Ficker along with many of the crews. Some newly discovered rare footage will be broadcast for the first time. This program is hosted by Gary Jobson.

All three programs air on ESPN Classic. 
 
Search and Rescue

 

Coast Guard untangles sea turtle near Gloucester Point, Va.

 

The Coast Guard untangled a sea turtle, which was caught in a fishing net, in the mouth of the York River near Gloucester Point on Sunday, October 31.
The turtle was spotted by a local boater, who had his anchor fouled in the net before noticing the turtle. The boater called the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Team for information on what to do. The response team asked the boater to hold the turtle next to his boat until the team could arrive on scene.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads received a call at 4:50 p.m. from a member of the response team asking for Coast Guard assistance with the recovery. A crew aboard a 25-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Milford Haven was launched to assist at 5:10 p.m. and arrived on scene at 6:15 p.m. The crew cut away enough of the net to haul the turtle aboard and then transported it to the Gloucester Point boat ramp transferring it to the response team.

The response team then took the turtle to the Virginia Aquarium for injury assessment and rehabilitation. 
 


 
10.30.10

Search and Rescue
 

 

Coast Guard rescues two aground in Yeocomico River, Va.

 
The Coast Guard rescued two people from a disabled and aground vessel in the Yeocomico River near Kinsale, Va., on Friday, October 29.
Rescued were Timothy Sweet, 44, from Fredericksburg, Va., and Steve Schmieder, 44, from Chesapeake, Va.
Tracy Sweet contacted Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders at 11:31 p.m. reporting that Sweet and Schmieder had gone out on a 27-foot sailboat and had not returned before sunset as they had planned.
A 25-foot Response Boat-Small crew from Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes, Md., was diverted to investigate, along with a rescue crew from Smith Point Sea Rescue. The RB-S found the boat at 1:05 a.m., transferred the passengers onto the rescue vessel and took them to a nearby dock in Wilkins Creek, Va.
There were no reports of injuries. 
 


 
10.24.10

Search and Rescue 

 

Coast Guard medevacs man from vessel near Fishing Creek, Md.

 
A Coast Guard crew medevaced a man who was reportedly suffering from a laceration above his left eye near Fishing Creek in Annapolis on Sunday, October 24. Medevaced was Benjamin Reavis, 21, a student of the Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point, N.Y.
Reavis, who was aboard a 44-foot Naval Academy sailboat, was transferred to a 20-foot Navy rigid hull inflatable boat that was en route to Coast Guard Station Annapolis when the boat began having engine trouble. Rick Dominique, the off-shore sailing coach for the Merchant Marine Academy, then contacted Station Annapolis via marine-band radio at 1:57 p.m.
A 25-foot response boat from Station Annapolis was dispatched. The Coast Guard rescue crew transferred Reavis onto their boat and took him to Station Annapolis, where he was met by awaiting EMS. Reavis was then transported to Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis.


10.20.10

Bay News

 

Coast Guard and local agencies respond to diesel spill in Newport News, Va.

Coast Guard and local agencies are responding to a report of an oil spill at the small boat harbor at Newport News Creek on Tuesday, October 19.
Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads received a report of the oil spill at 6 a.m. and sent pollution investigators to assess the spill. Newport News Fire and Hazardous Materials crews were first on the scene and closed the harbor to place a containment boom around the spill.
Coast Guard pollution investigators initially reported the spill to be approximately 25 gallons of diesel fuel. The source is unknown. 
 


 
10.19.10

Police Blotter

 

Judge upholds DNR's suspension of convicted poachers

 

John Franklin Riggs, 43 and William Howard Beck, 43, both of Rock Hall, Md., will be prohibited from engaging in any commercial fishing activities for at least two commercial oyster seasons in the State of Maryland, after Administrative Law Judge Neile Friedman upheld the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposed suspensions of the men's commercial fishing licenses.

During the 2009-2010 oyster season, both Riggs and Beck were convicted for possessing oysters at night and violating commercial striped bass regulations. Beck was also convicted for using a power dredge to harvest oysters in a prohibited area. Both men have numerous fisheries violations going back decades.

In the decisions in these cases, Friedman highlighted the challenges of enforcing natural resources at night, and concluded that "the Department of Natural Resources is committed to pursuing convictions against poachers because poaching has contributed to the significant decline in the oyster population. The Department is working hard to restore the oyster population, but its efforts will be thwarted without cooperation of the commercial waterman."

These suspensions come on the heels of both the opening of the 2010 oyster season and implementation of Governor Martin O'Malley's Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan. The plan increases Maryland's network of oyster sanctuaries, expands the leasing opportunities for oyster aquaculture.

Included in the program is increased enforcement. DNR has suspended or revoked eight commercial fishing licenses this year for oyster violations. DNR's enforcement efforts are being aided by a network of radar and camera units in sensitive areas that are prone to poaching, which went online this month. 
 


 
10.17.10

Search and Rescue 

 

Boy dies as a result of boat collision

 
A number of agencies responded to a collision in the vicinity of the James River Bridge on Sunday morning, October 17. At 9:53 a.m. Coast Guard Sector Hampton Road watchstanders received word over channel 16 VHF-FM that a Sea Tow vessel with one person aboard and a 19-foot boat with two people aboard, a man and a 13-year-old boy, had collided.
 
A Coast Guard rescue boat crew from Station Portsmouth, a Coast Guard rescue helicopter aircrew from Air Station Elizabeth City, and Coast Guard Port Security Units responded to the incident alongside a Newport News Fire Department boat crew, a Virginia Marine Resources Commission boat crew and a good Samaritan.
 
Newport News Fire department arrived on the scene first, brought the injured aboard and took them to Huntington Park in Newport News where they were transported to Riverside Regional Medical Center by Emergency Medical Service crews. The 13-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the hospital. His name is being withheld until his next of kin are notified.
 

10.18.10
 
Update
 
The teenager who was killed as a result of the collision above has been identified as Lance Brewer of Newport News. The two men had minor injuries. 
 


 
10.16.10

Search and Rescue 

 

Coast Guard assists four near Smith Point, Md.

 
The Coast Guard assisted four people from a vessel disabled and beset by weather in the Potomac River near Smith Point, Md., on Friday, October 15.

Rescued were Pete Hoeltje, 38, from Manahawkin, N.J., Mike Carrey, 22, from Manahawkin, N.J., Mike Dunlap, 38, from Chestertown Md., and Paul Snieckus, 20, from Marlton, N.J.
 
Hoeltje contacted Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders via marine-band radio at 1:51 a.m., reporting that his 28-foot sailboat was disabled and beset by weather.

A 41-foot Utility Boat crew from Coast Guard Station St. Inigoes, Md., arrived on the scene at 2:31 a.m., and transferred the passengers onto their vessel. The passengers were then taken to Station St. Inigoes. The mariners were later transported to Annapolis by Coast Guard personnel.

"We were operating on a handheld radio at that point," said Hoeltje. "We figured the only people that were going to hear us was the Coast Guard. It's nice having the peace of mind to know that you guys are there in any given situation."

There were no reports of injuries. 
 


 
10.15.10

Bay News

 

Crew awarded US Sailing Hanson Medals for Chesapeake Bay rescue

 

Crew members on a CS 40 who rescued five people from Chesapeake Bay, were recently awarded Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medals by the US Sailing Safety-at-Sea Committee.

On the night of July 17, Larry Vazzano (Mt. Airy, Md.) and his crew of three on the CS 40 Wharf Rat were powering home to Pasadena, Md., from the Solomons Island Invitational Regatta. Soon after passing under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge at 11 p.m., the crew heard screams for help and spotted a waving navigation light. Vazzano quickly reduced speed and cautiously drove toward the light, where the crew found two men and a 12-year-old boy clinging to a capsized boat.

Vazzano called in a Mayday, threw the CS 40's lifesling, and circled around the overturned 14-foot powerboat. The two men grabbed the line and were pulled to the boat, where they came aboard by climbing the stern boarding ladder. Wharf Rat then retrieved the boy from the boat with a throw rope. He was the only one of the group wearing a life jacket.

The incident was caused when a wave capsized the group's boat. The crew learned that others were still in the water, and they spotted a woman and a man clinging to a cooler. A rescue helicopter arrived as a police boat from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources picked up the remaining two in the water and the three others on Wharf Rat.

After three hours in the water, the five were treated for mild hypothermia and shock.  
 
Search and Rescue

Coast Guard and local agencies recover remains of missing Coast Guardsman

Coast Guard and local authorities have recovered the remains of the missing Coast Guardsman who fell in the water during a training mission.

Crews recovered the body in vicinity of the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge Tunnel in Hampton, Va., at about 4:15 p.m. Thursday, October 14.

The service member went missing at approximately 9:15 p.m. Wednesday night during a training exercise with the Coast Guard Cutter Frank Drew.

Coast Guard and Navy boat and air crews, a Coast Guard Dive unit, Navy EOD and local police and fire departments searched throughout the night and day for the missing service member.

"It is a difficult task to conduct any search and rescue operation, even more so, when it is one of your own that needs help," said Captain Mark Ogle, Commander, Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads.

The name of the Coast Guardsman is being withheld until the family is notified.

10.16.10 Update:

Coast Guard identifies deceased Coast Guardsman

The Coast Guard has identified the Coast Guardsman who died after falling into the James River near Newport News during a training exercise Wednesday.

Deceased is Petty Officer 3rd Class Shaun Lin, 23, of New York. Lin, a Maritime Enforcement Specialist, has served the Coast Guard for approximately three years.

At approximately 9:15 p.m., Wednesday, October 13, Lin, a member of the Maritime Safety and Security Team New York fell from a ladder into the James River while attempting to transfer from a Maritime Safety and Security Team 25-foot small boat to the Coast Guard Cutter Frank Drew during a training exercise in the vicinity of the Monitor-Merrimac Bridge Tunnel near Newport News.

The crew aboard the small boat attempted a recovery but lost sight of the overboard crewmember.


10.12.10

Bay News

 

Body of Rock Hall waterman recovered

 

The Maryland Natural Resources Police have recovered the body of a missing commercial waterman who failed to return from trot lining for crabs in the Chester River near Ringold's Point.
A friend found Lewis Herbert Cain Sr., 64, of Rock Hall, was found deceased and alone in his vessel-which was aground with the motor still running-near Ringold's Point at 7:30 p.m. on October 11.  Cain had a history of medical problems and no foul play is suspected in his death.
Cain's body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy.   
 


 
10.8.10

Search & Rescue

 

Coast Guard and local officials respond to oil spill in Elizabeth River

 

The Coast Guard received a report of an oil spill on the south branch of the Elizabeth River in Portsmouth on Tuesday, October 5, at approximately 10:30 a.m.

A state agency conducting an inspection of the Sea Solutions' ship dismantling facility directed the operator to contact the Coast Guard after discovering the spill.

Coast Guard pollution investigators were sent to respond, and the owner hired Coastal Services for the clean-up.

On Tuesday evening the Coast Guard assumed control of the response from Sea Solutions and retained Coastal Services. The source of the leak has been located and secured. More than 1,000 gallons of oil has been removed from the water and the vessel. An undetermined amount of oily waste and debris remains aboard the vessel.

Sea Solutions was cutting up a container ship for the steel and pumping the oil toward the stern when oil leaked from the remaining piece of the ship into the cove at the facility.

The entire cove is boomed off with containment and absorbent boom. The discharge has been contained to the facility and has not affected vessel traffic.

Coastal Services is using vacuum trucks to recover the oil.



10.5.10

Search & Rescue

Barge taking on water near Lynnhaven Inlet

 

The Coast Guard received a report of a barge taking on water in the vicinity of Cape Henry on Monday, October 4, at about 5 p.m.

Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads watchstanders received the report from the captain of the tugboat Lucinda Smith, who said that the 220-foot freight deck barge Dick Z, which they were towing, had begun taking on water. In an attempt to control the flooding, the crew of the Lucinda Smith turned the barge around to tow it from the stern and diverted to Hampton Roads to make repairs. Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads remained in contact with the tugboat crew throughout the night.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the tug and barge were about 1.5 miles northeast of the Lynnhaven Inlet. There were no people or materials reported on the barge. Coast Guard marine investigators have noted damage to the barge and reported that the bow was underwater. Commercial salvage was conducting their survey to determine best course of action.

The Coast Guard, meanwhile, was making Safety Marine Information Broadcasts to notify nearby boating traffic of the situation.

There was no report of pollution. The cause of the flooding was unknown.


10.1.10
 
Search & Rescue 

Coast Guard rescues two in Patapsco River

 
The Coast Guard rescued two people from a vessel taking on water in the Patapsco River near Fort Smallwood State Park, Md., on Friday, October 1.
Rescued was Thomas H. Tolson, Sr., 49, from Severn, Md., and John L. Sullivan, Jr., 60, from Columbia, Md.

Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders received a distress call by cell phone at 2:11 p.m., reporting that the vessel Wood Duck, a 38-foot fishing vessel, had struck an object and was taking on water. A 41-foot Utility Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay, Md., a Maryland Natural Resources Police boatcrew, an Anne Arundel fire boatcrew, and two Maryland State Police helicopters were dispatched.

The Coast Guard crew arrived on the scene at 2:28 p.m. and began dewatering the vessel. The crew placed the vessel in tow and transferred Tolson and Sullivan to the Coast Guard vessel where they were then taken to Station Curtis Bay.

"When we got on scene, the water was up to the mariners' knees," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brian Busby, a coxswain at Station Curtis Bay. "Once the vessel became unsafe, we were forced to remove our crew from the boat. About 30 seconds later, water started to come over the side and the boat began to capsize. At that point, we had to remove the lines. In the end, the mariners were glad that we were able to get them back to shore safely."

The Coast Guard urges mariners to use extreme caution when navigating waterways following heavy storms. Storms have the potential to increase the amount of debris both on and beneath the water's surface.

There were no reports of injuries.


9.30.10

Police Blotter

 

Edgewater sailor arrested

 

FROM THE MARYLAND NATURAL RESOURCES POLICE: On September 27 the NRP charged David Anthony Neff of Edgewater, Md., with reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, hindering and obstructing a police officer, failing to comply with a lawful order, operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol and attempting to elude a police officer.
 
NRP received a call about an overturned sailboat with a person clinging to the side of the boat in the South River at 4:15 p.m. NRP, Coast Guard and Anne Arundel County Fire Boat responded to the scene to locate and assist the overturned boat. Once on the scene, the responding units found Neff on his 25-foot sailboat, righted and underway. Neff became belligerent and appeared intoxicated as rescue units attempted to check on his welfare and condition. He tried to ram the Anne Arundel County Fire Boat three times with his sailboat and ignored repeated calls and orders by NRP and Coast Guard officers to stop his vessel.
 
Neff continued to flee and evade officers by refusing to drop his sails, while maneuvering his boat back and forth to prevent boarding. Eventually, NRP officers forcibly boarded the boat while it was under way. Neff struggled with NRP officers and resisted arrest. After he was subdued, hewas taken ashore, where he failed sobriety field tests and an alcohol breath test. His trial date is scheduled for December 17 in Maryland District Court in Annapolis. 
 


 
9.19.10
 
Search & Rescue

 

Woman in C&D found alive

 

A woman who reportedly jumped into the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal from a boat was found alive on shore by a Chesapeake City Fire Department boat crew on Saturday, September 19.
FROM THE U.S. COAST GUARD: Rescued was Corri McNeil, 50, of Downingtown, Pa. McNeil was on a 40-foot yacht with her boyfriend in the C&D Canal approximately a mile and a half west of the Chesapeake City Bridge in Chesapeake City, Md., when she reportedly jumped into the water around 8:20 p.m.
A 25-foot Response Boat-Small crew from Coast Guard Station Stillpond, Md., along with a Chesapeake City Fire Department boat crew, a Cecil County Fire Department boat crew, two Maryland Natural Resources Police boat crews, a Maryland State Police helicopter and a 65-foot Dolphin helicopter rescue crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., responded. Crews arrived at approximately 8:45 p.m., and began searching for McNeil.
A Chesapeake City Fire Department boat crew found McNeil alive on shore about three-quarters of a mile west of the Chesapeake City Bridge at 11:17 p.m. She was transferred into the boat. McNeil was be taken to Union Hospital in Chesapeake City and treated for hypothermia. 
 


 
9.15.10

Update on Save the Stack

We reported a couple months ago on efforts on behalf of Reedville, Virginia residents and beyond to save their crumbling icon, a 130 foot tall stack built circa 1902 as part of a menhaden processing operation. The Stack has served as a navigational landmark for working watermen and boaters and a welcoming beacon to the historic town of Reedville.
Woodstack, this year's fund-raising music event was a huge success and netted $23,000. Work commenced immediately, as bricks were falling at an alarming rate. Scaffolding is now in place.



The project still has not raised all the money it needs to complete the project, so any donations are still being gratefully accepted.
For more information on The Stack and how to contribute go to http://savethestack.blogspot.com/
 
Here is the National Hurricane Center's site for predicted storm surge from  Hurricane Earl. Use it to zoom in on the Chesapeake Bay and to set storm surge levels for predictions.
http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/psurgegraphics_at2.shtml?gm 
  
 


 
9.2.10 

Watches, Warnings and Advisories currently active for the Chesapeake Bay:

 
Hurricane Warning: Bogue Inlet, N.C. to the North Carolina/Virginia border.
Hurricane Watch: North from the North Carolina/Virginia border to Cape Henlopen, Del.
Tropical Storm Warning: North of the North Carolina/Virginia border to Sandy Hook, N.J., including the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort.

Coastal Flood Advisory until 6 p.m. Thursday for the Maryland Chesapeake and Tidal Potomac.
Coastal Flood Watch after 6 p.m. Thursday for the Maryland Chesapeake and Tidal Potomac.

Here is the Coastal Flood statement from the National Weather Service:

Southerly winds Thursday afternoon and lowering pressure in
association with the nearing of Hurricane Earl will create
positive tidal anomalies of around 1 foot across the tidal
Potomac River and Maryland Chesapeake Bay. This will lead to minor
coastal flooding across traditionally flood sensitive areas around
the periods of high tides today.

Later Thursday and into the overnight hours, as Hurricane Earl
reaches is closest point to the waters off the Delmarva
Peninsula tidal anomalies may increase further for the waters of
the tidal Potomac River and Maryland Chesapeake Bay, potentially
1 to 3 feet above normal. The speed and proximity to land of
Hurricane Earl will be key in how high water levels get. There is
the possibility of minor to moderate tidal flooding tonight across
portions of the Maryland Chesapeake Bay and tidal Potomac River. 
 


  
9.1.10

Hurricane Watch for coastal Virginia and mouth of the Bay

 

A Hurricane Watch has been posted for all of coastal Virginia and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, including Portsmouth, Virginia Beach and Norfolk.


 
8.31.10

Coast Guard sets port condition Whiskey for Hampton Roads

 

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port has set port condition Whiskey for Hampton Roads in preparation of Hurricane Earl. Port condition Whiskey is set when hurricane force winds are expected within 72 hours.
During the next 24 hours the Coast Guard will identify and track all vessels in port, establish contact with emergency management agencies at the local, state and federal levels, and work closely with port and industry officials to minimize damage in the event the storm impacts Hampton Roads.
The Coast Guard requests that the public listen to weather information available from other sources and not call the Coast Guard for weather information.
For additional information on the storm, visit the National Hurricane Center website http://www.nhc.noaa.gov. 
 


 
8.25.10

 

Chesapeake City's boat basin reopens

After being closed for much of the summer for dredging operations, the popular boat basin in Chesapeake City on the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal is open again. Depths of at least 10 feet have been reported throughout.


 
8.17.10 

 

Coast Guard rescues 2 men near Hog Island, Va.

 
The Coast Guard rescued two men from a sailboat on Monday morning, August 16, after they had run aground near Hog Island, Va.
The Coast Guard received a call at 8 p.m. Sunday from a crewmember aboard the sailing vessel Poco Plus Five reporting that the vessel was aground and taking on water.
A Coast Guard Station Wachapreague rescue boat crew responded and arrived on the scene within half an hour. The rescue boat crew could not get within a quarter mile of the sailing vessel because of surf conditions.
An HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., arrived and lowered a rescue swimmer who assisted in hoisting the two men. The men were then transported to Accomack County Airport, Va.
There were no reports of injuries.


8.15.10

(Please note the two updates following this story)

Man missing after boat strikes Elk River buoy

 

Here are two reports on this ongoing incident in the Elk River. The first one is from the U.S. Coast Guard:
 
Coast Guard and local agencies are searching for a man missing after a vessel with two passengers collided with a buoy in the Elk River near Elk Neck State Park, Md., Saturday night.
 
Coast Guard, local agencies search for missing man in the upper Chesapeake Bay

Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders received a call at 9:43 p.m., reporting that a pleasure craft had struck buoy "19" and was taking on water with one person unaccounted for and another onboard with injuries.

Rescue boatcrews from Coast Guard Stations Stillpond, Md., Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay, Md., Cecil County and Maryland Natural Resources Police along with helicopter crews from Maryland State Police and Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., responded to the incident.
The injured man was met by rescue personnel from Cecil County and then medevaced to Baltimore Shock Trauma by Trooper 1 of the Maryland State Police.

A rescue boatcrew from Station Curtis Bay will continue searching throughout the night.
The cause of accident is currently under investigation.

And here is the report from the Maryland Natural Resources Police:

On August 14, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Natural Resource Police responded to a vessel that had struck a buoy in the Elk River.
 
Eric Pryor of Northeast was flown to R. Adam Cowley Shock Trauma in Baltimore with non-life threatening injuries.  The operator of the vessel, Deforrest Wayne Timlin, 49, of Rising Sun, Md., is still missing.  The search for Timiln is continuing in the Elk River by Natural Resource Police with side scan sonar and surface searches.

The area was searched on Saturday night by Natural Resource Police, U.S. Coast Guard and Maryland State Police units.  Aerial and shoreline searches were conducted.

Timlin was operating a 28-foot Power Quest boat and was traveling from the Chesapeake Inn when the vessel struck green buoy "19" in the Elk River.  Alcohol is suspected to be a factor in this accident.
 
2 p.m. update:

Search suspended

 

The Coast Guard suspended its search Sunday, for a man missing in the Elk River near Elk Neck Creek Park, Md., following a boat allision with a buoy Saturday. Coast Guard crews searched for a total of nine hours in 15 square nautical miles.

Rescue boatcrews from Coast Guard Stations Stillpond, Md., Coast Guard Station Curtis Bay, Md., Cecil County and Maryland Natural Resources Police along with helicopter crews from Maryland State Police and Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., began searching the area after the initial call at 9:43 p.m. The search was suspended at 9:51 a.m., Sunday pending further developments.

Update August 17:

Body recovered from Elk River boating accident

 

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) recovered the body of Deforrest Wayne Timlin, age 49 from Rising Sun, Md., at 8:23 pm, Monday, August 16 from the waters of the Elk River off Old Field Point, near Elkton.
 
Timlin drove a 28-foot powerboat into a buoy on August 14 at 8:30 p.m. as he was traveling from Chesapeake Inn to Button Wood Beach on the Elk River.  Timlin was thrown from the boat during the impact. EMTs transported the boat's passenger Eric Pryor, of Northeast, Md., to Shock Trauma with non-life threatening injuries.
 
NRP has been searching for Timlin since the accident at Elk River buoy "19".  Officers found the body 500 yards north of the accident site.
 
Timlin is the eleventh boating accident victim this year.  Alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor in this accident.
 


8.11.10 

Coast Guard statement on NTSB recommendation on the use of electronic devices on Coast Guard and other vessels

 
The U.S. Coast Guard was reviewing a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendation Wednesday that the service develop policies on the use of cellular phones on Coast Guard vessels as well as issue a safety advisory to the marine industry on the possible dangers of crewmember use of electronic communications devices such as cell phones, smart phones and personal data assistants.
The Coast Guard issued guidance July 16 to its personnel prohibiting the use of these devices by operators of Coast Guard boats and also restricted their use by other crewmembers.

"While cell phones and texting devices have become ubiquitous in everyday life, the internal Coast Guard policy issued in July prohibits their use on Coast Guard boats without the permission of the coxswain," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil, a Coast Guard spokesman. "The policy also strictly prohibits the use of these devices by the coxswain, or the operator, of a Coast Guard boat."

Cell phones and texting devices may be useful communication tools if boats lose a marine radio signal or as alternate means of communication to a marine radio.

The Coast Guard takes the NTSB recommendations seriously and will provide a response to the letter upon a thorough review.

The NTSB recommendation comes amid investigations into two collisions involving Coast Guard boats, but does not draw any conclusions that the use of electronic devices was a cause of those accidents. NTSB and Coast Guard investigations into those two accidents are ongoing.
 


8.8.9.10 

 

Boating death under investigation

 
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) are investigating the death of Tyrone Pettiford, 52, of Chaptico, Md., who died in the early morning hours of Monday, August 9.

Pettiford disappeared in the dark near Mill Point after fishing with a friend on Sunday, August 8. After Pettiford and his friend ran their boat aground about 50 yards from shore, Pettiford attempted to swim to shore. Pettiford's friend saw him disappear under the water not far from the boat and called 911. The U.S. Coast Guard and Charles County dive team assisted NRP with the search and recovery of Pettiford's body.

No foul play is suspected, but the cause of the accident is under investigation by NRP. Pettiford's body will be sent to the medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy.


   
8.4.10

 

Menhaden spill leaves Buckroe Beach up to its neck in dead fish

 

Approximately 20,000 dead fish have washed up on Buckroe Beach, Va., ostensibly as the result of a spill from the nets of a commercial trawler harvesting menhaden for Omega Protein out of Reedville, Va.

Omega Protein, the Texas-based company that operates a plant in Reedville, has accepted responsibility and is cleaning up the spill, a job expected to be completed on Wednesday, August 4.

According to Bill Landry, a spokesman for Omega, the spill occurred Monday, August 2, off of Grandview Nature Preserve, just north of Buckroe. The dead fish sank after spilling from the nets of the Omega vessel Kimberly, Landry said, and then, a few days later, rose to the surface and washed ashore. "The captain indicated that he felt a tug or net tear while he was pumping the fish," he said.

John Bull, spokesman for the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, said the fish spill does not pose any environmental threat.

The spill is under investigation by Omega.



8.4.10

 

Recreational boating statistics 2009 report shows slight rise in deaths

 

The U.S. Coast Guard's Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety released its Recreational Boating Statistics 2009 report August 3, revealing a 3.81-percent increase in boating accident deaths and a 0.81-percent increase in related injuries, even though the number of boating accidents decreased 1.23 percent. The Coast Guard recorded 736 deaths, 3,358 injuries and approximately $36 million in property damage, stemming from 4,730 recreational boating accidents in 2009.

The fatality rate, a measure of the number of deaths against the number of registered recreational boats, increased from 5.6 in 2008 to 5.8 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational boats in 2009.
Operator inattention, operator inexperience, excessive speed, improper lookout and alcohol consumption ranked as the top five contributing factors to recreational boating accidents. Alcohol consumption continued to be of major concern in fatal boating accidents and was listed as the leading contributing factor in 16 percent of deaths. Eighty six percent of boating accident deaths occurred on boats where the operator reportedly had not received boating safety instruction.

"The data in the 2009 publication echoes the message that life jacket wear is critical," said Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, the Coast Guard's Director of Prevention Policy. "Nearly 75 percent of the 736 people who died in boating accidents in 2009 drowned, and 84 percent of those victims reportedly were not wearing a life jacket. The two most important things boaters can do to prevent the loss of life is to wear a life jacket and take a boater education course."

To see the Recreational Boating Statistics 2009 report, visit: http://www.uscgboating.org/statistics/accident_statistics.aspx.
For more information on boating responsibly, go to http://www.uscgboating.org/.


 
8.2.10

Emergency closing for Dividing Creek on the Magothy River

The Anne Arundel County Department of Health has ordered an emergency closing and warns against swimming, jet skiing and other direct water contact at Dividing Creek in Arnold due to a wastewater overflow of 14,800 gallons. The overflow occurred on the afternoon of August 1 and was caused by a force main break in the 700 block of Dividing Creek Road in Arnold. Signs have been posted along the waterway. The Department warns people coming in contact with the affected water to wash well with soap and warm, clean water immediately. Clothing should also be washed. The creek will remain closed until further notice from the Department of Health.


8.2.10 
 

All Anne Arundel County beaches under new swim/contact advisory

 

The Health Department has also issued a 48-hour advisory against any swimming or contact with water at all Anne Arundel County beaches. Recent rains may have made the water unsafe and the advisory is in effect until lab test results show levels have returned to safe levels.

Check this site for the latest updates: http://www.aahealth.org/wqadvisories.asp#advisory


7.28.10 

Update: Boating fatality blamed on electrocution

 
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) report that the preliminary cause of death in the July 25 jet ski accident of Warren Douglas Smith, 63 of Annapolis, was electrocution. This information was released after the preliminary autopsy of Smith was performed on July 26. The final autopsy will occur within the next month.
 
The boating accident occurred one-half mile south of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge during Sunday's severe thunderstorm. The investigation indicated that Smith, who was riding a jet ski prior to the accident, was caught in the storm as he raced back to port. NRP investigators believe Smith was not struck directly by lightning, but was electrocuted by a nearby lightning strike. Elmer Sappington, 65 of Severn, was approximately 75 to 100 feet away from Smith on another jet ski when the incident occurred and was not harmed by the lightning.


 
7.26.10

Maryland DNR reports one probable storm-related boating fatality

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) are investigating the death of Warren Douglas Smith, age 63 of Annapolis, which occurred during a fierce thunderstorm on Sunday evening, July 25, while he was riding a jet ski one-half mile south of the Bay Bridge in the Chesapeake Bay.
 
Smith and a friend, Elmer Sappington, age 65 of Severn, who was riding another jet ski, encountered a storm that produced winds estimated at 60 miles per hour, waves five to six feet in height, and strong lightning. Sappington and Smith were racing back toward Sandy Point State Park as they saw the storm approaching, but were unable to reach the safety of the park. Sappington was knocked off his jet ski by the force of the storm, and when he got back onto his jet ski, he noticed Smith laying face down in the water. Sappington picked up Smith, who was unconscious, headed towards Sandy Point and flagged down a passing tug boat. The tug boat operator called NRP, and officers responded and transported Smith to Sandy Point. From there, Smith was transported to Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
 
Smith's body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy. NRP's Special Operations Division is continuing the investigation.
 
NRP responded to eleven maritime incidents during the storm event. The following is a list of the incidents:
1)      At 3:30 p.m., NRP responded to a report of a vessel taking on water with six persons on board near Battery Island in Harford County. One subject was transported to the hospital.
2)      At 3:34 p.m., NRP responded to a report of a capsized vessel in Susquehanna River, under the Route 95 Bridge.
3)      At 3:59 p.m., NRP responded to a report of an overturned vessel in Clements Creek off of Epping Forest.
4)      At 4:04 p.m., NRP responded to a report of a windsurfer in need of assistance in the area of Quiet Waters Park.
5)      At 4:10 p.m., NRP responded to a report of overturned vessels off Pirates Cove in Galesville, Anne Arundel County.
6)      At 4:40 p.m., NRP responded to a report of a personal watercraft accident under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. One person died.
7)      At 4:42 p.m., NRP responded to a report of damage to a vessel caused by the storm at Annapolis Landing Marina in Back Creek.
8)      At 5:08 p.m., NRP responded to a report of a capsized vessel with subjects in the water near North Beach in Calvert County.
9)      At 5:35 p.m., NRP responded to a report of a vessel taking on water with four people in the water at Rocky Point Park in Baltimore County.
10)  At 5:50 p.m., NRP responded to a report of a capsized vessel in the Patuxent River Park in Prince Georges County.
11)  At 6:54 p.m., NRP responded to a report of a capsized vessel with two persons in the water in Isle of Wight Bay, Worcester County. 
 


 
7.26.10 

 

Coast Guard responds to 37 distress calls as thunderstorms rage through Chesapeake Bay

 
The Coast Guard responded to 37 distress calls that resulted in more than 77 people being assisted or rescued after a severe thunderstorm developed in the Chesapeake Bay Sunday afternoon. At 3:05 p.m., the National Weather Service Radar indicated a line of severe thunderstorms capable of producing destructive winds in excess of 70 mph. A marine broadcast was issued to notify mariners to seek shelter immediately.

At approximately 3:25 p.m., Sector Baltimore watchstanders received the first call notifying them that vessels were being affected by the storm. Within minutes, multiple calls came in to the command center. Damaging wind gusts, frequent cloud to ground lightning strikes and unstable sea conditions began to create a dangerous situation for mariners.

Within a two hour period, eight Coast Guard response boatcrews from six different small boat stations, including Station Stillpond, Station Oxford, Station St. Inigoes, Station Curtis Bay, Station Annapolis and Station Washington, D.C., began responding to the distress calls. Distress cases spanned from the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal to as far south as Colonial Beach, Md., to include the Potomac River.
Some of the rescue efforts included:

-Coast Guard Station Oxford boatcrews rescued two people from a capsized kayak near Cambridge Creek, Md.
 
-Station Annapolis boatcrews rescued three personal water craft operators who were located clinging to a buoy near Herring Bay, Md.

-Station St. Inigoes rescued five people located in the water after their raft capsized near St. George's Island. With the use of a translator, St. Inigoes crewmembers were also able to rescue a Spanish speaking family aboard a 30-foot pleasure craft that was disabled near Colonial Beach.
"I have been working this job for more than five years, and I have never seen this happen before," said Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Stanley, a search and rescue coordinator at Sector Baltimore.

"Storms can turn a normal day out on the boat to a battle of life and death, in one case we literally had victims clinging to a buoy for life," said Chief Petty Officer Keith Moore an operations specialist at Sector Baltimore. "This is what we train for; this is why we are here. However, in an emergency as large as this was, a number of unprepared mariners can take a toll and create a very difficult situation for all responders. We could not have done this alone; we are incredibly thankful to our state and local agencies for helping us carry the burden of such a difficult mission."

The Coast Guard urges mariners to pay close attention to the weather reports and weather advisories prior to and while boating. Mariners should take appropriate action when a storm is nearing by leaving affected areas, returning to marinas and safe haven as soon as possible.


 
7.20.10

Zebra Mussels Now Established In Susquehanna River Below Conowingo Dam

 

On July 6th, a team of biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Monitoring and Non-tidal Assessment Division spotted several suspected zebra mussel adults for the first time in the lower Susquehanna River below the Conowingo Dam.

These recent findings indicate that a population of this non-native, invasive mussel is established in this part of the Susquehanna. The first-ever sightings of zebra mussels in Maryland occurred in the lower Susquehanna River upstream of the Conowingo in November 2008.

"Most of the specimens were the largest I've ever seen, ranging up to 38 mm (almost 1-1/2 inches) in shell length, and they were probably three to four years old," said DNR Biologist Ron Klauda.

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) have caused over five billion dollars in damages and economic losses in North America since they were introduced into the Great Lakes during the 1980s. Based on studies conducted in the Hudson River Estuary, New York, the potential impacts of zebra mussels on the freshwater to slightly brackish portions of Maryland's aquatic ecosystem could be substantial, with effects on all aspects of the food web from plankton to fish by outcompeting native species, filtering all available plankton and rapidly colonizing large areas.

"The good news is that, at least for now, the density of zebra mussels appears to be low," said DNR Natural Resource Biologist Jay Kilian.

Boaters, anglers and other recreational water users who enjoy the lower Susquehanna River can help stop the spread of harmful zebra mussels to other Maryland waters by taking these simple precautions before launching and before leaving:

(1) Remove all aquatic plants and mud from boats, motors, and trailers, and put the debris in the trash.

(2) Drain river water from boat motors, bilges, live wells, bait buckets and coolers before leaving to prevent aquatic hitchhikers from riding along.

(3) Dispose of unused live bait on shore far from the water body or in the trash.

(4) Rinse boats, motors, trailers, live wells, bait buckets, coolers and scuba gear with high pressure or hot water between trips to different water bodies.

(5) Dry everything at least two days (preferably five days) between outings.

DNR urges boaters to do their part to stop the introduction and spread of zebra mussels and other invasive species in Maryland. Citizens who find what look like zebra mussels should seal them in a zip lock bag, put the bag in the freezer, record where and when they were found and report the find to DNR at 410-260-8615.

For more information about zebra mussels and other invasive species in Maryland, call 1-877-620-8DNR or visit www.dnr.maryland.gov/invasives.

source: DNR press release


7.12.10

 

Coast Guard medevacs one in Rhode River

 

A Coast Guard crew medevaced a woman who was reportedly suffering from back pains in the Rhode River, on Sunday, July 11. Rescued was Spencer Martin, 19.

Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders received a call by emergency dispatch at 2:11 p.m., reporting that Martin was suffering from back pains after falling off an innertube being pulled by a pleasure craft.

A 25-foot response boat (RB-S) crew from Coast Guard Station Annapolis, Md., picked up four Anne Arundel County Fire Rescue members and deployed to the scene. The Coast Guard rescue crew located Martin, transferred her onto the RB-S and took her to a marina on the Rhode River, where she was met by a Maryland State Police helicopter. Martin was then transported to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.  
 


7.6.10

 

Update: Virginia State Police divers find body of missing boater

 

The Coast Guard and the Middlesex County Sheriff's Department ended their search for 25-year-old Amanda Brady after Virginia State Police divers located her body on July 6, the morning after a serious nighttime boat accident on the Rappahannock River several miles above Urbanna, Va. Nine other people were seriously injured in the accident at about 10 p.m., July 5, when the boat they were riding in hit a channel marker in the open river. According to some reports, the 22-foot Chaparral was traveling at approximately 35 mph when it hit the marker. The boat's captain-38-year-old Steve Nixon, a Richmond fire department captain-and nine other people, all family members, were seriously injured in the accident. The woman killed was identified as 25-year-old Amanda Brady, a Henrico County elementary school teacher and fiance of Nixon's brother Patrick, who was among the most seriously injured. 
 


 
6.28.10

Man rescued after collision between personal watercraft, boat near Shady Side, Md.

A Coast Guard rescue boat crew recovered an injured man from West River after his personal watercraft and a power boat collided near Shady Side at about 4:45 p.m. Friday, June 25.

A good Samaritan contacted Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders and reported the incident.  He then held the man alongside his boat until a Station Annapolis boat crew arrived to recover him a few minutes later.

Anne Arundel Fire and Rescue EMTs were able to stabilize the man aboard the Coast Guard boat, and he was taken to the YMCA ball field off Rhode River where they were met by Maryland State Police's Trooper 2 helicopter.  He was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.


 
6.23.10

NRP investigating fatal boating accident

 

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is investigating the cause of a fatal boating accident that was reported Tuesday, June 22, at 8 p.m. in the Chester River, south of the Chester River Country Club, Kent County.
 
Stephen Leonard Cohey, age 56 of Chestertown, was reported missing after he failed to return to Kennersly Marina from fishing with his commercial pound nets.  NRP, U.S. Coast Guard and Kent and Queen Anne's County Rescue Squads searched the river for Cohey. Cohey's unoccupied vessels were located near his pound net in the Chester River minutes after the search began. The search for Cohey was conducted by land, water and air.  Coast Guard aviation also assisted in the search.
 
Cohey's body was located at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, approximately one quarter mile south of his pound net in the Chester River. The body was transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for an autopsy. The NRP Special Operations Division is continuing an investigation to determine the cause of the fatal boat accident.
 


6.19.10

Coast Guard medevacs 2 divers east of Virginia Beach

 

A Coast Guard helicopter crew medically evacuated two men Saturday from a dive boat about 30 miles east of Virginia Beach.

The crew of the dive boat Miss Lindsey called Sector Hampton Roads watchstanders at 1 p.m., after a 65-year-old man and 19-year-old man surfaced from a dive. They reported the 65-year-old was having problems and a Coast Guard flight surgeon recommended a medevac.

An Air Station Elizabeth City MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter crew arrived and lowered a rescue swimmer to check on the man.  They hoisted him to the helicopter and took him to Sentara Leigh Hospital in Norfolk, due to their hyperbaric capabilities.

About half way to the hospital the dive boat crew called again, reporting that the 19-year-old had started displaying the same symptoms.  The Jayhawk crew dropped off the older man at 2 p.m. and returned to the boat to medevac the other diver.  They were able to pick up the younger man and return to the hospital by about 2:45 p.m.

The 65-year-old man was recently reported to be in critical condition.
This was the third diving incident in about three hours in the Coast Guard's 5th District.  A 45-year-old man in North Carolina was taken to Carteret General Hospital with symptoms of decompression sickness after his dive at about 10 a.m.



 
6.9.10

Update: Search for missing people suspended

 

The Coast Guard has suspended the search for two people Thursday at 6:55 p.m. who went missing after the Duck Boat they were aboard collided with the 250-foot tug and barge Caribbean Sea on the Delaware River near Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.

Missing is Dora Schwendtner, 16, and Szablcs Prem, 20, both of Hungary.

The Coast Guard searched a total of 20 hours and 14 nautical miles.

Rescue crews from Coast Guard Station Philadelphia, Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Philadelphia, the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Cleat, homeported in Philadelphia, crews from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., members of the Philadelphia Marine Police Department, New Jersey State Police, the Philadelphia Fire Department, members of the U.S. Navy, Sea Tow Philadelphia, the Camden Fire Department and the Army Corps of Engineers searched for Schwendtner and Prem.

The Coast Guard has established a 250-yard safety zone around the wreckage. 
 


 
6.7.10

Coast Guard searching for two after duck boat, barge collision in Philadelphia

Crews of the Coast Guard, Philadelphia fire and police, New Jersey police and others are searching for two people after a collision between a duck boat and a barge near Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.

Ten of the passengers were taken to Hahnemann University Hospital.
 
At 2:39 p.m. a collision occurred between a duck boat, with 35 passengers and two crewmen, and the 250-foot tug and barge Caribbean Sea on the Delaware River in about 10 feet of water.

The Coast Guard launched boat crews from Station Philadelphia and Aids to Navigation Team Philadelphia and an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., to rescue those in distress.

The Captain of the Port of Philadelphia has closed the river to all traffic between the Walt Whitman and Ben Franklin bridges until further notice. 
 


 
6.23.10

Reward offered for information on hit-and-run

Metro Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for a boating accident. The family of Mark Gentile, age 56 from Mt. Jackson, Va., is offering the reward for information on the hit-and-run boating accident that severely injured Gentile on June 5.
 
"We are offering this reward in hopes of catching the person responsible for stealing my life away," said Gentile.
 
Gentile has been unable to run his business or care for a family member that has Alzheimer's since the accident. Gentile spent ten days in Maryland Shock Trauma following the accident and expects to spend at least 90 days at Envoy of Alexandria, a short- and long-term care facility in Alexandria, Va.
 
The accident occurred at 2:30 p.m. near the Thomas Point Light in the Chesapeake Bay when a white and champagne-colored Donzi-type speedboat ran over Gentile as he was swimming in the water near his sailboat.  The speedboat was occupied by at least one balding white male and a younger-looking white female.
 
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) is investigating the incident and has enlisted the help of Metro Crime Stoppers to promote awareness of the crime and generate public response. Informant identity is kept confidential. The details that are provided by the tipster are forwarded to NRP for investigation.
 
To be eligible for the reward, the information must come into the Metro Crime Stoppers by: calling 866-7lockup (866-756-2587), texting "MCS" plus your message to CRIMES (274637) or on the Web at www.metrocrimestoppers.org.


6.1.10

EPA delays ethanol decision until fall

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced that it will not make a decision until this fall on whether to allow the level of ethanol in gasoline to be raised to 15 percent (E15). The standard in fuel is now 10 percent (E10). The EPA had said earlier that it would announce its decision in June following additional tests of E15 in automobile engines.

No testing on marine engines has been announced. This continues to dismay many in the marine industry, who have complained that the E10 blend has already created problems in a number of marine engines. Several boating industry organizations, including BoatU.S., have argued for an EPA decision based on scientific evidence rather than the urging of ethanol producers. Growth Energy, a group representing the nation's ethanol producers, petitioned the EPA last year to raise the percentage of ethanol in fuel.

Boating industry opponents to the petition point out that E10 has led to disintegration of some fiberglass fuel tanks, gumming up of fuel lines and piston and valve failure. They contend that the proposed E15 could create even more problems with marine engines.

The latest statement from the EPA says that while preliminary results on automobiles "look good," more testing on cars needs to be done. 
 


6.17.10 
 

The Fate of Old Dobbin(s)

 

THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE USE OF Dobbins Island's beach has been a litiginous hobbyhorse ever since the island's owner, David Clickner, erected a post-and-cable fence to keep boaters out. That effectively closed the long-popular beach on the Magothy River island to public use. The Magothy River Association (MRA) sued, arguing that the fence was below the high-water mark and that public access had been established through decades of use. Clickner argued that he had put up the fence to stop vandalism. At first, the decisions went in Clickner's favor. Then things began to change. Early in May, an Anne Arundel County appeals board ruled that the MRA and Chesapeake Bay Foundation had standing for making their case against Clickner building on the island at all. Then, late in May, a circuit court judge ordered Clickner to tear down or move the fence because public use of the island had been "continuous, peaceable and reasonable." Stay tuned.


6.17.10 
  

A Man, a Plan, and Oysters

 
MARYLAND GOVERNOR Martin O'Malley has launched a crusade to bring back the Holy Grail of the Chesapeake: the oyster. Bolstered by the apparent success of Maryland and Virginia's combined effort to revive the flagging crab population by placing strict limits on the harvest numbers and the season, O'Malley is tackling the thorny problem of increasing the oyster population--which despite years of effort, millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours, remains at about one percent of historic level. Early this spring, O'Malley announced that he would increase the area of oyster sanctuaries to 25 percent of the Bay's waters--up from 9 percent. In addition, he would open about 600,000 acres to leasing for oyster aquaculture. Following that announcement, O'Malley and unhappy watermen negotiated some changes in the location of the sanctuaries, but kept the same amount of the Bay reserved. A public comment period on the final plan has been scheduled for July and August, with a final review by a joint Senate-House committee to follow.



   
6.17.10 
 

John Smith Shallop Slips Into Annapolis

THE JOHN SMITH SHALLOP--SULTANA Project's iteration of the Chesapeake explorer's craft--has taken to the Bay once again, this time for the 60-mile trip from its home on the Chester River in Chestertown, Md., to Annapolis. There the shallop will be on display for six months at the National Sailing Hall of Fame at Annapolis City Dock, the centerpiece of an in-water exhibit about John Smith's voyages and the National Park Service's new Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.



6.17.10 
 

Which Way the Wind Blows

 

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF Defense has given preliminary approval for construction of a wind farm off southern Virginia shores. Virginia Coastal Energy Research Consortium, which includes the Commonwealth of Virginia, Old Dominion University and Virginia Tech, has identified about 70 "lease blocks" (areas in federally controlled waters) from 6 to 25 miles offshore, ranging from the North Carolina border to the Eastern Shore. So far, the Defense Department has okayed 18 of these 70 lease blocks, 10 of which are located in the Surface Free Lane. This is a five-mile-wide channel that the Navy uses to move ships out to sea from the Norfolk Naval Station. The final nod for the project must come from the Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service. 
  
 


 
6.11.10 

 
Update: Abby Sunderland is Okay!

 
Good news. Sailing Anarchy (www.sailinganarchy.com) reported Friday morning that searchers have contacted Abby Sunderland, who was feared lost at sea, and she is reported to be alive and well. Searchers aboard an Airbus A330 spotted her boat in an upright position and made contact with her via radio. Bennett said Sunderland said she was doing fine and had plenty of food. Her boat is upright, but no rig. He says a fishing vessel is en route to pick her up. 
  
 


 
6.10.10 
 

Search on for Abby Sunderland after both EPIRBs activated

 

French search and rescue teams are searching for Abby Sunderland, the 16-year-old who has been trying to become the youngest solo circumnavigator, after her EPIRBs went off in the southern Indian Ocean early this morning. One beacon is attached to a survival suit and one is on the boat.
 
Sunderland is sailing Wild Eyes, a Scott Jutson-designed Open 40. She has been battling rough weather in the Indian Ocean and reported several knockdowns in 60-knot winds.
 
Her parents, Marianne and Laurence Sunderland, lost touch via satellite phone with their daughter early this morning and, an hour later, were notified by rescue authorities at the French-controlled Reunion Island that both of Sunderland's beacons had been activated.
 
Late Thursday afternoon, the sailing website Sailing Anarchy (www.sailinganarchy.com) reported that French search and rescue has requested assistance from the Australian search and rescue, which have chartered a plane from Quantas that will do a fly over at first light. 
 


 
6.7.10 
 

Claire Leroy takes Santa Maria Cup for second year in a row

The 20th annual BoatUS Santa Maria Cup international women's match racing championship wrapped up Saturday, June 5, in Annapolis with French team skipper Claire Leroy winning the cup for second year in a row. Genny Tulloch (USA) took second place finish and Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) third, beating out Sally Barkow (USA).

Hosted by Eastport Yacht Club, the championship began Wednesday on the Chesapeake Bay off Annapolis with ten of the world's top-ranked female match racers dueling it out in J/22 sailboats. The final series kept spectators in suspense, with Tulloch coming from behind in the second race to beat Leroy and stay in the lead to win the fourth race. However, Leroy and her team-Elodie Bertrand, Marie Riou, and Claire Pruvot-were able to hold the challengers off for a second straight year and win the other three races.

"We had a good regatta," Leroy said. "We lost four in the round-robin, but they were very close so we knew we could win. And then in the semi-final we were against Anna Tunnicliffe, as always."

Women's Keelboat Match Racing is a new sailing event for the London 2012 Olympics, and this year's BoatUS Santa Maria Cup competition is considered an early look at that competition. The Cup is also an International Sailing Federation Grade 1 event and part of the ranking process.

Photographs and full results are available on the event website, www.BoatUSSantaMariaCup.org .



6.6.10 
  

Natural Resources Police searching for hit-and-run boater

 

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) are investigating a hit and run boating accident that occurred near Thomas Point Light, Chesapeake Bay between Fishing Creek and South River at 2:30 pm on Saturday, June 5.
 
The accident occurred when Mark Gentile, age 55 from Alexandria, Va., jumped off his anchored sailboat to retrieve a minnow pot that was in the water.  As Gentile was swimming towards the minnow pot, a vessel ran over him.  In an attempt to evade the vessel, Gentile dove under the water.  The boat struck both Gentiles' legs.  Gentile was able to swim back to his sailboat and keep himself afloat with the help of a line from the boat.
 
A passenger on Gentiles sailboat called 911 for assistance.  When NRP and Coast Guard units arrived on scene, Gentile slipped below the surface of the water.  A NRP Officer and a member of the Coast Guard jumped into the water to bring Gentile back to the surface.  Gentile was put onboard the Coast Guard vessel, where members of the Anne Arundel County EMS provided aid.  Gentile was transported the Annapolis Coast Guard station where he was airlifted by MSP to Shock Trauma for injuries. 
 


6.5.2010 

Coast Guard rescues man near Thomas Point Light

 
The Coast Guard, along with Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) and Anne Arundel County Fire Rescue, rescued a man in the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday, June 5, after he reportedly sustained leg injuries while swimming. Rescued was Mark Gentile, 56.

Anne Arundel County Fire Rescue contacted Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders at 2:35 p.m., reporting that a man had sustained leg injuries while swimming near his sailboat about 300 yards south of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse.

A 25-foot Response Boat-Small crew from Coast Guard Station Annapolis arrived on scene at 2:50 p.m. and removed Gentile from the water with assistance from a Maryland Natural Resources Police crewmember and transported him back to Station Annapolis. Two Anne Arundel Fire Rescue crewmembers tended to Gentile aboard the RB-S while en route to the station.

A Maryland State Police helicopter crew met the RB-S crew at the station, loaded Gentile into their helicopter and took him to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
"After receiving the initial report, Station Annapolis and local partnering agencies were able to arrive on scene quickly to assist," said Petty Officer 1st Class Sergio Calderon, a search and rescue coordinator at Sector Baltimore. "With the assistance of our partners, we were able to get Gentile the medical attention he needed in a timely and efficent manner."

NRP has the lead on the investigation. 
 


 
6.2.10 
  

Elk Neck State Park boat ramps reopen

 
TheMaryland Park Service has reopened the boat launching ramps in the Rogue'sHarbor area of Elk Neck State Park. The ramps had been closed for 10 weeks duringa renovation project. The final details of the renovation are ongoing andaccess to certain areas of the facility may still be limited. However, the piers,pilings and bulkhead that were damaged by several storms have been repaired.Additionally, the decking on the piers and bulkhead are being replaced and thatphase of the project is ongoing. For further information contact park headquartersat (410) 287-5333. 
 


 
5.23.10

Station Portsmouth rescues two men near Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel

 

Coast Guard crews rescued two men from the water after their boat sank near the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) Saturday afternoon, May 22.

Norfolk dispatch contacted Sector Hampton Roads and passed on a report of two men clinging to the hull of their capsized boat near the HRBT at 3:50 p.m. They deployed a Coast Guard Auxiliary airplane, a Station Portsmouth boat crew and contacted the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and Virginia Beach Marine Police for their assistance.

The Station Portsmouth rescue boat crew located the two men holding onto their 17-foot center-console boat and pulled them from the water at 4:51 p.m. One of the men showed signs of hypothermia, and they were taken to Blue Water Marina where EMS were waiting.

Both men stabilized at the hospital and were released.


5.19.10 

Station Crisfield and Maryland NRP rescue boaters in Pocomoke Sound

 
Coast Guard Station Crisfield, Md., and the Maryland Natural Resources Police rescued two overdue fishermen in the Pocomoke Sound at 9:05 a.m., Tuesday, May 18. Rescued were Lloyd Webb, 67, from Marion Station, and his brother Raymond Webb, 64, from Crisfield, both in Maryland.

At about 9 a.m., a Good Samaritan contacted Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders reporting that he had located a 24-foot fishing vessel that fit the description of an overdue vessel that was described in an urgent marine information broadcast issued by Sector Baltimore at 7:20 p.m., Monday, on marine-band radio channel 16. Within minutes, a NRP marine unit, along with a Coast Guard boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Crisfield, arrived on the scene and rescued Webb and his brother. NRP towed the vessel and brought the Webbs to a pier on Johnson Creek Rd., in Crisfield, where they were met by local EMS.

A member of Station Crisfield met with Webb and his brother afterward and learned that Webb had suffered an engine failure while fishing and did not have any means to contact rescuers.

The search for Webb began when Lloyd Webb III contacted Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders at 7:20 p.m., Monday, reporting that his father and uncle had not returned after fishing near Ape Hole Creek in the Pocomoke Sound. Initial searches of the area resulted in no results and were called off through the night due to inclement weather and low visibility. The search resumed at first light Tuesday.

Assets involved in the search included: several boatcrews from Coast Guard Station Crisfield, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C., the Coast Guard Cutter Ibis, an 87-foot patrol boat based in Cape May, N.J., an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J.,and an NRP rescue crew.

"The rescue today was a success, and we could not have been able to work so effectively without the strong partnership we have with the Coast Guard," said Col. George F. Johnson, IV, superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

"I'm glad to be here," said Lloyd Webb. "The weather turned bad and our boat's battery died, we were worried for our lives and had a miserable night." Webb said that he was going to put a radio in his vessel so that next time he could contact the Coast Guard if he needed help and that he planned to become more familiar with the safety equipment that he had onboard. "We had flares but I didn't know how to use them because I never had to worry about it till it was too late. Now I know what to do next time."

The Coast Guard encourages mariners to file a float plan with a friend or relative. A float plan states where you are going and how many people are aboard your vessel, gives a complete vessel description, and details your destination and when you plan to return. It is also suggested that mariners carry emergency equipment such as flares, a marine-band radio and lifejackets onboard their boats in case of emergencies. 
 


 
5.16.10 
 

Station Stillpond rescues two in Sassafras River

 

The Coast Guard rescued two people from a boat taking on water in the Sassafras River near Grove Point in Earleville, Md., Saturday, May 15.

The crew of a 25-foot response boat from Coast Guard Station Stillpond, Md., observed the two men waving for help from the bow of a 20-foot recreational boat near the mouth of the Sassafras River. The boat was nearly submerged due to taking waves, which were reportedly as high as three feet, over their vessel's bow.

At 1 p.m., the Stillpond crew took the mariners aboard the Coast Guard rescue boat after the boatcrew attempted dewatering the vessel but were unable to keep the vessel from sinking. The crew took the rescued men to City Yacht Basin in Havre De Grace, Md., while a commercial tow company salvaged the vessel. There were no reports of injuries.

"I think they learned a good lesson-check the weather before you go out," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Steven Osborn, a coxswain at Station Stillpond. "Be mindful of your environment and if you see bad weather it might be a better idea to head in rather then tough it out."

The Coast Guard urges mariners to outfit their boat with a functioning marine-band radio. Using channel 16 on a marine-band radio is the most reliable way to communicate a distress to search and rescue personnel in the event of an emergency while on the water. 
   



5.14.10 
  

Keep those PFDs on the kids!

 
Two new laws modify the safety rules for children aboard boats in Maryland waters. In the first--effective immediately--all children under the age of 13 must wear a personal flotation device (PFD) while aboard a vessel under 21 feet that is under way. Previously the law applied to children under the age of 7. Also, children under 4 now must wear a PFD that has additional safety precaution to (1) hold the child securely within the PFD, including a strap secured between the child's legs to fasten together the front  and back of the PFD; (2) maintain the buoyancy of the child, including an inflatable headrest or high collar; and (3) ensure the ready accessibility of the child from the vessel, including a web handle. This too does not apply to moored or anchored vessels or children below deck.
 
Another new law, that will take effect October 1, requires that children under the age of 16 have a certificate of boating safety education to operate any vessel, unless they are supervised by an adult or someone 16 or older who has a boating safety certificate.



5.11.10 
 

Fire destroys two boats, damages two at Sarah Creek marina

Coast Guard crews along with York County Fire Department responded to a marina fire at the York River Yacht Haven Marina on Sarah Creek in Gloucester Point, Va., early Monday morning, May 10.
At least four vessels sustained damage from the fire, including the aluminum-hull vessel Summer Girl out of Smithfield, Va. The fire may have started aboard that 72-foot vessel and quickly spread to a 35-foot fiberglass vessel docked in the adjacent slip. That boat sank in its slip. Two other vessels suffered heat damage.
 
Summer Girl was cut loose from its slip and pushed out into Sarah Creek, according to news reports. After drifting across the creek it came to rest on the opposite shore, where firefighters continued to work extinguishing the fire.
 
The cause of the fire is under investigation. 
 
 
5.2.10

 

Maryland Natural Resources Police investigate drowning of Caroline County teenager.

 

The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) are investigating the death of a teenager from an apparent drowning in the Choptank River.  The teen died while attempting to assist a friend that had fallen out of a kayak in the area of Ganey's Wharf Rd, Caroline County.  

On April 30, at approximately 3:30 pm., a 17-year-old teenager was on fishing from a dock and had a friend nearby in a kayak.  The friend fell out of the kayak and was experiencing difficulties getting back into the vessel.  Then the teenager on the dock entered the water to assist his friend and presumedly drowned during his swim to his friend.  The friend was able to make it safely back into his kayak without help. Neither the victim nor the person in the kayak was wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident.  The names are not being released due to their ages.
 
The drowning victim was found at 9:30 pm in the area were he was last seen.  Fire Company personnel from Preston, Caroline County, Federalsburg, and Hurlock Fire Company assisted in the search.  Divers from Seaford, Blades, Cambridge, Laurel Fire Companies and Mid Shore Dive Team assisted with recovery operations.  The responding personnel searched with vessels, boats, and side scan sonar.  A Coast Guard helicopter from Atlantic City, N.J., and a patrol vessel from Oxford aided in the search.
 
The Maryland Natural Resources Police Special Operation Division is continuing the investigation.  The body was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for autopsy.
 
Boaters should ensure that all vessels are equipped with proper safety equipment before departing the dock. The wearing of a life jacket is an important component of boating safety.  Governor Martin O'Malley signed legislation April 13, effective immediately, that requires children under 13 to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) while underway on a vessel under 21 feet in length.



5.2.10

Coast Guard assists in search for missing Susquehanna River boater

The Coast Guard, along with local partnering agencies, responded to a report of a missing boater in the Susquehanna River Saturday.

Maryland Natural Resources Police contacted the Coast Guard by cellular phone at 7:40 p.m., reporting that a pleasure craft with four people aboard capsized just north of the Conowingo Dam near Conowingo, Md.

Maryland Natural Resources Police along with a Harford County Fire Rescue boatcrew, a Cecil County Fire Rescue boatcrew and a Maryland State Police helicopter are responding.

The Cecil County Fire Rescue boatcrew rescued three of the four people aboard. The search continues for a missing boater reportedly not wearing a life jacket.

Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, N.J., dispatched a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescue crew to relieve the Maryland State Police helicopter. 
 

4.29.10 
  

Fire sinks three boats at Norfolk marina

 

  Fire broke out aboard a 45-foot sailboat docked at Vinings Landing Marina in Norfolk at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 28, according to the Coast Guard, then quickly spread to nearby boats. Three boats sank at their slips and at least three others were damaged. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
 
By Thursday morning, absorbent pads and a boom had been set out to control the spread of fuel from the damaged and sunken boats. A Coast Guard pollution investigator says that the pollution poses no immediate threat to the public, but boaters operating in the vicinity of the Little Creek marina are advised to use caution.
 
Norfolk Fire and Rescue and a Virginia Beach Fire Boat crew responded to the fire and managed to extinguish it before it spread farther, sometimes crawling along the dock under the flames to reach nearby boats.


 
4.14.2010
 
Maryland says Chesapeake Bay blue crab population at its highest level since 1997
 
       Winter dredge results show 60 percent increase at 658 million crabs
 
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley announced Wednesday, April 14, that the Chesapeake Bay's blue crab population has increased substantially for the second straight year. The results of the most recent winter dredge survey show a dramatic 60-percent increase in Maryland's crab population. The survey indicates that 2008 management measures put into place through a collaboration with Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission are continuing to pay dividends with the crab population at its highest level since 1997, O'Malley said.

O'Malley made the announcement from the Crab Deck at Fisherman's Inn in Kent Narrows.

"Today, we can see firsthand what progress looks and feels like on the Chesapeake Bay. Today, because of the unprecedented partnership between Maryland and Virginia and tough decisions over the past two years, the Chesapeake Bay blue crab population is estimated to be 658 million crabs-a 60-percent increase over last year and the highest total population estimate since 1997," said O'Malley. "While we are making progress, our work is not done and we are committed to working with our partners to achieve our ultimate goal of a self-sustaining fishery that will support our industry and recreational fisheries over the long term."

The population estimate is the result of the 2009-2010 Baywide winter dredge survey conducted annually by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS). Last year, the survey estimated that 400 million crabs overwintered in the Chesapeake Bay.

In 2008, Maryland, Virginia and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (PRFC) took dramatic and coordinated action to reduce harvest pressure on female crabs by 34 percent. At that time, scientists from all three jurisdictions said conservation measures were necessary as the blue crab population had reached near historic lows in spawning stock.

"While great strides have been made to rebuild our environmentally and economically important crab population, more work remains to be done with our steadfast Maryland partners," said Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. "Two years does not make a trend. The scientific evidence shows our management measures are working but we need to continue along this path in order to ensure the Bay's crab population returns to robustness and remains at that level."

The 2008 conservation measures resulted in a large increase in the number of adults in the Bay during the 2009 spawning season, and this year's survey confirms that success has carried over into a healthy spawn. Crab reproduction this year was the sixth highest in the 21-year survey. The abundance of adult female and male crabs also rose again this year, bringing the estimated number of adult, spawning-age crabs to 315 million, well above the interim target level of 200 million.

In addition, preliminary indications are that the 2009 Bay-wide harvest level was approximately 53.7 million pounds. This harvest equates to approximately 43 percent of the population, which is below the target harvest level of 46 percent. Watermen actually harvested more crabs this past season than in 7 of the past 10 years, confirming the long-held belief that a healthy harvesting industry can coexist with regulations that protect the long term health of the blue crab population.

"The final piece of the story will be confirmation from NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee that harvest levels did indeed remain below our target of harvesting no more than 46 percent of the blue crab population each year," said Lynn Fegley, Assistant Director of DNR's Fisheries Service. This is key to maintaining a healthy population."

In 7 of the 10 years between 1998 and 2007, the annual removal of blue crabs exceeded the maximum safe removal level of 53 percent.

"Two years after initiating new management strategies, we are cautiously optimistic about the future of our blue crab. This abundance represents a terrific opportunity for commercial and recreational crabbers to realize an increased catch, in less time and at less cost, under current rules," DNR Secretary John Griffin. "Based on the final assessment, Maryland, Virginia and the PRFC may consider modest management modifications by early summer. That said, we are committed to working with our partners to ensure we do not lose the ground that we have gained, and any changes would be based on continuing to remove no more than 46 percent of available crabs during any given year. History has shown us that abundance can change quickly, as evidenced by record 1993 and 1997 levels that were immediately followed by dramatic drops."

The Bay-wide blue crab winter dredge survey is the primary survey used to assess the condition of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab population. Since 1990, the survey has employed crab dredges to sample blue crabs at 1,500 sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay from December through March. By sampling during winter when blue crabs are buried in the mud and stationary, scientists can develop, with good precision, estimates of the number of crabs present in the Bay.

Estimates of abundance are developed separately for young of the year crabs, mature female crabs, and adult male crabs. Together, these groups of crabs will support the 2010 fishery and produce the next generation of crabs.

"The substantial rise in abundance of mature crabs and juveniles was clearly a response of the crab population to unprecedented management actions, such as the closure of the winter dredge fishery, by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and partner agencies. The increase was neither a random event nor a reflection of improved environmental conditions," said Dr. Rom Lipcius who directs the VIMS component of the dredge survey. "From here on, we have to maintain the population at these levels to ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of the Chesapeake Bay stock."


 
4.13.2010

No-discharge bill is a non-starter in Maryland legislature
 
A bill that would have made all of the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay a no-discharge zone, even for marine heads that treat waste to Environmental Protection Agency standards, failed to come to a vote in either house before the Maryland legislature adjourned on Monday, April 12. That doesn't necessarily mean that the issue won't reappear in a future term, but it does mean that it is unlikely to become law in the short term.
 
In the Senate the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee had made it a study bill, which would have turned it over to the Department of Natural Resources for study and recommendations by December 2011. But in either its original or amended form, the bill did not come up for a vote in either house. After hearings were held earlier this year in both House and Senate committees, the legislation seemed to stall. Opposition came especially from commercial passenger vessel operators, who argued that pump-out facilities were not always available and that appropriate holding tanks would be prohibitively large and expensive.
 
The legislation was requested by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who said that prohibiting all waste discharge would help reduce nitrogen in the Bay. Discharge of untreated waste is already illegal all over the Bay, and those boaters who currently use holding tanks and pump-outs, would not have been affected by the new legislation. However, boaters who use marine sanitation devices that treat the waste with chemicals, heat or other processes that disinfect it before discharging it would have been affected. Those systems would no longer have been allowed in Maryland portions of the Bay. In calling for the new law, Gansler argued that the disinfected waste does not remove the nitrogen and thereby contributes to the Chesapeake's high nitrogen levels.
 
The bill before the legislature would also require the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to make routine inspections of marine sewage equipment and periodic dye flush tests of marine heads. A $10,000 fine would be created for each violation.
 
Two such no-discharge zones already exist in Maryland: Herring Bay and the northern coastal bays in Worcester County. 
 


EPA decision on higher ethanol levels expected this summer
 
When we last left the debate over whether increased levels of ethanol should be permitted in gasoline, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had ordered vehicle testing on the proposed 15-percent ethanol-to-gasoline mixture. The issue is back in the news because this summer--once the test results are in--the federal agency is expected to announce its decision.
 
The problem is, according to BoatU.S. and other skeptics of the new ethanol mixture such as the Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety, the tests are being conducted on only a small number of vehicles, 10 years old and newer. No tests are being done on older cars, off-road machines such as lawn mowers, or--most important for our purposes--marine engines. Since the current 10-percent ethanol mixture has been blamed for a number of engine parts failures in marine engines, the 50-percent increase may create in greater problems, opponents argue.
 
The increase was proposed last year by the lobbying group for the ethanol industry, Growth Energy, which asked the EPA to raise the allowed level in gasoline to 15 percent.
 
For Boat U.S.'s take on the issue and its call to arms to urge for non-approval--or at least expanded testing to include marine engines--see http://www.boatus.com/pressroom/release.asp?id=496
Dragon run map from the nature conservancy 




 4.8.10
 
Conserving Dragon Run

A 20-square-mile area of land known as Dragon Run Swamp has been preserved from development, thanks to the Nature Conservancy. More than 13,000 acres in King and Queen, Essex and Middlesex counties in Virginia was purchased by the Nature Conservancy and then resold at a lower price with a conservation easement. Dragon Run has been ranked by the Smithsonian Institution as one of the most important ecological sanctuaries in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. It provides habitat for 90 species of birds and 55 types of fish. The Conservancy bought the land from Hanover Timber Resource and sold it to Forestland Group. Forestland may harvest the timber, except from wetlands or within 100 feet of streams. 
 

4.5.10

Chesapeake troubadour Tom Wisner dies

Tom Wisner, Chesapeake's "Bard of the Bay," succumbed to lung cancer on Friday, April 2, in Prince Frederick, Md. He was 79.
 
Wisner, a biologist and folksinger, dedicated his life to extolling the Bay and the life within and around it by using the songs he wrote and sang to groups across the Chesapeake. His music stressed the life of the Bay--its fish and birds--rather than the people living around it. Over the years, he performed before countless groups and recorded several albums, some with school children. In 2008, on learning that he had lung cancer, Wisner recorded "The Land, Maryland" with a group of charter school students. His songs were recorded by the Smithsonian Institution and were used in a 1986 National Geographic documentary about the Bay.
 
Wisner was born June 29, 1930, in Washington D.C. He graduated from Anacostia High School and then joined the Air Force, serving in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Wisner earned a bacholor's degree in biology from Hartwick College in New York, and then graduate work at Cornell University. For several yeras he worked as a naturalist in Sequoia National Park in California before moving to Maryland to work as an educator at the University of Maryland's Chesapeake Biological Laboratory in Solomons. While there, he began composing songs and writing about the Bay.
 
Wisner retired from the Lab in the 1980s and spent the remainder of his life singing about and advocating for the Chesapeake Bay, eking out a living from donations at his concerts and the support of friends.
 
He was divorced from his wife, Joanne Fortin. A daughter, Kimberly Wisner, died in 1979. He is survived by four children, Michael Wisner of Snowmass, Colorado, Mark Wisner of Homer, Alaska, Kirsten Wisner of Seaside, California and Karen Wisner of Portland, Oregon, and seven grandchildren.



4.4.10

 

Coast Guard rescues man off Virginia Beach

Coast Guard crews rescued a man after his boat sank south of Rudee Inlet in Porthmouth, Va. on Friday, April 2.  Nolan Agner, the operator of the sinking fishing vessel Knockdown made a VHF radio distress call at 7:35 a.m., saying that he had struck a submerged object and was sinking about 3 miles east of False Cape. He also stated that he had activated his electronic position-indicating radio beacon and launched his life raft.

The Air Station in Elizabeth City, N.C., launched an MH-60T Jayhawk helicopter crew, who quickly located Agner in his raft after arriving on scene.  Agner was hoisted aboard the helicopter and taken to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.

A 45-foot rescue boat crew from Coast Guard Station Little Creek recovered the life raft and debris. Virginia Beach Fire Boat 1 also responded after receiving the Coast Guard's urgent maritime information broadcast 

A Coast Guard investigating officer will determine if the sunken vessel is a hazard to navigation, and pollution investigators will determine if fuel and oil on the vessel pose a potential environmental threat. The investigators are interviewing Agner at the hospital.


 
3.29.10

Planes . . .
On Thursday, March 25, a Cessna 120 crash landed in the South River just west of the Route 2 bridge. According to the Annapolis Capital, the plane's pilot, 76-year-old Richard Drewyer, survived the crash and was rescued by JoDee Carvalho, a liveaboard at Liberty Marina. Carvalho saw the plane go down and rushed to the site in his dinghy. He pulled Drewyer from the water and brought him to the marina, where paramedics were waiting. The cause of the crash has yet to be determined, the Capital said, and the National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of the investigation.

Trains . . .
According to the Associated Press, a locomotive derailed  on a trestle in Chesapeake, Va., and leaked some 1,700 gallons of diesel fuel into the Intercoastal Waterway. There are no reported injuries, but the ICW in Chesapeake is closed for the time being. The train derailed off the A&C Canal Bridge over the ICW between the Great Bridge Bypass and Centerville Turnpike around 5 a.m. March 26.

Update to ICW closure:
The contracted environmental cleanup crews were able to work some through the night making the cleanup 70 percent complete. They cleaned enough for the Coast Guard to reopen the waterway with restrictions at 9:20 a.m. The restriction is that anyone transiting the Intracoastal Waterway in that location must use their slowest speed until the cleanup is complete. 
   

 
Pictured above: Chesapeake, VA: A 41-foot response boat crew from Station Portsmouth patrols the intracoastal waterway to maintain a safety zone around a diesel spill from a derailed train on the A & C Canal Bridge Friday, March 26, 2010. In response to the spill, the Coast Guard restricted all traffic through the waterway. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Jones.



3.27.10

 

Train derailment temporarily closes A&C Canal Bridge

 

It was early Friday morning, March 26, when the U.S. Coast Guard in Hampton Roads received a call from the Chesapeake-Albermarle train company that one of its trains had derailed and was leaking fuel into the intracoastal waterway between Great Bridge bypass and Centerville turnpike in Chesapeake, Va.
 
Crews arrived shortly afterward and found the locomotive hanging off the canal bridge. While environmental cleanup crews worked below through the night to contain the spill,  a crain was brought in to lift the locomotive clear of the bridge so that another locomotive could pull back onto the track.

The Waterway was partially reopened by 9:20 a.m. Saturday as crews below continued to work with the leak--about 1,700 gallons of diesel. 
 

3.10.10

Boat Ramp Closure at Elk Neck
 
The Maryland Park Service has announced that it will be closing the boat launching ramps in the Rogue's Harbor area of Elk Neck State Park in North East, Md., for renovations on or after March 22. This area will remain closed for up to 10 weeks, which would put the reopening at Memorial Day weekend.

 
The Maryland Park Service says it will make every effort to minimize the length of the closure, subject to conditions such as weather and tidal conditions. The existing piers, pilings and bulkhead were damaged by winter storms and those damages will be repaired. Additionally, the decking on the piers and bulkhead will be replaced.

For further information, you can contact park headquarters at 410-287-5333.




3.8.10

Legislators to consider Bay-wide no discharge zone

A proposed no-discharge zone that would cover all of the Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay is scheduled to come before both houses of the state legislature this week. The legislation, requested by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, will come before the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, March 16 at 1 p.m. in 2 West Miller Senate Building, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis. On Friday, March 19, also at 1 p.m., the House Environmental Matters Committee is scheduled to hear comments on the issue om Room 250, House Office Building, 6 Bladen Street, Annapolis. The hearings will allow legislators to hear comments on the merits of the bill from the public as well as other legislators.

Discharge of untreated waste is already illegal all over the Bay, and those boaters who currently use holding tanks and pump-outs, would not be affected by the new legislation. However, boaters who use marine sanitation devices that treat the waste with chemicals, heat or other processes that disinfect it before discharging it would be affected. Those systems would no longer be allowed in Maryland portions of the Bay. In calling for the new law, Gansler has argued that the disinfected waste does not remove the nitrogen and thereby contributes to the Chesapeake's high nitrogen levels.

The bill before the legislature would also require the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to make routine inspections of marine sewage equipment and periodic dye flush tests of marine heads. A $10,000 fine would be created for each violation.

Two no-discharge zones already exist in Maryland: Herring Bay and the northern coastal bays in Worcester County.

For a full text of thehouse and senate bills: Clickhere. If you cannot be present at the hearing, you can express youropinion  here. Tocheckfor updates in hearing times,   clickhere for the Senate and here for the House.



3.1.10

Tug capsizes, spills a thousand gallons of fuel in Norfolk

 

Coast Guard investigators from Sector Hampton Roads in Portsmouth, Va., are monitoring the response to a diesel spill from a tug boat that capsized in the 6M Dominion Terminal Yard near the Campostella Bridge on Monday, March 1.

The National Response Center notified Sector Hampton Roads watchstanders at 5:54 a.m. that the tug Susan Anne had capsized while moored at the shipyard, resulting in a spill of up to 1,000 gallons of fuel. Norfolk Fire Department personnel arrived on scene first and deployed absorbent pads to mitigate the spill while waiting for IMS Environmental Services and Coast Guard personnel to arrive.

Accurate Marine Environmental has contained the spill and is recovering the fuel, and the tug owner is working to re-float the vessel. Coast Guard investigators are working to determine the cause.

"The Coast Guard will actively monitor this situation over the next few days to make sure the oil is not only contained, but recovered," said Capt. John Little, deputy commander of Sector Hampton Roads.


2.4.10
 
Fire at Tiffany Yachts destroys building, three yachts

A fire on Tuesday, February 2, destroyed a large boat-building building at Tiffany Yachts in Burgess, Va., taking with it three yachts. Lost in the fire were a nearly completed 38-foot Tiffany valued at $70,000 and two older yachts undergoing repairs, a 1969 46-foot Tiffany Yacht and a 38-foot Little Harbor.
 
More than 100 firefighters were on hand to fight the blaze, which began at 12:45 on Tuesday and spread quickly in the 12,000-square foot building.  Firefighters were not able to save the building, but did prevent its spread to the rest of the boatyard. Investigators have not determined a cause, but have said they do not suspect foul play.
 
Meanwhile, 12 Tiffany employees have been furloughed until insurance claims are settled and the company can get back to work full strength.
 
Tiffany Yachts has been a Northern Neck fixture on the Great Wicomico River since 1934. 
 


1.29.10
 
A reef just for sturgeon eggs

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has approved an artificial reef on the James River in the hope of giving Atlantic sturgeon a better place to deposit their eggs, thereby increasing their population. Sturgeon, which can reach nearly 15 feet in length, have been a rare commodity on the Bay for the past several decades. This would be the first attempt to help them reproduce. Since sturgeons lay their eggs in firm, rocky ground, the new reef will be constructed of chunks of rock and stone. Nearly all of the Bay bottom is now composed of soft layers of silt.

The reef will be constructed off Presquile National Wildlife Refuge in Chester County, an area favored by spawning sturgeon. The $50 thousand price tag is being picked up by a grant from the federal government.


12.30.09 

Boat designer Thomas C. Gillmer dies

 

Famous designs included Pride of Baltimore I and II, Allied Seawind and Southern Cross 32

Noted naval architect and longtime professor of naval architecture at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Thomas C. Gillmer, died December 16 after succumbing to complications from dementia. He was 98.

Among Gillmer's most famous designs were replica vessels Pride of Baltimore I and II and Kalmar Nyckel. Among his earlier designs were the highly respected 32-foot Southern Cross and the Blue Moon, a 24-foot English Channel cutter. His best known design in the sailing community, however, is probably the Allied Seawind, a ketch and the first fiberglass boat to circumnavigate the world.

In addition to his famous designs, Gillmer taught naval architecture at the Naval Academy for 27 years. After retiring from the Academy in 1969, he founded Thomas Gillmer Naval Architect Inc. in Annapolis.

Mr. Gillmer was born in Warren, Ohio, and graduated from Naval Academy in 1935.

In a 1997 interview with Good Old Boat Magazine, Gillmer recalled that during the 1930s when he was a student at the Academy, Annapolis harbor was filled during the winter months with skipjacks. He would watch them sail out in the early morning light for a day of oystering. "It was a beautiful sight. That sight alone probably had as much impact as anything else in my interest in boats," he said.

After graduation, Gillmer served in the Navy until 1941, when he left active service and joined the teaching staff at the Academy. There he remained for 27 years.

Once on his own, Gillmer turned to design in the new material fiberglass, producing the successful design for the Allied Seawind. Other quickly designs followed, including the Southern Cross 32 and the Blue Boom. But in 1977, Gillmer turned his attention to designing replica craft. He helped design the Pride of Baltimore I, and-after it sank in 1986 in a freak storm off Puerto Rico-Pride of Baltimore II.  Among his last designs, in 1998, was a replica of the Kalmar Nyckel, which had brought settlers from Sweden to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1638.

 Gillmer also wrote several books, including Sailing with Pride, published in 1990, and A History of Working Watercraft of the Western World, published in 1994.

Gillmer is survived by his wife of 10 years, the former Ruth Newsome; son, Charles Gillmer of Reedville, Va.; daughter, Christina G. Erdmann of Denver; two stepsons, Albert Williams of Cary, N.C., and Alvin Williams of Fort Myers, Fla.; four grandchildren; two step-grandsons; and five great-grandchildren.

Anna Derge Gillmer, his wife of 62 years, died in 1999.

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. January 15 at St. Andrews Chapel at the Naval Academy.


 
12.28.09

Major sewage spill makes Patapsco unsafe

 

Heavy rains and snowmelt from last week's record snowfall overwhelmed a sewage plant in the Halethorpe area, carrying away millions of gallons sewage. Baltimore County officials said that for 10 hours beginning Saturday evening, December 26, 22 million gallons of diluted sewage flowed from a Halethorpe sewage pumping station and into the Patapsco River. Officials are warning people to avoid the Patapsco until further notice.


12.27.09 

All recreational fishermen in the Bay must sign register with NOAA

Required national angler registry opens January 1

eginning this Friday, January 1, all Maryland and Virginia recreational fishermen who fish in the Chesapeake Bay or its tributaries will need to register with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) before fishing. Anglers can register for free online or by calling a toll-free phone number.

This requirement is part of a national commitment to manage saltwater fish populations. The registry will allow fishermen and policy makers to assess the impact of saltwater anglers on ocean ecosystems, coastal economies and fish populations. Since the requirement includes anyone who may catch an anadromous species--fish that travel between salt and fresh waters--that means that anyone fishing in the Chesapeake Bay, its tributaries and coastal waters, must be registered.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expects at the beginning of fishing in 2011, the Maryland fishing license will accommodate the requirements for the National Saltwater Registry. But, for 2010, anglers must all register directly with NOAA.

Anglers who do not need to register are those under 16 years old, anglers fishing on a charter boat, commercial fishermen at work, anglers holding highly migratory species permits, and anglers who hold a saltwater license from a state where they are automatically registered. Anglers fishing in one of Maryland's Free Fishing areas or who are otherwise exempt from buying a Maryland fishing license still need to register with NOAA.

Anglers will be required to provide their names, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers, and the regions where they intend to fish, although they will not be restricted to fishing only in those regions and will not be required to register separately for each region in which they fish. There will be no charge to register until 2011, at which point an annual registration fee of about $25 a year will apply. All fees collected through this federal program will go to the U.S. Treasury.

To register, on or after January 1, go online to www.countmyfish.noaa.gov or call 1-888-MRIP-411



NEWS FROM CHANNEL 9

UNDER WAY

 

Ring Andersen Sails Again

 

The future of the 114-foot luxury sailing yacht Ring Andersen looked pretty bleak as she lay sunk at the dock at Deltaville, Va.'s Chesapeake Marine Railway (formerly the famed Deagel's Boatyard). Frenchman Philippe Besnard had contracted to purchase the 61-year-old time-ravaged vessel before its sinking. Upon hearing of her predicament, Besnard, a 54-year-old engineer, flew to Virginia to survey the damage. He was heartsick, of course, but after consulting with Rich Farinholt, wooden-boat expert and co-owner of Chesapeake Marine Railway, he decided to go ahead with the purchase.

The restoration began in January 2009 and was completed in September. Skilled ship's carpenters Franklin and Charles Brooks of Mathews, Va., along with Chesapeake Marine Railway staff worked through the cold of winter and the heat of summer to refurbish the Ring Andersen. On September 5, newly ribbed, planked, caulked and painted, and sporting a new rudder, Ring Andersen sailed for Bermuda, the Azores and eventually La Rochelle, France, with Rick Farinholt aboard.  Besnard said, as he set sail that day: "This is the craziest thing I have ever done." The Ring Andersen arrived in La Rochelle, France on October 18 after what Besnard described as a "fantastic trip."
--Bob Cerullo

Keeping Up With the Riverkeepers

If the Chesapeake Bay's many fine riverkeepers were ever to hold a riverkeeper-craft raft-up, there might be plenty of argument over where to drop the hook, but little over whose boat would be the center of attention: It would most likely be Blue Mist, the West/Rhode Riverkeeper organization's show-stopping 52-foot commuter yacht, built in 1917 by Continental Ship Building Co. in Morris Heights, N.Y., designed to ferry its wealthy owner between work and home. Six decades laterr, Blue Mist wound up at Hartge Yacht Yard in Galesville. After its then-owner was unable to pay for its restoration, the yard undertook the project and the boat became the property of Alex Schlegel of the Hartge Yard. Blue Mist became the Schlegels' family boat and the mother ship for the Chesapeake 20 fleet. This spring, the Schlegels donated Blue Mist to the West/Rhode Riverkeeper group, which plans to use the beauty as a show piece rather than a daily workboat. (See www.westrhoderiverkeeper.org)

Keeping Up With Annapolis City Dock

Annapolis City Dock on Spa Creek is nearly always a busy place. But this fall it's seen more coming and going than Dancing With the Stars. After this October's U.S. Sailboat Show had been replaced with the rain-drenched Powerboat Show, the City Dock remained idle for mere days before an international fleet of Melges 24s were jockeying for dock space, in preparation for six-days of world championship competition. The 24-foot boats are being kept all in one place--downtown Annapolis--for the first time, instead of Annapolis Sailing School on Back Creek. This made yet another draw to the city's waterfront, which certainly put the wind in city officials' sails.


UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Light Craft, Heavy Traffic

More than 200 handmade small craft gathered on a warm and sunny day in October for the 26th Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. Some of the boats lay in the grass and under the trees outside the exhibition buildings and some lay at the museum docks. But at midday, most of them could be seen going every-which-way in 100 square feet of water in St. Michaels harbor. Prams went head to  stern with bright varnished kayaks, while fire-engine-red sailing skiffs, British racing green thingamajigs and egg-shell-white whatchamacallits tacked this way and that. And every one of them came off to best advantage, as hundreds of visitors stood along the bulkheads and watched in admiration-both for the obvious craftsmanship and the remarkable fact that they all came out of it unscathed.

10 Gallons of Unleaded Algae, Please

Look out, Chesapeake boaters, here comes the wave of the future: algae-based biofuel. The idea is spreading faster than slime mold. After a few fits and starts in the 1980s, the drive to find a way to mass produce algae-based energy is moving into overdrive-Exxon Mobil and Bill Gates included. And the Chesapeake's notorious abundance of nutrient-enriched pollution is suddenly something to crow about. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the College of William & Mary have recently formed a partnership to find a practical way to produce the new product. And they are receiving help from a number of partners, including StatoilHydro, a Norwegian energy company, that recently provided them with $3 million seed money. Other university projects are underway at Virginia Commonwealth and Old Dominion.


SCUTTLEBUTT

Laconically Iconic

National Georgraphic's Traveler magazine asked 400 travel experts to rank 133 iconic world destinations based on six factors: environmental and ecological quality, social and cultural integrity and condition, aesthetic appeal, quality of tourism management and future outlook. Two Chesapeake Bay area locations made the list. One, the Historic Triangle of Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg, Va., was ranked in the "Places Doing Well." The other, the Chesapeake Bay itself, was relegated to the rock bottom of "Places with Troubles." Ranking at the top of the "Best Places" list was Norway's fjords region, while Spain's Costa del Sol was voted worst of the worst in "Worst Places." The highest-ranking site in the United States, by the way, was the state of Vermont. The Chesapeake shared the troubled category with American sites South Beach in Miami, the Great Smoky Mountains and the Everglades in Florida. For the complete list, see www.traveler.nationalgeographic.com.

Mad Mariner Takes Over DIY Boat Owner

Mad Mariner e-magazine has acquired DIY Boat Owner, a quarterly print magazine. The magazine offers advice on maintenance, repairs and upgrades to all kinds of boats. For Mad Mariner and DIY Boat Owner, see www.madmariner.com and www.diy-boat.com.



11.6.09

Smith Island school boat operator arrested for alcohol violations
 
The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday, November 4, boarded a passenger vessel transporting five schoolchildren from Crisfield, Md., to Smith Island,  Md., and tested the operator of the 60-foot passenger vessel for alcohol. The operator, Alan Wade Tyler, 49, from Smith Island, tested positive and was detained by the Coast Guard until a Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) officer could arrive.
 
Once on scene, the NRP officer arrested Tyler and transported the children home.

The Coast Guard has temporarily suspended Tyler's license and is initiating administrative proceedings against him. In addition, the NRP has charged Tyler with operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by alcohol, operating a vessel while impaired by any drug or combination of drugs and alcohol and negligent operation of a vessel.

"We take violations affecting passengers, especially children, very seriously," said Cmdr. Kelly M. Post, the Chief of Prevention at Sector Baltimore in a statement Thursday. "I have initiated a detailed investigation and will take the appropriate measures to prevent and deter violations like this in the future."



11.5.09

Algae Biofuel

Look out Chesapeake boaters, here comes the wave of the future: algae-based biofuel. The idea is spreading faster than slime mold. After a few fits and starts in the 1980s, the drive to find a way to mass produce algae-based energy is moving into overdrive-Exxon Mobil and Bill Gates included. And the Chesapeake's notorious abundance of nutrient-enriched pollution is suddenly something to crow about. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the College of William & Mary have recently formed a partnership to find a practical way to produce the new product. And they are receiving help from a number of partners, including StatoilHydro, a Norwegian energy.



11.5.09 

Ring Andersen Sails Again


The future of the 114-foot luxury sailing yacht Ring Andersen looked pretty bleak as she lay sunk at the dock at Deltaville, Va.'s Chesapeake Marine Railway (formerly the famed Deagel's Boatyard). Frenchman Philippe Besnard had contracted to purchase the 61-year-old time-ravaged vessel before its sinking. Upon hearing of her predicament, Besnard, a 54-year-old engineer, flew to Virginia to survey the damage. He was heartsick, of course, but after consulting with Rich Farinholt, wooden-boat expert and co-owner of Chesapeake Marine Railway, he decided to go ahead with the purchase.

The restoration began in January 2009 and was completed in September. Skilled ship's carpenters Franklin and Charles Brooks of Mathews, Va., along with Chesapeake Marine Railway staff worked through the cold of winter and the heat of summer to refurbish the Ring Andersen. On September 5, newly ribbed, planked, caulked and painted, and sporting a new rudder, Ring Andersen sailed for Bermuda, the Azores and eventually La Rochelle, France, with Rick Farinholt aboard.  Besnard said, as he set sail that day: "This is the craziest thing I have ever done." The Ring Andersen arrived in La Rochelle, France, on October 18 after what Besnard described as a "fantastic trip."
- Bob Cerullo



10.31.09
 

Coast Guard responds to diesel spill in Pasadena, Md.

 

The Coast Guard, along with Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), the Oil Spill Removal Organization and Miller Environmental, on Saturday, October 31, were responding to a pollution spill in the Magothy River in Pasadena, Md.

MDE notified the Coast Guard at 5:45 p.m. on Friday that an unknown amount of red-dye diesel fuel had apparently leaked into the Magothy River from a home on Grandview Road. MDE and the Oil Spill Removal Organization deployed boom and placed absorbent pads on the yard Friday evening.

 
Coast Guard Sector Baltimore's Incident Management Division planned to conduct a shoreline cleanup assessment with Miller Environmental on Saturday morning. Miller Environmental has been hired to clean the spill. The cause of the spill is still under investigation.


Sailboat Strikes Powerlines

It's enough to make any boater cringe: A sailboat making for a marina on Bullneck Creek, clipped utility lines over the Bear Creek tributary. The boat, Barely-a-Wake, was apparently on its way to Havre de Grace, Md., from Gibson Island when it detoured up Bear Creek to take refuge from an approaching storm. After the boat's mast had hit the lines, the four people aboard leapt into the water as first the sail and then the remainder of the vessel caught fire. All four managed to swim the 150 feet to safety, though one was treated for minor burns. Firefighters responded and soon had the fire out. We haven't been able to determine whether the wires were lower than the 43-feet indicated on the charts or whether the height of the boat's mast exceeded 43 feet.


10.8.09 

Natural Resources Police investigate boating fatality in Queen Anne's County

 
On October 7, 2009, at approximately 5:30 pm. the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) received a complaint of a missing boater from the Queen Anne's County Department of Emergency Services.  The boater was missing in the area of Crab Alley, Eastern  Bay. Emergency units responded to the area and immediately begin searching for the missing boater.

The body of the missing boater Mark Kodey, 52 years old from Chester,  Md., was located by Boat #2 of the Grasonville Volunteer Fire Company at approximately 6:20 pm in Crab Alley.

Investigation by the Natural Resources Police revealed that Kodey was in a 12-foot sailboat by himself in Crab Alley when winds, estimated at between 30 and 40 knots, capsized Kodey's vessel. A wind surfer that was in the vicinity of Kodey's vessel attempted to assist Kodey.

The wind surfer, Steven S. Ripkin, 44 years of age from Chester,  was unable to turn the sailboat over. Ripkin observed Kodey being separated from the sailboat by the high winds. Ripkin left the sailboat and swam to Kodey. When Ripkin reached Kodey, Kodey was unconscious. Ripkin's attempt to revive Kodey was unsuccessful. Due to rough seas, high winds, and becoming exhausted, Ripkin swam back to the boat and  eventually back to shore.

Ripkin was transported to  Anne  Arundel County  Medical  Center for non life-threatening injuries. Kodey was transported to the Anne  Arundel Medical  Center, where he died of injuries.

Kodey will be transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in  Baltimore for autopsy.  The Natural Resources Police Special Operation Division is continuing the investigation in to the boating accident.


10.7.09 

Man v. Annapolis' famous boaters deli

 

Set your video recorders now: Travel Channel, October 21 at 10 a.m. That's the time and date scheduled to air T host Adam Richman's struggle with the Colossal Challenge, the behemoth-sized menu item at Chick & Ruth's Delly on Main Street in Annapolis.

The program was filmed on a Sunday in September at the well-known Annapolis eatery, a longtime gathering place for both resident and visiting boaters-especially for Sunday breakfast.

The Colossal Challenge, by the way, is a 1 1/2-pound hamburger or sandwich and a 6-pound milkshake. To win the Colossal Challenge, it all must be consumed within an hour. Richman opted for a turkey (1 pound) and corned beef (1/2 pound) sandwich and a cool 6 pounds of vanilla milkshake.

Did Richman do it? You'll have to tune in to find out.


9.30.09

WHALE UPDATE

How do you dispose of a dead whale? Tow it.

On Wednesday morning, September 30, at high tide, a Sea Tow vessel pulled up to the decomposing carcass of a 30-foot female whale that washed up into shallow water along the Gloucester County, Va., shoreline, then attached a tow line to its tail, and began towing it out into deep water. The whale was on its way to remote Goodwin Island, where it would be anchored and left-the resolving the puzzle that has been occupying residents and various agencies over what to do with the increasingly odoriferous remains of the 20-ton critter. (See next story for details)


9.29.09

Body of humpback whale washes up in Gloucester, Va.

Virginia officials are not exactly sure what to do with the body of a humpback whale that has washed ashore on the north side of the York River at a place called Allen Island, not far from Gloucester, Va.

At 20 tons and 30 feet, the deceased young female whale would not be easy to move. If she had washed ashore on public land or in a remote area, her body would have been allowed to decompose naturally, officials from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science  (VIMS) said.

The cause of death is unknown. The carcass was originally sighted near the middle of Chesapeake Bay on Saturday, September 26. The degree of decomposition suggests the whale had died fairly recently, within a few days of sighting.

Humpback whales have a worldwide distribution. The western Atlantic population migrates from summer feeding grounds off of New England and the Canadian Maritime Provinces to calving and breeding grounds in the West Indies. They are not uncommon in Virginia's coastal waters. A commercial whale-watching industry operates out of Virginia Beach each winter.

Professor Rom Lipcius, head of the VIMS Sea Turtle Stranding Program, said that all marine mammals, live and dead, are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. It is illegal to approach or touch a dead whale, and could be dangerous due to the possibility of contracting a disease.


9.24.09 

Virginia will continue oyster harvest rotation

 
After a long discussion over the effectiveness of Virginia's current oyster management efforts, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission voted to continue the rotation harvest plan, with a few changes. These rules place limits on when oysters may be harvested and where.

The commission did vote to open some oyster grounds a month earlier than usual to give waterman a market advantage over some of the Gulf states, which have pushed back their harvest dates. Oystering on two areas of the James and on the Rappahannock River will open October 1.

Oystering on Tangier and Pocomoke sound areas will be open in December, January and February, while the Great Wicomico area will be open for harvest from November through January. Two other areas on the Rappahannock will be open December through February, along with areas on the York, Deep Rock and Blackberry Hangs. The Coan-Nomini-Yeocomico area will be open in December only, while Seaside will be open from November through February. The James Seed area will have the longest season, from October through April.

Ken Smith, president of the Virginia State Waterman's Association argued that the rotational harvest is doing little or nothing to improve the oyster population. But the commission argued that the system had not yet had time to demonstrate its effectiveness-or lack of it.


9.22.09 

Senate bill would require mid-level ethanol testing

 
Maryland's Ben Cardin was among a group of four legislators who introduced a bill designed "to protect consumers, the environment, public health and manufacturers"-and boaters-from having higher levels of ethanol fuel mandated without testing.

Cardin (D-Maryland) was joined by fellow Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) in proposing a bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency's Science Advirsory Board to study the compatibility of mid-level ethanol blends with current engines. The ethanol industry has been pushing for approval of E15 (15 percent ethanol blended gasoline) without first testing it on engines, either automobile or marine.

The study would also include a comprehensive analysis of available independent scientific evidence on the compatibility of mid-level ethanol fuels with the emission requirements of the Clean Air Act and the operability of engines, among other things.

"Ethanol simply burns differently than gasoline," Cardin said in introducing the bill. "I fully support the development of biofuels . . . but we need to make such a transition in a way that helps, not hurts, commercial and recreational equipment, as well as the environment." Cardin is a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "We need to let good science guide us in making sure that we are getting the clean air benefits and engine performance that boaters, lawn care companies and others who rely on smaller engines deserve."


9.21.09

Coast Guard responds to vessel aground in Magothy River

 

The Coast Guard responded to a 709-foot car carrier that ran aground in the Chesapeake Bay near the lower Craighill Channel in Annapolis, Md., on Sunday, September 20.

Watch standers at Coast Guard Sector Baltimore received a call at 7 a.m., from a crew member aboard the Repubblica Di Roma, an Italian flagged vessel, reporting that the vessel had lost electrical power and drifted soft aground while on its way to the Port of Baltimore. Two tugboats from McAllister Towing arrived on scene and were able to free the vessel. The vessel is now en route to Annapolis Anchorage in Annapolis where Coast Guard marine inspectors and investigation officers will conduct an investigation into the incident.
There are no reports of injuries or pollution.



9.4.09

Making the grade: 2009's Clean Marinas

 

Maryland state and local officials gathered in Annapolis recently to recognize this year's newly certified Clean Marinas. A dozen marinas have joined the hundred facilities across the state that have adopted "best management practices" to be certified as Clean Marinas.

Since 1999, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has certified 115 Clean Marinas and 24 smaller facilities designated as Clean Marina Partners. These facilities voluntarily went beyond legally required permits and plans to reduce polluted run-off into adjacent waterways. The Maryland Clean Marina Initiative is a public-private partnership developed in response to federal legislation that requires the state to reduce •non-point source' pollution from marinas, boatyards and recreational boats.

To receive certification a marina must meet its regulatory requirements as well as implement a significant number of recommendations from the Maryland Clean Marina Guidebook in areas such as sewage handling, waste containment and disposal, and marina management. The marinas must meet minimum scores of 75 to 80 percent in each area of the Award Checklist and pass a site inspection.

The Clean Marinas receiving certification this year were:

Annapolis City Dock
Annapolis Maryland Capital Yacht Club
Annapolis Yacht Club Sailing Center
Campbell's Boatyard at Jack's Point (Oxford)
Clark's Landing Marine Center (Chester)
Gunpowder Neck Boat Club (Aberdeen Proving Ground MWR)
Mill Creek Marina (Naval Station Annapolis)
Nanticoke Harbor Marina (Nanticoke)
National Harbor Marina (Oxon Hill)
Tradewinds Marina (Baltimore)
West Basin Marina (Patuxent River Naval Air Station)
Yacht Basin Company (Annapolis)


9.1.09 

Fatal boating accident under investigation

 
The Maryland Natural Resources Police are investigating a fatal boating accident on August 30 near Point Pleasant. Click here for more details.

Yes, those June tides really were crazy high

No, it wasn't your imagination. The tides really were much higher than normal all over the Chesapeake Bay during June and early July.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), the extra high tides were caused by a highly unusual combination of persistent northeast winds and a slowing of the Florida Current. The winds led to higher sea levels from Cape Hattaras, N.C., to Maine, while the slowed current raised sea levels from North Carolina to Florida. Where the two factors overlapped-the Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Sandy Hook, N.J.- the tides were particularly high, NOAA said in a report released August 31.

The 40-page NOAA report said that although this had happened before, it was "the most extreme to occur simultaneously over the entire East Coast during a spring/summer period as far back as 1980."

"The ocean is dynamic, and it's not uncommon to have anomalies," said Mike Szabados, director of NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. "What made this event unique was its breadth, intensity and duration."

In addition, high tides in the latter part of June coincided with a "perigean spring tide." (When the moon is nearest to Earth and aligned opposite the sun in a new moon phase, which causes higher-than-average spring tides). This factor in conjunction with the persistent northeast wind and the weakened current helped to amplify the tides, the report said.

"The June-July 2009 anomaly is unique," the NOAA scientists concluded, not because the northeast winds and the Florida Current were at remarkable extremes, but because the two in combination created conditions that affected the entire U.S. East Coast, from Maine to Florida, simultaneously.


8.31.09

Coast Guard releases final report for Lady D accident investigation

The U.S. Coast Guard last week released the final report of investigation into the March 2004 capsizing of the passenger vessel Lady D in the northwest harbor of the Patapsco River, Baltimore. Five passengers aboard the Lady D died in the accident.

The report states the accident was initiated by the master's unsafe decision to depart the dock at Fort McHenry in the face of an approaching visible squall line. The report also states that the Lady D, a small pontoon water taxi, capsized when the cumulative effect of many factors created an overturning motion from which the vessel could not recover.

Some of the recommendations in the report include:

Conducting an assessment of the stability of the pontoon passenger vessel fleet to identify vessels that may have an elevated risk of capsizing due to improperly conducted stability tests.

Clarifying guidance in Title 46, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 178 conditions under which a vessel's stability characteristics can be determined based on the known stability characteristics of another vessel.

Providing guidance for the use of enclosed canopies on all lightweight pontoon passenger vessels to allow passengers to egress quickly in the event of capsizing.

The Coast Guard said it has taken a series of actions to identify, assess and address areas of concern regarding the safe operation of small passenger vessels and pontoon vessel stability. These include direction to Coast Guard inspectors to investigate vessels nationwide that may be at elevated risk of capsizing, a review of stability standards and testing procedures, initiation of a comprehensive regulatory update, and publication of voluntary guidance as an interim measure.

Some of the items addressed in the proposed regulatory changes include:

1. The average weight per person used in calculations for existing and new vessels would be updated based on the latest weight data reported by the CDC. The average weight would then be automatically updated 60 days after the CDC reports new data for the U.S. population (normally published every 4 years).

2. At each annual inspection, the owner or operator of a vessel would need to confirm the stability information is still appropriate for the vessel's intended use.

3. At each annual inspection, the owner or operator would be required to show marine inspectors how the master determines that the vessel complies with stability requirements.

4. The stability of each passenger vessel would be verified by deadweight survey at least once every 10 years using the updated average weight per person.

5. Pontoon stability tests would be updated to reflect the latest improvements from the pontoon passenger vessel initiatives that were conducted in 2008.

6. A new passenger movement criteria would be implemented for pontoon passenger vessels and vessels of similar light construction to address capsize.

7. Masters would be required to pay special attention to both prevailing and forecasted visibility and environmental conditions, including wind and waves.

8. Masters of small passenger vessels (less than 65 feet) would be required to have a way to obtain or monitor the latest marine broadcast.

9. Further, the NPRM proposed revisions added more specific requirements for a vessel owner to show the vessel meets intact, subdivision and damage stability standards.

The report and its attachments, with information protected by the Privacy Act redacted, may be viewed online by clicking here and then selecting Investigations, Marine Casualty Reports and then Other Narrative Types.


8.28.09

James and Barren islands restoration project moves forward

Two Chesapeake islands, eroded nearly to the point of nonexistence, are getting a new lease on life. This week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave its okay to placing dredged material from Bay shipping lanes on both James and Barren islands. Funding of $500,000 to get the project rolling has been arranged by Maryland's congressional delegation.
U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin said Friday that 2,100 acres will be restored to the islands, thereby helping fish and wildlife populations and providing increased protection for nearby Taylors Island from storms, particularly from the north and northwest.
The project needs to receive final congressional approval before it can be finalized and could take up to 30 years to complete.


8.26.09

EPA wants to see an improvement in Chesapeake's "diet"

The Environmental Protection Agency put the word out on Twitter this week that it is putting together a pollution diet for the Bay as part of President Obama's mandate that it and other agencies put together a restoration strategy for the Chesapeake. The EPA will use total maximum daily load limits (TMDLs) for various pollutants in the Bay watershed. Each jurisdiction in the watershed, which includes Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, will get a share of the TMDL to meet. The TMDLs, in turn, will be supported by state plans to meet those allotted load limits.

Draft reports from the various federal agencies are due to be submitted to the president by September 9. The entire plan is scheduled for completion in December 2010.

Meanwhile, a public forum on the nature of the Chesapeake Bay TMDL and how it can be expected to impact watershed residents will be addressed during the 2009 Chesapeake Watershed Forum, October 9-11, at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va. The TMDL discussion is scheduled for Saturday morning.

For more information, click here take a look at the EPA's Bay TMDL website.


8.21.09 

Virginia closes horseshoe crab fishery for year

 
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has announced that effective Monday, August 17, the Virginia Horseshoe Crab Fishery is closed. The commission based its decision on landing reports from Virginia seafood buyers and VMRC Law Enforcement. It was projected that Virginia has now caught 100 percent of 152,495 horseshoe crab quota.


8.20.09

Maryland offers fixed price for crab-license buy-back

 

After receiving a disappointing response to its offer to let commercial crabbing license holders name their own price for selling back their permits, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) this week decided to take a new tack. The department is now offering to pay $2,260 per license.

The DNR began the voluntary Commercial Limited Crab Catcher (LCC) License Buy-Back Program in July in an effort to reduce the amount of latent (inactive) effort in Maryland's commercial blue crab fishery. But the response was small--494 bids--with a few of the bids soared into the millions of dollars, probably as a protest.
As a result, DNR decided to decline all of the bids and, instead, offer a fixed price to all LCC holders who may wish to sell their license.

The DNR wants to buy up unused licenses--or at least reduce the number of outstanding licenses--to prevent a wholesale return of crabbers to the business when the crab population rebounds. Such a move could undermine the gains achieved by current limits to size of catch and crabbing season.
On July 8, the DNR sent 3,676 latent and active LCC license holders a letter offering to permanently buy back licenses through a reverse auction. Last week, the DNR ended the reverse auction and instead offered to buy the licenses at the flat rate, with the hope of purchasing about 2,000 of the state's total of about 6,000 licenses.
 
Virginia, which has about 2,000 licensed watermen, is currently conducting its own reverse auction of commercial crabbing licenses. It earlier froze about 500 hundred dormant licenses.


 
7.2.09

Coast Guard closes waterway near James River Bridge

 

The Coast Guard Captain of the Port closed the waterway half a mile in each direction from the James River Bridge Thursday morning (July 2) due to power lines falling in the water Wednesday evening near the bridge.

Coast Guard Station Portsmouth and Virginia Marine Resource Commission personnel are protecting the safety zone as Dominion Power works to remove the power lines from the water.
Sector Hampton Roads personnel are transmitting a Safety Marine Information Broadcast to notify mariners of the closure and are informing their port partners.

"The waterway is closed," said Lt. Michael Snyder, a watchstander at Sector Hampton Roads.  "If you come up from either direction VMRC or the Coast Guard will not let you pass through until it is safe."


6.22.09 
 

High water strands nine kayakers on Patuxent River Sojourn

 

The Patuxent River Sojourn got off to a rocky start June 19 after nine of the group's thirty-one kayakers became stranded and unable to make it to shore on their own. High water, swift currents and debris in the river from recent heavy rainfall put the kayaking group in jeopardy about one mile south of Queen Anne's Bridge and not far south of the Bowie 4-H camp, where the group had launched. Twenty-two of the boaters were able to land safely. The remaining nine were rescued by a Maryland Natural Resources Police Officer and a member of the Laurel Volunteer Rescue Unit in a swift-water rescue boat. They received help from Prince Georges County Volunteer Marine Fire and Rescue Unit, Anne Arundel Fire and Rescue, Prince Georges County Fire and Rescue and Maryland State Police.

The Patuxent Sojourn is an annual four-day, 20-mile kayaking and camping trip downriver.



5.28.09

Virginia holds firm on crab regulations

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted unanimously to continue its multi-year blue crab rebuilding program, enacting a Nov. 21 fall harvest closure for female crabs and a continued ban on the winter dredging of crabs.

Because a scientific population survey concluded that last year's crab harvest restrictions are showing signs of success, the Commission agreed to waive a scheduled 15-percent reduction in the number of crab pots allowed per license class, and to reinstate the five-pot recreational crab license that was suspended last year, but only permit their use from June 1 to Sept. 15.


5.28.09 

Police seeking help with thefts from boats at Georgetown, Md., marina

 
Maryland Natural Resources Police are investigating the breaking and entering of eighteen vessels in the Skip Jack Cove Marina, Sassafras  River,  Georgetown.  The incident occurred on May 20, between 2 a.m. and 6 p.m.  Unknown person or persons broke into vessels and stole numerous television sets from the vessels that were docked at the marina.

If anyone has information concerning this case or witnessed any suspicious activity during this period, please call 800-628-9944 and ask for Officer First Class Bill McKinney or Investigator Cpl. Chris Pavon.


5.8.09

Market House Returned to the City of Annapolis

After months of legal wrangling, suits and countersuits, control of historic Market House near City Dock in Annapolis is being returned to the City of Annapolis. Market House Ventures has agreed to relinquish its 20-year lease on the building, three years into the lease, for payment of $2,500,000 in three installments.

Both the city and leasing company still face suits from former tenants of the building, who complained about maintenance and air conditioning issues before finally moving out, leaving the once-thriving spot virtually empty.


5.6.09 
 

Body of missing boater recovered

 

On May 5, at about 3 p.m., the Maryland Natural Resources Police recovered the body of Rondie Wayne Baldwin from the  Northeast  River in the area of  Sandy Cove Road, North East,  Cecil  County, Md.

The body was reported by a citizen who had been swimming in the area. The body was transported to the Maryland Medical Examiners Office in  Baltimore for autopsy. The investigation is being continued by the Maryland NRP.

The NRP asks that anyone with information about the missing man or his location during April 30 to contact Investigator Cpl. Dave Wong at 800-628-9944.


5.5.09

Missing boater sought

 

Maryland Natural Resources Police are seeking the public's help in locating a missing boater that disappeared during a fishing trip in the Susquehanna Flats area of the Chesapeake Bay. On April 30, at approximately 1 p.m., Rondie Wayne Baldwin of Rising Sun, Md., and a friend departed the Cove Marina, Upper Elk River, in a green camouflage 23-foot Jon boat with  Delaware registration 3788 AA. Rondie Baldwin disappeared from the Jon boat between 7:30 and  9:30 pm. while the friend was asleep. The boat was located in the area of Turkey Point at the mouth of the Northeast and Elk Neck River at the time of disappearance.

Rondie Baldwin, also known as "Twanger," is described as a white male, 5'8" tall, 215 pounds, and 51 years of age with green eyes and grey hair and mustache. Baldwin was last seen wearing a gray short sleeve shirt and blue jeans.

If the public saw the missing man or the vessel in the time leading up to or after the disappearance, please call 800-628-9944 and ask for Investigator Cpl. Dave Wong.


4.14.09 

Tangier-Onancock ferry route back in business

 
The watery distance between two small Virginia Eastern Shore communities-the village of Onancock and the island of Tangier-became an unbridgeable chasm for all but boat owners in late 2007 with the suspension of the usual ferry runs.  The resulting economic impact was felt in both directions-inhibiting tourism and the islanders real needs for goods and public services.

Starting May 1, however, Captain Mark Crockett of Tangier (757-891-2505;  ferry@tangierisland-va.com) will pick up the service with a five day per week schedule.
Tickets can be purchased on board Crockett's 25-capacity Joyce Marie II on a first come-first-served basis. Round-trip fare is $25 from Onancock, with the second half of the ticket valid at any time. The boat will run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays--and on Monday holidays (Memorial Day and Labor Day). Onancock departure times are slated for 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Ferry service is also available from Crisfield, Md., through M & S Charters (757-891-2440) and the Steven Thomas (410-968-2328); and from Reedville, Va. aboard Chesapeake Breeze and My Tangier (804-453-2628).


 
4.7.09 
 

Boaters rescued after boat grounds near St. Clements Island, Md.

The Coast Guard removed two people and a dog from their boat, after it ran aground in the Potomac River on Sunday, April 5 near St. Clement's Island, Md.

The Coast Guard Station at St. Inigoes, Md., sent a rescue-boat crew to the site early Sunday evening at 5 p.m. after receiving a call from that the 30-foot sailing vessel had run aground and was taking on water. The rescue crew removed Jeffery Shauberger, his son Jeffery Shauberger Jr., and their pet rottweiler from the boat and transported them to a campground near St. Patrick's Creek.

The sailboat was lit and anchored on the shoal near St. Clement's and did not affect navigable waterways.

Both of the Shaubergers and their dog, were wearing lifejackets.


4.1.09

Rogue barge strikes Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel

The Coast Guard reported yesterday (March 31) that a barge drifted into the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel late Monday night or early Tuesday morning and then ran aground on Fisherman's Island, north of the bridge. There was no damage to the bridge.
The Coast Guard received a phone call about 3 a.m. Tuesday from Nathan Brothers Tug reporting that one of their barges had broken away while under tow between Bells Rock Light and Back River Channel.

A boat crew from Station Milford Haven was quickly launched at to search for the barge from the mouth of the York River north towards Bells Rock Light, but could not locate it. The adrift barge, meanwhile, allided with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and then grounded north of the bridge.

Nathan Brothers Tug has assumed responsibility for the recovery of the barge. The barge was recovered early Tuesday afternoon by the tug Pathfinder and was being taken to the Norfolk tug yard. The company said that the hopper barge, which normally carries wood chips, was empty and that no environmental impact was expected.

Bridge maintenance investigators have inspected the bridge structure and found no damage.
The cause of the break away is currently under investigation.


3.31.09

Dramatic changes for historic Hartge's Yacht Yard

 

Can you just pick up and move an entire boatyard? Hartge's Yacht Yard of Galesville, Md., is doing just that. After months of rumors and marina scuttlebutt, the news is out: After 130 years at one site, Hartge's Yacht Yard is packing up and resettling across town.

The Hartge marine tradition began in 1879, when Emile Alexander Hartge established a new home and new boat business on a 17-acre peninsula along the West River. Now, Hartge's descendant and namesake, Emile Alexander "Alex" Schlegel, is moving the repair and maintenance business lock, stock and parts barrel to the other side of Galesville, and into two other local landmarks.

After Schlegel was unable to reach a lease agreement with Whitestake Associates, who own the peninsula, he and service manager Luke Frey, as well as their staff of craftsmen, decided to pick up and move to Woodfield, the site of a once-thriving fish and oyster business. The new location, on Tenthouse Creek, has limited dockage, so Harge's Yacht Yard services will go mobile as well as on site. Hartge Yacht Yard's new offices and its ship's store have already been relocated to the old West River Market building on Main Street.

For more information, Schlegel and Frey can be reached at 410-867-2188 and 301-261-5141. The new website is www.hartgeyard.com.

The original peninsula property on Church Lane with slips and fuel dock, formerly known as Hartge Yacht Yard, is now called Hartge Yacht Harbor, owned and managed by Whitestake Associates (443-607-6306). 


3.31.09
 

Asians oyster's visa revoked

 

After years of testing and argument, the Asian oysters' chances of establishing roots in the Chesapeake Bay have suddenly dropped from pretty good to just about zero. Up until last week, those responsible for making the decision were divided on whether to allow watermen to cultivate the non-native bivalve as a replacement for the Bay's ailing native species. The state of Maryland had come out opposing the proposition, Virginia indicated that it was leaning in favor of it and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' representative Colonel Dionysios Anninos seemed to be waffling.

And that's the way the matter stood through most of the winter and into spring. That is, until last week, when the cards began to fall in favor of the native son. First, Anninos announced that he believed the issue needed more study and that he favored allowing some modest-size experiments to continue under tight restrictions. Then, during a meeting of the Virginia Marine Resource Commission, the Asian oyster's chief cheerleader-the Virginia Seafood Council-announced that it was throwing in the towel and withdrawing from the fight. Then, this week, Lyn Tran, a spokesman for Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, said that the state needed to support the findings of its scientific community and proceed very cautiously in introducing a non-native species into the Bay.

This brought Virginia into step with nearly all Bay scientists and environmentalists who have gone on record opposing the Asian oyster because of the danger that it could push out the native species and that it could harbor human pathogens.

Virginia, Maryland and the Corps of Engineers are now trying to develop a comprehensive plan for rehabilitating the native oyster, though Anninos says he doesn't want to close the door entirely on further Asian oyster research, though probably in laboratory conditions only.


Area organizations act quickly to end Salisbury University fuel spill

A "unified command," including the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maryland Department of the Environment, is continuing clean up and recovery efforts of a pollution spill in Tony Tank Creek in Salisbury on Thursday, March 12.

Salisbury University on Wednesday, March 11, reported a mechanical failure in their generator system, which caused a loss of about 3,000 gallons of diesel fuel from a fuel tank. Between 500 and 600 gallons of diesel fuel have been recovered from the creek since the report was made. More than 1,000 feet of containment boom has been placed between the Camden Avenue Bridge and the Riverside Drive Bridge to contain the spill.

"This operation is a fine example of our partnership among federal, state and local agencies along with the private sector," said Cmdr. Austin Gould, the acting sector commander of Coast Guard Sector Baltimore. "Together, we're working to eliminate an environmental threat to the Chesapeake Bay."

"The university appreciates these agencies' support and leadership that have minimized the impact of this spill on the university, the community and our shared watershed," said Dr. Tom Jones, provost at Salisbury University.

Wicomico County Emergency Management responded to a report of a strong fuel odor near Tony Tank Creek Wednesday night. They then contacted the National Response Center to report diesel fuel in the water about 8:42 p.m. Wednesday.  NRC notified Coast Guard Sector Baltimore personnel of the spill.  Investigators from Sector Baltimore arrived about 12:50 a.m. Thursday. The Coast Guard confirmed Salisbury University as the source of the spill and had the spill stopped by 1:15 a.m.  The diesel fuel is believed to have leaked from a fuel tank on the roof of the Henson Science Hall on campus.

The unified command was established with the Coast Guard and representatives from Salisbury University, Maryland Department of the Environment, Salisbury City Fire Department and Wicomico County Emergency Management.

If you see further fuel sheen or wildlife affected by the spill, please contact the Coast Guard Command Center at 410-576-2525.


Wilmington, Del., oil spill from freighter accident

A member of Clean Venture examines the fuel oil spill on the surface of the water in the Port of Wilmington in Wilmington, Del., on Thursday March 12. The fuel oil spilled from a 623-foot freight carrier after it allided with the pier in the Port of Wilmington. 
  


 
Fast Response

The Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown unveiled its new response boat at the Boat Forces Center on Thursday, March 5. The 45-foot response boat will be replacing the 41-foot utility boat that has been in service for more than 30 years. (U.S. Coast Guard photos/Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Henise)







Fawcett buys Pyacht.com

Bankruptcy behind them, Fawcett Boat Supplies has decided to go on the offensive with the purchase of Pyacht.com. This winter, the venerable boat supply company, located at City Dock in Annapolis, announced that it was purchasing the assets of Pyacht.com, an internet-based marine supply company in neighboring Eastport, Md. Fawcett's president, Steve Ripley, said the acquisition would give the company a better e-commerce presence.

Fawcett filed for bankruptcy in 2007 after the purchase of Annapolis-based wholesaler Oceana created cash-flow problems. Fawcett then unloaded Oceana and recapitalized. It also reached an agreement to pay off its creditors within three years.


Pinter at Annapolis Sailing School

Jason Pinter has rejoined the staff of Annapolis Sailing School, this time as operations manager. He will oversee operations of the sailing school, Kidship and the Annapolis Powerboat School. Pinter worked for Annapolis Sailing from 1998 to 2002 as instructor and assistant manager.


Update: Liberty ship arrives in Greece

The Arthur M. Huddell, the last Liberty ship in the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet on the James River, arrived in the Greek port of Pireaus in January, flying the Greek flag and renamed Hellas Liberty. The ship left Norfolk, Va., on December 6 and was towed to Greece, where it will be refurbished then take up a new life-after-mothballs as a museum, a reminder of the connection between Greece and the United States.

During World War II, 2,750 Liberty ships were build in the largest shipbuilding effort in history. The ships were crewed by merchant mariners and carried troops and military cargo throughout the world. After the war, Greece shipowners purchased Liberty ships by the hundred to build up their fleet-now the world's largest (though no longer with Liberty ships, of course).


Watermen cleaning up old oyster beds

More than two dozen workboats hovered over old oyster beds on the Severn River, just above the Naval Academy Bridge in Annapolis, on February 26. They were part of an ongoing project to clean oyster reefs to ready them for seeding. The reefs get covered with silt and other river debris, which could smother any new oysters put on the bed.

The state of Maryland has hired the watermen to do the work to help ease the economic hardship brought on by restrictions in the crab harvest. The program is administered by the Oyster Recovery Partnership.



In addition to the Severn, watermen have been working on oyster beds in Tangier Sound and the Patuxent River. Boat owners are paid $500 a day and crewmen $150 a day. The work is financed with the $3 million from the state and $10 from the federal government.
 


 

Annapolis windsurfer wins suit against US Sailing

 

Ruling could mean wide changes to race rules

A hearing panel of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has given US Sailing, the governing body of competitive sailing, six months to eliminate one-party protest hearings from the process by which it determines winners in competitions. The challenge to US Sailing's existing protest process was brought by Annapolis, Maryland, windsurfer Farrah Hall, who won the women's RS-X Olympic trials in 2007 but was removed as winner by a protest committee after a one-party hearing on a complaint by Nancy Rios, another competitor. Hall was not informed of the hearing until she was told that she had been removed as U.S. representative for her sport in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After unsuccessfully seeking a hearing from US Sailing, Hall sought redress from the Olympic committee. The hearing panel recently issued a 23-page decision, ruling that Hall should have been notified of the complaint and allowed to participate in the hearing. US Sailing was given until September 1 to revise its rules or lose its recognition as sailing's governing body.


Coast Guard rescues two in Pocomoke

The Coast Guard rescued two people after they reportedly ran aground near William's Point in the Pocomoke River Tuesday. Rescued were Ronald Walker and George Staubs.

Walker called Coast Guard Sector Baltimore watchstanders by cell phone from the Knightrider, a 31-foot vessel, at 10:50 a.m. reporting that he had run aground and the vessel was taking on water. The crew of the Knightrider was able to control the amount of water entering the vessel by using rags to plug the hole.

A 41-foot utility boat crew from Coast Guard Station Crisfield, Md., arrived on scene and towed the Knightrider and crew back to Station Crisfield.

The Coast Guard urges mariners to outfit their boat with a functioning marine-band radio as cell phones are typically an unreliable source of communication due to gaps in coverage and limited battery life. Using channel 16 on a marine-band radio is the most reliable way to communicate a distress to search and rescue personnel in the event of an emergency while on the water.

Also, boaters should try to provide as much information about their boat, situation and position as they can while making a distress call, in order to reduce search areas and response times.

"By knowing his position, and providing it to us, we knew exactly where to go," said Petty Officer Keith Newman, the officer of the day at Station Crisfield. "That enabled us to respond quickly before their situation could get any worse."


Protecting Ducking Stool Point

A partnership between the James River Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership and several other organizations has protected from erosion more than 500 acres of tidal freshwater marsh on Herring Creek in Charles City County, Virginia.

The newly protected marsh, known as Ducking Stool Point, is a spit of land located at the confluence of Herring Creek and the James River. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducking Stool Point provides important habitat for waterfowl, bald eagles, largemouth bass and a number of other birds and fish.

To protect the marsh from further erosion, the partnership installed an 1,825-foot-long structure of sloping stone between the marsh and the James River. Stabilizing Ducking Stool Point will help protect stream habitat for migratory and residential fish species, many of which are recreationally valuable to area residents. The project also protects bald eagles and other wildlife that nest and roost in the area.


Bay Bridge Show addition

United States Yacht Shows has added a new Outdoor Living component to the Bay Bridge Boat Show, scheduled for April 23-26 at Stevensville on Kent Island, Md. This show within the show will feature car-top boats to introduce non-boaters to entry level, affordable and green boating.

The Outdoor Living section will include seminars to answer questions about when, where, why and how to get into boating. After each session, a guide will accompany attendees to the outdoor section.


Annapolis boat shows

In a minor show of force, the Annapolis City Council voted to keep the U.S. Sailboat Show and the U.S. Powerboat Show under the management of the Hartman family, who has been running the events for a number of years. On a 6-3 vote, the council voted to renew the Hartmans' lease, rejecting a rival offer from the recently formed City Dock Productions LLC. City Dock Productions partners Jim Barthold and Tim Dowling had offered the city a $500,000 base for the lease, more than the Hartmans' $375,950. The amount received by the city is determined as the base amount or 50 percent of the gross receipts from ticket sales, whichever is greater.


[February 09]


A barge cozies up to the 800-foot bulk carrier CSL Argosy on Monday, Jan. 19, in preparation to transfer iron ore from aboard the ship. Lightering operations started Sunday aboard the bulk carrier, which was aground in Chesapeake Bay in the lower Craig Hill Channel just north of Annapolis, Md. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)

Muddy odyssey of the Argosy

For reasons yet unknown, the 800-foot bulk carrier CSL Argosy grounded on the muddy bottom at the edge of the Craighill Channel near Gibson Island on Saturday, January 17. Coast Guard officials said that the ship had lost neither steerage nor propulsion and was under the guidance of a Bay pilot at the time of the grounding.

By Monday night, January 19, the Argosy was floating free once again, after a portion of her cargo had been removed to raise her position in the water.

The Bahamian-flagged ship was then escorted out of the channel by tug and was anchored near Annapolis until her crew had thoroughly inspected the vessel. That inspection will be subject to Coast Guard review before she is allowed to proceed. However, there appear to be no signs of damage or pollution.

The Argosy re-floated after about 19,300 metric tons of her iron-ore cargo were removed and transferred to barges. The Unified Command-comprised of the Coast Guard, State of Maryland and the ship's operator, Vships-put together the plan and supervised the work to free the vessel.

The ship was on its way to Baltimore when it ran aground near the entrance to the Magothy River. The Argosy was not obstructing the channel, nor impeding vessel traffic. The cause of the grounding is under investigation.


 

In Maryland: 9,000 acres for conservation

Fresh off the debut of a new map that pinpoints the most desirable tracts of land in the state for future preservation, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has announced the planned acquisition of five large and ecologically valuable properties. The land, spread across the state, totals 9.242 acres and comes at a cost of about $72 million.

Province properties
The most interesting of the purchases in a historic sense are four parcels known as the Province properties. These have been owned by the Jesuits-specifically the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus-since the 17th century.

The parcels, located in Cecil, Charles and St. Mary's counties, total 4,473 acres and include 20 miles of Potomac River waterfront. They also encompass a mix of woodlands, wetlands and meadows. The Jesuits had wanted to sell the properties, but didn't want it to be developed, so the Conservation Fund stepped in to broker the deal for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Funding will come from the state's Program Open Space. The lands eventually will be open for public use.

The four tracts are:
    • Cedar Point, a high priority conservation area, is 1,737 acres of woodlands, wetlands and agricultural fields along 4.2 miles of shoreline along Port Tobacco Creek and the Potomac River.
    • St. Inigoes, a 985-acre tract about five miles south of St. Mary's City on St. Inigoes peninsula, includes eight miles of shoreline separating St. Marys River and Smith Creek.
    • New Towne Neck is a 776-acre peninula with seven miles of shoreline along Breton Bay, the Potomac River and St. Clements Bay. The property was purchased by the Jesuits in 1668 for 40,000 pounds of tobacco.
    • Old Bohemia, is 975 acres of upland forest and open meadows north of Route 282 near Warwick in Cecil County.

Foster property
The remaining 4,769 acres to be acquired is a single tract in Worcester County is known as the Foster property-the largest privately owned forest parcel in the state. The land received one of the highest ecological rankings in the state's new open space targeting program because it is home to 90 rare, threatened or endangered wildlife and plant species. Two-thirds of Maryland's forest interior dwelling birds inhabit this watershed. In addition the land protects watersheds for the Nassawango Creek and Pocomoke River. This deal was brokered by the Nature Conservancy.

GreenPrint
The new Maryland map known as GreenPrint is meant to help the state prioritize lands for future preservation. Properties are ranked based on a series of criteria, such as important shoreline, watersheds, forests and rare species habitat. The GreenPrint map is located online at www.greenprint.Maryland.gov.


 

In Virginia: Funding for Crow's Nest

Virginia's effort to purchase an undeveloped area in Stafford County known as Crow's Nest will be getting a boost from a federal agency. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's National Coastal Wetland's Conservation Grants Program has agreed to a put $855,465 toward the purchase of 1,200 acres of the Crow's Nest peninsula. Crow's Nest-named for a schooner moored off the property in the early 1800s-is considered ecologically important as an undeveloped tract with significant shoreline along the Potomac and Accokeek creeks. It also includes hardwood forests and deep ravines that provide haven for a number of rare species.

In 2008, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and Stafford County purchased 1,700 acres on Crow's Nest for $19 million. The deal included a two-year option to purchase another 1,200 acres for $16.2 million. Before the Fish & Wildlife grant was announced, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality announced it would provide $3.5 million to help with the purchase of the second tract.


 

Crab Regs 2009

In Maryland: Spreading the pain

Last year, new limits on blue crab harvesting across the Chesapeake drew strident objections from lower Bay watermen, who pointed out that they were being penalized by the limits on taking female crabs-which comprise a large part of their yearly catch. So this year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has proposed a modified set of regulations that are meant to equalize the burden.

The new proposal would close the commercial crab season for mature female hard crabs from June 1 through June 15, September 26 through October 4, and November 11 through December 15. Daily catch limits for females will be set after the DNR receives the results of the winter dredge survey, which is generally published in April. Bushel limits will be based on a waterman's license type.  The limits will harsher if the population shows a decline and may be lightened if the population shows a significant increase.

In addition, the DNR proposes to freeze licenses that have not been used between 2004 and 2008 until the blue crab population recovers. Further, the DNR proposes to license all recreational crabbers-even backyard crabbers-though there will be no charge for registration.

The states of Maryland and Virginia last year worked together to limit crab harvests because of the dramatic drop in the population over the past few years. Many crabbers were angered by the limits, arguing that the state was using them as a scapegoat, while the real culprit was pollution, especially from agriculture and over development. For a detailed summary of the proposed regulations, click here.


In Virginia: Use it or lose it

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has approved a regulation that will prevent more than 800 watermen from renewing their crabbing licenses for 2009 through 2012 if they did not use their permits to catch crabs from 2004 to 2007. The idea behind the limit is to prevent a sudden surge in crabbers that could erase any population gains made by the harvest limits already in place. If the population levels stay sufficiently high, the licenses could be renewed after the limit has expired. Alternatively, a waterman with an inactive license, could purchase an active license from another waterman.

In a related move, Virginia has decided to use a portion of its $10 million in federal disaster money to buy back licenses from watermen who would agree to stop harvesting blue crabs in the Bay. Maryland and Virginia each received money from the U.S. Commerce Department after the Bay crab fishery was declared a federal disaster. Some of the federal money will be used to pay watermen to recover "ghost" crab traps-traps that were abandoned or lost but many of which are capable of catching crabs.

In November, a Norfolk judge rejected a request from Virginia watermen to dredge crabs this winter, despite a ban on winter dredging imposed in 2008. For a complete set of Virginia's crabbing regulations, click here.

[January 09]


What's black and white (sometimes) and hated all over?

We know you don't want to hear this, but here it is anyway: A zebra mussel has been found in a water intake pipe upstream from the Conowingo Dam.  We know, what else could go wrong with the Bay? Yes, it was only one zebra mussel, but where there's one . . . After millions of dollars have been spent trying to protect the Bay from these voracious, tenacious, and hellacious little critters, at least one seems to have gotten through Maryland's defense shields.




Zebra mussels first hitchhiked their way from Europe into the Great Lakes in the ballast water tanks of a ship in the 1980s. Since then, they have wrecked havoc by altering the balance of marine populations, fouling public water systems and generally creating one new problem after another. They also have spread into more than 20 states and a couple of Canadian provinces.

To prevent their spread south into the northern, less-salty part of the Bay, Maryland and Pennsylvania set up a series of defense shields at reservoirs at dams along the Susquehannah River. Virginia spent thousands to clean up a quarry where the mussels appeared. And each year the federal government spends billions on control programs.

So, now that a zebra mussel has been found in Maryland, the alert has been sounded for boaters and anglers to take extra precautions not to become part of the problem. Vessels and equipment should be scrubbed after each use and especially when moving from one body of water to another. Zebra mussels have white or yellow stripes alternating with black or brown stripes. Adults are about the size of a thumbnail. They thrive in fresh and low-saline water.


 

Solution to Bay cleanup? Shorter deadlines, of course

Unable to meet a succession of 10-year deadlines for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, state officials on November 20 announced that they would set two-year deadlines from here on in. As several hundred protesters marched solemnly through Union State in Washington D.C., the governors of Maryland and Virginia, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty, federal officials and representatives from New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania met privately at Union Station for two hours to discuss the health of the Bay. Emerging afterward, they acknowledged that previous efforts and millions of dollars had failed to make significant progress in restoring the health of the Bay. However, they pledged to set a new, two-year goal in the spring.

According to nearly all measures, the Bay remains as polluted-or more so-in nearly all areas as it was when cleanup efforts began in the 1980s. The major culprit has been identified as nutrient runoff from farmland, followed by runoff from development, fallout from power plants and vehicle exhaust.


Federal government pledges $20 million to aid Virginia and Maryland softshell crabbers

It wasn't all they had hoped for-or asked for-but Virginia and Maryland are now set to received up to $10 million each in aid for watermen-specifically soft-shell and peeler crab watermen-whose livelihood has been damaged by new more restrictive crabbing regulations. The announcement came November 18 from the Fisheries Service of the National Oceanic and atmosphere Administration. The move followed a declaration from the federal government in September designating the Chesapeake soft-shell-crabbing fishery a disaster.

A dramatic decline in the numbers of crabs in the Bay led Virginia and Maryland this year to enact a series of restrictions aimed at limiting the crab catch-particularly female crabs-in order to enable the population to increase. The new rules have made things difficult for nearly all crabbers, but have particularly hurt watermen who harvest soft crabs and peelers. The segment has declined 40 percent, according to National Marine Fisheries Service spokesman Monica Allen. Following the disaster designation, the two states requested immediate relief of $30 million.

Now it's up to the two states to decide how the money will be used. The states must file a plan with the Fisheries Service before the money will be disbursed. Neither state has yet announced specifics, but both have suggested that at least some of the money will be used to restore habitat and to increase other economic opportunities for watermen, including aquaculture. Other projects include employing crab fishermen to retrieve "ghost"-lost or abandoned-crab pots.


A fee for backyard crabbers? Oh, never mind!


At a meeting in Annapolis on November 10, officials of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Fisheries Service said establishing a license for all crabbers-even those crabbing off their own docks-was an option under consideration. Licensing all crabbers would allow the state to get more accurate numbers for harvest counts, the officials said, and the $2 proposed fee would be painless to everyone. By the next day, however, after the story had been reported in the Annapolis paper the Capital, officials were already backing off the idea-at least the idea of charging for the license. The Baltimore Sun's environmental writer Tim Wheeler reported November 18 on the Sun's environmental blog that DNR Secretary John Griffin told him a few days after the announcement that while he believed all crabbers should be licensed, he did not think that a fee would be in order.





The way we were last summer

This overview of the Bay was released in November by Chesapeake Eco-Check (www.eco-check.org/summerreview/chesapeake/), a co-project of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the NOAA. And while there is plenty to be concerned about, some of the most dire predictions for the summer-like algae blooms and harmful dissolved oxygen numbers-did not come about. Still, there were fish kills and dead zones enough for continued grave concern. For more details on the summer review, visit the website above.




Asian Oysters vs. Native Oysters

The hearings are over and now the wait begins. Will a species of Asian oyster be introduced into the Chesapeake, as the Virginia Seafood Council and some watermen advocate? Or will environmental groups, scientists and other watermen win their argument that such a move could prove disastrous to the oyster fishery on the Bay. Following a five year multimillion dollar study to determine whether introducing the Asian oyster to the Bay would be beneficial-or even safe-the U.S. Corps of Engineers failed to choose a side in its 1,500-page report. Instead, the Corps suggested that the people be allowed to decide instead. So a series of hearings were held at various locations in Maryland and Virginia. In addition, comments to Mark.T.Mansfield@usace.army.mil may be made until December 15.

The Corps study found that while the Asian oyster grew more quickly than native oysters and was not susceptible to dermo and MSX, the two diseases that have decimated the native oyster population, it was susceptible to other diseases that do not attack the native population. A separate study indicates that the Asian oyster carries more viruses when grown in polluted waters and so would pose a greater health hazard to consumers. Advocates of introduction argue that it provides the best hope for a renewed oyster industry on the Bay.

When the comment period is over, all comments will become part of the final report. Those and a recommendation are expected in April.


Three Bay marinas make Top 100 list

Boating Industry magazine has announced its Top 100 Dealers, including three located on the Chesapeake Bay. The rankings recognize overall business operations, customer service, marketing and professionalism.

Topping the list for the second consecutive year was Galati Yacht Sales of Anna Maria, Fla., followed by Seattle Boat Co. of Seattle, Wash., and Prince William Marine Sales Inc., located in Woodbridge, Va. Also making the list were Lynnhaven Marine in Virginia Beach, Va., which ranked 25 and Hoffmaster's Marina, another Woodbridge company, at 76.



Somers Cove Appointments Complete Commission

Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin has appointed three people to the Somers Cove Marina Commission. This completes the new panel of seven people. The state legislature created the commission in April to help the DNR in making decisions on the marina's future and development. Somers Cove is a perennially popular 515-slip  marina in the center of Crisfield.

Named to the commission were Susan Engle, a slip holder and Crisfield resident; Mike Grant, boating services facilities manager for DNR, longtime boater and past commodore of Kent Island Yacht Club; and Less Hardy, slip holder and director of operations of Washingtonian Coach. The other members of the commission were appointed earlier by the mayor of Crisfield and the Somerset County commissioners. They are Mike Atkins, Crisfield councilmember; Ladell Dorman, schoolteacher and slip holder; Jay Tawes of Tawes Insurance Co.; and Casey Todd of MeTompkin Seafood Co. The commission is expected to hold its first meeting in January.



Watermen at work cleaning oyster habitat

Some Maryland watermen are going back to work, but not for themselves this time. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources and Oyster Recovery Partnership expect to hire 250 watermen this winter to help restore lost oyster bars. Another 84 are expected to be signed on for land-based work later this year.

In mid-November 100 watermen were hard at work recovering and cleaning about 100 acres of oyster bars in Tangier Sound and in the Patuxuent and Severn rivers. Watermen used their own boats and equipment to remove silt and sediment from the tops of once healthy oyster bars. These cleaned areas will now receive be seeded with spat. By the end of this project, the DNR expects 1,000 acres of oyster bars to have been recovered. Unfortunately, the Chesapeake loses an estimated 2,600 acres of hard bottom oyster habitat.

The Maryland program is part of the state's effort to employ watermen who are suffering a loss of income because of new crabbing regulations aimed at restoring the Bay's dwindling population.



Buoy, of buoy!

Things were looking grim for the Patapsco River's smart buoy after it was badly damaged in July by drive-by shooters. But it was rushed to the buoy ER for treatment. There its 21 wounds to the solar panels, navigation light and electronic gear were patched up and destroyed parts replaced. A mere $7,000 later, the buoy was ready to go back in the water. In November it was redeployed. Moments later, it had geared up and was transmitting information about water quality, weather conditions and providing a historical narrative of Captain John Smith's visit to the area 400 years ago. To tune into the Patapsco smart buoy-or any of the other five deployed around the Bay-you can call 877-buoybay (286-9229) or visit www.buoybay.org. By the way, there is a $1,250 reward for information leading to the conviction of the bad guys. Call 410-260-8888 with information.

Go to Page 1 of Bay News.