Port of LA Commits to Changing Young Lives

LAMI from Port of LA In yesterday’s The Log, SoCal’s #1 Boating and Fishing Newspaper, Ambrosia Sarabia wrote a nice article about a significant social investment that the Port of LA has made in local youth through a multi-year financial commitment to the LA Maritime Institute’s award winning TopSail Youth program. (Topsail Youth Sail Training Program Teaches More Than Boating – Nov. 29, 2007)

According to the article, The Port of Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners approved a three-year agreement with the Los Angeles Maritime Institute’s TopSail Youth Sail Training Program that will provide $525,000 for the first year and increase 3 percent a year over the following 2 years.

“The program provides a life experience for the teen participants,” said Arley Baker, senior director of communications and legislative affairs. “Many of the participants have had little exposure to the ocean, so a sailing adventure is extraordinary for them – let alone an adventure where they play a role in navigating the ship as a crew. It’s a teambuilding adventure.”

Programs like this do a great job of educating and building self-esteem in participants; however, they also expose young people to potential maritime careers. With the looming shortage of qualified professional mariners on the horizon, this can only be a good thing. (Statement of Chairman Oberstar and Subcommittee Chairman Cummings from Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Hearing – “Mariner Education and Workforce” – Oct 17, 2007)

Kudos to the Port of LA and congratulations to LAMI and to all of the kids that will benefit from life changing experiences at sea under sail!

Photo” Port of Los Angeles

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“Laura Gainey was an unlucky victim of the risk that she took by electing to go to sea”

Update (Nov. 29) – Laura Gainey’s shipmates question safety procedures: Fellow deckhands, diary offer telling details of final hours before young woman swept to her death off deck of tall ship The Canadian Press


Those words appeared in a report issued by a Cook Islands Maritime’s Marine Board of Inquiry investigating the death of Laura Gainey who was washed overboard during a trip aboard the tall ship Picton Castle from Nova Scotia to the Caribbean last fall. However, it was recently reported that a critical report issued by the original investigator assigned to the incident, retired U.S. Navy Captain Andrew Scheer, never saw the light of day and was replaced by one issued by the Cook Islands Marine Board of Inquiry that was much more favorable to the ship. According to Newstalk Radio CJAD, “the ship’s former captain, Michael Vogelsgesang is calling Scheer’s report “a load of crap,” that overstates the safety issues.”

The Gainey Family has remained silent until this week; however, they are claiming a cover up has taken place. As we posted last week, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has initiated their own investigation into what took place aboard the Picton Castle that fateful night last December. Here is a link to an audio interview with Paul van den Berg, a safety analyst with the TSB.

Here is an excerpt of a video interview with Laura’s father, Bob and sister, Anna via The Canadian Press who see things very differently.

Last night (November 28, 2007) the CBCnews show the fifth estate broadcast an episode entitled Overboard which was an investigative report into the incident aboard the tall ship Picton Castle. (If you are in Canada it will be aired again November 30 at 10pm ET/PT on CBC Newsworld & December 2 at 11pm on CBC-TV) Here is links to an interview with Bob Gainey and below is an excerpt of the fifth estate report.

This is an extremely sad story for everyone involved. My heart goes out to the Gainey family who have demonstrated an incredible grace in what must have been a nightmare come to life. While going to sea is an inherently risky endeavor, any and all precautions must be taken by those who own and operate vessels to avoid all shipboard accidents and especially catastrophic ones like this.

Update (Nov. 29) – AOL News Poll – Do you believe there is a ‘coverup’ in this case? (with 467 votes – yes 60%; no 21%, not sure 19%)

Additional Media:

Gainey dismisses report into death of daughter as ‘coverup’ CBC News Nov. 27,2007

Gainey charges whitewash at sea The Star.com Nov. 28, 2007

Fellow deckhands, personal diary offer telling details of Gainey’s final hours The Canadian Press Nov. 28, 2007

Gainey fights inquiry The London Free Press Nov. 28, 2007

Probe counters ship’s statement on safety procedures prior to Gainey death The Canadian Press Oct. 16, 2007.

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Come On Leaders, Get A Grip!

iStock_000001444060XSmall According to a press release issued about a recent study by psychologist Gordon Gallup, director of the Human Behavior and Evolution Laboratory at SUNY Albany, handgrip strength (HGS):

“is a ubiquitous measure of health and vitality in both men and women, and as grip strength increases so does a person’s overall health status, speed of postoperative recovery, and longevity. People with higher grip strength scores experienced reduced disability, reduced morbidity, and more rapid recovery from injury, and also have higher bone mineral density and greater fat free body mass.”

However, males with strong grips reported more aggressive behavior and were about 10% more promiscuous. Seems that women with strong grips thankfully don’t share these traits. On the positive side, both men and women with firm grips tend to exhibit good health and live longer.

Continue reading Come On Leaders, Get A Grip!

Air Pollution? Sail Solution!

iStock_000000819572XSmallWhen thinking of pollution caused by ships, the first thing that comes to mind are incidents like the recent COSCO Busan allision and oil spill in San Francisco Bay that has been comprehensively covered by our friends over at gCaptain.com.

But today’s Wall Street Journal covers the dangers from another form of pollution with a front page article by Bruce Stanley entitled Danger at Sea: Ships Draw Fire for Rising Role in Air Pollution. (subscription required)

The corpuscles of the global economy, ships carry more than 90% of the world’s merchandise by volume, and the tonnage of cargo sent by ships has tripled since 1970. Yet the fuel propelling them is cheap and dirty and produces an especially noxious exhaust.

Ships release more sulfur dioxide, a sooty pollutant associated with acid rain, than all of the world’s cars, trucks and buses combined, according to a March study by the International Council on Clean Transportation. That study also found that ships produced an estimated 27% of the world’s smog-causing nitrogen-oxide emissions in 2005. Only six countries in the world emitted more greenhouse gases — which trap heat in the atmosphere, warming the globe — than was produced collectively in 2001 by all ships larger than 100 tons, according to the study and United Nations statistics.


What is the effect of these toxic emissions? According to a study by the American Chemical Society published in their Environmental Science and Technology journal, 60,000 cardiopulmonary and lung cancer deaths occur annually. There have also been increased reports of children suffering from asthma in heavy traffic ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The article does a good job of laying out the challenges ship owners and operators face with the lack of uniform regulations across various jurisdictions. As we have seen many times before, consensus is not easily achieved in matters involving the environment.

The article ends with what seems like a great solution for the future: returning to the age of sail! SkySails of Hamburg, Germany is marketing “towing kite propulsion systems” which might be great news for all of those traditional sailors in the tall ships fleet! ;-)


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Ever Wonder What It Would Be Like to Swim into a Bow Thruster?

Probably not. Hopefully not!

But now through the magic of YouTube you can do it without getting wet and right in the comfort of your desk chair. The video is a little over 3 minutes but make sure you stay to the end.

Here’s another video that may help next time you’re topside wondering what the “hull” they’re doing down there.

(Thanks to Blacktriple1 on YouTube!)

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Just Another Manic (Maritime ) Monday!

Borrowing from the Bangles 1986 hit single, it’s been a manic Monday so I want to point everybody over another great Maritime Monday at Fred Fry International.

As always they have a super roundup of posts from maritime blogs from around the globe. Enjoy and learn!

More on the MV Explorer Sinking

Update: Nov. 26, 2007 NY Times article – Misgivings Rise Along With Antarctican Tourism

Here’s another interesting CNN video of the MV Explorer sinking in Antarctica.

I like report of the generous offer of another cruise or return home, all expenses paid. Now that’s customer service!

It’s clear by the smiling faces in the photographs that things were handled pretty smoothly. They were extremely lucky that the weather was decent and the sea calm. It could have been much worse. It will be interesting to see what this does for tourism in Antarctica. My bet is that bookings will rise significantly as a result of this sinking. We are an odd species!

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That Sinking Feeling

No, this video wasn’t shot in the final moments of MV Explorer’s life above the waves. It was shot last Saturday, November 17, 2007, from stationary camera aboard the Texas Clipper as she entered her fourth and final occupation as an artificial reef 17 miles off the coast of South Padre Island. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website tells a great story about her various lives and final resting place. Here are some photo’s from Flickr.

Don’t know about you but this video really has an effect on me. Part of me finds it incredibly peaceful which might be due to the speed at which it unfolds. However, I also experience anticipation, anxiety and maybe even a feeling of helplessness as she gains momentum.

Sinking ships create powerful images.

Simple yet interesting video. How do you feel about it?

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“…if Nature has anything to teach us at all, her first lesson is in humility”

That is a quote from Sharon Butala from a passenger trip log that appears on the G.A.P. Adventure Tours website. No truer words could be used in conjunction with the below photo of MV Explorer passengers forced to take to lifeboat after their vessel experienced a significant breach of her watertight integrity. You can bet this wasn’t in the travel brochure!716000ad

Continue reading “…if Nature has anything to teach us at all, her first lesson is in humility”

Can Leaders Risk Being Funny?

I know, stupid question. Of course, they can.

Having a sense of humor has always been considered a vital trait held by great leaders. Humor can humanize a leader and create a powerful bond with followers. When used effectively, it can relieve a stressful or crisis situation (Captain Alfred C. Haynes) or focus the attention of a community verging on panic. Winston Churchill immediately comes to mind when I think of a great leader who had a terrific sense of humor and knew how to use it and polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton offers another example.

Of course, humor can also be a risky and dangerous card to play. It doesn’t always translate across cultural borders or over time.

So when a US Presidential candidate creates a commercial like this, he decides to take a risk with humor.

I really didn’t know much about Governor Mike Huckabee until watching this Youtube video and I certainly won’t channel my support based on this 60 second spot. But Huckabee did get my (and over 600,000 other people’s) attention on YouTube over the past few days since this video was launched. I’m sure he’s hoping some of these viewers will do a little more research and be converted into supporters. Unfortunately, there are probably even more Americans that will simply remember that Chuck Norris supports Huckabee and that’s good enough for them. (Mr. Norris, If you ever stumble upon this blog, I’ll be voting for Mr. Huckabee if he makes it that far. ;-) ) At this stage of the 2008 Presidential Race, Huckabee finds himself in the back of the pack; it’ll be interesting to watch if this video is a catalyst for an enhanced candidacy or a flash in the pan marketing gimmick.

Here’s another risk taking video from a candidate with slightly lower aspirations.

Mr. Knight is a little “kooky” (in an endearing way) but it sure seems like education in Rockland County would be a lot more fun and interesting with him around. (Check out his other commercials here and here. Hat tip to Powncer blogkitten.)

Leaders sometimes have to take risks. Governor Huckabee’s use of humor, while effective at securing visibility via the Internet, is a risk. To some it may present an interesting, likable and maybe a bit eccentric character they can identify with; others could find it a frivolous attempt at being “hip” and not in keeping with the seriousness of the task at hand. The jury is still out but in the meantime I learned a little more about one of the candidates and that’s a good thing.

Humor is one valuable tool that every leader should have in his or her tool box; however, like all sharp and pointy things, it should be handled with care and caution lest someone gets hurt.

What do you think about leadership and humor?

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