|FYI — April 2002|
|By Brad Dunn|
After last year’s Offshore Worlds powerboat race in Key West, Florida, many boaters were concerned that not enough was being done to prevent manatees from wandering into the race course and endangering their own lives as well as those of boaters.
Now, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the American Power Boat Association (APBA) weigh new standards to protect the sea cows, all powerboat races will be required to post a "manatee watch" person, who monitors the waters throughout the event from a helicopter. If the watchperson spots a manatee anywhere near the track, the race will be delayed until the course is declared clear.
While plans for additional manatee lifeguards are being discussed, the APBA says the current watch program not only ensures manatee protection, but also allows for a safer racing environment without adversely affecting the race.
Headed to Court?
This year’s dry, mild winter has quickened the decline of the water level, which since 1997 has dropped some 40 inches. At presstime, levels were already more than 13 inches below the yearly average. As the lake shrinks, the height of fixed docks increases and some boat ramps become inaccessible. Moreover, sandbars get larger and overall depth is reduced, creating hazards to navigation.
Normally at this time of year, the lake gets a water boost from the winter thaw. Compounding the lack of snow, temperatures stayed well above their normal levels this winter, and almost no ice formed on the lake. Usually 60 to 70 percent of Lake Michigan is covered in ice during the winter, a phenomenon that prevents water from evaporating, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Yorktown Harbor project, which at presstime had not yet been approved by voters, is a $20-million effort to attract a flock of new businesses and tourists. With federal funding a proposed dock would extend about 350 feet from the shore and accommodate anywhere from 40 to 50 boats. (Maximum boat size has yet to be determined.)
Once the dock is built, county leaders say they will introduce generous incentives to attract coastal cruisers, including one proposal that offers boaters free dockage for up to 10 days.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.