Wednesday, March 18, 2009

RORC and UNCL announce new website:

The Royal Ocean Racing Club and the Union National pour la Course au Large joint owners of the IRC Rule, have given IRC its very own website.

“We felt it was time to give IRC its own identity now that it is established in over 38 countries worldwide,” commented RORC Technical Manager, Jenny Howells. “The web site is designed for sailors to get information about IRC including news and technical guidance. We hope to get feedback from the visitors to the web site, to make it as useful and practical as possible.”

The new web site is packed with information, with news feeds from both the RORC rating office and UNCL, new boat information from builders and designers and news of IRC events, race reports and results. A new feature is ‘Concentric cIRCles’ covering areas of IRC not usually in the limelight.

It is a one-stop shop for IRC technical information covering all of the following topics:

IRC Rules & Definitions
Guidance on measurement including stability & safety indexing
Worldwide IRC Rule Authorities’ details
Online TCC listings
Race management and advertising guidelines
Notices and interpretations
Congress and Committee information, including minutes of meetings
Online yearbooks from RORC Rating Office and UNCL Centre de Calcul

St. Lawrence Seaway to open nine days later, shipping to get slow start

The new shipping season will start slowly when the Soo Locks open next week. In fact, many ships around the Great Lakes will stay tied up in port until demand rebounds. Mike Simonson reports.

Not only will some ships stay dockside, the St. Lawrence Seaway itself will open nine days later than last year, on March 31. Duluth Seaway Port Authority Trade Development Director Ron Johnson says it's a sign of the times.

"This is a pretty tough winter all the way around. The demand for ships to move in and out of the system is not there to begin with so there's no sense opening too soon if there's not going to be the business."

Of the dozen ships wintering in the Duluth-Superior port, some will get underway right away, but Johnson says others will move out later, while still other ships may stay tied up. Lake Carriers Association Vice-President Glen Nekvasil says many of the 65 Great Lakes fleet vessels don't have sail dates yet.

"The important thing to remember is that although we're going to get of to a slow start, nobody is scrapping vessels. So the capacity is going to be there. All we need is for the demand to come back."

Nekvasil says the Great Lakes shipping business is a signpost of the nation's overall economy.


Midwest fishing report

FISH OF THE WEEK: On Sunday, Tony DeRicco caught and released this 29-inch walleye weighing 7.5 pounds from a Cook County lake. The Mount Prospect man said, ''I was jigging a fathead minnow with a 1/8-ounce jig on the lake bottom at about 8 feet down very slowly when the line stopped dead. The fish immediately ran for deep water and refused to surface. But after awhile with plenty of persuasion, it came up and was netted by my buddy Roy Bates from Rosemont.'' E-mail FOTW nominations to

ONLINE: Extended online versions of the FOTW and the Midwest Fishing Report usually are posted by Wednesday morning at

AREA LAKES: Crappie fishing is well underway. Henry's said the best crappie reports have been at Saganashkee Slough, but other typical crappie spots like Skokie Lagoons, Tampier and Busse should go strong, too. There has been good early spring walleye (see FOTW) and largemouth (last week's FOTW). DUPAGE NOTE: To protect trout stockings, fishing at Silver, Deep Quarry and Grove is closed until the opening of trout season on April 4.

AREA RIVERS NOTE: As of Tuesday, boating restrictions were lifted on the Des Plaines, DuPage, Kankakee and Mazon rivers.

CHAIN O'LAKES AREA: Greg Dickson at Triangle said, ''It's on. After today, that should be the last skim ice. Send them to backwaters and shallows for crappie with minnows and hair jigs. And shallow, long-sloping points for walleye.'' The Chain is near normal, but watch for debris.

COOLING LAKES/STRIP PITS: LaSALLE: Lake reopened Sunday (See column). In March, the lake is open only Wednesday through Sunday from 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Hybrid stripers and white bass are outstanding, even for shore anglers with some limits coming on fresh chicken livers, south bank best for shore anglers. Otherwise, rattling lures were a top choice for the stripers. Boaters did well on bass with some reports of big blues. Jay Angel reported 80s in the hot chute, 70s in Pool 3, 60s in Pool 2. MAZONIA/BRAIDWOOD: Henry's reported lots of catfish (takes sorting for keepers) on cut roaches, crawlers or stink baits, and good bluegill. On Sunday, spoonplugger Mike Lynch reported good catfish and a few bass. Should be a time for big bass on Mazonia lakes. HEIDECKE: Reopens April 1.

DELAVAN/GENEVA LAKE AREA, WISCONSIN: Geneva Lake Bait & Tackle reported crappie and bluegill in the Abbey harbor on Geneva. Tuesday's winds should help open lakes of remaining ice. Como and Silver are already open.


Sea Ray 43 Sundancer Recognised As “Best Of The Year”

Sea Ray Boats is pleased to announce that its all-new 43 Sundancer has been nominated for Motor Boating magazine’s annual “Best of the Year” list. The editors of the respected publication praise the handling, performance and accommodations of the boat, saying that it “redefines the express cruiser concept, drawing it closer toward the yacht category”.

“We are particularly proud to have our 43 Sundancer named on the ‘Best of the Year’ list,” said Rob Noyes, Vice President of Marketing for Sea Ray. “This class of boats is sacred to us, and has been since we launched the genre in 1975 with our original 240 Sundancer. Express cruisers are very complex to build, based on engineering requirements, number of components and the variety of ways customers use them. This recognition is a credible, third-party endorsement of our commitment to product quality, innovation and customer satisfaction.”

Only one or two exceptional vessels are named to the magazine’s “Best of the Year” list. In the accompanying article, the editors wrote, “Innovative design that makes for easier operation, better performance and more liveability are essential for a boat to be considered a trendsetter. As the first production cruiser to incorporate Zeus pod drives by Cummins MerCruiser Diesel, Sea Ray’s 43 Sundancer meets our definition of a game-changer on many counts. This luxury express.... makes it possible for boaters with modest handling skills to take the helm with confidence. At the same time, it delivers the economy and performance that experienced boaters demand, now more than ever.”


Fisheries workshops set for April

Michigan Sea Grant is hosting regional fisheries workshops in April in Bad Axe and Alpena.

The Bad Axe workshop is from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 4 at The Franklin Inn.

The Alpena workshop is at same time on April 18 at the Fraternal Order of the Eagles meeting hall.

Registration for each workshop is $15 in advance or $20 at the door, and includes lunch.

The workshops offering current research and information related to the regional status of Great Lakes fisheries and are open to the public.

More information can be found online at


Signs pointing to economic recovery in the Northland

In the March 16th edition of Newsweek, Barton Biggs writes a story about the brighter days ahead for the economy. Biggs, a managing partner of Traxis Partners hedge fund in New York, states that powerful fiscal and monetary stimulus policies should begin to boost economic activity by late spring. He predicts real GDP growth in the second and third quarters of this year and an improving world economy.

He cited glimmers of hope in several sectors that point to an economic turn around.

He could have read the Superior Telegram and concluded the same thing.

In the past two weeks, we have reported on CustomerLink expanding into Superior with plans to add up to 150 news jobs here. When the company was looking for space as it outgrew its facility in Duluth, a team from Superior, including Andy Lisak, director of the Development Association, was happy to lead them across the bridge to new office space in the Blaine Business Center.

Without locating more space, CustomerLink was facing scaling back and turning away work. Obviously business is good for the company that provides sales and support service to the energy industry and Fortune 500 companies.

Last week, Bruce Bacon, co-founder of Genesis Attachments, announced he would be opening a new manufacturing firm on Connors Point. Along with partners Greg Bacon and Jim Campbell, they are establishing Exodus Machines LLC to build large equipment for the scrap and recycling industry. The company plans to hire 21 employees initially, but could expand that to more than 80 full-time positions that pay $25 an hour.

Again, a strong economic development team from the city of Superior, the Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund, National Bank of Commerce, the Northland Foundation and the Development Association worked together to make it easy for a business to bring new jobs to Superior.

“The startup climate for business in Superior is really excellent,” Bruce Bacon said.

This project also was the beneficiary of $7.5 million in New Market Tax Credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.


Green power: Harvesting Great Lakes wind and water, Michigan's power plants venture into renewable energy

Holland isn’t the only area in Michigan undergoing a power shift — generating electricity that is.
Energy providers in urban and rural communities across the state are re-examining how to bring reliable, clean energy into homes and businesses.

The game changed last fall when the legislature passed a new energy law, requiring companies to increase how much renewable energy they use to 10 percent by 2015. That motivated Jackson-based Consumers Energy, one of Michigan’s largest power providers, to rethink its energy portfolio — already planned for the next 25 years. Consumers found it needed to double renewable energy output from about 5 percent right now to the 10 percent soon to be required by law.

“We have proposed a diverse portfolio of increased renewables,” said Kelly Farr, Consumers Energy spokesman, noting the company’s balanced portfolio already includes an energy efficiency program, a natural gas-fired power plant and coal-fired power plants.


Super Boat International coming this fall to Michigan City

Officials with Super Boat International are visiting today to officially announce the inaugural Great Lakes Grand Prix.

The 2009 Great Lakes Grand Prix will be held in Washington Park on the southern shore of Lake Michigan from August 7-9.

It will feature many of the world's fastest and most powerful boats in a six-mile long race in front of the beach.

Today, officials will be visiting the Washington Park to make sure it will be ready for the new August event.

The Michigan City race is the only one of its kind on the Great Lakes and local leaders hope it will bring in millions of dollars to the local economy.


Invasive plants in Michigan

This spring, as plants emerge and shrubs come back to life, many non-native invasive plants are among them. This reminder is from the Wildflower Association of Michigan (WAM).

"Please be on the lookout for the following species in your home landscapes and also in natural areas you visit. The following are some of the most common and widespread invasive plant species in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region. WAM encourages you to remove these species from your home landscape when identified. If you see these species in your local nature preserves, parks, or public lands, please contact the steward or organization that manages the site and let them know where the invasive population was seen."


Lake Michigan shoreline: Sen. Dick Durbin, Mayor Richard Daley defend earmarks

As the federal government descends deeper into deficit spending, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Mayor Richard Daley on Monday defended a political practice some say is partly responsible for the nation's sea of red ink.

The two powerful Democrats stood outside the Shedd Aquarium, with Lake Michigan as a backdrop, and announced $4 million in federal earmark funds that will help fund the ongoing effort to rebuild a chunk of the city's deteriorating shoreline.

Earmarks "are defensible," Durbin said. "What major earmarks we put in the bill have to do with major problems. ... This is an investment in the future of the major asset of the city of Chicago."

Other earmark funds would go to bolster the CTA and address flooding problems in the suburbs, he said.

Durbin said that if senators don't determine where specific funds are spent, those decisions could be made by someone in the executive branch who might not know much about the priorities of a state or a city and its citizens.

"It is vital for the legislative body to speak out," Daley said. "It isn't just the executive branch."