IGFA president set to retire in August after 14 years

Boat fire prevention takes advance planning

Rob Kramer, president of IGFA for 14 years, will retire at the end of August, the worldwide nonprofit organization announced in April. IGFA, the International Game Fish Association, is best known as keeper and standard-setter for sport fishing world record catches.

During Kramer’s presidency, IGFA has increased its other work in support of research, education and advocacy of sport fishing interests such as conservation. IGFA headquarters are in Dania Beach, next door to Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World.

“One of the things I’ve been most proud of during my time at IGFA has been our dedication to combining outreach and education with our scientific research,” Kramer said. “Today, we have more cutting-edge research and advocacy efforts than at any time in the organization’s history ... It is time now to turn over the helm to new leadership that can continue the evolution well into the 21st century.”

Kramer said he plans to spend more time with his family and explore new challenges. He’s also a fisher-man of advanced skill.

IGFA spokesman Eric Combast said the organization is just beginning its efforts to find a new president, and hopes to have one by the time Kramer lives.

Preventing boat fires

If you’ve ever seen a boat on fire, no matter how long ago, it’s likely you still recall the sight, the smell and especially how fast the poor thing was destroyed by flames.

How bad is it to be aboard a burning boat? The BoatUS Foundation burned three vessels on controlled situations ashore. Here are the key takeaway lessons: Minimum safety regulations for fire protection and response are not adequate. By the time you realize there’s something wrong, it’s often too late to do much about it — and then you have three to maybe six minutes to abandon ship.

If you’re on a burning boat, you’d better be at the dock because there’s a good chance the extinguishers and life vests are stashed where you can’t get your hands on either soon enough.

These are the scenarios that BoatUS staged with the help of a volunteer fire department in Maryland: l Badly wired electrical accessories inside the center console of a 16-foot open fishing skiff.

There were four minutes of white smoke — time enough to get overboard safely if the PFDs were the first thing you could grab, but not if they were deep inside. Then came the black smoke, signaling that anyone still aboard was out of time. “In less than 10 minutes, the heat was so intense that the aluminum rail melted into a puddle, the written report says.

l An engine compartment fire on a 23-foot inboard/outdrive cuddy cabin cruiser: After four minutes, the bow was the only refuge aboard. At six minutes, the heat shattered the cruiser’s windshield.

l Galley curtains were ignited as if by a stove cook top in a 25-foot cruiser. In three minutes, the helm station was smothered in black smoke. The entire boat was engulfed in flame four minutes after the fire began.

Most safety standards and requirements are based on a boat’s size. Ask yourself if what you must have on yours — one fire extinguisher for example — is really sufficient. It’s tempting to load it deep in a console or hatch, behind fishing gear or other stuff you want closest to hand.

BoatUS’s safety folks also tell us that if the smell of smoke is coming from an enclosed engine compartment, opening that hatch is the worst thing to do because it will let air in. Engine compartments should have external ports that you can stick an extinguisher nozzle into.

Don’t stop here and nod uh-huh. See the fires on video and learn all you can at the BoatUS website.

“We’ve outlined some simple steps all boaters can take to improve their own fire safety,” said Ted Sensenbrenner, assistant director of booting safety. “We want to help boaters, for example, make the decision to add more fire extinguishers than the bare minimum required or to properly connect their DSC VHF radio to the GPS, so the one button mayday feature works when they really need it.”

Here’s the link to the full report and video set: http://boatus.org/Findings/55.

Water levels watched on Lake Okeechobee

Until we get some serious rain in southeast Florida, folks who fish Lake Okeechobee need to pay closer than usual attention to the water levels there. When the level falls below 12 feet, South Florida Water Management plans to close these locks on the lake’s northern arc at J&S Fish Camp in Martin County, Henry reek in Okeechobee County and the Buckhead Ridge and Lakeport locks in Glades County, Another north shore lock, at Taylor Creek in Okeechobee County, will be opened only on weekends between 5:30 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. That one will be closed if the lake level falls beneath 11 feet.

The Clewiston lock in Hendry County, which is controlled by the Army Corps of Engineers, is expected to remain open if the lake drops to less than 12 feet.

South Florida Water Management’s district stretches from Orlando to the Keys. Average rainfall in it was 1.88 inches below average in March — off by 34 percent district-wide. Miami-Dade County was the only area with nearly normal rainfall. SFWMD reported that since Nov. 1, the district as a whole has had 44 percent of its average rainfall. That is 6.75 inches below average.

For the latest info on water levels, visit the district website at www.sfwmd.gov/science-data/levels and check www.sfwmd.gov/navigation for updates on navigation through locks and waterways.
The district also has started a Facebook page and is posting on Twitter, Vimeo, and Flickr. Science and engineering info are being spread by podcast.

Longtime marine businesses BOW expands while Sailorman moves

Two noteworthy changes on the local marine supplies scene: Sailorman, where new and used goods have been sold since 1982, will move five blocks down Andrew Avenue.

Boat Owners Warehouse, operating in South Florida since 1979, has expanded northward by opening a new store, its fourth, in Stuart.

A developer bought the Sailorman property at 350 SE 24th St. (State Road 84) at the corner of Andrews, for $3.6 million last year, with an agreement that the store would stay until the end of June.

Sailorman is planning a moving sale and auction for Saturday, May 20. It will move to larger space at 3000 Andrews Ave., formerly a car rental agency, with plans to reopen after the July 4 holiday.

See the website sailorman.com for updates.

Boat Owners Warehouse has three locations in Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Riviera Beach.

The new one is at 1830 SE Federal Highway in Stuart. It is meant to serve Martin County and extend BOW’s market reach to Vero Beach. Look for more at the website www.boatownerswarehouse.com.