Making Waves

Notable, Quotable, Boatable. Fish Training, Jane Seymour Honored, and Whales on Ebay.

Widerload. The Coast Guard Has Recomended that small-boat operators raise the weight estimates for their passengers. Apparently, we're gobbling up too many Double Quarter Pounders with Cheese. The decision was prompted by an accident in Baltimore in which an overloaded water taxi capsized and killed five people. When the Coast Guard set weight standards in 1942, the average passenger weighed 140 pounds. Now we've ballooned to about 178 pounds. The Coast Guard suggesteda new voluntary standard of 185 pounds until new rules are created.

Fin Forward. A newly discovered fossil that looks like a cross between a fish and a crocodile is being considered the missing link by scientists, supporting the theory that fish evolved into the first land creatures. The new specimen, nicknamed Fishapod, has front fins with bones that represent a shoulder, upper arm, elbow, forearm, and wrist and may have been able to support itself on the ground.

Save Our Marinas. Boaters know how invaluable marinas are. Now county commissioners in Florida are sending the same message, thanks to their vote to spend $29 million to ensure that the owners of Sailfish Marina and Palm Beach Yacht Center don't sell out to developers. Some hope money from slip rentals will be used to fund city projects, such as parks and beaches.

A Shell Shock. An Italian restaurant was fined $855 for displaying live lobsters on ice to attract patrons. Apparently, the establishment violated an anti-cruelty law usually affecting cats and dogs. Reportedly, Italy has some of the world's toughest animal rights laws. Rome has banned goldfish bowls, and Turin, home of the 2006 Winter Olympics, passed a law that would fine dog owners $630 if they didn't walk their dogs at least three times a day.

Soul-ed on eBay. In January a whale swam up the River Thames into Central London, and despite efforts to rescue it, the wayward whale died. Now a nutjob with a computer has claimed that the whale gave him its soul and asked him to sell it to raise money for bottlenose whales. The nutjob tried to auction it off on eBay.

Veto That. No matter your political leanings, there's now reason to have a beef with former Clinton-era cabinet secretary Donna Shalala. Shalala, who left Washington to become the president of the University of Miami, reportedly said her worst recent purchase was a 29' powerboat, a confession that's more offensive than anything Slick Willie did in the White House.

Mission: Publicity. Tom Cruise took over New York to promote M:i:III, the third installment of the Mission Impossible series. To highlight his action-packed stunt work in the film, which may be the only thing that makes this movie viewable, Cruise traveled through the city in a speedboat, motorcycle, helicopter, and subway. What was missing? A makeout session with baby mama Katie Holmes.

Train a fish Do goldfish have memories? Yes, says the creator of THE Fish School Training System ($26; www.fish-school.com). Using repetition, the school teaches fish to jump through hoops and play ball. Below, our (kind of) success story with Spot, our new office pet.

It's a Boy. We rescued Spot, a 2'' goldfish, from a local pet shop. To minimize congestion, we kept castles and mermaids out of his tank during training, though Spot did seem a little lonely for company.

Taking the Bait. The first step was to get Spot to swim to the feeding wand (included), which, with its quick-release door, let us feed Spot only when he would get near the wand. Spot was spooked at first because we kept poking him, but he was patient and after a few tries, he remembered that the wand equals mealtime.

Party Tricks. Using the feeding wand, we lured Spot through the hoop (also included) by placing the wand on one side of the hoop and releasing the fish food after Spot swam through the hoop. After a few tries, Spot reluctantly swam through the hoop's small opening, and we could tell when he was hungry because he hung out there at feeding time.

Will Swim for Food. As of this writing, we haven't gotten to any other tricks, such as nudging a soccer ball toward a goal. This is no fault of Spot's - he's a pretty smart fish, but we're a little slow. Plus, withholding food to force Spot to jump through hoops like a circus animal seemed a little cruel. Oddly enough, the creator, a vegan, wouldn't loan us a sample of the training system because Boating promotes fishing. Go figure. INSTITCHES Most physicians advise against sewing up wounds in the field. But from the TV series Lost we've learned to be prepared for the worst. What if you're being tracked by ravenous cannibals following the scent of blood from an open wound? Use fishing line to stitch that gash.

  • Clean the cut. Pick out foreign objects such as bullet fragments. Rinse the wound with the cleanest available water and soap. Didn't pack any? Pry the vodka from your first mate's hands and use it as a disinfectant.

  • Flatten the barb of a small, sharp, clean fish hook. Cut off the eye and snell the line, which means wrap a knot around the hook to create a flat surface so the line pulls easily through. Or flatten the eye. Straightening the bend also may help.

  • Run the hook deep so the wound pulls tight. Tie a knot by wrapping the lead end around forceps three times and pulling the far end through the loops. Didn't pack forceps? Adhere to the old fishing saying: If you can't tie a knot, just tie a lot

Reality Bites. For West Coast custom builder Ultra Boats, participating in Rock the Boat, a Outdoor Life Network (OLN) series about building theme boats, was a dose of show-business reality.

"I didn't like the show when I first saw it," said Ultra President John West. "There's enough drama that comes with building a boat in three weeks without having to create more."

West isn't a television production amateur. Ultra provided boats for NBC's Fear Factor and worked on an MTV show called Senseless Acts of Video. But West and his wife, Leah, Ultra's business manager, thought Rock the Boat would be a behind-the-scenes look at custom boatbuilding. Instead, OLN wanted a marine version of the Discovery Channel's American Chopper, which features the highly dysfunctional Teutul family.

In one memorable staged stunt, the producers had Ultra employee Travis Lektorich, 21, shave the heads of the Wests' two young sons.

"We were on vacation and they called to tell us we had to get back here," said Leah. "They wanted to see our reaction to them giving our kids Mohawks two days before school picture day."

The crew did take advantage of the perks that come with show biz. They trained with the Navy SEALs at Camp Pendleton, drove stock cars at the Richard Petty Experience, and tried their hand at bull riding.

The Wests said the exposure did increase phone and e-mail traffic. For Lektorich, the notoriety was a little weird. "Guys at the L.A. Boat Show said, 'Hey, my wife loves you!'"

John West said he'd consider doing more shows "as long as we can make it more about building and boating and less about drama because that's what people said they liked about the show." Past Forward : July 1977 With its large cock- pit lounges, minimalist though luxurious cabin, and 33.4-mph top speed, the Suncruiser 255 is what we call a dayboat today. With twin 175-hp OMC stern drives, it burned 38 gph at wide open throttle and cost $15,495. Today's price? $70,000.

Readers were clamoring for a better way to judge a fiberglass boat than "pounding a fist on the hull," as suggested by John Vogt of New York. Today glass fiber and resin can be combined in so many ways that experts are hardpressed to make decisive comparisons about which method is best. We're still pounding our fists.

An ad for Morgan Yachts said, "If You Can Sail a Sunfish, You Can Sail a Morgan 33." Oh, yeah? I say if you have an engine, you can get where you're going before the season ends.