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Write to be heard: Biodiesel, Cuba, owner’s view, interior crew

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Biodiesel from diverse resources at a dock near you

The recent article, “Biodiesel, petrodiesel could fill your yacht tanks in the future” [page B3, February issue] got many things right including that biodiesel is a cleaner burning, renewable, domestic replacement for diesel fuel. Capt. Werner was also correct about the performance benefits of a higher cetane, higher lubricity fuel in biodiesel and the strict ASTM performance standards that commercially produced biodiesel must meet.

However, there was one unfortunate error. The author stated that 90 percent of biodiesel in the U.S. is made from soybean oil “with beans grown expressly for that purpose.” In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2013 53 percent of U.S. biodiesel produced was made from soybean oil, with 13 percent from recycled oils, 12 percent from animal fats, 10 percent from distillers corn oil, and the remaining 12 percent from various other sources.

This diversity of raw materials is actually one of the strong suits of the biodiesel industry. All of these feedstocks are byproducts or co-products of producing food.

Even in the case of soybean oil, a soybean by nature is 80 percent protein meal and 20 percent oil. That protein meal, which is the main component of the bean, is grown for feeding livestock, and the oil is used in salad dressings, baking and industrial uses such as biodiesel.

Biodiesel can be one of the easiest ways to transition a yacht to a greener, more environmentally friendly fuel source. It uses the same infrastructure as diesel fuel, and can be used in any diesel engine without major modifications. For more information visit www.biodiesel.org.

Kaleb Little
Communications Manager
National Biodiesel Board
Jefferson City, Missouri


Yachts can be charities to Cuba

Your “Open Cuba talks have industry poised to set sail” [page A12, February issue] is a good article and timely.

In January, YachtAid Global was asked by three superyachts to move humanitarian aid to Cuba. This has led us to research how to use the YachtAid Global humanitarian cause as a means to allow legal travel to Cuba by U.S. citizens on superyachts.

Based on our research, though, it seems this article has inaccuracies that need to be pointed out. The article states: ”Before the policy shift, U.S. visitors to Cuba had to apply for a special license granted on a case-by-case basis. Now, they can go to the U.S. Department of Treasury online and apply for a general license under one of 12 categories for travel, which include family, research, education, religion or humanitarian reasons.“

Definitions are always important. A general license is for activities that do not require application and approval by the Office of Foreign Assets Control OFAC. (CFR 515.560) A specific license is for activities that fall outside the scope of the general license and do require application and approval. (It is important to point out that the sort of activities that fall into the specific license category are ill-defined in the U.S. CFR.)

As of Jan. 16, there is no need for an application to OFAC if the travel qualifies for the general license. The article states “apply for a general license,“ which is inaccurate.

In response to the comment by Rupert Connor about yachts being hard pressed to go as a charity, YachtAid Global has been doing these sorts of humanitarian projects around the world since 2006.

It is actually simple to go to Cuba with aid aboard the boat. The challenging part is how to stay compliant with provisions of the general license once in Cuba, but by staying compliant it truly is a humanitarian effort. There can be a mix of other elements that fall under the general license and there is no need to host anyone aboard beyond owner, guests and crew.

Capt. Mark Drewelow
Founder, YachtAid Global

Insurers restricted in Cuba

As a point of clarification, you have reported that insurers “will” not provide coverage [in Cuba]. Factually, we “can” not provide coverage due to the continuation of OFAC restrictions that prohibit U.S. citizens and businesses from facilitating travel to and transactions with Cuba, unless otherwise designated – such as a travel agent, banking institution or airline.

Rick Salway
Marine insurance agent
New York

Owner is right on

Regarding the recent column from your new owner columnist [“Captain-owner conflict: Slow down, save engines and money, page A3, February issue], the owner is so right about everything. I have the same feeling as a Y2 engineer with more than 15 years of experience. Captains makes decisions that serve their best interests, not those of the crew, boat, owner or environment.

If the engine vibrates, something is out of balance or the engine does not like that rpm, just like the owner said. Well, just lower the speed another 0.5 knots and see what happens.

Chief Engineer
as posted on the-triton.com

 

Passionate crew are better

From my experience as chief stew in the early 1990s, the best crew that bring longevity are those from families that did not have a nanny or housekeeper (primarily low or lower-middle class). [“Captains resolve to make yachting better,” page A1, January 2015]

These type of employees are self-sufficient and motivated, take initiative, and have stronger work ethics. They come to the job already accustomed to enduring long hours of physical labor in challenging environments, and they know their place. When one is passionate, they perform better. Captains must seek out those who are and ask that during an interview.

Today’s crew are lacking in every category, mostly rooted in changes in parenting styles that are influenced by corporations spending millions to convince kids they need more toys until they are 18, not to mention the sedentary, video-game lifestyle their parents give them.

Owners might have to look to the hotel and hospitality sectors to find qualified, certified, experienced crew, which is worth it, considering the mega-fees of operating a yacht and risking damage by incompetent crew who don’t fully comprehend hospitality, economics and the nature of working in someone else’s home.

The industry has certainly changed since the ’90s, requiring license and schooling. However, these marine educational centers might be lacking in 101 work ethic course for the new generation of unconscious consumers (20-somethings) who still are disposable labor.

Lynann Anderson
Former stew

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