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Boater jailed for 16 years over plot to smuggle tonne of cocaine into UK

A West Yorkshire man pleaded guilty to conspiring to import a class A drug at Leeds Crown Court on Friday

A West Yorkshire man who was part of a bungled plot to smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine into the UK using two boats has been jailed for 16 years.

Stephen Powell, from Guiseley, was arrested after his yacht Makayabella was intercepted around 300 miles off the south west coast of Ireland in September. 

An operation involving the National Crime Agency (NCA), French, Irish and Venezuelan authorities, the UK’s National Maritime Information Centre and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC-N) in Lisbon tracked the vessel as it crossed the Atlantic from the Caribbean.

The Irish Naval Service boarded Makayabella and discovered around a tonne of cocaine on board, with a likely street value in excess of £160m. 

Three British men, including Powell’s father, were detained on the vessel and taken to the Irish mainland for questioning by An Garda Síochána.

They are now being prosecuted in Ireland.

NCA investigators identified that Powell had purchased Makayabella and another vessel, Sea Breeze, which was to be used to meet the Makaybella and collect the drugs.

However, the criminal’s plan started to go wrong when Sea Breeze, skippered by Mr Powell, ran out of fuel on the way.

It was rescued by the RNLI and towed to Rosslare in Ireland before returning to Pwllheli, north Wales, where NCA officers later found the boat moored in a marina.

Mr Powell disappeared, but after NCA officers raided his home in Guiseley, he handed himself in. 

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to import a class A drug at Leeds Crown Court on Friday 5 December and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

NCA branch commander David Norris said: “This single seizure roughly equates to four percent of the total amount of cocaine we estimate is imported into the UK every year.

“It demonstrates the importance of working with our law enforcement partners abroad to stop illegal drugs reaching the UK.

“I have no doubt that Powell played a crucial role in this plot and would have been responsible for bringing this shipment ashore, where the cocaine would have ended up in the hands of drug dealers around the north of England.

“Our investigation into this smuggling attempt and the wider organised crime group involved continues.”

Two men and a woman, all from the West Yorkshire area, remain on bail as part of the investigation.

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Video: 161ft superyacht crushed as drawbridge closes on it

The Monday morning rush hour was disrupted in South Florida as a drawbridge slipped and fell, crushing a superyacht on its way through.

The 161ft yacht named Rockstar was stopped in its tracks by the bridge, which had broken and slipped after heavy storms. The accident took place on the Intracoastal Waterway at Broad Causeway in Bay Harbour Island on Monday 3rd December.

Bay Harbour Island’s Town Manager, Ron Wasson, who can be heard in full in the video above, said:

“In this case it looks like it was kind of a perfect storm. We had a very strong windstorm come through, not uncommon to South Florida.”

“You could see that it was pouring rain, very strong wind, and the bridge leaf just started to break, just couldn’t hold it at the top, and it came down kind of in slow motion.”

“Once we got our engineers on scene we were able to lift the leaf off the boat and get that out of the way,” he added.

Bay Harbour is now undergoing repairs to the drawbridge.

The U.S. Coast Guard have said that only half of the bridge is now able to open, and therefore movement is restricted to vessels taller than 16ft and 40ft wide.

Luckily none of the 15 people on board were hurt in the accident, however, we wouldn’t want to vouch for that radar arch.

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New generation of lifeboat arrives at Hoylake RNLI

Hoylake RNLI receives state-of-the-art new lifeboat, crew are hoping for a new era of lifesaving

A new £2m lifeboat arrived in Hoylake RNLI lifeboat station on Monday morning following a five-day journey from Poole.

The brand new Shannon design is the first RNLI lifeboat model to be propelled by water jets instead of propellers, giving more efficient speed and manoeuvrability.

Operations manager at Hoylake RNLI lifeboat, John Curry said: “We are absolutely delighted to be the fourth lifeboat station in the UK and the first on the west coast, to have acquired a Shannon lifeboat.”

“The arrival of the new lifeboat will bring Hoylake into a new era of lifesaving as the response times of the station will be dramatically improved.”

The Shannon is capable of top speeds of 25knots, which is a 50 per cent increase in speed than the current lifeboat models.

Mr Curry said that while 25knots is the classified speed, under tests and on her journey over, the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood has been performing up to 30knots.

He told YBW a typical launch at midnight with no one in the station currently takes between 20 to 24 minutes, however, with the new Shannon, launch time will be reduced to approximately 12 minutes.

Funding for the new boat has come partly from a generous legacy and in part from local fundraising.

“This has been the first time we have done the fundraising for both the boat and the boathouse all together,” added Mr Curry.

“The locals have been incredibly generous, and it’s fantastic when the general public get behind us, we couldn’t exist without them.”

Paulette Micklewood, from Oxford, bequeathed funding to the RNLI, and the lifeboat has been named after Miss Micklewood’s father, Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood.

The Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood replaces Hoylake’s Mersey class lifeboat, Lady of Hilbre, which has been operating since 1990 and has carried out 237 rescues, saving 263 people.

Crew members have already partaken of specialist training to prepare for the arrival of the lifeboat, and there will be a further week of intensive training before the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood is launched into service on 11 December.

Mr Curry also said that any members of the public wishing to view the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood are most welcome. The Hoylake station is open from 10am till 3pm. 

The Shannon, named the Edmund Hawthorn Micklewood, arrives today after her five-day voyage from the charity’s headquarters in Poole.

http://www.ybw.com/news/new-generation-of-lifeboat-arrives-at-hoylake-rnli/537624

Four men rescued from boat after engine explodes

Four men were rescued by the RNLI on Sunday after their boat’s engine exploded seven miles offshore.

Eastbourne’s all-weather lifeboat responded to a mayday distress call and attended the fishing boat.

An RNLI spokesperson said: “The four fishermen were seven miles south-east of Sovereign Harbour when the engine of their boat emitted a loud bang.

“Fearful that a disaster was about to follow, the occupants put out an all stations distress alert on their VHF radio.”

Dover Coastguard and a boarder agency vessel Searcher nearby both picked up the call, with Eastbourne RNLI being asked to attend the scene.

Searcher waited near to the stricken vessel until volunteer crews arrived and was later stood down.

After climbing aboard, RNLI crewmen checked everything was secure before rigging a tow and taking the vessel back to the harbour.

Despite being a bit cold, none of the men were injured during the incident.

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RNLI spend eight hours rescuing three men from grounded boat

The RNLI spent eight hours rescuing three men from their grounded boat on Wednesday afternoon.

Kirkwall RNLI lifeboat went to the scene of the three men after receiving a message that a vessel had run aground on rocks in strong tides.

The lifeboat and her crew launched at 4pm and arrived near the scene just before 4.30pm.

The vessel had gone aground on Seal skerry off Eday and was lying over to one side with the tide pushing her onto the rocks.

The lifeboat was unable to get close enough to help so an inflatable craft was sent to investigate.

An RNLI spokesperson said: “As the boat was not taking water at this time it was decided to leave the three crew aboard to monitor the condition of the hull.”

Assistance was sought from another local vessel and the boats waited until the tide rose sufficiently to refloat the casualty vessel off the skerry.

At around 6.30pm the three crew could be transferred onto the lifeboat.

Finally, just after 10pm, the stranded boat had been raised enough by the rising tide for a tow off to be attempted and the crew placed back on board. 

Once they’d checked that there were no signs of water ingress, the crew restarted the engine and made their way to Pierowall under the escort of two lifeboats.

After returning to their station and refueling, Kirkwall RNLI was readt for service again at 12.10am.

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EU to take Ireland to court over yacht fuel breaches

Irish legislation allows private pleasure boats to use marked fuel despite EU rules against it

The EU is taking Ireland to court over the misuse of marked fuel in private yachts after the country’s legislation has failed to be changed.

Currently in Ireland, private pleasure craft are allowed to buy and use a fuel that benefits from a reduced tax rate, despite EU rules against it.

As a result, the European Commission has decided to refer the country to the Court of Justice of the European Union for not properly applying the rules on fiscal marking on fuel.

Under EU legislation, fuel that can benefit from a reduced tax rate has to be marked by coloured dye.

Fishing boats are among some of the vessels allowed to use this fuel, while private yachts must use a fuel subject to a standard rate.

The European Commission said in a statement: “Currently, Ireland breaches EU law by allowing the use of marked fuel for the purposes of private pleasure craft.

“As a consequence, private leisure boats cannot only use fuel intended for fishing vessels but also risk heavy penalties if they travel to another member state and the boat is inspected by the local authorities.

“Moreover, it cannot be considered that Ireland has properly implemented its obligation to apply a minimum level of taxation in accordance with Directive 2003/96/EC.

While Irish law requires craft owners to pay to the Revenue the difference between the tax paid on marked gas oil and that due if the gas oil had been charged at the standard rate, the low number of tax returns indicate that the minimum level of taxation is not applied.”

The European Commission made a request for Irish authorities to amend the relevant legislation back in April, but so far nothing has been done.

“As there have been no changes to the legislation, the Commission has decided to bring the matter before the Court of Justice,” the commission said.

http://www.ybw.com/news/motorboats/537617/eu-to-take-ireland-to-court-over-yacht-fuel-breaches

Royal Navy seizes £36m worth of cocaine after high-speed chase in Caribbean

It’s the third time in recent months that HMS Argyll has intercepted drug smugglers at sea

The Royal Navy has seized £36m worth of cocaine from a vessel following a high-speed midnight chase across the Caribbean.

This most recent drugs bust is the third carried out by HMS Argyll in the last few months, with the latest haul detaining 850kg of the illegal drug.

The Plymouth based frigate apprehended the suspect boat after being alerted by a US customs aircraft, which directed the ship to intercept.

HMS Argyll was pushed to maximum speed and quickly closed the 70-mile gap between them and the smugglers.

As the warship approached the suspect vessel, a high-speed chase ensued, with the smugglers attempting to dispose of the evidence by throwing it overboard.

High tech radar technology was used to guide a small patrol boat, which surrounded the smugglers and forced them to surrender.

Lieutenant Matthew Turner said: “It was an intense couple of hours as we were trying to out-think and out-maneuver a small boat which can change direction in an instant.

“I think our training, during which we push the ship and ourselves to the limit, really helped us to make this operation such a success.”

This is the third time the ship has intercepted drug smugglers, having now seized a total of 1,600kg of cocaine with a combined value of more than £68m.

HMS Argyll’s commanding officer Paul Hammond said: “This night time drugs seizure had no helicopter support and was our most challenging and satisfying yet.

“The Royal Navy has helped remove a large quantity of drugs from circulation and that, along with our disaster relief and engagement work, has helped demonstrate the value for money a modern day warship provides.”

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VIDEO: Humpback whale lunges out of water next to tourist boat

Footage filmed by Sanctuary Cruises shows humpack whales and sea lions leaping out of the water in a feeding frenzy

Footage filmed off the coast of California last week shows humpack whales and sea lions jumping out of the water as they feed.

Sanctuary Cruises, on the coast of California, leads marine biologist-led whale watching charter trips on Monterey bay.

It was during one of these trips that Michael Sack captured this video of humpback whales and sea lions in a feeding frenzy, as one huge humpback lunges out of the water right next to a tourist boat.

The video was taken on a whale-watching trip on Montery Bay, four miles outside of Moss Landing Harbour on 20 Novemver 2014.

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Video credit: Michael Sack

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Great white shark bites Australian fishing boat

Caught on camera: the moment a 5m great white shark attacks a small fishing boat off Fremantle, Australia

David Lock was fishing with his father, Andrew, at 8.30am

Wednesday when a great white took a snap at their

boat.

Salmon fishing in a favourite location near Carnac Island

off Fremantle, south of Perth, the two men were astonished when a great white

shark began chasing the salmon Andrew had just hooked.

David Lock was reported saying: “I was just filming as my

dad hooked up a salmon and out of the blue comes a shark, we didn’t think he

was interested at the time and ended up he was, he launched at the fish and

launched at the boat.”

The shark, which was about 5m long, missed the salmon as it

launched itself, and instead hit the 7m fishing boat, knocking David and Andrew

over, and leaving bite marks on the hull of the boat.

“Got bite marks on my boat now. They’re pretty big, 50cm

from one end to another,” said David.

“It touched my right knee with what must have been its nose

or fin – that’s how it close was.

“It’s the shark’s playground, not ours and we’ve got to

remember how powerful and dangerous these sharks are, you can’t take it for

granted.”

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