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The marmot meteorologist, aka Punxsutawney Phil, has spoken and the prognosis is not good at all. It seems that our furry forecaster existed in his home in Gobbler's Knob, saw his shadow, didn't want to deal with six more weeks of winter, and retreated to spend the next six weeks in his cozy hole in the ground. But before he returned, he had this to say, "I'm glad I live in this luxurious burrow on the knob, and not in a dirty, smelly, spider hole like a slob." Could Phil have been referring to the capture of Saddam Hussein, and if so, how in the world does he have access to such information while spending all those months underground? While completely current in world affairs, Punxsutawney Phil may not be the final authority on our winter weather. His Georgia counterpart, Gen. Beauregard Lee, never saw his shadow, predicting an early spring. So we have a conundrum on this 118th Ground Hog Day. What this might mean is that our weather in the next six weeks may have some days of sun and warmer weather. That would be good - if it unfreezes Manhasset Bay and lets our sailors have some fun frostbiting on Sunday afternoons. For those interested in obtaining more information about accurate weather forecasts, log onto the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club at: www.groundhog.org

Following are two very interesting adventures, one is for males only and is age related, and the latter is open to all sailors. While many of us cannot take extended time away from families and jobs, there may be a reader who has the time and can take advantage of these very exciting opportunities. For the rest of us, it's fun to dream (especially during these cold dreary days of winter).

Attention to all young boaters who would like the opportunity to be on TV. The BBC is currently inviting applications for a new series, which will mark the 60th anniversary of D-Day. If you are male, aged 18-24 and consider yourself to be strong and relatively fit, then they want to hear from you, especially if you have an interest in small boats and the sea. They are looking for volunteers to take part in a physically and mentally challenging four-week rapid training exercise, based on the training that the D-Day forces undertook 60 years ago. This will be filmed and shown as part of the BBC's range of television and radio events commemorating the D-Day landings. If selected you will be taken straight to a training camp somewhere in Britain where from 16th February - 14th March you will be put through four weeks of physically and mentally challenging training by the Army and the Royal Navy including the Royal Marines. Veterans from the D-Day landings will be at our present-day training camps to offer an insight into what it was like to train for and take part in the Normandy invasion. Through the training exercises, you will experience some of the physical and emotional tests they endured 60 years ago. The difference is that you will not have to risk your life and take part in any real military conflict. During the four weeks you will live on a military base and will have food and accommodation provided by the BBC. If you are interested and available from February 14 to March 14, please contact Ben Crichton on 020 87527554 or ben.crichton@bbc.co.uk by Friday 6th Feb for an application form. The deadline for forms to be returned is Wednesday 11th Feb.

Few opportunities exist for non-professional sailors to race around the world and most are for grand prix designs, requiring grand prix budgets or with the emphasis on the extreme, such as single-handed. The Corinthian Challenge offers the opportunity to take a production or semi-production racing yacht, capable of facing the extremes of weather and waves, crewed with experienced amateurs and set off around the globe, pitting oneself against similarly designed yachts and similarly skilled sailors. Starting in the UK in September 2006, the course will comprise 8 legs, heading south to the Canaries and South Africa, before turning east for Australia, New Zealand, finally heading north to South America, the Caribbean and a final dash home East across the Atlantic. Racing for the pride of winning, the Corinthian Challenge is aimed at racing yachts within a TCC rating band of 1.140 and 1.450, with a minimum length overall of 58ft (17.66m). Yachts will be scored using the internationally accepted IRC handicapping system, ensuring a wide range of existing and new yachts are eligible to compete, using a fair and level rating handicap. If interested, go to the event website: www.corinthianchallenge.com.

The US Merchant Marine Academy and the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound (YRA-LIS) will host the 2004 LIS Safety at Sea Seminar on Saturday, April 3 from 9 to 5 p.m. at Kings Point. Ralph Naranjo, US SAILING Safety-AT-Sea Committee Member will be the moderator of this information packed seminar aimed at making skippers, crew and boats better prepared for the challenges of sailing offshore. Whether you are cruising the Sound and the East Coast, racing in the Around Long Island Regatta, or racing to Bermuda, attendees will learn valuable information about hypothermia and medical emergencies, weather routing through storms, boat and crew preparation and USCG rescue. Featured again will be the on-the-water demonstration by members of the USMMA Varsity Offshore Sailing Team and rescue teams from USCG Activities New York and the Air National Guard. This is a US SAILING sanctioned Safety-At-Sea Seminar. Attendance will fulfill the requirements of the Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda YC for the Newport Bermuda Race. Attendees may also qualify for insurance discounts. To obtain an Attendance Application Form, visit www.yralis.org.

Ginger Martus Marshall, known as the "mother of orphan boats," who grew up in Port Washington, is a member of the Port Washington Library's Nautical Center, and is a member at PWYC, has a missionary's zeal for keeping old boats out of the chainsaw's path. She does this by publishing a wonderful newsletter called Bone Yard Boats. Martus says, "Bone Yard Boats is about saving old, forgotten, and abandoned boats. We list boats that have fallen into disrepair and are available for sail - or for free. We list all kinds of boats, big, little, power, and sail. We love 'em all. Most of these boats are found in boatyards, marinas, maritime museums, boatbuilding schools, or in the private sector. We don't care where they are. Just let me know, and we'll try to find them a new home." Bone Yard Boats is published three times a year, with a special "preview page" sent out each January. Information is available at Nautical Stars, P.O. Box 2065, Vincetown, NJ 08088 or call (609) 859-2370.


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