Monday, October 31, 2011

Five Ways to Use a Swimming Kick Board

Swimming is a healthy water sport. Many different exercises can be done in the water with the use of a kick board. Kick boards provide several options for beginners as well as advanced swimmers.

#1 Traditional kick

The traditional kick is the most common way to use the kick board. It is also the only way that many people know how to use it. To perform the traditional kick, you simply hold on to the board with your hands and kick. This is a great way to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings. During lap swimming, the traditional kick is a great way to take a break without completely stopping.

#2 Breast stroke kick

The breast stroke kick works the inner thighs. After a few laps, prepare to feel a burn. To perform the breast stroke kick, hold on to the kick board and move your legs just as you would when performing the breast stroke. First, the knees are bent up. Then, the legs are pushed in a circular motion away from one another.

#3 Butterfly with the board (caterpillar)

The butterfly is a challenging swim stroke by itself. Adding the board makes the sound of this stroke a lot less intimidating. It is really more of a caterpillar type move than it is a butterfly. The caterpillar works your abdominal muscles, legs and hips. Hold on to the kick board, and then wiggle your body to make it move. This is the same wiggle technique that children are taught when they first learn to do the butterfly.

#4 Back kick with the board

The back kick is very relaxing. It works the front and back of your legs. Just lay on your back while holding on to the tip of the board. I enjoy doing this when I need a break from my goggles. I can remove my goggles and relax before returning to my free style swimming.

#5 Side kick with the board

To perform the side kick with the board, you simply hold on to the board with one hand while swimming on your side. Be sure to switch hands to equally work both sides of the body.

Safety tips

To prevent injuries you should always stretch before and after swimming. You should also avoid kicking with too much force. Alternate exercises so that you do not acquire an overuse injury. It is especially important to take a break from the breast stroke kick. The whip kick done during the breast stroke can cause swimmers knee.

Ready, set, jump in the water! Don't forget the kick board.

Rebecca completed courses in Medical Terminology, Administrative Medical Assisting, and Coding and Billing. She is recognized by the National Healthcareer Association as a Certified Billing and Coding Specialist (CBCS) and Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA). In addition, Rebecca is a former gymnast and is avid about swimming, jogging, and other athletic activities.

Thanks to Yahoo News

Kathy Dowsett

Saturday, October 29, 2011

10 Tips to see the most when you scuba dive

The best way to see any dive site is with a guide who knows the area and the native wildlife or coral formations in the area. Don’t be afraid to ask them about the site or tell them what you are interested in.

1. Relax and take things slowly when you dive. Remember you are a stranger with lots of bubbles in the underwater world, so by relaxing and not appearing as a threat you will get more fish remaining for you to enjoy.

2. You are in the homes of the fish, turtles and other marine life that you are looking at. Respect that as you would a friends house. Do not disturb the natural surroundings, avoid kicking up sand and definitely not the coral. So practice your buoyancy away from the reef. Give the fish and reef some distance between you and them about 3 ft or 1 metre.

3. Do not poke, prod or harass the fish. This can be dangerous to their health and sometimes yours. They will also swim away and maybe relocate so other divers will not get to see them later.

4. Always allow the marine life a clear exit path. Make sure you and your dive buddy or group stay to one side and do not surround the animal you are looking at. If the fish or turtle doesn’t feel threatened it will remain for longer and allow you a better experience.

5. Do not feed the fish, apart from it being bad for the natural ecosystem, you do not get to see the natural behaviour of fish if they are being attracted to divers for the food.

6. Move along slowly in the water and pay close attention to the seascape around you. This helps your navigation but more importantly gives you time to really pay attention to the smaller creatures such as beautiful nudibranchs. Initially frightened fish may pop back out or come back to take a closer look at you.

7. Get into routines for checking your gauges. The best equipment designers in the world not make gauge better looking then the reef that surrounds you, so spending time fiddling with your gauges unnecessarily is time wasted. You can play with your dive computer on the boat as much as you want.

8. Spend some time before you get in the water and on the surface to double check you are comfortable with your equipment. Spending time “playing” with your dive gear underwater distracts you form the dive and also makes you consume air more rapidly.

9. Don’t be afraid to stop in a spot to look more closely and examine the coral formations for starfish, crabs and other beauties that make their homes under the coral. Again relax and practice your buoyancy.

10. Stick with your buddy and take the time to point out the cool things you have found. Four eyes are better then two. Agree with your buddy before you dive on some certain types of marine life that you are interested in. By looking at the same type of marine life you both will focus on areas likely to have the creatures.

Most of all have fun and don’t be nervous!!!

Thanks to New Horizon

Kathy Dowsett

Thursday, October 27, 2011

SS Oregon British passenger liner

The Oregon was a record breaking British passenger liner that won the Blue Riband for the Guion Line as the fastest liner on the Atlantic in 1884. She was sold to the Cunard Line after a few voyages and continued to improve her passage times for her new owner. In 1885, Oregon was chartered to the Royal Navy as an auxiliary cruiser, and her success in this role resulted in the Admiralty subsidizing suitable ships for quick conversion in the event of a crisis. She returned to Cunard service in November 1885 and four months later collided with a schooner while approaching New York. All persons on board were rescued before Oregon sank. Her wreck, 18 miles east of Long Island, remains a popular diving site.

The triple expansion reciprocating steam engine built for Oregon had a 70-inch-diameter (1,800 mm) high-pressure cylinder flanked by two 104-inch-diameter (2,600 mm) low-pressure cylinders. The engine generated 12,500 indicated horsepower as compared to 8,300 for Alaska. Steam was generated from nine Fox patent double-ended boilers, each 163⁄4 feet long and 161⁄2 feet in diameter. Daily coal consumption was 300 tons, an increase of 50 tons compared to Alaska and 165 tons over Arizona. The screw propeller was twenty-four feet in diameter with a shaft that consisted of fifteen separate parts made of crucible steel.

Oregon was fitted for 340 saloon, 92 second-class, and 1,000 steerage passengers. Passengers traveling saloon or cabin were equivalent to first class today. On Oregon, stearage had been upgraded to third class and given assigned berths in small rooms rather than dormatories.[3]
The main public room, the grand saloon was in the forepart of the ship and described at the time as "capable of dining the whole of the 340 cabin passengers." "The ceiling decorations were almost exclusively confined to white and gold. The panels were of polished satinwood, the pilasters of walnut, with gilt capitals. The saloon measured 65 by 54 feet, and was 9 feet high in the lowest part. A central cupola of handsome design, 25 feet long and 15 feet wide, rose to a height of 20 feet, and gave abundant light and ventilation." "The staterooms are large and well lighted and ventilated. Every facility for comfort is provided in the cabin. The ladies' drawing room is furnished in a costly manner, and is on the promenade deck. The latter extends nearly the entire length of the vessel. The wood work of the ladies' drawing room, the Captain's cabin, and the principal entrance to the saloons came from the State of Oregon. On the upper deck near the entrance of the grand saloon is the smoking room, which is paneled in Spanish mahogany and has a mosaic floor. Incandescent electric lamps, supplied by the Edison Company, are used in lighting the vessel."


On what was supposed to be one of her last runs to New York, Oregon sailed from Liverpool on March 6, 1886 with 186 saloon, 66 second class and 395 steerage passengers. At 4:30 AM, just 15 miles from New York, she collided with a schooner, most likely the Charles H. Morse, which disappeared in those waters about the same time. The schooner sank almost immediately with all hands.

The hole in Oregon's side was described as big enough for a horse and carriage. An unsuccessful attempt was made to plug the hole with canvas. Two hours after the collision, the captain ordered Oregon to be abandoned, but the lifeboats and rafts only had room for half of the 852 people on board. Finally, at 8:30 AM, the schooner Fannie A. Gorham and the pilot boat Phantom responded to Oregon's emergency flares and boarded all passengers and crew. At 10:30 AM, Fulda of Norddeutscher Lloyd also arrived, and the passengers and crew were transferred again. Eight hours after the collision, Oregon sank bow first in 125 feet of water. Her mast tops remained above water for several tides.

Cunard sent divers to the wreck to determine if Oregon could be salvaged. However, the hull broke open when the ship hit the bottom. The loss amounted to $3,166,000 including $1.25 million for the ship, $700,000 for her cargo, $216,000 in passenger baggage, and $1 million for currency and other valuables carried in the mails. Oregon's purser managed to save a large shipment of diamonds in the ship's safe.

Over the years, the ship's hull and iron decks have collapsed. However, the engine still stands 40 feet above the ocean floor near the ship's nine boilers.

Her wreck, 18 miles east of Long Island, remains a popular diving site.

Thanks to Wikipedia

Kathy Dowsett

Watch Peter Bucknell's video on diving the Oregon

Monday, October 24, 2011

Giant one-celled organisms discovered over six miles below the ocean's surface

Imagine a one-celled organism the size of a mango. It's not science fiction, but fact: scientists have cataloged dozens of giant one-celled creatures, around 4 inches (10 centimeters), in the deep abysses of the world's oceans. But recent exploration of the Mariana Trench has uncovered the deepest record yet of the one-celled behemoths, known as xenophyophores.

Found at 6.6 miles beneath the ocean's surface, the xenophyophores beats the previous record by nearly two miles. The Mariana Trench xenophyophores were discovered by dropcams, developed by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and National Geographic, which are unmanned HD cameras 'dropped' into the deep ocean to record life at the bottom.

Previous research has shown that xenophyophores are host to a number of multicellular organisms, meaning that the Mariana Trench could be teeming with life.

"The identification of these gigantic cells in one of the deepest marine environments on the planet opens up a whole new habitat for further study of biodiversity, biotechnological potential and extreme environment adaptation," says Doug Bartlett, the Scripps marine microbiologist who organized the Mariana Trench expedition, in a press release.

Xenophyophores are the largest known single cells, and have been found in great abundance on the sea floor. But given their fragility and deep-water lives, they are incredibly difficult to study and much of their natural history remains mysterious to scientists.

As one of very few taxa found exclusively in the deep sea, the xenophyophores are emblematic of what the deep sea offers. They are fascinating giants that are highly adapted to extreme conditions but at the same time are very fragile and poorly studied," explains Lisa Levin, director of the Scripps Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. "These and many other structurally important organisms in the deep sea need our stewardship as human activities move to deeper waters."

Thanks to:::Enviromental News and photo work by NOAA

Kathy Dowsett

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Scuba Diving or Snorkeling - What's Right for You?

Let's look at the basic differences between scuba diving and snorkeling so you can make the best informed decision about which to choose. There are differences in physical fitness ability, training, and equipment, as well as psychological implications you should consider when making a choice.

Beginning with your purpose, is this a recreational activity to observe fish, algae and reefs, with few waves? If you can float comfortably on your stomach with your face and nose in the water, (with a diving mask and snorkel tube it is easy to breathe in and out) bobbling along in the gentle surf, then snorkeling is your best option. Occasionally the tube can get filled with water, or if you hold your breath and dive, so all you have to do is forcibly blow the water out of the tube. It is common to wear swim fins which adds power to your leg push when you skim over shallow reefs or need extra power to dive a short distance.

If your choice is snorkeling, there is no need for specific training, and you don't necessarily have to know how to swim but have access to a safety vest that allows for simple paddling in shallow areas. Psychologically, if you aren't very familiar with swimming or have had little access to water, prepare by sitting near the shore and then float in shallow water with your safety vest. It is important to learn how to hold your breath under water for short periods of time, and then you are off, into the magical world of fish, sea turtles, and shells.

Another word about safety when you are snorkeling; your greatest danger is not being seen by water craft and jet skis because all that can be seen is your tube sticking out of water. A reflective snorkel tube or patches attached to the safety vest can help others see you in the water. A general rule of thumb is to leave coral and shells where they are in the water. Coming into contact with the wrong one can cause a poisonous reaction and is a snorkeling and scuba diving general warning.

Scuba (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving is a different method of observing or working underwater. Scuba diving includes recreational activities such as: cave and shipwreck diving, ice diving and cenote-to-cenote trips. A big difference between scuba diving and snorkeling is the amount of training and level of physical fitness. Just like learning to drive a car, not only will you need a PADI (Professional Association of Dive Instructors) certificate proving you know what you are doing, but you must be able to psychologically handle staying under water for extended periods of time while wearing a full face mask in which your nose and eyes are covered. You will inhale and exhale through a regulator mouthpiece connected to the oxygen tank on your back. Many dive shops and destination dive trips can provide three day performance based courses and include spectacular dive experiences as you learn. Prices will vary so do your homework ahead of time to make sure you get what you pay for and instructors are licensed themselves.

Safety and health effects of scuba diving are specifically addressed during your training and should not be taken lightly. The effects of breathing compressed air can cause decompression sickness, nitrogen narcosis, oxygen toxicity, refraction and problems with vision. Don't let this deter you from scuba diving but be sensible and proactive in assuring your safety and well-being.

A major difference between scuba diving and snorkeling is the cost. Simple snorkeling only requires a facemask and air tube, with swim fins optional but very helpful. Often in areas where water sports are a big draw, you will be able to cheaply rent equipment for the day or inexpensively purchase at a local sporting goods store.

PADI courses that include open water and check-out dives can cost up to $400 depending on where you go, but it is always possible to rent equipment instead of purchasing the scuba gear.

Whether you choose snorkeling or scuba diving, the relaxation and fun you will have is an opportunity into the undersea world of magic and enchantment. Take into consideration how much you would like to spend, your level of experience and physical ability, and the extent to which you want to invest time and money.

Thanks to:::Article Source: Roberts

Kathy Dowsett
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Caveman of the Ottawa

'You tend not to hurt yourself -- you tend to be dead' when you make a mistake while cave diving
Shannon Proudfoot
March 19, 2006

In the cold and murky waters of the Ottawa River, far beneath the fishing boats and pleasure craft, lies a series of subterranean passageways and caves that threaten to swallow any person who ventures into them.

Dr. David Sawatzky, a 51-year-old Toronto-based physician who has worked as a diving medicine consultant for the military, has spent the past 15 years mapping more than 10 kilometres of Ottawa River caves never before been seen by human eyes. He took some time out from a vacation in Florida -- which included more cave-diving, of course -- to talk to the Citizen about why he can't get enough of this dangerous hobby.

Dr. Sawatzky on getting started ...

In the early 1980s, he learned to scuba dive and also began exploring air-filled, underwater caves in the Rockies, which is known as "dry-caving" among the initiated. He combined these two hobbies and moved onto cave-diving because he wanted to explore the submerged portions of caves that otherwise cut his explorations short.

"I easily could have killed myself. What I did was what people did before there were courses. I was a very experienced dry-caver, so I was well aware of the dangers of the cave, and that's something a lot of open-water divers don't know. I read everything I could read, and I started cave-diving." It was a daring move into a sport with a learning curve so steep that most mistakes are fatal.

... on the danger:

"You tend not to hurt yourself -- you tend to be dead. There's not a lot of people injured in cave-diving" who survive, says Dr. Sawatzky.

Worldwide, about 500 people have died cave-diving. They may run out of light, get lost and run out of air trying to find the surface, or they may misjudge the amount of air needed to get out safely. Some take on dives that are too challenging for their experience and training, while others fall prey to "nitrogen narcosis" from the gas used to dilute the compressed oxygen in their air tank, and end up "drunk" and disoriented at the bottom of the river.

The inhospitable caves in typically frigid Canadian waters are even more unforgiving than the caves in Florida and Mexico, where most people dive. "There are maybe 500 Canadians trained in cave-diving, but there's about 10 of us that actually dive in Canada, because the caves are not nearly as friendly. They're cold, they're dark, they're difficult to access, they're much more dangerous, they're not as pretty."

... on the appeal:

"It's Star Trek: to boldly go where no man has gone before. If you are a true explorer, there are very few options on planet Earth to find something completely new ... and the beauty of caving is that you have no idea what you're going to discover. It's addictive, it's a definite high." He enjoys "solving the problem that is the cave," measuring each passageway and recording the dimensions on a plastic slate, then plotting it out on a computer to generate a map of the labyrinthine underground world.

... on the underground landscape:

He has discovered toy boats and dolls, garbage and huge rocks that tumble from seemingly stable cave roofs. As his flippers propel him forward, a blinding silt drifts up from the bottom and obscures his view, so the rope he lays down becomes a lifeline to the surface.

The caves are like air bubbles in a slice of Swiss cheese, cutting through the peninsulas that jut into the water. Where they run close to the surface, the roof may collapse and form a small pool that offers access to the cave system. "The caves have very different characters. Even the caves under the Ottawa River have quite different characters, depending upon the different passageways."

The Ottawa River caves are relatively accessible by the challenging standards of Canadian caves, and clustered just downstream of Pembroke. They are the longest known underwater caves in Canada, with passages varying from one to 38 metres in width. The caves formed in the weak areas between layers of limestone, so in some places the passages are stacked on two levels like a parking garage. No vegetation grows in the winding tunnels, but the clams, crayfish and sturgeon that live in the river also occupy the caves, making the cave entrances near the surface popular fishing holes.

... on tangling with the wildlife:

When the silt on the bottom of the caves gets stirred up, a diver can only be seen by the occasional flashes of light on his equipment, making him look like a tasty minnow to the large fish trawling the area. When they dart in for what they hope will be dinner, it can be incredibly dangerous for a diver clinging to the nylon rope that will get him back to the surface. A school of pike gave Dr. Sawatzky some scary moments during one zero-visibility dive in an Ottawa River cave.

"There are some fairly aggressive fish in the Ottawa River, and they're in the caves as well. It's like being punched. Some of the larger fish hit very hard, so I got punched a few times by fish. When one hit my hand, I didn't let go" of his rope " -- I sort of expected it might be coming."

On being awarded the Star of Courage:

Dr. Sawatzky and some friends were exploring a new and difficult underground passage near Tobermory, Ont., when one of his diving companions went down alone and got lost.

When he didn't surface after an hour -- all the time he would have had with his air tank -- Dr. Sawatzky went in after him, although at that point he believed he was "looking for a body." But when he wriggled through a tiny gap in the cave, he found a cavernous chamber with an air pocket -- and his friend waiting patiently for someone to find him. "He should have been dead by all rights, but he was extremely lucky. Air pockets are very, very, very rare in underwater caves." It took several hours for the other divers to round up more equipment and figure out how to get the two men out, but both emerged safely, although Dr. Sawatzky notes that he didn't return to that particular cave for five years.

In 1995, the governor general awarded Dr. Sawatzky the Star of Courage for saving his friend. It is Canada's second-highest award for bravery, bestowed "for acts of courage in circumstances of great peril."

The Ottawa Citizen 2006

Kathy Dowsett
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Great Lakes face stresses from run-off, invaders

Rocky shore of Lake Huron taken from east of P...Image via Wikipedia

Great Lakes shorelines are becoming clogged by algae blooms fed by agricultural run-off, while invasive mussels decimate the food chain in deeper waters, an environmental group said on Tuesday.

The five lakes, which contain one-fifth of the world's fresh water and supply tens of millions of people, may be "veering close to ecosystem collapse," the report by the National Wildlife Federation said.

"Too much food is causing massive algal blooms in Lake Erie and other coastal systems, while too little food is making fish starve in Lake Huron's offshore waters," said the group's Great Lakes director, Andy Buchsbaum.

There are many problems afflicting the Great Lakes, which in other ways have grown healthier after years of pollution.

This past summer, Lake Erie was choked by toxic algae blooms up to 2 feet thick and 10 miles wide, and algae coated some Lake Michigan coastlines. Water treatment removes the toxin, at a cost, but often creates an unpleasant odor, one of the report's authors, Julie Mida Hinderer, said in an interview.

In deeper water, prolific quagga mussels have beaten out zebra mussels and colonized vast stretches of the lake bottoms, filtering out vital plankton that is the base of the lakes' food web. This has starved small fish such as alewives, bloater fish, and rainbow smelt that in turn has hurt populations of top lake predators such as whitefish and salmon.

Both mussel species are not native and arrived in the ballast water of ocean-going ships, but quagga mussels are more of a hazard because they colonize more of the lake bottom than zebra mussels.

There has been a 95 percent decline in fish biomass in Lake Huron, one of three larger lakes, in the past 15 years, according to the report. Freshwater shrimp that are key to Lake Michigan's fishery have declined by 94 percent in 10 years.

Scientists blame too much phosphorous from farm fertilizer runoff for the algae blooms, which decompose and create an oxygen-depleted "dead zone" in the Lake Erie.

Among the report's recommendations are for farmers to leave buffer zones between farmland and waterways, and better enforcement of clean water laws. Scientists are also experimenting with open water applications of a microbial agent that kills mussels, and with introducing mussel-eating fish.

The problems predate the threat to the lakes' $7 billion fishery posed by Asian carp, which authorities are desperately trying to block from migrating from the Mississippi River watershed -- though the invading carp could prove to be a benefit in that they eat an algae carpeting lake beaches.

Thanks to Andrew Stern and Reuters

Kathy Dowsett

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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Diving Newfoundland's World War II Shipwrecks

I plunge into the 32-degree waters off Bell Island, Newfoundland and descend with my dive buddy to the S.S. Saganaga. This former iron ore carrier -- along with the S.S. Lord Strathcona, S.S. Rose Castle, and the PLM-27 -- was torpedoed by the German submarine U-513 during World War II. All four ships now lie in a little over 60 feet of water completely upright and intact except for where the torpedoes hit them.

We swim through a torpedo hole around the huge hull and over decks teaming with corals and anemones and lumpfish. I've been told the funnels and lifeboats are gone, but I had no idea that everything else would be so well preserved. The exception is the anchor, which was blown off to the stern and now sits in the sand, home to a blowfish. Giant crabs and starfish have taken up residence on the bridge and corals and sea anemones cover a gun, the hull, the radio room, and the captain's quarters.

On September 4th, 1942, the S.S. Saganaga lay at anchor awaiting orders to set sail for North Sydney with a load of iron ore. That night, the U-513 slipped into the bay and waited to strike. The next morning at 11:07 am, the Germans fired two torpedoes, but they neglected to set a battery switch and the two torpedoes sank to the sea bottom. After the first salvo, the U513 fired two more torpedoes. Both hit amidships on the port side and the S.S. Saganaga sank beneath the waves in less than thirty seconds.

Of the forty-eight crew including three naval gunners, thirty were later reported missing.

Today, the S.S. Saganaga, S.S. Lord Strathcona, S.S. Rose Castle, and the PLM-27 are considered some of the world's most memorable cold-water dives. I chose the Saganaga because it is the most beautiful of the four ships. Fortunately, no one is around but us: We have the entire wreck to ourselves.

Part of me hopes we'll find something new. A couple of years ago, someone discovered a second Marconi Room on the SS Lord Strathcona and someone else found the Safe Room on the SS Rose Castle. In Labrador, recreational divers located the missing wreck of a World War II seaplane in Battle Harbor, solving a 65-year old mystery.

Last night at dinner, local dive and adventure operator Rick Stanley admonished me: "Remember, take only pictures, leave only bubbles."

When you dive with Stanley, nothing comes out of the water and nothing gets left behind, which makes perfect sense because one of the key draws of Newfoundland's shipwrecks is how pristine they've remained. Many of them still have personal effects in situ, and Rick Stanley hopes to keep it that way. Stanley has become the steward of Newfoundland's waters because shipwrecks are offered little in the way of protection. Stanley and his staff make sure that the artifacts remain on deck and in holds instead of finding their way into private collections. To accomplish this goal, Stanley co-founded Ocean Net, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the ocean and which organizes beach and underwater cleanups.

I don't want to leave the S.S. Saganada, but according to my computer it's time to ascend. We make our safety stop, then surface and climb back onto the dive boat. My dive leader helps me out of my BCD.

"How was it?" he asks.

How do you describe what it's like to float around a pristine World War II wreck? I can only grin stupidly.

"Come get warm," says boat captain Bill Flaherty who is from "around the bay," meaning, outside the country. The Captain has cooked up a big steaming pot of moose and barley soup; it's delicious and exactly what I need to warm up.

"I've got something for you," says Rick Stanley, and hands me an Ocean Quest T-shirt which reads: "The Bell Island Wrecks, Newfoundland, Canada." All four wrecks and their torpedo dates are listed on the front. On the back is a "Diver's To-Do List" with a picture of each wreck and a check box. I borrow Stanley's sharpie and check off the S.S. Saganaga.

I won't have time to do the other three ships this trip, but I know the draw of Newfoundland's 10,000 shipwrecks will bring me back.

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Kathy Dowsett
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