1,000-MILE MOBILE CALL SAVES COUPLE
A British couple whose storm-battered yacht was sinking in the Mediterranean used their mobile phone to rouse friends from their bed in England, half a continent away, to get help.
Robert and Jill Watson found themselves in danger of drowning when their 33-foot yacht, the Camomile, began going down about 10 miles off the coast of Italy, the U.K. Press Association reported.
When their engine and steering failed, they fired flares and tried to send an emergency radio message. The flares went unnoticed in the gale-force storm, and the radio broke down.
Jill Watson told the Daily Mail that, in desperation, she grabbed her mobile phone and called fellow sailors John and Margaret Moore, who were asleep at home in Chester-le-Street, England, 1,000 miles away.
"Margaret was very calm," Jill Watson said. "She took our coordinates and said she would call the local coast guard," in northeast England.
She did. The British coast guard phoned authorities in Rome, who in turn quickly scrambled a lifeboat that plowed through the storm to rescue the Watsons with just minutes to spare. They were taken to a hospital and treated for shock.
The couple, both in their 50s, described themselves as "experienced sailors" but said they had purchased the yacht from a boatyard in San Raphael, France, only a week before.
British coast guard officials said it was "inadvisable" to rely on mobile phones to call for help at sea and said the Watsons should have made sure their radio was in working order.
IS THIS REALITY?
NBC will use its reality-based hit "Fear Factor" in a bit of counter programming that will have a lot of male viewers giving their remotes a workout -- featuring Playboy Playmates on a two-part, 80-minute episode during halftime and immediately following the Super Bowl on Fox next Feb. 4.
Six Playmates will compete, but the network hasn't said yet what sort of grossed-out trials they'll be put through.
The first segment will be up against the U2 halftime show at the Super Bowl. The second part of the "Fear Factor" special will go up against a special one-hour edition of Fox's hit comedy "Malcolm in the Middle."
(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
NO PRICE HIKES
In the wake of mega expenditures by the Yankees to bolster the lineup even more for the 2002 Major League Baseball season, the team's honcho, George Steinbrenner, says his fans are so loyal that no increase in ticket prices is anticipated.
The New York Post reports the controversial head man has been quoted as saying that if more than 3.3 million Pin Stripe fans went through the turnstiles last season, New Yorkers would not be hit by a ticket increase.
Additionally, the newspaper says that Steinbrenner does not think the presence of some teams in smaller markets, such as Minnesota, is causing problems for MLB. He thinks it's the owners of the smaller franchises who have pocketed much of the shared money given them by the other teams in the leagues.
(Thanks to UPI Feature Reporter Dennis Daily)
REASONS TO CELEBRATE TODAY:
TUESDAY: Oaxaca, Mexico, celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Solitude. She's the patron saint of the lonely.
Niger observes Republic Day, marking its independence from France in 1958.
And Tansy Marie Stormkitten, one of the "feature creature's" creatures, celebrates her 6th birthday today.
(Thanks to Chase's 2001 Calendar of Events)
BY THE WAY...
He was the original "Joey the Clown." Who?
Joseph Grimaldi, born on this date in 1778. Grimaldi was known as the "greatest clown in history" and the "king of pantomime."