Monthly Archives: March 2010

Slighty Different Boat Design

Just when I thought I had seen every kind of boat design, I ran across the Lucky Dragon. This is just too weird not to share.

Japan’s Lucky Dragon is the creation of “post-apocalyptic” artist Yanobe Kenji, and a callback to the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, a Japanese fishing boat that was exposed to nuclear fallout during the Bikini Atoll testing in 1954. The craft itself is about 50 feet long and supports the 23-foot-long dragon head, which spits both water and fire and has light-up eyes. Mr. Yanobe built the vessel for the Aqua Metropolis festival in Osaka Japan, and will be terrorizing canals in the area until October 12th.

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VDGIF Reminds Boaters of Safety Education Requirements

Officials of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) are reminding boaters of the state’s boating safety education requirements. The General Assembly enacted the law in 2007 and it’s being phased in over several years.

  • Personal Water Craft (PWC) operators age 20 or younger had to meet the requirements by July 1, 2000.
  • Operators age 35 or younger must meet the requirements by July 1, 2010.
  • PWC operators age 50 or younger and motorboat operators age 20 or younger must also meet the requirements by July 1, 2011.
  • All PWC operators, regardless of age, and motorboat operators age 30 or younger must meet the requirements by July 1, 2012.
  • Motorboat operators age 40 or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2013.
  • By July 1, 2014, motorboat operators age 45 or younger must meet the requirements by July 1, 2014, while motorboat operators age 50 or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2015.
  • By July 1, 2016, all motorboat operators, regardless of age, must meet the requirements.

To take a Virginia approved boating safety course and get your official Virginia Boating Safety Certificate, go to

Anyone shall considered to be in compliance with the requirements if they meet one or more of the following provisions:

  1. Completes and passes a boating safety education course that is approved by NASBLA and accepted by the department.
  2. Passes an equivalency exam.
  3. Possesses a valid license to operate a vessel to maritime personnel by the United States Coast Guard or a marine certificate issued by the Canadian government or possesses a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator’s card.
  4. Possesses a temporary operator’s certificate.
  5. Possesses a rental or lease agreement from a motorboat rental or leasing business which lists the person as the authorized operator of the motorboat and he/she also has completed the dockside safety check list.
  6. Operates the motor boat under on-board direct supervision of a person who meets the compliance requirement. Is a non-resident, is temporarily using the waters of Virginia for a period not to exceed 90 days and meets any applicable boating safety education requirements of the state of residency or possesses a Canadian Pleasure Craft Operator’s card.
  7. Has assumed operation of the motorboat due to the illness or physical impairment of the initial operator and is returning the motorboat to shore in order to provide assistance or care for the operator.
  8. Is registered as a commercial fisherman pursuant to the Virginia laws or is under the on-board direct supervision of the commercial fisherman while operating the commercial fisherman’s boat.

Additional information on the boating education requirements can be found on line at

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Absolutely NO Discharge in Maryland

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has introduced legislation that would establish a “No Discharge Zone” for all Maryland waters. This means there would be no discharge of boat sewage, whether treated or untreated, from any vessels into Maryland waters. Currently, treated sewage from Type I and II Marine Sanitation Devices (like a LectraSan) can be discharged. It is already illegal in all U.S. waters to discharge untreated sewage from boat toilets (black water).

House Bill 1257 and Senate Bill 513, which are identical, would change Maryland law to prohibit the discharge of treated sewage from Type I and II MSDs in all boats and ships in Maryland.

Please note the following:

  1. This does not include grey water (sinks/showers). It covers black water from installed toilets.
  2. The proposed fine for a violation is $10,000 per occurrence for a violation, while the state’s fine for manslaughter is $500 or bribing a voter is $500.
  3. There is no grandfather clause for current owners of Type I or Type II MSDs.
  4. The bills would take effect June 1, 2010 (or after approval from the federal EPA).
  5. If passed, the Dept. of Natural Resources must proceed to authorize routine inspections of sewage equipment (in all boats) and periodic dye flush tests of your boat’s head(s).


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U.S. Coast Guard rescue video.

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Tall Ship in the US Coast Guard?

Did you know that the Unites States Coast Guard Academy still operates a tall ship?

USCGC Eagle Under Sail

According to Captain Eric Jones, Eagle’s 26th and current Commanding Officer “Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the Stars and Stripes and the only square-rigger in U.S. government service. A three-masted barque, Eagle‘s foremast and mainmast carry square sails and her mizzenmast carries fore-and-aft sails. The ship was built in 1936 in Germany, and commissioned as Horst Wessel, one of three sail training ships operated by the pre-World War II German navy. At the close of World War II, Horst Wessel was taken as a war reparation by the United States, recommissioned as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle and sailed to New London, Connecticut, our home port ever since.”

A permanent crew of six officers and 50 enlisted personnel maintain the ship and provide a strong base of knowledge and seamanship for the training of up to 150 cadets or officer candidates at a time. During training deployments, Eagle adds additional temporary crew and routinely sails with over 230 hands on board. Eagle offers future officers the opportunity to put into practice the navigation, engineering, and other professional theory they have previously learned in the classroom. The challenges of living aboard and working a large square-rigger at sea build the teamwork, character, and leadership skills necessary for success in the USCG Service.

To maneuver Eagle under sail, the crew must handle more than 22,000 square feet of sail and five miles of rigging. Over 200 lines control the sails and yards, and every crew member, Cadet, and officer candidate must become intimately familiar with the name, operation, and function of each line.

Helm Station USCGC Eagle

Eagle Stats:

Length- 295 feet, 231 feet at waterline
Beam, greatest – 39.1 feet
Freeboard – 9.1 feet
Draft, fully loaded – 16 feet
Displacement – 1824 tons
Ballast (lead) – 380 tons
Fuel oil – 23,402 gallons
Anchors – 3,500 lbs. port, 4,400 lbs. starboard
Rigging – 6 miles, standing and running
Height of mainmast – 147.3 feet
Height of foremast – 147.3 feet
Height of mizzenmast – 132.0 feet
Fore and main yard – 78.8 feet
Speed under power – 10 knots
Speed under full sail – 17 knots
Sail area – 22,300 square feet
Engine – 1,000 horsepower diesel Caterpillar D399 engine
Generators – two-320 kilowatt Caterpillar 3406 generators
Training complement – 6 officers, 54 crew, 20 temporary active duty crew, 140 cadets avg.
Maximum capacity – 239 people
Major missions – Training vessel for Coast Guard Academy cadets and officer candidates

For additional information go the USCGC Eagle’s official website

To get an idea of life onboard Eagle, both hard work and play, enjoy the short movie below:

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Spring Time Boating Dangers – Thunderstorms

Spring is the time that boaters need to be especially aware of the weather conditions. You can get weather information from TV, radio or from one of the weather channels on your VHF radio. At certain times of the year, weather can change rapidly and you should continually keep a “weather eye” out in order to foresee changes which might be impending.

Certain signs you can look for indicate an approaching weather change:

  • Although weather changes generally come from the west, you should be observant of weather from all directions, so scan the sky with your weather eye, especially to the west.
  • A sudden drop in temperature and change in the wind often mean that a storm is near.
  • If you have a barometer on your boat, check it every two to three hours. A rapid drop in pressure means a storm is approaching.
  • Watch for cloud build up, especially rapid, vertically rising clouds. Be alert for the sound of thunder.
  • Watch for lightning and rough water. Remember that boats, particularly sailboats, are vulnerable to lightning if not grounded.

Thunderstorms form when warm, moist air rises, cools and condenses.  The thunderstorm develops in three stages:

  • The cumulus stage occurs as the warm moist air rises in a great vertical development. You will notice that the top of the cloud formation appears to “boil” as it rapidly rises.
  • The mature stage occurs when the cloud formation has reached its maximum height, sometimes 60,000 feet. At this point you will see the top in the shape of an anvil. This is being driven by winds aloft and the front of the anvil will point in the direction that the storm is moving. If you cannot see the anvil shape the storm is either coming toward you or going directly away.
  • The dissipation stage occurs as the cloud has released its precipitation and starts to go down. You will first observe a fuzzy, fibrous (called glaciated) top.  As the storm continues to dissipate you will see cirrus clouds streaking from the top.

One of the weather phenomena that you may find associated with a thunderstorm is wind sheer. Wind sheer is low mixed turbulence that occurs in front of a thunderstorm.

Thunderstorm Lightning

Thunderstorms contain thunder and lightning that can be used to determine the distance that the storm is from your current location and whether or not the storm is moving toward you or away from you. In order to make this estimate, count the seconds between the time you see the lightning and the time you hear the thunder. Divide this number by 6 and this will be the approximate distance in nautical miles that the storm is from your location. If the time between the flash of lighting and the clap of thunder were 12 seconds, the storm would be approximately 2 nautical miles away. This formula works because of the difference in the speed of light (when you see the lightning) and the speed of sound (when you hear the thunder). By using this calculation several times in a row you should be able to determine if the storm is coming toward you or going away. If it were coming toward you, obviously the seconds between the lightning and thunder would be decreasing. On the other hand, if the seconds between lightning and thunder were increasing, the storm would be moving away.

Thunder can only be heard for approximately 15 miles, so if you see lightning but hear no thunder the storm is more than 15 miles away.


  • First and foremost, make sure all aboard are wearing USCG approved PFDs.
  • Reduce speed and proceed with caution.
  • Close all hatches and ports.
  • Head for the nearest shore that is safe to approach and duck into the lee of land.
  • Put the bow into the wind and waves at about a 40 degree angle and watch for floating debris.
  • Pump out bilges and keep dry.
  • Change to a full fuel tank.
  • Secure loose items that could be tossed about.
  • Keep everyone low in the boat and near the centerline.
  • Minimize the danger of having your boat struck by lightning by seeking shelter in advance of a storm. If caught on open water during a thunderstorm, stay low in the middle of the boat.
  • If there is lightning, disconnect all electrical equipment. Stay as clear of metal objects as possible.

Water Spouts near the Bahamas

Be aware that thunderstorms can also include tornadoes and or waterspouts which are much more violent. A waterspout is a small, whirling storm over ocean or inland waters. Its chief characteristic is a funnel-shaped cloud. When fully developed, it extends from the surface of the water to the base of a cumulus cloud. The water in a waterspout is mostly confined to its lower portion.

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Tax Tip – Boat Owners May Be Eligible For Deductions

Recreational boat owners who paid state sales taxes on a boat purchase, or those who secured a loan to finance a boat, may have some tax deductions available when filing their 2009 federal income tax return.

The Sales Tax Deduction
For boat owners who paid substantial state sales taxes on a new or used boat purchase last year, the Tax Extenders Act of 2008 continues to offer a federal tax deduction for state sales taxes. Boaters must choose either the state sales tax deduction or state income tax deduction on their federal tax return, you cannot take both.

In addition, to take the state sales tax deduction, the sales tax on a boat purchase must be applied at the same tax rate as the state’s general sales tax. In order to claim the sales tax deduction, tax returns must be itemized. State sales taxes are entered on IRS form Schedule A , line 5b.

The Boat Loan Deduction
For those owners with a secured boat loan, mortgage interest paid on the loan may be deducted from your federal income taxes. Taxpayers may use the home mortgage interest deduction for one second home in addition to their primary home, and must itemize deductions on their returns. A boat is considered a second home for federal tax purposes if it has a galley, a head, and sleeping berth.

Some boaters may be unaware of this potential tax benefit because not all lending institutions send borrowers an Internal Revenue Service form 1098 which reports the interest paid. Not receiving the form does not preclude taking the deduction. If a 1098 is not available, boaters should contact their lender for the amount of interest paid and should enter it on line 11 on Schedule A along with the lender’s tax ID number. If a form 1098 is sent, boaters should simply enter the amount on line 10 of Schedule A.

For those who fall under the Alternative Minimum Tax, most deductions are unavailable as taxes are calculated differently.

Boaters are urged to contact a tax preparer or financial advisor for more information.

For more details on the mortgage deduction, go to and download Publication 936 or the Fact Sheets . For state tax deduction information download Publication 600 , which also includes state-by-state tax tables.

From BoatUS.

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Boating – Spring Time Dangers – Fog

Fast approaching fog

Spring presents some additional challenges to the boating environment. As the water and air start to warm at different rates and the temperatures still can’t make up their mind if it is Spring or still Winter, there is a good possibility that fog will form. Fog is directly related to dew point. Dew point is that point at which the air at its current temperature can hold no more moisture. Remember that warmer air can hold more moisture that cooler air. If you lower the temperature of the air you reach the dew point and fog is created.

Fog is the primary cause of reduced visibility, but haze, heavy rain and snow all present problems for mariners. Boating in these conditions presents two hazards, navigational errors and collisions. The possibility of colliding with another boat, aids to navigation, or even land requires a strict lookout(s).

Preventing all of these dangers begins with reducing your speed. The old saying, “Be able to stop in half the distance of visibility” doesn’t appear in the Navigation Rules, but it is very good advice; remember slower is better!

A sailboat with an auxiliary engine, if under sail in fog, should have her engine available for immediate use, but you’ll be better able to listen for fog signals and other helpful sounds if you leave the engine off until it’s needed.

Fog signals must be sounded, the time interval in the Navigation Rules is the minimum required.

Vessel Required Sound Signal
Power-driven vessl making way one prolonged blast every two minutes
Power-driven vessel not making way (stopped) two prolonged blast every two minutes with a one second interval between them
Sailing Vessel, vessel not under command, vessel restricted in ability to maneuver, vessel constrained by draft, vessel engaged in fishing and a vessel towing or pushing another vessel. one prolonged blast followed by two short blasts every two minutes

Despite your best planning, you may be unable to avoid fog while boating. If you find yourself navigating in the fog, follow the guidelines below. If you find yourself in a life threatening situation, call the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16.

  • After everyone onboard has donned their PFDs, assign all people aboard to be a lookout. Maintaining a proper lookout is required by the Coast Guard Navigation Rules. All eyes and ears aboard should be looking for other boats, their wake, buoys and debris while listening for engines or other clues that signal another boat is near you.
  • Slow down to a safe speed, if you can’t see the bow, that speed might be idle speed. The Coast Guard International and Inland Navigation Rules state that a vessel must proceed at a safe speed to avoid collision.
  • Use a sound signal of some sort, which is required safety equipment by the U.S. Coast Guard, to signal your position every two minutes. You can use a bell, a loud hailer, a foghorn, or some other approved means for producing sound.
  • Listen! Stop the motor periodically to listen to your surroundings. Sometimes in the fog, this may be your only way to avoid colliding with something. Listen for other boats, fog horns and other sounds from aids to navigation.
  • Utilize your navigation equipment if you have it. Hopefully you have at minimum a GPS and a navigation chart to get your bearings. Preferrably, your boat will be outfitted with a RADAR so that you can see approaching objects.
  • If you become disoriented, STOP! Do not keep going if you are unsure of your location, position and direction. Again, proper navigation gear will help you keep your bearings.

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Boating – Spring Time Dangers – Wind

Spring time brings on some special challenges to boaters. In addition to hazards which occur with melting ice, the dramatic differences in water temperature and land temperature can create high wind conditions on and around bodies of water.

Dangerously high winds may have sent seven boaters in Titusville, Florida on a wild ride. Their boat capsized, and a Good Samaritan helped pull them out for an amazing rescue. There were no injuries.

The boaters say the wind was a major factor because the swells were too much for their boat to handle. “The waters were just way too rough out there. We went out there we had a family reunion going on. As soon as we turned the corner, the wind picked up and just overcapped my boat,” said David Lietz, the boat operator. “Once the water filled in, the boat started tipping sideways.”

There was a small-craft advisory for the offshore waters Saturday. Weather Experts said the winds may have been as much as 40 mph when the boat capsized.

You should never leave the dock without first checking the local weather forecast. Checking the weather prior to leaving the dock is just as important in planning your trip as checking for fuel and required equipment. Special attention to weather and weather indicators can make the difference in a pleasant day on the water and potential disaster.

As Skipper, it is your sole responsibility to determine when to cancel or alter your trip.

The following table represents the National Weather Service Storm Advisories used to warn boaters of potential hazards.

National Weather Service Storm  Advisories
Small Craft Advisory
Winds up to 38 mph
Gale  Warning
38-54 mph
Storm Warning
Up to 73 mph
Hurricane Warning
Winds over 74 mph
One triangular orange flag 2 triangular orange flags 1 rectangular flag with a black square in the middle 2 rectangular flags with black squares in the middle
red light over white light white light over red light 2 red lights, one over the other red light over white light over red light

SMALL CRAFT ADVISORY: An advisory issued by coastal and Great Lakes Weather Forecast Offices for areas included in the Coastal Waters Forecast or Nearshore Marine Forecast. Thresholds governing the issuance of small craft advisories are specific to geographic areas. A Small Craft Advisory may also be issued when sea or lake ice exists that could be hazardous to small boats. Any vessel that may be adversely affected by Small Craft Advisory criteria should be considered a small craft. That could include boats as big as 65 feet. Other considerations include the experience of the vessel operator, and the type, overall size, and sea worthiness of the vessel.

GALE WARNING: To indicate winds within the range of 38 to 54 MPH are forecast for the area.

STORM WARNING: To indicate winds up to 73 mph. However, if the winds are associated with a tropical cyclone (hurricane), the STORM WARNING indicates that winds within the range 55-73 MPH are forecast.

HURRICANE WARNING: Issued only in connection with a tropical cyclone (hurricane) to indicate that winds 74 MPH and above are forecast for the area.

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Rogue wave video.

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