Monthly Archives: October 2010

Coast Guard Encourages Safe Boating Practices During World Series

SAN FRANCISCO – The Coast Guard reminds boaters the importance of safe boating during the World Series.

It is well known, McCovey Cove is a popular area for boaters to gather and enjoy the game, and the Coast Guard reminds boaters to have the required safety equipment and to exercise good judgment while on the water.

There will be a limited access area in place for the game. Vessels more than 65 feet will not be permitted to enter McCovey Cove. The area extends from the 3rd Street Bridge to the eastern edge of the China Basin Park.

It is against the law for anyone to operate a vessel on the water under the influence of alcohol. The legal limit while operating a vessel is .08 BAC. Consumption of alcohol by anyone else aboard is also strongly discouraged.

A life jacket is required for each person aboard a vessel, sized accordingly and easily accessible. Children younger than 13 years old are required by federal law to wear a life jacket at all times. Boaters are also reminded to equip their vessels with flares and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon with 406 MHz capabilities to enable a faster response by the Coast Guard in the event of an emergency.

Boaters are required to have an operational marine VHF radio to contact the Coast Guard on channel 16 in the event an emergency. Due to the high mountainous areas throughout the region, boaters should not rely on their cell phones as a means of communication. In order to expedite the Coast Guard’s response during an emergency, mariners should have a GPS unit on board or maintain knowledge of local waters and know their location at all times. The Coast Guard reminds radio operators that VHF channel 16 is an emergency channel and improper transmissions on channel 16 hamper Coast Guard response times. False maydays are punishable under federal law.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that all boaters file a float plan with a friend or family member on land, with an approximate time of return and point of destination. It is recommended that you regularly check in with those who are aware of your plan, especially if it should change.

Paddle craft operators are encouraged to, not only file a float plan, but also mark their vessels with their emergency contact information in case they become separated from their paddle craft. The Coast Guard offers free “Operation Paddle Smart” identification stickers. To receive a sticker, please contact 510-399-7317.

Mariners are encouraged to check current and forecasted weather conditions prior to getting underway, and remain aware of changing conditions once on the water. The National Weather Service broadcasts weather conditions throughout the day on VHF channel WX2. The Coast Guard broadcasts weather conditions on VHF channel 22A at 9:30 a.m., noon, and 4:30 p.m.

Prior to taking to the water, boaters are encouraged to go to for more complete information on safe boating. The Coast Guard also highly recommends boaters get a free vessel-safety inspection from the Coast Guard Auxiliary. More information on these inspections can be found at A few minutes now could save a life later.

Current weather information and advisories can be found on the National Weather Service website.

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Fort Lauderdale Boat Show Starts Today

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, lives up to its nickname as “Yachting Capital of the World”, hosting the 51st Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show on October 28-November 1, 2010. With more than 3 million square feet of space over five locations, the show’s transportation network of bus shuttles, water taxis, and riverboats ensures attendees can easily navigate the boat show and its expansive waterways system.

Show exhibits range from yacht builders and designers to exotic cars and brokerage yachts. A wide variety of boats and sea vessels will be on display including runabouts, sportfishers, high performance boats, center consoles, cabin cruisers, flats boats, skiffs, express cruisers, sailing yachts, motor yachts, bowriders, catamarans, ski boats, jet boats, trawlers, inflatables, canoes, and extraordinary superyachts. Added attractions include The Blue Wild Dive Show, IGFA’s School of Sportfishing and Hook the Future’s Kids Fishing Clinics.

October 28-November 1, 2010

Prime Time Preview:
Thurs. Oct 28, 10am – 7pm
General Admission:
Fri. Oct 29, 10am – 7pm
Sat. Oct 30, 10am – 7pm
Sun. Oct 31, 10am – 7pm
Mon. Nov 1, 10am – 5pm

Prime Time Preview (Thurs. 10/29) –
$30  Online  and $32 on Show Site
General Admission (Adults) –$16 Online  ($18.00 at show site)
Children, ages 6-15 – $3 Online ($5.00 at show site)
Children under 6 – Free
2-Day Ticket at the show – $32 Online ($34.00 at show site)


Tickets (cash only, but ATM’s are nearby) are also available from the box office at the following locations on the days of the show: Bahia Mar Yachting Center, Las Olas Marina, Las Olas Riverfront (downtown Fort. Lauderdale), Broward County Convention Center. There are no ticket sales at the Hall of Fame Marina and the Ft. Lauderdale Hilton Marina. 

If you want a woman’s perspective on the show from a few years ago (you can tell it has been a few years from the reference to what we paid) check out this link.

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Boaters and Fishermen Should Stay Away From Dangerous Waters

A recent boating incident at Wheeler Dam in Decatur, Ala., is an important reminder that water being discharged from powerhouses and spillways on the Tennessee River system can be extremely dangerous.

Three fishermen were pulled to safety last Wednesday and are lucky to be alive several hours after their fishing boat was caught in turbulent water near a hydro-generating unit at Wheeler Dam. The boat sank Tuesday night at the base of the dam’s powerhouse.

Wheeler Dam is equipped with a tailwater warning system. When activated, warning horns and strobe lights warn of the rapidly rising water and turbulence. Signs also warn boaters of the dangers.

“To be safe, boaters and fisherman should not get close to the base of the dams. It is a very dangerous place to be,” said John McCormick, senior vice president of Tennessee Valley Authority River Operations (TVA). “An enjoyable day of fishing can quickly turn tragic if boaters and fisherman don’t heed the warnings and get caught in rising, turbulent waters that are being discharged from below the dams.”

TVA has installed horns, strobe lights, warning signs, and electronic spillway signs with strobe lights and horns at several Valley dams to warn the public of impending changes in water conditions, such as swirling water, strong surface and underwater currents, rapidly rising water, and sudden water surges. These changes can occur when TVA starts turbines that generate electricity at the dams, raises or lowers the water level in a lock, or releases water through a spillway.

In addition, danger buoys upstream of some dams identify hazardous areas ahead. Access to these areas is restricted at all times.

To ensure your safety, please obey these warning devices! The closer you get to a dam, lock, or powerhouse, the more hazardous it can be. Getting too close to these structures isn’t worth the gamble.

Anyone who sees unsafe activities can contact TVA Police at 800-824-3861 or their local law enforcement agencies.

The video below shows an enactment of what can happen when you get caught in the turbulent water.

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Winterizing Your Boat Part 2

Continued from Winterizing Your Boat Part 1…

Batteries – Disconnect the battery cables, remove the battery from the boat. Clean the terminal ends and battery with a solution of baking soda and water, rinse thoroughly with clean water. Apply a light coat of grease on the terminal end of the battery and cables. Store the battery in a cool dry place. Use a trickle charger to keep battery charged . Do not charge battery near any open flame or in a confined area.

Bilges – Make sure the bilges are clean and dry. Use soap, hot water and a stiff brush to clean up any oil spills. Once the bilges are clean, spray with a moisture displacing lubricant and add a little antifreeze to prevent any water from freezing.

Fresh Water System – Completely drain the fresh water tank and hot water heater. Isolate the hot water heater by disconnecting the in and out lines and connect them together. Pump a non-toxic antifreeze into the system and turn on all the facets including the shower and any wash-down areas until you see the antifreeze coming out. Also put non-toxic antifreeze in the water heater.

Head – Pump out the holding tank at an approved facility. While pumping, add fresh water to the bowl and flush several times. Use Vanish crystals or whatever your owner’s manual recommends that will not harm your system and let sit for a few minutes. Again add fresh water and pump out again. Add antifreeze and pump through hoses, holding tank, y-valve, macerator and discharge hose. Again, check your owners manual to make sure that an alcohol-based antifreeze won’t damage your system.

Interior – Once you have taken care of the system you should remove any valuables, electronics, lines, PFD, fire extinguishers, flares, fenders, etc. Over the winter these items can be cleaned, checked and replaced as necessary. Open all drawers and lockers and clean thoroughly. Turn cushions up on edge so that air is able to circulate around them or, better yet, bring them home to a climate controlled area. Open and clean the refrigerator and freezer. To keep your boat dry and mildew-free you might want to install a dehumidifier or use some of the commercially available odor and moisture absorber products such as “No Damp,” “Damp Away” or “Sportsman’s Mate.”

Out of Water Storage – pressure wash hull, clean barnacles off props and shafts, rudders, struts and trim tabs. Clean all thru-hulls and strainers. Open seacocks to allow any water to drain. Check the hull for blisters and if you find any that should be attended to you might want to open them to drain over the winter. While you’re at it, why not give the hull a good wax job? It is probably best to take the batteries out of the boat and take them home and either put them on a trickle charger or charge them every 30-60 days.

In Water Storage – Close all seacocks and check rudder shafts and stuffing boxes for leaks, tighten or repack as necessary. Check your battery to make sure it is fully charged, clean terminals, add water if necessary and make sure your charging system is working. Check bilge pumps to ensure they are working and that float switches properly activate the pumps and that they are not hindered by debris. Make sure either to check your boat periodically or have the marina check it and report to you. If in an area where the water you are docked or moored in actually freezes, you should have a de-icing device or bubbling system around your boat.

By following some of the above suggestions, and suggestions given from the links provided, you should be in good shape for the winter. Do not, however, neglect to consult your owner’s manuals for manufacture’s recommendations on winterizing your boat and other systems. If you have not done a winterization job before or don’t have an experienced friend to rely on seek out a professional to do the job for you.

Neither Nautical Know How or the authors of additional information provided in the links in this article are responsible for damage or injuries that may occur as a result of this information.

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Winterizing Your Boat Part 1

Unfortunately, the boating season is winding down in many parts of the country and it is time to start thinking about protecting your valuable recreational asset. Winterizing a boat reminds me of the old commercial that says “pay me now or pay me later.” The time and effort you spend now will have a definite effect on your boat’s performance, or lack of it, and certainly save you time, effort and money come spring. You should remember that your insurance policy may not cover damage done by lack of maintenance or neglect.

The best place for your boat to be during the winter is out of the water, under cover, in a climate-controlled boat storage area. This, however, can be expensive. If you don’t have this option perhaps you should consider shrink-wrapping your boat. This, too, is a little expensive but provides a very protective cover. Short of these two items, make sure that your boat is well covered with a tarp or some other sturdy cover.

Your first step in winterizing should be to make a checklist of all items that need to be accomplished. Check the owner’s manual of your boat and motor(s) for manufacturer’s recommendations on winterization. If you are a new boat owner, perhaps you should employ the assistance of a friend with experience in winterizing or hire a professional to do the job. The following is a generic outline of areas which should be of concern to you, however, there are many resources on the Internet with more detailed and specific information.

Inboard Engine(s) – You should run the engine(s) to warm it up and change the oil while it is warm. This tends to allow impurities to be drained away with the oil. You should also change the oil filter(s). Flush the engine(s) with fresh water. You should circulate antifreeze through the manifold by using a pickup hose from the waterpump to a bucket of antifreeze. Start the engine and allow the antifreeze to circulate until water starts to exit the exhaust. This process will vary slightly depending on whether you have a “Raw Water” cooling system or an “Enclosed Fresh Water” cooling system. While you’re in the engine room you should also change the fluid in your transmission. Remove spark plugs and use “fogging oil” to spray into each cylinder. Wipe down the engine with a shop towel sprayed with a little fogging oil or WD-40.

Stern Drive(s) – You should thoroughly inspect the stern drive and remove any plant life or barnacles from the lower unit. Drain the gear case and check for excessive moisture in the oil. This could indicate leaking seals and should be repaired. Clean the lower unit with soap and water. If your stern drive has a rubber boot, check it for cracks or pinholes. Grease all fittings and check fluid levels in hydraulic steering or lift pumps. Check with your owner’s manual for additional recommendations by the manufacturer.

Outboard Engine(s) – Flush engine with fresh water using flush muffs or similar device attached to the raw water pickup. Let all water drain from the engine. Wash engine down with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.

Fuel – Fill your fuel tank(s) to avoid a build up of condensation over the winter months. Add a fuel stabilizer (such as one found here) by following the instructions on the product. Change the fuel filter(s) and water separator(s).

Thanks to Jerry Turley, a member of the USCG Auxiliary, for pointing out that there are two theories on whether you should disconnect the fuel hose and run the engine until it stops or treat the fuel. Nissan recommends draining fuel for lay-up. Their purpose is to make sure that all fuel is drained from the carburetor to prevent build-up of deposits from evaporated fuel. Other manufacturers such as Mercury, OMC, Force and all recommend treating the fuel with a fuel conditioner and stabilizer, have a full tank, and running treated fuel into the engine prior to the balance of the winterizing process. The presence of treated fuel prevents the interaction with air. Also, the small amount of fuel left after draining does not have a chance to evaporate and form the “varnish” type residue. Fuel conditioners are available at marine dealers, marine stores and auto parts stores.

You should consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturers recommendations on how to handle fuel in your winterization process.

Use fogging oil in the cylinders to lubricate the cylinder walls and pistons. Apply water resistant grease to propeller shaft and threads. Change the gear oil in the lower unit. Lightly lubricate the exterior of the engine or polish with a good wax.

Neither Nautical Know How or the authors of additional information provided in the links in this article are responsible for damage or injuries that may occur as a result of this information.

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BoatUS Reports Top Three Items Stolen from Boats Over the Winter

How to Prevent an Unwanted “Visit” or Boat Theft

Boats stored over the winter can be easy targets for thieves. Many boat owners don’t find out they have been a victim of theft until long after, often when spring preparations are being made. To help boaters, anglers and sailors deal with this consistent problem, the folks at BoatUS Marine Insurance have these tips for storing your boat this winter.

The top three most common items stolen from boats over the winter are:

  1. Electronics: To avoid a theft, it is worth your time and energy to remove electronics and store them at home. If they are permanently installed, record ownership information including model and serial numbers.  Photos may also assist with a potential recovery or insurance claim.
  2. Outboards: Small outboards should always be removed and stored in a secure location, such as your locked garage or basement. Larger outboards should have a lock installed.
  3. Outdrives: Again, the best way to avoid this type of theft is to remove the unit and store in a safe location and ensure the serial number is recorded. If it will not be removed, install an outdrive lock.

The name of the game in preventing theft is deterrence – anything to make your boat or equipment less attractive to thieves is the goal. Here are some general tips:

  1. If you are storing your boat away from home, ensure the yard or marina is secure with fencing and cameras.
  2. If you are storing your trailerable boat at home, if possible don’t leave the trailer tongue facing the street. Block the trailer and remove the tires, storing them inside, or add wheel locks. Put a lock on the hitch receiver.
  3. Adding personalized markings to equipment can help identify and recover stolen items. By making them obvious, it also makes the items less “marketable.”
  4. Don’t leave your dinghy on your club’s or marina’s rack unlocked or for long periods of time.
  5. Make periodic visits to your boat over the winter. If you can’t get to it, get a friend or yard worker to make a monthly visit.
  6. Don’t leave liquor out in the open where it can be seen.
  7. Leaving a “for sale” sign posted all winter attracts the wrong kind of attention and gives someone an excuse to get aboard and look around.
  8. BoatUS members can benefit from the BoatUS Theft Protection Program.
  9. What’s the most common type of boat stolen each year? Personal watercraft.
  10. Don’t forget that four-legged “bandits,” such as raccoons and other critters, will enjoy your boat as much as spring breakers hitting the beach, so ensure winter covers are tight and remain securely attached. Don’t store your boat in a place that makes it easier for animals to get aboard, such as near trees or building overhangs. Cover large exhaust ports. Don’t leave a ladder affixed to the boat.

About BoatUS:
BoatUS – Boat Owners Association of The United States – is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with government representation, programs and money saving services.  For membership information visit or call 800-395-2628.

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Nautical Mnemonics

The following table gives mnemonics for several lighting configurations. You might also want to memorize the poem below. I have no idea where I got this or who the author might be, however, I hope that he or she does not mind sharing it.

The Rule of the Road

When all three lights I see ahead,
I turn to Starboard and show my Red

Green to Green, Red to Red,
Perfect Safety — Go Ahead.

But if to Starboard Red appear,
It is my duty to keep clear –

To act as judgment says is proper:
To Port or Starboard, Back or Stop her .

And if upon my Port is seen
A Steamer’s Starboard light of Green,

I hold my course and watch to see
That Green to Port keeps Clear of me.

Both in safety and in doubt
Always keep a good look out.

In Danger, with no room to turn,
Ease her, Stop her, Go Astern.



Neumonics For Light Identification

Red, White, Red
Restricted Ability Ahead
Red over Red
The Captain Is Dead
Vessel not under command
Three Reds in a Row
No Room Below
Constrained by draft – (International only)
Red Over White
Fishing at night
02sailstern.gif (797 bytes)Red Over Green
Sailing Machine
White Over Red
Pilot Aheadpilot.gif (577 bytes)
Yellow Over Yellow
A pushing or Hip Towing Fellow (Inland only)
Green Over White
Trawling at Night
Yellow Over White
My Towline is Tight
Dayshape is shown when tow exceeds 200 meters
Green   Green 


Three Greens in a Cross
Mineclearing Bossquiz0301.gif (1640 bytes)
GREEN to GREEN, RED to RED – Perfect Safety Go Ahead

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Coast Guard announces temporary vessel traffic restrictions on Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal

The Coast Guard announces temporary waterway restrictions for vessel traffic on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Oct. 19-21.

These vessel traffic restrictions are necessary to facilitate fish sampling by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in their efforts to prevent the passage of Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

These temporary restrictions to vessel traffic will allow the IDNR to safely gather essential data in support of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ electric fish barrier that was constructed to deter the environmentally harmful fish.

To support these actions, the U.S. Coast Guard will enforce a safety zone on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Vessel traffic will not be permitted to transit through the zone during periods of work. However, every effort will be made to allow vessels to transit when work is no longer taking place.

The restrictions will take place on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal from the Lockport Lock and Dam to the fish barrier (mile marker 291-296.1) from 4 p.m. on Oct. 19 to 10 a.m. on Oct. 21, with the exception of a four-hour opening from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct. 20.

Questions regarding the waterway closure can be directed to U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan at 414-747-7182 or to U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago at 630-986-2155. Questions on the construction project can be directed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 312-846-5330.

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In-the-water Winter Lay-up

Below is an overview of winterizing pitfalls. Check back on this blog often as we soon will be posting an entire checklist for winterizing your boat.

Often, boat owners who visit their boats in early spring find their boats nearly under water.. They might or might not get a call from the marina to get down there right away to take care of their boat. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t make these mistakes which might cost you big bucks or your boat. Each year, as boaters everywhere prepare for winter lay-up, a thorough and well thought-out winterizing plan is often the difference between a boat that incurs damage in the off-season and one that’s sound and ready to launch in the spring. But with so many chores to keep track of, even the most organized boater is bound to forget a critical winterizing task or two.

Plan on visiting your boat regularly, at least once or twice a month.

A lot can happen in winter, from animals moving aboard to sudden leaks caused by expanding ice. If you can’t visit your boat frequently, consider using a buddy system with other boat owners. Another alternative is to ask your marina manager to keep an eye on the boat. Many marinas will inspect boats, although usually for a fee.

Did you add extra lines and chafe protection?

Blustery winter winds should never be confused with gentle summer breezes. All it takes is one good winter storm to abrade a dock line — and maybe bash a hole in the hull. If the boat is left in the water, double up on docklines and add chafe protection.

Don’t use your Biminis or dodger as a boat cover for winter. Biminis and dodgers are for sun and spray not for winterization. Winter is very hard on Biminis and dodgers causing premature replacement and possibly letting water or snow into your boat or cockpit.

Storing a boat in the water without a cover might result in it being underwater. Cockpits have drains that might clog up with debris causing the cockpit to fill with water, sinking the boat. Heavy snow could push a boat with low freeboard underwater.

Not closing sea cocks stored in the water. Too many things can happen to that seacock or the attached hose causing the boat to take on water.

Storing you boat on shore can freeze an engine block with an unexpected cold spell. Storing in the water may keep the engine block a little warmer.

Petcocks in the engine block may be clogged when you tried to drain the engine for winter. You might not realize that no water came out of the clogged petcocks. Be sure to visually check if water drains from each petcock. If you do have a clogged petcock a coat hanger works great clearing it.

Having the marina attendant look after your boat might be a good idea. No matter whom you pay to watch your boat it is always best to check on your boat periodically during the off-season. Nobody cares more for your boat than you.

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America’s Boaters Speak Out

On September 27, 2010, we posted an article written by the National Marine Manufacturers Association concerning adding more ethanol to fuel used in boating. Since then more than 22,000 Americans have e-mailed President Obama urging him to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from approving a 50 percent increase in the amount of ethanol in gasoline until comprehensive, independent and objective scientific testing can show that higher ethanol levels will not increase air pollution, harm engines or raise consumer safety issues. The picture above shows carburetor damage caused by E10.

The results of the 10-day e-mail campaign – called Say NO to Untested E15 – were announced today. The e-mail campaign was organized by a diverse group of environmental, consumer, food, engine manufacturing and other industry organizations that are often at odds on many issues but are united in their opposition to higher ethanol levels that have not been adequately tested.

The groups – and the people e-mailing President Obama – have raised serious concerns about the harmful effects that increasing the amount of ethanol in gasoline could have on engine performance, safety, the environment and food prices.

There has not been adequate testing to determine if increased ethanol in gasoline would cause costly damage to engines in the cars, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, lawn mowers and other outdoor equipment powered by gasoline engines that millions of Americans use every day, the groups have said.

EPA, which has been pressured by some in the ethanol industry to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline from the current 10 percent (E10) to 15 percent (E15), has stated it will announce a decision later this month on whether to approve the use of E15 in late-model cars. All indications are that EPA is moving toward approval of the fuel mixture.

Individuals visiting the Web site and Web sites of affiliated organizations such as BoatUS  in the Say NO to Untested E15 campaign sent the e-mails to President Obama urging him to intercede with EPA to prevent hasty and premature approval of E15.

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