Monthly Archives: November 2010

Letter: Giving Thanks After CO Poisoning

In a recent article of the Green Bay Press Gazette a Wisconsin couple wrote an open letter of thanks to all those that helped save their children. A portion of the article follows:

On Oct. 9, our four children suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. We had been out boating on Green Bay and the kids were playing in the cabin of the boat. (We came to discover later that a cracked muffler was the cause). Amazingly, all four kids are doing great.

Thank you to all of the people of Sturgeon Bay who touched our lives that day: The U.S. Coast Guard, 911, the fishermen who helped land the boat, the fire fighters, the police officers, the paramedics who were waiting with oxygen when we arrived and took us by ambulance to the emergency room, the doctors and nurses at Door County Medical Center who treated the kids with utmost care and helped us to remain calm in the midst of it all and finally, for the helicopter crews that flew the kids to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Appleton so they could undergo hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments.

During the winter months boaters who are still out their operating tend to spend more time in the cabin. In light of that I thought I should remind boaters of the dangers of Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

A deadly gas produced when carbon-based fuels are burned causes carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and tasteless gas. It enters the bloodstream through the lungs and displaces the oxygen. Exposure can cause nausea, headache, dizziness, mental confusion and even unconsciousness. The symptoms can be mistaken for seasickness or the flu. If someone displays these symptoms, place them in fresh air immediately.

Sources on your boat could include the engine, generators, cooking equipment, and heating appliances.

People are most commonly exposed by: :

  • repairing the boat’s engine (working near the engine compartment or engine while it is running);
  • exhaust from other boats docked or anchored;
  • slow or idle speeds while traveling downwind, which allows exhaust to accumulate in cabins, cockpits, or other enclosed areas.

A new and dangerous boating fad involves an individual holding on to the swim platform of a boat while a wake builds up, then letting go to surf the wave created by the boat. Termed “Teak Surfing”, this practice is a sure way to induce CO poisoning. NEVER swim near the stern of your boat with the engine(s) running.

To protect yourself, maintain and inspect the boat’s engine and exhaust system. Keep forward hatches open to provide air flow. Install a carbon monoxide detector. Be aware of other boats near you that may be running a generator or idling for long periods while docked. Their carbon monoxide can get into your boat too.

You might consider giving a CO detector as a stocking stuffer!

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Tar Balls In Gulf of Mexico Waters – Update

NOAA has closed 4,213 square miles of Gulf of Mexico federal waters off Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to royal red shrimping. The precautionary measure was taken after a commercial shrimper, having hauled in his catch of the deep water shrimp, discovered tar balls in his net.

Fishing for royal red shrimp is conducted by pulling fishing nets across the bottom of the ocean floor. The tar balls found in the catch may have been entangled in the net as it was dragged along the seafloor.

Other fishing at shallower depths in this area has not turned up any tar balls and is thus not impacted by this closure. The fisherman who reported this catch had trawled for brown shrimp in shallow waters in a different portion of the area to be closed earlier in the day without seeing tar balls.

Following the report of tar balls, NOAA was in contact with shrimpers involved in royal red shrimping in this area. Only a handful of the approximately 250 permitted royal red shrimp fishermen are currently active in the fishery. The tar balls are being analyzed by the U.S. Coast Guard to determine if they are from the Deepwater Horizon/BP spill.

This decision was made in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The closure became effective at 6 p.m. EST the day before Thanksgiving but does not apply to any state waters.

“We are taking this situation seriously. This fishery is the only trawl fishery that operates at the deep depths where the tar balls were found and we have not received reports of any other gear or fishery interactions with tar balls,” said Roy Crabtree, assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service southeast region. “Our primary concerns are public safety and ensuring the integrity of the Gulf’s seafood supply.

Royal red shrimp are caught in Gulf waters deeper than 600 feet and are the only species targeted with trawls at these depths. The more common Gulf shrimp species are brown, white and pink shrimp and are caught in waters less than 300 feet deep. The agency has received no reports of tar balls from fishermen that target other species in that area. Fishing for other shellfish and finfish species within this area is still allowed.

These waters were closed to all commercial and recreational fishing earlier this summer because of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill and were reopened to all fishing on November 15, 2010 after hundreds of seafood specimens sampled from the area, including royal red shrimp, passed both sensory and chemical testing. Additionally, no oil was observed in the area for a period of 30 days prior to the reopening.

NOAA and FDA are continuing to work together to sample seafood from inside and outside the closure, and are continuing market-based sampling of seafood processing plants and dockside sampling. NOAA is also sending vessels to the area to re-sample for royal red shrimp. The agency will reopen this area after determining there is no seafood safety concern. NOAA will conduct extensive sampling in the area, subjecting specimens to sensory and chemical analysis, including the recently approved chemical test for dispersants, in accordance with the rigorous re-opening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA and the Gulf states.

An area covering 1,041 square miles immediately surrounding the Deepwater Horizon wellhead still remains closed to all commercial and recreational fishing. The fishing area closure was first instituted on May 2, 2010 at which time it covered about 3 percent (6,817 square miles) of Gulf waters around the wellhead. As oil continued to spill from the wellhead, the area grew in size, peaking at 37 percent (88,522 square miles) of Gulf waters on June 2, 2010.

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You’ve Put the Boat Away for the Season: Now What?

Suggestions on How Boaters Can Idle Away Their Winter Months

Across much of America, boaters, sailors and anglers have put away the boat for the season.  With spring a long way away, what will keep boaters’ passion for water alive all winter long? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has these suggestions:

1. Make frequent visits to your boat club or marina: Hey, they aren’t expecting you, right? Gosh, who knows what goes on during the sleepy winter months, but you are about to find out. While you are at it, check up on your boat and make sure the family of raccoons living in the cuddy has everything they need.

2. Take care of your boating spouse: Spend a good amount on a gift for your boating spouse and give it to him or her now. This way, the moment they start to complain that you are spending way too much money over the winter on “toys” for the boat, you can smartly respond that you did think of them first.

3. Drive your family crazy: All that nautical knowledge you’ve accumulated over the years isn’t going to be passed down to future generations without a little help. Start by referring to everything in the house by its nautical name, and announce the time by ringing a large brass bell. Carry on the great musical traditions of the sea by learning a few sea chanties (great for company, too!). This is also a great time to pick up that boatswain’s pipe you’ve been meaning to play with – the kids will appreciate being summoned to breakfast with a cheerful “all hands” call. At least when spring does finally roll around, they’ll all be excited to get you out of the house for some boating fun!

4. Start an ice-out contest: To engage your local community and do some good, start a charity fundraiser that centers around correctly guessing when the local waterway will be free of ice come springtime. Please note that the practice of using elected officials to stand on the ice to monitor and advise of the exact time ice-out occurs is no longer acceptable.

5. Practice your safety-at-sea: No one will object to donning their life jacket on the boat after they get used to wearing them all winter long from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed. Impromptu abandon ship drills are easy to do with the family sedan, and if you’ve got a cat and a bathtub, you’ve got all the makings of a realistic man overboard scenario. Remember: disaster strikes when you least expect it, like in the middle of the night, when everyone else is sleeping peacefully!

6. Make a list of boating stuff you want for Christmas gifts: And share it now with family members so they get the point that the items listed are the only ones you will be expecting under the Christmas tree. For heaven’s sake, aren’t you tired of getting pajamas – again?

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Quick Tips to Ponder Part 9 – Wake Crossing

Another email question:

Wake crossing: When the lake begins to get more and more crowded over the course of the day, the water gets choppier and choppier. Is there a good method of crossing wakes without having to greatly drop speed? The only thing I’ve seen is to turn my direction to be almost parallel to the wake. This seems to be fine, but in tighter situations, this isn’t always an option. Slowing down works, but this doesn’t seem very feasible or enjoyable to the skier, if we are pulling a water skier. Will the jumping across wakes harm the boat hull, or will it be only uncomfortable to the occupants of the boat?

Depending on the size of the wake you are crossing, you may be forced to slow your speed to keep from pounding the bow of the boat or even leaving the water entirely. Both can do damage to the boat and/or your engine. The best way to handle wakes, if traffic allows, is as follows:

  • If you are approaching a wake caused by a boat coming in the opposite direction, approach with your bow at approximately a 45 degree angle to the oncoming wake. This will allow the bow to move up and over with a little roll and lessen the bow pounding. If the wake is large, you will need to slow your speed to keep from falling off the top of the oncoming wake.
  • If the vessel making the wake has passed you (going the same direction you are going) and if traffic allows, turn so that your stern is at a 45 degree angle to the approaching wake. This lets the wake roll under the stern and pick it up while keeping the motor in the water.
  • Keep an eye on your skier when making any of these maneuvers.

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Quick Tips to Ponder Part 8 – Tilt and Trim

Yet another follower has emailed requesting an explanation of tilt and trim.

Tilt/Trim: I understand the basic principle of these functions, but I am not familiar with when/how to use them. For example, I usually start off with tilt fully lowered. Then, after I gain speed to my desired cruising velocity, I’m not sure what will happen if I pull the tilt up. I notice my bow pull up sometimes. And, I cannot tell what trim is doing whatsoever. Please explain basic operating functions of these features.

trimneutral.gif (3995 bytes)The trim on outboards and inboard/outboards is used to balance the boat in various conditions. As you mention, you should start with the motor in the vertical, 90 degree angle, to the water’s surface. Once you are “on plane” you can adjust the trim down or up to balance or flatten the boat. Trimming will help compensate for different conditions, weight distribution, etc.

By trimming “down”, which puts the lower unit closer to the transom, the stern will be pushed up and the bow will plow. On the other hand, if you trim “up”, meaning that the lower unit is further from the transom, the stern is pushed down and the bow is pushed up.

In smooth water with the bow trimmed “up” slightly, you may get a little more speed. In rough water you may get a slightly smoother ride with the bow trimmed down slightly. Simply put, tilt is what the outboard/outboard-inboard does. Trim is the effect that it has on the boat. Trim is the horizontal adjustment of the boat which makes the bow and stern move up and down.

See also:

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Quick Tips to Ponder Part 7 – Mooring

Gridded mooring fieldWe get many emails from fellow boaters with questions on all aspects of boating. One such question concerned the process of mooring.

“This is the first year that I will have to moor my boat off shore in a lake. Can you tell me how this is done and what to watch out for? My boat is a 25′ power boat.”

Many things depend on how you are going to get to your boat on the mooring. If there is a launch that simply drops you off, that eliminates one variable. If, however, you have a dinghy to reach the mooring, is the dinghy left there while you boat, or do you pull it behind you? The most important thing to remember when using a dinghy is not to get the dinghy painter (line) fowled in the prop of the boat.

Departing from and retrieving a mooring is much like anchoring. When departing, make sure your engine is warmed thoroughly and check other boats around you. All the boats should be pointing into the wind and/or current, whichever is greater. Make sure when you drop the mooring that you have sufficient room to get under way and establish steering control before you are blown or pushed into other boats.

Plan your departure path prior to dropping the mooring. Pull forward, into the wind or current, slowly until the mooring line is slack. I am assuming that the mooring line has a float on it so when dropped it is easy to pick up. If not, you should rig one. Once you are in a position to drop the mooring line, do so and back slowly, make your turn to a path that will lead out of the mooring area and slowly motor away.

When picking up a mooring, look at the other boats first. This will tell you the direction of wind or current, whichever is stronger. Approach slowly into the wind or current and shift to neutral when close enough to pick up the mooring line. (Don’t overshoot the mark and get the mooring line fouled in the prop.) Once the mooring line is retrieved, simply attach it securely to the bow and let the wind or current set the boat back on the mooring line.

You can find additional information on moorings and mooring procedures in Chapman Piloting and Small Boat Handling, the boater’s bible.

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Quick Tips to Ponder Part 6 – The Matter of Tonnage

When is Weight Not Weight?

Tonnage in boats and large vessels or ships has several meanings depending on what the term is referring to. It can at times be weight and at times be volume. The origin of the word in its maritime sense was the tun, a large cask in which wine was transported. The measurement of an old sailing ship was in tunnage, or the number of tuns of wine that could be carried. Following are the most commonly used definitions:

Gross tonnage is based on a vessels volume and represents the total enclosed space or internal capacity for transporting cargo. A gross ton represents 100 cubic feet.

Net tonnage is gross tonnage less the volume of spaces that will not hold cargo. In pleasure boats these spaces would be the engine compartment, helm station, etc. Net tonnage is also called registered tonnage. In order to document a vessel with the USCG it has to be a minimum of 5 net tons.

Displacement tonnage deals with weight in long tons which equal 2,240 pounds each. This is the actual weight of the boat. This can be calculated by finding the total volume of the boat below the waterline expressed in cubic feet. Divide this number by 35. (35 cubic feet of seawater weighs one long ton)

Deadweight tonnage is to displacement tonnage what net tonnage is to gross tonnage. Deadweight tonnage represents a boats cargo capacity in weight or long tons.

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