Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy New Year 2011

Happy New Year from !

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A Sea Change for Feet

Boat shoes are one of those fashion items that will forever be around, because they are actually useful. The sturdy leather slip-ons are enjoying a major comeback with the cool kids right now as the go-to shoe for summer.

The first boat shoe (as we know it) was invented by a certain Paul Sperry in 1935. A keen boatie, Sperry noticed his dog’s ability to run on ice and snow without skidding. He cut grooves into his shoe’s soles, and in doing so he discovered the perfect shoe for boating. Sperry is still a renowned maker of the shoes today.

Why you need them

Boat shoes are one of the few styles of summer shoes that are not only acceptable at the beach, but at barbecues, parties, on the street and on the boat. The loose-fitting leather makes them breezy to wear, and the multitude of different colors they come in makes them a great summer fashion accessory. The clean, prep school image that boat shoes evoke is a hot trend – think holidays in the Hamptons and days out boating.

How to wear them

If you’re going to go the full hog, pairing your boat shoes with chinos is a must. And if you wear chinos, you must also roll your trousers up one or two cuffs to expose your ankle. And if you expose your ankles, then you musn’t wear socks – it’s cooler this way, anyway. In fact, as a general rule, boat shoes should never be worn with socks. They look great with summer shorts and denim. Just don’t wear them with your speedo’s.

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Navy Crews Faulted for Dipping Helicopters in Lake Tahoe

AP – Ten U.S. Navy crew members narrowly averted disaster when their helicopters accidentally dipped into Lake Tahoe in September while they tried to take photos for the squadron’s Facebook page, military investigators concluded.

A Navy report released Wednesday found that crew members’ unplanned hovering without sufficient power caused the MH-60R Seahawks to drop without warning to the water of Emerald Bay. Both aircraft were able to regain altitude and land nearby.

There were no injuries, but damage to both helicopters totaled $505,751 in the incident captured in a video filmed by a group of hikers and posted on YouTube. See Below.

The report recommended no punitive action, but a Field Naval Aviator Evaluation Board permanently stripped two Navy instructor pilots from San Diego of their flying status and ordered two student pilots to undergo at least six months of repeat training because of the Sept. 13 incident, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Another flight instructor was placed on a year of probation and can’t fly during that time.

Their names were not released because their punishments were considered a private administrative matter, said Lt. Aaron Kakiel of Naval Air Forces at North Island Naval Air Station.

“The mishap was entirely preventable,” Vice Adm. Allen Myers, commander of all naval air forces, said in the report. “The aviation community was lucky this day, and a horrific loss of life was narrowly avoided.”

Among contributing factors, investigators said complacency, a lack of flight discipline and a succession of poor judgments nearly led to the loss of the two, $33 million helicopters and 10 sailors.

Crew members from HSM-41 at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego were returning from an air show in Sacramento, Calif., when they tried to maneuver their helicopters about 70 feet above the lake to take the Facebook photos.

The report said their practice of taking Facebook photos on the flight was a distraction and a contributing factor to the mishap.

The squadron’s commanding officer at the time, who was not named, flew low over Lake Tahoe in 2009 and created a climate that contributed to the incident, according to the report.

The report lists a variety of safety recommendations to avoid a repeat of the incident.

“Some additional training will be done to help the squadron improve,” Kakiel added.

Retired Navy jet pilot Steve Diamond told the Union-Tribune the punishment was just but still “a crushing blow” for an aviator.

“It sends a message to a whole generation of aviators: Hey, you can’t do this. So it has a higher purpose,” he said. “Aviation is unrelenting when it comes to risk and safety.”

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Coast Guard Warns of Type I Life Jacket Defects

The Coast Guard issued a Marine Safety Alert Dec. 15 warning that a number of Type I personal flotation devices (PFDs) manufactured by a major supplier and distributed nationwide were assembled in a way that could prevent proper donning of the PFD in the event of an emergency.

Photo by: U.S. Coast Guard
Life Jacket Malfunction – The Coast Guard has issued a Marine Safety Alert warning boaters of potential defects in Type 1 personal flotation devices. Listed in the alert are Kent Adult Model 8830 and Kent Child Model 8820.

Several lots of Type I (Offshore) PFDs in both adult and child sizes have been found to have the chest strap threaded through the fixed “D” ring, which the strap is intended to clip to when worn.

Instead of the strap falling away, allowing the wearer to wrap it around his or her body, the clip end of the strap would snag in the “D” ring.

In the alert, Alert 09-10, the Coast Guard said that it “strongly recommends” that vessel owners/operators having any of the PFDs listed in the alert — Kent Adult Model 8830 (USCG Approval Number 160.055/184/0 in Lot 53W, manufactured in October 2006) and Kent Child Model 8820 (USCG Approval Number 160.055/150/0 in Lot 012T, manufactured in March 2008) check each life jacket by completely unwrapping the primary strap to ensure that it is free and that it is capable of being adjusted for any wearer.

The Coast Guard also encouraged vessel owners/operators to verify that all their PFDs, regardless of manufacturer, are in fully serviceable condition by inspecting the straps, components, fabric and flotation materials. Any significant deterioration in condition or poorly functioning hardware indicates a replacement is necessary, it said.

Type I PFDs are required aboard certain commercial vessels and are preferred by many recreational boaters, especially those who cruise offshore, because of the added safety features their construction provides over Type II and III PFDs. Their disadvantage is that they are less comfortable to wear and are more expensive.

Marine Safety Alerts are posted on the Coast Guard’s website.

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Panama Canal Closed! But Now Reopened

Never before has it happened! The Panama Canal, that lifeline between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean for thousands of ships a year as well as the cruising sailor, has had to be closed because of flooding.

Ten people have been killed and about 1500 citizens had to be evacuated from their homes in some of the dozens of neighborhoods that were also flooded. It is the greatest rain since the opening of the canal in 1914 to have hit Panama.

While it is the first time flooding has caused closure, 21 years ago on December 20 1989, U.S. troops invaded the country to topple the then president, Martinelli Noriega, and closed the canal at the same time.

Panama President Ricardo Martinelli commented also on the fact that it was the first time the canal was closed because of weather. ‘Our meteorologists says it’s never rained so much in Panama in the 73 years that we’ve kept climate records,’ Martinelli said.

The reason the canal had to be closed that that water overflowed the banks of lakes Gatun and Alajuela, which supply the canal. Authorities said they have opened the floodgates for both lakes.

‘We’re taking measures to normalize transit operations in the coming hours,’ said Manuel Benitez, the executive vice president of canal operations.

Meteorologists said the heavy rains are part of the La Niña weather phenomenon.

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Merry Christmas From

Boatsafe’s Mascot Max

Check back on Monday to find out why the Panama Canal was closed.

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Coast Guard Urges Mariners to Exercise Caution When Recreating on Frozen Lakes, Ponds and Rivers

USCG File Photo

The Ninth Coast Guard District reminds the Great Lakes public to use extra precautions when planning recreational activities on frozen ponds, streams, rivers and lakes – ice can be unpredictable and dangerous.

Ice is an ever-changing surface and the fluctuating weather conditions greatly affect the ice’s stability.

The Coast Guard rescued two people last Tuesday in Little Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Click here to read that story.

In an effort to prevent, prepare and educate those who recreate on the ice, the Coast Guard would like to encourage people to remember the following tips.

I – Intelligence: check the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going, and know how to call for help/assistance.
C – Clothing: wear the proper anti-exposure clothes with multiple layers. If possible, wear a dry suit to prevent hypothermia, which can occur within minutes after falling through the ice.
E – Equipment: have the proper equipment such as a marine band radio, life jackets and screw drivers.

While the Coast Guard understands winter recreation on the ice around the Great Lakes is a tradition, it is important to take safety measures such as:

  • Use the buddy system: NEVER go out on the ice alone.
  • Dress in bright colors; and wear an anti-exposure suit that is waterproof, including a personal flotation device. A PFD allows a person to float with a minimum amount of energy expended and allows the person to assume the heat escape lessening position (H.E.L.P.) – bringing the knees close to the chest and holding them in place by wrapping the arms around the shin portions of the legs.
  • Carry two ice picks or screwdrivers for self-rescue. They are much more effective than using your hands.
  • Carry a whistle or noise-making device to alert people that you are in distress.
  • Don’t rely on cellular phones to communicate distress; VHF-FM radios are much more reliable.
  • Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges and slushy areas, which signify thinner ice.

Because Great Lakes ice is dangerous and unpredictable, the threat of hypothermia is always present with a potential fall through the ice. Hypothermia begins to set in quickly as the human body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 C).

To treat hypothermia, handle the victim gently, get them indoors and remove clothing, then dry the victim promptly and wrap in blankets. Lastly, transfer the victim to rescue and/or medical authorities immediately.

However, AVOID the following actions with hypothermia:

  • NEVER rub or massage the extremities.
  • NEVER give alcohol or caffeinated products
  • NEVER apply ice
  • NEVER apply external heat sources directly to the skin
  • NEVER allow the person to smoke
  • NEVER allow the person to walk upon rescue until cleared to do so by a medical professional

The Coast Guard would like everyone to take an active part to enhance their chances for rescue and survival with a commitment to safety this year and beyond.

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Why You Might Consider Boat Clubs and Social Yacht Clubs

Boaters seem to have an instant connection with other boaters. Whether it’s sharing knowledge about how to deal with a maintenance issue or enjoying stories about tall tales during seagoing adventures, boaters enjoy the camaraderie of other boaters.

Joining social boat clubs, yacht clubs or other boating organizations is great way to build relationships with other boaters in your community, cruise to new destinations and enhance your experiences on the water.

Yacht Club Memberships for Boat Owners

If you are interested in socially connecting with other local boaters, then a yacht club is a great way to enhance your boating experience. Known either as yacht clubs or boat clubs, most social club typically covers a geographical boating area and is named for the region. However there are other social clubs based on a brand of boat or type of boat (such as clubs for owners of trawlers) that encompass larger geographic areas.

Joining a social yacht club typically costs boaters a nominal annual membership fee (as little as $25 a year), with additional charges for special events or trips. In addition to membership fees or dues, members typically must adhere to a constitution or bylaws established by the club.

There are also other boat membership opportunities with local United States Power Squadron and the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary organizations. These memberships are especially helpful for improving a boater’s maritime expertise, but they can also involve community social events.

Social Benefits of Boat Clubs

Besides having the right to sport a namesake burgee flag on your boat, a social yacht club membership has many benefits. For most boaters, the biggest benefit of a yacht club membership is the ability to socialize with other local boaters. Boaters are able to network and make new friends through socially oriented yacht clubs and boating activities. Sharing knowledge, expertise, boating stories, cruising trips, raft-ups at favorite anchorages and enjoying time with like-minded boaters can greatly enhance the boating experience.

Planned social activities for boat clubs could include:

  1. Races or regattas
  2. Poker runs
  3. Raft-up parties
  4. BBQ’s, crab feasts or clam bakes
  5. Seasonal or holiday parties
  6. Off-season club house events
  7. Fund raising or charitable events

Other benefits of boat or yacht clubs can include use of clubhouse facilities, discounted marine services (such as marine fuel or pump-outs) or reciprocal privileges with other area boat clubs.

Cruising with a Boat Club

Boat clubs will usually plan many trips throughout the year or season, expanding cruises beyond a boater’s typical destination plans. Traveling in groups is safer and having the club select marina destinations and reserve slips for a group of boats can be very convenient.

Some boat clubs exist solely for boaters interested in cruising to specific destinations. One example includes America’s Great Loop Cruisers Association (AGLCA) for boaters who are planning to navigate the 5,000 – 7,500 mile loop around the Atlantic and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways, the Great Lakes, the Canadian Heritage Canals, and the inland rivers of America. This nautical adventure is a bonding experience for boaters and club members that will create stories that last a lifetime.

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Increased Fatalities Prompt FWC to Reach Out to Boaters

FWC Safety Check

With just a few weeks remaining in the year, 2010 has proved to be a tragic one for boating accidents. So far, there have been 76 boating fatalities, a 24-percent increase from this time last year. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) wants Florida boaters to reverse this trend.

“The most unfortunate part about these statistics is boating fatalities are usually preventable,” said Capt. Tom Shipp of the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section.

While the FWC patrols Florida’s waterways and strongly promotes boating safety year-round, this year’s higher number of fatalities prompted an increased emphasis on prevention. At least 41 of the 76 deaths were due to drowning, and the FWC has some advice about that.

“One of the best ways to prevent a drowning is simply to wear a life jacket,” Shipp said. “Boaters don’t always expect to find themselves in the water, but if they do, a life jacket can save a life.”

There is a variety of life jackets available to boaters. New styles are much smaller, lighter and more comfortable to wear than the traditional vest-style life jacket.

Belt Pack and Suspender Type

“The ‘belt pack’ is worn around the waist. A ‘suspender’ style is also available,” said Brian Rehwinkel, outreach coordinator for the FWC’s Boating and Waterways Section. “These types of life jackets are inflatable, and some models activate automatically if the wearer falls into the water.”

While a few unusual accidents have occurred this year, the majority are similar to those of recent years. They involve boaters failing to pay attention to their surroundings, neglecting to wear life jackets and operating at high speeds.

“We strongly urge boaters to follow safe boating practices,” Shipp said. “Pay attention to the weather and your surroundings, make sure your boat and motor are in good working condition, check all safety equipment before embarking, and don’t drink and operate a boat.”

The FWC also encourages boaters of any age to take a boating safety course. To find a course or more boating safety information, visit

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Coast Guard Encourages Boaters to Prepare for Winter

The Coast Guard encourages owners and operators of vessels anchored or moored in Oregon or Washington to conduct preventative maintenance in anticipation of severe winter weather conditions.

“Completing simple preventative maintenance can prevent pollution incidents from occurring and damaging Oregon and Washington’s natural resources,” said Lt. Kelly Thorkilson, Incident Management Division Chief for Sector Columbia River.

Pollution violations caused by sunken vessels could result in fines and salvage costs. A maximum civil penalty of $40,000 per day or up to three times the cost incurred by the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund may be assessed.

To prevent the sinking of a vessel, the Coast Guard recommends boaters:

  • Check local weather forecasts frequently. Be aware that storms can come up quickly and without warning.
  • Cover and secure your boat. Heavy rains can flood boats causing them to sink in extreme cases.
  • Check the shaft packing for excess leakage.
  • Perform routine checks for signs of loose or deteriorating planks on wooden hulled vessels.
  • Conduct a routine inspection of your automatic bilge pump.
  • Visually inspect all thru-hull fittings for damage or loose connections.
  • Remove all unnecessary fuel, designate a caretaker, and leave contact information with the harbormaster if you are planning to be away for an extended period of time.

These simple steps can prevent damage to the environment and personal property while limiting man hours and taxpayer dollars spent on avoidable incidents.

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