Monthly Archives: March 2011

Transport Canada Implements Stricter Boating Exam and Tougher Enforcement

Pleasure Craft Operator CardIf you were one of the boaters let off the hook with only a warning last summer, this year will be different.

The RCMP will be cracking down on all boaters caught without a Pleasure Craft Operator Card.

In certain cases, RCMP officers were warning boaters, making sure that they were aware of the regulations and not necessarily issuing the fine last year.

This year it is expected, as it’s been in effect for a year now, that boaters do have their operator’s card and that they are meeting the regulations. Otherwise, they will most certainly face a $250 fine.

You have less than one month left to get your boating license before Transport Canada makes it more difficult for you to do so. Staring April 15, the Pleasure Craft Operator’s license test will be longer and more difficult. An extra 14 questions will be added to the test.

Also effective April 15, 2011, the online exam process will change to a more comprehensive format.

A minimum of 3 hours of study time will be required to study the 5 chapter online course, passing chapter quizzes sequentially, and finally taking a 50 question exam. Students will not have to study all in one sitting, but rather can save their progress and return when their schedule permits. Students can take the online course at their own pace, spreading out the required study time if so desired. Effective April 15th, the online course will no longer require a Supervisor for the exam, and it can be done from the comfort of the student’s own home or anywhere with an Internet connection. It will also be an open book exam.

Effective April 15, 2011 at midnight EST, the new online course format will take effect. Any student taking the online course after this time, must use the new format, even if the student registered and paid prior to April 15th, or even if an unsuccessful exam attempt was made before April 15th.

To get your Pleasure Craft Operator Card online click here.

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Navigation, Rules of the Road, Sailing News, Uncategorized

USCG Barque Eagle

Last week we reported the USCG training ship Barque Eagle was heading to Philadelphia. It arrived last Friday and docked at Penn’s landing. I was able to board the ship on Sunday. Although the public was not allowed below decks, it is still a very impressive vessel.

Block off the Old Ship

The philosophy of sail Training is reflected in the U. S. Coast Guard Academy cadet mission:

To graduate young men and women with sound bodies, stout harts, and alert minds, with a liking for the sea and its lore, and with that high sense of hone, loyalty, and obedience wich goes with trained initiative and leadership’ well grounded in seamanship, the sciences, and the amenities’ and strong in the resolve to be worthy of traditions of commissioned officers in the United States Coast Guard in the service of their country and humanity.

Eagle is maintained and operated year round by a permanent crew of 56 personnel. Six officers, consisting of four

Lines of Lines

commissioned and two warrant officers, oversee all aspects of the vessel. Three departments: Operations, Engineering, and Supply, consisting of nine enlisted ratings and non-rated personnel totaling 50 crew, conduct the day-to-day training, maintenance, and seamanship required of “America’s Tallship.” On average 15 personnel from various units supplement the crew to provide well-rounded, experienced trainers during the cruises.

Triple Helms

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Operation Paddle Smart – Year Two

A problem occurs when a kayak or canoe is found adrift with no one onboard. In most cases, there is no way of determining whether or not an individual may be in distress. As a result the United States Coast Guard and other organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year engaged in search and rescue operations where there was no actual emergency. It is for this reason that Operation Paddle Smart was started last year and continues in 2011 beginning April 1.

While traditional recreational or commercial vessels carry hull registration numbers and a vessel name that allow for the owner to be identified, kayaks and other forms of paddle craft lack a means of identification that allow the owner to be contacted.

In an effort to counter this problem, the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Power Squadron have teamed up to launch Operation Paddle Smart, a campaign aimed to benefit the maritime community.

The goal of Operation Paddle Smart is to educate small craft owners on water safety and provide them with a waterproof sticker that could be beneficial to everyone involved, whether they’re kayaking or part of a search and rescue operation.

Each sticker provides room for the small craft owner to list his or her name, phone number and cell phone number in case their craft is found drifting. This can greatly assist in the initial investigation of a possible search and rescue case.

“This program will benefit boaters and emergency responders through improvised vessel identification,” said Coast Guard Admiral Gary Blore, Thirteenth Coast Guard District Commander. “A tremendous effort and thousands of dollars are expended each year searching for lost boaters. Our goal is to educate paddle-sport enthusiasts on their responsibilities, how to stay safe and help emergency responders in the event of an actual rescue situation.”

“The benefit comes from being able to identify a real emergency, said Jeff Seifried, a member of the Paddle Smart team. “If the Coast Guard isn’t using resources searching for someone who is not missing, it’s going to save a lot of time and money. We’re not putting the Coast Guard rescue crews at any risk and at the same time, it could ease a family’s anxiety to know there isn’t any emergency.”

The Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary and recreational boating specialists provide paddle smart safety messages and stickers at boating safety events, boating supply stores and partner agencies such as the United States Power Squadron.

Operation Paddle Smart could be the key to a safer and more enjoyable boating season. If paddle craft mariners use the stickers, mishaps such as searches for kayaks that are accidentially set adrift can be prevented.

According to the Coast Guard, the program is simple, beneficial and free. Team member Seifried explained benefits of the program, saying “I can’t come up with a reason why you wouldn’t want to use it. With a little bit of information you can help the Coast Guard find your property and save your life.”

This year Operation Paddle Smart will run from April 1 to November 1, and will once again be a focal point for boating and paddling organizations, retailers, and others to work together to promote paddlesport safety, as well as being an information source for all paddlers and small boaters.

As a reminder, paddlers on the waters of Massachusetts are required to wear a life jacket while underway through May 15; in Connecticut through May 30 and in Maine on the Saco River below the Hiram Dam through June.  

For more information on Operation Paddle Smart:

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Coast Guard Tall Ship Eagle to Visit Philadephia

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle transits the Caribbean Ocean under full sail

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle under full sail .

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, America’s Tall Ship, is scheduled to arrive at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia Friday, March 18, 2011 at 8 a.m.

Philadelphia will be the first port visit for the Eagle this year, as the Coast Guard celebrates the 75th Anniversary of its construction in Hamburg, Germany, in 1936.

“I am very pleased that Philadelphia, home of the historic USS Olympia, will be Eagle’s first port visit in 2011,” said Coast Guard Capt. Eric C. Jones, commanding officer of the Eagle. “It is an honor for Eagle to visit the world’s oldest floating steel warship and the sole surviving naval ship of the Spanish-American War.”

The Eagle will be open for free, public tours Friday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

The Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the Stars and Stripes and the only active sailing square-rigger in U.S. government service. The Eagle originally served as a training vessel for the German Navy in the late 1930s. Since 1946, the Eagle has sailed each summer in support of United States Coast Guard officer training programs, providing an unparalleled at-sea leadership and professional development experience for future officers of the U.S. Coast Guard

The 75-year-old Eagle is a 295-foot, three-masted barque, with more than 23,500 square feet of sail and six miles of rigging.

You can follow Eagle’s journey on facebook at

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Could Japan Have Been Cursed by the “SuperMoon?”

On March 19, Earth’s moon will be at its closest point to our planet in 18 years, a mere 356,577 kilometers away. The event, also called a lunar perigee, was dubbed a “supermoon” by astrologer Richard Nolle back in the 1970s. The term is used to describe a new or full moon at 90% or more of its closest orbit to Earth. On the 19th it will be at 100%.

Nolle warns Earth’s inhabitants to prepare themselves during the “supermoon risk window,” which ranges from March 16 – 22. During this time, Nolle claims there will be an increase in supreme tidal surges, magnitude 5 or higher earthquakes, and even volcanic activity.

Perhaps his “supermoon risk window” should have started a little earlier to prepare Japan for the earthquake, tsunami and volcanic activity it just experienced.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS)  website where they have all the significant earthquakes of 2011, you will find that 72.7% of them fall in the risk windows predicted by Nolle. The Christchurch earthquake happened on the last day of a supermoon window. The Haiti earthquake even happened in one of the time windows in his 2010 forecast, that was published the year before.

Looking back in history, there were Super (full) Moons in 1955, 1974, 1992, and 2005. All of these years had their share of extreme weather, but was it just coincidence or was it caused by the Moon? It is already known that the moon does have impacts and affects on the Earth such as lunar tides, but does the SuperMoon cause an increase in extreme weather?

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Sailing News, The Boating Environment

More Navigation Rules Series – Narrow Channels and Special Situations

Navigating Narrow Channels

When operating in a narrow channel, the rules tell you to stay as far to the outer limit of the channel as practical on your starboard side.

Boats less than 20 meters (65 feet) long, or a sailboat, shall not impede a boat that is constrained by draft, i.e. a large ship that must operate within the channel in order to make way safely. When crossing a channel, do so at a right angle and in such a way as to avoid causing the traffic in the channel to make course or speed changes.

Do not anchor in a narrow channel.

Special Situations

When operating on the Great Lakes, Western Rivers and other designated rivers, the down bound boat (going with the current) has the right of way over a boat going upstream. This is because a boat going upstream can maneuver better than a one going downstream.

Additionally, a boat crossing a designated river shall keep out of the way of boats ascending or descending the river.

Navigating narrow channelsIf you approach a bend in a river around which you cannot see, sound one prolonged blast to alert boats approaching from the other side of the bend that you are there. If another boat is around the bend, it should answer with one prolonged blast. Conversely, if you hear a prolonged blast as you approach the bend, answer with a prolonged blast.

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Coast Guard Assists Response to Adrift Restaurant Barge

Wait!!! I thought this restaurant was stationary. Why does it appear to be moving? I hope it has been following our Navigation Rules Series.

The Coast Guard assisted local agencies with the response to a waterfront restaurant, Friday, that broke away from its mooring with 84 people onboard on the Ohio River.

At approximately 10:15 p.m., watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector Ohio Valley received a report from the Covington, Ky., Fire Department that the Jeff Ruby’s Waterfront Restaurant had broken away from its mooring at mile marker 471 on the Ohio River. The barge floated approximately 85 yards downstream where it rested beneath the C.W. Bailey Bridge. The bridge was inspected by Kentucky Department of Transportation, and no damage was reported.

Local towboats and firefighters from the Covington Fire Department stabilized the barge and evacuated the passengers and crewmembers from the barge.

The first responders secured a ladder to the restaurant’s gangway to allow the passengers to evacuate one at a time. All passengers were evacuated safely with no injuries or medical concerns.

Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Cincinnati and a Boone County, Ky., water rescue crew remained on immediate standby to aid first responders.

The Coast Guard, the owner of the restaurant and local authorities are working on a recovery plan to safely remove the restaurant from beneath the bridge and move it to a temporary mooring. The vessel is not blocking the waterway.

“We commend our partners in the Covington Fire Department and McGinniss Towing for executing a quick response and recovery of both the structure and the people,” said Lt. Joseph Reinhart, supervisor, MSD Cincinnati. “We will continue to work with local and state agencies to ensure that the vessel is safely moved back to its home berth.”

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

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