Monthly Archives: March 2011

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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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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More Navigation Rules Series – Commercial Vessel Situations

Large commercial ship approaching a sailboatIf at all possible, stay out of areas where there is commercial vessel traffic such as shipping lanes or traffic separation zones. Large ships and barges have special problems in maneuvering and cannot and will not get out of your way.

Think about it, even with an elevated bridge, when you are looking out over a deck that may be the length of a football field there is a cone of invisibility area a certain distance in front that can not be seen. In that area you will also be invisible to the radar.

In addition a fully loaded ship, even going at a relatively low-speed, may take miles to come to a complete stop.

Just remember it is not a good idea to “tangle with a tanker.”

If you must operate around commercial vessels, take heed of the following:

  • Avoid ship channels. If you must cross, do so at right angles and as quickly as possible.
  • Be alert. Watch for traffic.
  • Be seen, especially at night.
  • Know the sound signals, especially the danger or doubt signal.
  • Keep your VHF radio tuned to channel 16 and listen carefully.
  • Order all aboard to wear PFDs.
  • Be familiar with the area and have current navigation charts.
  • Don’t be a non-survivor of a collision with a large ship.

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More Navigation Rules Series – Meeting Situations

In the following situations, the give-way vessel must take action to keep well clear. The stand-on vessel should maintain its course and speed. If it becomes apparent that the actions taken (or not taken) by the give-way vessel are dangerous or insufficient, you should take action to avoid collision.

Meeting Head-On

When two power driven vessels are approaching head-on or nearly so, either vessel shall indicate its intent which the other vessel shall answer promptly. In a meeting situation, neither vessel is the stand-on vessel.

It is generally accepted that you should alter course to starboard and pass port-to-port. The accompanying sound signal is one short blast. If you cannot pass port-to-port due to an obstruction or other vessels, you should sound two short blasts to indicate your intention to pass starboard-to-starboard. Make sure the other vessel understands your intent before proceeding. The other vessel should return your two-short-blast signal.

Passing Port to Port

Meeting head on.

Passing Starboard to Starboard

Passing starboard to starboard

Meeting head to Head

Meeting head to head.

*Response not sounded on International Waters

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More Navigation Rules Series – Overtaking Situations

When two vessels are moving in the same direction, and the astern vessel wishes to pass, it must initiate the signal to pass as shown in the diagram. The vessel passing is the give-way vessel and should keep out of the way of the vessel being passed. The vessel being passed is the stand-on vessel and must maintain its course and speed. If the stand-on vessel realizes that the course intended by the give-way vessel is not safe, it should sound the danger or doubt signal.

A vessel is deemed to be overtaking when the vessel is approaching the vessel ahead in a direction of 22.5 degrees abaft her beam. At night you would only be able to see the stern light of the vessel being overtaken. You would not be able to see either sidelight.

Inland Rules”I intend to pass you on your port side”
2 short blasts (1 sec.)”Agreement”
2 short blasts (1 sec.)International Rules:

“I intend to pass you on your port side”
2 prolonged blasts/2 short

1 prolonged/1 short/1 prolonged/1 short

Overtaking Inland Rules”I intend to pass you on your starboard side”
1 short blast (1 sec.)”Agreement”
1 short blast (1 sec.)International Rules:

“I intend to pass you on your starboard side”
2 prolonged blasts/1 short

1 prolonged/1 short/1 prolonged/1 short

If you are the overtaking vessel, remember that you are the give-way vessel until well past, and safely clear of, the passed vessel. Do not cut in front, impede or endanger another vessel.

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States Continue to Strengthen Boating Under the Influence Laws


Missouri lawmakers want to limit blood alcohol levels on all state waterways.

Currently the law limits the amount of alcohol boat drivers can have on Missouri’s big lakes and the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

But there are no regulations on other waterways.

Legislators want to change that– possibly even requiring drivers licenses for boaters.

Rep. Steve Cookson says, “This bill would, basically, just make things more consistant…”

Major Roam/MHP Water Patrol Division says, “That excludes certain small bodies of water that none of us want to have enforceable, like your farm ponds or a very small lake…”

Missouri’s drunk boating law limits a drivers blood alcohol content to 0.o8.

The bill is still a work in progress.


Boaters convicted of causing a death while under the influence of alcohol or drugs would face increased penalties under legislation approved Tuesday by the House Game and Fisheries Committee. House Bill 78 would change the penalty of homicide by watercraft while under the influence from a third-degree felony to a second-degree felony, bringing it in line with the penalty for vehicular homicide while driving under the influence.

The measure now heads to the full House for consideration.


This summer, boaters may need to be a little more mindful if they plan to drink on Lake Lanier. Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it illegal for people with a blood alcohol content over 0.08 to operate a boat or any other watercraft.

By lowering that level, House Bill 315 would make rules the same on water as on land.

“It makes it consistent with (driving under the influence) and changes the level from 0.1 to 0.08, which is the DUI level,” said Lauren Curry, public affairs coordinator with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. “Those two things have been inconsistent now for several years.”

Lt. Col. Jeff Weaver of the Department of Natural Resources said laws for boating under the influence have traditionally lagged behind.

“It was 0.12 to when I started my career,” Weaver said. “Federal guidelines forced driving under the influence down. Ours just never followed suit.”

Weaver said it would be much simpler for everyone if the bill becomes law.

“The simpler you can make rules and regulations, the fewer differences, the better for enforcement officers and the better for the public to understand,” Weaver said. “Of course our main goal was to get in line with DUI limits. It’s just to standardize.”

Currently, there are no other changes proposed in the bill.

“I think right now it’s in the very early stages of the legislative process,” Curry said. “Bills can go through many changes. But right now all this bill does is change that level.”

Rep. Doug Collins R-Gainesville, said it makes sense to standardize the legal alcohol limit.

“People don’t need to be boating and driving just like they don’t need to be drinking and driving,” Collins said.

Weaver said challenges on the water are different from those on the road.

“There’s no traffic lanes or traffic signals or directional devices out on the water way,” Weaver said. “You’ve got heat, noise, waves, things that divide your attention. You’ve got boats coming in all different directions, so you really have to be very observant.”

Boating under the influence is a misdemeanor crime that carries a punishment of up to a $1,000 fine or a year in jail.  Between 2007 and 2010, there were 155 BUIs on Lake Lanier.

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More Navigation Rules Series – Crossing Situations

When two power driven boats are approaching at right angles or nearly so, and risk of collision exists, the boat on the right is the stand-on vessel and must hold its course and speed. The other boat, the give-way vessel, shall maneuver to keep clear of the stand-on vessel and shall pass it by its stern. If necessary, slow, stop or reverse until the stand-on vessel is clear.

Danger zone

In the example above, the red vessel is the give-way vessel and should alter course and speed to pass behind the blue vessel. If the skipper of the blue vessel does not observe the red vessel taking action to avoid collision, then he/she must take the required action to avoid a collision.

Sailing Craft and Vessels Propelled by Oars or Paddles

Sailing craft (not under power) and boats propelled by oars or paddles are stand-on vessels when approaching power driven boats. In this situation, the power-driven boat should alter course to pass behind the sailboat.

Sailboat in the stand on vessel

An exception to this is if the sailboat or self-propelled watercraft is passing a power driven vessel. In an overtaking situation, the overtaking vessel is the give-way vessel, even if it is not propelled by an engine.

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Coast Guard Issues Piracy Warning to U.S. Registered Yachts and Sailing Vessels

Bing Map Piracy Watch

The U.S. Coast Guard strongly advises against all operation of and travel by U.S. yachts and sailing craft, or by U.S. citizens on foreign registered yachts and sailing craft, on the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Somali Basin and the western parts of the Indian Ocean. A U.S. registered sailing vessel was hijacked by pirates in February 2011 off the southern coast of Oman in the northern Arabian Sea and all of its crew were tragically killed. This case is a stark reminder of the grave dangers of operating in these high risk waters, especially by recreational vessels.

All mariners already in these waters are urged to register with the Maritime Security Centre (Horn of Africa) for up to date advice and guidance on passage round the Horn of Africa. They should also report regularly to the UKMTO (email:; Tel: +971 50 552 3215), giving location, course and speed, and plan their routing carefully to reduce the risk of an attack.

Piracy is a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and the northwest Indian Ocean and has occurred in excess of 1000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable to attack due to their low speed and low freeboard. All mariners intending to sail through high risk areas should reconsider the necessity of their travel and alternatives, such as transporting the vessel by yacht carrier.

Participants in yacht races and rallies in these high risk areas are at great risk of attack. These events are often publicized and could draw attention from pirates, despite the security and safety measures that might be put in place. The U.S. Coast Guard strongly advises mariners not to participate in events that will require transit through high risk waters.

Requirements and amplifying guidance promulgated by the U.S. Coast Guard for commercial vessels intending to transit high risk waters are unaffected by this advisory.

Useful contacts:

The UK Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO) in Dubai is the primary point of contact for liaison with military forces in the region. Email at to join their voluntary reporting scheme, Tel: +971 50 552 3215, Telex: (51) 210473.

Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA) is manned 24/7 by military and merchant navy personnel from various countries and coordinates with military maritime forces in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. It is the commercial/civilian link with the EU Naval Force Somalia. Tel: +44 1923 958545, Fax: +44 1923 958 520, email:

The NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) is the commercial/civilian link with the NATO maritime force. Tel: +44 1923 956 574, Fax: +44 1923 956 575, email:

The Maritime Liaison Office (MARLO) US Navy Bahrain, is a secondary point of contact after UKMTO and MSCHOA, but is manned 24/7. Tel: +973 3940 1395, email:

The International Sailing Federation (ISAF): You can read ISAF full set of updated guidelines here.

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