Monthly Archives: May 2011

Introduction to Navigation Part 2 Nautical Charts

Today is the second of a series of articles about Navigation. You can advance your Navigation Know How by participating in the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course.

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Course at . It is highly recommended that, prior to beginning this advanced Coastal Navigation Course, each student successfully complete the Basic Boating Safety Course.

Nautical charts are different from maps in that they specifically depict water areas while maps concentrate on land area, roads, landmarks, etc. Land areas and features on charts are sketchy and are noted only for their interest to the Navigator. Unlike maps, the nautical chart conveys much information specifically designed to assist in safely navigating the area that the chart covers.

Chart Scaling

 The scale of a chart is expressed as a ratio such as 1:80,000. This could also be represented as the fraction 1/80,000. This means that one unit on the chart represents 80,000 of the same units on the earth. The terms “small scale” and “large scale” can be confusing if you haven’t studied fractions recently. The denominator of the fraction (the number under the line) is the number that changes as the scale of the chart changes. The larger the denominator  the smaller the fraction. For instance 1:80,000 is smaller than 1:40,000, so the larger the denominator the smaller the scale of the chart. That is, a 1:80,000 chart would be a small scale while a 1:40,000 would be a large scale.

 Chart Colors

The major water areas are not colored and retain the white color of the paper itself. Shallow water areas, shown in light blue and light green, indicate shallows that are uncovered at some stage of the tide, such as marsh areas.

 Small objects such as buoys and markers are shown in a magenta color. Because charts are used at night under red light (to keep from impairing night vision) the color magenta shows up best at night and in the day.

 Buoys and dayboards that are actually red are indicated in magenta. Green buoys and dayboards are shown in green.

Lighted buoys, regardless of their color, are shown with a magenta dot over the small circle portion of the chart symbol. Cautions, symbols noting danger, compass roses and recommended courses are also noted in magenta.

For more about the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course…READ MORE.

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Introduction to Navigation

Today starts a series of articles about Navigation. We will give you a list of skill sets required to become a “real” navigator and also give you the opportunity to advance your Navigation Know How by participating in the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course. This course will give you step-by-step instructions on how to navigate safely from one point to another. It teaches you to take into consideration all effects including set, drift, tides, currents, etc. that might hinder you along the way.

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Course at . It is highly recommended that, prior to beginning this advanced Coastal Navigation Course, each student successfully complete the Basic Boating Safety Course.

Navigation can be divided into four primary classifications:

  • piloting
  • dead reckoning
  • electronic navigation
  • celestial navigation

The problems that you, as a navigator, must solve are as follows:

  1. How to determine your position.
  2. How to determine the direction in which to proceed to get from one position to another.
  3. How to determine distance and related factors of time and speed as you proceed.

Of these three problems facing every navigator, the most basic is that of locating your position. Unless you know your position, you cannot direct the movements of your vessel with any accuracy, safety or efficiency.

You will need to have, and learn to use, several navigation tools. Although there are many tools at your disposal at any marine store, the following are the minimum necessary:

  •  dividers
  • parallel rulers
  • right angle triangle (optional, but handy)
  • charts
  • pencils
  • hand bearing compass
  • steering compass
  • watch or chronometer
  • log and time-keeping note paper
  • calculator, abacus or fingers & toes

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The Other Top Ten Boat Names

Just a few weeks after FirstBoat announced the most popular boat names of 2011 (view FirstBoat’s top boat names here), BoatU.S. has released their version of the top ten boat names based on their own data.

There are some similarities between the two lists, and of course there are some differences. The similarities include the way the data was gathered, as well as the fact that three names made it to both lists this year (Could those three names be the most definitive top three boat names ever?)  Differences include the breadth of data each company uses to create their list of top boat names.

Boat US?
That’s right –  in addition to selling insurance, towing services, marine products, etc., BoatU.S. also sells vinyl boat lettering. To come up with their list, they scan the boat names that their customers order throughout the year when customers make their purchases. This is not too different to how First Boat arrived at its top boat names. The FirstBoat list is compiled based on the most frequent unique purchases of vinyl boat lettering at, and unique purchases of personalized boating gear and apparel from Of course, no personal data was shared with anybody, ever, as we’re sure is the case with BoatU.S. as well.

Their Top 10 Boat Names
Anyway, you probably only care about the top 10 boat names, so here are the top ten from BoatU.S.

  1. AquaHolic
  2. Andiamo(Let’s go)
  3. The Black Pearl
  4. La Belle Vita(The Beautiful Life)
  5. Mojo
  6. Island Time
  7. Second Wind
  8. No Worries
  9. Serenity
  10. Blue Moon

The Ultimate Top 3 Boat Names?
Boat names that made it to the BoatUS list as well as to FirstBoat’s top ten include:

Andiamo (7 at FirstBoat)
Black Pearl (6 at FirstBoat)
Serenity (1 at FirstBoat)

Those three boat names are the only ones to appear on both lists, which derive their results from different sources. Does that make “Serenity”, “Black Pearl” and “Andiamo” the three definitive most popular boat names overall?  What do you see around your dock?

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Ways to Save on the Water this Summer

Fuel nozzleWith the ever spiraling cost of fuel for your boat, here are a few tips on how you can save. I know, the news has been reporting that prices should be going down but as was noted by Jay Leno last Friday, “The price of oil is now under $100 a barrel. The oil companies say they should be passing on the savings to us in six or seven years.”

Tips For Reducing Fuel Usage:

  • Slower speeds on the water will reduce use.
  • The proper use of trim tabs reduces drag, especially while accelerating up to planning speeds.
  • Minimize the amount of time that you idle at the dock.
  • Minimize the use of onboard generators.
  • Use dock-side electrical power in lieu of generators.
  • Have a float plan so you know exactly where you’re going.
  • Make sure the hull is clean.
  • Don’t under-power your boat. It’s important you have enough motor to handle the load.
  • Check your propeller. If your boat is slow “out of the hole” (getting up on plane) or lacks top-end speed, you might have the wrong propeller.
  • A well-tuned engine uses less fuel.
  • Use the grade of gasoline specified by the engine manufacturer.

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Five Easy Ways to Stay Safe on the Water

After a tense time last week in which the Coast Guard surface and air crews searched the Great Peconic Bay area of Long Island, N.Y., throughout the night for a possible missing kite surfer.  The search was suspended after Coast Guard released photos of the recovered gear were shown on the local news and the owner called to say he was safe.

“In Long Island Sound we often encounter abandoned and adrift boats,” said Cmdr. Eric Doucette, Chief of Response at Sector Long Island Sound, Conn. “While this case ended well for the owner, sometimes they can end tragically.  If there is even a chance a person is in the water, we begin search and rescue efforts; however by following a few guidelines we can drastically increase our efforts to get to you in time.”

Here are five easy ways to stay safe on the water:

1. Wear a lifejacket: properly wearing a Coast Guard-approved lifejacket is the single easiest way to improve your survival chances after an accident.  This goes for any form of water sports, from kayaking to sailing.

2. File a float plan: filing this simply consists of telling someone where you are going and when you plan to return, so in the event you don’t come back, rescuers have a better idea of where to look for you.

3. Mark your gear: this is often overlooked by new boaters, but if you use indelible ink to put down an address and phone number on paddles, sails, canoe and kayak hulls, we can call you the minute we find the gear to see if your items are lost or if you are actually in trouble.

4. Bring safety equipment with you:  bringing flares, a sound-producing device, signaling mirror, marine band radio or cell phone can all help you get our attention and get to you as fast as possible.  It’s not hard to imagine that when winds pick up, it may not be easy to hear your voice, and that’s when the flares or sound-producing device can help immensely.

5. Take a boating safety course:  Often boaters and paddle sport enthusiasts get excited to get their new vessel on the water before they’ve learned how to properly use it and avoid dangerous situations.  To take a safe boating course go to .

Visit the USCG boating website is:

Don’t forget, National Safe Boating Week is May 21 – 27.

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One Last Reminder – Is the Drain Plug In?

Invasive species regulations are now in effect in many states and many of them now require boaters to remove the plug and drain the bilge and live well before transporting a watercraft. In our Basic Boating Safety Course we have an extensive section on trailering and one of the things we emphasize is to make sure the drain plug is in before launching your boat.

The majority of recreational boats in the United States are trailered to and from the water. Your boat trailer is only one part of the entire boating package, which includes the boat, trailer, hitch and towing vehicle. Neglecting the trailer’s maintenance can result in damage to your boat, your towing vehicle or both. Below is our check-list for launching.


  1. Do initial launch preparations away from the ramp so as not to impede launching for others.
  2. Raise the outdrive or motor, remove the support bracket and install the drain plug.
  3. Disconnect the trailer wiring. Remove tie down straps and again check the drain plug.
  4. Make any equipment adjustments necessary and check the drain plug.
  5. Connect the fuel tank, check fluid levels and check the drain plug.
  6. Drive to the ramp and back the boat and trailer down the ramp, keeping the tow vehicle’s wheels out of the water.
  7. Set the emergency brake, shift into Park, and block the wheels.
  8. Someone should get aboard the boat, turn on the blower, lower the motor, look for water entering the boat, (in case you forgot to check the drain plug) sniff the bilge and start the motor.
  9. Make sure you have attached a bow line to the boat, then release the winch and disconnect the winch line.
  10. You should be able to launch the boat with a slight shove or by backing the boat off the trailer under power.
  11. Return the towing vehicle to the parking lot as soon as the boat is launched so the next person in line may proceed.
  12. Move the boat to an area away from the ramp to load additional equipment and passengers.

A bright-yellow warning sticker has been created by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help remind boaters to “check their drain plug.”

The DNR suggests that the warning sticker be placed next to the boat trailer’s winch handle, or somewhere else that the boater is likely to see it before the boat is launched.

If you think this is a good idea, contact your local State Boating Authorities and suggest they follow the lead set by the Minnesota DNR.

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Assistant Commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship

Recent Coast Guard inspections of Type I Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) in both adult and child size, identified a potential hazard that could prevent proper donning in the event of an emergency.  The chest strap was threaded through the fixed “D” ring that the strap is intended to clip to when worn.
It was discovered that several PFDs were assembled this way at the factory and, if not corrected, could create a hazardous condition during an emergency situation when donned.  Instead of the strap falling away, allowing the wearer to wrap it around him or her, the clip end of the strap could snag in the “D” ring preventing the wearer from getting it around their body.
Manufacturer, Models and Lot Numbers known to be affected:
Kent Adult Model 8830 (USCG Approval Number 160.055/184/0) in Lot 53W manufactured in October 2006;
Kent Child Model 8820 (USCG Approval Number 160.055/150/0) in Lot 012T manufactured in March 2008.
The Coast Guard strongly recommends that vessel owners and operators using the PFDs listed above, check each lifejacket for proper routing of the strap.  Completely unwrap the primary strap to ensure it is free and capable of being adjusted for any wearer.  The strap of the lifejacket must not be threaded through the fixed “D” ring. If routing is satisfactory, the strap may be wrapped around the life jacket and clipped to the fixed “D” ring for storage.  If the strap is incorrectly threaded through the fixed “D” ring, the snap hook assembly should be carefully removed from the strap, the strap pulled out of the fixed “D” ring, and the snap hook assembly re-attached.
Vessel owners and operators are also encouraged, as part of general preventative maintenance, to verify that all their PFDs are in fully serviceable condition with an inspection of the straps, components, fabric and flotation material.  Any significant deterioration in condition or poorly functioning hardware indicates a replacement is necessary.
Please contact the manufacturer representative at the address below if additional information is needed.
Kent Sporting Goods Co.
433 Park Avenue S.
New London, OH 44851
Mr. Wayne Walters
Phone: (706) 769-1682
Developed by the United States Coast Guard Headquarters Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division with assistance from the Office of Investigations and Analysis.  Questions may be addressed to Mr. Martin L. Jackson: or 202.372.1391.

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Coast Guard Stresses Importance of America’s Waterway Watch in Florida Keys

Americas Waterway Watch

The US Coast Guard is asking US citizens to be even more diligent in observing and reporting unusual activity around our coastal regions.

In light of the events in Pakistan last Sunday and the elimination of Osama Bin Laden, who has been on the most wanted list for years, there is a heightened sense that some sort of retaliation may be in the works.

One of the many potential ways for radicals to enter the US unnoticed is to come in by sea. Although the Coast Guard does a terrific job of patrolling, they simply can not be everywhere at all times. With our many, many miles of beautiful coast line and many, many miles of virtually unsecured borders, we can be at risk.

The following press release from the Coast Guard specifically targets the Florida Keys, not that the Keys are thought to be targets, but the sparsely inhabited keys would be a much easier access point than coming ashore in downtown Miami.

Of course the coastal regions are not the only areas of concern, citizens should be diligent in reporting suspicious activity inland as well. And, there is also the potential danger from “home-grown” terrorist groups who are already in our midst.

KEY WEST, Fla. – The Coast Guard in the Florida Keys reminds the boating public to maintain watchfulness and report any suspicious activity observed while operating on and around the waters of Monroe County.

America’s Waterway Watch (AWW), a combined effort of the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary, is a national program instituted in 2005 that encourages Americans who live, work or recreate on or near our waterways to become a part of the eyes and ears of our national defenders in the war on terrorism by being observant and reporting suspicious activities.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary in the Florida Keys will be actively promoting AWW in the upcoming months through speaking engagements at local marinas, schools, and clubs with the goal of encouraging our citizens to continue this vigilance year round.

To report suspicious activity, please call the National Response Center at 877-24WATCH or 911.

Anyone in the Keys who would like their organization to participate in the AWW program can call 888-470-5566.

For more information on America’s Waterway Watch visit the web site at

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New “Boating Simulator” Lets You Boat Anytime

A new downloadable BoatUS Boating Simulator, provided by the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water aims to use animation, simulation and video to keep boaters on the virtual “water” anytime – and teach them how to navigate through congested and sometimes treacherous waters.

The Boating Simulator’s interactive boating experience – complete with throttle, shifter and chartplotter – makes learning fun. “Research shows that most people use visual cues when learning and when you combine it with active participation, comprehension and retention increase,” said BoatUS Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner. “Simply put, you learn while you’re having a great time driving the boat.”
The Simulator, which utilizes your keyboard, mouse and arrow keys to operate, is free to download at During the game’s voyage, players must use all of the tools at their disposal to navigate around aids to navigation as well as shallow water and other vessel traffic. Along the way you could be penalized for violating speed zones, approaching too close to another vessel or navigating out of bounds.
This is the third interactive video game offered by the BoatUS Foundation that puts new or seasoned boaters alike behind the helm of a virtual boat. The first two games, DockIt! and NavigateIt!, teach docking and navigation skills respectively. All BoatUS Foundation games are provided at no cost at BoatUS membership is not required to play.
For the Boating Simulator, a standard home PC with Windows XP or newer and a DirectX 9.0 compatible video card is required. Simply follow the on-screen instructions and prompts to download to your computer.

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The Hottest Wakeboard Boat Innovations of 2011

Who would have “thunk it”? Man have I been out of touch for a few years. I knew there were wakeboards but had no idea that there were boats (wakeboard boats) dedicated to that particular sport let alone a International magazine dedicated to wakeboarding.

TransWorld WAKEBOARDING magazine announces the best wakeboard boat innovations of 2011.

What does the best wakeboard boat look like? Engineers and designers from Axis Boats, Malibu Boats, MasterCraft Boats, Nautique Boats, Supra Boats, and Tige Boats ask themselves that question every year. And every year, we enjoy the fruits of that exercise, riding behind wakeboard boats with perfectly sculpted wakes, über-functional towers and brilliant LCD displays. Here’s a closer look at the best wakeboard boat innovations of 2011.

The May issue of TransWorld WAKEBOARDING magazine takes a look at the best wakeboard boat innovations of 2011. The review is online now, so we thought we would check it out to see if any of the advancements in the latest wakeboard boats are things you’d like to see on your boat.

The Big Features
The innovative features that WAKEBOARDING looked at include enhancements in the ballast systems, the functionality of the towers and the usefulness of the LCD displays. WAKEBOARDING also checked out improvements in engines, seating and overall style.

Eye, Touch
Integrated LCD displays, with touch screen control, seem to be standard on many wakeboard boats. These displays are multi-functional, often capable of playing video, controlling the ballast system and even dimming the interior and exterior lighting.

Sculpt This
If you don’t have a wakeboard boat, sculpting wakes isn’t something you probably think about all that often. But when someone’s surfing behind your boat, catching the perfect wave is often ALL they think about. That’s why innovations in things like ballast systems are so important to wakeboard boaters.

Tabs, Too
This year’s new ideas include a plug-and-play ballast from MasterCraft, a massive hybrid ballast system from Supra, and, also from MasterCraft, a feature called Surf Tabs. WAKEBOARDINGdescribes Surf Tabs this way:

“Positioned on either side of the stern, these stainless-steel tabs not only help you create great surf wakes on either side of the boat, they also let you tune the length and pitch of the wave to your surfer’s preference. Press a switch at the helm and transform the wake from a shallower, longboard-style wave to a steeper, skim-style wave — or anywhere in between.”

Check out all the features, including video, at TransWorld WAKEBOARDING‘s official site.

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