Monthly Archives: June 2011

Fuel-Saving Tips for Towing the Boat to the Lake

With fuel prices high, trailering a boat has become more expensive. However, there are some easy ways to stretch that tank of gas with your tow vehicle. Here are ten tips provided by BoatUS:
Basic maintenance: Keep your tow vehicle’s engine tuned and replace the engine air filter on a periodic basis.
Drive ahead: Moderate your use of the accelerator pedal by “driving ahead” – by looking ahead and anticipating traffic, you will likely brake less aggressively and reaccelerate without having to be heavy on the fuel-hungry accelerator pedal. Take it easy when starting from a dead stop.
Stop “cruising”: With automatic transmissions, stay off the cruise control, especially when traveling in hills or mountains. Cruise control cannot anticipate going up or down a slope, and tends to use more fuel when the transmission kicks down to a lower gear to compensate for speed loss on a hill.
Tire tip: Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended PSI on both the tow vehicle and trailer. Check PSI before every trip.
Cover up: On long trips, use a tight-fitting boat cover when towing, this helps decrease wind drag and improves fuel economy.
Lighten up: Lighten the load by carrying just what you need for the day or weekend in the tow vehicle and onboard your boat. Also, at about six pounds per gallon of gas, try to keep the boat’s fuel tank near empty when trailering long distances.
Drain it: Never leave water in a live well or bait tank. At a little over eight pounds per gallon, carrying an extra 25 gallons of water in these built-in tanks can represent 10% of the boat’s total weight. Filled wakeboard boat ballast tanks or bags can also add significantly more weight – from several hundred to over 1,000 pounds of water. Emptying tanks also slows the spread of invasive species.
Slow down: A decrease in towing speed of just five or six miles-per-hour can lead to a noticeable decrease in fuel consumption. Trailer tires have a maximum speed of 65 mph, so going over that will not only harm MPG, but could damage tires as well.
Prepare for the worst: Ensure you have the BoatUS Trailering Club’s “Trailer Assist”. If you have a breakdown it will tow both a tow vehicle and boat trailer up to 100 miles to a repair facility of your choice or get you home. 
Go local: Plan more trips closer to home this summer.

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First Storm of 2011-Tropical Storm Arlene

Breaking newsLess than a month into the 2011 hurricane season, forecasters say Tropical Storm Arlene that has formed in the Gulf of Mexico is not likely to threaten the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL, says Arlene is about 280 miles east-southeast of Tampico, Mexico. The center had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

As promised, when we announced the arrival of the 2011 season, as the hurricane season develops we will keep you informed of things that you need to know to take care of your particular situation including preparation checklists and specific preparation procedures.

Meanwhile…a word from NOAA.

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How Do You Spell Pitch-Pole?

According to Merriam-Webster – It is spelled Pitchpole and, when used as an intransitive verb means: to turn end over end e.g. <the catamarand pitchpoled>.

It appears that is what happened last week on San Francisco Bay when America’s Cup sailboat AC45 tumbled across the Bay and made a splash on the evening news.

The San Francisco Examiner was on the scene and reported that the two AC45s (45-foot catamarans owned by Oracle Racing) were running practice races at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, and that one of the boats tipped over as the vessels jockeyed for position to begin a race. “Tipped over” sounds mild compared to what is visible in the video below.

Design Challenges?

Obviously there will be design challenges that this type of boat faces in trying to balance performance with stability. Imagine how messy it might get when the even larger AC72 yachts race for the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013.

Here’s the video…

And away we go again!

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The USCG Deserves a Tribute

This weekend not only did I witness some USCG rescue exercises but also watched the movie “The Perfect Storm.” Although the movie may not be an entirely accurate account of what really happened, one can appreciate the dangers that the USCG deals with daily to rescue troubled boaters even when they (the boaters) make the WRONG decisions.

The men and women in the US Coast Guard do amazing work to keep us all safer, whether that’s during disasters like Katrina or in local waters nationwide. One only needs to take a look at our BoatSafe Blog, where we publish many articles that were generated by the USCG to see how much boaters rely on the Guard.  

It is fitting to pause once and awhile and acknowledge their work, and perhaps even give something back. The Coast Guard Foundation website has a calendar of events, USCG news and links that you might find interesting.

The following is a fitting Coast Guard Video Tribute that was used earlier this year at a Coast Guard Foundation gala. It is very moving stuff.

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Boating; Best Enjoyed Sober: Operation Dry Water on Deck

Don’t let your weekend end up like this.

The thrill of gliding across open water while steering a boat loaded with family and friends on a summer day is one of those “memory making” afternoons that can be remembered for years.  If you remember that is!

Recreational boating is more fun, and a lot safer, with a clear head. The start of the summer boating season is a good time to remind everyone who enjoys serving at the helm to remember vision, balance and a clear mind are important to the safety of their passengers and crew as well as everyone else on the water.

As a gentle reminder, authorities across the country are participating in a national public education and enforcement campaign called Operation Dry Water the weekend of June 24 – 26 on waters open to boaters across the country. Boaters will see more officers on duty sharing information about the dangers of operating under the influence of alcohol while also arresting those undermining public safety on the water by operating while legally intoxicated.

Started in 2009 by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, Operation Dry Water seeks to heighten water enthusiasts’ awareness about the dangers of boating while intoxicated with extra patrols during the public education and enforcement weekend.

Boating under the influence is a primary contributing factor in nearly 1 in 5 boating fatalities nationwide, according to the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

Recreational boaters need to be safe and enjoy themselves. That means not boating under the influence. It’s just too dangerous. Boaters found operating a boat with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher will have their excursion ended.

Staying sober is vital to staying — and playing — safe.

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The Dog (or Cat) Days of Summer

Pets OnBoard

The best way to introduce your pet to boating is to spend some time together on the boat when it’s tied to the dock. Some animals have an innate fear of the water and will never be comfortable on a boat. If your pet trembles at the site of water, you may have to leave him or her home when you go boating.

However, if your pet seems comfortable on the boat when secured at the dock, the sound of the engines may drive them nuts. Before leaving the dock, test this by running the engines. Animals hear a wider range of sounds than humans do and may be more sensitive to engine noises than you are.

If all goes well, plan a short cruise to introduce your pet to the motion of a boat underway. Pets can get seasick, just as humans do. Be alert for any signs of fatigue, clumsiness or disorientation.

Once onboard, make sure your pet has his or her own life jacket. These are available from marine stores and pet stores located in boating areas. Even if your pet can swim, a sudden dunk in the water may be so frightening or unexpected that your pet panics. Always have a leash onboard in case you need to restrain your pet. Our dog loves the water and boating, but he becomes an attack dog if pelicans land nearby. You never know what new experiences you and your pet will encounter on the water – be on the safe side.

Make sure there are no hazardous or dangerous materials within your curious pet’s reach. Nosy pets in the fishing tackle spell disaster! In a pet store, try to find a visor or brimmed cap to protect your pet’s eyes from the bright sunlight – if your pet will wear it.

Always make sure your pet has a shady place on the boat to escape the sun and heat and plenty of fresh water from home for the entire cruise. Cats and dogs absorb heat through their feet, also – protect them from hot deck surfaces.

Dogs and cats do not sweat – panting is the major means of getting rid excess heat for dogs and cats. However, with the heat also goes the water from the moistened exhaled air. This is why extra water is needed. Excessive panting and drooling, and abnormally rapid pulse, are danger signals that your pet may be suffering from heat stroke. Immediate treatment, in the form of immersing your animal in water, is recommended by the ASPCA.

Using a little common sense, you and your pet can have a great time boating. I recently read a story about a scuba diving dog – who knows what new talents you may discover in your pet.

Remember, if you plan to venture to foreign ports with your pet onboard, check the regulations in advance. Many countries have quarantine/health laws that apply to “foreign” animals.

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Operation Dry Water June 24-26, 2011

Local, state and federal law enforcement marine units as well as sheriff’s offices will be partnering in the BUI enforcement and education campaign beginning Friday, June 24 and continuing through June 26 known as Operation Dry Water.

Operation Dry Water, June 24-26, 2011, is a national weekend of Boating Under the Influence (BUI) education and enforcement aimed at reducing alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities.

Held each year during the weekend before the 4th of July holiday, Operation Dry Water is coordinated by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) in partnership with the states, the U.S. Coast Guard and other partner organizations.

Since 2009, the enforcement operations has been held in June, just prior to the 4th of July holiday, aimed at reducing the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents and fatalities and fostering a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol and drug use on the water.

According to the most recent U.S. Coast Guard statistics, boating under the influence is still the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, with 16 percent of boating fatalities as a direct result of alcohol or drug use. A boat operator or passenger with a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit (.08) runs a significantly increased risk of being involved in a boating accident.

Passengers need to be wary, too. Intoxication can lead to slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents. It’s also important to realize alcohol consumption can result in an inner ear disturbance which can make it impossible for a person suddenly immersed in water to distinguish up from down.

In 2010, all 50 States and 6 U.S. Territories participated in Operation Dry Water. Over that three-day weekend there were 40,127 vessels and 66,472 boaters contacted by law enforcement, 322 BUI arrests made, and 4,171 citations and 7,522 warnings issued for safety violations.

Citizens can help by letting law enforcement know if they observe careless boat operators and by their compliance with the rules of the water. If you see careless or reckless boat operators dial 911 on your cell phone or via radio on the VHF Channel 16 to report the event.

Boating Under the Influence (BUI) is dangerous and illegal. BUI is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Learn more about the effects of BUI.

If you boat under the influence:

  • Your voyage will be terminated
  • Your boat may be impounded, and
  • You may be arrested.

Penalties can include fine, imprisonment, impoundment of your boat, loss of boating privileges and even loss of driving privileges.

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One More Thing to Put on Your Predeparture Checklist

Life Jackets – Check
Boat Registration – Check
Sound Signalling Device – Check
Fire Extinquisher – Check
Hitchhikers – What?

Boaters hitting area rivers and lakes this weekend might want to give themselves a few extra minutes for hull  inspections. Many State’s Boating Authorities will be having boat inspection stations set up along routes to major boating destinations. The checkpoints are designed to detect any hitchhiking invasive species that may be attached to watercraft.

State Boating Authorities are focusing their attention to aquatic species that are posing  immediate threats to the State’s recreational waters. Zebra Mussels and quagga mussels are just a couple of the targeted species. The mussels can ruin fisheries; clog boat motor cooling systems; foul watercraft hulls and equipment; and clog water-delivery systems used for power plants, irrigation, and domestic water use.

Aquatic Nuisance Species (ANS)

Zebra and quagga musselsAquatic nuisance species (ANS) are non-indigenous species that threaten the diversity or abundance of native aquatic species. Two such ANS are the Zebra mussel and the Quagga mussel. Great Lakes water users spend tens of millions of dollars on zebra mussel control every year. Zebra mussel infestations cause pronounced ecological changes in the Great Lakes and major rivers of the central United States.

Non-indigenous aquatic nuisance plants, such as purple loosestrife, Eurasian water milfoil and hydrilla quickly establish themselves, replacing native plants.

Environmental and economic problems caused by the dense growth of these weeds include impairment of water-based recreation, navigation, flood control, water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.

Boaters should be conscientious when pulling their boats from recreational waters. You should inspect the boat and trailer, while still in the ramp area, and remove any suspected ANS and mud to eliminate the spread to other waters that may be visited.

Please consult with your state marine patrol and local marinas to identify non-indigenous species in your area. For more information on Impacts of Aquatic Non-indigenous Species, visit

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Coast Guard’s Advanced Technology Locates Hoax Caller

Back in 2010 we published a couple of articles on Hoax Distress Calls to the USCG. It appears that making those calls continue to get harder to get away with. The article below describes how the USCG tracked down a “Hoax” caller using Advanced Technology.

1st Coast Guard District News
NEW YORK – The U.S. Coast Guard located a hoax caller who made a false distress call from a vessel in Long Island Sound, N.Y., Wednesday, June 15, 2011.

Both Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound and Sector New York received a distress “mayday” call for help on VHF Channel 16. A boatcrew from Station Eaton’s Neck, N.Y. was diverted to locate the boater after several attempts to contact them were unsuccessful.

By utilizing advanced Rescue 21 direction-finding communication technology, Coast Guard crews located the vessel.

Coast Guard Law Enforcement officers determined the boaters were not in distress but that the call came from a minor aboard the vessel. The boaters were escorted to a pier where they were further questioned by a member of the Coast Guard’s Investigative Service.

Making a false distress call is a federal felony with a maximum penalty of five to 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, $8,000 civil penalty and the possible reimbursement to the Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search.

The estimated cost for Wednesday’s Coast Guard search assets was nearly $5,500.

Boaters are reminded that they are responsible for the safety and actions of their passengers and are encouraged to educate them about the proper use of emergency equipment including a marine VHF radio. Oftentimes passengers, especially children, may not understand the consequences of playing on the radio and reporting a false distress.

In response to this high number of calls, the Coast Guard offers a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of anyone responsible for making a false distress or hoax call to the U.S. Coast Guard in the area. Anyone with information regarding false distress calls is encouraged to anonymously contact the U.S. Coast Guard at 646-872-5774.

For additional articles concerning Hoax callers go to:

Man Gets 18 Months…


Coast Guard Tracks Down…

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Recreational Boating Fatalities Reach Record Low

A couple of days ago we posted an article titled Top Ten Recreational Boating Tips. While the tips ALWAYS apply to promoting safe boating, parts of the statistics in the article were based on the latest available 2009 statistics from the USCG. It is my hope that the many of you who have been reading this blog for the past couple of years have heeded some of our advice in promoting boating safety by following safe boating practices. Could my hope have come true?

Coast Guard Headquarters NewsThe U.S. Coast Guard announced last Wednesday, after I had published the above referenced article, its official 2010 recreational boating statistics and noted that total fatalities fell to a record low of 672.

The 2010 record is four fatalities less than the previous low in 2004, and is 26 deaths lower than the average number for the past 10 years. While the drop in fatalities is a positive sign, the Coast Guard cautions that the number still represents nearly two deaths per day and remains resolute in its commitment to preventing boating fatalities.

“We’re glad to see the numbers decline,” said Rear Adm. Kevin Cook, director of Prevention Policy for the U.S. Coast Guard. “I am optimistic that the number of deaths and injuries can continue to be reduced further because of the strong commitment to safe boating from our partners in the states, non-government advocacy groups, and the boating industry.”

Total reported accidents were 4,604 in 2010, down from 4,730 in 2009, while injuries totaled 3,153, down from 3,358. Property damage was estimated at $35 million.

The top five primary contributing factors in accidents continue to be:

  • operator inattention,
  • improper lookout,
  • operator inexperience,
  • excessive speed,
  • and alcohol use.

Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents, and it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of the deaths.

Statistics indicate a clear link between safety and boating education in that boaters who have taken a boating safety course are less likely to be involved in an accident. In addition, almost three-quarters of all fatal boating accident victims drowned; and of those, roughly 90 percent were reported as NOT wearing a life jacket.

“Tragically, so many of these deaths are needless and could have been prevented had boaters taken some simple steps such as taking a boating safety course, not drinking and boating, and always wearing a life jacket,” said Cook.

To view all the 2010 recreational boating safety statistics, go to

For more information on boating responsibly and to complete a boating safety course, go to

To review the Top Ten Boating Tips, go to:

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