Monthly Archives: July 2011

Update on Yesterdays Post “Don’t Mess With Our GPS”

LightSquared Update – Leaked FAA Doc – 7/28/11  – According to PC Mag.

PC Magazine has not verified a report on the impact of LightSquared’s plan that comes from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Navigation Services division. However, The New York Post says the report was released quietly and cites Bloomberg who received a copy.

Government Exec reports ” GPS manufacturers and end users leaked [the report] to the media” and states an FAA rep confirmed its authenticity but would not respond to questions because the agency had not released the report.

PC Mag does state that the Save Our GPS Coalition [the site was either too busy or down when I tried to verify] has been circulating the document (hosted by BNP Media, the parent of POB in pdf) and that the Coalition is confident it’s from the FAA. PC Mag (and others) are however sharing the details of the report dated July 12: Per PC Mag:

[The report] essentially attributes 794 deaths and over $72 billion in additional costs to U.S. taxpayers if the LightSquared LTE system is implemented.

LightSquared dismissed the report saying it was based on outdated information.

Clearly, this whole thing is being tried in the media. So expect more of the same.

 

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“Don’t Mess With Our GPS”

In the past several months we have published a couple of articles about the potential effects of new/increased traffic from radio signals that are close to those used by your trusty GPS. The two articles were titled GPS Signals in Jeopardy and How Increased Radio Traffic Could Effect Your Navigation respectively. Each article encouraged boaters to contact the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) to voice their opposition.

BoatUS  has been a champion for the cause and recently delivered 15,000 comments to the FCC from concerned boaters, sailors and anglers.

The comments to the (FCC) are asking the agency to protect the future reliability of GPS (Global Positioning System) across the United States. The agency is currently considering a request from a private company, LightSquared, to build up to 40,000 ground stations for a new nationwide broadband wireless telephone network, which, tests have shown, could cause significant interference with most GPS signals.

At issue is LightSquared’s proposed use of radio frequency bandwidth adjacent to frequencies that are used by the relatively weak GPS signal.  A recent report to the FCC said, “all phases of the LightSquared deployment plan will result in widespread harmful interference to GPS signals and service and that mitigation is not possible.”  In an unusual move, a conditional waiver was granted in January by the FCC to LightSquared to permit the dramatic expansion of land-based use of mobile satellite spectrum, subject to spring testing and public comments.

“We hope these 15,000 comments indicate to the FCC the critical need of having a reliable navigation system, not just for boaters and anglers, but for pilots, drivers, outdoor adventurers, and first responders.  It is unimaginable that the federal government – the guardian of the bandwidth – would consider approving a proposal with so many problems and grave public safety consequences,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich.

An unusually short 30-day public comment period on the FCC permit ends Saturday, July 30. BoatUS is urging citizens around the country to share their views by going to www.BoatUS.com/gov to send their comments to the FCC.

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Collision – Allision –Tomatoe – Tomahto

You know you’re getting old when words you once knew seem new. I know I had heard the word allision before but couldn’t quite place it. According to Maritime Law, allision is the running of one vessel against another. It is distinguished from collision in that collision means the running of two vessels against each other. This latter term, collision, is frequently used for allision although grammatically in error.

The following article from the Coast Guard News contained one of those words.

KEY WEST, Fla. — The Coast Guard responded to an allision between two Carnival Cruise Line ships in the Port of Key West Tuesday morning.

While the minor crash caused some cosmetic damage to both vessels, no one was injured and there was no pollution or structural damage reported.

The Carnival Imagination was docked at the port and the Carnival Fantasy was docking when the vessels struck stern to stern, the Coast Guard said.

No injuries, pollution or structural damage occurred during the incident.

Alcohol and drug testings have been conducted on personnel in safety-sensitive positions in accordance with Coast Guard policy.

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident.

The Carnival Fantasy after an allision with the Carnival Imagination at the Port of Key West. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard/ Lt. Jeff Fry)

The above photo shows the extent of the “cosmetic’ damage to one of  the Carnival Line Ships.

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An Easy To Use Marine Navigation App

A friend of mine recently downloaded the eSeaChart App onto his smart phone and has nothing but good things to say about it. I have not used it or even seen it yet, but thought I would pass along the information.

eSeaChart has been built with speed and responsiveness in mind. This not only makes the app feel right, it’s also essential when using the app on a moving craft. When at the helm it’s essential to keep your eyes outside the craft at all times, and every second spent fighting a slow app is seconds lost keeping a proper lookout. eSeaChart automatically switches between charts as you pan and zoom.

eSeaChart uses NOAA raster charts which has the same look as the traditional paper charts. They also provide full coverage of the United States maritime territories.  

NOAA update many charts on a weekly basis. eSeaChart downloads the maps directly from NOAA without middle hands, ensuring that you always get the latest and most up to date chart. And you can update the chart by simply downloading it again, at any time.

A lot of effort has been put into the app, making it as simple and easy to use as possible, without losing its usefulness. Just download the charts you want and start navigating.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eseachart-us-marine-charts/id386484016?mt=8

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Small Vessel Reporting System

File:USA - Customs and Border Protection.pngA few days ago we published an article titled, Hello Canada, I’m Here, about changes in the way boaters can notify our Candian neighbors to the north of their entry into Canadian waters. Here we will concentrate on small vessel reporting into the US. 

In the past, it was quite difficult to check into the US after even a short overnight or weekend visit to ports as close as the Bahamas. (Perhaps difficult is not the right word, but inconvenient is).

If for instance you were returning to say Stuart, FL, your options were to show up in person with your boat and crew in either West Palm Beach or Ft. Pierce. Palm Beach  approximately 30 miles to the south and Ft. Pierce approximately 30 miles to the North made for a long day before you arrived back at your intended home port of Stuart, FL.

Now however, the Small Vessel Reporting System (SVRS), a voluntary program offered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), helps boaters report their arrival to the U.S. and it is free.

The program is designed to expedite entry of legitimate boaters, enabling CBP officers to focus their attention on higher-risk travelers and craft.

SVRS is available to: U.S. Citizens, nationals and lawful permanent residents; Canadian citizens; and permanent residents of Canada who are nationals of a Visa Waiver Program country.

Enrolling is quick, easy, and free via the Internet in just three steps:

  1. Complete application at www.CBP.gov/SVRS
  2. Schedule interview online with CBP officer
  3. Receive boater registration number and password by email

SVRS participants report their entry to the U.S. quickly too, by calling a dedicated telephone line and responding to the questions. (CBP reserves the right to hold an in-person inspection if needed.)

The system is currently available in the Southeast at Florida, Puerto Rico, and the United States Virgin Islands. It is also deployed at the U.S./Canada border.  

Please share this information with members of the boating community, especially the links below:

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Ahoy! Permiso Para Acceder A

The above title is my feeble attempt to translate Ahoy, Permission to Come Aboard? into Spanish. Why you ask? (¿Por qué lo preguntas?) It appears that you may need to brush up on your Spanish if boarded by the Mexican Navy.

According to “The Log”, a California based Boating and Fishing Newletter, boaters heading into Mexican waters in search of tuna and yellowtail should bring their passports along with their favorite jigs, as the Mexican navy has begun increased on-the-water inspections of U.S. boats in an effort to control drug smuggling off the nation’s coast.

Arturo Martinez, deputy director of visitor assistance for the state tourism office of Baja California, said that the enforcement is an effort by the Mexican navy to deter drug smuggling operations.

“Mexican immigration law requires that all persons bring with them their valid passport or passport card — not only to come into Mexico, but for returns to the U.S.,” Martinez said.

According to Martinez, the law has been in place for years, but the recent on-the-water enforcement so close to the U.S.-Mexico border appears to be new. Many times, boaters out of San Diego fish along the border, crossing it to chase breezing fish moving down the coast.

Earlier this month, Costa Mesa boater Barry McKay said he was fishing just south of Los Coronados islands in Mexican waters, within three-quarter-day range of San Diego, when he was stopped and boarded by Mexican navy officials. They asked for his passport, fishing license and a signature stating he was the captain of the vessel.

During the encounter, McKay claims the Mexican navy vessel rammed his boat, causing damage, and that has him wondering whether he should attempt to fish in Mexican waters again.

McKay, who immediately contacted the U.S. Coast Guard upon his return, said that officials are looking into the incident, but didn’t believe there was much they could do about it.

Coast Guard Lt. Sean Groark cautioned that boaters who cross the border should be aware they are in foreign waters, and they must adhere to the Mexican navy’s regulations.

“It’s their waters, basically. It’s not like we can just say ‘stop it,’” Groark said.

So far, Gary White of Fisherman’s Landing in San Diego said he had heard rumors of increased inspections and boardings of private and charter sportfishing vessels going into Mexican waters, but hadn’t seen any in the landing’s fleet.

“We work closely with Mexico, we have a good working relationship and, right now, we are exempt from the passport issue,” White said. “But boats that touch foreign ports, like Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas, are required to have passports. As long as we are not going to port down there, we aren’t required to carry passports on board.”

For private vessels, Martinez warned that boaters fishing near the border should carry their passport and Mexican fishing license with them, as they are subject to the rules and regulations in place and could be subject to inspection and boarding by the Mexican navy.

Information on applying for and obtaining a U.S. passport can be found online at travel.state.gov. The typical lead time for getting a passport is four to six weeks, but expedited service is available for a two- to three-week lead time. If you have a trip planned within the next 14 days and cannot wait that long, visit the Los Angeles expedited passport service location at 9911 W. Pico Blvd., Suite 103.

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Pre-Dawn Fog

I’ve noticed in the past couple of days, on my early morning walk,  a phenomena that I usually remind boaters of in the spring and fall. However, with the high temperatures, even before sunrise, fog and haze are starting to develop.

07/21/2011 Under the Benfranklin Bridge

Operating a boat when visibility is restricted increases the risk of hitting fixed objects in the water and colliding with other boats. That’s why it’s important to lessen your risk by taking preventive action that includes slowing to a safe speed, turning on your navigation lights and sounding the appropriate sound signals for your vessel type, as required by the Navigation Rules, available online through the Coast Guard Navigation Center at navcen.uscg.gov. It is also important to post responsible lookouts who will use all of their senses to determine what lies ahead in time to avoid an accident. A lookout should scan 360 degrees, as accidents in restricted visibility can occur when a vessel is overtaken from behind.

In addition to navigation lights, the Navigation Rules require all ­vessels to carry sound-producing devices for use during meeting, crossing and overtaking situations. Sound signals are also required during periods of reduced visibility to make other boaters in the area aware of your relative position and the status of your vessel; for example, a power-driven vessel under way and making way is required to sound one prolonged blast at intervals not to exceed two minutes.

It is easy to get lost or disoriented when visibility is limited? Things look very different which can be stressful for inexperienced boat operators. Expect the unexpected. Practice good risk assessment when deciding whether to boat in restricted visibility. Make sure your required safety equipment is on board, including visual distress signals, and that everyone is wearing a life jacket. Take a boating safety course and educate yourself on best practices for boating at night.

Boating in the Fog

Fog can develop very quickly and brings an increased risk of collision. In fog, if other boats can’t see you they need to hear you. If you see fog moving in, do the following before your visibility becomes seriously reduced:

  1. Fix your position on a chart or mark it on an electronic plotter.
  2. Reduce your speed to the point where you can stop your vessel in half the distance you can actually see.
  3. Turn on your navigation lights.
  4. Instruct any passengers to help you keep watch — by sight, sound and smell preferably in the bow.
  5. Begin sounding one prolonged blast on your horn (four to six seconds) every two minutes while under way and making way, and two prolonged blasts every two minutes when under way and stopped. Continue until the fog lifts and visibility significantly improves.

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