Monthly Archives: October 2011

The World’s Only Rotating Boat Lift

The Clyde and Forth Canal and the Union Canal in central Scotland were major commercial arteries from the time of their construction in the late 1780s up until the 1930s, when economic competition from motor vehicles overtook ferry transportation.

For the next 75 years, these canals fell onto disuse and disrepair — the 11 locks that originally compensated for their 24m height difference were paved over and built upon. However, in the early 21st century, Scottish authorities hatched a plan to refurbish the canals and feature a landmark structure that would reconnect the waterways.

The result? The Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotational boat lift.

Lock-style boat lifts, like those at the Panama Canal, look like a series of steps. When a boat enters the first lock, it fills with water until it reaches the next level, where the boat moves forward to the next lock and the process repeats. The Falkirk Wheel, meanwhile operates using Archimedes Principle to balance twin gondolas, known as caissons, as they make the eight-story vertical journey. The structure is 35m wide overall and 35m tall — the equivalent of eight double-decker buses stacked atop one another. Two opposing caissons, each holding the equivalent of 363,400L, sit roughly 2m apart on either side of the central axle. 4m wide slewing bearings keep the gondolas level as they rotate.

The structure required more than 1088 tonnes of steel to complete and rests on piled concrete foundations.

Altogether, the water and gondolas weighs about 544 tonnes. That’s a lot of weight moving around — enough to stress and eventually fatigue normal welded seams. To compensate, the wheel’s construction called for 15,000 bolts — each one hand-tightened — with to a tolerance of just 10mm. However, despite its mass, the wheel can lift a gondola in just five and a half minutes by employing 10 hydraulic motors powered by a single 30hp electric motor that draws the same amount of power (1.5 kilowatt-hours in four minutes) as the act of boiling eight kettles of water.

Even the price tag for this impressive structure is surprisingly svelte, costing a mere £17.5 million to design and construct.


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A New Online Boat Club Concept?

I ran across this website by accident and find the concept intriguing. Boat Clubs and Boat Sharing has been around for years but this apparently puts everything online and is accessible through your mobile devices. I am in no way endorsing the site or it’s content but thought it might be of interest to our readers.

There are more than 70 million Americans enjoying boating and approximately 13 million registered recreational vessels in the United States, however on average a boat is only used a total of 14 days per year.

In these challenging times, we are all looking for a way to maximize our investments and fractional boating or sharing is a great way to do that with a watercraft. Many boaters however, have been hesitant to get into a sharing relationship because of the inherent challenges including:

  • Do I need a contract?
  • How do I ensure everyone gets equal time?
  • What about service and boat maintenance?
  • How can I easily mange billing and expenses?
  • and probably most important – how do I find the right people?

Enter Nautical Monkey!

Our service allows you to easily navigate through each stage of the process…

  • Use Nautical Networking to find the perfect boating partner or group.
  • Online Calendaring provides an easy way to schedule usage and ensures equal use for all members.
  • Our Resource Library provides sample legal agreements which can be modified for your particular situation.
  • maintainance Log keeps a list of historical and required maintenance and allows members to make service requests.
  • Forum for Local Events and activities
  • Monthly, Quarterly and Yearly Reporting on boat usage and costs.

Nautical Monkey allows you to create a fractional boating or sharing relationship tailored specifically to your situation and needs.

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Is There An App For Everything?

The  Clean Marine app debuted on the Android Market in September 2011 and will soon be available in the Amazon Appstore. The free app streamlines the process for boaters to report large debris in waterways.

“Reporting debris, like abandoned marine vessels or oil barrels, is absolutely critical,” says Murphy, the app developer and a lifetime resident of the S.C. coast. “When debris goes unreported, there is no way of knowing how much is out there and lawmakers are unlikely to allocate funding without knowing the extent of the problem. Just reporting the debris to the appropriate agency is an easy way for the average boater to help keep our waterways clean.”

During the 2011 boating season, just six reports of large abandoned marine items were collected. Murphy thinks that is because boaters were required to fill out a paper form with GPS coordinates and a picture attached – requirements that were difficult aboard a boat and beyond the average boater’s willingness to help. His app recreates the paper form onto something most people always have with them – their smartphone.

The Clean Marine app walks boaters through the reporting process including providing their name, address, type of debris and county. They can then take a picture to include and the app automatically collects their GPS coordinates. Within a minute, the boater has recorded all pertinent information and can click submit, whereby the information is transmitted to the appropriate authorities. If the boater is not currently connected to the internet when the debris is spotted, the data will be saved and sent when the phone is back online. In its first month on the Android Market, the app has been downloaded more than 100 times.

Murphy created this app as his thesis for the Master in Environmental Studies (MES) program. He was able to combine his hobby of programming with his passion for environmental issues in the thesis entitled, “Adoption of new Technology for the Improvement of a Citizen Science Project: Clean Marine Smartphone App.” Murphy sees mobile technology as the future for citizen science and a great tool for researchers everywhere in almost any discipline.

“Through my education I have frequently run into research situations where more data was needed than researchers could afford to collect because of time or money constraints. Frequently these projects are aided by the use of citizen science methods to involve the community and volunteers. But, many of these efforts still rely on outdated, unreliable, and inconvenient methods of data collection. Mobile applications can change that.”

Murphy anticipates earning his master’s degree in December 2011 and hopes to partner with other researchers to bring mobile applications to their projects and involve the community

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Top Ten States in Boat Registrations

Back in June we posted the Top 10 States for boating based on expenditures. Earlier this month, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) released the 2010 U.S. Recreational Boat Registration Statistics Report which looks at boat registration numbers for the year, and gives us all an indication of how the economy is affecting us boaters around the country.

Adult male (dad) wearing an inflatable life jacket driving a motor boat with a boy in a children's life jacket sitting on an adult female's (mom) lap. A girl is is sitting in the back of the boat.The 2010 Top 10 Registrations:

The report, released by the NMMA in October 2011, ranks each state based on total boat registrations. Here are the states that made the top ten and their numbers…

1. Florida: 914,535 registered boats in 2010, decreasing 3.6 percent from 2009’s 949,030 but holding onto number 1.

2. Minnesota: 813,976 registered boats in 2010, increasing 0.3 percent from 2009’s 811.775 and moving from 3rd place to 2nd in this annual list.

3. Michigan: 812,066 registered boats in 2010. Michigan moved from fourth to third, staying relatively flat in 2010 compared to 2009’s 811,670.

4. California: 810,008 registered boats in 2010. California dropped to fourth from second, decreasing a whopping 10.7 percent compared to 2009’s 906,988.

5. Wisconsin: 615,335 registered boats in 2010. Wisconsin remained ranked fifth, decreasing 1.8 percent compared to 2009’s 626,304.

6. Texas: 596,830 registered boats in 2010, decreasing 4.1 percent compared to 2009’s 622,184.

7. New York: 475,689 registered boats in 2010, decreasing 0.7 percent from 2009’s 479,161.

8. South Carolina: 435,491 registered boats in 2010, compared to 435,528 in 2009.

9. Ohio: 430,710 registered boats in 2010, increasing 1.4 percent compared to 2009’s 424,877.

10. North Carolina: 400,846 registered boats in 2010, decreasing 1.2 percent compared to 2009’s 405,663.

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A Boating School in a Theme Park?

Located in LEGO City, the Boating School ride gives kids control of a free roaming boat, with no track to guide the ride. See what you think from the video below. How do you think they got around the law in Florida that requires children under 6 years of age to wear a life jacket while underway on a boat. Actually the law says when operating on Florida waters, I guess it doesn’t count if the waterway is privately owned. What a perfect opportunity to actually have a boating school and not just a ride. I hope they are taking advantage of it.

LEGOLAND Florida held its official grand opening making it Central Florida’s newest theme park. Located in Winter Haven, around an hour’s drive away from the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, LEGOLAND Florida has embraced the history of the former Cypress Gardens park and combined its natural beauty and landscaped elegance with the familiar vibrant colors and interactivity that LEGO is known for worldwide. It’s a park that’s created specifically for kids, but a surprisingly large amount of what’s featured at LEGOLAND Florida can be enjoyed by adults too – particularly those who are LEGO fans.

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Technology Making Boating Safer

ResQLink™ 406 GPSAs I have posted in the past there are certain things that I think of as “life insurance” when boating.  A properly fitted PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is one of those no matter where you boat. However, if you boat offshore, a properly equipped life raft and an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon) or PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) fit in that “life insurance” category.

Being introduced at many of the fall boat shows ACR Electronics has its new ResQLink PLB and it’s been selling at local retailers for about $280. Small and mighty, the ResQLink™ is a full-powered, GPS-enabled rescue beacon designed for boater, anglers, pilots and back country sportsmen. Watch the company video below.


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

Avoid That Sinking Feeling – Drain Plug Reminder

Ever run across a product that is so simple that you wonder why you didn’t think of it? Here is one that falls into that category.

Safe Launch is a drain plug reminder system that protects your family, friends and boat from sinking. With Safe Launch’s hook and strap components, you can easily insert a reminder directly into the drain hole so you remember to replace your drain plug before you launch. Safe Launch fits All Boats, Jet Boats &  PWCs.

Forgetting to replace the drain plug is one of the most common causes for boat and personal water craft sinking’s in the United States. According to Boat U.S. Marine Insurance, the cost of repairing a boat that has been underwater, even briefly, is usually about 40% of its value. Safe Launch is the only drain plug reminder product on the market that places the reminder where you need it most–in the drain hole. Protect your family and your investment.

The product costs around $20.00. If you can’t find one in your local marine store you can buy it online by clicking here

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Millions of Canadians Still Operating Their Boats Illegally

Now into their second full season, Canadian boaters required to carry a pleasure craft operating card (PCOC) with them while on the water are not all complying with the mandate. It is estimated that up to 3 million boaters have still not complied with the law.

The PCOC, or boating licence, is required for anyone operating a boat with a motor, regardless of the size of the boat, horsepower of the engine, or age of the operator.

Boaters should be aware that operating without the PCOC are taking  the risk of getting hit with the $250 fine from police on the lookout for offenders.

Boaters are being stopped and police are checking for the pleasure craft card and checking that boaters have all the required safety equipment.

The PCOC was introduced in September of 2009, and once a boater has obtained one, it never expires.

The course can be completed online after going through a tutorial that teaches boat safety. To obtain your PCOC go to BoatingBasicsOnline.

The PCOC system was introduced so that all boaters would have a minimum level of competence about the operation of boats, and according to the Ministry of Transportation, boating accidents are down 30 per cent since the programs introduction.

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Have the Water to Yourself – Enjoy Off-Season Boating

Submitted by John M. Malatak, chief, program operations, U.S. Coast Guard, Boating Safety Division.

I love boating in the fall. The waterways that bustle with activity in the summer often have a different feel in the off-season, which is why fall is a great time to explore along the waterfront or find a quiet place to drop anchor and take in the scenery.

 However, boating in the off-season – when the sun sets early, temperatures drop fast and there are fewer boaters to come to your aid or call for help – carries certain risks, and experienced boaters know to plan for every emergency before heading out.

Consider Worst Case Scenarios

 There’s little or no margin for error in the off-season, so consider every possible scenario, beginning with the possibility of being stranded. Be sure you have enough fuel to get where you’re going and back. The rule of thumb is one-third out, one-third back and one-third for emergencies.

 As a responsible boater, you should always carry a first-aid kit, but in the off-season be sure you also have an onboard emergency kit that includes a change of clothes; calorie-dense snack food; fresh water; a thermos of coffee, cocoa or other warm beverage; duct tape; a waterproof portable flashlight with extra batteries; flares and matches. Stow all of these items in a waterproof bag. Remember to stay away from alcohol when you’re out on the water. It impairs your judgment and hastens the onset of hypothermia.

 Carry a mobile phone only as a backup to your VHF-FM marine radio. Mobile phones frequently lose a signal and are unidirectional – only one person receives the phone call compared to many who may hear a VHF radio distress call. If your boating activity takes you far from shore, consider adding an EPIRB as well. Rescue 21, the advanced command, control and communications system created to improve search and rescue, is currently being deployed in stages across the U.S. This new system gives the Coast Guard the ability to pinpoint the location of a distress call from a DSC-VHF marine radio connected to a GPS receiver. If you get in trouble, especially during the chilly off-season, every minute counts.

 Life jackets are essential boating equipment in any season. Lightweight inflatables are popular in the summer months, but in cold weather, float coats and jackets will not only keep you afloat but also provide additional insulation. Since there is rarely time to put on a life jacket during an emergency, make sure everyone wears one at all times while the boat is under way. Also, consider equipping your life jackets with devices to help rescuers find you more quickly (e.g., whistles, strobe lights, signal mirrors and/or personal locator beacons). If you do fall in, stay with your boat, so rescuers can spot you more easily.

 If anyone ends up in the water, think about how you’ll get them back in the boat. Climbing back in after a fall overboard can be next to impossible in heavy, cold, wet winter clothes, even for someone who is uninjured. Consider providing a sling if your boat has no boarding ladder. If you boat in cold weather often, I strongly recommend that you practice (under warmer conditions) getting back in your boat, as well as bringing passengers aboard under cold-weather conditions.

What to Wear

If you go boating in the fall, dress appropriately:

  • Dress in layers and recognize that even slight changes in the weather can make hypothermia a threat.
  • Take extra dry clothing in a waterproof bag.
  • Wear quality, nonslip footwear; wear socks, even with sandals.

Wear your life jacket or float coat/jacket. Cold water quickly saps your strength. Life jackets provide added insulation. If you fall overboard, wearing a life jacket could give you the time you need to safely reboard the boat. The first reaction when hitting cold water is to gasp and suck in water. A life jacket can give you crucial minutes to regulate your breathing after the shock of falling in.

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Semi-Annual Safety Checklist

Twice a year we recommend going through our checklist to insure you boat is in great shape. It is a good idea to do this prior to winterizing your boat for the winter and again when you bring it out and get it ready for the season.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

  • Check for wear or abrasion, weak or torn seams, secure straps and buckles. For the PFDs onboard for children, try to assess whether they will still fit in the spring. Perhaps a new PFD would be a great Christmas gift. Some types of PFDs are equipped with inflation devices; check to be sure cartridges are secure and charged.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Do you have all required quantities and types of fire extinguishers?
  • Have they been checked within the past year?
  • Are serviceable units tagged by a licensed facility?
  • Are units accessible?
  • Is at least one accessible from the helm or cockpit?
  • Are you and your crew familiar with their operation?

Fuel System

  • Is the system properly grounded at the filter, tank, deck, pump, etc.?
  • Is the fuel tank free from rust or contamination?
  • No leaks from tank, hose or fittings.
  • Hoses U.S.C.G. approved and free of cracking or stiffness with adequate slack to account for vibration.
  • Is tank secured?
  • Fuel shut-off valve on tank and at engine.
  • Engine compartment and engine clean and free of oily rags or flammable materials.
  • Blower switch at remote location.
  • Is your fuel system protected from siphoning?

Safety Equipment

  • Lifelines or rails in good condition.
  • Stanchions or pulpit securely mounted.
  • Hardware tight and sealed at deck.
  • Grab rails secure and free of corrosion or snags that may catch your hands.
  • Non-skid surfaces free from accumulated dirt or excess wear.

Ground Tackle

  • At least two anchors on board.
  • Anchor and rode adequate for your boat and bottom conditions.
  • Tackle properly secured.
  • Length of chain at anchor.
  • Thimble on rode and safety wired shackles.
  • Chafing gear at chocks for extended stays or storm conditions.
  • Anchor stowed for quick accessibility.


  • Labeled and designated for marine use.
  • Properly ventilated to remove carbon-monoxide from cabin.
  • Retainers or rails for pots and pans while underway.
  • If built-in, properly insulated and free from combustible materials, CNG and LPG (propane).
  • Stored in separate compartment from boat’s interior and engine room.
  • Tightly secured shut-off valve at tank.
  • Proper labeling and cautions in place at tank location.
  • Hoses, lines and fittings of approved and inspected type.
  • Compartment is ventilated overboard and below level of tank base.

Electrical System

  • Wiring approved for marine applications.
  • System is neatly bundled and secured.
  • Protected against chafing and strain.
  • Adequate flex between bulkhead and engine connections.
  • Clear of exhaust system and bilge.
  • System is protected by circuit breakers or fuses.
  • Grounds to Zincs if required.
  • Wire terminals and connections sealed to prevent corrosion.

Bilge Pumps

  • Will pump(s) adequately remove water in emergency? Do you have a manual backup? Are bilges clean and free to circulate (clear limber holes)? Do you check bilges frequently and not rely on automatic pumps?

Corrosion Prevention

  • Through-hulls, props, shafts, bearings, rudder fittings, and exposed fastenings free of non-destructive corrosion.
  • Zincs are adequate to provide protection.
  • Through-hulls are properly bonded.
  • Inspect the steering cables, engine control linkage and cables, engine mounts and gear case for corrosion.
  • These items are properly lubricated or painted to prevent undue corrosion.


  • Strainers, intakes and exhaust or discharge fittings are free from restrictions such as barnacles, marine growth or debris.
  • Inspect sea valves for smooth operation.
  • Handles are attached to valves for quick closure.
  • Hoses are in good condition and free from cracking.
  • Double hose-clamps below the waterline.
  • Anti-siphon valve fitted to marine toilet.
  • Through-hull plugs are near fittings or attached to hose in case of emergency.


  • Stored in non-corrosive, liquid tight, ventilated containers.
  • Non-conductive covers are fitted over posts.
  • Batteries are well secured.

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