Monthly Archives: February 2012

Informed Boater on Board

Make passenger safety briefings part of your predeparture routine.

Contributed by John Malatak, chief, Program Operations, U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Division.

During an onboard emergency, precious seconds can be lost telling passengers where to locate and how to use vital safety equipment. If the boat operator (you) has been injured or otherwise put out of commission, the situation can suddenly turn life-threatening — too often with tragic results.

Two summers ago off the Massachusetts coast, the captain of a sailboat was knocked overboard by the boom while trying to get the sails down during a severe thunderstorm. His only passenger — a friend visiting from out of town — didn’t know how to radio for help. When he finally got through to the Coast Guard station, which was less than a half-mile away, he was unable to tell the dispatcher where he was. By the time the Coast Guard determined the vessel’s position and reached it with a patrol boat, it was too late. The captain had drowned because the only other person on board did not know what action to take in an emergency.

If you’re taking passengers along on your boat, make a full safety briefing part of your predeparture routine. It only takes a few minutes to show passengers where safety equipment is stored and how to use it, as well as the proper procedures for calling for emergency assistance. Consider what your passengers need to know in an emergency, especially if you are injured or fall overboard; then, customize the briefing to the unique characteristics of your boat.

Time spent briefing your passengers about onboard procedures and safety can make a huge difference in the event of a true emergency, when every second counts. Consider printing your safety orientation on a laminated card that can be posted in a prominent spot on your vessel. Also, label where the equipment is located on your boat. Read on to find out what your passengers need to know.

Safety Briefing Points:

1. Where life jackets are located and how to wear them properly. (The Coast Guard strongly suggests that all passengers wear their life jacket at all times while on board an open boat.) If your passengers are not wearing their life jacket, at a minimum have them put a life jacket on and size it properly. Then have them put a piece of masking tape on it and write their name on the tape. That way, in an emergency situation, they will have a prefitted life jacket that is easy to locate.  And remember, if you have children on board, they will need a proper-fitting, child-sized life jacket.

2. How to use the VHF marine radio and make a mayday distress call.

3. Where to find the EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon), survival equipment, visual distress signals, first-aid kit and fire extinguisher — and how to use them.

4. What to do if someone falls overboard and where to find the throw bags, life rings and life slings.

5. How to stop the boat safely and any unique features and/or idiosyncrasies of your boat, particularly if they might have an impact on passenger safety.

6. Where the anchor is located and how to stop and anchor the boat.

7. That they need to follow instructions exactly and get out of the way if something goes wrong and the boat operator has not asked for assistance. Some frightened people will stand rooted in place while chaos is going on around them. Knowing they should stay out of the way is important information.

8. How to use any installed global positioning system (GPS) equipment you may have on board.

Wrap up your briefing by answering any additional questions they may have. If any passengers are confused about boating safety procedures, the time for clarification is before you leave the dock.

Leave a comment

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

If Not Ethanol, Why Not Butanol?

We have published several articles in the past year concerning the introduction of a higher percentage of ethanol into fuel and the bad effects that it may have on marine engines. BoatUS has just published an article that potentially gives an alternative.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — With its ability to attract moisture and clog fuel filters, it’s no wonder America’s boaters have not been thrilled with ethanol in gasoline, which today is most commonly found as a 10% blend and known as E10 at the gas pump. America’s desire for renewable fuels is growing, but recent Department of Energy tests on boat engines showed that increasing the amount of ethanol to 15% doesn’t work for boats. While higher ethanol content has been approved by the EPA for 2001 and newer cars and light trucks, E15 is not legal to use in boats and other gas-powered equipment.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) suggests that butanol, an alcohol with a characteristic banana-like odor typically made from corn and beet byproducts, may be an answer.

Unlike ethanol, butanol is less corrosive, doesn’t attract moisture which can cause harmful phase separation of the fuel, and can be mixed in ahead of time and shipped through existing pipelines. It has a higher energy value (110,000 Btu per gallon versus ethanol’s 84,000 Btu), and is safer because its flammability is similar to diesel fuel. So why aren’t America’s boaters, motorists and gas-powered tool and toy owners using butanol?

“Part of the answer is how the stuff is – or was – made,” wrote BoatUS Seaworthy Magazine Editor and Damage Avoidance Expert Bob Adriance. He says, “Back in the 1980’s when the government was looking at biofuels, the cost to produce butanol was much higher than ethanol. Congress also gave ethanol a head start 30 years ago with a subsidy to produce it from corn. However, the subsidy is now expired and new technologies have made the costs to produce both fuels similar, although butanol is ultimately far less expensive to produce in terms of the amount of energy delivered per gallon.”

“With its new cost competitiveness and energy advantages, butanol could be a biofuel that boaters embrace,” said Adriance. “However, we need to find out more about any potential long-term effects, and would need to overcome the not-too-insignificant reality of ethanol’s financial and political momentum in the market today.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Maintenance, Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Sailing News, Uncategorized

Coast Guard rescues 2 teenagers adrift in Rondeau Bay, Ontario

CLEVELAND — A U.S. Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew airlifted two teenagers who were adrift in Rondeau Bay this morning.

The men were walking along the shore and climbed onto a raft, which was covered by a duckblind, when the raft suddenly broke free and drifted into the bay.

Search and rescue controllers at the Coast Guard’s 9th District Command Center were contacted by personnel at Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton, Ontario, at 4:51 a.m., after they received a report of two men adrift on ice in the bay. Reportedly, the men were not wearing lifejackets and had become stranded while duck hunting.

A Coast Guard Air Station Detroit aircrew was directed to launch aboard an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter. Arriving on scene at 6:21 a.m., the aircraft’s rescue swimmer was lowered to the raft and both men were airlifted into the helicopter. They were taken to Chatham Airport, where they were turned over to awaiting EMS.

“This case is just a perfect example of our bi-national collaboration and cooperation with our Canadian partners,” said Capt. Stephen Torpey, chief of response for the 9th Coast Guard District.

“Working together, the Canadian Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, and Ontario Provincial Police were able to put the right emergency response asset, complete with a crew with the right capabilities, at the scene, which allowed us to successfully reach these boys and get them home.”

With unusually warm temperatures this winter in the Great Lakes region, people who plan to recreate on or near the water should monitor the weather and ensure they have all the recommended safety gear.  When venturing out, a person should think I.C.E. as a precaution:

Intelligence — know the weather and ice conditions, know where you are going, and know how to call for help. Never go out alone.

Clothing — have the proper clothing to prevent hypothermia. Wear a waterproof exposure suit and a life preserver.

Equipment — have the proper equipment. Carry two ice picks or screwdrivers, in case you fall in. Use these items to dig into the ice and pull yourself out. They are more effective than bare hands! Carry a whistle or noise maker to alert people that you are in distress. Carry a cellular phone or marine band radio in a waterproof container so that you can call for help if you come across trouble.

Click here for more information regarding cold water and ice safety.

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Sailing News, The Boating Environment

Wally’s New Ace Yacht

Wally’s new Ace displacement yacht will still provide plenty of room to stretch one’s legs while cruising the ocean waves. With 1,378 square feet (128 m2) of outside deck space spread over two decks and a 441 square foot (41 m2) interior saloon area contributing to a total square footage of 3,035 (282 m2), Wally says the Ace has 30 percent more space than its nearest competitor of the same length.

Designed as a true long-distance cruiser (its diesel engines can take passengers non-stop from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean) the Wally Ace is designed to be manageable without a professional crew. However, if you prefer some one else to take care of the sailing, the vessel has accommodations for four crew, in addition to six to eight guests.

The Wally Ace has an overall length of 86 ft (26 m), with the hull measuring 78 ft (24 m) long that displaces 207,234 lbs (94 tons) of water with a half load. The yacht’s maximum beam length is 25 ft (7 m), and it features a 3,000 liter (792 gal US) water tank and a 14,000 liter (3,698 gal US) fuel tank. There’s also an onboard garage for storing a 20 foot (6 m) tender.

The yacht is powered by two CAT C12 diesel engines producing 287 kW (385 hp) at 1,800 rpm, that provide a top speed of 12 knots (14 mph/22 km/h) and a range of 5,000 nautical miles (5,754 m/9,260 km) cruising at 9 knots (10 mph/17 km/h). The company says the ACE’s hull design and gyroscopic stabilization combine to ensure a smooth and stable ride.

Wally says the hull of the first Ace is in the final stages of construction and is nearing launch for final fit and testing. Two further hulls also under construction are due for completion in the second half of 2012.

Leave a comment

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

GPS Navigation Blamed for Midnight Collision

We have often discussed the fact that you should not rely on only one source when navigating, especially at night and in unknown waters. Well, here is another example of how that magic GPS box appears to have failed.

Courtesy Sailing World:

‘Torrent Bay where the incident occurred’

Once again the potential for inaccuracy by GPS equipment has been illustrated. Three sailors who were using GPS for night navigation were forced to abandon their boat when it hit rocks not far from Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand this week.

The yacht Okiana was crewed by the owner Hugh McCrae, his son and a friend. Mc Crae told rescuers that they ‘thought they were in the middle of the bay using their GPS’, but they weren’t and hit the rocks. It was a dark night and there wasn’t much moon.

Okiana wrecked after GPS fooled the crew into thinking they were in the middle of the entrance –  .. .

The yacht hit rocks near Pitt Head in Torrent Bay in the Abel Tasman National Park. They managed to get into inflatable boats after sending out a Mayday.

However, it was the sound that alerted local residents to the incident. They were lucky rescuers were at hand, a Torrent Bay man who helped them ashore told The Dominion Post.

The trio on board the 12-metre Okiana were rescued at midnight on Sunday. Torrent Bay resident Chris Waide was watching the Australian Open tennis at a friend’s place in Torrent Bay when he heard about the Okiana’s mayday call. He used his work boat to get to the three men at Pitt Head.

‘They were fairly distressed and quite disorientated. It was pitch black. There wasn’t much of a moon. They would have wondered what the bloody hell happened,’ he said.

Mr Waide said the men had grab-bags, a VHF radio and two inflatable boats. ‘They had all the gear. They were definitely very well prepared. I picked up two, and another boat picked up one. We took them back to Torrent Bay and the local residents looked after them for the night.’

Mr Waide said the Okiana was lying on the reef and badly damaged. He said other boats had been written off after hitting rocks in the same place.

Mr Waide said Mr McCrae and his crew left Mana in Wellington a few days ago and were making their way to Fiordland. Torrent Bay was supposed to be a planned stopover, ‘but they never quite made it’.

Mr Waide said they were ‘three fairly unhappy boys’, but it was lucky no-one was hurt. ‘They’re very lucky that it was this time of year and that there are a lot of people around. It could have been a lot worse.’

Torrent Bay resident Darryl Thomas also helped with the rescue. ‘We were just sitting outside at about midnight, having a wee party, and we heard this bang. It was the flare going off,’ he said.

Mr Thomas went inside, turned on his maritime radio, heard the Okiana’s mayday call and went to help. ‘By the time we got to them, they had two rubber boats and the captain, Hugh, was in one. His son and friend were in another one. They were probably bloody relieved to have us there.’

Mr Thomas said it was a ‘clockwork rescue’. Back in Torrent Bay, he gave the men some dry clothes and ‘a few drinks’ and put them up ‘next door.’

‘We had them on shore pretty quick. I think they were really appreciative.’ Mr Thomas said Mr McCrae was an experienced yachtie, who had bought the Okiana in July last year.

‘Their aim was to go around Farewell Spit and carry on down the West Coast.’

Tasman District Council harbourmaster Steve Hainstock said the stricken boat was first thought to be a 15-metre launch. This was because Mr McCrae used an emergency beacon registered to that boat, which he also owned, rather than the Okiana. Mr McCrae was carrying both on board.

Maritime New Zealand spokesman Ross Henderson said carrying two emergency beacons was better than carrying no emergency communications at all.

He said boat owners needed to ensure that their beacons were registered with the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand and that their emergency contact details were kept up to date.

They should also let their contacts know where they were going and what their trip plans were, he said.

by Sail-World Cruising

Leave a comment

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

Virginia is for BOATERS

Source: Daily Boater

The folks that promote tourism for the Commonwealth of Virginia are announcing a major travel sweepstakes for 2012, and it’s quite nautical.

They are calling the promotion LOVE Aquatic, and it features four grand prize adventures that combine family fun and learning on the water…

Sweepstakes Details
Each of the four prize packages is for a family of four and includes airfare, rental car, overnight lodging, cash card, admission to attractions and a specific aquatic experience with personalized expert instruction. Highlights of the prizes include:

Four nights in a waterside hotel in Norfolk along with VIP access to the tall ships during OPSAIL2012.

A vacation at Smith Mountain Lake, complete with pontoon boat rental for four days and boating safety lessons

Four nights in an inn on the Chesapeake Bay, along with two mornings of sailing instructions and a guided kayak tour of Westmoreland State Park.

A four night getaway in Richmond, complete with a five-hour river experience and fly fishing lessons on the James River.

Drawings will be held March 16, May 11, June 15 and August 10. Adults 21 and over can register online to win by visiting

Leave a comment

Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, Boating Trivia Contest, Fishing News, Lake Boating, Sailing News