Monthly Archives: May 2012

Spring Snowmelt Prompts Water Safety Warning

The US Coast Guard warns outdoor recreationists operating on the nation’s mountain fed rivers and lakes that they should take serious precautions against cold temperatures and swift currents when in or near water this spring. Despite this year’s below-normal snowfall, the spring snowmelt can still result in swift and cold river flows that can create treacherous conditions for all recreationists – waders, swimmers, paddlers, boaters, anglers, and even hikers cooling off at the water’s edge.

 For example, the utility and state departments in California cautioned that even though the water content of California’s mountain snowpack is near 40 percent of normal, there is still a significant amount of water in the snowpack and it is rapidly melting as mid-spring temperatures continue to warm. As warmer weather and longer days accelerate melting snow in mountainous regions, water temperatures will continue to drop and flows will continue to rise in waterways and reservoirs, with some reservoirs spilling and resulting in higher flows downstream.

Those planning outings near mountain streams, rivers and reservoirs need to be vigilant and take appropriate safety measures. Water flows will fluctuate with the warming and cooling of the day so boaters always need to be prepared for a change in conditions. Even experienced swimmers can get caught in swift river flows, Check local water conditions before taking a boating trip, wear a life jacket and avoid alcohol.

 Know the Water

  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers can be easily overwhelmed.
  • Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation. This may confuse swimmers, causing them to venture deeper into the water.

 Know your limits

  • Swimming in open water is more difficult than in a swimming pool – people tire more quickly and can get into trouble.
  • Cold water causes impairment leading to fatalities. It reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for inexperienced paddlers are recommended.

 Wear a life jacket

  • Conditions change quickly in open water and even the best swimmers can misjudge the water and their skills when boating or swimming. Wearing a life jacket can increase survival time.
  • A life jacket can provide some thermal protection against the onset of hypothermia and keep you afloat until someone else can rescue you.

 Parental Supervision

  • Actively supervise children in and around open bodies of water, giving them your undivided attention. Appoint a designated “water watcher,” taking turns with other adults.
  • Teach children that swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in a pool: they need to be aware of uneven surfaces, river currents, ocean undertow and changing weather.

Know the Law

  • Generally, every child under age 12 and under must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on a moving vessel. A Coast Guard-approved life jacket must be carried for each person on board a boat. This includes rigid or inflatable paddle craft.
  • Every person on board a personal watercraft (popularly known as “jet skis”) and any person being towed behind a vessel must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

 In most states, it is against the law to operate a boat or water ski with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. You can be arrested even when your BAC is less than 0.08 percent if conditions are deemed to be unsafe.

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

SWEET – It’s The Opening of Boating Season

As boaters across the country prepare to kick off the 2012 boating season, the Coast Guard would like to remind boaters to have a “SWEET” time on the water.

“S” is for Safety

  • Don’t drink and boat
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Ensure your equipment is labeled with the proper contact information.

“W” is for Weather

  • Check weather forecasts
  • Dress for the water, not the weather

“E” is for Equipment

  • Carry a VHF-FM marine radio
  • Make sure your boat is in good repair
  • Get a free vessel safety exam from the Coast Guard Auxiliary

“E” is also for Environment

  • Keep a sharp lookout and monitor the weather and sea conditions
  • Keep your distance from military, passenger and commercial shipping

“T” is for Training

  • Check all safety gear and ensure that everybody is trained in its use
  • Take a boating class; educated boaters are safe boaters

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Filed under Boat Maintenance, Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety, The Boating Environment

Join America’s Waterway Watch

This spring and summer, you have the opportunity to contribute to improving our nation’s security by doing what comes naturally, paying attention to what’s happening on the water, and reporting anything suspicious to the US Coast Guard.  America’s Waterway Watch, a program sponsored by the US Coast Guard, brings the neighborhood-watch concept to the waters where we work and play. This allows boaters to be a part of the solution to security concerns because we usually know what does and does not look right on the water.

If you are a tow boat operator, a recreational boater, a fisherman, a marina operator, or otherwise live, work or engage in recreational activities around America’s waterways, the United States Coast Guard wants your help in keeping these areas safe and secure. You can do this by participating in its America’s Waterway Watch (AWW) program, a nationwide initiative similar to the well known and successful Neighborhood Watch program that asks community members to report suspicious activities to local law enforcement agencies.

You should always remember that people are not suspicious, behavior is. And if you observe suspicious behavior or activity, you should simply note the details and contact local law enforcement. You are not expected to approach or challenge anyone acting in a suspicious manner.

The Coast Guard sponsors a 24 hour hotline, 1-877-24-WATCH (1-877-249-2824) that boaters can call should they see something unusual. Add this number to your cell phone. Additional information can be found at

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Filed under Boat Operation, Boating News, Boating Safety

Dockside Do’s and Don’ts

Many times we simply get complacent at dockside and don’t use our common sense. Following are a few tips that you should adhere to to make dockside boating safer and more pleasant for you and your dockside neighbors.

ALWAYS neatly coil or flemish excess line both on the dock and onboard. This not only looks more professional but can prevent someone from tripping over a loose line and falling. Guess who would be at fault if it were your line they tripped over?

ALWAYS turn off all AC breakers on board, then turn off the breaker and disconnect the power cord from the dock first. You will see many people undo the power cord from the boat and then hand it to, or worse yet, carry it off the boat to the dock. One slip and they are in the drink with a live wire.

ALWAYS make sure you turn off all outside lights, instruments, and VHF radio. There is nothing more un-neighborly than a light shining on the boat in the next slip or the VHF blasting loudly while you are out for a late night at the local pub.

NEVER connect a dock water supply to the pressure side of the water system on your boat. Not even with a pressure-reducing valve. This is an invitation to sink your boat.  All you need is for one of those hose clamps to quit, or a flexible section to rupture and there is an unlimited supply of water to fill your boat. Far better to fill your water tank periodically using a hose and using the onboard water pressure pump to supply your requirements. Now if there is an accident, no more water can come on the boat than was already there and you can’t sink. Keeping your pressure pump working on a regular basis is also better for it. Nothing kills pumps quicker than being idle for long periods.

And while on the subject, NEVER have a water tank that overflows anywhere onboard. Plumb the overflow overboard or to a drain which always runs overboard because, sooner or later, you will go ashore and forget you left the hose filling the tank!


Filed under Boat Maintenance, Boat Operation, Boating Safety, Uncategorized

Rules of the Road Memory Aides

We published this article a couple of years ago but thought it might be a good reminder as we head into the boating season.

Over 125 years ago, Captain Eldridge set to poetry the most essential aspect of the Rules of the Road (COLREGs.) From this, the renowned Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, the marine industry’s most respected tide and current reference guide since 1874, was born.

The Rule of the Road
When all three lights I see ahead,
I turn to Starboard and show my Red

Green to Green, Red to Red,
Perfect Safety — Go Ahead.

But if to Starboard Red appear,
It is my duty to keep clear.

To act as judgment says is proper:
To Port or Starboard, Back or Stop her.

And if upon my Port is seen
A Steamer’s Starboard light of Green,

I hold my course and watch to see
That Green to Port keeps Clear of me.

Both in safety and in doubt
Always keep a good look out.

In Danger, with no room to turn,
Ease her, Stop her, Go Astern.


Mnemonics For Light Identification

Red, White, Red
Restricted Ability Ahead
Red over Red
The Captain Is Dead
Vessel not under command
Three Reds in a Row
No Room Below
Constrained by draft – (International only)
Red Over White
Fishing at night
02sailstern.gif (797 bytes)Red Over Green
Sailing Machine
White Over Red
Pilot Aheadpilot.gif (577 bytes)
Yellow Over Yellow
A pushing or Hip Towing Fellow (Inland only)
Green Over White
Trawling at Night
Yellow Over White
My Towline is Tight
Dayshape is shown when tow exceeds 200 meters
Green   Green


Three Greens in a Cross
Mineclearing Bossquiz0301.gif (1640 bytes)
GREEN to GREEN, RED to RED – Perfect Safety Go Ahead

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

Yet Another App – Man Overboard

Man Overboard is an App that could save a life.
Disclaimer: I have not reviewed this app since I don’t own an “I” device.

Simple to use, Man Overboard shows you the way back to the MOB – and the position to give to the emergency services. That alone could be life saving. If you are in any type of boat – yacht, motorboat, dinghy, anything that floats, your safety and that of your crew and guests is paramount. Don’t just download this App yourself – make sure that they do to. It may be you that goes overboard!

Just press the MOB button to see:

  • Direction to follow
  • Distance to go
  • Time elapsed
  • Position of the MOB – latitude and longitude
  • When you are closer than 100 metres the display changes from red to green
  • When you are closer than 10 metres the display changes to show MOB

Press the Info button to see:

  • Your current position
  • The MOB position
  • The bearing to the MOB

A man overboard situation is fairly rare but it happens more often than you think. A simple trip on some deck clutter; a knock from the boom; leaning back on a lifeline that snaps; reaching over to retrieve a fender– there are a hundred ways for someone aboard to unexpectedly find themselves in the water.

To order from Itunes click here.

Be safe at sea. Stay safe on the water.

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