Monthly Archives: July 2013

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.

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

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What Were They Thinkin!

A  few days ago I posted an article titled “Boat Ownership Keeping it Yours.”   In that article I mentioned several things that you should do to protect your boat, trailer and equipment from theft. Such things as:

  • Mark It
  • Record It
  • Photograph or Film It
  • Arm It
  • Secure It
  • Store It
  • Insure It and…
  • Report It

Recently while roaming the docks with my dog Max, on our early morning walk, I ran across the following label proudly displayed on an unidentified boaters’ dockbox.

Needless to say this is NOT one of the security measures that I would suggest.

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Boat Ownership – Keeping It Yours

Seems now days news articles related to boating thefts across the country occur all too  often.

Perhaps the reason could be desperate people in a struggling economy, the availability of  unlocked boats or simply a long stretch of nasty weather.  Thieves make assumptions about your habits and conclude that you won’t be going anywhere near your boat while the weather is bad.

Across the nation, more and more boats, trailers, equipment, electronics and personal items are stolen each year. Most of these crimes are committed by amateurs who, when tempted with an easy opportunity, can’t resist that temptation. Remember the old adage that locks are just a means of keeping honest people honest. This certainly applies to boating.

You would be surprised at how often, when strolling the fuel dock, you will find a boat that has pulled up for fuel, or ice or refreshments, just sitting there unattended with the keys in the ignition or, worse yet, idling away. Or even if the keys aren’t present you might see a handheld VHF radio or a pair of expensive binoculars just lying in the seat or on the dash.

What can you do to make sure that your boat stays in your possession? Read on for tips on security.

MARK IT:

Permanently mark or engrave your boat, your trailer, all your equipment, electronics and personal items which you use regularly on your boat with your vessels hull identification number (HIN) and/or your driver’s license number. Your boat of course, unless manufactured prior to 1972, will already have a HIN on the transom. Permanently mark your driver’s license number in a location that is not readily accessible or noticeable. The same should apply to the trailer. Mark your boat’s HIN and your DL number on the underside of the tongue or axle. As for your equipment, electronics and other items, use some method of permanently marking them as well.

Be sure to keep a copy of your boat and trailer registrations at home in a safe place. It is also a good idea to take a hull rubbing of your HIN. Take a sheet of thin paper and tape it over your HIN number on the transom. Using a soft leaded pencil, rub back and forth across the number lightly until in shows up on the piece of paper.

RECORD IT:

Make a complete inventory of your boat, trailer and equipment. List all electronic gear, binoculars, outboard motors, PFDs, fishing equipment etc. by brand, model, and serial numbers if available. Also record your boat by make, model, registration and HIN number. Be sure to record the license number of your trailer.

Keep this master inventory list at home and keep a copy for reference in a hidden place on your boat in case you find something missing.

PHOTOGRAPH OR FILM IT:

Take pictures or videotape your boat, trailer and equipment from all angles. Keep copies at home in a safe place. Perhaps alongside your insurance papers.

ARM IT:

For larger boats, consider an alarm system. Self-contained systems are inexpensive and can be purchased at most any radio shack, electronics or marine store. Be sure to choose a system specifically designed for boating use. The damp and constantly moving marine environment puts demands on the alarm system requiring special sensors and properly protected location. Systems not designed for marine use may malfunction or report false alarms. Be sure, if you have an enclosed cabin, to include a smoke detector and carbon monoxide (CO) detector in your alarm system.

SECURE IT:

Boats should be covered and secured as completely as possible. Ignition switches should be locked and additional steps such as installing a hidden “kill switch,” hidden fuel shut off. I once met a man who even lugged his starter battery back and forth from his home to his boat.

Boats on trailers are easy crime targets if thieves can just hitch up and drive away. Here are several ways that you can help prevent that:

  • If possible, store the boat and trailer in a locked garage, secured boat storage facility or mini-storage warehouse.
  • Keep the boat well inside your yard, preferably out of sight.
  • If possible, turn the trailer around so the it is “nose” in rather than out.
  • In a carport or driveway, park a vehicle in front of the trailer, blocking easy removal.
  • For any type of outside storage, remove at least one wheel from the trailer. Be sure to block up the axle to keep the trailer level.
  • Use a high-security chain and quality lock to secure the boat and trailer to a fixed object such as a tree or post.
  • No matter how you store your trailer, get a trailer hitch lock.
  • Some trailers are available that allow you to remove the forward part of the tongue which contains the hitch.

STORE IT:

Obviously your best bet is to remove all equipment from your boat and store it in the garage or other secure area. Make sure you lock hatches and opening ports. If your boat doesn’t have them, or they are broken, you can purchase hatch locks at any marine store. When possible, valuable and easily removed items should be secured below deck in a locked compartment. Lockers should be equipped with non-removable hasps and hinges and secured with padlocks. Lock outboard motors and fuel tanks to the boat. When your boat is left unattended, close the window curtains if you have them so people can not “window shop.”

If your boat is kept in the water at a dock, consider chaining it to the dock. Also, get to know your marina neighbors and form a marina watch group.

INSURE IT:

Insurance is an important part of any theft protection plan. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes seen as a substitute for security precautions. True, insurance may replace stolen property and repair damage but there is usually a deductible that must be met and there are intangibles that insurance doesn’t cover. Down time, inconvenience and aggravation normally aren’t compensated.

Finally, insurance companies don’t like losses. Just one claim can result in increased rates and a loss history will probably result in cancellation. Even when no claims have been filed, using a facility with a poor crime history can result in prohibitively high premiums or denial of coverage.

REPORT IT:

What should you do if you are a victim of marine theft? Immediately report your loss to your local law enforcement agency, the United States Coast Guard if on federal waters, your insurance company and the marina or storage facility manager. When a loss occurs, the ability to positively identify property is crucial to its recovery and the the prosecution of thieves and dealers in stolen goods.

By following the above suggestions you can reduce the risk of loss of your boat, trailer or equipment by theft. You should also exercise caution when buying a boat or running across a “good deal” on equipment. To avoid problems, match the HIN listed on the title and registration to the one on the boat. Inspect the HIN on the transom to be sure it has not been altered in any way. (Also, contact the manufacturer to see if a second, duplicate HIN was placed on the vessel or equipment in an inconspicuous place.) And, if you think that pair of $500.00 binoculars is a real bargain at only twenty five bucks…well remember that saying, if it is too good to be true…

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DOCUMENTING YOUR BOAT — PROS AND CONS

Many of you may have purchased new or used boats during the off-season this year either from an individual, a dealer or at a boat show.  Inevitably, while showing off your new purchase to friends, the question will arise; “is it documented?” So how do you answer?

  • Do you say:  Sure isn’t that one of the first things you do?
  • Or do you say: Not yet, but I need to take care of that soon.
  • Or, are you honest and say: I don’t even know what that means.

So…just so you will know the correct answer the following article from the U.S. Coast Guard Consumer Fact Sheet explains the process and the pros and cons.

WHICH VESSELS MUST BE DOCUMENTED?

With a few exceptions, all vessels of 5 or more net tons which are used in coastwise trade, Great Lakes trade, or the fisheries, on the navigable waters of the U.S. or the Exclusive Economic Zone must be documented. A commercial vessel of 5 or more net tons engaged in foreign trade is eligible, but not required, to be documented. A recreational boat, owned by a U.S. citizen, may (at the option of the owner) also be documented if it is 5 or more net tons. The Certificate of Documentation is issued by the Coast Guard.

WHICH VESSELS MUST BE NUMBERED?

Federal law requires any undocumented vessel equipped with propulsion machinery to be numbered in the State in which it is principally operated. The law allows the States to create their own numbering systems as long as they meet or exceed Federal requirements.

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF DOCUMENTATION

If the owner has a choice between the two forms of registration, what are the advantages or disadvantages of documenting the boat?

Advantages: The main benefit of documentation versus numbering, is that a documented vessel may be the subject of a Preferred Ship Mortgage under 46 United States Code Chapter 313. In practical terms, this means that lending institutions regard a documented vessel as a more secure form of collateral. For larger and more expensive boats, it may be easier to obtain bank financing if the boat is documented rather than numbered.

Another benefit is that the certificate of documentation may make customs entry and clearance easier in foreign ports. The document is treated as a form of national registration that clearly identifies the nationality of the vessel.

Disadvantages: The main disadvantage of documenting rather than numbering is the higher cost. The initial documentation fee for a recreational vessel is *$100.00. The numbering fee varies from State to State but averages about *$25.00. In addition, documented vessels are not exempt from State or local taxes or other boating fees. Some individual States require a registration fee even if a boat is documented.

*These numbers are just estimates and may change without notice.

For more information and a list of Frequently Asked Questions visit the BoatSafe.com website.

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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 http://www.protectyourwaters.net/impacts.php

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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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Navigation Lights – Not!

Marine Safety Alert

The Coast Guard has recently become aware of the uninspected towing vessel industry using inappropriate navigation lights that fail to meet the criteria for use onboard any vessel; SEACHOICE Products LED Navigation Light, SCP #03201 shown below. Online research shows many outlets for the sale of this product. It is possible that this product may be in widespread use in the recreational boating industry as well.

The SEACHOICE Products and other catalogs advertise it as a “LED classic navigation light.” Packaged individually, the item looks as shown on the left. The package indicates incorrect usage as a“masthead light.” When web-searched the retrieved information presents it as a “masthead” or “navigation” light. Neither of these applications are correct and the fixture should not be used on any vessel in an effort to meet the navigation rules.

Masthead lighting requires an arc of 225 degrees visibility and stern lighting requires an arc 135 degrees visibility, for a total range of 360 degrees visibility. Depending on the type of vessel there are also light, color and range of visibility requirements.

The SEACHOICE product SCP 03201 has an arc of 180 degrees visibility and is not applicable to any requirement.

The Coast Guard strongly recommends that owners / operators of any vessel who installed this particular SEACHOICE product (#03201 only) as a masthead, stern or other type of navigation light to remove it and replace it with a proper light that meets the requirements for the vessel and application.

Recreational boaters who have questions should contact the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Commercial vessel owner / operators who have questions should contact the Coast Guard Sector or Marine Safety Unit.

Standards for color, intensity and arc of visibility can be found in Annex I of COLREGs or:

33CFR84.13 – Color specification of lights

33CFR84.15 – Intensity of lights

33CFR84.17 – Horizontal sectors

33CFR84.19 – Vertical sectors

Special thanks to Coast Guard Sector Detroit for identifying this issue.

This document is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any domestic or international safety, operational or material requirement. Developed by the Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis, United States Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC. Questions can be addressed to the sender.

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