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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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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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Virginia Boating Safety Course Deadline

Effective today boat operators 40 years old or younger in Virginia are required to complete a boating safety course.

The latest phase of the state’s Boating Safety Education Law kicks in today July 1, requiring all motorboat operators age 40 or younger to carry proof of completion of an approved boating safety education course. All personal watercraft operators and boat operators age 30 or younger have been required to complete a course since July 2012.

The regulations apply to those operating a boat with a motor of 10 horsepower or greater, according to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The rules do not apply to unpowered vessels such as canoes and kayaks.

Boaters wishing to obtain a certificate of completion can take advantage of classroom courses offered around the area. They can also complete a course online or by mail. Classroom courses typically take a full day to complete. Online courses can be taken over the course of days or weeks, but typically take three hours to complete.

A completion certificate must be carried with the operator while on the water.

To take a course online go to http://boatingbasicsonline.com

The safety course requirement will eventually affect all boaters. Boaters younger than 45 must complete a course before July 1, 2014, and those younger than 50 by July 1, 2015. All boaters, regardless of age, must complete a course before July 1, 2016.

For more information, visit http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/boating.

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Circle of Death

Out of sight, out of mind might best describe a very serious hidden danger in boating. Because of the speed and torque, this hidden danger has the potential to kill, mangle or permanently disfigure an unsuspecting person in the water. That hidden danger is the boat engine propeller (“propeller strike”).

Propeller related accidents represent 4 percent of all boating fatalities, with a growing number of injuries.

Operating below the water line, the propeller is not readily visible to the operator, passengers, swimmers, skiers, etc. Common propeller strike events include “crew-overboard” and/or “circle of death” incidents. If you have a “crew overboard” event, you should immediately turn toward the person in the water in order to push the stern in the opposite direction. Simultaneously, you should shift to neutral to stop the propeller from spinning.

A “circle of death” event occurs when the operator goes overboard and/or loses control of the steering. Whether you have an outboard, I/O or inboard engine, your propeller most likely is designed to spin in a clockwise direction while going forward. This built in prop pitch introduces “prop walk,” which, depending on the amount of throttle still applied when steering is lost, will cause the boat to circle. This circling action has the potential of creating a scenario where the operator, now in the water, is actually run over by the boat and potentially hit by the propeller.

Luckily, the people who were thrown from the boat in the video clip below were thrown clear of the “circle of death.”

To minimize the potential of someone being struck by the propeller use the following cautions:

  • Never run the engine while people are boarding or unboarding.
  • Make sure everyone on board is seated properly before starting the engine.
  • Do not allow passengers to stand or sit on the transom, gunwales, seatbacks or bow while underway.
  • Do not operate within close proximity to people in the water. This includes swimmers, skiers, divers, etc.
  • Keep a sharp lookout.

There are devices designed to decrease the potential of “propeller strike”. These include:

  • Propellers guards, which fully or partially surround the propeller.
  • Interlocks which, if certain conditions exist, automatically shut off the engine.
  • Sensors that can be worn by individuals and electronically stop the engine, sound alarms, etc., if they go overboard.

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Recreational Boating Statistics 2012


In 2012, the Coast Guard counted 4515 accidents that involved 651 deaths, 3000 injuries and approximately $38 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents.

The fatality rate was  5.4 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels. This rate represents a 12.9% decrease from last year’s fatality rate of 6 deaths per 100,000 registered recreational vessels.

Compared to 2011, the number of accidents decreased 1.6%, the number of deaths decreased 14.1% and the number of injuries decreased 2.6%.

Almost seventy-one (71) percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, almost eighty-five (85) percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket.

Almost fourteen percent (14) of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Only nine (9) percent of deaths occurred on vessels where the operator had received boating safety instruction from a NASBLAapproved course provider.

Seven out of every ten boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length.

Operator inattention, operator inexperience, improper lookout, machinery failure, and excessive speed rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents.

Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17% of deaths.

Twenty-four children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating in 2012. Ten children or approximately forty-two (42) percent of the children who died in 2012 died from drowning. Two children or twenty (20) percent of those who drowned were wearing a life jacket as required by state and federal law.

The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (47%), personal watercraft (19%), and cabin motorboats (15%).

The 12,101,936 recreational vessels registered by the states in 2012 represent a 0.59% decrease from last year when 12,173,935 recreational vessels were registered.

For the full report click here.

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Introduction to Navigation Part 7 Estimating Time of Arrival

This will be the end of our  7 part series on “Introduction to Navigation.” We hope that we have given a brief overview of what you would be learning in the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course. Trust me there is much, much more that we did not touch on.

Learning the “Art of Navigation” is not difficult but there are several steps that must be learned along the way. After learning about latitude and longitude, distance, direction and reading a nautical chart, you will start putting these processes together to solve real-time problems. On piece of practical information you might want to use is estimating time of arrival.

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Course at http://boatsafe.com/navigation .

Assume that you will leave your marina or boat ramp on a trip to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

  • You have made reservations at the restaurant for 1200.
  • The restaurant is 29 nautical miles from your marina.
  • You plan on a leisurely cruise at a speed of 12 kts.

What time must you leave your marina to arrive at the restaurant at your reservation time?

This is a simple Distance, Time, Speed question. The formulas to use for the calculations are made simple if you remember, and actually write in a corner of your chart, the following diagram.

The “D” represents distance, “S” represents speed and “T” represents time. In order to solve a distance, speed, time problem you need two of the three values and then must solve for the third.

Using the diagram, cover the unknown value with your finger and what you have left is the formula to solve the problem.

In our problem we know the distance and the speed so we cover up the “T” and the resulting formula is “D” over “S” or “D” divided by “S”.

Using this formula, the first step is to calculate how long it will take you to get to the restaurant by cruising at 12 knots for 29 nautical miles.

29 / 12 = 2.42 hours

Note: This is not two hours and 42 minutes, it is 2 hours and 42 hundredths of an hour. We now have to convert this decimal to minutes by multiplying .42 X 60.

.42 X 60 = 25 minutes – So…our trip will take 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Now that we know how long the trip will take, we simply need to subtract that time from the time of our 1200 reservation.

1200 – 225 = 0935

1160 – 225 = 0935

Note: that in order to subtract we had to borrow an hour from the hours column. 1160 is the same as 1200. We must leave the marina or boat ramp at 0935 (9:35 am) in order to arrive at the restaurant by noon.

If you would like to learn more about Time, Distance, Speed calculations or other aspects of navigation, check out our Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course.

Related Posts:

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/introduction-to-navigation/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/introduction-to-navigation-part-2-nautical-charts/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/introduction-to-navigation-part-3-definitions/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/introduction-to-navigation-part-4-getting-to-know-your-magnetic-compass/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/introduction-to-navigation-part-5-understanding-latitude-and-longitude/

https://boatsafe.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/introduction-to-navigation-part-6-time-calculations/

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Introduction to Navigation Part 2 Nautical Charts

Today is the second of a series of articles about Navigation. You can advance your Navigation Know How by participating in the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course.

These basics are covered in the online Nautical Know How Basic Boating Safety Course at http://boatsafe.com/navigation . It is highly recommended that, prior to beginning this advanced Coastal Navigation Course, each student successfully complete the Basic Boating Safety Course.

Nautical charts are different from maps in that they specifically depict water areas while maps concentrate on land area, roads, landmarks, etc. Land areas and features on charts are sketchy and are noted only for their interest to the Navigator. Unlike maps, the nautical chart conveys much information specifically designed to assist in safely navigating the area that the chart covers.

Chart Scaling

 The scale of a chart is expressed as a ratio such as 1:80,000. This could also be represented as the fraction 1/80,000. This means that one unit on the chart represents 80,000 of the same units on the earth. The terms “small scale” and “large scale” can be confusing if you haven’t studied fractions recently. The denominator of the fraction (the number under the line) is the number that changes as the scale of the chart changes. The larger the denominator  the smaller the fraction. For instance 1:80,000 is smaller than 1:40,000, so the larger the denominator the smaller the scale of the chart. That is, a 1:80,000 chart would be a small scale while a 1:40,000 would be a large scale.

 Chart Colors

The major water areas are not colored and retain the white color of the paper itself. Shallow water areas, shown in light blue and light green, indicate shallows that are uncovered at some stage of the tide, such as marsh areas.

 Small objects such as buoys and markers are shown in a magenta color. Because charts are used at night under red light (to keep from impairing night vision) the color magenta shows up best at night and in the day.

 Buoys and dayboards that are actually red are indicated in magenta. Green buoys and dayboards are shown in green.

Lighted buoys, regardless of their color, are shown with a magenta dot over the small circle portion of the chart symbol. Cautions, symbols noting danger, compass roses and recommended courses are also noted in magenta.

For more about the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course…READ MORE.

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