Blog March 2018

THE ORIGINS OF THE EASTER BUNNY

Posted On: March 29, 2018


Easter is supposed to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus, but when some people hear 'Easter' they think of the Easter bunny and eggs. Since ancient times rabbits have been associated with spring.

It is believed that Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring, Eostre, had a hare as her companion. The hare symbolizes fertility and rebirth. Later Christians changed the symbol of the hare to the Easter bunny.

In an attempt to Christianize Easter, which began as a pagan holiday, the celebration was named for a Saxon goddess who was known by the names of Oestre or Eastre, and in Germany by the name of Ostara. She is a goddess of the dawn and the spring, and her name derives from words for dawn, the shining light arising from the east. Our words for the "female hormone" estrogen derives from her name.

Ostara was a fertility goddess. Bringing in the end of winter, with the days brighter and growing longer after the vernal equinox, Ostara had a passion for new life. Her presence was felt in the flowering of plants and the birth of babies, both animal and human. The rabbit (well known for its propensity for rapid reproduction) was her sacred animal.

Easter eggs and the Easter bunny both were featured in the spring festivals of Ostara, which were initially held during the feasts of the goddess Ishtar (or Inanna). Eggs are obvious symbols of fertility, and the newborn chicks an adorable representation of new growth. Brightly colored eggs, chicks, and bunnies were all used at festival time to express appreciation for Ostara's gift of abundance.

The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring.

From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection.

The decoration of eggs is believed to date back to at least the 13th century, while the rite of the Easter parade has even older roots. Other traditions, such as the consumption of Easter candy, are among the modern additions to the celebration of this early springtime holiday.

One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting and then eat them on Easter as a celebration.

Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions. In the U.S. the White House Easter Egg Roll, a race in which children push decorated, hard-boiled eggs across the White House lawn, is an annual event held the Monday after Easter.

The first official White House egg roll occurred in 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes was president. The event has no religious significance, although some people have considered egg rolling symbolic of the stone blocking Jesus’ tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection.

The tradition is that the Easter bunny leaves Easter eggs on Easter Sunday. 

The idea of an egg-giving rabbit was taken to America in the 1700's by German immigrants. They told their children to make 'nests' with their caps and bonnets, and if they were good the Easter bunny would leave them colored eggs.

In America the story of Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail has given a name and personality to the iconic figure. Germany’s version of the Easter Bunny was influenced by folklorist Jakob Grimm’s stories on traditional Easter rituals.

Most everyone grew up associating Easter with a bunny who brings candy and eggs, so no one questions how this legend came to be. When you actually think about it, though, it’s an odd tradition.

Rabbits don’t, after all, lay eggs, or deliver gifts. The Easter bunny is nonetheless a cherished holiday for children all around the world.

 

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AN EASTER BOATING CHECKLIST TO KEEP YOU SAFE

Posted On: March 27, 2018

 Here's a timely reminder from RACV Marine for those of you who may want to venture out on Easter Sunday.

It’s been said that the best way to keep a boat in top condition is to keep using it.

As strange as that may sound, there’s a solid logic behind it. That’s because a boat that no longer gets regular use often no longer receives regular maintenance. Prolonged inactivity therefore allows problems that were previously kept at bay to potentially creep back in.

For many southern boaters, the Easter holidays mark the close of boating season. If you haven’t been out for a while, now’s the time to give your boat a good looking over. A few extra minutes checking the condition of your rig will ensure a long weekend of trouble-free boating. This Easter boating checklist should get you started.

Use it or lose it

The busiest time of year for Coast Guard callouts is when boats comes out of a long period of idleness.

“October and November is definitely our busy time,” says Deanne Semmens, coast guard volunteer and skipper at Carrum located at one of Victoria’s busiest boat ramps. This period, of course, coincides with many boaters venturing out for the first time in many months. She says a great many of the callouts can be attributed to flat batteries and stale fuel, both of which can usually be prevented through maintenance. Although the seasonal spike in callouts occurs at the start of the summer boating season, the lesson is the same for Easter: maintain your boat, even when it’s not being used.

Leaks

Petrol and fuel vapour can be fatal. Indeed, says Deanne, recently two people in Gippsland were injured after their boat caught fire on Lake Narracan.

Always check for leaks and fuel smells before starting the engine or operating anything with a switch. Check fuel lines as they can become loose or brittle and check fuel filters, even if they’ve been inspected at the start of the season, then clean or replace if required.

“If you get an explosion on the water, you don’t get a second chance,” says Deanne. “Wherever you have a spark and fuel vapour… it could end up in a pretty nasty situation,” she says. “Fibreglass burns very very quickly and all we’ll be able to do is hopefully find you in the water.”

 

Engine

Every engine has a maintenance guide from the manufacturer. Generally speaking, check and change the oil if required. Inspect the pull cord and check the spark plugs. You may need to clean and gap them, or even replace. Also, check the propeller nut and pin as well as the cooling system (look for accumulated fishing line or seaweed). If you’re not sure about doing it yourself then enlist the help of a marine mechanic.

Batteries

“The main cause of call-outs, 100 per cent, would be batteries,” says Deanne, again referring to the busiest time of year between September and November. Even so, the principle is the same for any boat that remains unused.

“You need to check the electrolyte, top it up with distilled water and check the charge,” she says, adding that correct marine battery maintenance per the manufacturer’s guidelines is essential. Check that the connections are clean and don’t show signs of corrosion.

Have a look at the RACV Marine guide to boat batteries for more information.

Trailer

Boat trailers are prone to degradation, although for obvious reasons there are few Coast Guard callouts for trailer problems.

“Checking the trailer is a huge part to getting that boat to the ramp and back,” says Deanne. “Check your bearings and keep them properly greased. Make sure your brakes are ok and that things are properly lubricated and haven’t become rusted,” she says.

“It can be as simple as travelling down the road for a bit, pulling off where it’s safe, and checking the heat on those bearings. It’s better to do a couple of minute of checking around the boat and making it to the ramp, than not making it at all,” she adds.

 

Wiring

You really don’t want to diagnose the source of an electrical problem on the side of the road or on the water. Test all electrical components like radios and lights and check the wiring for signs of corrosion or fraying.

Wiring problems can be a real nuisance on trailers when it comes to things like brake lights so look at the boat trailer guide (above) for more tips.

Safety gear

“Lifejackets are one of the most important pieces of equipment to have on board. People tend to snub their noses at wearing one, but if you end up in the water, it is the one thing that will potentially save your life,” says Deanne.

It’s a tragic fact that a very high proportion of drownings associated with recreational boats could have been prevented if a lifejacket had been worn. So, wear one and check that the rest of your safety gear is fit for purpose and suitable for the conditions in which you plan to go boating. Gear is no good in an emergency if you can’t get to it. Also, check the flare expiry dates and the gauge on the fire extinguisher.

And finally…

“If you are the skipper on a vessel, you are responsible for yourself and everybody else that’s on it for that day. You are taking everybody’s life in your hands if you take shortcuts,” says Deanne.

So, look after you and your passengers by looking after your boat.

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USING SPRING LINES AT THE DOCK

Posted On: March 22, 2018

How to Dock Easier With Spring Lines

Great article to read  from Boating magazine as the season approaches. Whether a seasoned boater or a novice, it can help.

Using dock lines to work in and out of a tight slip.

By Pete McDonald

The wind had unexpectedly kicked up to 20 knots, churning up a fierce chop across the bay. We could handle that well enough by adjusting our speed and attitude — the real challenge came back at the marina. We had to pull into a slip defined by a finger pier on one side and by another boat on the other side. The wind was howling unabated across the slip so that it was impossible to line up our boat without getting quickly blown into the other boat. Thankfully, we had a plan B: tying a dock line to the midship cleat and springing the boat in via the line.

Using ropes to work in and out of a difficult slip is a tried-and-true technique called warping or springing. The classic way to use warping is to pull away from a side to dock when there’s no room to pull forward or back. With a line secured to a bow cleat and cleated on the dock aft of the bow, put the boat in forward and turn the wheel toward the dock; the aft end will swing out, giving you clearance to back the boat away. (A fender can be deployed as a pivot cushion.) Conversely, you can tie off to the stern cleat and hit reverse to swing out the bow — though this is trickier for sterndrives and outboards as the technique may place your props too close to the dock.

In this crosswind situation, while trying to work into a slip, tying to the bow or stern would prove useless. But belaying the dock line on the midship cleat allowed us to work the boat into the slip without the wind pushing the boat into the neighboring vessel. Also, using the midship cleat — also known as a spring cleat — kept the boat parallel to the pier and prevented the bow or stern from swinging out into the other boat. Here’s how we made it work:

The captain pointed the bow off the end of the pier, and I stepped off holding the end of the already-cleated spring line and secured it around a cleat at the end of the pier. My buddy continued into the slip, allowing the line to come tight, and as it did he turned the helm away from the dock. He kept the engine idling in gear, which kept the boat pinned to the dock while I secured bow and stern lines and adjusted the pre-hung fenders in unstressed fashion. We were home safe.

Fortunately for us, we were working with fixed piers, and the protocol called for docking bow-in. The technique will still work in slips that use pilings instead of piers, but you’d have to make a piling your pivot point. It could also work docking stern-in, depending on your setup. Try practicing on a calm day when there’s no wind and no boat in the slip next to yours. That way, you’ll know what to do when the time comes to warp your way out of trouble. It’s an invaluable way to tame a crosswind.

Quick Tip: To pull side-to to a dock without lines, nose the bow in at an angle on the approach and, when lined up, turn the wheel to the dock and hit reverse.

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KEEPING YOUR LINES HEALTHY

Posted On: March 20, 2018


How to Care for Them?

 

Chafe is the nemesis of any line (good or bad).

Although wear is inevitable, it's not uncontrollable. In a permanent docking arrangement, the chafe problem is most chronic.

First, chafe-proof your boat as you would childproof your home. Examine chocks, cleats, bitts, posts, and other hardware for rough edges. Next, consider how you lead the lines, being careful to avoid acute angles, which present opportunities for abrasion. Last, get defensive. Chafe protection can range from heavy cloth such as old blue jeans wrapped around the line at the point of contact to ready made chafe guards attached to the line where it passes through the chocks.

Research has shown that chafing material that doesn't let moisture and air into the line can result in excessive heat buildup as the line moves back and forth within the material. Therefore, it would be important to avoid using materials that can do this, such as a plastic or rubber hose. TideMinders help avoid chafe where the line goes around the pilings.

Whether you're in your permanent slip, or just passing through, regularly check the condition of your lines for signs of wear. The investment in your boat could depend on it.

Size Matters

As a general rule docklines should equal two-thirds of your boat's overall length. Spring lines should be considerably longer. You will need to be able to use these to bring your boat alongside while docking. You may need to pay the spring line out to ease your boat to a stop in the right position and as the helmsperson brings the boat alongside. This is an art in itself, but very important. You should have lines of various lengths available to use depending on the circumstances as you come alongside a dock and the pilings and cleats on the dock.  The shortest should be approximately the same length as your boat.



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SPRINGS ALMOST HERE

Posted On: March 15, 2018


When Does Spring Begin?

The March equinox is Monday, March 20, 2018

Astronomically speaking, the equinox falls on March 19 or 20 every year, marking spring’s beginning in the Northern Hemisphere (whereas it announces fall’s arrival in the Southern Hemisphere). The equinox happens at the same moment worldwide, even if our clock times reflect a different time zone.

Meteorologically speaking, in the Northern Hemisphere, the official spring season always begins on March 1 and continues through May 31. Summer begins on June 1; autumn, September 1; and winter, December 1.

  • Weather scientists divide the year into quarters this way to make it easier to compare seasonal and monthly statistics from one year to the next. The meteorological seasons are based on annual temperature cycles rather than on the position of Earth in relation to the Sun, and they more closely follow the Gregorian calendar. Using the dates of the astronomical equinoxes and solstices for the seasons would present a statistical problem because these dates can vary slightly each year.

What is an Equinox?

At the Vernal Equinox, the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north along the ecliptic.

All over the world, days and nights are approximately equal. The name equinox comes from Latin words which mean “equal night”—aequus (equal) and nox (night). 

Enjoy the increasing sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets. On the equinox, Earth’s two hemispheres are receiving the Sun’s rays about equally because the tilt of the Earth is zero relative to the Sun, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun.  (Note, however, that the Earth never orbits upright, but is always tilted on its axis by about 23.5 degrees.)  

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HERE WE GO, MARCH MADNESS

Posted On: March 13, 2018

The 2018 NCAA Tournament is finally upon us. 

You can't do March Madness right without a bracket. Fortunately, you've come to the right place. 

MARCH MADNESS:

The festivities begin today with the First Four on March 13 in Dayton, Ohio, and conclude with the Final Four and championship on March 31 and April 2, respectively, in San Antonio. 

If you're finishing up your bracket, the NCAA.com has you covered with some key stats and trends. Check them out. For instance, did you know you're going to want to pick about six upsets within the 10-15 seeds?

The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament is a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the United States, currently featuring 68 college basketball teams from the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), to determine the national championship. The tournament was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was the idea of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen..Played mostly during March, it is known informally as March Madness or the Big Dance, and has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States.

So get those brackets finished, stock up on your beverages of choice, and make sure you know your allowable sick days.

Enjoy March Madness!

 

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LIVING ON A BOAT IN A MARINA

Posted On: March 08, 2018

It's not for everyone.

Here are some of the Pro's and Cons

PROS of living in a marina include:

  • Not worrying about your boat floating away and ending up on the rocks or checking the weather constantly
  • The comfort of living on a very still and stable boat (assuming your marina is well protected – which they usually are)
  • Amenties – Run your hair dryer as much as you like because you’ll be plugged into shore power. This is especially important if you live in a wet cold place as you’ll be far more comfortable if you can run a dehumidifier and electric heater. Many people even have on demand water hookups so they don’t have to fill their tanks ever week. Many marinas also have laundry, parking, workshops, club-houses, hot showers and internet. These comforts go a long way it making your boat feel like home!
  • Close neighbors – You’ll be walking past each other every day so you’re more likely to meet your neighbors than when at anchor which can be a bit more private. The community aspect can be WONDERFUL. When we were living on a boat in Vancouver,our neighbors ran weekly free yoga classes, organized potlucks, and were a big source of inspiration and instruction in preparing us for our offshore cruising.

CONS of living on a boat in a marina:

  • Most marinas do not allow liveaboards, so the waitlist to get into a liveaboard marina can stretch on for years!
  • You’re paying rent (though much less than you would for an apartment). We paid $650 per month for our 35 footer which included amenities (but not internet).
  • You’ll have neighbors. It can get noisy with other people’s lines straining and halyards slapping. You’ll also constantly be talking to neighbors. If you’re more of a private person, this aspect of dock life might not be for you.
  • It can get hot and stuffy in the warmer season. You may have to invest in an AC if you can’t take the heat.
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INTO THE MIND OF A SURVEYOR

Posted On: March 06, 2018

I often get asked about what to look for when assessing the paint condition on a vessel.

Here's a little insight.

Blisters

Check from multiple angles and in different conditions.  The blisters are often only slight undulations and can be hard to see.  Evening and early morning light where the sun’s rays are at an acute angle to the hull are especially good times to view.  Blisters are often most visible after a couple of days of the boat being out of water and as the hull begins to dry out.  They can appear as small wet spots (usually about the size of a dime or quarter) or areas where paint has chipped off.  If the hull has been out of the water for a few weeks or months, the blisters may have dried out and will be more difficult to see.  If the hull is not clean or has a buildup of many layers of bottom paint, blisters can be extremely difficult to detect.

Cracks (especially at keel hull joint)

Check for a crack between the hull and keel.  In some boats this may appear as a ‘smile.’  Check the bottom paint for cracking as it may not be obvious.  If the boat has recently come out of the water, the crack may appear as a slightly wet area or discolored.  If the hull is not clean it can be difficult to detect cracks.  Also check the bow area and front of the keel for any cracks or signs of stress.

Bottom paint condition

Scraping bottom paint is a time intensive job.  If multiple layers of bottom paint have built up it is an indication that the owner has not been putting much time into maintaining the boat.  A build-up of bottom paint will slow the boat down and make it difficult to see nascent issues such as osmosis blisters.

Soft spots/hollow spots

Tap on the hull with a 4oz. Hammer or some other light, metallic implement.  Listen for the sound it makes.  The sounds can be difficult to interpret as anything bonded to the hull, like bulkheads or water tanks, will make the tap sound sharper.  Listen for especially dull taps in a cored-hull as they may indicate water intrusion into the coring.  This is a big problem and should be reviewed by a professional surveyor if in doubt.

Scratches or chips in the gelcoat, evidence of filler

Look around for signs of impact or stress on the hull.  Often boats glance off docks or other obstructions and create scratches or chips in the gel-coat.  Tap these small areas closely to ensure no structural damage has occurred.  Most of time there is no problem.

Thru-hulls

Check around thru-hulls for any indication of damage, failed sealant, corrosion or blockage.  Below water thru-hulls cannot be made of plastic.  This will appear as an insurance issue if it is not ameliorated.

 Based on article in Young & Salty

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