Blog October 2019


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Posted On: October 31, 2019

Pumpkins and Halloween
The origin of Halloween dates back at least 3,000 years to the Celtic celebration of Samhain (pronounced "sow-ain"). The festival was held starting at sundown on October 31st and lasted until sundown on November 1st. It was similar to the modern practice of the New Years celebration.

On this magical night, glowing jack-o-lanterns, carved from turnips or gourds, were set on porches and in windows to welcome deceased loved ones, but also to act as protection against malevolent spirits. Burning lumps of coal were used inside as a source of light, later to be replaced by candles.

Samhain was not the name of a "Lord of the Dead", no historical evidence has ever been found to back this up, it was simply the name of the festival and meant "Summer's End". It was believed that the souls of the dead were closest to this world and was the best time to contact them to say good bye or ask for assistance. It was also a celebration of the harvest. It is still treated as such today by those who practice Wicca or other nature based religions. It has absolutely nothing to do with satan, who was a creation of the Christian church.

When European settlers, particularly the Irish, arrived in America they found the native pumpkin to be larger, easier to carve and seemed the perfect choice for jack-o-lanterns. Halloween didn't really catch on big in this country until the late 1800's and has been celebrated in many ways ever since!



Posted On: October 29, 2019

Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog”

“Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing”

“For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and babble”

“Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn, and caldron bubble”
William Shakespeare

Witches and Warlocks have had a long history with Halloween. Legends tell of witches gathering twice a year when the seasons changed, on April 30 – the eve of May Day and the other was on the eve of October 31 – All Hallow’s Eve.


The witches would gather on these nights, arriving on broomsticks, to celebrate a party hosted by the devil. Superstitions told of witches casting spells on unsuspecting people, transform themselves into different forms and causing other magical mischief.


It was said that to meet a witch you had to put your clothes on wrong side out and you had to walk backwards on Halloween night. Then at midnight you would see a witch.


When the early settlers came to America, they brought along their belief in witches. In American the legends of witches spread and mixed with the beliefs of others, the Native Americans – who also believed in witches, and then later with the black magic beliefs of the African slaves.


The black cat has long been associated with witches. Many superstitions have evolved about cats. It was believed that witches could change into cats. Some people also believed that cats were the spirits of the dead.


One of the best known superstitions is that of the black cat. If a black cat was to cross your path you would have to turn around and go back because many people believe if you continued bad luck would strike you.



Posted On: October 24, 2019

Emergency Procedure Words

There are three emergency procedure words that carry extra importance when you're communicating by radio. In order of decreasing severity, they are mayday, pan-pan, and sécurité.

Emergency Words

WordDerivationMeaningWhen To UseComment
MAYDAYFrom the French "m'aidez," which means "help me"A vessel and/or crew is in grave and imminent dangerLife-threatening medical emergency; possibility of losing the boatUse for imminent danger only
PAN-PANFrom the French "panne," which means "broken"A vessel requires urgent assistanceSerious mechanical breakdown; urgent but not life-threatening medical issuesBecause it handles such a wide range of difficulties, details can be added to the transmission: "Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan, this is the vessel Surprise requesting medical advice, over."
SÉCURITÉFrench for "safety"Important safety information followsInformation that could be important to another vessel's safetyCovers a wide range of issues: hazards to navigation, pyrotechnic demonstrations, Coast Guard Marine Safety Broadcasts, large vessel traffic alerts"

Through the use of these words, you will alert all mariners to the seriousness of your transmission, and to the possibility that they might be involved in lending assistance. All three are anglicized versions of French words, and each is repeated three times in succession so that those who hear the transmission understand that they're hearing an actual call for help and not a discussion of another vessel's distress call. (See additional comments on mayday relay below.)

When you hear a transmission that uses one of the three emergency words, what action should you take? A lot depends on your proximity to the vessel or incident in question. It also depends on your ability to respond and give assistance. If you hear a mayday and you are the most appropriate vessel to respond, you are legally and morally required to lend assistance, if you can do so without endangering your crew or vessel.

Common VHF Channels And Their Uses

While VHF radios may have anywhere from 55 to 80 channels, there are relatively few that can be used by recreational boaters. This table lists the most common ones, but because VHF channel use is somewhat geographically specific, a few channels may be different in your home waters. The VHF channels used in Canada and Internationally may have different frequencies and different functions than those used in the U.S.

*A simplex channel transmits and receives on the same frequency. Duplex channels use different frequencies for transmitting and receiving.
16SimplexInternational distress, safety, and hailing. Monitoring required while underway.
6SimplexIntership safety. Frequently used by towing companies.
22ASimplexU.S. Coast Guard working channel. Referred to as "22 Alpha." Maritime Safety Information Broadcasts are announced on Channel 16, then broadcast on 22A.
21A, 23ASimplexU.S. Coast Guard only. In rare instances, the Coast Guard may ask you to communicate with them on these channels.
9SimplexBoater calling (commercial and noncommercial). Recommended for hailing another vessel (to reduce traffic on Channel 16). Many radios can monitor 16, 9, and a working channel.
13SimplexIntership navigation safety. Ships are required to monitor Channel 13 when at sea. Effective if you are trying to contact a specific vessel in your area, especially if there is risk of collision. Transmissions are limited to 1W to reduce interference.
14SimplexPort operations. In areas with Vessel Traffic Service (VTS), this is the channel they use to communicate with large ship traffic. Can be very helpful for tracking vessels.
24-28, 84-87DuplexPort operations. In areas with Vessel Traffic Service (VTS), this is the channel they use to communicate with large ship traffic. Can be very helpful for tracking vessels.
68, 69, 71, 78ASimplexFor noncommercial communications with other vessels or shore stations. Traffic must be concise. Commonly used by race committees, along with Channel 72.
72SimplexSimilar to previous channels but only for ship-to-ship. No land-based stations can use channel 72.
70SimplexDigital only; used by DSC functions on the radio.
WX 1-9SimplexNOAA weather channels. Local weather is usually on WX1-WX4.

Mayday Relay

If you're the only person to hear a mayday call from another vessel, you may have to act as a relay to rebroadcast vital information to the Coast Guard or other rescue agencies. In that case, use the words "mayday relay." This tells other vessels and stations that you're not the one in trouble, but aware of a vessel in trouble.

Finally, nothing is more frustrating than hearing a mayday call, then having another vessel break in with low-priority traffic. If this happens, the vessel in distress can remind them to keep the channel open (assuming they've taken a Safety at Sea seminar or have read Chapman Piloting & Seamanship) by saying Silence Mayday (pronounced "seelonce mayday"). At the end of the emergency, the transmission Silence Fini (pronounced "seelonce feenee") tells other mariners that normal communications can resume. The French pronunciation helps differentiate these words from the normal stream of radio traffic, but it's certainly no time to worry about perfecting your accent.



Posted On: October 22, 2019

Here"s a recent article by Chuck Hawley/US Sailing

Being able to communicate with other boaters and rescue agencies makes having a VHF a necessity no matter how small your boat.

Your VHF radio should be your go-to communications in an emergency. The U.S. Coast Guard has a huge network of towers to listen in on distress calls and when you make a call, every other nearby boater with a radio on can also hear you, which increases your chance of getting help. Knowing a little about your VHF and how to make the call can help when you really need it.

Fixed-Mount VHF Radios

Arguably one of the most cost-effective safety items you can have on any boat, a fixed-mount VHF allows you to communicate with a wide range of people and organizations: the U.S. Coast Guard, commercial ships, the Rescue 21 network, bridge tenders, TowBoatUS, race committees, and countless others stations. And its full potential is realized when units with Digital Selective Calling, or DSC, are connected to an operational GPS receiver (or have one internally). While all radios sold in the U.S. over the last decade are equipped with DSC, many operators (the U.S. Coast Guard says about 85 percent) either have not connected their radios to their GPS, nor registered for an MMSI (Marine Mobile Service Identity) number. This is vital for the full functionality of the Rescue 21 system.

Fixed-mount VHF radios are only as good as their antenna systems (a combination of the antenna, coaxial cable, and connections). Antennas should be mounted as high as possible: on the masthead of a sailboat or on the flybridge of a powerboat. Because VHF signals travel more or less in a straight line, a higher antenna will allow a VHF signal to reach more distant stations due to the Earth's curvature.

The Invaluable Phonetic Alphabet

To make sure you're clearly understood, especially when using the VHF radio, words often need to be spelled out using what's known as the phonetic alphabet. On a radio transmission, static can produce mistakes. For instance, over the past couple of years, a popular boat name, according to our BoatUS records, has been Blew By You. In audio communications, this can be mistaken for Blue Bayou. Learn the phonetic alphabet by heart so that you can easily spell out names and words quickly, especially in emergency situations. BoatUS spelled out is Bravo Oscar Alpha Tango Uniform Sierra.

A    AlphaG    GolfM    MikeS    SierraY    Yankee
B    BravoH    HotelN    NovemberT    TangoZ    Zulu
C    CharlieI    IndiaO    OscarU    Uniform 
D    DeltaJ    JulietP    PapaV    Victor 
E    EchoK    KiloQ    QuebecW    Whiskey 
F    FoxtrotL    LimaR    RomeoX    X-ray


Posted On: October 17, 2019


Generally, anything that uses water for cooling or carries water for use on board, needs to be winterized.

Fall is also the perfect time to do your annual oil change and transmission fluid, or lower-unit gear-lube change on your engines. Make sure your to-do list includes: Oil change and cylinder fogging for engines and generators.

  • Lower-unit gear-lube change for outboards or sterndrives.
  • Topping off the fuel tank, adding stabilizer or biocides as needed.
  • Draining or flushing/filling any raw-water cooling systems with nontoxic antifreeze. Don't forget the air-conditioning system.
  • Water system winterization, which can be draining or flushing or filling, depending on your preference. This includes tanks, heads, pumps, shower sumps, sinks, and even seacocks, if the hose runs don't drain entirely.
  • Inspection of anodes and running gear.
  • Washing the exterior of the boat to remove salt and dirt, and getting the cockpit or other exterior drains cleared.
  • Make sure batteries are fully charged, or better yet, remove them where they can be stored indoors and given a booster charge from time to time to keep them topped up.


Posted On: October 15, 2019

As everyone knows, Columbus had three ships on his first voyage, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria. The flagship Santa Maria had the nickname La Gallega. It was a nao, which simply means "ship" in old Spanish; today, we might call such a ship a carrack. She was fat and slow, designed for hauling cargo, not for exploration. Some sources say that the Santa Maria was about 100 tons, meaning that it could carry 100 toneladas, which were large casks of wine. There has been much speculation about just how large such a ship would be; the best current thinking, by Carla Rahn Philips, puts the length of Santa Maria at 18 meters, keel length at 12 meters, beam 6 meters, and a depth of 3 meters from keel to deck.

The Santa Maria had three masts (fore, main, and mizzen), each of which carried one large sail. The foresail and mainsail were square; the sail on the mizzen, or rear, mast was a triangular sail known as a lateen. In addition, the ship carried a small square sail on the bowsprit, and small topsail on the mainmast above the mainsail.

The Pinta was captained by Martín Alonso Pinzón, a leading mariner from the town of Moguer in Andalucia. Pinta was a caravel, a smaller, lighter, and faster ship than the tubby Santa Maria. We don't know much about Pinta, but it probably was about 70 tons. Philips puts the length of Pinta at 17 meters, keel length 13 meters, beam 5 meters, and depth 2 meters. She probably had three masts, and most likely carried sails like those of Santa Maria, except for the topsail, and perhaps the spritsail.

Smallest of the fleet was the Niña, also called Santa Clara, captained by Vicente Añes Pinzón, brother of Martín. The Niña was another caravel of probably 50 or 60 tons, and started from Spain with lateen sails on all masts; but she was refitted in the Canary Islands with square sails on the fore and main masts. Unlike most ships of the period, Niña may have carried four masts, including a small counter-mizzen at the stern with another lateen sail. This would have made Niña the best of the three ships at sailing upwind. Philips puts her length at 15 meters, keel length 12 meters, beam 5 meters, and depth 2 meters.

How fast did they go?

As you can guess, speed of sailing vessels varies considerably with the speed of the wind. Over several days, ships of Columbus's day would average a little less than 4 knots. Top speed for the vessels was about 8 knots, and minimum speed was zero. These speeds were quite typical for vessels of the period -- and indeed, typical for the entire Age of Sail up until the time of steamships and clipper ships. So overall, 90 or 100 miles in a day would be typical, and 200 phenomenal.

Of the three ships on the first voyage, the Santa Maria was the slowest, and the Pinta was the fastest. The differences were small, however, perhaps about 0.1 knot between them.



Posted On: October 10, 2019

For many, an annual haul-out marks the end of the boating season.

Plan it all out first so it doesn't make you crazy.

Here"s an article about the ritual by Mark Corke and Charles Fort IN BOATUS

Many boats will have to be hauled by a boatyard or marina at some point. You might think that all you have to do is show up with your boat to be plucked from the water and deposited safely in the yard, but not so fast. Forward planning ensures things go smoothly for you, your boat, and the yard.

Make Arrangements

f your marina has a travel hoist, hauling at your home port is often the most straightforward option: Your boat will already be at the haul-out location, and the yard staff may be familiar with it. If it's not possible to haul at your marina, there are specific logistical considerations, not least that you will have to move your boat and deliver it to the yard at the appointed time.

Once you've decided where your boat will be hauled, you need to decide when. Give the yard as much notice as possible: Don't wait until the day before and expect them to be able to accommodate you. Keep in mind that the yard's busy season is during late fall when boats are pulled for winter storage and then again in the spring when boats are relaunched. Schedule accordingly. Jay Leszynski, owner of Merri-Mar Yacht Basin in Newburyport, Massachusetts agrees, "Spring and fall are our busiest times by far. Not only do we have a lot of boats to move, but we have to plan where to put them once they come ashore. Letting us know your plans early helps us a lot".

Cost And Scope

Check with the yard on how much you will be charged for haulout service. Most yards charge by the foot and will often have a minimum fee. In many cases, the cost also includes a relaunch, but you need to be sure. Some yards have haulout contracts. If yours does, read it carefully to know what is — or is not — included. If your yard doesn't have a contract, ask questions and take notes so you are clear about the arrangements.

If you expect your boat to be out for a fairly short time for some maintenance, such as a bottom job, anode change, thru-hull or transducer installation, tell the yard this. If your boat is buried at the back of the lot with other boats parked in front, you may not be able to launch when you want. If you are storing ashore for the winter months, let the yard know when you would like to be launched in the spring, as this will have some bearing on where they place your boat.

If you want the yard to do some work on your boat while it's out of the water, talk to them about it up front. If you forget to tell them, it may delay things if they don't have you on the schedule or they don't have the necessary parts in stock.

If you plan to do some or all of the work yourself, talk to the yard about this, too. They may have policies about what you can and can't do yourself. Many marinas prohibit owners from working on their boats, citing insurance or environmental reasons, which is sometimes merely a way of getting more work for their crew. Flexible marinas may allow you to do your own work provided you comply with all rules, such as no hull sanding without a vacuum and laying ground cover under the boat to catch hazards like spilled bottom paint.

Lifting Your Baby

On the actual day of the haul, plan to be there if you can. You'll be able to take a look at just how fouled the bottom is before it's pressure washed and you'll get an idea of how your anti-fouling paint is working. Most yards do this immediately after the boat is hauled so the fouling doesn't set like concrete. "We always pressure wash a boat as soon as it comes out of the water," Leszynski says. "We have a waste-recovery system, and this ensures any bottom paint, dirt, or other contaminants are contained. Pressure washing is included in the fee for hauling, and we won't move a boat into the yard until it has been washed."

It's normal for the owner to drive the boat into the travel hoist pit unless you have made alternative arrangements. Have plenty of fenders on both sides of the boat to protect the topsides should you be blown sideways. Listen carefully to instructions given to you by the yard staff operating the hoist who will have done this maneuver many times before. You probably won't need dock lines because the boat will be going right into the slings, but check with the lift operator. Larger sailboats may have to back in to the pit and even have the back stay removed so the rigging will clear the hoist. The staff won't lift a boat with you or the crew aboard so they'll tell you when to get off and anything else they need you to do before vacating the boat. Don't forget to shut off the engines, air conditioners and other equipment before the boat is hoisted.

All tanks should be as empty as possible, and while it may not be practical to drain fuel tanks, it is relatively easy to drain water and waste tanks. Full tanks add significant weight to the boat, and empty tanks will put less strain on the boat's structure when it is sitting in an unnatural element on land.

Before the boat is hauled out of the water, tell the travel hoist operator about any underwater appendages, such as fin stabilizers or pod drives, transducers, speed wheels and other things not easily seen when the boat is in the water that could be damaged by the travel hoist slings. "We are familiar with most boat designs", says Leszynski, "but it is helpful if owners mention things that may be special about their particular boat".



Posted On: October 08, 2019

Fall has arrived.

Boating weather may range from freezing conditions for New England frostbite to very hot and humid tropical weather for offshore fishing in Miami or cruising in California.

Staying comfortable means staying safe.

Wearing layered clothing helps keep you dry and comfortable, because each layer is only required to do one thing well. A hydrophobic wicking layer of long underwear worn next to the skin disperses perspiration outward. A middle insulating layer traps warm air, providing a barrier from cold outside air or fabric, and helps funnel moisture to the weather protection layer. The breathable outside layer uses hydrophilic, water vapor absorbing coatings or microporous membranes like a heat-driven water pump, allowing water vapor molecules to escape. Solid water molecules are blocked, along with wind, from entering. With each layer performing its designed function you stay dry, warm and alert, however hostile the outside environment.

Many boaters have no incentive to spend more for high-tech synthetic socks, and will instead wear cotton. The problem with this approach is that cotton retains moisture, and it is this moisture that causes friction and blisters. For years, many in the healthcare field recommended all-cotton socks to prevent foot problems. This is the biggest myth out there! Cotton absorbs moisture and in socks, that moisture stays next to the foot creating an ideal environment for bacteria and fungi to grow, and for blisters to form. Stay away from all-cotton socks!

The extremities, especially the head and neck, are where most of the body's heat loss takes place, so protection is critical for the head, neck, hands and feet as well.

Based on an article by By Tom Burden