Blog February 2021

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BOATING DURING THIS PANDEMIC REMAINS A LIFESAVER

Posted On: February 25, 2021

"Boating during COVID-19 is one of the safest — not to mention most enjoyable — things you can do this summer," says Colleen Richardson, director of Discover Boating.

"As annual traditions such as camping and sporting events have been canceled, more Americans are drawn to the water. It doesn't get more socially distant than boating with loved ones. Studies have shown it's a bastain for mental health.

Keep these smart guidelines in mind so that we can protect one another:

  • THE VELVET ROPE: Restrict those on board to immediate family or to close friends you're confident are playing it smart in their daily lives. If you or a family member are immune-compromised, go boating only with the people with whom you live.
  • NO DILLY-DALLYING: This is not a typical summer, so be efficient going from house to boat, to back home. Minimizing contact with others can make a big difference.
  • NO RAFTING UP: Do we really need to say that? The same goes for beaching proximity.
  • BE CONSIDERATE: Wear a mask and stay 6 feet apart when chatting with the marina crew. At the fuel dock, maintain distance, and wear a mask. Wear gloves, discard them after fueling up, then wash or sanitize your hands.
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BASIC FLOAT PLAN REASONING

Posted On: February 23, 2021

A float plan lets your family and friends know your whereabouts and, should a trip come to some form of grief, the plan will give the searchers a valuable head start locating your boat.

Whether you are on the water for an afternoon or a month-long excursion, a float plan can be a lifesaver. You can get a copy easily online, fill it in and leave it with a spouse, other relative and/or a friend. You may even want to leave a copy with your marina manager.

The Float Plan starts with the basics: phone numbers to be called if the boat is overdue, a description of the boat, registration numbers, etc., that can be penciled in at the start of the season. Copies can then be made and details added before each trip.

Note: The Coast Guard does not accept float plans and should only be notified by your spouse or friend if there is a "deviation" (you are overdue) from the float plan.

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SAFETY BOATING TIPS

Posted On: February 18, 2021

Some Safe Boating Tips

Pro Tip: Always have a VHF radio onboard. However, having a  phone charger or external battery that doesn't depend on the boat for power has become an essential part of our Captain's equipment bags.

If your boat develops an electrical issue or a dead battery, you won't be able to charge your phone from the boat. But with an external battery you'll be able to keep your phone battery ready for use.

Also, know how to get your GPS location from a cell phone. We often get calls from people who don't know their location, even while using a cell phone to make the call. They simply don’t know how to share their location or retrieve their GPS coordinates on their device.

 Pro Tip: Carry two anchors aboard, in case one takes a dive unexpectedly.

 Pro Tip: Carry extra lines and fenders. Many new boaters don’t realize that you’ll need those lines and fenders to raft up with other boaters or tie up at waterfronts restaurants. Lines commonly aren’t provided (even at establishments with their own docks), and fenders are a must to prevent damage and to make sure body parts don’t get pinched between boats (a potential danger when rafted boats are not properly secured).

Pro Tip: Designate a sober skipper for your boat you’re not only protecting yourself, you’re also protecting all the other boaters out there. 

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WANT A GOOD READ IN FEBRUARY?

Posted On: February 16, 2021

Chapman's Piloting & Seamanship

Boaters call this book “the bible” of knowing what to do out there on the waterways.

It is a doorstop-size 920 pages and is now in its 68th printing, boasting decades’ worth of knowledge that new and experienced skippers have acquired while running boats on lakes, rivers and offshore alike.

This book is filled with photos and diagrams, along with explanatory text, to help boaters at all skill levels understand everything from maritime rules of the road to safety tips and maintenance. There are sections on weather, tides and currents, along with sections on navigation skills, anchoring and more.

Really, the joy of reading this book or passing it to a loved one or giving it as a gift to a new boat owner is not just that he’ll be thrilled to learn about becoming a better skipper, but also that you’ll be a whole lot safer the next time he invites you on board for a trip.

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DECODING A HULL IDENTIFICATION NUMBER

Posted On: February 11, 2021

Decoding a HIN

A typical hull identification number consists of 12 letters and numbers, as in ABC12345D404.

Here's what the letters and numbers mean:

  • ABC: This is the Coast Guard-assigned manufacturer identification code (MIC). Go to the U.S. Coast Guard Manufacturers Identification page online to access the MIC database.
  • 12345: This is the serial number assigned to the hull by the manufacturer and may be a combination of letters and numbers. The letters "I," "O," and "Q" are excluded because they could be mistaken for numbers.
  • D: This is the month of certification, indicating the month in which construction began. "A" represents January, and "L" represents December. In our example, "D" means April.
  • 4: This is the year of certification. The number is the last digit of the year in which the boat was built. "4" would designate 2004 for example.
  • 04: This indicates the boat's model year.
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MAKING SURE YOU GET THE CORRECT SURVEY

Posted On: February 09, 2021

If you are selecting a surveyor in order to obtain insurance or determine value, please note the following:

  • Generally surveys completed by individuals directly associated with boat yards, marinas or brokers may not be accepted for insurance due to the potential for a conflict of interest.
  • Surveys done by insurance company personnel may not be accepted if they lack the required detail.
  • Older boats, or those made of wood, steel, or aluminum may need to be hauled in order to be properly surveyed.

The National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) and the Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) are professional organizations having rigorous examination programs for their membership.  Most Insurance companies will accept value surveys or pre-purchase surveys from surveyors with a SAMS designation of "AMS" with a specialized classification of "Y-SC" (yacht and small craft) or NAMS designation of "CMS" with a specialized service code of "A" (yacht and small craft).

It’s appropriate to ask the surveyor you select for a copy of a resume, as well as a sample survey of the type that you are requesting.

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How to Tie Up a Boat

Posted On: February 04, 2021

When a boat is properly tied up at a dock, it will not only be secure—it can’t float away—but will also be protected from damage and not able to damage other boats.

How to Tie Up a Boat to a Dock

  1. Plan your approach—consider wind direction and currents.
  2. Always start by tossing a spring line to someone on the dock.
  3. Secure a line from the bow cleat to a dock cleat forward of the boat.
  4. Secure the spring line to a dock cleat angled aft.
  5. Attach a line from the stern cleat on the side of the boat away from the dock to a dock cleat behind the boat.

Consider how you will secure the boat even before you pull up to a dock or into a slip.

Take a look at the direction of the wind and any current (look for flags if you are unsure about wind direction, and look for how water is moving around pilings as an indication of current), and if you are in tidal waters look at water marks on pilings, which will tell you if you are near high or low tide. Before you approach the dock or slip have your dock lines ready, your fenders (soft vinyl “bumpers”) deployed, and give your crew instructions on how to help.

When tying one side of the boat to a dock, such as a fuel dock, you can secure the boat for any situation with three lines.

  • Always start by tossing a spring line (attached to the cleat in the middle of the boat) to someone on the dock, who can hold the boat in place.
  • Secure a line from the bow cleat to a dock cleat forward of the boat.
  • Then secure the spring line to a dock cleat angled aft, toward the back of the boat. These two lines will keep the boat from moving fore and aft.
  • Attach a line from the stern cleat on the side of the boat away from the dock to a dock cleat behind the boat.
  • Tying each line at an angle, rather than straight to the dock (called a breast line) will allow the boat to move up and down in reaction to waves, wakes or changing tide if the dock is not floating.

Tying a Boat in a Slip

To tie up in a slip, either one flanked by docks or to an end dock and pilings, using four lines is usually the best method.

  • If you’ve backed into the slip, attach a line to each stern cleat on the boat and then cross them to the dock cleats.
  • Secure bow lines from each side of the boat forward to the dock cleats or pilings. This will secure the boat in each direction and allow enough line for the boat to rise and fall.
  • In area with a lot of tide, you may need to adjust the lines if you are tying up at either high or low tide and the dock is not floating.
  • If you tie up to a floating dock, of course, it will rise or fall with the tide along with the boat.
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A Short History of Groundhog Day

Posted On: February 02, 2021


Groundhog Day wasn’t always a quirky tradition: it's rooted in the movements of the sun and dates back thousands of years.

Ancient civilizations use to rely on the sun and the stars to signal when to start planting crops, harvesting, or prepping for the cold winter ahead.

The Celts are credited with the characteristics most close to the modern calendar. For the Celts, four of the most important seasonal holidays were known as “cross-quarter days,” which marked the mid-point between the solstices and equinoxes. There was Beltane, which marks the first day of summer; Lughnasadh, which celebrated the first day of autumn; Samhain, which fell around November 1 and marked the beginning of winter; and Imbolc, which marked the beginning of spring.

Imbolc (pronounced ee-MOLG) fell right between the winter solstice and spring equinox, and is one of the ancient traditions that many point to as one of Groundhog Day's predecessors.

One of the legends is that on Imbolc, the creator (in their cultures personified as an old woman) would gather her firewood for the rest of the winter. According to the story, if she wished to make the winter last a good while longer, she will make sure the weather on Imbolc is bright and sunny, so she can gather plenty of firewood. Therefore, people...believed if February 2nd is a day of foul weather, it means that the creator was asleep and winter is almost over.

Over the centuries, people began to look for signs of the weather in all kinds of animals, from snakes to groundhogs. Ancient Germanic people, for example, would watch to see if a badger was spooked by its shadow, according to EarthSky.org. When British and German immigrants first came to the United States, they brought their traditions with them, including the celebrations that evolved into Groundhog Day.

Based on an article in smithsonian magazine

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