Blog October 2019

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HALLOWEEN

Posted On: October 30, 2019

The Story of Halloween

Halloween is one of the oldest holidays with origins going back thousands of years. The holiday we know as Halloween has had many influences from many cultures over the centuries. From the Roman’s Pomona Day, to the Celtic festival of Samhain, to the Christian holidays of All Saints and All Souls Days.

 

Hundreds of years ago in what is now Great Britain and Northern France, lived the Celts. The Celts worshipped nature and had many gods, with the sun god as their favorite. It was “he” who commanded their work and their rest times, and who made the earth beautiful and the crops grow.

 


The Celts celebrated their New Year on November 1st. It was celebrated every year with a festival and marked the end of the “season of the sun” and the beginning of “the season of darkness and cold.”

 

On October 31st after the crops were all harvested and stored for the long winter the cooking fires in the homes would be extinguished. The Druids, the Celtic priests, would meet in the hilltop in the dark oak forest (oak trees were considered sacred). The Druids would light new fires and offer sacrifices of crops and animals. As they danced around the the fires, the season of the sun passed and the season of darkness would begin.

When the morning arrived the Druids would give an ember from their fires to each family who would then take them home to start new cooking fires. These fires would keep the homes warm and free from evil spirits.

 

The November 1st festival was called Samhain (pronounced “sow-en”). The festival would last for 3 days. Many people would parade in costumes made from the skins and heads of their animals. This festival would become the first Halloween.

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DO YOU SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF BOATING

Posted On: October 23, 2019

BOATER'S ACRONYMS

Boating is seemingly filled with undecipherable abbreviations.

While most of these can be welcoming, landlubber friends can get lost in the often confusing and opaque jargon.

The boaters coded talk can be exclusionary, or it might just jeopardize a passenger’s safety.


For example, if the captain instructs everyone to “put on a PFD” so the boat can leave the dock, he’s concerned about safety. PFD stands for personal flotation device and it’s simpler to just tell everyone to wear a life jacket.

 

If the captain or a crewmember yells “MOB!” the cry is meant to kick everyone aboard into action. However, those not in the know won’t move until they know it means man overboard.

 

If you do fall overboard in chilly waters, it’s best to have learned the HELP position. That’s a heat escape lessening posture meant to conserve body heat.

 

If you’re heading for adventure on a kayak or SUP (stand-up paddleboard), wear a PLB to increase your chance of rescue if things go awry. It’s a personal locator beacon that sends a radio signal as to the wearer’s exact location.

 

Does your boat have an EPIRB? This stands for emergency position indicating radio beacon, another safety device that activates as soon as it is immersed in water. If the boat sinks without an opportunity to make a VHF (very high frequency) radio call, the EPIRB notifies emergency services by providing GPS (global positioning system) data that pinpoints your location on the planet by triangulating your position via satellites in space.

 

Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a GPS radio beacon that shows up on digital charts, detailing what a vessel is and where it is headed. In fog or at night, you will be able to tell whether a RADAR (radio detection and ranging) signal is a buoy or a tanker using AIS. While we’re at it, there’s also SONAR, which stands for sound navigation and ranging.

 

See the letters NDZ on a chart? That’s a no discharge zone where no sewage from your boat can be released into the waters. Everything must stay in your MSD (marine sanitation device) until it can be legally pumped out.

 

IALA is the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities. They specify what each navigation mark should look like, the meanings of colors of lights and shapes, and how each light should flash. By following these, you can triangulate your position using a hand compass and not, for example, hit a wreck guarded by a warning buoy.

 

Boaters say RRR as shorthand for red right return(ing). It’s our way to remember which side of the boat red navigation lights should be on when coming into the harbor from open waters.

 

If invited onto a RIB, you’ll be on a rigid inflatable boat. It’s a motor boat with a fiberglass hull and inflatable rims. What about an invite to ride on a PWC? It better be a two-seater, as it’s a personal watercraft (aka jet ski).

 

Should a tall ship with the abbreviation SSV before its name sail by, you’ll know it’s a sail school vessel.

 

Never be afraid to say to a boater, “I’m unfamiliar with that term.” On the whole, we’ll happily explain what we’re talking about. However, don’t ask what BOAT stands for, unless you’re prepared for at least two different answers. One is “break out another thousand,” but another is my favorite — “best of all times!”

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AVOID A COLLISION

Posted On: October 16, 2019

Even if you're an experienced skipper, it's not hard to occasionally misjudge the speed of another boat, especially when it's still a safe distance away.

Rather than make a series of last-second maneuvers, which don't always work, you can use a hand-bearing compass or binoculars with a hand-bearing compass to asses the risk of collision. If your boat's speed and heading are constant and the compass bearings are moving forward, the other boat should pass ahead. If the bearings are moving aft, the other boat should pass astern. The farther the bearings move, the farther away the two boats should be when they cross. A series of bearings that remain constant, or nearly constant, indicate that the two boats are converging on a collision course.

More experienced skippers have learned to choose a convenient object on the boat, such as a stanchion or a winch, that lines up with the approaching vessel; if it remains in line with the reference object, the two vessels are on a collision course.

Don't take chances.

When in doubt, if yours is the give-way vessel, head for the other boat's stern.

If yours is the stand-on vessel, be prepared to alter course anyway, lest the skipper on the give-way vessel takes the "Uh, I thought we were going to pass…" approach to avoiding collisions.

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THE ETIQUETTE OF ANCHORING

Posted On: October 09, 2019


Few boat topics are as likely to generate strong opinions — and colorful language — as anchoring. Volumes have been written on how to anchor and which anchor works best. But to hear some of the comments at the dock, there's precious little written about the etiquette of anchoring.

Come In Slowly

Anchoring is kind of like moving into a new neighborhood. You want to make a good first impression so your new neighbors will invite you over for a drink and not call the local water police. Wakes are a no-no in any anchorage, so you want to come in very slowly and stately (plus it gives you more time to scope out the place and decide who you want for your temporary neighbor). If you come in fast enough to overturn somebody's lunch, you'll likely end up an outcast and probably get an earful.

When you're weaving your way through an anchorage, pass behind anchored boats; it's nerve-wracking to see someone passing right over where you know your anchor line is. Also, if you come in at night, try not to blind your fellow boaters with a million-watt spotlight, ruining their night vision. Keep the light aimed low, have all your own deck lights on, and keep your voices low and clear.

The First Boat Sets The Precedent

While there are no laws addressing priority, anchoring is traditionally on a first-come, first-served basis. If there are lots of boats already there, your position is low man on the totem pole. Really, all that means is that boats that come in later need to respect the space needs and the 360-degree swinging room (with rode stretched out) of all the other boats there. If you were the first one in, congratulations, you're king for the day. If you arrive later, don't anchor too close to other boats, or in their swing radius.

It's perfectly OK — in fact it's preferred — to talk to your potential neighbors, whether a new boat coming in or already anchored. If you're gliding by looking to anchor near a boat and the owner is in the cockpit, compliment their boat and ask if they're OK with where you plan to anchor. Ask them where their anchor is and how much scope they have out. Perhaps ask about the bottom. Some are good and some are bad for holding. Don't be surprised (or offended) if they're not OK with your plan for whatever reason. Everyone has his or her own social limits. Plus, there may be important issues at play: they might have multiple anchors out; there may be shallows or obstructions nearby; they could have engine trouble, meaning they may appreciate a little extra room "just in case;" or maybe your neighbor is waiting for another boat to raft up with them. So just say thanks, let it go, and move on to the next potential spot.

Once The Hook Is Down, Don't Just Hop In The Dinghy

Nothing screams newbie louder than tossing an anchor over and leaving before your boat has settled back with the wind and really "set" its hook. An anchor has to grab the bottom, dig in, and set to really hold, which usually entails letting out enough scope (5-to-1 rode to depth, measured from your anchor roller to the bottom), backing down on it slowly until it hooks the bottom, and then more strongly to dig its flukes in until it's clear the boat will remain in place. Even after whatever tactic you use to set it, you should still see how it does before you leave.

Conversely, don't put out more than 5-to-1 scope unless it's really needed; otherwise you will swing over on top of another boat if the wind should shift. If everyone uses this same 5-to-1 ratio, an anchorage of boats should swing around together if they have similar bottom and windage characteristics. Always drop your hook behind the stern of a neighbor's boat, never alongside it; this ensures that you'll both swing in your own circles.

The wind may be nothing now, but when that little dark cloud on the horizon starts growing and getting closer, not only the strength, but the direction of the wind will probably change. If you're ashore with a poorly set anchor, you may be the one responsible for the slow-motion boat-sized pinball game that ensues. Not cool, and you're sure to create damage to your boat and others.

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ANATOMY OF A MARINE SURVEY

Posted On: October 02, 2019

The Anatomy of a Survey

Not all surveys are the same, but they generally begin by describing the boat overall.

This part of the survey lists the year, make, model, hull identification number (HIN), and the basic specs of the boat, such as length, beam, and weight. It should also explain the scope of the survey, which describes the limitations. For example, it may say that hard-to-access areas were not inspected, that electronics were only powered up and not tested, or that engines were not part of the survey

From there, the survey goes into meatier stuff. It will document the condition of structural components, such as hull and deck, running gear, bulkheads, and engine beds. Things like the fuel, plumbing, and electrical systems are inspected and discussed with respect to relevant standards; living spaces are inspected; and safety items are noted, such as the existence — or the lack — of carbon-monoxide alarms and fire extinguishers.

A good survey is more than just an inventory of the boat's equipment. The surveyor will comment on each section of the inspected boat. Finally, near the end of the survey are the recommendations, arguably the most important part.

Don't select a surveyor on price alone; find one that has experience on your type of boat and one with whom you feel comfortable.

1. Boats don't pass or fail a survey. The buyer determines if the boat is acceptable or not, and the insurance company will list what must be done in order to provide coverage.

2. Even a brand-new boat will almost certainly have some recommendations from the surveyor, though most of them should be addressable through the builder's warranty.

3. Surveys include an approximate current fair-market value for use by lenders and insurance companies. This can serve as a price negotiation tool.

4. A survey is a useful guide for planning upgrades and repairs and allows you to prioritize your budget.

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