Rules of Thumb

Rules of Thumb
and other quick boating tips:

Operating in Fog
Hose Guards
Kitty Litter

Coat Hanger

Paint & Varnish
Estimating Distance
“Pencil” Radar
Navigating by Eye
Piloting by Echo

Wake Crossing
Changing oil
Accident Reports

The Original 
Rule of Thumb

Extra Navigation Question

Print out this page and use your 1210 TR training chart to answer the following question. You may return later to take the quiz by selecting the button below. For this question use a variation of 16° W and deviation of 2° E.

Plot a course from R”12″ Qk Fl R (approximately 41° 37.4′ N and 070° 42.3 W) to pass 0.5nm due south of BW buoy “BB” (approximately 41° 31.0 N and 070° 50.0′ W). Depart the red buoy at 0730 and proceed along this course at 4 kts.


What is the True Course?
What is the position and ETA of the point 0.5 nm due south of BW buoy?
At 1000, the following bearings are obtained with a hand bearing compass. (assume no deviation)Light: Fl 6sec 78 ft. 9M – Naushon Island bears—– 128°
NW edge of Penikese Island bears ——————- 235°
Light: Fl 4 sec 4M – Butler Flats bears ————— 004°

What is this 1000 position?

The difference between the 1000 Fix and 1000 DR was caused by a current. What is the Set and Drift of that current?

What are your options

How are you going to learn to
operate your new boat?
Where can you learn advanced
Thinking of upgrading to a
larger boat?
Just want to know more?
Never been on a boat before?


are your options?

1. You can learn by trial and
. Though this is dangerous, and potentially
expensive, this is the way many people learn. Or don’t
learn. (These are the people you try to avoid on the
water. You never can tell which is a trial and which is
an error.)

2. You can go to a school.
This is an option if your schedule permits you to spend a
week or so away from home and work . . . learning with a
group of other students all with varying degrees of
experience . . . on a boat that’s not yours and, most
likely, very different from yours . . . learning in an
area you probably won’t be boating in . . . and learning
what the school wants to teach, not necessarily what you
want to learn.

3. You can teach yourself.
(See #1) There is a lot to learn and much of it you can
teach yourself. (We can help you with that, too.)
Unfortunately, you usually find out what you don’t know
under very unpleasant, and very real, conditions.

4. You can read books. We
recommend many good books depending on your training
goals. In conjunction with hands-on learning with
experienced instructor/captains, this is an excellent
alternative. But a book can’t give you the feel of
actually docking your own boat or maneuvering in close

5. You can have a friend
teach you (or worse, your spouse)
. This is the way to
lose all enthusiasm for boating, not to mention your
relationship. Good teachers are rare, and just knowing
how to do something doesn’t make anyone a good teacher.

OR . . . I.M.E. can tailor a
program just for your needs.

Our instructors are teachers first; their subject (and
their expertise) is boating. We choose instruc-tors based
upon their skill, their experience, and their level of
professional attainment, but only after they have proven
themselves to be good teachers. They don’t lecture, they
certainly don’t yell and they believe the only dumb
question is the one you didn’t ask. Their mission is to
encourage you with their enthusiasm, enable you with
new-found skills, and create a comfortable and
confidence-building atmosphere that lets you learn in
your own unique way and at your own pace.

We match qualified instructors with your training
goals. If the instructor best suited for your training is
not available on the dates you have requested, we tell
you that up front – we don’t just send whoever is
available. If your goal is to be able to make passage to
Venezuela, we send you an instructor who has done it. If
we don’t have a qualified instructor who has done what
you want to do, we tell you that.

We custom tailor a program to fit your needs. Whether
you want to know what that gadget is in the bilge or what
star to use to get a celestial fix, we cover it all.

We can go through your boat with you and explain
systems; we can teach you how to handle your boat safely
in all conditions; we can teach you to navigate by sight,
stars or electronically. Our hands-on training on your
boat can be invaluable. Have you ever tried to get into a
dock with wind and current against you, or get away from
a dock with the same elements not in your favor? We show
you simple techniques to make a safe landing or
departure. We can handle any request you have to reach
your goal.

Who We Are:

I.M.E. is a group of dedicated, talented and
experienced marine instructors. In addition to
professional careers and extensive boating experience,
all of our instructors have taught at major boating
schools and have come to believe that there is a better,
more comfortable, and more cost-effective way to learn
these skills. We believe that the best way to learn is on
the boat you will be using, with the people with whom you
will be boating, in the area in which you will do most of
your boating.

As the Director of I.M.E., I personally select all
instructor/captains based on their experience,
personality and ability to communicate their knowledge. I
believe you will find our program the best way to learn
boating safety, skills and seamanship.

Please feel free to call with any questions you may
have or to discuss a personalized training program for
yourself, your family or for small groups.


U.S.C.G. Masters license, 100 ton with auxiliary sail
American Sailing Association (ASA) Certified Instructor
ASA Certified Instructor, all levels
Instructor, Lanier Sailing Academy
Instructor, Chapman School of Seamanship
Instructor, Florida Yacht Charters
U.S.N. Sailing Club Instructor
F.C.C. Marine Radio Operators
License First Aid/CPR Certification
PDIC Open Water Diver Certification
Masters Degree Business & Industrial Psychology –
Texas A & M University
B.S. Degrees in Psychology & Sociology – Texas A
& M University
B.S. Degree Biology – University of Oklahoma
Premed Associate Degree – University of Oklahoma


Marine Pollution

Marine Pollution – Additional Information


Plastic includes, but is not limited to; plastic bags, styrofoam cups and lids, six pack holders, stirrers, straws, milk jugs, egg cartons, synthetic nets, ropes, lines and bio or photo-degradable plastics.

Garbage means paper, rags, glass, metal, crockery (generated in living spaces aboard the vessel — what we normally call trash), and all kinds of food, maintenance and cargo-associated waste. Garbage, as used here, does not include fresh fish or fish parts, dishwater, or gray water.

Dunnage is material used to block and brace cargo and is considered a cargo-associated waste.

Dishwater means the liquid residue from the manual or automatic washing of dishes and cooking utensils which have been pre-cleaned to the extent that any food particles adhering to them would not normally interfere with the operation of automatic dishwashers.

Graywater means drainage from a dishwasher, shower, laundry, bath, and washbasin and does not include drainage from toilets, urinals, hospitals, and cargo spaces.

Waste Management Plans

The Waste Management Plan must be in writing and describe procedures for collecting, processing, storing and properly disposing of garbage in a way that will not violate the requirement. It must also designate the person who is in charge of carrying out the plan.

Boaters who have specific questions about the form or content of a Waste Management Plan should contact the nearest Coast Guard Captain of the Port.

Marina Obligations

Recreational boating facilities (such as marinas, yacht clubs and attended launching ramps), capable of providing wharfage or other services for 10 or more recreational vessels, must also provide adequate garbage reception facilities for any vessel that routinely calls. Vessels must be conducting business with the facility to qualify for the service. Marinas would not be expected to provide services to a vessel whose sole reason for docking was to offload its garbage. Also, marinas and terminals can charge vessel operators reasonable fees for providing the service. Boat operators should request that their marinas have adequate dumpsters, and oil and antifreeze recycling bins. Boaters should return to the dock all materials they take out in their boats.

MSD Basic Requirements

Vessels 65 feet in length and under may install a Type I, II, or III Marine Sanitation Device. Vessels over 65 feet in length must install a Type II or III MSD.

TYPE I This device is certified to treat the sewage with disinfectant chemicals, and by other means, before it is discharged into the water. The treated discharge must meet certain health standards for bacteria content and must not show any visible floating solids.

TYPE II This MSD is also a treatment device, but it is certified to provide a higher level of sewage treatment. Because it is larger in size than a Type I, and generally has higher power requirements, it is usually installed only in larger recreational boats.

TYPE III This MSD does not allow the discharge of sewage. Type III category devices include recirculating and incinerating MSDs and holding tanks. Holding tanks are probably the most common kind of Type III MSD used on recreational boats. Sewage is stored in the holding tank until it can be pumped out to a reception facility on shore, or at sea beyond the territorial waters of the United States.

Reception Facilities

Reception facilities (sometimes called pumpout stations) are not required by Coast Guard regulations. Their availability at marinas or other locations is largely a function of local boater demand. Most cruising guides and boating almanacs list the availability of pumpout stations. However, because of the growing number of No Discharge Zones (see below) and the increasing number of boaters, the Federal Government and the States are encouraging, and assisting with funding, the installation of more pumpout stations along U.S. waterways. They are also turning their attention to a requirement for standardized MSD pumpout fittings that will make it possible for all vessels to easily use any pumpout station.

For the future — The Clean Vessel Act of 1992 (Public Law 102587, Subtitle F) recommends the following: “For all vessels manufactured after December 31, 1994, a standard deck fitting for removal of sewage should be constructed to the “International standard ISO 4567 Shipbuilding – Yachts – Waste water fittings” for holding tanks, which is a female 38.1 mm (one and one half inches) pipe size with 11 threads per 25.4 mm (inch). These threads could utilize a quick-connect, or cam lock fitting. For existing vessels, an adapter, such as a tapered cone, should be used for non-standard deck fittings. All pumpout connectors should fit the standard deck fitting. For vessels manufactured after December 31, 1994, it has been recommended that, because of possible confusion between waste, fuel and water deck fittings, the deck fittings should be identified with the words ‘WASTE’, ‘GAS’, ‘DIESEL’, and ‘WATER’, and color coded. Fittings should be provided with black caps for waste, red caps for gas and diesel, and blue caps for water.”

In the meantime, because there are a variety of fitting sizes at various marinas, boaters should acquaint themselves with what, if any, fitting adapter they should have to enable discharge at any pumpout location.

Certification Labels

Every manufacturer of Coast Guard certified treatment MSDs must affix a certification label on the MSD. The label will show the name of the manufacturer, the name and model number of the device, the month and year of manufacturer, the MSD type (i.e. Type I, Type I, or Type III), a certification number, and a certification statement. This is proof that the device has been tested to meet the U.S. Coast Guard regulations for design and construction, and the Environmental Protection Agency regulations and standards as required by the Clean Water Act.

Holding tanks (Type III MSDs) will not be labeled. They will be considered Coast Guard certified if they are used to store sewage and flushwater only and they operate at ambient (outside) air temperature and pressure. A holding tank must have enough reserve capacity to retain the wastes generated while the vessel is operating in waters where the discharge of raw sewage is prohibited. Isolating the overboard discharge piping from the head with a valve is not considered equivalent to providing a holding tank.

Special MSD Regulations Pertaining to Houseboats

The Clean Water Act permits a State to enforce regulations regarding the design, manufacture, installation, and use of MSDs on Houseboats, even if such a regulation is more stringent than Federal standards. “Houseboat” is defined as a vessel which, for a period of time determined by the State in which the vessel is located, is used primarily as a residence and not primarily as a means of transportation. If you own or operate a boat that fits this definition, check with the State Boating Law Administrator for any special MSD requirements the State may have.

How good was your Nautical Know How

How good was your
Nautical Know How ?

Answers to the contest appear in blue .
The winner of the last contest, Lori Walczak , will receive a Nautical Know How T-shirt.

A continuous fog signal indicates – a vessel in distress
Which of the following will introduce compass error? Iron
An ebbing tide is: Outgoing
Most fires/explosions on a boat occur after fueling .
Which of the following is a not distress signal? Flashing Yellow Light

Useful Boating Information

Useful Boating Information

  • Rescue Techniques for Sail Racing – from the Rescue Chiefs of Cork (03/25/98)
  • Ramp Courtesy by Mark Fridl (03/17/98)
  • Towing Tips by W.J. Laudeman
  • Boating Accident Reporting – It’s the Law
  • Maritime Environmental Regulations by Chief Warrant Officer Jim Krzenski, Commanding Officer, U.S.C.G. Station Fort Pierce, FL
  • Marine Sanitation: Fact vs. Folklore by Peggie Hall, President of Peal Products
  • No Discharge Regulations by Peggie Hall, President of Peal Products
  • All About Nautical Charts
  • How to use Dividers and Parallel Rulers.
  • Nautical Miles and Statute Miles
  • Seasickness contributed by Bob Pone
  • Drug-Testing and Maritime Law from Capt. Alan E. Spears.
  • Windsurfing Don’t Get in Over Your Head – contributed by Lawrence
  • Buying a Boat
  • Preventing Boat Theft
  • International Code Flags
  • An Overview of GPS
  • The Pros and Cons of Documenting Your Boat
  • Hull Identification Numbers – What they Mean
  • Calculating the Distance to Horizon
  • Lightning Protection
  • Boating Etiquette
  • Removing a stray fishing hook Contributed by Bob Pone, the Marine
  • Taking Bearings on a Small Boat by Bill McNiel

Boating Stories Archives

Boating Stories Archives

  • The Great Bahamas Cruise by Jim Smith (03/25/98)
  • Caution for Pontoon Boaters (03/25/98)
  • Top 10 Silliest Questions Asked on Cruise Ships (03/25/98)
  • Adventures in Galveston Bay by Jeanne Hurr (03/17/98)
  • Capt. Matt’s Boating Adventure (In 4 parts)
  • Nathan’s Kite Boat
  • Port Tack to Tortola by Jim Smith
  • Murphy’s Law at Work by John Sullivan
  • Boating experiences on the ICW .
  • Keel-Hauling In Havasu by Jim Smith
  • Tortola Torture by Jim Smith
  • Vicki & Ray’s First Bareboating Adventure
  • The Bahamas via Hong Kong by Jim Smith
  • Some Humor from Jim Smith

BoatSafe Kids

  • How Far is the Horizon? (04/14/98)
  • Do I have to wear my PFD?
  • How do life jackets work?
  • Stuff you should always have onboard no matter how small your boat is
  • Why are life jackets orange?
  • What does “abeam” mean?
  • What makes a boat plane?
  • How do heavy boats float?

Boat Handling Tips

Boat Handling Tips

  • Boat Docking in a Quartering Wind by Charles Low (04/14/98)
  • Boat Docking – An Introduction by Charles Low
  • Docking Broadside to Wind by Charles T. Low
  • Close Quarters Maneuvering by Charles Low
  • Docking Stern-to – by Charles T. Low
  • Boat Docking – Alongside in a Headwind by Charles T. Low
  • Maneuvering in a Narrow Channel
  • Docking & Undocking
  • Docking Tips continued
  • Your Boat’s Aground – What Now?

Boat Maintenance Tips

  • Bright Ideas contributed by Bob Pone, The Marine Do-It-Yourselfer
  • Troubleshooting the Over-Heating Engine
  • Winterizing Your Boat
  • Outboard Motor Maintenance
  • Checking Bilge Pumps
  • Through-hull Fittings

Printable checklists and logs

  • A Float Plan
  • Trip Log
  • Ship’s Log
  • Predeparture Check List
  • Tools & Spare Parts List
  • Required Equipment for Recreational Boats

Basic Boating Safety Course

course.gif (8113 bytes)Study the material online, take the online chapter review quizzes and the practice final exam. When you are ready to take the final exam, pay the fee with a credit card and get immediate access to the exam. (Mail/fax ordering is also available.)

Upon successful completion, you will receive a printable temporary certificate. Your permanent documents will be mailed to you.



  • Coastal Navigation Course
  • Navigators Tool Kit
  • Skipper’s Onboard Source – Fast Reference to Boating Safety Information
  • Nautical Know How T-Shirt
How to order: You can order securely online using Visa or Mastercard. You can also fax or mail your credit card information. You may also pay by check or money order by mail. Click here for a mail/fax form.To order online now : Click the “Add to cart” button to add the item to your shopping cart. You can view the contents of the cart and remove items at any time. When you are ready to check out, you will be transferred to a secure server to enter your payment information.

Return policy: If you are unsatisfied with your purchase you may return the items for a full refund.

Boating Courses Online

Basic Boating Safety Certification Course – Approved by NASBLA, recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard. Successful completion of this course entitles most boat owners to a discount on marine insurance premiums. Take this course on your own schedule and at your own pace. Help is available via email.

Coastal Navigation – basic navigation course is a combination of home study materials, sample and real-time chart work, and online testing, help desk and discussion board.

In the works:
License Prep Course
Celestial Navigation Course
Basic Sailing Course