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About Chris

Early days of fishing and wakeboarding boats. These days a little more relaxing and sailing time, mostly on catamarans. Still too poor be a yacht man.

Articles by Chris

Rodger from the United Kingdom asks: How was the nautical mile arrived at and why is the speed at sea called knots? Was there a means of determining the knot in bygone sailing days?

A nautical mile is a distance on the earth’s surface of 6,080 feet, which is equal to one minute of latitude at the earth’s equator. Since there are 360 degrees around the earth, and each degree equals 60 minutes, the distance around the earth, at the equator or any other great circle, is 21,600 nautical…

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Just the Basics Required Stuff to Have on Your Boat

You need to have a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) for every person onboard the boat. PFDs must be approved by the United States Coast Guard. To see the kinds of PFDs available, look here . In addition, if your boat is 16 feet or over, you need to have a throwable PFD onboard, and immediately…

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Pets OnBoard

Ellie from Wisconsin wondered about taking her cat along for a day of boating. Good for you, Ellie, for wanting to make sure your cat would be safe!  Yes, you probably can take your cat boating if you plan ahead. The best way to introduce your pet to boating is to spend some time together…

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Do I Have to Wear a PFD?

Christa from Illinois asks, “Do I always have to wear my PFD?” The easy answer to that question is that Illinois has a law that says anyone 13 or younger must wear a PFD when underway on a boat. Also, a Federal law requires that children 12 and under must wear a PFD when onboard…

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Boat Parts and Terms

Boat Parts and Terms The front of the boat is called the The left side of the boat is called the side The right side of the boat is called the side The back of the boat is called the Other Boating Words to Know: Hull : The body of the boat not including the…

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All About PFDS

DESCRIPTIVE TYPES OF PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICES (PFDs) A TYPE I PFD, or OFFSHORE LIFE JACKET provides the most buoyancy. It is effective for all waters, especially open, rough, or remote waters where rescue may be delayed. It is designed to turn most unconscious wearers in the water to a face-up position. The TYPE I comes…

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Giggles

My name is giggles and I joined a Mariner Scout Troop. Last summer we charted an 80 foot schooner and we were the crew. We could not wait to take the cruise to Catalina Island. The schooner we took was a schooner that our troop has been sailing since the 1960’s. The schooner has a…

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Vicki asks “How Many People Can Fit in a Boat?”

That’s a very good question, Vicki, because overloading a small boat is a very dangerous thing to do. Luckily, there are some federal regulations helping to protect you. Boat builders must comply with Federal law by putting a Capacity Plate in sight of the helm (steering area) on motorized boats less than 20 feet in…

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Why Does a Boat Plane?

To answer this question, let’s first look at what kinds of boats you may see. Displacement Boat Planing Boat Hovercraft Hydrofoil Hovercraft and hydrofoil boats are not as common so we won’t cover them here. (A later article!) Most recreational boats are either planing or displacement. To get a better understanding, you should first read…

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Bryce, age 10, asks “Why do cigarette boats have a closed bow?” An excellent question! It does seem like a waste of space, doesn’t it?

Cigarette boats are designed for a single purpose and that is to “go fast.” That is why you may hear them referred to as “go fast boats.” They are V-hull, planing, boats which means that they actually ride on top of the water, and they are equipped with high horsepower engines that are able to…

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Why do Life Jackets Float?

Emily asked, “Why do life jackets float? They are so small compared to my size and they don’t weigh much.” As you recall from reading How Boats Float , a body displaces water, which pushes back and creates buoyancy .  The more water you displace, the greater the force pushing back. Think about this: A…

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What Does ‘Pounds of Buoyancy’ Mean?

What Does ‘Pounds of Buoyancy’ Mean? Jeremy wants to know: “In your course you say that different PFDs have different pounds of buoyancy. What does that mean?” A buoyant apparatus is anything that can float and hold up weight. For instance, if you had a Type I PFD that is required to have 22 pounds…

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“Why are Boats Referred to as “She”?”

Connie asks: I am trying to find out why boats are always referred to as the female gender.. When and why did this practice start? According to Yarns of the Sea, Legends, Myths, and Superstitions : Although women were considered to bring bad luck at sea, mariners always use the pronoun “she” when referring to…

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Madison is curious about how sailboats work and asks

“Why does a sailboat go forward if the wind is pushing from the side?” It is fairly simple to explain how a sailboat sails when going downwind. (When the wind is behind you.) You simply let the sails out as far as they will go and the wind pushes on them and the boat’s hull…

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Knots!

Knots!   Figure 8 Knot Is a stopper knot – it keeps the line from slipping out of things, such as a pulley. See it step-by-step Bowline “The King of Knots!” Used to form a temporary loop in a line. (So you can throw it over a piling, for example.) See it step-by-step Cleat Hitch…

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When On a Boat Be Sure to Use Your “Head”

Head is a much used maritime word meaning the top or forward part. Head was also the name given to that part of the older sailing ships, forward of the raised section near the bow or forward part of the boat called the forecastle. So when someone said they were going to the head it…

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POINTS OF THE COMPASS

Before the Magnetic Compass was discovered, early map makers would draw a small 16 pointed circle on the map, and place an “N” to point to North. These were the 16 Cardinal Points from which the winds were thought to blow. This drawing was called a “Wind Rose.” When the magnetic compass came along, it…

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Types of Boat Hulls

Types Of Hulls Flat bottom boat – These boats are generally less expensive to build and have a shallow draft (the part of the boat that’s under the water). They can get up on plane easily but unless the water is very calm they tend to give a rough ride because of the flat bottom…

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How to be a Storm Spotter

A boat on the water is a great place to watch clouds. It’s also a pleasant way to pass the time when you are bored. It can also save you and your family from being caught in a sudden thunderstorm. A skipper knows to always check the weather forecast before leaving the dock, but sometimes…

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Bramp asks: Why do some sail boats have more than one sail and how can some boats go faster than the wind?

Good question Bramp! Most small sail boats have only one sail because the square footage of sail area is big enough to collect enough wind to push a light boat. As the size of the boat gets larger and heavier, you need to have more sail surface for the wind to interact with – the…

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How Can the Moon Affect Tides?

DonÂ’t believe everything you hear, especially around marinas and bait stores where the “old salts” spin their yarns. When you hear boaters referring to ebb tide, or incoming tide or outgoing tide, it may be familiar language, but it is not accurate. Tide does not ebb, nor does it come in or go out. Tide…

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How are flat charts and maps made of our round planet?

Sailors need accurate charts to find their way around the seas. The trouble is, nobody can make a perfect chart because the earth is a large ball and charts are drawn on paper, which is flat. You need to know a few things before you can understand how this problem has been tackled, so here…

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How does a heavy boat float?

A boat, or any other object designed to float, is based on a theory by a very old guy, even older than Capt. Matt. Though he is old and, by the way, dead, he was really a cool guy and his name was Archimedes (Ark-i’-meed-eez). His principle, cleverly named the Archimedes’ Principle, explains how things…

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The History of Navigation

Navigation is the art of getting from one place to another, safely and efficiently. Whenever you find a store in a mall or walk home from school, you are using the tools of the early navigators. But what if you found yourself in a place you didnÂ’t recognize such as out in the middle of…

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How Far is the Horizon?

When I was a kid , whenever we went “down the shore” to Manasquan, NJ, I would stand at the water’s edge hoping I could see France. (Geography was not my favorite subject!) I never could see France from NJ, but often would see large ships on the horizon and wonder how far away they were….

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VESSEL SPARE PARTS LIST

Every vessel should have a basic mechanic’s tool kit onboard. This kit should include, at minimum, the following: TOOLS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Socket set – 3/8 drive (3/8″ – 13/16″) Open and box wrenches (3/16″ – 1″) Screw driver set – slotted & phillips Crescent wrenches – 8″…

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Possible Explanation of Weather Proverb

Thanks for addressing a possible answer to an often quoted , but perhaps less understood, weather proverb. The proverb is as follows: “When the bubbles of coffee collect in the center of the cup, expect fair weather. When they adhere to the cup, forming a ring, expect rain. If the bubbles separate without assuming any…

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Staying in Touch – Even Offshore

Cellular phones work great if you stay near-coastal. You can usually use them with no problem as long as you are within 5 miles of the US shoreline. However, if you want to venture further out, and still stay in touch, your only alternative until recently was a very expensive IMARSAT system. Now, staying in…

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Troubleshooting an Over-heating Engine

You have been offshore doing a little fishing, sitting stationary in a sargasso weed line. Both you and your fishing partner have noticed that each year it seems that more and more trash is accumulating in the weedlines. Styrofoam cups, plastic bags, and pieces of flotsam are strewn throughout. You have your limit of dolphin…

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Rules Quiz!

What sound signals should be given in the following situations? INT’L RULES The red boat, in a narrow channel, wants to overtake the blue boat on its port side. Rule 34 comes into play. The key to the answer is “narrow channel”. Under the International Rules if you wish to overtake a vessel on its…

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