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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

Trailer Without Tears

If youÂ’re one of the legions of trailer sailors, you know the advantages of having your boat in your driveway or storage yard instead of in a slip or on a mooring. Storms are not likely to be a concern and bottom paint is of only academic interest. With these conveniences though, are other concerns….

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How Do You Test Your PFD?

Inherently Buoyant PFDs: Put your life jacket on. It should fit properly with all zippers, straps, ties and snaps correctly secured. Ease yourself into the water or walk into water up to your neck. Lift your legs and tilt your head back, in a relaxed floating position. Your mouth should be out of the water…

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Keeping Station

“Keeping station” refers to holding a position in the water – not moving relative to the land – and here we’re talking about staying still without being secured to a dock or anchored to the bottom. We hold the boat in place by piloting it at (not “to”) a certain spot without making any “way”,…

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But I Don’t Want To Be In Charge!

As a friend of mine once said, the only thing better than owning a nice boat is having a good friend who owns one. None of the headaches, none of the problems, none of the responsibility but all the fun when asked out to enjoy the water. But what happens when your friend, the owner…

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Preventing Fires on Your Boat

When a fire occurs in a building, we evacuate to the safety of the outdoors and usually turn the fire fighting over to trained professionals. When we are at sea on our boat however, it is a little different. Our boat is often the only safe haven for many miles around. Because of the distances…

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How Current Is Your Chart?

An Update on NOAA Take a look in your chart table and look at the date on the charts that you are using. My guess is that many are two, three, five or maybe even years older. Do you religiously check the weekly Local Notice to Mariners to update your chart for changes in aides…

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Towing for fun

“Hey there! Can yaÂ’ gimme a pull?” HeÂ’s got the cover off his outboard, his buddy and their wives (?) are sitting with glum expressions on the gunÂ’ls. Yours is the only other boat in the area so thereÂ’s no chance that heÂ’s hollering at someone else, and although you had been planning on a…

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DOCUMENTING YOUR BOAT — PROS AND CONS

WHICH VESSELS MUST BE DOCUMENTED? With a few exceptions, all vessels of 5 or more net tons which are used in coastwise trade, Great Lakes trade, or the fisheries, on the navigable waters of the U.S. or the Exclusive Economic Zone must be documented. A commercial vessel of 5 or more net tons engaged in…

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Nautical Charts

In order to kick off the new Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course we thought it might be appropriate to give some information on the nautical chart. The following information has been compiled from U.S. Government web sites for the Office of Coast Survey, the National Ocean Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration….

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Are Single-Handed Sailors in Conflict with the Rules?

Do they have the right to Zzzzzz? Steve Barefoot knew the answer to this question by pointing out that sailing single-handed around the world would be in violation of Colregs-Part B, Section I, Rule 5- Conduct of Vessels in any Condition of Visibility which states: “Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out…

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Beware!! The Hazards of Ice

TWO BOYS, age 11, are ice skating at a local pond. Suddenly, the ice cracks and one boy falls through into 34 degree Fahrenheit water. His friend runs to his aid, and potential tragedy grows as the second boy is pulled into the ice cold water by the panic stricken child already in the water….

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GPIRB – The Smart EPIRB

This is the first of a new generation of emergency beacons. GPIRBs (Global Position Indicating Radio Beacon) combine the latest in GPS and 406MHz EPIRB (Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon) technology, and add extraordinary precision to your emergency distress signal. If you are a boater who operates offshore or in the Great Lakes, this could…

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Estimating Time of Arrival

Assume that you will leave your marina on a trip to a nearby restaurant for lunch. You have made reservations at the restaurant for 1200. The restaurant is 29 nautical miles from your marina. You plan on a leisurely cruise at a speed of 12 kts. What time must you leave your marina to arrive…

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Recent Questions about Trailering Your Boat

How do you measure tongue weight? The easiest way I know for a Class 1 hitch (Up to 2,000 lb. Gross trailer weight (GTW) and 200 lb., tongue weight) is to use your bathroom scales. (It is best to do this when your wife is out shopping.) Once you have adjusted the weight distribution of…

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Bridge Procedures

Traveling the inland waterways can be a pleasant experience but can also bring some special challenges especially for larger boats and sailboats. Dealing with draw bridges takes some knowledge of how the system works and knowing what you are looking for, especially at night. Nautical charts only tell you that there is a bridge and…

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Marlinespike – Hitches – Anchorbend (aka Fisherman’s Bend)

For securing a line to an anchor or buoy. Pass the working end of the line through a ring from front to back to form a round turn. Bring the working end down and behind the standing part. Bring it over the standing part and through the round turn to form a half-hitch around the…

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A Scrape in the Dark

A Scrape in the Dark Contributed by Bill Wallace It is a horrible feeling to wake up at 3:00 am after spending the day on the water and finding a perfect anchoring spot, only to realize that the winds have picked up just a little bit and dragged your boat against another nearby boat, or…

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Procedure for Abandoning Ship

The decision to abandon ship is usually very difficult. In some instances, people have perished in their life raft while their abandoned vessel managed to stay afloat. Other cases indicate that people waited too long to successfully get clear of a floundering boat. Once the decision is made: Put on all available waterproof clothing, including…

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Fire Extinguishers – Which is Best for the Job

Thanks to FS2 Gregory Berry, USCG Boothbay Harbor Maine for a detailed explanation of the different fire extinguishers available to fight certain kinds of fires. Just as a reminder: Class A fires are combustible solids such as wood, fiberglass, cloth, etc. Class B fires are flammable liquids such as gasoline, diesel, etc. Class C fires…

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Prevent Outboard Breakdowns with Simple Maintenance

Prevent Outboard Breakdowns with Simple Maintenance Keeping your outboard in tip-top shape can be done even if you’re not a mechanic. There is nothing worse than trying to run to shore to flee an incoming storm and hearing that all-too-familiar cough and sputter from the outboard. More often than not, just a little TLC and…

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Operating Your Boat in accordance with Homeland Security Measures

In light of security measures brought about by the events of September 11, 2001, it is critical that all boaters be aware of and comply with homeland security measures set forth by federal, state and local governments. These should include, but are not limited to, keeping a safe prescribed distance from military and commercial ships…

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How to Maneuver in Narrow Channels

The proper name of the maneuver in question is “Back and Fill.” The execution of the maneuver depends on whether or not you have a right hand screw (turns clockwise in forward) or left hand screw (turns counterclockwise in forward). For our example we will assume a right hand, single screw boat. We will also…

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“Dressing Ship”

“Dressing Ship” “I live in Annapolis, Maryland. Yesterday we welcomed the Whitbread racers to town. As part of that welcoming the AYC requested that members “dress ship” with nautical signal flags placed in a certain order. I am curious about the specific order… Can you help me with this issue? Please email me if you…

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Boating in Heavy Weather – Part I

Preparation For Heavy Weather This week’s tip is all about preparing yourself for heavy weather. If you have kept a proper lookout, developed a “weather eye” and monitored the weather on your VHF radio, you should have plenty of time to get prepared. Obviously, the best way to handle rough weather is to get to…

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U.S. VHF Marine Radio Channels and Frequencies

U.S. VHF Marine Radio Channels and Frequencies (Important Channels Marked In Red) Channel Ship Ship Use Number Transmit Receive 01A 156.050 156.050 Port Operations and Commercial. VTS in selected areas. 05A 156.250 156.250 Port Operations. VTS in Seattle 06 156.300 156.300 Intership Safety 07A 156.350 156.350 Commercial 08 156.400 156.400 Commercial (Intership only) 09 156.450…

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Auto-Inflatable PFD Review

Auto-Inflatable PFD Review Standing at the edge of the dock, IÂ’m looking down into the frigid waters of Great South Bay. I know we have to test these new inflatable life jackets in real world conditions, but couldnÂ’t we do it in a pool?  A heated pool?  “ThatÂ’d be cheating,” reminded Ron, our photographer (easy for…

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Changing Oil Prolongs Engine Life

You should change your engine oil and filter every 100 hours or every season, which ever comes first. This simple piece of maintenance is often overlooked because it is not quite as easy as changing the oil in your automobile. Following is a step-by-step process which you can follow to make the chore more bearable….

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Electricity 101 for Boaters

Since the majority of failures in boating have to do with something electrical, we thought it might be a good idea to post an article on electricity and trouble shooting. Understanding the terminology of electricity is the first step to starting to understand electrical theory. I personally like to compare electricity to the more straight…

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Do You Need a Captain’s License?

Do You Need a Captain’s License? And what is a passenger for hire? We have received several emails asking about the necessity of having a captain’s license. One such email described a situation that follows: “A friend of mine was boarded by the Marine Police and the Coast Guard while fishing on the Chesapeake Bay….

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Visual Distress Signals

Visual Distress Signals The most common method that a mariner uses to notify the Coast Guard that they are in distress is via their marine VHF-FM radio. I strongly encourage all boaters to have a radio on board their vessel, especially if their boating activities take them offshore. During the past year Coast Guard Station…

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