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Identifying Regulatory Markers

Regulatory markers are used to advise you of situations, dangers, or directions. They may indicate shoals, swim areas, speed zones, etc. They can be easily identified by the orange bands on the top and bottom of each buoy. On the water, you will find these markers posted on the sides of buoys to aid in…

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DSC Radio: What is the Digital Selective Calling System?

Every boater needs to have a VHF radio on board their vessel. It’s a vital communication tool that can link you to the mainland and rescuers when needed. It can also help inform you about weather and other emergencies. But what about a DSC radio? This is newer technology and not everyone is familiar with…

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Engine Cooling Systems Explained

Our last contest consisted of selecting the order of things to check to troubleshoot an overheating engine with a “raw water” cooling system. A few of our viewers asked me to explain just what a raw water system was and how it worked. Raw water refers to the water that the boat is floating in….

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Monohull Vs Multihull

There has been a debate in the world of sailing foe some year over monohull vs multihull. Is one superior? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each? It’s a layered question and both have some great upsides and a few downsides. Is one better? That’s likely up to the individual sailor. But we can…

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Cell Phones vs. VHF Marine Radio

If you’re new to boating it can be overwhelming to get a grip on all the extra gear you need and/or want. You may wonder if something like a VHF radio is even necessary. Especially if you have a good quality cell phone with good coverage. The Coast Guard does not advocate cell phones as…

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Boating Regulations by State Boating Education Requirements

Nearly every state now requires boaters to have some form of formal boat safety education. This typically comes in the form of a test administered by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators or NASBLA. The regulations can vary widely from state to state so make sure you check your local laws to ensure…

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Identifying Aids to Navigation

You are fishing offshore when you hear storm warnings on your radio. You decide to head for the nearest inlet. You encounter the following buoys in the following order. What do they mean and what should you do? This maker indicates a mid-channel or safe water mark. This will usually be the first marker you…

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Getting Help on the Water

  Always be prepared is the Boy Scout motto, and it’s a good one. No one wants to endure an emergency at sea, but you must be ready for one. The quicker and more efficiently you can act, the better. Quick thinking and preparation can save lives. According to the US Coast Guard, there were…

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Heavy Weather Boat Handling – Part 2

Boat Handling Under Adverse Conditions Some of the most challenging conditions you may encounter as a skipper are the adverse conditions of “Heavy Weather.” The size of your boat does not have much to do with its seaworthiness. How it will handle adverse conditions is more or less built in during the design and construction….

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What is GPS? Everything You Need to Know

Global positioning system GPS is a satellite-based navigation system. The GPS satellite system has completely changed the way humans navigate the globe. And its uses extended well beyond navigation. Search and rescue had changed for the better as a result as well. Thanks to GPS, military users and civilians have access to an extensive satellite…

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A Little Boating Humor

An Open Letter To My Creditors Dear Banks and/or Credit Unions to whom I owe money, I have started down that slippery slope to bankruptcy and thought you might appreciate it if I gave you plenty of advance notice. Granted, this may not happen for a while, but I didn’t want it to be a…

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PRE-DEPARTURE CHECK LIST

Heading out on the water should be fun. Whether you are going to take your vessel out for fishing or just to sail. Make a pre-departure checklist part of your boating trip routine. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time. Doing so can save a lot of hassle, however. Going over a pre-departure…

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What You Need to Know About Day Shapes

  Communication with other vessels is essential on the water. The use of day shapes is how you can ensure that you are able to communicate what you were doing to other boats. Likewise, they can communicate with you important information. Masthead light and running lights can only be seen at night, don’t forget. What…

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Safe Navigation Information

Statistics have repeatedly demonstrated that accidents and deaths are significantly reduced when boating education is increased. Every boater should be encouraged to take a recognized boating safety course. Some boat insurance companies actually provide discounts for completion of these courses. Please call the U.S. Coast Guard’s Customer Service Hotline at (800)-368-5647 to determine the location…

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The Best Ice Rescue Suits and How They Work

Cold water or ice rescue requires some serious and important gear. Not all ice or cold water rescue suits are created equally. But one thing that applies across the board is that cold water and ice rescue is dangerous. Never try to perform a cold water or ice rescue without proper training. Always alert authorities…

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Boating Accidents: What You Need to Know and Do

Statistics show that recreational boating accidents have been decreasing for the last 20 years. There were 4168 boating accidents logged by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2019. That included 2559 injuries and 613 boating fatalities. In the year 2000 there were 7740 boating accidents and 701 boating fatalities. So while accidents have decreased, boating fatalities…

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How to Remove a Fish Hook

If you’ve never been snagged by your own hook, congratulations. You have achieved a rare feat. Unfortunately, most of the rest of us are not so lucky. At some point in time, nearly every finds a hook stuck in a finger, an arm, a leg, or somewhere worse. They go in pretty easily, but getting…

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The Best Marine Battery Savers

DISCLAIMER: The info we’re presenting here is based more on experience than verified technical details. If you’re not comfortable wiring a 12 volt marine battery on your own, consider getting a professional to handle this kind of work instead. What Are Deep Cycle Marine Batteries? The deep cycle batteries or battery banks usually found in…

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Operating in Reduced Visibility

Boating during the fall can bring special challenges for the mariner. In addition to the need to be aware of reduced temperatures which can lead to hypothermia , you also at times have to deal with reduced visibility.   Fog is the primary cause of reduced visibility, but haze, heavy rain and snow all present…

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Understanding the Danger of Propeller Strikes

Often when discussing boat safety one aspect is overlooked. Boat propeller safety is something any boater needs to be aware of. 18% of boating fatalities are caused by propeller accidents. For that reason, understanding what a propeller is and how it works is important. Because of hydrodynamic forces, a person in the water come in…

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What Are Canal Locks And How Do They Work?

If you’re an avid boater who likes to sail far and wide, channel locks are something you’re bound to encounter. If you stay in your own little lake or just off the coast you may never come across one of these interesting features. But if and when you do stumble upon one, you definitely need…

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But I Don’t Want To Be In Charge! (Continued)

The last article focused on suddenly finding yourself in charge of a small outboard vessel, but what if the owner/skipper is suddenly injured, becomes ill or falls overboard on an inboard boat or, worse yet, a large inboard twin engine. Once again, you were just along for the ride, you don’t know anything about the…

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Adventures in Galveston Bay

My husband and I own a small trawler. It’s a 34 footer, with a single 135 hp Ford Lehman diesel and a 4.5 kW generator. We draw 4 feet, and carry radar, 2 Lorans, and 2 VHF radios, plus some other assorted equipment. My husband, Reggy, has been sailing for over 35 years. I am…

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Why You Need a Float Plan

  When making plans to head out on a boat we often put a lot of effort into thinking what’s going to come with us. The important things that you need to have on your boat. You need to make sure the radio works. Also that you’ve got extra fuel, you have life jackets, all…

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Clean Boating – How to do Your Part

Environmental Concerns: Petroleum in or on the water is harmful and, in some cases, fatal to aquatic life. Benzene, a carcinogen, is in gasoline. Oil contains zinc, sulfur, and phosphorous. Once petroleum is introduced into the water, it may float at the surface, evaporate into the air, become suspended in the water column or settle…

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Navigating Inlets

What is an Inlet? Inlets are typically long, narrow openings that lead from one body of water to another. Maybe the inlet leads from the open ocean or a lake into a bay or a lagoon. They can be smooth sailing or they can be treacherous. Knowing the difference is what will save you a…

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PWC Fire Extinguishers: What You Need to Know

What’s the last thing you expect to experience when you head out on the water in a jet ski? Fire. Boating and fire have a long and dangerous history. Fires do not occur often on personal watercraft, but they do happen. As temperatures get hotter, the potential becomes higher. Operating on hot days, engines can…

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Semi-annual Safety Checklist

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) As part of your pre-departure inspection of PFD s check for wear or abrasion, weak or torn seams, secure straps and buckles. Some types of PFDs are equipped with inflation devices; check to be sure cartridges are secure and charged. Fire Extinguishers Do you have all required quantities and types of…

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How big a boat can I handle by myself?

A question that I get almost monthly deals with how large a boat can one handle on their own. I thought that the answer might be of interest to those of you who are continually looking for some way to spoil an otherwise nice day. One version of the question and the answer follows. Capt…

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Boat Insurance – What You Need to Know

HAVING BOAT INSURANCE CAN HELP CALM THE WATERS IF AN ACCIDENT OCCURS The weather is ideal for setting sail on the open seas. But before you leave on your voyage, it is important to make sure you have insurance for your boat and your liability. In recent years, boat insurance has become harder to find,…

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