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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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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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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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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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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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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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Drug Testing

In order to protect the boating public, and passengers in particular, Congress has mandated that licensed mariners be subject to drug testing. Consequently, maritime employers are required to establish and implement random testing programs. This means that every licensed seaman must randomly test drug-free or face losing his/her license. The Code of Federal Regulations says:…

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What You Need to Know About Running Aground

So your boat has run aground, what now? Few things are more frustrating and potentially scary on the water. A boat running aground could cause serious hull damage and be a safety risk. First, remember to keep calm. Nearly every boater is going to run aground at some point. If it hasn’t happened yet, it…

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Abandon Ship Bag

While it may come as a surprise to some, by now most boaters realize that the survival equipment stocked in most life rafts, even rafts designed to meet SOLAS requirements, is often inadequate, sometimes woefully so. In many cases not only is the selection and quantity a problem, but the quality of the equipment and…

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How to Prevent Seasickness

Seasickness can affect almost anyone. It’s a kind of motion sickness. You can get the same feeling driving in a car or flying on a plane. Seasickness is often worse, however, due to the unique motion of a boat. Some say you don’t need anything other than your sea legs to overcome it, but that’s…

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Maritime Environmental Regulations: Marpol Annex V

What is Marpol Annex V? Understanding marine environmental regulations is an important part of being a boater. In particular, you need to be aware of rules and regulations around pollution. Ocean pollution is a massive issue that still does not get the attention it deserves. The old adage “out of sight out of mind” is…

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Taking Bearings On a Small Boat

Taking Bearings On a Small Boat Accurate bearings are critical to small boat positioning. Small boats’ freeboards and shallow drafts greatly increase the ratio of drift to advance when underway and the possibility of dragging anchor. Following are methods for taking bow-on, compass, hand bearing compass and relative bearings. I will also discuss use of…

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All About Fuel and Your Boat

Choosing the right boat fuel for your boat takes some effort. It’s not as simple as rolling up to the gas station and filling your tank. The environmental protection agency has certain requirements for boat fuel. This includes rules about hydrocarbon emissions. You need to know what kind of fuel your boat engine takes. That…

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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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The Basics You Need to Know on Any Boat

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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How to Use a Boat Tow Line

  There’s no guarantee that you’re ever going to need to tow another boat in the water. But it may happen. And if you think you could just avoid it or wait for someone else to come along, consider if the shoe was on the other foot. If you were in a stranded boat, wouldn’t…

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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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Everything You Need to Know About Nautical Charts

Every boater who’s serious about what they do needs to know how to read nautical charts. It’s a fundamental, like using a magnetic compass. The practice is becoming less and less common these days. Especially among recreational boaters. Most people who hit the water in their fishing boat or sailboat rely on electronic aids to…

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Solo Sailing: Everything You Need to Know

If you’re serious about sailing then you likely have tried solo sailing. Heading out on the water by yourself, just you and the sea. It can be fun and exhilarating. It’s also a challenge and potentially dangerous. But is it even legal? Sailors like Yannick Lemonnier and Robin Knox Johnston would say it is. They’ve…

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How to Rescue Someone’s Who’s Fallen Through the Ice

Safety is, hands down, the most important thing to keep in mind on the water. And in the cold, this is even more important. Icy cold water kills much quicker than warm water. Unfortunately, most people aren’t aware of just how dangerous it is. The problem stems from how our minds understand temperatures. If the…

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Estimating Time of Arrival

Some people don’t like to live by a schedule. They come and go whenever. Making a plan is often difficult with someone like this. You want to have dinner, and they come over whenever. If you’re serious about boating, this won’t work. You need to understand how to calculate an estimated time of arrival. Also,…

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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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Anchor Bend Knot Step 9

How To Tie An Anchor Bend Knot

Learning how to tie an Anchor Bend Knot is an essential part of boating. If you’ve ever wanted to drop an anchor, you’re going to need to know how to securely fasten that anchor to a line. A regular knot won’t cut it either. Since anchors are responsible for keeping your boat safe and secure,…

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Procedure for Abandoning Ship

The decision to abandon ship can have grave consequences and should never be taken lightly. For that reason, it’s important to keep a clear head and remain calm. The very first step you need to take when you are debating when and how to abandon ship is to consider if it’s truly necessary. This may…

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