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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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Quick Sailing Tips and Techniques

I like to begin my first sailing lesson by explaning that there are three basic rules that MUST be followed to be a successful sailor or crew member. They are simple rules and easy to remember. Rule 1: When handling halyards, make sure that: both ends of the halyard are in your hands one end…

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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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The Basics of Boat Maneuvering

  What is the most intimidating part of boating? Some might say the costs, but let’s assume that’s not an issue. Learning how to captain the boat. Maneuvering a boat is not like maneuvering any vehicle on land. It is a completely different process. This can be hard for some boaters to get a hold…

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The Basics of Dressing Ship

  The nautical term of dressing ship, to dress ship, or dressing overall can be confusing. This ritual is often reserved for military vessels. It can also apply to recreational vessels such as yachts. Even cruise ships may dress ship. It’s a process of decorating a ship for a celebration. You would dress a ship…

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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

When you’re out on the water, it’s essential that you’re familiar with VHF marine radio frequencies and channels. The marine industry specifically uses the VHF frequency range for communication. VHF stands for Very High Frequency, and it’s used for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore, and even ship-to-aircraft two-way communications. There are plenty of marine channel frequencies, and a…

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The 14 Best Inflatable Life Vests for 2022

When the weather turns hot, you want to hit the beach. Boating, fishing, paddle boarding and more, all need to be done safely. If you don’t like the bulk of a typical PFD, then inflatable life jackets are a great option. Let’s check out some of the best inflatable life vests on the market.

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How to Change the Oil in Your Boat

Just like getting the oil changed in your car, you need to change engine oil in your boat. The difference here is that it can be a much messier job. Many boat owners dread oil changes in their boat. It doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems, though. It’s definitely something you don’t…

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Converting Amps, Watts and Volts: Boating Electrical Basics

  If you’re going to be operating a boat you need to have a basic understanding of how the electrical system works. The problem with that for many newcomers is that not everything electrical is explained in plain English. The terminology can get confusing, especially when you need to understand voltage, wattage and resistance. But…

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