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The “Aids To Navigation” Merger

(This article originally appeared in 2002, however, some areas of the country may not yet be in compliance. For those of you in such areas, we are leaving this article up.) A phase-in period of the Uniform State Waterway Marking System (USWMS) (found on most lakes and rivers) with the United States Aids to Navigation…

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Battle of the Bilge

History: Rubbish talk amoung sailors was referred to as bilge. Legend has it that some unknown sailor was sent to inspect the deepest, darkest, part of the ship where water and residue collect. After a brief time in this black hole, the sailor was convinced that this area was also rubbish. From that day on,…

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The Rules of the Road International Regulations for Avoiding Collisions at Sea

Part A – General Rule 1 Application (a) These Rules shall apply to all vessels upon the high seas and in all waters connected therewith navigable by seagoing vessels. (b) Nothing in these Rules shall interfere in the operation of special rules made by an appropriate authority for roadsteads, harbors, rivers, lakes or inland waterways…

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Identifying Regulatory Markers

Regulatory or informational 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. Controlled Area : Type of control is indicated in the circle, such as slow, no…

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Ramp Courtesy

Those of you who have a slip are very fortunate indeed. Your boat is always ready to go, and in the water. But for the rest of us, who have to dry sail, we have to tow our boats to the water, and launch and recover them for every outing. Nothing ruins a day afloat…

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Caution for Pontoon Boaters

I have never seen any formal precautions regarding the possibility of larger pontoon boats pitchpoling and rolling over, either from the manufacturer or any boating safety organization. The following experience actually happened to me and I hope others may benefit from my experience. Several years ago I was aboard a 28 foot pontoon boat of…

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Technology Update – Digital Selective Calling Radios

Digital Selective Calling (DSC) radio is the latest in marine radio technology. Digital Selective Calling is part of a global upgrade in maritime distress communications. Satellite and digital technology used for several years on commercial ships is now available to the recreational boater. DSC radios allow boaters to make ship-to-ship private calls and the DSC…

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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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Sailing – Monohull Vs Multihull

They’ve Come a Long Way Baby   A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to hold an American Sailing Association (ASA) clinic to certify some students for the ASA 114 level which is the Cruising Catamaran level. This advanced cruising standard is for individuals with cruising experience. Successful completion of the clinic qualifies the…

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Cell Phone vs. VHF Radio

The Coast Guard does not advocate cell phones as a substitute for the regular maritime radio distress and safety systems recognized by the Federal Communications Commission and the International Radio Regulations — particularly VHF maritime radio. However, cell phones can have a place on board as an added measure of safety. CELL PHONE LIMITATIONS IN…

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Boating Regulations by State Boating Education Requirements

State Boating Laws Boating Education Regulations Reciprocity– accepts boating safety certificates from other states and/or NASBLA-approved courses. Alabama Minimum age to operate 12. Boating license required – proctored exam required to obtain license. Non-residents may operate up to 45 days without a license. Alaska No mandatory boating education requirements. N/A Arizona No mandatory boating education…

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Marine Battery Primer

Most marine batteries onboard boats today are of the lead-acid type.           This type of battery has been used for many decades. The major reason that the popularity of this type battery has continued is relatively low cost to purchase and maintain. The disadvantages of lead-acid batteries are the weight, the…

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PFD Label Explanations

PFD Label Explanations: “KAYAKSPORT” This is the “intended use” statement as required by the Coast Guard. The designation “KAYAKING AND SAILING VEST” is the manufacturer’s suggested uses that do not necessarily limit this PFD to only those uses. “ADULT LARGE” Sizing for life jackets is based primarily on body weight. Chest size further defines the…

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Overboard!

Most of us are pretty laid back on our boats. After all, thatÂ’s why we learn to sail–to relax and have some fun. No one wants to think about using Captain Bligh as a role model when weÂ’re on the lake or even coastal cruising. Still, there are times when itÂ’s vital for everyone on…

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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

From the U.S. Coast Guard Boating Education Branch On the water, minor problems can rapidly develop into a situation beyond your control. For this reason, let someone know even when you are experiencing relatively minor difficulties, before your situation turns into an emergency. The Coast Guard serves as Search and Rescue (SAR) coordinator for all…

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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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GPS Overview – The Sky’s The Limit

What is GPS? GPS, or Global Positioning System, is a satellite-based navigation system developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to provide a consistent, accurate method of simplifying navigation. It was originally designed for the military, however, it provides both commercial and recreational users 24 hour, worldwide navigation coverage with a possible accuracy to 15…

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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 didnÂ’t want it to be a…

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PRE-DEPARTURE CHECK LIST

PRE-DEPARTURE CHECK LIST Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) At least one Coast Guard approved device per passenger and a minimum of two on board. An additional throwable device is required if the vessel is more than 16 feet long. Explain the location and use of all PFDs to passengers and crew that may be new to…

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Sample Float Plan

Sample Float Plan Name of vessel’s operator: Telephone Number: Name of Vessel: Registration No.: Description of Vessel: Type: Make: Color of Hull: Color of Trim: Most distinguishing identifiable feature: Rafts/Dinghies: Number:________ Size:_______ Color:_______ Radio: Type: __________________ Frequencies Monitored: _______________ Number of persons onboard: Name: Age: Address & Telephone: Note: List additional passengers on back. Engine…

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Boating Accidents – A Real Life “Horror Story”

The following actual, real life story was submitted by a friend of boatsafe.com. Although the outcome could have been tragic, it was not, due to some quick thinking. I work for a government agency that has a number of boats on the large rivers. In addition to my scientific duties, I serve as a motorboat…

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Bilge Pumps

It is important to frequently test your bilge pumps by switching from the automatic to manual position on the bilge pump switch. However, this doesn’t guarantee that the pump will work when unattended. You should also check the automatic float switch by manually raising it to make sure that it turns on the pump. Also,…

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Dayshapes

Restricted Maneuverability Aground Not Under Command Achored Fishing Under sail and power Towing over 200 meters astern Fishing – gear out over 150 meters Dayshapes can be used together such as in this example A vessel engaged in dredging or underwater operations:Two balls in a vertical line indicate the side on which the obstruction exists….

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Your Boat’s Aground – What Now?

What do you do when you find yourself aground with the potential of being set further aground as the tide rises? We had lots of good responses to last week’s question. Many of you had good, logical ideas that I have put together here. Shut off engine to prevent sucking in mud. If in a…

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What To Do If You Think You’ve Caught a World Record Fish

(ARA) — If you catch a fish you think may be worthy of a record (e.g., lake, state, line class), the International Game Fish Association has set aside a few tips to ensure your record fish won’t get away. Don’t delay! Remember, don’t delay in weighing your fish. There are a number of elements that…

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How to Read a Life Jacket Label

(This is a representative label. The form and content will vary by manufacturer.) FLOTATION AID – TYPE III PFD KAYAKSPORT KAYAKING AND SAILING VEST ABC LIFEJACKET, INC. 1245 BOATING LANE WASHINGTON, DC 2000 MODEL SQXX MADE IN U.S.A. This device is not to be fastened to the boat. Polyvinyl chloride foam buoyancy material provides a…

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Preventable Tragedy

A recent tragic accident prompts this reminder about boating and alcohol. Two boaters, out for a day of fishing, were returning to the boat ramp to load up for the day. Less than one-half mile from the ramp they ran into a channel marker. Both men were thrown from the boat. One man survived, the…

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Float Plans Save Lives

You have decided to go offshore for a day of fishing in your 25 foot boat. The winds and seas are calm. It is an absolutely gorgeous day with temperatures reaching the high 70Â’s. The day just keeps getting better. The fishing is great. YouÂ’re pulling them in one right after another. The sun is…

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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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