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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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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 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

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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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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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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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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Distress Signals

Distress Signals Rule 37 in the Rules of the Road states: “When a vessel is in distress and requires assistance she shall use or exhibit the signals described in Annex IV to these regulations.” Red Star Shells Fog Horn Continuous Soundings Flames on A Vessel Gun Fired at Intervals of One Minute Orange Background Black…

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Boat Docking — An Introduction

We can’t cover everything about boat docking in one sitting, but I think you’ll be surprised at how many of the basic principles of close quarters maneuvering are embodied in the example docking which I will be discussing shortly. First let me answer these two questions: Is this boat handling exposition for novice boaters? Yes,…

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Electrolysis Can Eat Your Prop

Electrolysis Can Eat Your Prop Whenever different metals are placed in a conductive liquid, such as salt water, you create a battery. If you connect these pieces of metal together, current will flow. This current, trying to equalize the conductivity of the metals, will be removing metal from one of the metal pieces. This removal…

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Life Jackets…So Many, So Different

Coast Guard statistics show fatality rates have dropped over the past 25 years due to, in part, the use of inherently buoyant PFDs. In the early 90s the Coast Guard recognized that inflatable PFDs might be more appealing to recreational boaters thereby increasing their usage. Approval came in 1996, and inflatable PFDs are now available…

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Trim Tabs – An Explanation

Trim tabs work exactly the same way as the control surfaces on an airplane. As you know, there are three axes affecting the motion of your boat as you travel through the water: Yaw , Pitc h and Roll . Trim tabs have little effect on the yaw axis, because yaw is controlled by the…

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Basic Electrical Theory for Boaters

Multimeter – The Invaluable Tool As mentioned in the last article Electricity 101 , many of the problems that you will encounter on your vessel are electrical problems. It is because of this that the multimeter is an invaluable tool. With it you can do a lot of troubleshooting and track down potential problems without…

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Docking & Undocking

Docking & Undocking It’s inevitable that when conditions are at their worst, you’ll have an audience. Prior planning and practice will not only keep you and your passengers safe and protect your boat, it will also help you avoid serious personal humiliation. Undocking Plan Prior to getting underway, you should implement an undocking plan with…

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Documenting Your Vessel – FAQ

Documenting Your Vessel – FAQ What is Vessel Documentation? What vessels may be documented? Must my Vessel be Documented? How do I know if my vessel measures five net tons? What vessels are exempt? Are there different types of documentation? What are the requirements for documentation? How is vessel ownership established? How do I establish…

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Buying Your Own “Hole In The Water”

Buying Your Own “Hole In The Water” The two most widely-used sayings about boats are that they are “holes in the water, into which you throw money” and “the happiest day of a boat owner’s life is the day they buy the boat and the day they sell it.” Although many people believe these axioms…

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Steps to Smooth Anchoring

Steps to Smooth Anchoring At some point in your boating career you will probably want to anchor. You may want to stop and fish, swim, have lunch or stay overnight. A second reason to drop anchor may be to control the boat if bad weather is blowing you ashore or if your engine has quit…

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Looks Like Chicken Pox – AKA Blisters

Looks Like Chicken Pox – AKA Blisters You have just finished hauling your boat for the winter. You have blocked her, pressure washed the hull, cleaned the topsides, and are about to button her up for the long winter’s nap. One last stroll around her, gazing at the long lines, the sleek hull…sleek! eek! MY…

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