Explore Florida’s rivers by kayak

Explore Florida’s rivers by kayak

By Joe Belanger

Fifteen years ago, my wife, Lee, and I began an RV retirement trip with a twist. Our goal was to see the country; the twist was to volunteer for two-month intervals in different locations. Several cross-country trips landed us in deserts and mountains, beside lakes and along coastlines.

Volunteering took us to Habitat for Humanity disaster relief sites, to an outward-bound 4-H camp, a West Texas Elderhostel, and more than 40 national and state parks. Our assignments included building homes, shooting cannons, reburying Native American remains, tagging sharks, and guiding night hikes and canoe and kayak trips.

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Rusty propane tank explodes on boat

Rusty propane tank explodes on boat

By Bob Burton

After arriving in Spanish Wells on the northwest end of Eleuthera, Bahamas, I tied up my 52 Hatteras convertible at about 1600. Although I didn’t know it at the time, the 70-foot lobster boat Four Ways, parked four boats over, was about to become one of the main topics of conversation in the small fishing community for years to come.
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P/C Geneva N. Wilson, SN

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On June 28, 2014, we sadly had to accept the passing of one of our organization’s most outstanding women, P/C Geneva Wilson, SN, of Gautier, Mississippi. This rare individual has been a shining example of what can be accomplished in this country with a solid work ethic and perseverance.

P/C Geneva Wilson, SN

P/C Geneva Wilson, SN

She was born Geneva Legate on 28 Feb. 1931 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, during the darkest days of the Great Depression, the daughter of an Oklahoma cotton farmer, with eight brothers and sisters. Always a bright and conscientious student, she overcame the hard times and was able to attend prestigious Baylor University for two years then finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Oklahoma.

Geneva’s is survived by her husband, Robert Wilson, a retired Army officer who also speaks fluent Chinese. Robert served as an interpreter during the extended peace talks after the Korean War. The couple spent several years in Washington, D.C., while Robert worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Always driven to learning more about her world, Geneva studied at the University of Maryland while living in D.C. She also studied at the University of Frankfort in Germany for two years while her husband was stationed there. Adept at languages, Geneva became fluent in German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.

When Robert retired from the Army in 1964, they returned to Oklahoma where Geneva started a 20-year career with the US Postal Service of Oklahoma City, rising to manager of carriers and ultimately postmaster.  She retired as US Postmaster, attaining the US Post Office High Expectations Achiever Award.

Geneva also was an accomplished airplane pilot with an instrument rating flying many types of single engine airplanes. Somehow Geneva and Robert found time to raise five children plus two of their 15 grandchildren.

In 1992, the Wilson’s, both fully retired, moved to Gautier, Mississippi, and joined the Singing River Power Squadron in 1994. Geneva became an active boater, and within a few years she was selected for command of the squadron. Her leadership and dedication were superb, but her participation in the USPS Education program has become legendary. Since joining the squadron, except for a relatively short period when Geneva was hospitalized from a serious stroke, none of her squadron mates can ever remember a single boating class or vessel safety check event that Geneva was not actively present as a student, instructor, monitor or examiner. She entered the Junior Navigation Course with seven other squadron mates but was the only student to complete the course. She went on to be the only person from her squadron to achieve a full certificate in the 21st century. She truly was, and will always be remembered, as one of the great treasures of the United States Power Squadrons.

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P/Lt/C David A. Sumner, P

P/Lt/C David A. Sumner, P

P/Lt/C David A. Sumner, P

P/Lt/C David A. Sumner, P, of Smithtown, N.Y., passed away at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer. He was a member of Smithtown Bay Power Squadron, where he had served as executive officer and earned 8 merit marks.

Originally from Beaver Falls, Pa., Sumner started his career as a locomotive fireman with the Pennsylvania and Lake Erie Railroad while he was still in high school, and then became a management trainee with the Penn Central Railroad. He received a bachelors degree in economics from Geneva College in Beaver Falls, where he met his future wife, Patty. They married and moved to Smithtown, where they raised their two children.

In 1973, Sumner joined the Long Island Rail Road as an air brake examiner. Over the years, he held a number of leadership roles, and as general manager of service planning and quality assurance, he developed the railroad’s timetables. He supervised operations in Pennsylvania Station during critical times. On 11 Sept. 2001, he developed the emergency plan to bring thousands of stranded commuters home after Penn Station had been closed. In the blackout in 2003, he worked to evacuate trains stuck in the tunnels and to restore normal service the next day. When he retired in 2006, Sumner was chief program officer for operations.

In his spare time, he enjoyed boating, fishing and spending time with his four grandchildren.

Boating app tracks gear on board

Boating app tracks gear on board

By Steve Hayes

In preparation for DIY boat repairs, we collect spare parts and repair materials and store them in the many little nooks on our boat. The challenge comes in remembering what you have and locating it when you need it.

The “What’s on My Boat?” iPhone app may help. The developer, Intelligent Maintenance, has a series of inventory-oriented applications for boats, attics, closets, etc. The iPhone app lets you back up the database to Dropbox and download it to your other Apple devices.

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A clean boat is essential for all boaters

A clean boat is essential for all boaters

By Dave Osmolski

After unwrapping our boats from their winter cocoons, we spend hours cleaning, deodorizing and waxing our boats until they gleam. Then we jump in the boat and proceed to splatterthem with all manner of food, drink, bait, fish blood and entrails, saltwater, and heaven knows what else. After returning home from a delightful day on the water, we usually only have enough energy for a quick freshwater rinse to remove the salt.

If you have ever walked on the docks where charter boats tie up, you’ll notice that long after the fish are cleaned and the clients have departed, the captain and mate are still scrubbing, cleaning and polishing. Often it’s just the mate. As the main tool of the captain’s trade, the boat should look nice and clean for the next charter. And a clean boat is also a boat with fewer problems.

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How to avoid a rock strike

Cruise highlights battery problems

By Jack Reed

Before our month-long cruise to Bar Harbor, Maine, my wife, Patricia, and I, and our Maine Coon, Skipper, had never cruised for more than two weeks at a time. The longer cruise allowed us to solve a persistent problem.

Our batteries had been running down over time despite spending significant time under power. To compensate, we used marina shore power for a night or two during each cruise. But this year, we didn’t stop at a marina, and by the time we got to Bar Harbor, the batteries could hardly turn over the engine.

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Farewell, Stargazer

Arnold Joseph Medalen
March 22, 1949–April 11, 2017

Arnold Medalen began writing articles about stargazing for The Ensign magazine in 1997, first as Modern Navigator and later as the Stargazer. In the 20 years he wrote for The Ensign, Arnold provided readers with a regular source of stargazing information and inspiration. He will be greatly missed.

Arnold leaves behind Patricia, his wife of nearly 47 years; his daughter, Shelly; two grandchildren, Josephine, 7, and Kenneth, 5; and two brothers, Charles of Riverside, California, and John of Campbell, California.

Arnold Medalen and Purcy

Arnold and Patricia met as teenagers on a blind date and were inseparable from that point on. They married on July 10, 1970. Arnold received his Bachelors of Science degree in biology the following June, and their daughter, Shelly, was born that September.

Not long after graduating, Arnold began working for E&J Gallo Winery as a lab tech and finished his 33-year career with Gallo as a senior winemaker.

In retirement, Arnold became a substitute teacher for the Sylvan School District in Modesto, California, teaching middle school math and science.

An avid boater, Arnold joined California’s San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron in 1986. In 1997 Arnold was awarded Boater of the Year for his contribution to safe boating education.

After selling their boat, Arnold and Patricia decided to try RV-ing. They purchased a 40-foot Monaco Windsor and took many trips, making sure to plan one big trip each year with granddaughter, Josephine. Together, Arnold, Patricia, Josephine, and Purcy the cat visited Yellowstone, the Black Hills of South Dakota, Mount Rushmore, and planned to travel to the Grand Canyon this summer.

Through his column, Arnold shared his love of astronomy with members for two decades, and we hope that when you view the total eclipse this August or anytime you look up at the stars, you will take just a moment to remember his contributions to United States Power Squadrons.

Flag burning in small-town America

Flag burning ceremony in Mich. town

By Boni Thibert

I save old, torn, worn-out American flags. Most years, my husband, Phillip, and I bring the flags to a friend who resides in the small village of Grand Marais, Mich., where they are burned in a solemn ceremony every Fourth of July.

Located on the southern shore of Lake Superior, Grand Marais started as a lumbering and commercial fishing community, but these days the town mainly caters to the tourists who keep it alive.

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P/D/C William Crosbie Engle, AP

Bill Engle

Bill Engle

P/D/C William Crosbie Engle, AP, who chartered Ten Mile Power Squadron, passed away on 24 May 2014 at the age of 103. He had served as squadron commander, instructor in basic boating seamanship and advanced piloting classes. Elected to the District 7 bridge after serving four years as lieutenant commander, he was elected to District 7 Commander of USPS, covering three states. He also was elected to the squadron educational office of Ten Mile Power Squadron. Ten Mile Power Squadron recently celebrated 50 years in operation.

Mr. Engle always enjoyed boating and actually built a boat in the casement of his home. In 1946, he went into boat sales and service, establishing Engle’s Holiday Harbor and Marina, which is still in operation and run by his son and family. Mr. Engle and his sons raced E-Service Class runabouts for many years and won three national championships. He not only was a Life Member of USPS but also a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the American Power Boat Association.

Mr. Engle will be remembered as an ambitious and gracious gentleman, and he will be dearly missed.

Fight the bugs

Fight the bugs

By Craig Grosby

Thermacell Mosquito Repellent Outdoor Lantern (Model MR-9L)


    • Portable
    • Easy to use
    • Safe for outdoor use
    • Long-lasting


    • Not recommended for windy conditions
Have you ever sat in the cockpit at dusk after a long day of sailing, only to find yourself being eaten alive by mosquitoes? Tired of having to retreat to the cabin and hide behind screens? Thermacell has the perfect solution with its Mosquito Repellent Outdoor Lantern.

The lantern can be operated separately and is pretty straightforward to use. It has eight LEDs powered by four AA batteries. An opaque, four-sided lens provides good light for up to 200 hours on the low setting and 50 hours on high. When using the unit just as a lantern, you can hang it from a Bimini using the small handle on top. When used as a mosquito repellent, however, it should be placed on a flat, stable surface.

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