Woman to Woman

How to avoid trouble when docking

By Capt. Katherine Redmond

Try, try again

If you start the docking process wrong, begin again. Many boaters feel embarrassed to back off an improperly aligned docking attempt, so they stay with it, vrooming forward, shrieking into reverse, banging into this, dinging that, haplessly attempting to correct the uncorrectable.

It’s much easier—and more professional—to abort the ill-fated maneuver and start over.

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Stay safe from ticks and tick-borne illnesses

By Gino Bottino, M.D.

Unique among arachnids, ticks suck blood to survive. Some are as small as a sesame seed. Like tiny vampires, they latch onto mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. There are soft ticks and hard ticks. A hard tick has a hard plate on its back and is more likely to bite and feed on people and animals, transmitting dangerous diseases. Hard ticks thrive in wooded areas, tall grass, and trees and shrubs. Some, such as dog ticks, make their way indoors on humans or canines.

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Keep your boat from drifting at the beach with picnic anchor

Keep your boat from drifting by backing down

By Dave Osmolski

Last fall, I was on the beach enjoying a swim and watching the other boats passing. Before long a very new, very expensive center console boat at least 35 feet with three 300-horsepower engines came up to the beach. The captain and his crew—wife, daughters and granddaughters—wanted to swim and walk on the beach. There’s lots of beach on Pine Island, and on a weekday, before the snowbirds descend, there’s more than enough for all.

As I watched, the captain pulled close to shore bow first. He had a plough-type anchor deployed from the bow and was looking for a place to anchor. As I watched him drop the anchor straight down and tie it off, I commented to my wife how amazing it was that folks had enough money to buy an exquisite boat with all that power but didn’t have enough time to learn how to use it properly.

Long story short, his crew soon tired of swimming and walked up to the beach. He left the boat, came over, introduced himself and began a conversation. I was looking out to the water, and he had his back to the water. The tide was coming in. There was a light offshore wind, and sure enough, his boat began to drift away from the beach. Before it went too far, I told him it was adrift, and he waded then swam to the boat to retrieve it.

Knowing how to anchor your vessel is every bit as important as knowing how to drive and dock it. This is especially true at the beach. In my years at the beaches of southwest Florida’s barrier islands, I have seen three boats filled to the gunnels with sand and shells. These boats had evidently been run bow first onto the beach. I almost suffered the same fate by foolishly going on to the beach bow first to pick up a passenger—just for a minute, you understand. Boats were just not designed to go stern into the waves. Not even for a minute. Especially in the shallows off the beach.

Back down on the beach

If you love going to the beach, the proper sequence is to choose your spot and back down on the beach slowly. When you feel you are close enough (for me, 20 or 30 yards is close enough), deploy the bow anchor, set it and let out enough rode to put you in water deep enough for your lower unit or prop, but shallow enough so you can wade to the beach, and close enough that you can carry your chairs and umbrellas.

Anchoring this way keeps the bow pointed into the waves, allowing it to ride smoothly up and over even some pretty rough seas. Be aware though that in many anchorages a current parallel to the shore may cause your boat to drift sideways into water that’s over your head. This makes retrieving the gear you took out to the beach difficult.

Use a picnic anchor

You can overcome this sideways drift by using a picnic anchor. Smaller than your main bow anchor, a picnic anchor is attached to a 75–100-foot nylon rode. (Mine is three-eighths inch, three-strand nylon rode with an eye splice on the bitter end.) Attach the picnic anchor to your boat’s stern, carry it to the beach and set it in the sand. This will keep your bow headed into the waves and the stern in water shallow enough to comfortably carry your gear to and from the beach.

Consider adding a picnic anchor to your boat if you don’t already have one. I use mine as my main bow anchor while tarpon fishing. When I hook up, I have a fender with my boat name on it attached to the bitter end of the rode that I toss overboard so I can follow the fish until I land it. Afterward, I return and retrieve the fender, anchor and rode. Double duty!

If you haven’t already, take America’s Boating Club’s Anchoring Seminar. It can save you as well as your vessel.


David H. Osmolski of Charlotte Power Squadron/27 has been repairing boats since high school when his first boat, a canvas-covered canoe with cedar ribs, leaked in gallons per minute and required constant repair.

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Woman to Woman

Zen and the art of docking

By Capt. Katherine Redmond

A student in my Boat Docking Tips Course said he feared entering his slip because he didn’t know how long it would take his boat to stop. This made me realize how scary it would be if every time I pulled into my garage, I didn’t know how far my car would travel after I stepped on the brake.

Before you can dock your boat successfully, you must know how it responds to your commands, while keeping in mind that external forces can alter your boat’s reactions a little or a lot depending upon conditions.

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Sun exposure on board

By Gino C. Bottino, M.D.

Although it’s winter, I’d rather talk about the sunny boating season to come.

At the turn of the 20th century, people endeavored never to be exposed to the sun (especially women), and doctors recommended sunbathing for good health. After World War II, sunbathing and deep tanning became popular and remain so today.

Medically speaking, although some sun exposure is required for good health, getting a suntan is not. Anyone who spends time on or near the water gets plenty of sun without sunbathing. As a doctor, I believe sunbathing is almost as bad for you as smoking and should be totally avoided.

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How to turn a boat at the dock

Have you been tied up to a long dock on a boat that won’t back up with any degree of certainty with boats sitting on each side of the fairway you could crash into on the way out?

how to turn a boat at the dockIf so, you may be able to turn the boat at the dock within its own length. First, check the wind and current. They don’t have to be completely in your favor, but they should be enough in your favor to allow you to turn the boat and go forward.

First, ready a bow line and a stern line long enough to reach the bow and the dock while turning the boat. Leave one person on board to handle the stern line by bringing it forward to the bow on the opposite side of the boat from the dock. You can do this without a person on board by bringing the stern line forward to the bow and having it available as you turn the boat.

When all is ready, push the stern off from the dock and walk the bow down the dock to where the stern was previously located. You can do this with the bow line or by holding onto the bow pulpit. The wind or current will push the stern around to the previous bow position as you walk the bow down the dock. If the wind or current is in the perfect direction, the stern will come against the dock with little or no help. If not, the stern line can be used to pull the boat into position against the dock. You have now turned the boat in its own length at the dock even with boats ahead and behind you.

If the wind is in the opposite direction, you can still turn the boat by pushing the bow off and walking the stern to where the bow was with the long line on the bow. –Jerry LeCocq


This article first appeared in Boulder Beacon, the newsletter of Boulder Valley Sail & Power Squadron/30.

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How to remove water from a soggy fiberglass boat transom

How to remove water from a wet fiberglass boat transom

By Dave Osmolski

This past year, the brass tube for one of my boat’s self-bailing scuppers came loose. I decided to refasten the brass tube and make it watertight before we left on our annual fall trip to our homemade tropical paradise in Southwest Florida. First, I removed the tube and waited for the transom to dry out. Despite the warm, dry weather, the transom stayed as wet as the day I first removed the tube.

This led me to a discovery: Transoms, rudders and other thick constructions on fiberglass boats are not solid. They are built with air spaces between the laminations primarily for weight reduction.

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DIY bird deterrent

DIY bird deterrent for your boat

By Dave Osmolski and Doug Carlson

This time I’m sharing a project developed by friend and fellow Charlotte Power Squadron member Doug Carlson. Doug and I often get together for breakfast at a local diner, where the conversation usually turns to the subject of how we should use our boats more often but can never seem to find the time.

One of the problems with leaving a boat at the dock is that many different birds, mostly big birds, use it as a rest stop and leave their “calling cards.” In addition to being an unhealthy problem, bird guano can harm the gelcoat, upholstery and other fabrics. Some birds have hard shells from small mollusks and crustaceans in their droppings, which can do serious abrasive damage to the gelcoat.

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Taming the winds and seas

Use a bridle

Have you been in an anchorage where the wind keeps the boat at odds with the waves, rolling your boat from side to side, making you uncomfortable and nauseated? Some people deploy flopper stoppers on each side to slow down this motion, but you have to store them somewhere, and they take quite a bit of effort to deploy.

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Are you ready to hit the waves?

Traveling by boat is not always smooth sailing. If we’re not properly prepared, the waterways around us can wreak havoc with the boat and people aboard. Before you leave the dock, take a close look at the inside and outside of your vessel.

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Woman to Woman

Lessons learned while docking

By Capt. Kathrine Redmond

In my next few articles, I’ll share information as though you have just completed your boating safety class and are gathering on-land, theoretical knowledge of the docking process.

In my previous column, I mentioned that the helmsperson must stop the movement of the boat in the slip so that the line handler can step off the boat, not jump off. Over the years, I have seen line handlers suffer broken and sprained ankles and have seen them fall into the water when skippers come into the slip too quickly and line handlers attempt to stop the boat by jumping onto the dock to tie a line. This practice is dangerous. The helmsperson’s job is to stop the movement of the boat in the slip!Read More