I chose a different route. When loran-C was decommissioned, the nav station on our 36-foot Morris, Salty Spouse, had a gaping hole that cried out for attention before my wife, Inza, and I took our next cruise.
By Bill Gesele
- Always make sure the slip isn’t too small or too large for your boat. A too-small slip spreads the poles and may affect the boat next to you. In a too-large slip, your boat could swing past the bow poles and damage neighboring boats.
- Always have your stern lines attached to the cleats before docking. This sounds basic, but haven’t we all been tossed an unattached line while the boat flounders?
- Never (and this happens all too often) allow anyone to stand on the swim platform or outside the boat while docking. One wrong move could put that person in the water and in the path of the running gear.
- Have fenders, not hands, ready to avoid the boat next to you. Fenders and boats can be replaced—limbs, not too easily.
- Keep the engines running until your boat is securely tied to the dock. You may have to give a short forward burst if your boat gets too close.
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If you carry a VHF radio onboard (and you should), you must maintain a watch on channel 16 when the radio is on and not being used to communicate. You may also maintain a watch on VHF channel 9. Note that urgent marine information broadcasts, such as storm warnings, are announced on channel 9 only in USCG First District waters (northern New Jersey, New York and New England).
Most radios have a memory scan option where you can add specific channels to the memory and press scan. The radio quickly switches through and listens to each channel, pausing if someone is using that channel and then resuming the scan.
Every year, I have trouble remembering where I put stuff the season before. I still cannot find the repair kit for the inflatable dingy.
While walking to the marina early one morning, I found September 6 feet deep. Only the mast and spreaders placed the boat within its slip. Shocked and bewildered, I later found out that a seacock or hose connection failure had caused the boat to sink. I imagined it silently sinking in the middle of the night.
Talking with my brother-in-law, a former sailor, got me thinking of sailboats and equipment. The day was stormy, and we were discussing a sailboat’s predilection for lightning strikes. We talked about using jumper cables as emergency lightning protection by directing the current from a lightning hit to the water. While not a perfect solution, it would be better than having lightning blow out a metal underwater fitting.
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.
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.
1. Pre-plot your course
This is really a double tip, because you have to buy the right charts before you can pre-plot your course. Get an up-to-date chart that shows an overview of the entire area as well as detailed charts of the harbors along the way. Spread the charts out at home, and plot your route ahead of time. Pencil in the courses you’ll be steering along with their compass headings. Navigating will be so much easier.
As a boater, you should have the required flares on board, but do you know how and when to use them?
When to use flares
- You want to use your flares when you are in distress and in a location where they can be seen by someone. If you have radioed or called for help, you may be asked to fire a flare to pinpoint your location, so you can be spotted at sea and from the air.
- If searching for you, the U.S. Coast Guard may ask you to set off a flare or an orange smoke flare in the daytime. Lighted flares are effective for short time spans (some for 8–10 seconds, others for 2–3 minutes), so use them efficiently with foreknowledge and practice. Don’t wait until the need arises before preparing for action; it could make the difference between life and death.