Montauk Point Lighthouse

Sailors face tough choices during Around Long Island Regatta

By Jeff Taylor

We were just past the halfway point in the 2016 Around Long Island Regatta when Steve Kornspun woke me up in the wee hours of the morning and said, “Jeff, c’mon, we need you on deck.”

I joined a tense conference in the cockpit. The night was eerily quiet and very dark. Something strange was happening. There was almost no wind. In fact, the wind was so light you couldn’t tell what direction it was coming from.

According to the compass, we were headed southwest, just as we should be, but with a strong current in so light a wind, we were actually going slowly but steadily backward!

Read More

Gary Rogers steers his boat as Doug Sherman instructs.

On-the-water training boosts squadron membership

By Doug Sherman

Located in central California with a thousand miles of waterways, San Joaquin Delta Power Squadron/25 offers several options to help boaters become safer and more proficient on the water. The squadron has earned a reputation from local boaters as well as local marinas, marine supply stores, brokers and insurance carriers for providing valuable training, helping train more knowledgeable boaters and creating safer waterways for everyone.

Read More

Photo of boats transiting the Swinomish Channel

Transiting the Swinomish Channel

By Michael Guelker-Cone

Most of us have a bucket list of things we want to accomplish or places we want to go before heading off to that great marina in the sky. My list of places to visit has expanded along with my experience and the confidence that came with it. Many places on my list are close to home, including Washington’s Swinomish Channel. I kept putting it off because of the horror stories I’d heard of boaters running aground in the channel. In Seamanship and Piloting, I’d been warned that it wasn’t a matter of whether you’d ever run aground but when.

Read More

Photo of 2018 Charles F. Chapman Award Recipients

2018 Charles F. Chapman Award Recipients Honored

By Yvonne Hill with photos by Art Dodd

Each year, we recognize the top educators in United States Power Squadrons, America’s Boating Club, with the Charles F. Chapman Award for Excellence in Teaching. These volunteer instructors have devoted themselves to teaching boating and boater safety courses to prepare our members to become the best trained, most prepared boaters on the water.

Read More

Spring 2019 Photo Contest winners


Members submitted and voted on their favorite boating photos

Via an online poll, USPS members voted for their favorite photo in The Ensign’s Spring 2019 Photo Contest, in which we invited photographers to submit their best boating photos.

Read More

Fishing Boats in Angelmo, Puerto Montt, Chile

Rounding the Horn

By Rafael Belliard

When my first mate Linda, the perennial travel opportunities researcher, found the perfect way to round the cape, we decided to make it happen. We would take the trip with back-to-back cruises from Miami, Florida, to Valparaiso, Chile, and on to Buenos Aires, Argentina, which included the much sought-after “rounding of the Horn.”

In the Winter 2019 issue, we detailed our trip from Miami to Chile. Here, we complete our cruise around Cape Horn.

Read More

Photo accompanying Building a Boat showing a glued lapstrake sailboat on the water

Building a Boat

By Al Meyer

The beginning

I launched my previous boat, Wee Lass, a Penobscot 14 designed by Arch Davis, in 2004 and had lots of fun with it. In 2008, Hurricane Ike damaged the boat, but I repaired it and got it back in the water.

The boat developed a slow leak where the centerboard case joins the hull. Over time, it became more and more of a nuisance. When I noticed discoloration on some of the hull planks, I decided to start building a replacement.

Read More

Photo for Contract Basics article

Contract Basics

By Tim Akpinar with Erol Akpinar

From their childhood, people might remember the enchanted tale of “The Reluctant Dragon.” Its author, Kenneth Grahame, is probably better known in boating circles for this quotation from “The Wind in the Willows”: “Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

As readers can appreciate, much of that “messing around” involves contracts being entered into for the hauling, storage, mooring and repair of those boats. In many instances, people don’t always realize a contract has been created because such deals are often consummated casually with nothing more than a handshake or nod.

Read More
Celestial Navigation Taking a Noon Sight

Teaching Celestial Navigation

By Dick Sorensen 

On a cloudless Ohio winter day, Dr. Ralph Newman of Columbus Sail & Power Squadron/29 led 20-plus Ohio State University Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps midshipmen out into the bright sunshine. The rest of the squadron’s Navigation instructors joined them to teach the basics of a noonday sight. As students raised their sextants to take their first reading, my mind flashed back to how this came about.

I had read in a recent issue of The Ensign that the United States Naval Academy was reintroducing the study of Celestial Navigation to the midshipman curriculum. My initial reaction was shock. How could they not be teaching Celestial Navigation?

Read More
Photo of Valparaiso, Chile, from Cruising Around the Horn.

Cruising Around the Horn

By Rafael Belliard

Going around South America’s Cape Horn has always been fraught with awe and understandable concerns about ships wrecked by rough seas, icebergs, huge waves, and strong currents. As avid cruising sailors and travelers, Linda and I had always dreamed of visiting South America and rounding Cape Horn.

When Linda, the perennial travel opportunities researcher, found the perfect way to round the cape, we decided to make it happen. We would take the trip within the sybaritic comforts of a cruise ship on back-to-back cruises from Miami, Florida, to Valparaiso, Chile, and on to Buenos Aires, Argentina, which included the much sought-after “rounding of the Horn.”

Read More
Photo of wear and tear on a boat

Wear and Tear on Boats

By Tim Akpinar

Wear and tear can be a tricky legal issue when it comes to examining damages to a boat. It’s not so much the general concept of wear and tear that’s confusing. The notion of a boat and its machinery being worn away with use is straightforward enough. Inside an engine, piston rings wear away as they slide up and down cylinder walls. Below the waterline, propeller blades rotating at high speed wear away as a result of cavitation. Boat owners accept this basic premise.

The tricky part comes when wear and tear arises in the realm of insurance claims. Here, the concept is sometimes used as a legal defense in denying property loss claims. Here’s an example. Let’s say a boat sinks. The owner is likely to view the sinking as a single catastrophic event, which appears to be a covered loss in an insurance policy. It could seem like an open-and-shut case.

Read More