Racing to Bermuda

A navigator races to Bermuda

By Louis Hohenstein

Except for the starting fog, the 1976 Ocean race from Newport, Rhode Island, to Bermuda seemed more like a pleasure cruise than a gale-winds bash. As navigator, I sat in the stern of Ranger, a C&C 61-footer, with the Newport Harbor chart, plotter, pencils and a carefully pocketed pair of dividers. To my left, the skipper operated the intercom to the bow lookout and foredeck leader for fast headsail operations when we shifted to sail.

I had been visually piloting off the Rhode Island shoreline when the shore suddenly disappeared in a thick fog patch. Once we identified the Brenton Reef Tower horn from the other horns around us, we used depth soundings and dead reckoning to get there.

Read More

Recruiting new members with Junior Sailing

Recruiting new members with Junior Sailing

Part 2 of Becoming Sustainable

By Thomas Alley & others

In part one of this two-part series, we looked at how New York’s Seneca Sail & Power Squadron/6 began teaching America’s Boating Course for youth as a way to attract younger members and their families. In part two, we will
look at how the squadron plans to retain these members.

Seneca Sail & Power Squadron’s America’s Boating Course for youth has the potential to draw in family memberships and flatten out the age distribution of our membership, but how do we retain our new, younger members?

As we wrapped up our pilot class, we learned that a local high school senior wanted to organize a sailing club. His vision was to rescue abandoned sailboats, fix them up and make them available for club members to sign out and take sailing. Squadron members met the student when he started looking for people who could teach the members how to fix, equip and sail the boats.

Although this sounded like a neat idea on the surface, the squadron had to address several issues and challenges. We’ll cover two of the more significant ones.

Read More

Bareboating in the British Virgin Islands

Bareboating in the British Virgin Islands

By Greg Allen

From the moment I shut off the diesel on our chartered 39 Beneteau Oceanis and watched the sails fill with the fresh Caribbean trade wind, I was hooked. Taking the helm as captain of a bareboat charter in the British Virgin Islands was a dream come true.

My wife, Mary, and I had this trip on our to-do list for about 10 years when we finally teamed up with another couple (good friends of ours) to make the dream a reality. After months of careful planning, we sailed out of Road Town, Tortola, in the BVIs via Sunsail charters for a seven-day adventure in paradise.

Read More

Earn your boat operator certification

Earn your boat operator certification

By Joellyn Jackson & Lloyd Richmond

What is BOC?


The Boat Operator Certification program allows you to demonstrate your proficiency and knowledge of a specific set of boating skills.

How many certification levels are there?


The four levels are Inland Navigator, Coastal Navigator, Advanced Coastal Navigator and Offshore Navigator. With IN, you can get endorsements for sail, inland waterways and paddle craft.

Why did USPS develop this program?


USPS responded to a United Nations resolution asking countries to develop boater certification programs that met specific requirements. USPS pioneered the program in the United States.

Read More

BUI laws carry tough penalties

BUI laws carry tough penalties

By Tim Akpinar

As boaters look forward to summer, they will sometimes hear public service announcements about the risks of operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol. Most would rather think about plans for a weekend cruise than about the statutory blood alcohol levels that could lead to criminal prosecution.

But when it comes to drinking alcohol on the water, current laws can carry felony charges, prison sentences and stiff fines. A conviction can also mean higher insurance premiums, mandatory boating safety classes and damage to one’s driving record.

Read More

Boaters sail on historic SS Badger

Boaters sail on historic SS Badger

By Jana Smith

One summer, my dive buddy and I took a trip across Lake Michigan on the SS Badger, the last and only coal-fired steamer in North America.

We took this trip for several reasons: to avoid driving through Chicago, which is especially difficult towing a trailered boat; for fun because I’ve never been on a cruise before; and because it might be our last chance to ride aboard a coal-fired Great Lakes steamer.

The night before, we went down to the pier to watch the ship come in. That’s really the only way to get pictures of the whole ship.

Read More

Charting new youth course with ABC for kids

Charting new course with ABC for kids

Part 1 of Becoming Sustainable

By Thomas Alley & others

For nearly two decades, squadrons around the country have been discussing the problem of organizational sustainability.

Two years ago, New York’s Seneca Sail & Power Squadron/6 decided to stop talking and start doing. In two parts, this article describes what happened when we followed one of our ideas from inception to execution.

Identifying the (Real) Problem
“Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”

Read More

File marine insurance claim

Filing a marine insurance claim

By Tim Akpinar

When we think of marine insurance, we tend to think largely in terms of coverage. This means reviewing a boat policy on a regular basis to make sure it provides adequate coverage for things that can go wrong on the water. Prudent vessel owners want to know the dollar limits they’re covered for in the event of an accident. They want to know if they’re covered for full replacement value if a boat is destroyed by fire. Are salvage claims covered? Will a policy provide coverage for environmental damage to a delicate ecosystem or wreck removal from a busy channel?

Read More

Boaters explore dog-friendly marinas

Boaters explore dog-friendly marinas

By Larry MacDonald & Fern Magnus-Brown

We don’t recommend sailing solo through the Broughtons. The numerous tidal currents, half-submerged logs, kelp beds and isolated rocks in this island-studded British Columbia wilderness require extra eyes. However, the area’s beautiful, rugged coastlines back-dropped with verdant snow-capped mountains beg to be shared with companions.

During our five-week sail, Solo, Fern’s Giant Schnauzer, gave us many opportunities to go ashore. We often had trouble finding suitable access and thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to know in advance which marinas and anchorages are dog-friendly?” We decided to take notes so other boaters would know where their dogs could romp down a trail or check out an easily accessible beach.

We categorized marinas and anchorages as either “dog-friendly” or “not dog-friendly.” A dog-friendly marina required nearby shore access as well as a substantial beach, walking trail or logging road for dogs to stretch their legs. Most of the locations we rated are in the Broughtons, the area north of Desolation Sound between Vancouver Island and the mainland, but a few are on the fringes.

Read More

2015 Chapman award winners

USPS honors 2014 Chapman award winners

By Yvonne Hill

At the 2015 Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Florida, in January, USPS honored five top volunteer instructors with the 2014 Charles F. Chapman Award for Excellence in Teaching.

These educators share several traits including a wealth of experience, a love of teaching, a dedication to their students and a desire to make the water a better place.

Each district can nominate one instructor for this award each year. A national committee selects the top five educators from this pool of nominees.

Each winner receives a plaque honoring the achievement, a four-year USPS-certified instructor card and a gold Chapman Award lapel pin. The winners’ squadrons receive a high-quality sextant in a presentation case engraved with the winner’s name and squadron. A permanent log of all winners and nominees resides in the USPS Memorial Library in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Please join us in congratulating these dedicated educators and honoring their service to USPS and boating education.

Read More

USPS sails tall with Tall Ships

USPS sails tall with Tall Ships

By Don Stark and others

At the 2014 Annual Meeting, USPS signed a memorandum of understanding with Tall Ships America, agreeing to support its operational and educational mission. During the year, squadrons on the West Coast took the lead in furthering this agreement and the relationship between USPS and Tall Ships America. Through this developing partnership, USPS hopes to forge one-on-one relationships between ships and individual squadrons and districts.
Read More

Two boaters cruise West Virginia

Two boaters cruise West Virginia

By Linda Mangelsdorf

While looking at a map of Corps-maintained waterways in an Army Corps of Engineers office, Fred Mangelsdorf discovered a short black line representing the Monongahela River, running south from Pittsburgh into West Virginia. The year was 1994. “Someday, I’m going to go to West Virginia by boat,” he said. Someday arrived in 2012.
Read More