Blog May 2017


Posted On: May 29, 2017

Memorial Day is much more than just a three-day weekend and a chance to get the year's first sunburn. Here's a handy 10-pack of facts to give the holiday some perspective.

  1. It started with the Civil War

Memorial Day was a response to the unprecedented carnage of the Civil War, in which some 620,000 soldiers on both sides died. The loss of life and its effect on communities throughout the country led to spontaneous commemorations of the dead:

  • In 1864, women from Boalsburg, Pa., put flowers on the graves of their dead from the just-fought Battle of Gettysburg. The next year, a group of women decorated the graves of soldiers buried in a Vicksburg, Miss., cemetery.
  • In April 1866, women from Columbus, Miss., laid flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. In the same month, in Carbondale, Ill., 219 Civil War veterans marched through town in memory of the fallen to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Union hero Maj. Gen. John A. Logan delivered the principal address. The ceremony gave Carbondale its claim to the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance.
  • Waterloo, N.Y. began holding an annual community service on May 5, 1866. Although many towns claimed the title, it was Waterloo that won congressional recognition as the "birthplace of Memorial Day."
  1. General Logan made it official

Gen. Logan, the speaker at the Carbondale gathering, also was commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans. On May 5, 1868, he issued General Orders No. 11, which set aside May 30, 1868 "for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion."

The orders expressed hope that the observance would be "kept up from year to year while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades."

  1. It was first known as Decoration Day

The holiday was long known as Decoration Day for the practice of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths, and flags. The name Memorial Day goes back to 1882, but the older name didn't disappear until after World War II. Federal law declared "Memorial Day" the official name in 1967.

  1. The holiday is a franchise

Calling Memorial Day a "national holiday" is a bit of a misnomer. While there are 10 federal holidays created by Congress—including Memorial Day—they apply only to Federal employees and the District of Columbia. Federal Memorial Day, established in 1888, allowed Civil War veterans, many of whom were drawing a government paycheck, to honor their fallen comrades without being docked a day's pay.

For the rest of us, our holidays were enacted state by state. New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day a legal holiday, in 1873. Most Northern states had followed suit by the 1890s. The states of the former Confederacy were unenthusiastic about a holiday memorializing those who, in Gen. Logan's words, "united to suppress the late rebellion." The South didn't adopt the May 30 Memorial Day until after World War I, by which time its purpose had been broadened to include those who died in all the country's wars.

In 1971, the Monday Holiday Law shifted Memorial Day from May 30 to the last Monday of the month.

  1. It was James Garfield's finest hour—or maybe hour-and-a-half

On May 30, 1868, President Ulysses S. Grant presided over the first Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery—which, until 1864, was Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's plantation.

Some 5,000 people attended on a spring day which, The New York Times reported, was "somewhat too warm for comfort." The principal speaker was James A. Garfield, a Civil War general, Republican congressman from Ohio and future president.

"I am oppressed with a sense of the impropriety of uttering words on this occasion," Garfield began, and then continued to utter them. "If silence is ever golden, it must be beside the graves of fifteen-thousand men, whose lives were more significant than speech, and whose death was a poem the music of which can never be sung." It went on like that for pages and pages.

As the songs, speeches and sermons ended, the participants helped to decorate the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

  1. Not even the Unknown Soldier can avoid media scrutiny these days

"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." That is the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknowns, established at Arlington National Cemetery to inter the remains of the first Unknown Soldier, a World War I fighter, on Nov. 11, 1921. Unknown soldiers from World War II and the Korean War subsequently were interred in the tomb on Memorial Day 1958.

An emotional President Ronald Reagan presided over the interment of six bones, the remains of an unidentified Vietnam War soldier, on Nov. 28, 1984. Fourteen years later, those remains were disinterred, no longer unknown. Spurred by an investigation by CBS News, the defense department removed the remains from the Tomb of the Unknowns for DNA testing.

The once-unknown fighter was Air Force pilot Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, whose jet crashed in South Vietnam in 1972. "The CBS investigation suggested that the military review board that had changed the designation on Lt. Blassie's remains to 'unknown' did so under pressure from veterans' groups to honor a casualty from the Vietnam War," The New York Times reported in 1998.



Posted On: May 26, 2017

The History of Memorial Day

Originally called Decoration Day, from the early tradition of decorating graves with flowers, wreaths and flags, Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our country. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former Union sailors and soldiers.

During that first national celebration, former Union Gen. and sitting Ohio Congressman James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there.

“We do not know one promise these men made, one pledge they gave, one word they spoke; but we do know they summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.”

- James A. Garfield

May 30, 1868 Arlington National Cemetery

This event was inspired by local observances of the day that had taken place in several towns throughout America in the three years after the Civil War. In 1873, New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities observed Memorial Day, and several states had declared it a legal holiday. After World War I, it became an occasion for honoring those who died in all of America’s wars and was then more widely established as a national holiday throughout the United States. 



Posted On: May 22, 2017

How To Keep Your Boat Looking Beautiful

Ever wonder how all those big yachts keep their shine and beauty? Can we possibly reach this perfection, too? How a boat looks depends on how much energy or money goes toward maintaining the appearance. In the case of superyachts, it helps that they have large crews who must be kept busy every day.

 But following some of the practices from superyachts can keep your boat looking its best for years.

Cover That Fender

Keep your fenders wrapped in terry cloth to protect the hull from abrasion and dirty docks.

Hose That Hull and treat with Vinegar

Hose down the hull carefully. Then jump into the dinghy and wipe it with vinegar to remove saltwater spots on the glossy finish. Dark-colored hulls tend to show the salt more, requiring frequent vinegar treatment.

Keep Stainless Stain-Less

Wipe stainless steel and chromed bronze fittings with a chamois cloth often. Make polishing and waxing these metals routine. Some metal-polishing products already include wax compounds.

Cover Up What You Can

External varnished bright work should be protected from UV damage by Sunbrella covers. Take them off to impress guests. Sunbrella covers should also protect stowed tenders, dinghies, outboard motors, barbecues, and other accessories.

Protect Upholstery

Use covers that can take wear and tear and food stains. If your boat's in the yard, or you're having a mechanic aboard, cover decking and internal floorboards with tough plastic sheets with a nonskid pattern, sacrificial rugs, or carpeting.

Drop A Hint

To protect varnished floorboards from daily wear, put large baskets by the companionway so visitors get the hint and take their footwear off at the dock or at anchor.

An Alkaline Shine

To keep engine rooms and engine spaces impressively clean, apply light acid or any alkaline teak cleaner to aluminum diamond-patterned plate floorboards. If possible, take the pieces outside for this work, where they can be rinsed off easily.

 Nice And Neat

Anti-chafe leatherwork on the loops of docklines looks seamanlike and protects the lines.

 Good Luck, if you put the work in, everyone will notice.

Based on an article written by Tom Zydler, who spent three decades as a professional yacht captain navigating high latitude destinations



Posted On: May 19, 2017

It's no secret that alcohol often causes people to take foolish risks while at the same time inhibiting their ability to think quickly and cope in critical situations. What many people do not realize, however, is the extraordinary number of drowning deaths that involve alcohol. Seventy five percent of all boating deaths are the result of drowning, according to the Coast Guard. And while estimates vary, studies have shown that alcohol may have been a factor in about 50 percent of all adult drowning deaths. Some studies put the figure as high as 70 percent. Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional deaths among adults 20 to 44 years old.

Obviously, anyone who is dead drunk is going to have trouble swimming. But many of the people who drown are not legally drunk and researchers have found several reasons why even moderate amounts of alcohol may affect a person in the water.

Even if the person is a good swimmer and in good health, and has considerably less to drink than most at dinner, a combination of alcohol, too few carbohydrates, and exercise — in this case, swimming — meant that they run the risk of developing hypoglycemia, which is a drastic reduction in a person's glucose levels. Hypoglycemia causes sudden weakness, confusion and affects the body's normal temperature-regulating mechanisms. Medical researchers warn that alcohol and aquatic exercise without taking sufficient carbohydrates represents a "foolish confrontation with death."

Many people drown within easy reach of other swimmers. Recognizing drowning behavior is especially important because researchers have found that someone who is drowning lacks the lung capacity to call for help. Drowning victims act instinctively, moving his or her arms as though climbing a ladder, taking quick gulps of air, and then slipping back underwater. With an adult, this reflexive behavior lasts about 60 seconds before the victim sinks underwater for good. With a child, drowning behavior lasts only about 20 seconds. The struggle is quiet, and often looks "playful."

Drink responsibly and watch out for each other.



Posted On: May 15, 2017


I'm no different than you, and sometimes there are some real deals on used equipment. However, do your homework and know the where the snags can be.

Take a VHF radio as an example.

Buying a used VHF radio or an automatic identification system, or AIS, unit? Beware. If you buy used equipment with a maritime mobile service identity (MMSI) number already logged into it, you may not be able to track down the previous owner in charge of the MMSI to get it reassigned to you. The MMSI goes with the boat. In an emergency, your equipment may be sending out a distress call with someone else's information. Rescuers will be looking for a different boat and will be calling the previous owner of the equipment to verify an emergency.

The process of clearing the old MMSI and having it reassigned to your control may even require shipping the equipment to the manufacturer to be reset. Before you buy a flea market VHF, make sure you can contact the previous owner



Posted On: May 12, 2017



El Nino conditions are developing across the Pacific with an increasing probability that a full-fledged El Nino episode will occur during the second half of 2017.

Pacific equatorial winds have slackened since the start of the year and a characteristic tongue of warm water has begun to form stretching from Peru towards the international dateline.

Both are consistent with the development of El Nino and are likely to strengthen during the second and third quarters.

The U.S. government’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) last month forecast El Nino conditions would prevail by the end of the northern hemisphere summer, but put the probability at only 50 percent.

Most El Nino indicators have strengthened since then so the probability is likely to be revised higher when the CPC issues its next forecast later in May.

But the strength of any future El Nino remains highly uncertain as does its impact on temperatures and precipitation across North America this winter.

NSO Cycle

El Nino and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) describe closely linked oceanic and atmospheric processes that stretch across the Pacific and the neighboring maritime continent of South East Asia.

The oceanic component sees cold water well up from the deep ocean off the coast of Peru and move west across the Pacific carried on the surface equatorial current.

There is a return flow of warm water eastwards across the Pacific on countercurrents to the north and south of the equator and also on an equatorial undercurrent deeper in the ocean.

The atmospheric component sees warm moist air rise over the maritime continent and western Pacific, then flow east through the upper atmosphere towards South America.

The air cools and sinks over the colder waters off South America, before returning towards Asia in a steady westward flow known to mariners as the trade winds.

The oceanic and atmospheric circulations are coupled, with the equatorial winds helping drive the surface equatorial current, and sea surface temperature differentials reinforcing the rising and falling air columns.

But the strength of the circulations and the degree of coupling varies at seasonal, annual and inter-annual scales.

When the circulations are particularly strong and tightly coupled, the equatorial winds accelerate, the equatorial current picks up and colder than average water is carried further from the Peru coast towards the dateline.

When the circulations are weak and uncoupled, the winds slacken, the current slows and warmer than normal water extends from Peru to the dateline.

The stronger, cooler phase of this cycle is termed La Nina while the weaker, warmer phase of the cycle is El Nino (“El Nino, La Nina and the Southern Oscillation”, Philander, 1990).

ENSO cycles back and forth between strong and weak phases with an average periodicity of 3 to 4 years but with repetitions varying from as little as 2 years to 7 or even 10 years.

ENSO effects tend to be weakest during March and April when the cycle is most likely to start transitioning from El Nino to La Nina or vice versa.

Effects tend to strengthen as the year progresses and peak between October and January, when El Nino or La Nina becomes most intense.


The atmospheric and oceanic circulations that lie at the heart of ENSO involve very large thermal masses of air and water which means they exhibit a lot of short-term persistence.

The short-term stability (especially the thermal stability of the ocean) makes the ENSO cycle somewhat forecastable.

The trickiest time of year to make forecasts is during the first quarter of the year when ENSO effects are weakening and the possibility of a phase transition (from El Nino to La Nina or vice versa) is greatest.

By the second and third quarter, the oceanic and atmospheric circulations are likely to become locked in either a strong/cool or a weak/warm phase which makes forecasti ing to the end of the year more accurate.

While forecasters have had a fair amount of success in predicting phase shifts in ENSO, forecasting the strength of an El Nino or La Nina episode has proved much harder.

El Nino and La Nina episodes vary enormously in their intensity. The winter of 2015/16 saw an unusually intense El Nino but it was followed by a very weak La Nina episode in 2016/17.

Forecasts for the development of the ENSO cycle and its intensity are based on observations of the strength of the oceanic and atmospheric circulations.

Since the start of 2017, and especially since the start of March, all these indicators have pointed to a weakening of existing La Nina conditions and the shift towards a potential El Nino

Sea surface temperatures in the central-eastern Pacific, an area known as Nino region 3.4, have warmed much more quickly than normal since January and are now above the long-term seasonal average

More recently, pressure differentials between Indonesia and the eastern Pacific, measured by the Equatorial Southern Oscillation Index, have started to weaken, and the equatorial winds have slackened.

The components for El Nino are all now in place and ENSO is clearly transitioning from a strong/cool to a weak/warm phase.

But as the signals are still weak it remains uncertain if they will strengthen sufficiently to qualify as a full-fledged El Nino episode later in the year.

Impact on U.S.

Researchers have found links between ENSO and temperatures and precipitation in some parts of North America owing to its impact on the position of the Pacific and polar jet streams.

ENSO’s impact on the United States tends to be regional rather than national. Higher temperatures in some areas are offset by lower ones in others (“North American precipitation and temperature patterns associated with the El Nino/Southern Oscillation,” Ropelewski et al, 1986).

El Nino tends to be associated with a warmer than normal winter in the Pacific North West of the United States and Canada, and a colder and wetter winter in the U.S. Southwest and Southeast.

La Nina tends to bring colder and wetter weather to the Pacific Northwest but dry and warm conditions to the U.S. Southeast and U.S. Southwest.

ENSO is not the only atmospheric circulation that drives temperature and precipitation across North America so the impact tends to be felt clearly when El Nino or La Nina are especially strong.

Temperature and precipitation in North America and Europe are more driven by the Arctic Oscillation/North Atlantic Oscillation (AO/NAO) and to some extent its interaction with ENSO.

ENSO impacts tend to be visible only when ENSO is particularly strong (for example the strong El Nino of 2015/16) or when ENSO and other circulations reinforce rather than counter one another.

If El Nino develops later this year it should bring warmer temperatures to Washington state and neighboring areas but colder, wetter weather to a belt of southern states stretching from California through Texas to Florida.

The exact impact depends critically on the strength of the El Nino phase and its interaction with nearer atmospheric and oceanic circulations, which remain impossible to predict t



Posted On: May 08, 2017

The small town of Ferryland, Canada, near Newfoundland, is now a popular tourist destination thanks to the massive iceberg that floated towards it. It’s even causing traffic jams as people try to catch a glimpse of it and take photos.

It’s estimated that the iceberg is about 150 feet high, which would make it 50 feet taller than the one that famously sunk the Titanic in 1912. It should also be noted that, while most icebergs float past this “iceberg alley” region of Canada, this one is now anchored into the ground due to the shallow water.

In 2016, a whopping 687 icebergs passed through the shipping lanes of Ferryland. The effects of global climate change are a large part of the reason why so many pieces of the Greenland ice sheet have been breaking apart and making their way south.

At least there’s a (small) silver lining: thanks to the iceberg being docked so close to the town, business and tourism are booming. Many Newfoundland citizens have even taken to using chunks of the iceberg to make their own alcoholic drinks, including iceberg gin, iceberg vodka, iceberg rum, and iceberg beer.



Posted On: May 05, 2017

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—is a holiday commemorating the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations.

In 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and member of the indigenous Zapotec tribe—was elected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments.

In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, demanding repayment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces.

France, however, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.

Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla.

In the U.S. the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. In Mexico, the commemoration of the battle continues to be mostly ceremonial, such as through military parades.