Blog February 2018


Posted On: February 26, 2018

Complete Your Pre-Launch Inspection and Maintenance

To help ensure a smooth, safe start to the boating season, have a certified technician or mechanic perform the recommended maintenance on your vessel. Whether or not you get a professional tune-up, be sure to complete the following checklist before leaving the dock:

  • Inspect all of the safety equipment on board, including fire extinguishers, flares, personal flotation devices and first-aid kits, and repair, recharge and restock them as necessary.
  • Check all lights on your boat to make sure they are in place and operating properly.
  • Open the engine compartment to check for excess water in the bilge.
  • Check for any electrical issues, such as loose, disconnected or corroded conductors.
  • Check that the battery is properly secured to the vessel.
  • Check the fuel tank for leaks, and ensure there is proper ventilation.
  • Check the fuel filters to make sure no water is present.
  • Fill your tank with the freshest, highest-quality fuel available.
  • Change and check the oil level before starting the boat for the first time.
  • If you will be towing your vessel to its launch point, you will also need to properly inspect and maintain your trailer prior to your first outing.

Get In, On and Out of the Water Safely

Once all tasks on your pre-launch checklist are complete, you can start your engine and get out on the water. It is important on your first, and every trip of the season, to:

  • Follow safe launching practices.
  • Monitor the engine temperature to make sure it is not overheating.
  • Monitor the cooling system to make sure it is operating correctly.
  • Ensure you and your passengers know and follow safe boating practices.

Remember: Every Vessel is Unique

The work required to get your boat water-ready will depend on, whether it is used in fresh or salt water, its size, manufacturer, model, and the state in which it is registered. Be sure to get the information you need, then develop and follow the right spring ritual to help ensure every trip of the boating season is safe and fun for all.




Posted On: February 23, 2018

There are literally thousands of different types of tape you can use on your boat. but all tape is not equal.

  1. Performance Green Masking. A step up in performance and cost, green masking tape is highly conformable, so it suits many of the curves and shapes found on boats. The ideal solution for masking off areas to be varnished, as it will not come detached if it gets damp while wet sanding the adjacent area. Removes cleanly without leaving a gummy residue.
  2. Fine line Masking. This thin blue masking tape is better at bending around corners than a wider tape. Gives a razor sharp edge to paint lines.
  3. Blue Painter's. If you only ever use one tape for masking off when applying paint and varnish, then this should be it. Can be left in place for a week or more even outdoors and removes cleanly. This is a far better tape than the white type — which we hate so much that we have not included it in the photo.
  4. Yellow Masking. Stronger yet than the green tape. Designed for the automotive refinishing trades, yellow will stand up to baking temperatures — cars are baked at a high temperatures after respraying. Yellow tape also stands up well if used for masking off areas to be wet sanded. Conforms well to curves.
  5. Scotch Fineline. If you ever have to recaulk the joints on a teak deck using a polysulphide-type seam compound, this tape is perfect as a bond breaker that is used at the bottom of the seam before caulking is applied.
  6. Duct Tape. Gets its name from its use as a sealer for A/C ducts, but there can be few that have not succumbed to its charms. Perfect for all sorts of semi-permanent jobs aboard, but is broken down by UV, so best left for uses belowdecks out of the sunlight. For longer lasting jobs, there's now "performance" duct tape (Gorilla Tape), stronger than the original with an even more tenacious bond. I can attest to its strength as I sailed across the Atlantic with a toilet held in place with duct tape.
  7. Neoprene Foam. The perfect solution for cushioning hatch covers, and silencing squeaky sole boards.
  8. Thread Sealing. Often called Teflon tape, thread-sealing tape is used for sealing threads on plumbing fittings — although never for propane, which requires a different type of tape.
  9. Vinyl. Often called electrician's tape, vinyl tape is often the go-to tape for semi-permanent jobs. Providing the substrate is clean and dry, vinyl tape adheres to almost any surface. If you only have one type of tape in your toolkit, then this should be it. Make temporary repairs to wiring, cover rigging connections, whip the ends of ropes, and thousands of other uses. Comes in tons of bright colors.
  10. Butyl. More a sealing compound in a roll rather than a tape in the traditional sense, butyl makes a great choice for bonding hardware as it never hardens and remains flexible. Best applied in warm weather, as it tends to stiffen noticeably in cooler temperatures.
  11. Rescue. A modern take on older self-amalgamating tapes. Sticks to itself, plus it's heat resistant and waterproof — the perfect solution for temporarily sealing leaks in hoses and pipework.
  12. Non-Skid. Steps and varnished decks can be slippery when wet. A few strategically placed strips of non-skid tape are the perfect answer to preventing accidents. 


Posted On: February 19, 2018

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.



Posted On: February 16, 2018

In talking with boaters,  it’s become apparent that some are baffled by buoys. The basic issue is the assumption that all navaids tell loads of detailed information.

Truth is, navaids give very simple information. The first buoys in the United States were casks, placed in the Delaware River in 1767 to mark shoals. They weren’t color-coded, lit or equipped with sound signals. In fact, casks and spars were used until the 1860s, when standardized sizes and colors and, subsequently, our present-day lateral system were em-placed. Before that, every port had different shapes, sizes and colors of buoys and markers. Those required interpretation. They simply told boatmen that something was there to be avoided. It was up to the skipper to see the riffle over an awash rock, the color change over a ledge, the wading birds. …

We can look at things the same way the old river men did. You see a red light flashing out of the gloom of night. Count: One, one thousand, two, one thousand, three and blink. That’s a light with a 2.5-second flash. Now look at the chart, paper or digital, and find the aid that matches that characteristic. Simple. If you know where you are, then you’re not lost. It’s a tiny bit of information but a very big deal on a black night with a wind coming on.

Red, right, return — the not so fancy method of remembering the lateral system — also trips up a lot of boaters. I think that while repeating that mantra, they are trying to ascertain if it also means green, right, depart, which it does, but while their brain is engaged with that, they run up on the ledge. And of course there are many coastal stretches where “seaward” is an arbitrary direction.

Instead of port and starboard, left and right, try using basic directions (or that spinning thing with 360 little marks on it mounted in front of your wheel). You should most always be on the same side of the buoy, regardless of the direction you are going. If a green can marks the northern edge of a ­channel when heading east, then guess what? It still marks the northern edge of that channel when you return heading west. Instead of juggling colors, lateral positions and nominal directions, just remember that most navaids mark the edges of channels, the limit of water that has been sounded as safe. You are always on the same side of same-color markers. Most helpful is to study the chart before starting your cruise and get a mental picture of the underwater topography. You don’t have to remember the number and color of every marker. Simply write, “Pass north of all greens” or “Keep east of all reds until inlet” in grease pencil (which wipes off easily) on your windshield. That way you don’t have to remember ­aphorisms, slogans and Sea Tow’s phone number. All you have to do is head at the marks, slowly and directly. If in doubt, mind your sounder and keep an eye out for riffles, color changes and wading birds.

Quick Tip: All red aids to navigation (ATONs) are conical or triangular, while all green ATONs are cylindrical or square.



Posted On: February 12, 2018

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.


While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.



Posted On: February 09, 2018

Photo of taking a dinghy ashore in the Bahamas

Charter trips range from the adventurous to the luxurious, and everything in between. No matter what kind of charter it is, though, and how many times I pack for a boating trip, I still have to think about what the next adventure entails – what the weather will be like, what are the ports of call, what unique events are planned. But the essentials remain the same.

We use a rolling duffel bag that's fully collapsible for ease of storage on the boat, and I always bring the following:


  • Two sarongs. They work as cover-ups, beach towel, skirts, or a tablecloth!
  • T-shirts, zip-off slacks (creating shorts), and quick-drying underwear
  • Hat and loose, long-sleeve light shirt for sun protection
  • Flip-flops for showers at a marina
  • Keens or other similar waterproof shoes that offer toe protection
  • Rain gear – lightweight, heavyweight, or cheap poncho (it covers a backpack)


  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Just in case, bring Pepto Bismal, seasickness medicine, Neosporin, ibuprofen, bandages, and moleskin
  • Small travel sizes of toiletries now readily available, just enough for your trip
  • Insect repellent
  • Prescriptions
  • Extra contact lenses, and prescription glasses as backup


  • Camera, extra media, spare battery, plus 12-volt inverter to charge batteries
  • Dry bag for camera and other non-waterproof things
  • Small flashlight for finding your boat or the keyhole
  • Small LED headlamp for reading in bed
  • Hand-held GPS and VHF
  • Extra batteries
  • Small calculator
  • Plug adapters if traveling in Europe


  • Zip-lock bags for galley
  • Favorite herbs & spices (in plastic film containers or similar) to add zing to simple dishes
  • My ditty bag with extra line, a Leatherman or folding knife, more clothespins
  • A small notebook for notes about the trip
  • Small backpack for going ashore
  • Security pouch for wearing under a shirt
  • Copies of our passports, kept separately
  • PADI or other diving credential
  • Small alarm clock
  • Rip-stop bag (folds small) for carrying groceries or beach stuff
  • Pocket packs of tissues, and antiseptic sachets for wiping hands, to keep in your backpack
  • Tiny bottle of iodine for purifying water
  • Net bag to keep your snorkel gear separate in the lazarette, easy to grab, and easy to carry in the dinghy.

Before You Leave

  • Take credit cards and ATM cards; call your credit-card issuer to alert them that you'll be in a different location, or when they see foreign charges, they may think someone has stolen your card, and suspend it.
  • Pack light, and pack everything in zip-lock bags in case your duffel is left on the runway in the rain, or a container of liquid leaks, or there's an unexpected leak in the boat. Also, everything stays neatly folded even if you or airport-security rummages through your bag.
  • Make sure you leave your air and travel schedule with someone at home. 


Posted On: February 05, 2018

Most everything you've learned about treating jellyfish stings is probably wrong.


At any time during the year, and in every ocean, a dive into the blue could lead to an encounter with jellyfish. The soft-bodied aquatic animals have a distinctive gelatinous umbrella-shaped bell and trailing tentacles, and some can deliver a painful, possibly fatal venomous injection.

Jellyfish are not fish at all, but in fact primitive marine animals that have lived in our oceans for more than 500 million years. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, from translucent to vibrant and even luminescent. They range in size from penny-sized freshwater ones to giant pillow-top floating Portuguese man-of-war in saltwater across the world.

Jellyfish float using the currents or swim by moving under water, pulsating up and down by sucking in water and forcing it out. Although encounters may be singular, jellyfish swarms or "blooms" can be exceptionally hazardous and increase the chances of being stung and badly hurt.

Almost all jellyfish have tentacles of various lengths that hang from a flexible gelatinous head. The ends of the tentacles contain specialized stinging cells, called nematocysts, which look like tight springs. When the tentacles touch something, they spring open, firing paralyzing venom into the victim. The prey is then brought underneath the head where the mouth devours it. Even in dead jellyfish, nematocysts fire if touched. Different jellyfish venoms produce distinct pain levels in humans; each requires immediate attention. The stings pose a worldwide health problem, and stings from a few species, like Portuguese man-of-war and the Australian box jellyfish, are life threatening and require treatment with antivenin.

Old wives' tales, information on the internet, and even some first-aid books contain misinformation on how to treat jellyfish stings. In the past, wet tobacco, meat tenderizer, ammonia, ice, and even urine were recommended; these methods have since been proven useless. Topical medications, like calamine and lidocaine, used to treat skin irritations, are also ineffective for neutralizing the venom.

Some of the most comprehensive research on jellyfish stings comes from assistant research professor Angel Yanagihara at the Pacific Biosciences Research Center and John A. Burns School of Medicine in Hawaii. She says the best way to neutralize the venom from jellyfish stings is heat — hot-water immersion for 20 minutes at 108 F to 113 F or applying a medium-temperature (113 F to 130 F) heat pack.

Yanagihara recommends first cleaning the stung area with vinegar, or seawater if vinegar is not available. Vinegar cleans the area, and the acid stops the nondischarged stinging cells from discharging and causing further pain. She advises against using tweezers or scraping with a credit card to remove embedded tentacle parts. They may be virtually undetectable under the skin and could discharge. Taking an antihistamine (such as Benedryl) or applying a topical steroid cream will help reduce inflammation, and taking acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) can help reduce pain. Of course, it's prudent to see a physician for further treatment, especially for possible embedded cnidae (nematocysts) or multiple stings from dangerous jellyfish.

When stung, victims should try to identify the type of jellyfish or at least describe the shape, size, color, or iridescence. If a box jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-war is suspected, possible side effects of extreme burning pain, difficulty breathing, dry mouth, and extreme anxiety will require a call to 911.

Jellyfish Sting Treatment

  1. Clean the area with vinegar or seawater — never freshwater.
  2. Cover the site with a hydrocortisone cream and bandage.
  3. Use a hot pack, water immersion, or hot-water bottle filled with the hottest tap water (about 120 F) inside a thick towel, and cover the affected area for about 20 minutes.
  4. Check the area often for blisters or tissue changes, and the patient for increased heart rate.
  5. Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain (never aspirin to children), unless the victim has been stung near the mouth or is having breathing problems. In this case, go to the hospital.
  6. Continue using heat therapy as necessary. Seek medical attention if needed.


Posted On: February 02, 2018

Groundhog Day  is a traditional holiday originating in the United States that is celebrated on February 2. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early, some time before the vernal equinox; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

Modern customs of the holiday involve early morning celebrations to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow.

In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges (Grundsow Lodges) celebrate the holiday with social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more plays or skits are performed for entertainment. The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime, or quarter per word spoken, with the money put into a bowl in the center of the table.

Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Clymer H. Freas was the editor of the local paper Punxsutawney Spirit at the time, and he began promoting the town’s groundhog as the official "Groundhog Day meteorologist".

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with Punxsutawney Phil. Groundhog Day, already a widely recognized and popular tradition, has received widespread attention as a result of the 1993 film Groundhog Day.