Blog May 2018


Posted On: May 28, 2018


Okay, so now that Memorial Day, the unofficial start of Summer is here, and the holiday weekend is in full swing, the waters tend to get busy so let’s remember some basics of having a safe summer boating season.

Below are some quick tips on boating responsibly in the great outdoors. 


Travel responsibly on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.

  • Travel only in areas open to your type of boat.
  • Carry a Coast Guard approved life vest (PFD) for each person on board.
  • Always operate your boat at a safe speed.
  • Always have a designated lookout to keep an eye out for other boaters, objects and swimmers.
  • Never jump a wake. If crossing a wake, cross at low speeds and keep a close lookout for skiers and towables.
  • Comply with all signs and respect barriers. This includes speed limits, no-wake zones and underwater obstructions, etc.
  • Make every effort to always go boating with a partner.
  • Make certain your trailer is in proper working order and that your lights work and your boat is secure on the trailer before you travel to your destination.
  • When trailering your boat, balance your load including items stowed inside your boat.
  • Don’t mix boating with alcohol or drugs.


Posted On: May 25, 2018

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 21, 2018

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 18, 2018



Seasickness can quickly turn a day on the water into a miserable experience. Seasickness occurs when your eyes, your inner ear, and your body  send conflicting messages to your brain. Imagine you are below deck, your eyes are telling you the room isn’t moving while your inner ear senses motion. This conflicting message may result in dizziness, light-headedness, and nausea.

Prevention is better than treatment,try these tips:

   Stay on deck in a shady spot and face forward, focusing on the horizon.

   Keep your head still, while resting against a seat back.

   Eat light; avoid spicy and greasy foods and alcohol.


 Antihistamines are commonly used to prevent sea sickness. Frequently recommended over-the-counter antihistamines include Antivert, Bonine, Dramamine, and Benadryl.

The adhesive patch, Scopolamine (Transderm Scop), is available by prescription. The patch is applied behind the ear a few hours before traveling and provides 72-hour protection.

 Or try this:

 Mix a half teaspoon of ginger powder in a glass of water and drink it 20

minutes before heading out to sea.


If you still find yourself becoming nauseated, try the following:


    Get some fresh air. If you’re below deck, go on the upper deck and sit toward the middle of the boat where you’ll feel less movement.      Eat a few dry crackers.   Sip a clear, carbonated beverage.



Posted On: May 14, 2018

A boater has a lot of choices when it comes to visual distress signals, But how does the boater who needs to make a decision proceed?

If performance is secondary to staying in the good graces of your local boating safety patrol, the Sirius Signal SOS light and a distress flag will cover the basics. If you're headed offshore, certainly add more and better flares to your list, and maybe a laser or automatic SOS light for good measure. And if you're somewhere in the middle, sticking with the tried-and-true might work for you.

None of the options is perfect and it's important to have additional  other means of signaling aboard, be it a VHF, cellphone, or satellite-based device, depending on your needs. No matter which you choose, make sure you keep them up-to-date, easily accessible aboard, and know how to use them.

There are pros and cons to each type. The effectiveness of a distress signal comes down to whether or not an observer — who may be tired, careless, or untrained — can see and understand that the light is a signal. A distress signal must be big enough and bright enough for someone who may be miles away to positively identify and locate the source. So it's no surprise that the brightest and most intense flares, the SOLAS-approved or their equivalents, did so well. They're around 30 times brighter than a standard Coast Guard-approved flare. If this was simply a question of the best flares money could buy, it'd be simple. But what if you don't need that level of performance? 

Pyrotechnic Devices

Flares have been around for more than 100 years, largely because they just plain work as a distress signal. Observers commented that they subconsciously recognized fire as a danger, especially when it appears where we know it isn't supposed to be. We know there's a problem when we see fire on the water.


  • Easy to recognize as a distress signal.
  • Easy to use.
  • Very bright, SOLAS flares and their equivalents ranked in the top three spots at each distance tested.


  • All the flares emitted sparks, which can damage your boat or burn you. Our testers used welding gloves to hold the flares, and even with that, the heat from the flares made them almost too hot to hold.
  • Flares expire 42 months after manufacture, for good reason; flares become unstable over time and aren't as reliable.
  • The legal requirement calls for three flares, totaling no more than a few minutes of signaling (60 seconds minimum per flare, though some burn for two minutes or so)
  • The chemicals in flares are hazardous waste.

LED Devices

Light Emitting Diode devices are relatively new to the scene, and as the technology continues to evolve, prices are dropping rapidly. LEDs are durable and long-lasting, so more devices are expected to come on the market in the next few years.


  • Highest effective intensity of any electronic light available.
  • Easy to set a particular color, length of flash, or flash pattern.
  • With appropriate power, can work for days, rather than minutes.
  • Far safer to handle than pyrotechnic flares.


  • Can be hard to distinguish from background lights.
  • Not as bright as pyrotechnic flares. The best-performing light consistently ranked as less visible than the control, a USCG-approved, red Orion handheld flare.
  • With no expiration date, batteries need to be checked regularly.
  • People might not know a signal from an LED device is a call for help.
  • Doesn't have the range of visibility that pyrotechnic devices have. At five miles, the performance dropped off considerably.


Lasers have been on the scene longer than LED lights but haven't caught on as an alternative to flares. These devices are not like "light sabers" you'd see in the movies. Although under the right conditions, you can see the beam of light, especially with a green laser. The green Greatland flare was very popular with observers, especially at longer distances. Unlike laser pointers, which should never be aimed at aircraft (or other boats, for that matter) as they temporarily blind the operator, the flares tested emit light in a fan pattern, so the greater the distance from the viewer, the wider the fan. This pattern also protects the eyes of your potential rescuer, as the light isn't a focused beam that could burn your retina. The observer simply sees a green flashing light.


  • Green laser is very visible at night, and the farther away it is, the wider its beam becomes. Always ranked in the top three by our observers, it led the field at three miles and practically tied for the top spot at five miles.
  • Far safer than pyrotechnic flares.
  • Compact, and designed to last for five hours of continuous use.


  • Lasers are directional, so you must aim them at a potential rescuer, which means you need some idea where help might be coming from before they can be of much use.
  • The green color is more expensive than the red, but it was also easier to see. The red version ranked just under the USCG-approved red Orion handheld in all tests.
  • While legal for use in rescue situations and deemed "eye safe," pilots are taught to fly away from lasers.


Posted On: May 11, 2018

Anna Jarvis is often considered the founder of the modern version of Mother's Day.

She fought against the commercialization of the holiday, working to protect it from "the hordes of money schemers."

Designated as the second Sunday in May by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914, aspects of that holiday have since spread overseas, sometimes mingling with local traditions. She took great pains to acquire and defend her role as “Mother of Mother's Day,” and to focus the day on children celebrating their mothers

But she was not first to want to honor mothers, there were others, albeit with different agendas.

Julia Ward Howe, better known for writing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," promoted a Mothers’ Peace Day beginning in 1872. For Howe and other antiwar activists, including Anna Jarvis's mother, Mother's Day was a way to promote global unity after the horrors of the American Civil War and Europe’s Franco-Prussian War.

“Howe called for women to gather once a year in parlors, churches, or social halls, to listen to sermons, present essays, sing hymns or pray if they wished—all in the name of promoting peace,” said Katharine Antolini, an historian at West Virginia Wesleyan College

Frank Hering, a former football coach and faculty member at University of Notre Dame, also proposed the idea of a Mother's Day before Anna Jarvis. In 1904 Hering urged an Indianapolis gathering of the Fraternal Order of Eagles to support “setting aside of one day in the year as a nationwide memorial to the memory of Mothers and motherhood.” Hering didn't suggest a specific day or month for the observance, though he did note a preference for Mother's Day falling on a Sunday.

The white carnation was the original flower of Mother’s Day.

“The carnation does not drop its petals, but hugs them to its heart as it dies, and so, too, mothers hug their children to their hearts, their mother love never dying," Jarvis explained in a 1927 interview.

Based on an article by

National Geographic



Posted On: May 07, 2018

The first rule of waves, especially in the open ocean, is that there are no rules. Kind of a hypocritical statement considering the intent of this, but it is a cold hard fact. There are simple physical factors that makeup the "normal" wave, but within the forces of nature, there a myriad of other factors that need be considered. Regardless, an understanding of what makes a wave can be of considerable benefit  to the everyday sailor.

There are three factors that make up waves:

  • Wind speed Length of time the wind has blown
  • Distance of open water that the wind blows over; called fetch

All of these factors have to work together to create waves. The greater each of the variables in the equation, the greater the waves. Waves are measured by:

  • Height (from trough to crest) Length (from crest to crest) Steepness (angle between crest and trough)
  • Period (length of time between crests)

Waves are never created in one uniform height. Waves fall into a systemic pattern of varying size. Therefore, in order to classify wave height we determine the significant wave height, which is the average of the highest 1/3 of the waves in a system. This is how weather reports will specify wave height. Once you have the significant height, it is simple to determine the theoretical average height, the highest 10% and the highest wave sizes in a given area. Mathematically speaking, it's simple arithmetic based on predetermined ratios:


Average height


Significant height


Highest 10%





Waves take their time to develop; they don't spontaneously erupt from the ocean. It takes a certain speed of wind to blow over a certain distance for a considerable length of time to create lasting waves.

There are three different types of waves that develop over time:

  • Ripples
  • Seas
  • Swells

Ripples appear on smooth water when the wind is light, but if the wind dies, so do the ripples. Seas are created when the wind has blown for a while at a given velocity. They tend to last much longer, even after the wind has died. Swells are waves that have moved away from their area of origin and are unrelated to the local wind conditions -- in other words, seas that have lasted long beyond the wind.

The definition of swells can be a bit confusing when you understand that waves never actually go anywhere. The water does not travel along with the waves, only along with the current -- two mutually exclusive elements of water animation. If two people stand at either end of a long rope and undulate their arms up and down in an equal rhythm, waves will develop along the length of the rope that appear to move from one end to the other. The rope fibers aren't actually moving at all, other than up and down. This is exactly what is happening with waves. The speed, or velocity of the wave is measured by how long it would take a wave to pass a given point crest to crest -- say a line drawn on the ground beneath the rope. There is a slight movement of the water particles within a wave, Waves can be further described as:

  • Non-Breaking
  • Breaking

A non-breaking wave, is a "normal" rolling wave. A breaking wave is one who's base can no longer support it's top and it collapses. Depending on the size, this can happen with considerable force behind it -- 5 to 10 tons per square yard. Enough force to crush the hull of a ship. When the ratio of steepness of a wave is too great, it must break. This happens when a wave runs into shallow water, or when two wave systems oppose and combine forces




Posted On: May 04, 2018

WIND AND WAVES                    

The relationship between the wind and the waves is very important to boat to skippers. So important  that a completely new classification system was designed as a guideline incorporating both wind speed and the wave conditions most readily found at those speeds. This system, called the Beaufort Scale, was developed in 1805 by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort of the British Navy. It is a guideline for what can be expected in certain conditions and a weather classification system. It assumes open ocean conditions with unlimited fetch.


Wind Speed


Sea Conditions





Smooth, like a mirror.



1 - 3 knots

Light Air

Small ripples, like fish scales.

1/4' - 1/2'


4 - 6 knots

Light Breeze

Short, small pronounced wavelettes with no crests.

1/4' - 1/2'


7 - 10 knots

Gentle Breeze

Large wavelettes with some crests.



11 - 16 knots

Moderate Breeze

Increasingly larger small waves, some white caps and light foam.



17 - 21 knots

Fresh Breeze

Moderate lengthening waves, with many white caps and some light spray.



22 - 27 knots

Strong Breeze

Large waves, extensive white caps with some spray.



28 - 33 knots

Near Gale

Heaps of waves, with some breakers whose foam is blown downwind in streaks.



34 - 40 knots


Moderately high waves of increasing length and edges of crests breaking into spindrift (heavy spray). Foam is blown downwind in well-marked streaks.



41 - 47 knots

Strong Gale

High wind with dense foam streaks and some crests rolling over.Spray reduces visibility.



48 - 55 knots


Very high waves with long, overlapping crests.
The sea looks white, visibility is greatly reduced and waves tumble with force.



56 - 63 knots

Violent Storm

Exceptionally high waves that may obscure medium size ships. All wave edges are blown into froth and the sea is
covered with patches of foam.



64 - 71 knots


The air is filled with foam and spray, and the sea is completely white.


Aside from just wind speed, temperature is also a factor in creating waves. Warm air (which rises) moving over water has a less acute angle of attack on the surface than does cool air (which sinks). A cold front moving across open water will create much steeper waves and hence create breakers sooner than a warm front moving at the same speed.

Also, a change in wind direction over existing waves can create confusion and hence larger waves. If a wind has been blowing northeast over an open body of water for three days and suddenly switches to northwest over that same body of water, new wavelettes will form within the existing system of waves. The energy of both systems will multiply to create larger waves.

When a wave system meets a current flow one of two things can happen. If the wind and current are both going the same direction, it tends to smooth out the waves, creating long swells. If the current and wind are moving in contradicting directions, it will create much steeper and more aggressive waves.


So, what does all this mean? Why is it important to know how waves are made? Well... You can determine several things from waves.

One of the things you can tell based on waves, is boat speed. This assumes that your vessel is a displacement ship, like a keelboat, and not a planing one like a speedboat. When sailing a displacement vessel, the boat is constantly displacing a large chunk of water as it moves along. The heavier the boat, the deeper the trough it carves through the water. Now, along with the physics of waves we discussed above, we can add that the faster a wave travels, the longer it is. As a boat's speed increases, the number of waves that it pulls along the hull decreases until the boat is actually trapped between the crest and trough of a single wave that it has created itself moving through the water.