Blog March 2020


Posted On: March 30, 2020

Which Fire Extinguisher is Right for You?

A tri-class dry chemical extinguisher will meet most boaters' needs. 

If you have concerns about damage to your electronics or your engine compartment lacks a fixed well.

As fire extinguishers are required on most boats, you most likely have one aboard. But chances are, you've never needed to use one, and might not know the proper technique for using one.

Take the time to read the directions on your fire extinguisher - you might be surprised about what it can and can't do.

Vessel Length and Fire Extinguisher Type Table

Vessel LengthNo Fixed SystemWith approved Fixed Systems
Less than 26'1 B-10
26' to less than 40'2 B-1 or 1 B-II1 B-1
40' to 65'3 B-1 or 1 B-II and 1 B-12 B-1 or 1 B-II


Posted On: March 27, 2020

One extraordinary off shoot of the shut down in Italy, is that the Canals in Venice, have gone clear.

In Venice, the often murky canals recently began to get clearer, with fish visible in the water below.

Italy's efforts to limit the corona virus meant an absence of boat traffic on the city's famous waterways.

That rapid change, apparently had a rapid impact.

Countries that have been under stringent lock downs to stop the spread of the corona virus have experienced an unintended benefit.

The outbreak has, at least in part, contributed to a noticeable drop in pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in some countries.

Although somewhat grim,and obviously costly, it's something scientists said could offer tough lessons for how to prepare — and ideally avoid — the most destructive impacts of climate change.

According to an interview with NBC, "If we can think about how to prepare for climate change like a pandemic, maybe there will be a positive outcome to all of this," said Christopher Jones, lead developer of the Cool Climate Network, an applied research consortium at the University of California, Berkeley. "We can help prevent crises in the future if we are prepared. I think there are some big-picture lessons here that could be very useful."

The corona virus pandemic has sickened more than 180,000 people and killed more than 7,100 worldwide since early January. Some countries, most notably China and Italy, have been forced to seal their borders and restrict residents' movements to control the rates of infection.

Satellite observations have shown that the temporary measures have also driven significant decreases in harmful emissions.

"Carbon dioxide is tied to industrial activity, electricity production and transportation, so anything that affects those sectors will impact greenhouse gases, as well," Jones said.

Based on a NBC interview



Posted On: March 23, 2020

Developing situation

As we are all aware, Corona Virus - COVID - 19,  has affected all parts of the world. There are numerous reports that countries (in Europe and further afield) have closed their borders, including to cruising yachts resulting in some being short of fuel and provisions. Be aware, particularly if you are undertaking a longer passage, that the situation in your destination (no matter how well researched before departure) may have changed by the time you arrive.

If you decide to travel by boat, even if you reach your destination, even if you are not required to self-isolate, or be put into quarantine, and can access the marina or boatyard, you may not be allowed to go boating (even on your own boat) when you arrive.

In France, for example, we have seen official notices covering most of the coastline, which ban recreational, tourism or nautical leisure activities currently until 31 March 2020.

Be prudent, and stay safe.



Posted On: March 20, 2020

Saving Some Boating Bucks

Clean Old Boating Stuff Out Of The Garage, And Buy Used

Some less-expensive used parts, such as anchors, can be just as good as new. See if there are any marine-salvage stores in your area. If you find one, sell your own extra boat stuff and marine hardware. Even pieces of teak or old teak cabinet doors are a find for crafty people. Or sell it on eBay or Craigslist over the winter. Join your marina or yacht-club friends to create a boating swap meet, and put a notice online.

Shop Around For A Marina

You may be comfortable in your marina and dutifully pay the annual bill. But are you getting the best deal? If there are other marinas in your area, shop around; some are operating at less-than-full capacity and would love to have you. (Be sure to explore why one marina may have openings and others don't by checking online for comments from other boaters.) For the sake of a few phone calls and moving his boat to another location, one of our editors saved $1,000/year; though in some parts of the country where marinas are much less expensive, this figure may be very different.

Oil's Well

Buy your engine oil in bulk. An average quart of some types of OBM marine oil may go for around $14. A gallon may go for $40 (a $16 savings). A 4-gallon case goes for about $110 (another $50 in savings, and $114 less than buying it by the quart). Now imagine the savings if you have twin outboards that take 6 or 7 quarts of oil twice a season. If your dockmates all use the same kind of oil, buy cases at a discount.

Anchor Out More Often

Many cruisers prefer to transit from marina to marina. But for a 32-foot cruiser, a typical night in a marina in some parts of the country might cost up to $150, including electricity. Do this 10 nights during the season, and that's $1,500! Instead, plan several nights here and there at anchor, capture the unequalled delight and solitude of a night on the hook, and save the money. Or move away from those high-dollar destinations to those a little off the beaten path, where you might be charged half as much for dockage and other services.

Change Boats?

Adapt when your needs or crew size changes. Maybe downsize to a smaller boat to better utilize your time on the water, save on maintenance costs and fuel, and possibly even store a smaller boat at home on a trailer to avoid marina fees.

Monitor Fuel Burn

If you use a lot of fuel, install a fuel-flow meter to see gallons used and gallons remaining, allowing you to determine real-time fuel efficiency in gallons per hour. Then you'll know your ideal settings for maximum efficiency and performance.



Posted On: March 16, 2020


Test your knowledge with these 10 questions most often answered incorrectly.

You'll find the correct answers at the end of the article.

1. Air moves from ______________ to ______________?
a. East to west
b. High to low pressure areas
c. Low to high-pressure areas
d. Land to water

2. True or false: One desirable feature of LPG is that it liquefies at a relatively low pressure, allowing low-cost tanks to contain a large amount of energy because liquid is much denser than gas.

3. The Q flag used for foreign port entry means:
a. We need immediate medical attention
b. Vessel is healthy, request approval to enter
c. We have no pets aboard
d. We have nothing to declare

4. True or false: AIS uses VHF radio frequencies to broadcast the AIS information.

5. The difference between compass variation and deviation is:
a. Variation is caused by the effects of the magnetic properties of the vessel, where deviation is caused by the misalignment of the magnetic lines of force with the meridians of longitude.
b. Variation is caused by the misalignment of the magnetic lines of force with the meridians of longitude; Deviation is caused by the effects of the magnetic properties of the vessel.
c. Variation depends upon the vessel's location; deviation depends upon the vessel's heading.
d. There is no difference.
(From "Modern Marine Navigation")

6. True or false: It makes little difference whether statute miles or nautical miles are selected during setup of the GPS, because they are very similar.
(From "How To Use GPS")

7. What does a Cunningham do?
a. Changes the location of draft in the mainsail
b. Changes the amount of draft in the mainsail
c. Secures the mainsail tack to the mast
d. Affects the amount of twist in the mainsail
(From "Learn to Sail")

8. Match the VHF channel on the top to the channel descriptions below.
A. _______ Channel 16
B. _______ Channel 9
C. _______ Channels 68, 69, 71, 78, 72
D. _______ Channel 6
E. _______ Channel 13
F. _______ Channel WX2

1. Weather information
2. Ship-to-ship safety
3. Navigation safety; ship-to-ship, locks, bridges
4. Alternate hailing channel
5. Primary hailing channel; emergency, distress
6. Working channels for recreational boaters
(From "All About Marine Radio")

9. Which of the following will increase the effects of alcohol and drugs when boating?
a. Vibration
b. Food
c. Spray
d. Temperature
(From "Basic Boating Course")

Passing infographic

10. When power-driven vessels are in sight of one another and meeting or crossing at a distance within half a mile of each other, each vessel must use sound signals. What do two short horn blasts from another vessel mean in a meeting situation?
a. They intend to pass starboard side to starboard side
b. They intend to pass port side to port side
c. They intend to maintain course and speed
d. They intend to immediately stop and reverse engines

Answer Key

1. B. High- to low-pressure areas. The uneven heating of the earth's surface by the sun creates different pressure areas that cause air to move — the wind to blow.

2. True. Also of value is that the vapor, which forms in the top of the tank, is drawn off as a gas, which is easier to ignite than a liquid like gasoline.

3. B. Vessel is healthy, request approval to enter (also known as "free pratique")

4. True. AIS uses the VHF frequencies 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz to broadcast and receive the AIS information.

5. B. Variation is caused by the misalignment of the magnetic lines of force with the meridians of longitude, whereas deviation is caused by the effects of the magnetic properties of the vessel. Variation depends upon the vessel's location; Deviation depends upon the vessel's heading. Among students incorrectly answering, it's about evenly split between A and C.

6. False. The nautical mile represents a distance that is about 15% greater than the statute mile. This difference is significant, particularly when navigating close to shore in conditions of reduced visibility, such as fog.

7. A. The Cunningham changes the location of draft in the mainsail.

8. A. 5, B. 4, C. 6, D. 2, E. 3, F. 1

9. A. People often choose temperature, thinking it means "heat." They will argue with us endlessly, though the course specifically mentions boater fatigue in relationship to engine noise and vibration.

10. A. Two short horn blasts from another vessel mean they intend to pass starboard side to starboard side.



Posted On: March 13, 2020

Photo of launching a boat from a dock

Sitting By The Dock (In The Way)

A boat is launched quickly (that's good), the boat is tied to the dock (also good), the tow vehicle pulls away and is parked (that's good, too), and the next person in line backs down the ramp with their boat trailer but stops midway because the boat at the dock is in the way (that's not good).

This is an all-too-common topic on boating forums. Along with it come adjectives like "irresponsible," among others, and most of this is the result of the boater not being selfish but, instead, just not knowing any better. Still, some ramps, including those operated by Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces, have added this to their posted launching rules after numerous boaters complained about having to wait for someone to return from parking their truck: "After launching, move vessel as far back to the rear of the pier as possible so others may launch."

A little common sense and courtesy can go a long way.



Posted On: March 09, 2020

A Closer Look Might Reveal Trouble Beneath The Surface

A periodic visual inspection of important components could prevent a bad surprise later, if you know what to look for. It can save you a costly claim.

Areas of rust, or a small crack or scaling on a stainless-steel component, may be a sign of crevice corrosion, which could result in failure of the part.

  • Gelcoat cracks may be of only cosmetic significance, but they could indicate serious flex from too much stress in the area, or delamination underneath.

  • Changing exhaust color with no obvious cause may be a precursor to problems. Generally, black exhaust means fuel burning poorly; white or bluish smoke may indicate excessive oil burning; and steam can indicate overheating. But exhaust colors have many nuances. Diesels emitting black smoke could need a new air filter. Diesels billowing smoke might need new injectors. Gas engines might smoke on startup, but more than 10 seconds could indicate a problem with the fuel mixture. Steam from either engine type could mean water getting past the head gasket (and will be accompanied by the smell of steamy water or antifreeze).
  • Frayed lines may be evidence of age and too much exposure to UV, chafing, and poor fairleads. Figure out the cause and address it, and then replace the line.
  • Discoloration of wire terminals or insulation could be a sign of excessive heating or corrosion underneath the insulation.
  • A sheen on the water at your exhaust when the engine is running can indicate poor burning of the fuel. Possible causes could include bad injectors, timing, plugs, or poor compression, as from valve or ring problems. Pull the spark plugs on your gas-powered engine. Beige or brown is the right color. Grey indicates detonation/timing issues. The sheen could also indicate lube oil entering the exhaust or transmission oil escaping into the exhaust through a leaking heat exchanger


Posted On: March 06, 2020

brown-and-white clocks

If you're weary of short winter days, take heart: Daylight saving time begins Sunday, March 8, when most Americans will set their clocks ahead one hour — or, as the maxim goes, spring forward. It'll likely be dark when you wake up, but you'll also get an extra hour of daylight

Sunrise and sunset will be about 1 hour later.

Daylight saving time has been around since World War I. But it became the law of the land more than 50 years ago with the Uniform Time Act of 1966, though the exact dates — now the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November — have changed some over the years. Arizona cited its hot climate in getting an exception, and Hawaii cited its tropical latitude, which means there isn't much variation in daylight in the summer and winter months.