From the Marina Office
Happy February Marina Village mariners - Here is your February 2015 Newsletter.
As one of our authors in this issue points out, If you are a West Coast boater, you have no doubt read about, listened to, and most likely discussed the weather related tragedy that happened at Avalon in December.
Since this sort of incident can happen anytime but especially in Winter months, a good portion of this issue is devoted to the subject of unexpected weather, and how to minimize the likelyhood of getting caught or damaged in it.
On a related topic, we have some important safety tips on using space heaters to keep warm on your boat during the Winter.
That's it for now, and we hope to see you down on the docks.
Gerry Charest - Marina Manager
A Word About Using Space Heaters Aboard Your Boat
To keep warm on your boat when the weather turns cold, it's often much more economical and energy efficient to use a space heater instead of your boat's heating system.
That's because your boat's system uses lots of power to convert cold sea water through a heat exchanger, and that's not very efficient.
If you do use a space heater on your boat, here's a few safety precautions you should know about:
- A "Tip Over" switch that will shut off the heater automatically if it gets knocked over is a must on a boat. Many portable heaters are not intended to be used for unstable locations, and don't have wide bases needed to keep them upright if another boat's wake strikes your boat.
- Turn if off: Never leave a portable electric heater on while you are away from the boat or when you go to bed.
- Keep the heater separate: Never use another high-amperage appliance on the same receptacle with a portable electric heater.
- Don't use an extension cord with an electric heater. If you must use one, make sure it is the right wire gauge size and type for the heater.
- Keep space heaters at least 3 ft. away from any combustible materials such as bedding, clothing, draperies, furniture and rugs.
- Keep space heaters away from areas with water. Check your manual to be sure the heater is intended to be used in locations such as bathrooms.
- Portable heaters have hot parts that can cause sparking. Do not use them in areas where flammable liquids such as gasoline or kerosene are used or stored.
Boating Tip of the Month - Running Before the Sea
If you're out on a cruise or in a narrow channel and the swells are coming at you directly from behind, running directly before them is safe only if your boat's stern can be reasonably up to the swells without being thrown around off course.
In heavy seas, a boat tends to rush down a slope from crest to trough, and if the stern gets too high, the propeller(s) can come up out of the water and race.
Also, the rudder can lose its grip and let the sea take charge of the stern as the bow "digs in". If this happens, the boat may yaw so badly as to "broach" and be thrown broadside into the trough.
Power boats that have been designed with a broad beam should be particularly careful with a following sea because as the width of the transom increases, the potential to yaw and possibly broach increases as well.
Slowing down to let the swells pass under the boat usually will generally reduce yawing, but if you get caught in this situation, you must take every action to ensure that the boat doesn't broach.
How to Get Certified to Skipper Yachts in Foreign Waters and Ports
- By Captain H.G. "Rags" Laragione
A new alliance between our Maritime Institute and International Yacht Training Worldwide (IYT) has resulted in our ability to now offer training and certification that is required and recognized for non-commercial power yacht operators in over 25 countries around the world.
This new one week course is specifically designed for beginners with minimal sea time and on-board yacht handling experience who either want to earn the credentials to charter a yacht, or operate their own yacht in International destinations.
The course is the first of its kind offered on the West Coast, and consists of academic sessions each morning followed by most of the day in actual hands-on training aboard the Institute's training yacht.
Students successfully completing the course and passing the final exam will receive the International Yachtmaster Coastal Power License plus an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) which provides reassurance that vessel operators are competent to ensure safety of navigation and protection of the environment as they moved from one country to another.
The new course will be first offered on May 18 - 22, at our San Diego headquarters . Interested persons are invited to contact us at 888.262.8020 or 619.225.1783 for additional information or to register to attend the course.
Captain Laragione is the President of The Maritime Institute which offers USCG approved courses for mariners. Curriculum ranges from the maritime rules of the road to the 1600 Ton Captain's License. Captain Laragione is well known for his motto - "The key to safe boating is education; so let's get educated!"
When the Little Things Matter
- By Kells Christian
On December 30, 2014 an unusual weather event struck the harbor in Avalon, Catalina Island. Storm conditions resulted in property damage and tragically, the loss of two lives. Boats can be replaced or repaired. Our most heartfelt condolences extend to families and friends of Bruce Ryder and Tim Mitchell.
Property damage included boats on the beach, one boat completely destroyed against the sea wall, one submerged sailboat and a Harbor full of sunken small boats and tenders. The damage was partially caused by "an act of God" as we say in the insurance business, but a storm like this is a good reminder of little things that can be done to reduce damage.
We should remain vigilant with our monitoring of weather forecasts. There are weather events that are sudden, but many weather patterns in Southern California are predictable. Make the right choice based on weather, your boat, your skill level and the intended voyage.
Different harbors offer protection from winds from different directions. A strong wind over a long fetch (distance traveled by winds and waves over water) can cause real problems in an exposed Harbor. Move the boat early to a safe harbor, or a safer place in your harbor, before the storm is too intense, just as wise sailors know to reef a sail when the wind starts building. It is an important skill that comes with experience.
Mooring and dock lines chafe quickly in heavy weather conditions. Among the precautions we can take are strong, suitable lines and chafe protection. There are many new types of high strength lines, however some are too small to handle and do not fit well with existing hardware. Some lines age quickly in the sun.
Ask a professional, switch out lines as needed and buy the proper type. Add extra lines if possible, easy to do at your slip, not so easy on a mooring. The concept of chafe protection is simple, but chafe protection that remains in place and is effective in heavy weather requires forethought and planning. Anti-chafing gear also requires monitoring during the event, another risky task.
Heavy weather exposes weaknesses in our boats. The hardware to which we secure our lines should be strong. Many boaters secure bow lines to their windlasses (not a good idea) and some sailors secure lines to stanchions (even worse idea).
Many production boat builders use nothing or only small washers as the backing for cleats and deck hardware. Naked nuts or small washers rip out relatively easily. Here is where the small things really matter, but the cost of a better built boat is significant. Building a cleat, chock, bit or any deck hardware, with a backing plate adds cost to the manufacturing process and is an extra that is not noticed by many boat buyers.
Homework: Look in your anchor rode locker or lazarette at the bottom of your cleats. Is there a backing plate? Do you have pieces of fire hose or garden hose that can be properly secured for chafe protection? Do you have a bridle that allows the force of the anchor rode to be split between two bow cleats? And the most important lesson from this recent storm, get the precious humans out of harm's way.
For a first hand description of the storm and photos please go to bottomdweller.weebly.com and thank you to Daniel Sipes for allowing us to publish the website address.
Kells Christian has been an accredited Marine Surveyor since 1990. His expertise extends to both recreational and commercial vessels. Kells was Regional Director of Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) for 2 years and a prominent member of numerous other industry organizations. You can e-mail your marine surveyor questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or Click Here to visit his web site.
Common Weather Sense
- By Richard Benscoter
If you are a West Coast boater you have no doubt read about, listened to, and most likely discussed the weather related tragedy at Avalon in December.
The Avalon incident reminds us that weather forecasting is not an exact science and is ever subject to rapid change, so it is important to use as much sound and prudent judgment as possible based on the weather facts on hand. In this article, I'll list some valuable weather information resources you should use before you next set sail.
To illustrate the point, on a recent trip from Puerto Vallarta to San Diego, we downloaded all the forecast weather maps and analyzed our route before departing, and we employed a professional weather router which provided routing for the first leg of our trip to Cabo San Lucas allowing for time to loiter a few days along the route for fishing.
Our analysis and routers analysis agreed that we had a good week weather window ahead. We departed Puerto Vallarta under clear blue sky which was the norm for the next two days.
During the night of the third day, winds began to build along with the seas. Sustained winds of 30 knots with gusts close to 40 and seas of 8 to 12 feet made the next eight hours of our trip unpleasant. Unforeseen and not forecasted, this gale came out of nowhere - lasted 8 hours - and was gone.
So if you don't already know about them, here are some resources to check not only before go, but as you go on your next cruise which will reduce the chances of getting caught in unforeseen weather incidents:
For Southern California Weather Via the Internet:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (www.nws.noaa.gov)
National Weather Service Marine Forecasts (www.weather.gov/marine)
Via Cell phone: http://mobile.weather.gov/#typeLocation
From Weather Buoys:
Surf Forecasts and Marine Weather: www.stormsurf.com
NOAA Weather Radio (continuous broadcasts) 162.400 MHz ,162.475 MHz ,162.550 MHz
Coast Guard Marine Selected frequencies within the Information Stations MF/HF marine bands: 2-20 MHz Coast Guard NAVTEX 518 kHz
Coast Guard VHF(Channel 22A) 157.1 MHz
Stations WWV and WWVH ,15 MHz, 20 MHz
About Wind conditions in Southern California:
Santa Ana Winds: Strong, extremely dry down-slope winds that originate inland and affect coastal Southern California and northern Baja California. Santa Ana winds blow mostly in autumn and winter, but can arise at other times of the year also and usually are proceeded by warnings.
Small Craft Advisory:
Observed or forecast winds of 18 to 33 knots - Small Craft Advisories may also be issued for hazardous sea conditions or lower wind speeds that may affect small craft operations. Issued up to 12 hours ahead of conditions. (There is no legal definition of the term "small craft".)
Observed or forecast winds of 34 to 47 knots.
Observed or forecast winds of 48 knots or greater.
Tropical Storm Warnings:
Observed or forecast winds of 34 to 63 knots associated with a tropical storm.
Hurricane / Typhoon Warning:
Observed or forecast winds of 64 knots or higher associated with a hurricane.
Special Marine Warning:
Observed or forecast winds of 34 knots or more associated with a squall or thunderstorm and expected to last for 2 hours or less.
See you on the water.
Editor's Note: Richard Benscoter is a long time avid sailor. He and his wife Debbie are both avid sailors and members of the Silver Gate Yacht Club and owner of the Mariners Woodshop. If you have a sailing question for Richard, send e-mail to richard@BlueSkyNews.com.