Shelter Cove Marina - October 2009 Newsletter
January 2015 - Marine eNewsletter
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Shelter Cove Marina
2240 Shelter Island Dr.
San Diego, Ca. 92106



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Happy New Year From the Marina Office!
Greetings Shelter Cove boaters - Here is your January 2015 marine newsletter.

Winter is here, so in this month's newsletter we have some boating tips and etiquette on a favorite Southern California activity - Whale Watching.

In the boating safety department, we cover three topics - the importance of using today's modern electronics to be "seen" by other vessels; some "sound" signals you should know; and a detailed explanation of the myth of the "Right of Way".

In the "interesting to know" department, we have a marine surveyor's explanation of displacement, weight, and tonnage.

Last, for those of you who are in the business of selling in the boating market, some thoughts on successful peddling!

We hope to see you down on the docks soon, and we wish you a happy and healthy new year.

The Staff at Shelter Cove Marina

Christian Marine Surveyors

A Primer on Displacement, Weight, and Tonnage
- By Kells Christian
Often I obtain boat weights from a Marine Travelift's operator, and usually it is more than the listing specification's displacement; I wonder why?

Researching the answer (on Wikipedia, WoodenBoat Forum, and other on-line sources) enlightened me on a few interesting boating terms and concepts.

At the root is Archimedes' Principle of displacement and buoyancy.

Displacement is the weight of the water a boat displaces when floating still. In other words, the weight of the water that would be spilled out of a completely filled container when a boat is placed in it.

Archimedes' Principle says that the weight of the boat is reduced by its volume, multiplied by the density of the fluid. If the weight of the object is less than this displaced quantity the object floats, if more, it sinks.

A boat will displace the same weight of fluid, regardless of the fluid, thus it will sit lower in fresh water than salt water because fresh water is less dense. Thus the weight of the hull, structure and everything inside is precisely the displacement. There are physics arguments about weight being matter under the acceleration of gravity, blah, blah, blah, and displacement being primarily about volume, (read – boring) but for the us common boaters –- forget about it, weight = displacement.

This concept only applies to boats afloat. When sunk, they only displace the volume of material in the boat, not the weight. Equal size cubes of aluminum and gold displace the same amount when sunk. (By the way, I solve sunken boat mysteries, and it's always the same cause, too much water on the inside.)

Ton is derived from "tun", a large wine barrel. Net Tonnage (NT) replaced Net Register Tonnage (NRT), which denoted a ship's revenue earning spaces in Register Tons, units of volume equal to 100 cubic feet. NT is a dimensionless index calculated from the volume of a ship's cargo spaces using a mathematical formula. Gross Tonnage (GT) is related to the ship's overall internal volume and is used to determine manning requirements, safety rules and fees.

Tonnage specifications have nothing to do with weight, so you can't calculate how much your boat weighs based on your U.S.C.G. Documentation's Gross Tonnage or Net Tonnage. It is these legal definitions that allow naval architects to design relatively large boats with relatively small crew requirements and to reduce expenses.

So why am I told boat weights that are more than published displacements? There is no standard for manufacturers' published displacement and a lighter boat is often considered better by the buying public. The weight of a boat on a travel lift's scale includes everything aboard, including equipment that has been added, personal effects, paint, varnish, spare parts, water and possibly absorbed water.

The scales are not required to be certified, are rarely calibrated, and are primarily used for balancing the load. About one third of the travel lift's scales I use are completely inoperative, but these scales are usually our only option, so if you have your boat pulled out, ask for and record the weight.

If a true weight is desired or required (as in competitive sailboat racing) we rent and use a load cell as the weighing device. A weighbridge or truck scale is also very accurate but the opportunity to use one is rare, if you have your boat transported overland, ask the trucker for the weight, it will be very accurate.

Now that we have cleared up weight, displacement and tonnage, how long do you think your boat is?

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 or Click Here to visit his web site.

A Note On the Importance of "Being Seen" at Sea
- By Richard Benscoter
One wonders how collisions can occur at sea in such a vast area. With all that room out there, how and why does it happen?

For smaller boats, many times the answer is that they are not "seen" by other oncoming vessels.

Many years ago, I was being trained in a bridge simulator where everything that could happen to you at sea could be simulated. One of the most vivid sessions I participated in involved simulated encounters with small sail and power boats.

Many of these boats are not very visible on radar and could easily be mistaken for sea clutter. This is because most small sail and power boats are made of fiberglass, and sit just a few feet off the water. Couple this with the normal wind waves of 2 to 3 feet prominent in southern California waters, and you realize that these boats do not present a very big reflective target if at all.

Larger ships of 300 gross tonnage and greater engaged on international voyages, cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage and greater not engaged on international voyages, and all passenger ships irrespective of size now "see" each other through the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which has been a requirement since 2005.

Similar to air traffic control, this great technology is used by ships and Vessel Traffic service (VTS) to identify ships and their movement. By use of VHF frequencies, ships transmit their GPS location, name, true heading, Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI), speed, rudder angle, and more information on a constant, automatic basis. It is the answer to "What is that ship doing?"

AIS is basically split into Class A, Class B, class A is required for commercial shipping as outlined above. Class B is basically the same system without all the bells and whistles, and is intended for the use of pleasure boats and other vessels not required to use Class A.

There are two distinct classes of AIS equipment. There is a transceiver that transmits your boat's data and receives other AIS equipped vessels data, and this can be displayed on your chart plotter, radar or computer.

Then there is also the AIS receiver that just receives AIS transmissions from other vessels, and displays that data on your chart plotter, radar, computer or on some of the newer VHF radio displays.

So with a AIS transceiver you can see and be seen; with an AIS receiver you can see but NOT be seen.

What you gain by installing a AIS transponder is this: sailing or motoring, at night or in restricted visibility, you can see the course and track of all AIS equipped vessels in the vicinity. If you are concerned about the proximity of one, you can 'highlight' them on your chart plotter or radar, and your AIS will tell you their course and speed, and if you are on possible collision course, and how long to that occurrence.

If you decide that you should communicate with the other vessel, AIS has provided the ships name, call-sign, MMSI so there can be no uncertainty as to whom you are calling on VHF. When you use their DSC number, the VHF rings like a phone on the bridge.

Of vital importance is the other AIS equipped vessels can "see you" on their radar screen or chart plotter and identify you. The other vessel can contact you, as your MMSI and name are displayed. If you call the officer of the watch on the approaching vessel, he/she knows which of perhaps several small boats displayed on his system you are.

In addition to being seen, AIS receives signals from Aids to Navigation (AtoN) mounted on buoys or other shipping hazards which continually transmit details of their ID and GPS location to AIS receivers. Dynamic data like weather, water temperature and current are also available from some AtoN.

AIS is one of the most important safety features and fastest growth areas in marine Navigation. Considering the cost for a Class B system can now be available for as low as $500.00, this may be a safety investment you want to make this year! For more information about AIS, here is a link to a U.S. Coast Guard "Frequently Asked Questions" page you'll find interesting.

Best for a safe and bountiful 2015, and I will "see" you on the water

Richard Benscoter
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

Rules of the Road - "Who Has the Right of Way?"
- By Captain H. G. "Rags" Laragione
Listening to conversations around the dock and yacht clubs, I often hear someone say "and I had the right of way". I would like to try to clear this up a bit, so here goes.

THERE IS NO RIGHT OF WAY - In the U.S. Coast Guard's official Rules of the Road, the term "Right of Way" is not used at all in International Rules, and is mentioned only once in Rule 9 of the Inland Waterways section, and only then in reference to operating in narrow channels or fairways on the Great Lakes or Western Rivers.

Rule 16 states "Action by the GIVE-WAY vessel; Every vessel which is directed to keep out of the way of another vessel shall, so far as possible, take early and substantial action to keep well clear."

This seems to be clear and simple - GIVE WAY! This can be accomplished by changing course or speed, or both.

Now, rule 17 is a bit more complex. "Action by the STAND-ON vessel; (a) (i) Where one of the two vessels is to keep out of the way, the other shall KEEP HER COURSE AND SPEED."

Still, simple and direct. Do not change your course or speed. This is so the GIVE-WAY vessel can take early and substantial action to keep well clear and avoid the collision.

The latter vessel may, however take action to avoid collision by HER MANEUVER ALONE as soon as it becomes apparent to her that the vessel required to keep out of the way IS NOT TAKING APPROPRIATE ACTION in compliance with these Rules.

So, if the STAND-ON VESSEL is concerned that the GIVE-WAY vessel is not taking appropriate action, then, the STAND-ON VESSEL may take action to keep clear.

This is a judgment call by the STAND ON vessel to be safe.

When, from any cause, the vessel required to keep her course and speed finds herself so close that collision CANNOT BE AVOIDED by the action of the GIVE-WAY vessel alone, she SHALL take such action as will best AID TO AVOID COLLISION.

This is where it gets interesting, it is at this point that the responsibility to "give way" changes! The STAND-ON vessel now
"SHALL" take such action as will best aid to AVOID COLLISION"

(D) This Rule DOES NOT relieve the GIVE-WAY vessel of her obligation to keep out of the way.

This is just Rule 16 and Rule 17, there are other rules that cover the regulations covering a collision. When two vessels collide, BOTH vessels have broken a number of the "Rules Of The Road".

Keep in mind that Annex V of the rules states:
"The operator of each self-propelled vessel 12 meters or more in length SHALL carry on board and maintain for ready reference a copy of the Inland Navigation Rules".

Not everyone knows or reads the rules and not everyone has had formal education in the Rules of the Road. Unfortunately some Sailboat Sailors wrongly assume that they have the RIGHT OF WAY over other vessels. There are videos on You Tube that show the results of this unfortunate belief. Rule 18 can explain who is Stand On in relation to different types of vessels.

The moral of the story - As a captain, you are never relieved of the burden to avoid a collision.

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!"

Whale Watching in Southern California - Boater Guidelines
- By Bob Sherman
Thar she blows! 'Tis the season for whale watching in Southern California. January, February and March are the peak months for the migration of the California Grey Whales, as they make their annual migration, into Mexican Waters.

However, it is important to take great care when witnessing this amazing spectacle. In fact, all skippers need to be especially vigilant this time of year, even if you are not "whale watching", especially when three miles or less offshore. I know one client who inadvertently struck a whale off Catalina.

If powerboating, it will be more comfortable and easier to locate whales in the calm morning hours. However, afternoon sailing is ideal because the lack of propeller noise is less disturbing to the whales. (Whales travel around 4 knots, so you may need to furl in the jib when following alongside.) The whales will be traveling parallel to the coastline, heading south/southeast. You may spot them as close as a mile offshore, up to 5 miles offshore.

Look for the characteristic "spout", which is a misty spray, lasting only a few seconds before it disappears. Keep everyone involved in the search. Watch for other boats that may be following a whale. If there are only a couple vessels, you might join them, but don't overwhelm a whale with a large group of boats. Better to find your "own" whales if you can.

Whales will usually spout three or four times, about a minute apart, before diving or "sounding" for 7-10 minutes. This is usually when you see the tail raised - have that camera ready! While waiting, hold your course and speed, but be looking 360 degrees for the whales when they surface. They often come up somewhere else.

Due to the increased popularity of whale watching, it is important that boaters use care and restraint, to avoid stressing or harming these magnificent creatures.

Guidelines for whale watching can be viewed online at In particular, look for the printable brochure entitled: "Be Whale Wise, Marine Wildlife Guidelines for Boaters, Paddlers and Viewers."

A summary of these guidelines follows:

  • Be cautious and courteous in your approach, to the whales and other boaters.

  • Slow down to 7 knots within 400 yards, and slower as you get within viewing distance.

  • Keep clear of the whale's path. If whales are approaching you directly, cautiously move out of the way. Avoid abrupt changes in course or speed.

  • DO NOT APPROACH whales from the front or behind. Come carefully in from the side, gradually turning to parallel their course. Remember, the whales are trying to avoid being hit by boats- they don't know what you are going to do. As the ocean water visibility is usually around 50 feet, they cannot see you - they only hear you.

  • Try not to approach closer than 100 yards to any whale. If you find yourself closer than 100 yards, put engines in neutral or turn and sail clear.

  • Limit your viewing time to 30 minutes for a particular whale or pod of whales - in consideration of the animals and other boaters.

When departing, do so at moderate speed until well clear. Good luck, and enjoy!

Editor's Note: Bob Sherman has over 20 years of Yacht sales experience and is the owner of YachtSource. He is also qualified to instruct on all vessel types, and has held 100-ton Captain's license since 1982. He is an avid sailor, and scuba diver. You can send an e-mail to Bob at

The Top 10 Rules of Selling
Whether it be selling your time, a product, a service, or trying to sell an idea, a good deal of selling is about enduring long periods of rejection with the confidence of knowing that if you shoot a thousand bullets, you're bound to eventually hit a few birds.

And nowhere is this more true than in the boating market. That said, here's the top 10 rules of selling:

1) Make sure you're talking to the person who can sign the order. Are you sure you know the answer to who that is? If you haven't asked; you may be wasting your time.

2) If you're not talking with somebody who can sign the order, is he/she passing your message to the person who can sign the order? You need to ask that question because if your message is blocked from reaching the decision-maker for any reason, you don't have a prospect.

3) Have you qualified the prospect? Don't waste your time with wishful thinking. Do they want it; need it; and can they afford it?

4) Have you adequately explained the benefits of what you're selling? Don't assume the prospect magically understands what you can do for them and why yours is better than the competition.

5) Have you overcome the prospect's objections? Don't even think about continuing on with your sales pitch if the prospect has told you he "doesn't think he wants to buy your widget because...". Overcome the objections; because a prospect doesn't hear anything else you're saying until you do.

6) Have you answered all of the prospect's questions? Did they ask you if your widget comes in chartreuse? Ignore questions at your peril.

7) Have you asked the prospect if there are any unanswered questions? If there are, repeat steps 5 and 6 over and over until you ask this question and they say, "No, I don't have any more questions."

8) Have you asked for the order? The minute number 7 is out of the way, that's the time to ask if there's any reason why the order couldn't be signed. This is when you'll find out if the prospect has been sandbagging some objections or still has some unanswered questions. If so, go back to step 6.

9) Have you made it easy to order? The prospect said he'd sign the order! Congratulations! Oooops -Did you forget to bring a pen? Did you forget to bring a contract? If a prospect has to do more than sign his or her name and write a check, you have not made it easy enough to order.

10) Is the money in the bank? It's not? Then have a quiet celebration and keep quiet about your sale until it is! There's a million things that can go wrong between getting an order and the check clearing the bank.

Happy hunting! Remember, money never goes away - it just changes hands. The salesperson's job is to find out who has it today!

Boating Tip of the Month - Some "Sound" Advice
If you are a California boater, the inland rules of the road prescribes these sound signals that you must know.

They are to be used for vessels in sight of each other to indicate the intended course of a vessel when necessary for safe navigation. They are as follows:

One short blast of the horn or whistle will show your intention to direct the course of your vessel to your own starboard (right).

Two short blasts will show your intention to direct the course of your vessel to your own port (left).

Three short blasts will indicate that your vessel's engines are going astern (in reverse).

Five or more short and rapid blasts is a danger signal used when the other vessel's intentions are not understood or where the other vessel's indicated course is dangerous. I Like
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