From the Marina Office!
Greetings Shelter Cove Marina mariners - Here is your March 2015 newsletter.
In this issue, Bob Simons points out the potential hazard of flare guns to children; Bob Sherman poses the question "Is it time to sell your boat"; Kells Christian waxes philosophic about the romance of boating while writing his monthly column during breakfast in the exotic Philippines; and Richard Benscoter talks about being prepared to handle emergencies at sea.
In the precautionary safety category, we profile some useful tools for filing a "float plan."
Last, but not least, if you haven't seen it, we have included a YouTube link to an insane lighthouse shift change video in France that will inspire every skipper.
We hope you have a great boating month in March, and we look forward to seeing you at the marina.
That "Sinking" Feeling
A call at 4:00am is never good. I recently received a call from an apologetic tenant who wanted to report that a fellow tenant's boat was listing and the bilge pumps didn't appear to be working. (What a great community we have here at Shelter Cove - always looking out for each other!)
After my groggy brain kicked into gear, I was able to obtain the boat owner's phone number and give him a call. Unfortunately, he was out to sea fishing and wouldn't be able to get back for several hours, by which time it appeared his boat would be at the bottom of the harbor basin!
In the end, all worked out well; however, there were some important lessons to be learned from this recent incident...
1) Companies that provide vessel assistance for sinking boats charge $2700 if the boat is tied up to a dock rather than out at sea.
2) Tenants should regularly check their power connections to make sure their boat batteries are charging and should never ignore "warning signs" of problems with their bilge pumps.
3) Emergency contact information should be kept current with your marina (and the contact person should be available and willing to be awakened at 4:00am and go "to the rescue" on your behalf)
That's it for us this month - We hope to see you down on the docks soon, and we wish you happy March boating.
The Staff at Shelter Cove Marina
Task Completion Satisfaction and the Joys of Boating
- By Kells Christian
"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." is the only thing I have ever read by Scottish novelist Kenneth Grahame, but how profound. If you are reading this, perhaps you agree.
I recently inspected a 1960s era wooden power vessel being purchased by a young couple from a young couple. "Young", by the way, is getting older every day. I find sharing experience and knowledge of boats deeply rewarding.
Being allowed to assist in this particular transaction, interacting with these hopeful and energetic souls and experience their mutual joy was profoundly rewarding in a Kenneth Grahame way. I was filled with satisfaction and appreciation and smiled as I walked out of the wood boat yard, at the end of the row of boatyards, and carried my tools the short distance to my car.
Perhaps its maturity, but after 25 years of messing about in boats (as a marine surveyor), I love my job and am eternally grateful for opportunities like that one.
In the past few years I have been involved in two "refit projects" simultaneously. One is a San Diego built wooden 38' sailboat and one is a Japanese built steel 45 meter motor vessel. The sailboat is being refit to be structurally sound and suitable as a live aboard; the motor vessel is being refit from a commercial boat to an exploration yacht. Hugely different projects but at their core they are the same.
The meetings with the owners concern things like the ability to accomplish passages safely, have accommodations that make the most of the available space, and toys that maximize the fun while aboard. I love brainstorming with the owners about their ideas, both conservative and wild, especially when we can make the wild ones come true.
While the passages may be different, one to Catalina and one across the Pacific, the passion for adventure is the same. The accommodation considerations varied from a larger head with a real door to a choice between four or five guest cabins, they both involved give and take and some amount of marine prognostication.
The tender choices ranged from either a rowing, sailing or combination dinghy for the sailboat to a choice between a diesel outdrive or a gasoline jet drive as the third tender for the expedition yacht; we all knew how much fun was going to be had on the little (relatively speaking) boats.
Working on boats, being on and in and near the water is a way of life and a calling. Perhaps some of us truly are "of water" and feel comforted by being close to and involved with it.
Water is an essential element in many spiritual systems from Pagans to Native Americans to Taoism. It is said that water is the strongest element as it can flow around obstacles without changing its nature. And water seems to be one of the sources of harmony with boaters.
The completion of boating tasks, from choosing a boat's name, to replacing a water pump impeller to larger varnish and paint project brings task completion satisfaction akin to home projects but with a bit more romance. The joy that accompanies the clanking of wine glasses after the brushes are clean or the mooring lines are set is somehow deepened by the sea.
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.
Whatever "Floats" Your Boat
It's only common sense - The search for an overdue boat has a much greater chance of being successful if the U. S. Coast Guard or other rescue agencies have certain facts.
For your own safety and before boating, file a float plan with a reliable person who will notify authorities if you're overdue.
The California Division of Boating and Waterways has provided a printable float plan form and checklist as a courtesy to boaters.
For iPhone, iPad and Android users, Big Tuna has a Float Plan "App" to download.
Remember that these float plans are not a definitive list of everything that may be required for safe boating on any particular boat or boating excursion. Knowing what is required is the responsibility of each individual boater.
Think You're an Expert Skipper?
If you haven't seen it, here's a YouTube link to an insane lighthouse shift change video in France that has gone viral that will inspire every boat captain to greater achievement.
Marine VHF Radio 101 For New Boaters
If you are a new recreational boater, here are a few tips about the channels on your VHF marine radio that you will find useful. First and foremost, when you're cruising, you should always have your radio turned on and set to monitor channel 16.
Channel 16 is the boater's "window to the world". It's priority use is for calling in emergencies and distress safety communications to the Coast Guard, but when it's quiet, Channel 16 is also the channel you can use to get the attention of another vessel or station (such as a specific marina).
There are some strict rules here as to how often you can continue to hail another station on Channel 16, but if you use common sense, a time or two will let you know whether your party is on-line and likely to respond. A lack of common sense will bring you a verbal reprimand from the Coast Guard.
If you do get a response from the party you are hailing on Channel 16, the object of the game is to agree on another channel that you can both immediately switch to continue your communication.
As time goes by, you'll get the hang of which channels the local fishermen, commercial traffic, and casual boaters use to communicate, and which are most comfortable and appropriate for you to use.
In the meantime, here is a link to a FCC chart that we recommend you print out to keep handy by your marine radio. It's interesting information, and it demystifies the marine radio channel protocol in a simplified manner.
Do Your Children Have Access to a Loaded Gun on Your Boat? Are You Sure?
- By Bob Simons
Many boaters who would not be caught dead having a loaded gun and ammunition laying around at home don't think twice about that loaded flare-gun within easy reach in case of an emergency.
The fact is, that flare-gun your kids could have access to on your boat can be a weapon as deadly as a shotgun. (Check out this YouTube Video if you want to see a graphic demonstration of the dangers of a flare-gun.)
Unfortunately, it's a weapon that you cannot legally secure on your boat, because U. S. Coast Guard regulations mandate that the "emergency signals" be "readily accessible." That means that they may not be locked in a container or locker.
In San Diego, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts a free "About Boating Safely" class on the second Saturday of every month at Hipp Marine, and at a recent session I had a very precocious young man (about 10 years old) that showed interest in my presentation of Safety equipment.
To make a point, when I discussed how the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary inspects a flare gun, I handed him the flare gun and asked him to show me how it worked. He immediately took the gun, opened it properly, inserted a shotgun shell (aerial flare) and was ready to cock the gun. The shell was not real, but the point was made to the other students, all adults, that this could have been a very dangerous situation.
If you have your children or guests with children aboard your boat occasionally, you should consider switching to a safe "Electric Distress Signal" that meets Coast Guard requirements in 46 CFR 161.013 as your nighttime distress signal, instead of a Flare Gun or Pyrotechnic flare!
This type of SAFE signal, combined with an Orange Distress Flag that meets Coast Guard requirements in 46 CFR 160.072 for daytime signals, is all you need. A bonus of these electric signals is that the SOS Electric Distress Signal and the 3 X 3 orange flag do not have 3 year expiration dates, and also you do not have to periodically safely dispose of them like you do with pyrotechnics.
Bob Simons has been in the Coast Guard Auxiliary for thirty years and owns a sailboat as well as a powerboat. He teaches classes in Boating Safety & Seamanship as well as Basic and Advanced Coastal Navigation. Bob is also the co-owner of Seabreeze Books and Charts
When the Need Arises
- By Richard Benscoter
As spring approaches, we boaters begin planning and firming up those offshore trips we want to make with family and friends. Your trip may just be to Catalina or the Channel Islands, but during these trips you will be on your own, so if something happens - a fall, cut, burn or chest pains - will you be prepared?
Boating is a leisure activity that as your skills and confidence increase, your destinations expand from the bay, to near offshore, to blue water cruising. As your trips become longer with more at sea time, you may want to consider expanding your skills to cope with medical emergencies - i.e., be able to administer emergency aid or treatment to someone injured, suddenly ill, etc., before regular medical services arrive or can be reached.
Training: There are a wide range of first aid courses available in San Diego that range from basic first aid to advanced EMT training. Assess how long you could be without professional medical care, and acquire the proper medical training for that period.
Medical Kit: These kits are many and varied. They range from home first aid kits available at your local drug store, to complex EMT kits. The kit should fit your training and the planned days of blue water cruising.
Communication: This is the most important part of receiving aid at sea. Remember once off shore, cell phones do not work! Within 25 miles and line of site, VHF radio is your primary contact for assistance. Make sure you have a registered MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identity) number and it is entered into your radio. For information on MMSI registration Click Here.
If your plans are for extended blue water sailing or down the Baja coast you may want to seriously consider a marine HF radio with DSC and a satellite phone.
Assistance: When assistance is needed, the US Coast Guard will coordinate that assistance. The Coast Guard works on a defined set of procedures - To see these procedures, Click Here. I would recommend that you print these procedures and keep them on your vessel.
Library: There are many books available to guide you through medical emergencies at sea. One of these books should be part of your onboard library.
Know your crew: If you are going offshore for an extended time, know your crew's medical history and medication requirements. This will help you plan for items that may be needed in your medical kit. Recognize and address sea sickness, hypothermia, dehydration and fatigue in the earliest stages.
No one wants to deal with a medical emergency at sea but, the better prepared you are the better the outcome. 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.
Playing "The Price is Right" - Again! Time to Sell Your Boat?
- By Bob Sherman
Yacht Brokers around the country, and particularly here in Southern California, are experiencing the greatest "shortage of listing inventory" that I have seen in my 28 years as a Broker. It seems that the "Great Recession", which went on for several years, had a greater effect than the "luxury tax" debacle of 1990. The luxury tax actually only lasted one year, but the effects were felt for many years. We have a similar scenario unfolding today.
In 1990 there was a 10% luxury tax on any boat purchase over $100K ... on top of sales tax. Many potential buyers perceived that the tax included all boats, new or used, of any value. The result was that new boat sales came to a standstill, Brokerage sales faltered, and many manufacturers and dealers were forced out of business. Few new boats were sold in the early 90s.
By the mid-to late 1990s, there was a shortage of "near new" boats for sale. Buyers of "slightly used" boats had the choice of very expensive new boats, or considerably older boats. Soon it became a Seller's market for late-model boat owners. This, in turn, helped older boats hold their values as well. We sometimes saw boats being re-sold for higher prices after owners kept them for a couple of years. While no one has a crystal ball, it appears we are in a similar cycle once again.
The stock market crash of 2008 brought an immediate 20% drop in most boat values. New boat dealers were forced to sell at or below, cost, devastating the late-model brokerage market over the next year. While the stock market and real estate gradually recovered, boat prices actually continued slide through 2012. Prices started to stabilize in 2013, and by 2014 new boat sales were robust, and some brokerage boats were selling for higher prices than they did a year before.
During the recession you had to give a boat away at a bargain price. Today, demand is high a supply is low. New boat prices are jaw-dropping, making Brokerage boats a better value than ever. Buyers are willing to pay a fair price for a nice boat. There is a true shortage of quality listings. We are seeing more frequent "multiple offer" situations, and selling prices are generally holding or even increasing. A clean, well maintained boat will not be on the market for long, and will sell for a fair price.
The economy is strong, the stock market is at an all-time high, and interest rates are still incredibly low. Consumer confidence is high and unemployment is low. There was a surge of Yacht Brokerage activity in 2014, and so far, 2015 is on track for a repeat. If you have been waiting for the right time to put your boat on the market ... perhaps it's time to contact your favorite Yacht Broker for a market analysis on your particular boat.
Editor's Note: Bob Sherman has over 20 years of Yacht sales experience and is the owner of Yacht-Source. 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 email@example.com.