From the Marina Office
Hooray! Hooray! It's the Month of May! Here is your May 2015 Marina Newsletter.
This month, the staff and tenants would like to acknowledge and honor the 25 years of service that our Dockmaster / Office Manager Shaun McMahon has given to Shelter Cove Marina! On top of general management, Shaun was also responsible for overseeing the restoration of our marina flagship "Slipaway" and creating her own Boat, Bed and Breakfast company that operates at the marina and becomes more and more popular with each succeeding year. (She also owns and operates Travel Group International!) Additionally, Shaun is very active in the boating world - speaking at conferences, participating in the Port Tenants Association and Dockmasters groups, giving interviews to news stations re: local governmental regulations that affect the marinas, doing promotion at annual boat shows, etc. On a personal level, Shaun had aided many of the staff and tenants with her advice on natural remedies for their ailments - (perhaps a calling she will pursue in the future!) However, we're sure that Shaun would say that her "crowning achievement" in life is bearing and raising her now 13-year-old son, Ryan.
CONGRATULATIONS, Shaun, and we all wish you continued success over the NEXT 25 years - wherever life takes you!
In this month's issue, our contributing authors have concentrated mainly on the topic of navigation.
Richard Benscoter extols the benefits of the U.S. Coast Guard's new AIS Aids to Navigation (ATON) while Captain H.G. "Rags" Laragione ponders toungue-in-cheek the possible unintended consequences of same.
Also from Richard, a reminder to take advantage of NOAA's great free service to download the latest nautical charts and publications to keep your on board navigational information up to date.
Lastly, Bob Simons reminds boaters of the requirement to have the latest U.S. Coast Guard Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook on board.
We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter, and we look forward to seeing you at the marina.
The Staff at Shelter Cove Marina
AIS Aids to Navigation (ATON) Have Arrived
- By Richard Benscoter
We've come a long way from the days when aids to navigation consisted of your sextant and what you could see, smell and hear from the helm, and if you wanted to communicate with others while cruising, you needed to get your amateur radio operator's license and know how to flash or key messages in Morse Code - and transcribe received messages at 15 words a minute.
Those days, as well as Morse Code, are long gone. Today's modern technology and the U.S. Coast Guard's AIS (Automatic Information System) have brought new methods of communication and aids to navigation that could be only imagined in the past.
AIS technology is progressing by leaps and bounds and as the advantages of this technology emerges it is and will continue to change the way we navigate our coastal waters.
Here are some of today's AIS aids to navigation:
- Provide identification of the aids to navigation in all weather conditions
- Transmit accurate positions of floating aids to navigation (buoys, etc.)
- Indicate if a floating aid to navigation is off position
- Mark or delineate tracks, routes, areas and limits (for example, areas to be avoided and TSS)
- Mark offshore structures (for example, wind turbines, wave and tidal energy devices, oil and gas platforms)
- Provide weather, tidal and sea state data
- Provide additional aids to navigation capability through use of virtual AIS aids to navigation where installation of physical aids to navigation are located.
- Provide an accurate position for fixed aid to navigation which acts as reference targets for verifying radar
Three are three variants of the new "AIS ATON"
- Real AIS ATON: An AIS signal is transmitted from a physical aid to navigation.
- Synthetic AIS ATON: Signal is from an AIS base station from another location, but broadcasts the AIS ATON where a physical AID exists.
- Virtual AIS ATON: These are "virtual" buoys that do not physically exist and are visible only on radar, computer, or ECDIS.
So with the this technology emerging as fast as it is, Click Here to check with the NOAA web site to see more information on AIS ATON and a depiction of how these different ATONs will show up on paper and electronic charts.
Also you might want to download the latest US chart Number 1 which describes Symbols, Abbreviations and Terms used on Paper and Electronic Navigational Charts.
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.
Smart Phone "App" Will Get You Home When Your Boat Won't
When your boat breaks down on the water or runs out of gas, calling for an on-the-water tow is simple. The hard part often is being able to tell someone precisely where to find you.
To solve that problem, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) offers a smart phone "App" that helps you call for a tow in a hurry, and also adds helpful location and tracking features just for boaters, sailors and anglers.
And you don't have to be a BoatUS or BoatUS Angler member to download the free App.
The moment you hit the App's "Call Now for a Tow" button, it automatically provides BoatUS with critical information before their crew even answers the phone."
Available for iPhones and Android phones - Click Here to get the App. Once uploaded to your smart phone and information is entered, the App is ready to go and gives you three choices: Call Now for a Tow, Share Your Location, and the BoatUS Directory.
Some Thoughts About the New Virtual Aids to Navigation
- By Captain H. G. "Rags" Laragione
The day will come when all vessels of all sizes that ply the earth's waters will be required to be part of a world wide navigation network, much like the ATC of the skies.
We can already witnessing the infancy of that with things like the U.S. Coast Guard's AIS (Automatic Information System).
But I imagine until everybody is required to have the same equipment on board to participate in these systems, there will probably be a tough learning curve, and maybe even some unintended consequences.
Take the concept of the "Virtual" Buoy for example. It's not really there. It's just a symbol on an electronic or paper chart. There's no clanging bell or light to see - and what will the seals and sea lions think of them? Will they claim virtual buoys are harming the environment by depriving them of their habitat?
And what if a whole bunch of navigators head for the same virtual buoy at the same time to see for themselves and their guests if there's nothing really there? Two vessels trying to occupy the same space at the same time is called a collision.
Also, what if the virtual buoy got sick and the Coast Guard put back a real buoy in its spot until it got better but nobody remembered to change the symbol on the electronic chart. That could be a huge disappointment to somebody expecting nothing to be there.
I think until all this gets sorted out, the best solution is for all of us to remember U.S. Coast Guard Rule Number 5.
"Lookout - Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of 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!"
Updated USCG Handbook Required on Board Your Boat?
- By Bob Simons - U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Did you know? ... In August 2014 the U.S. Coast Guard published an updated version of the Navigation Rules and Regulations Handbook which replaces all other previous editions.
If your vessel is 12 meters (39 feet) or longer, you are required to have this new Handbook on board at all times.
For more information about the changes in the new Handbook or to download a free copy, Click Here.
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
It's Easy and Free to Keep Your Electronic Nautical Charts Up To Date.
- Courtesy of Richard Benscoter
Did you know that the NOAA Office of Coast Survey provides a multitude of vital navigation materials and charts in digital format? - for free!
NOAA maintains the nation's nautical charts and publications for U.S. coasts and the Great Lakes. Over a thousand charts are updated weekly and cover 95,000 miles of shoreline and 3.4 million square nautical miles of waters
What's new and very useful and printable at home is an Experimental Booklet Chart These charts are divided into standard pages with a cover page index. The booklet chart for San Diego Bay, chart 18773, is 23 pages in length and fits nicely in a three ring binder.
All the navigation publications which would take up volumes of space in their printed format are also all available in a digital format including chart 1 coastal pilot and all the charts for the East Coast and West Coast - and they are all available in digital format so you can download just what you need.
The format of charts available for download are Raster Charts which your traditional charts are still printed from, and NOAA Electronic Navigational Charts® (ENC), which support all types of marine navigation systems.
NOAA ENC charts complies with International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations and can be used with Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) as an alternative to paper navigation charts.
So with a laptop computer; a navigation program; and a GPS antenna and software, you have a trip planner; an upload tool to most on board GPS units; and a second Chart plotter that is as current as the chart you just down loaded - all for less than two hundred dollars.
NOAA has provided several links from their Chart download site to manufacturers of navigation software programs that provide free demonstration software. I'm still working through the list, but some of the programs are very cool and can be licensed to your laptop for less than a hundred dollars.
Yes there is an "app" for that. If you have one of the new iPhones it can be turned into a GPS plotter for less then fifty dollars for the application, and it also uses NOAA charts. If your vessel uses WiFi exchange of NEMA data between instruments, the iPhone can be a repeater of your vessels navigation system.
So you need to know the weather forecast? Well, we can if we have the GRIB (WMO format for gridded data) weather capable navigation program. These files are downloaded from NOAA server, must have an internet connection, and are updated hourly and provide a visual synoptic weather charts for your region.
If you have a HF marine radio with email capability, you can access the NOAA server and receive GRIB data. Click Here for a PDF of the instructions.
There's a lot of free material to make your summer boating trip a safe and rewarding adventure, so when you get a chance, take a few minutes and go to the NOAA site and explore what is available.