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



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Question: You Just Bought a Megayacht - Do You Need a License to Drive It?"
- By Capt. H. G. "Rags" Laragione
We got an email at the Maritime Institute the other day from a man who simply asked, "I just purchased an 80 foot motoryacht - Do I have to have a license to drive it?"

It's the kind of question that sort of knocks you off your feet, because I'm still in amazement that the answer to that question, in California at least, is "not necessarily".

The fact is, his yacht could even be a 150 ft long and he still wouldn't need a license to drive it as long as it's less than 200 gross tons; he's not taking passengers for hire; it's a private boat; and it's a U.S. Documented vessel".

One would hope that this person does get the training he needs before backing out of the docks, but he may not have to.

As long as I'm pontificating, another thing that amazes me is that under current regulations, it is technically possible for someone to obtain a Captain's License to drive a vessel less than 100 Gross Ton without ever having owned, operated, or even ever been in the wheelhouse of a vessel.

This could happen for example if the person passes all the required courses for the license, but has the required amount of "sea time" consisting solely of time while serving as a deck hand. (This person could be driving that 99 ton dinner cruise boat with 200 passengers on board).

Ah well - on the good news side of things, California's Governor Brown just signed a boater safety bill last month requiring all recreational boaters to be in possession of a Vessel Operator Card, and pass a safety course including some knowledge of the Rules of the Road.

All things to ponder the next time you're out on the water.

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!"

The "Prop"-er Way to Look At It
It's a boat trivia subject that few people think about.

Do the prop(s) on your boat turn clockwise or counter clockwise - and does it make any difference

The answer is "yes", it makes a big difference because prop rotation has a significant effect on how a boat maneuvers, especially when reversing.

When you look at a prop from the aft looking forward, you'll be able to quickly deduce from the beveling of the blades as to which direction it would need to rotate in order to "push" water at you when driving the boat forward.

Those that turn clockwise are called "right-handed" props, and those that rotate counter clockwise are called "left handed".

Most single screw boats have right-handed props, and twin screw boats almost always have the tops of the blades spinning outward for best maneuverability.

And now you know - but do you know which direction the props on your boat spin? Don't be too sure - you can't necessarily tell by looking at the engine because the transmission on your boat may reverse the spin, so look at the shaft and coupling aft of the transmission while you're moving forward - if it's spinning clockwise, there's a right-handed prop on the end.

For more information on how props work, here's a link to a cool website we found.

Christian Marine Surveyors

A Good Reason for a Survey Part 2 - Fiberglass Laminate Issues
- By Kells Christian
In an earlier article (available on our web site entitled "Why We Tap", we talked about the reasons that surveyors tap on, or percussion test boats.

Primarily, percussion testing is used on fiberglass vessels, both single skin (solid) and composite (cored) laminates.

Many times we find small innocuous problems such as voids in the deck, but occasionally percussion testing reveals a more significant condition.

During a recent pre-purchase inspection of a 50' luxury sportfisherman an anomaly was found during percussion testing. Initial tapping was done with a plastic/phenolic hammer (less cosmetic damage) and after an anomaly (different sound) was detected, a metal hammer (more definitive sound) was used to confirm the finding.

The area was on the starboard hull bottom and was approximately 3' in diameter. The area sounded different than the rest of the hull bottom and subsequently we noted that it would flex with manual pressure applied.

The broker attended but neither the buyer nor seller were present during the survey. We requested that the fiberglass expert from the boat yard have a look at this problem while the vessel was hauled. Breathing air and standing on the ground makes this job easier.

An agreement was reached between buyer and seller and a week later the potential buyer asked that we monitor the repair. The boat yard began by removing a coupon of the laminate with a hole saw. In this area the external fiberglass skin was not attached to the foam core, but the foam core was attached to the internal fiberglass skin. A few cuts later and the "never bonded' external skin was removed, leaving foam core exposed over a 3' x 5' rectangular area. No water was found in this area.

Three layers of a modern laminate were applied using a vacuum bag and several days later the hull bottom internally and externally percussion tested normally.

Not all surveyors perform percussion tests. Most of the time the entire boat is not percussion tested, i.e. the upper portion of the hull sides that are inaccessible without moving a ladder slowly around the boat. We usually tap out the deck and bottom and the hull sides we can reach, but we certainly don't tap every square inch. In this instance we performed our normal inspection and fortunately found this problem area.

I wouldn't go so far as to use the cliché about the blind squirrel (who sometimes finds a nut), but luck is a useful tool in this surveyor's bag.

Part 1 of this article appeared in the September issue of the Bay Club Marina newsletter. If you would like to read Part 1 Click Here.

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.

From the Marina Office!
As expected, the marina is near capacity with Baja Ha-Ha travelers. We are enjoying the diverse personalities (and accents!) of our guests as they expound upon their boating journeys.

We are excited about the new Harbor Police "iWatch My Bay" program, which is a collaborative community effort to keep our marinas and bay safe from potential threats.

Marina tenants and community members at large are encouraged to use direct lines of communication to report suspicious activities: Call 619.686.6272 or e-mail to report non-emergency situations.

With the annual winds of October arriving a bit early this year, be sure to tighten up your dock lines, check the seals on your hatches and start preparing for the cooler nights and erratic weather.

One last note... Spiny Lobster season is here! Don't forget to purchase your lobster report cards - (kids need them, too.)

Have a safe and happy Halloween!!

The Staff at Shelter Cove Marina

Teaching Old (Sea) Dogs New Tricks
- By Richard Benscoter
If you have sailed in races or cruised from one harbor to another, there is always those people who are at the finish line first and already tied up when you arrive. It is uncanny how this seems to occur. I was one of those people not first but not last just in the middle.

I wondered - what did they do different than I did? When I looked back, they would tack before and sometimes after I did, but their distance and speed to a point was always better than mine.

It is my opinion they had a better read on all the variables that get you to the final destination ahead of the pack. There are many variables to consider from point A to B - wind, current, speed and boat performance - all these wrapped up into one package is a extreme advantage. Many sailors can see, feel and scrutinize all these factors at once and make the right moves at the right times that sets them apart from the pack.

Well this Old Dog has a new trick! It's call SailTimer, an APP on my iPad. Having a Sailboat I tack back and forth to my destination, which affects the distance and the time to that destination. But even the my new chart plotter doesn't know how far my tacking route is, so it cannot calculate my time to destination.

The SailTimer app solves this problem - It provides an instant display of my optimal tacking route, distance and tacking time to Destination (A trademark to SailTimer and new acronym to learn TTD).

This app also learns my boats performance characteristics, provides more precise tacking results, and the more you use it the better it gets.

SailTimer calculates your most optimum tacks based on your tacking distances, and displays them as a chart overlay. Simply enter wind direction and speed and your destination, and you get the best possible tacking angles. As the wind direction and speed change just update these parameters and revised tracking angle is laid out.

If there is a drawback to this app it is a power hog as it uses the internal GPS of my iPad and the app once open never sleeps. The other consideration, like all new toys, you can add a wireless anemometer that will automatically feed the wind speed and direction to your iPad, but if you already have wireless instruments, it can tap into their data.

Richard BenscoterEditor'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

Tommy J's Favorites - The RACOR Duplex Fuel Filtration System
- By Tom Jarvis
RACOR is well known in the boating industry for producing outstanding fuel, air, and oil filtration products designed to protect and provide the best possible performance for your marine engine and or generator.

Over my years of experience on the water boating, whether it has been on sail boats or power boats, I have always observed what other people do to ensure their boating experience is fun and safe. As I have worked in the maritime industry in different capacities over the past 24 years, including boat yard repair, painting, refit, and sales for manufactures and distributors, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best in their field of marine craftsmanship as well as attending manufactures' training programs.

This experience has provided me with insight to what does work and does not work as well or at all for providing a safe boating experience on the water. I am still learning and still seeking to acquire more knowledge in this area. So, I wanted to share this observation about RACOR Turbine Series Filtration.

The Turbine Series Filtration from RACOR provides the most reliable protection one can install in the engine room. The Marine Duplex Unit includes a stainless steel shield in order to meet ASTM FS 1201 certification (protection from engine room fire) powdered coated with UL-listed label, a vacuum gauge, Parker ball valve, and the genuine Aquabloc filters.

In rough seas the fuel can become contaminated from the asphaltenes, water, gums, algae, varnishes, and/or small particles of dirt in the fuel tank as the boat is bounced around in the water. Many boat owners have a RACOR Marine Turbine Fuel Filter that is a single unit like the model 500MA, 900MA, or the 1000MA.

This is a one unit filter on line. When fuel is contaminated and you have to change the filter, the boater must turn off the engine, change the filter, prime the RACOR single unit with fresh fuel, and then start the engine. This can be time consuming and at times it may happen when the boater may be putting himself in harms way.

A friend of mine recently shared a story that motivated me to write this article. He was on his way back from a cruise to the Coronado Islands entering San Diego Bay when his single unit RACOR filter was contaminated and he had to change the filter. He followed the sequence as described above, he was in the engine room and he repeatedly attempted to start the engine and it would not start.

Meanwhile the boat was drifting closer to the rocks on Point Loma. He finally started his engine just in time before he may have lost his boat on the rocks.

The RACOR Duplex Filtration allows the boater to simply turn the Parker ball valve handle if there is a need to change the filter and keep cruising without turning off the engine. It is worth every penny to make this simple change on your boat if you do not have the Duplex System. The following models are available from RACOR: 75500MAX, 75900MAX, and the 751000MAX.

This is one really important upgrade to make on your boat. You can also add a water detection module to this set up and it will alert you when it is time to change the filter.

You can go to and research their entire product line. For Marine go to Products and click on that, then to Marine Filtration, then to Cartridge Type Fuel Filter Assemblies, then to Turbine Series, then scroll down to Support and click on Sales & Marketing Bulletins/Brochures (4), finally click on Racor Fuel Filtration 7501 .PDF. The RACOR catalog for Marine will appear, it is very informative and it is 38 pages long. (Just trying to save you time navigating through their website.)

Editor's Note: Tom Jarvis is the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the SuperYacht Association and he also performs outside Marketing and Sales for the San Diego Marine Exchange. Click Here to email your boating product questions to Tom.

California Governor Brown signs Boater Safety Education Bill
California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law last Thursday a bill designed to increase the safety of California waterways by requiring boaters to pass a safety course and obtain a vessel operator card.

The new law requires that boat operators pass a boating education examination and obtain a vessel operator card issued by the state Division of Boating and Waterways in order to operate a boat in California that is propelled by an engine.

The law is modeled on legislation that the Recreational Boaters of California previously sponsored. The new measure requires the state agency to issue a vessel operator card to people who have passed an approved examination.

The requirement to obtain a vessel operator card initially will apply to operators 20 years old or younger, with a phased-in implementation date, depending on the age of the boater. The seven-year phase-in will begin in 2018 and will apply to everyone as of 2025. I Like
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