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Celestial Navigation 101: Sailors Always Knew…

By Vincent Pica, ommodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Going back centuries, journals of seafarers are peppered with language indicating that they knew the Earth was round.  “In the offing” meant, and means today, the waters you can see from where you are to the horizon.  “Ahoy, captain, vessel off the starboard bow! Hull down, sir,” might yell the lookout from the crow’s nest aloft. This meant that all he could see from his vantage point were the sails – the ship’s hull was still below the horizon. So, “round has been around” (pun intended) for thousands of years. How many thousands? About 22 centuries before the epic confrontation between Galileo and the medieval Church, Phoenician sailors circumnavigated Africa, sailing down the east coast and back up the western shores, through the “Pillars of Hercules” at Gibraltar and back to Egypt, to report to the Pharaoh that, indeed, the world must be round.  

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Hard Aground! Now What?!

By Vincent Pica
Commodore, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

When I teach seamanship courses to private boaters on the south shore of Long Island, I note that, if you boat in our local waters and have never run aground, you’re lying. Even USCG regulars have been known to “touch bottom” at times in these waters… I also note that God left a lot of sand on the south shore and not so much water – and plenty of water on the north shore/Long Island Sound but lots of rocks… So, the issue is not if you run aground but what you do afterwards.

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Hurricanes May Miss Us - HOWEVER They Leave Deadly Rip Tides

By Vincent Pica, Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Rip tides

Hurricane season is in gear. This column is about rip tides, rip currents and undertows – which are what distant storms often leave us. Lest one of us comes to grief…

Courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant College Program

 

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Gentlemen (and Ladies)! Start Your Engines!

By Vincent Pica, Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Back in the fall, we talked about how to get the boat ready for a long, cold winter. Time and tide is now on our side. So, before you start your engines, ready the boat!

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The Personal Locator Beacon – It Locates You!

By Vincent Pica, Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Personal locator beaconWhen the perfectly calm day sneaks up on you while you are daydreaming and turns into a snarly, life-stealing beast, all your training rushes to the front of the “screen.” But sometimes, all your skill isn’t going to get you home. And sometimes the boat itself is what betrays you as she threatens to slip away beneath you. You are going to be hard to find – unless you are sending a personal signal to the satellite that will call the U.S. Coast Guard for you. This column is about that.

This pocket-sized device just might save your life.   © acrartex.com

 

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What?! How Small a Wave Can Capsize My Boat?!

By Vincent Pica, Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Certainly, tragedies abound that point to the urgent need for more understanding by boat captains about the forces of capsizing. There is a tremendous amount of data on “righting moments,” centers of buoyancy and gravity, thanks to the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard, amongst many institutions that literally live and die by these metrics. 

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The Good Samaritan – Safety of Life at Sea

By Vincent Pica, Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Any school child knows, or at least believes, if you see a person or boat in distress on the water, the “law of the sea” demands that you render assistance.  Simple human decency would require no less and, from time immemorial, this has been law of the sea. But we live in a modern and litigious world… Having just come upon a number this patrol season where USCGAux 251384 provided assistance to a disabled vessel, it occurred to me that we ought to refresh this information. So, what are the facts?

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Safety on the Ice – Barely and Very Carefully

By Vincent Pica, Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Here’s how the story goes. In the dead of winter, two duck hunters and their trusty hunting dog drive their brand-new Range Rover out on to the ice of (choose: _______ [a] Long Island Sound, [b] Moriches Bay, [c] Shinnecock Bay, [d] Great South Bay, [e] body of water of your choice) and, seeing that there are no open leads to entice migratory birds to land, take out a stick of dynamite, light it and throw it as far out on the ice as they can. The plan is simple. The dynamite blows a substantial hole in the ice; they get back in the car and run the heater until the migratory birds arrive. They step out with their shotguns full of birdshot and bag much of the flock.

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Winterizing – Now or Later, It Has To Be Done

by VINCENT PICA - COMMODORE, FIRST DISTRICT, SOUTHERN REGION (D1SR) - UNITED STATES COAST GUARD AUXILIARY

Winterizing – Now or Later, It Has To Be Done

The arrival of November is a reminder that many months of kindly weather are behind us and many months of dark, cold and dreary weather are ahead of us. Even if you hand off your boat to your dockmaster and say, “See you in the spring,” there are some tips in here that you will want to be aware of. This column is about that.

 

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Hunkering Down: Hurricanes

By Vincent Pica, Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused catastrophic damage in parts of Texas, Louisiana and Florida with the latter. This is a grim reminder that we are not immune. Almost without exception, we get the tail, shoulder or rump of one or two of the dozen or so that form up in the Atlantic between Africa and the Caribbean and bring so much destruction and misery with them as they thunder west and north…and the 2017 Hurricane season runs to November 30. In the Northeast, we live on or around the sea. This column is about that.

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Click here to download WindCheck's November/December 2018 issue. (File is 5MB)

 

WindCheck October 2018

Click here to download WindCheck's October 2018 issue. (File is 5MB)