Vineyard Race

Calling Dr. Skipper, Calling Dr. Skipper – The Onboard Medical Kit

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

About 35 years ago, while trying to sail out of Hurricane Alberto’s way in the North Atlantic, a rogue wave hit us and I went airborne. Catching the side of my head on a brass runner, I managed not to be thrown below at a high rate of speed. Of course, it didn’t do wonders for the side of my head. I was crewing with a new captain for the first time and, when the Chief Medical Officer Marty Boorstein grabbed the scotch because there was no alcohol in the medical kit, I started to worry that more was at work here than Alberto. This column is about the advances since…

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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 tidesWe read often about hurricanes, great and small. Of note, forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which five to nine could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including two to four major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher) for this season. An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

Courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant College Program

The 2016 season was the most active since 2012, with 15 named storms, including seven hurricanes and four major hurricanes. 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…

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The Rules of the Road, Set to Poetry

By Vincent Pica

Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR)

United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

Over 130 years ago, Captain George Eldridge set to poetry the most essential aspect of the Rules of the Road (COLREGs.) From this, the renowned Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, the most respected tide and current guide since 1874, was born. I’ve had one at the helm of my vessels since, well, I can’t remember that far back. Here is what the Captain penned, and the dissection…

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Whither The Weather, Heather?

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

With dozens killed in the southeast of our country, it puts into perspective our complaints about heavy fog, drenching rain and the largely cold and damp spring that we’ve had until of late. But, like hurricanes vs the tails of hurricanes, weather like we’ve been seeing is far more likely to affect us and thus we should understand the forces at play.  This column is about that.

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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 and dank winter. Time and tide are now on our side. Here on Long Island’s East End, most bay constables allow moorings back in the water as of April 1 – and the weather will turn our way, too. So, before you start your engines, ready the boat!

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Sounding Smart on the Radio

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

There is a natural tendency to shy away from the unfamiliar, especially when you can’t get the words back. Remember the first time you were faced with a phone answering machine: “leave your message after the beep” – BEEP! Now what? Even today, that beep can strike fear into the hearts of some. Now, how about multiplying that a hundred-fold to everyone tuned to channel 16…?

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Boat Insurance – Friend or Foe? An Update

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

Even though the boating season is drawing to a close, we are well advised to be sure that we have insurance in place, even over the winter. This column is about that.

To File or Not to File

Most of us are familiar with insurance from owning a car. I don’t know about you, but the fear of “assigned risk” and massive spikes in the cost of annual insurance premiums keeps me from putting in for anything on my car unless an asteroid landed on it and totaled the car. How does that translate into boat insurance and, unlike your car, where it is mandated by state law that you must have it? Do I need it?

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Vessel Afire!

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

fire aboardIt would seem to me that one of the most frightening circumstances to be caught in is a boat afire. It is loaded with high-octane fuel creating toxic smoke; using water to fight the fire can sink the boat; leaving the boat may entail going into another hostile environment – cold and unforgiving water.

Safety at Sea seminars, such as those offered by the Storm Trysail Foundation, the Cruising Club of America and Landfall, provide hands-on opportunities to use fire extinguishers in a non-emergency situation.   ©stormtrysailfoundation.org

It doesn’t sound like there are many – if any – good alternatives. Also, fire prevention professionals quote that on average a fire will double in area every 5 minutes.  At that rate, it wouldn’t take long to engulf an entire boat. So, time is of the essence and it’s highly unlikely that anyone can get to you in time to assist in the fire suppression. You and your crew, most likely, are it.

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Hunkering Down: Hurricanes

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

Hurricane Earl was inflicting damage in the Caribbean and Mexico as I wrote this, providing 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 Hurricane season still has time to run. In the Northeast, we live on or around the sea. This column is about that.

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Seamanship – Set and Drift – “Leaning In”

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

Imagine that you are walking along the sidewalk, trying to get to the coffee shop on the corner. But the person next to you is leaning against your shoulder, keeping pace with you and pushing you away from it. There is only one way you are going to make it to the coffee shop (short of belting the guy!). You have to lean into him to such a degree that you overcome the force of his push and the speed at which he is applying it. This is the essence of “Set and Drift” when navigating as well.

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