From the Captain of the Port

Vincent Pica, a Commodore of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary First District, Southern Region, provides vital information on tides and currents, navigation, emergency procedures and more to help keep everyone safe on the water.

From the Captain of the Port

Safety First – In 10 Easy Steps

By Vincent Pica

Safety First – In 10 Easy Steps

The United States Coast Guard characterizes their Auxiliary corps as a “force multiplier,” enabling the active-duty and reserves corps to do more with the budgeted dollars allocated by the U.S. Congress. USCG Auxiliarists donate 100% of their time to the tasks authorized by the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard. And no task is more important than promulgating and expanding the safety of life at sea. This column is about that. The Ten Commandments Well, that…

From the Captain of the Port

Hurricane Prep, Part II – The Boat

By Vincent Pica

Hurricane Prep, Part II – The Boat

We’ve all read recently (and frequently) about the increasingly more dangerous season ahead. In addition to the forecast update, it was largely about what you and your family should do (like never stay on the boat nor drive through running water.) What about the boat? ‘Tis the season of heavy weather. This column is about that.   Let Me Say It Again… Never stay on the boat. I know, there are old timers that swear by it:…

From the Captain of the Port

Life Jackets Save Lives – Yours!

By Vincent Pica

Life Jackets Save Lives – Yours!

For many years, we referred to life jackets as “PFDs” – Personal Flotation Devices. Jeesh, can the lawyers get over it? OK, not everyone in a life jacket survives; roughly only 15 out of 16. Conversely, if fifteen people go in the water without a life jacket, only one comes out alive. The other 15 die. Life jackets save lives. This column is about that. The Statistics Boaters end up in the water for a variety of…

From the Captain of the Port

Fog!

By Vincent Pica

Fog!

Anybody notice the intense fog we had on several days this season? “Can’t see my hand in front of my face” kind of stuff. For those of a more scientific-bent, fog that forms when water is warmer than the air is called “steam” fog (fall). Think of that pot of spaghetti water you are boiling. Fog that forms when the water is colder than the air is called “advection” fog (spring). There is a third kind of…

From the Captain of the Port

Gentlemen (and Ladies), Start Your Engines!

By Vincent Pica

Gentlemen (and Ladies), Start Your Engines!

Time and tide are now on our side. 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! The Trailer As with any project, starting at the beginning is the best place to start and for “commissioning”, i.e., getting the boat ready for service, the beginning is the front of the boat. For those that trailer…

From the Captain of the Port

Improving Your Fuel Efficiency

By Vincent Pica

Improving Your Fuel Efficiency

Now, I’m the first to say, “You’ve got a $50,000 boat tied to the dock and you’re fretting about $200 in fuel? What’s up, doc?” But with that said, “Waste not, want not!” and this column is about that. Some Basics Would it be any surprise to know that heavier boats need more fuel at a given speed to move through or over the water? So, why lug around gear that you don’t need?  Go through all your lockers…

From the Captain of the Port

Man Overboard!!!

By Vincent Pica

Man Overboard!!!

Recently, a friend of mine fell overboard…while boarding a boat at the dock! Sound crazy? Not really. The “victim” wasn’t wearing proper shoes when he stepped on the gunwales and not into the boat, and the wake of a passing boat (who shouldn’t have been making a wake!) rocked the vessel strongly. In other words, things just go wrong at all the wrong times. Are you ready to deal with it? As a case in point, when…

From the Captain of the Port

Winterizing – Now or Later, It Has To Be Done

By Vincent Pica

Winterizing – Now or Later, It Has To Be Done

Usually, as soon as I write a column on de-commissioning the boat for the winter season, Indian Summer arrives to bathe us in the last warmth of the year. And that could still happen and it would be but a reminder that many months of kindly weather are behind us and many months of dark, cold and dreary weather are ahead of us. So, here we go – Indian Summer or not! Even if you hand off…

From the Captain of the Port

Hurricanes May (or May Not) Miss Us – and They Leave Deadly Rip Tides

By Vincent Pica

Hurricanes May (or May Not) Miss Us – and They Leave Deadly Rip Tides

I’ve written often about hurricanes, great and small. Of note, formerly, an average season produced twelve named storms of which six became hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. As you can see from the table below, this year’s NOAA prediction will use new numbers for an “average” season: 14 named storms, up from 12, and seven hurricanes, up from 6, including three major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5). Henri was briefly a Cat-1. This column is about…

From the Captain of the Port

The Personal Locator Beacon – It Locates You!

By Vincent Pica

The Personal Locator Beacon – It Locates You!

When 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…

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