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

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…

From the Captain of the Port

We’re Sinking!

By Vincent Pica

We’re Sinking!

When I wrote about why four out of five boats that sink do so at the dock, I promised another article on that fifth boat – the one that sinks underway. This is far more dangerous since you and your crew are aboard and not arriving at the marina to find your mast light sticking up out of your slip…   Why Do Boats Sink at Sea? Before we get into the other percentages, why’s and wherefore’s,…

From the Captain of the Port

The Dangerous Dock

By Vincent Pica

The Dangerous Dock

If I told you that statistics on boats sinking showed that the dock is four times more dangerous than the open waters, you might tell me to check my calculator, amongst other things. But study after study shows that four times as many boats sink at the dock than underway! Why is that??? Real Time Reactions Well, candidly, there are lies, damn lies and statistics… If you are underway and you see water coming up from below,…

From the Captain of the Port

Hunkering Down for Hurricanes: NOAA Updates “Average” Season

By Vincent Pica

Hunkering Down for Hurricanes: NOAA Updates “Average” Season

As of June 1, hurricane season is upon us. Almost without exception, we in the Northeast USA get the tail, shoulder or rump of one or two of the dozen or so that form up in the Atlantic between the Caribbean and Africa and bring so much destruction and misery with them as they thunder west and north…and now, an “average” season is worse than ever. This column is about that. As the time of this writing…

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