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

Prevention of Collision at Sea: I Can’t See — Now What?!

By Vincent Pica

Prevention of Collision at Sea: I Can’t See — Now What?!

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary You may remember that we’ve written about boat handling in foggy conditions. Why is that? Well, if anybody has noticed how thick the fog can be, it bears deep understanding of what to do – and not do – when so enveloped. Within our series on the COLREGs, this column is more scholarly. In short, if there isn’t a Rule for it, it…

From the Captain of the Port

Prevention of Collision At Sea – Overtaking, a Meeting

By Vincent Pica

Prevention of Collision At Sea – Overtaking, a Meeting

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary We’re going to build on the last column with more detail on Rules 13, 14 and 15. Let’s start with Overtaking, where even a sailboat is the give-way vessel to a powered vessel.   Overview There are only three conditions of vessels meeting on the waters – head-on, crossing or overtaking situations. The Rules govern how the skippers are to interact with each…

From the Captain of the Port

Prevention of Collision At Sea

By Vincent Pica

Prevention of Collision At Sea

It has been over 14 years since we approached the “COLREGs” in a systematic way, from stem to stern. This column (re)starts that. Every boater has (hopefully) heard of the rule of “red, right, return,” meaning to keep the red buoys on your right when returning from sea. What many don’t realize is that this old chestnut is one of many that represent the embedded knowledge of centuries of seafaring know formally as the “International Regulations for…

From the Captain of the Port

Is Your Boat “Documented” – and Should She Be?

By Vincent Pica

Is Your Boat “Documented” – and Should She Be?

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary All of us are familiar with registering our vessels with the State Department of Motor Vehicles. Like a car, DMV wants to know her horse-power, fuel type (gas or diesel) and the Hull Identification Number, or HIN#. This is the on-the-water equivalent of a car’s VIN#. You are required to display on each side of the bow the state registration numbers, followed by…

From the Captain of the Port

“Get Me in This Thing!” Joining the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

By Vincent Pica

“Get Me in This Thing!” Joining the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary In the days that followed September 11, 2001, those words kept running through my head. What could I do that would be more concrete than writing a check to the Red Cross? While many Americans turned to volunteerism in order to put their hearts, hands and minds to work, I was faced with two realities – at nearly 48, I wasn’t exactly what…

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

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary 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. That could still happen and it would be but a reminder that the kindly weather is behind us and many months of dark, cold and dreary weather are ahead. So, here we go –…

From the Captain of the Port

GPS & The Sun – Flares Coming!

By Vincent Pica

GPS & The Sun – Flares Coming!

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Over the years, I’ve written quite a bit about GPS technology. Interestingly, other than the first column, the other five columns were about what could go wrong and what you could do about it. Why is that? Well, as the late Arthur C. Clarke once observed, “Technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.” Well, when the magic stops, you need to understand how…

From the Captain of the Port

Weathering the Weather

By Vincent Pica

Weathering the Weather

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Pollsters tell us that the most popular topic of conversation is the weather – and why not? We’ve written a lot about weather and seamanship, and this is true in all seasons, it is the localized squall that is more likely to catch us off guard than a widely heralded storm. This column is about that. The Squall In 2000, the actor Jeff…

From the Captain of the Port

Hurricanes May Miss Us, But They Leave Deadly Rip Tides

By Vincent Pica

Hurricanes May Miss Us, But They Leave Deadly Rip Tides

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary We’re repeating (and updating) the column about rip tides, rip currents and undertows – which are what distant storms often leave us. Lest one of us comes to grief…   The Start I’ve written often about hurricanes, great and small. Of note, forecasters predict a 70 percent likelihood of 9 to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4…

From the Captain of the Port

We’re Sinking!

By Vincent Pica

We’re Sinking!

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary While four out of five boats sink at the dock (we’ll discuss that next month), I would note that fifth boat – the one that sinks underway – is far more dangerous since you and your crew are aboard and not driving up to the marina to find your mast light sticking up out of your slip… This column is about that. Why…

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