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

Summer’s Here, but the Water’s Cold!

By Vincent Pica

Summer’s Here, but the Water’s Cold!

Although summer is close aboard, the water will be cold for several weeks and you need to be aware of how dangerous that can be – if you aren’t prepared and savvy. This column is about that. Warm Air, Cold Water = Risks! I like a warm day early in the season as much as the next mariner, but the water itself is just about as deadly as in the deep of winter. Remember that water takes…

From the Captain of the Port

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

By Vincent Pica

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

With Earth Day as the annual reminder (it was 4/22!), we recall this expression that goes back to Biblical days – when there were fewer people and even fewer boats. If each generation wants to hand over these waterways to their children and grandkids in the condition that we were entrusted them with, there are a few simple rules, rubrics and guidelines to follow, even if your neighbor doesn’t. And every storm ups the challenge as storm…

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

In the days that followed September 11, 2001, those words kept running through my head…What could I do that would be something 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 at work, I was faced with two realities. At nearly 48, I wasn’t exactly what the Army Recruiter at Times Square in New York had as #1 on his list…

From the Captain of the Port

Waves Upon, and Within, Waves

By Vincent Pica

Waves Upon, and Within, Waves

  There was a rogue wave incident involving the cruise ship Viking Polaris on November 29, 2022, at 22:40 local time, while the ship was sailing towards Ushuaia, Argentina. What is a “rogue wave incident”? Rogue, freak, or killer waves have been part of marine folklore for centuries but have only been accepted as real by scientists over the past few decades. This column is about that. A rogue wave estimated at 18.3 meters (60 feet) in…

From the Captain of the Port

Safety on the Ice – Barely and Very Carefully

By Vincent Pica

Safety on the Ice – Barely and Very Carefully

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 were no open leads to entice migratory birds to land, take out a stick of dynamite, light it and throw it as…

From the Captain of the Port

The Rules of the Road – Set to Poetry

By Vincent Pica

The Rules of the Road – Set to Poetry

Nearly 150 years ago, Captain Eldridge created the renowned Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, the marine industry’s most respected tide and current reference guide since 1874, capturing the most essential aspect of the Rules of the Road (COLREGs.) I have had one at the helm of my vessels since, well, I can’t remember that far back. Captain Eldridge has carried an old sea ditty that has captured the essence of avoiding collisions at sea. This column is…

From the Captain of the Port

Vessel Afire!

By Vincent Pica

Vessel Afire!

It 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. It doesn’t sound like there are many, if any, good alternatives. Also, fire prevention professionals quote that on average a fire will double…

From the Captain of the Port

Boat Insurance – Friend or Foe? An Update

By Vincent Pica

Boat Insurance – Friend or Foe? An Update

Even though the boating season is half over, we are well advised to be sure that we have insurance in place, even through 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…

From the Captain of the Port

Weighing the Anchor – Or is it Waying?

By Vincent Pica

Weighing the Anchor – Or is it Waying?

Sometimes, the simplest thing can take on monumental proportions – if you get it wrong. And setting a proper anchor and retrieving (or “weighing it” so you can “make way”) can make all the difference in the world when the wind starts to stiffen and all the other boats around you start to look askance at you – as you drag your anchor towards them. Setting the Anchor The art and science of anchoring are closely akin….

From the Captain of the Port

Hunkering Down: Hurricanes

By Vincent Pica

Hunkering Down: Hurricanes

NOAA Calls for “Near Normal” Season As of June 1, hurricane season is upon us. Almost without exception, we in the Northeast U.S. 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 as they thunder west and north. Many of us live on an island. And now an “average” season is worse than…

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