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

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…

From the Captain of the Port

Technology Overload and the Private Boater – Talking Cell Phones, Part 2

By Vincent Pica

Technology Overload and the Private Boater – Talking Cell Phones, Part 2

Previously, we talked about cell phones aboard boats and the issues thereto. But they are fantastic devices – and therein lay another issue. As the functionality of cell phones starts to rival computers (did I say “rival” – I should have said “outpaces!”), we are right at the cusp of technology overload. This can’t be good for safety of life at sea. This column is about that. U.S. Coast Guard Advisory On October 29, 2010, Rear Admiral…

From the Captain of the Port

“Hello? Hello? Can You Hear Me Now?” Cell Phones and Boats, Part 1

By Vincent Pica

“Hello? Hello? Can You Hear Me Now?” Cell Phones and Boats, Part 1

When I have written in the past about the need and use of a VHF radio, I noted that if you didn’t have a radio aboard you were risking your life over a couple of hundred dollars – it was “nutty” not to have a radio aboard. Nonetheless, many don’t! And those skippers rely on their cell phone for emergency assistance. OK, I guess you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink….

From the Captain of the Port

Rescue, Recovery and Re-Warm – The Maritime 3 Rs

By Vincent Pica

Rescue, Recovery and Re-Warm – The Maritime 3 Rs

When we were kids, it was all about readin,’ ritin’ and ‘rithmetic. On the sea, especially in cold water environments, it’s all about rescue, recovery and re-warming. I don’t expect many boaters are out there on our bays, creeks and littoral areas of the ocean now. But some are out there. And the waters are cold and will still be cold once April 1 comes around and the moorings go back in. This column is about that….

From the Captain of the Port

Quick, Honey, Put on a Life Jacket!

By Vincent Pica

Quick, Honey, Put on a Life Jacket!

A number of years ago, as I was doing a (free) U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel exam for the owner of a very substantial yacht, I got to the part where I ask to see the life jackets. He pointed me to a locker, which I opened to find the life jackets, stowed under an anchor, chain and additional rode. This column is about that. No Good If You Can’t Get To Them I promptly asked him,…

From the Captain of the Port

We All Get Heavier As We Age – Even Our Boats!

By Vincent Pica

We All Get Heavier As We Age – Even Our Boats!

As we (probably) all make New Year’s resolutions to go on a diet, we keep getting reminded that we are getting heavier as we get older. No matter where we turn, someone is telling us that we are getting fat and need to be thinner! Guess what? So are our boats! Yes, as boats get older, they get heavier and that has a lot to do about being less “sea-kindly” and more “tender” as they get older…

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