Author: Vincent Pica

From the Captain of the Port

GPS & The Sun – Flares Coming!

By Vincent Pica

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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

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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

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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

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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…

From the Captain of the Port

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

By Vincent Pica

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By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary With Earth Day last month, we are reminded of this expression from Biblical days – when there were fewer people and even fewer boats. If each generation wants to hand over 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. Every storm ups the challenge as…

From the Captain of the Port

No Fuss, No Muss – and Your Favorite Price (Free!) – Vessel Exams

By Vincent Pica

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By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary While we still have a ways to go to “splashing the boat,” I would say that getting the “gilt-edged” United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Vessel Safety Check – better known as the Vessel Exam – is always a great idea. Oh, and it’s free. What It is Not! USCGAux vessel safety checks are not a regulatory event. If your boat doesn’t pass all…

From the Captain of the Port

We’re Being Boarded by the Coast Guard – Now What?

By Vincent Pica

If you’ve ever seen the reflection of the blue-rotating hailing light in your windshield, you’ve felt the quickening in certain parts of your body: “Jeez, what did I do wrong?” The United States Coast Guard can and will board your vessel at their discretion. They need no search warrant, no provocation, no reason other than, “Good Morning, sir. My name is Officer Jones with the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard is here today to ensure you…

From the Captain of the Port

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

By Vincent Pica

As we (probably) all made 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’re 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 (and…

Time and Tide Wait for No (Wo)Man

By Vincent Pica

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Before reading the weekly tide tables as gospel, let’s take a moment to review a few essentials. First, don’t mistake precision with accuracy. What??? Just because we can predict the tides to the second as far into the future as you could imagine (after all, we certainly know the rotations of the Earth, Sun and Moon to exquisite precision), it doesn’t mean that…

From the Captain of the Port

Celestial Navigation 101: Sailors Always Knew…

By Vincent Pica

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By Vincent Pica, Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR), United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Going back centuries, journals of seafarers are peppered with language indicating that they knew the Earth was round.  “In the offing” meant, and means today, the waters you can see from where you are to the horizon.  “Ahoy, captain, vessel off the starboard bow! Hull down, sir,” might yell the lookout from the crow’s nest aloft. This meant that all he could see…

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