Author: Vincent Pica

From the Captain of the Port

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness, Part 2

By Vincent Pica

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary When people write about keeping our waterways clean, the focus is largely on the things we drop in the water. So, what about the things we bring out there, like our copper-oxide bottom paint? This column is about that.   Painting with Poison Yes, if you really think about it, we paint the bottoms of our boats with poison. Intentionally. We’re trying to…

From the Captain of the Port

Prevention of Collision at Sea – Cleaning Up “Lights and Shapes”

By Vincent Pica

By Vincent Pica Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Let’s finish up on the Lights and Shapes section of the Rules and be armed with the knowledge of what the merchant sea captain is saying to us… What Does Rule 28 Say? Rule 28 is about the Shapes and Lights that a vessel “constrained by her draft” uses to proclaim that she is drawing pretty much all the water there is –…

From the Captain of the Port

Prevention of Collision at Sea: Red Over Red – The Captain is Dead!

By Vincent Pica

A couple of weeks ago, I laid out the groundwork for this next set of Rules, which are considerably more “intense” in their application of these so-called “Lights and Shapes.” Why? Because they have to do primarily with commerce over the open seas where the lifeblood of the U.S. and the world economies still flow. Despite our high-tech economy and reliance on the airline industry for transport, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reports that 90%…

From the Captain of the Port

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

By Vincent Pica

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

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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

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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

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