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Help chart the ICW and other cruising areas

Date Reported: Apr 17, 2014

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

TeamSurv-Tracks-2.jpgFor boaters, knowing the depth of the waters ahead is critical (especially if you don't want to run aground!). Most of our cruising grounds have not been surveyed recently – not even over the past century in some cases.

Hydrographic surveys are performed occasionally on sections of our Intracoastal Waterways, but are quickly out-of-date as shoals shift frequently and dredging can’t keep up with the changes, if dredging is ever performed at all!

But what if you could see a survey performed just days before you transit a trouble spot?

You may soon be able to, thanks to an innovative project, TeamSurv, that wants to harness the hundreds, maybe thousands, of boats out on the water to start collecting up-to-date depth data for our waterways.

TeamSurv provides vessels with a small data logger to collect depth, lat/lon, and time data. The data is published online and available to other organizations to use, share and adapt. If enough participating boats transit a particular area, a detailed, up-to-date chart can be built from the tracks.

Unlike some similar projects, TeamSurv requires no fees for vessels to participate, and provides the data logger for free loan – and the tracks and charting information will be available to view for free. Although anyone will be able to see all the data tracks from participating boats, for your privacy, they will not be able to identify your vessel.

TeamSurv has been granted funding for the initial research through the European Union, and startup support from the European Space Agency, for their innovative use of satellite positioning data. They were also a prize winner in the UK Satellite Navigation Competition.

“We’re eager to widen our coverage areas, and seeing the problems of keeping the charts for the ICW up to date this seems like a great area to start getting good data in U.S. waters,” says Tim Thornton, Project Coordinator. “And the more boats that sign up, the greater the coverage, and the greater the accuracy and confidence in the data.”

“Most boats participate using one of our hardware data loggers, that interface to your GPS and depth sounder over NMEA0183 or the original Seatalk bus – these are supplied on free loan, though we ask you to return the logger if you stop using it. If you navigate on a PC, you can also log data from nav software packages such as Nobeltec and OpenCPN, or you can use our own software logger.”

“Installing and configuring the kit is easy, and there is extensive support information on the web site. Once connected, you need to go through a one-off calibration process to get measurements such as your transducer depth, and then the data is logged automatically whilst you are out on the water. All you have to do is periodically upload your data logs, either using our software logger or through the web site. Everyone can see the corrected depth tracks on the web site, and we are just automating production of depth charts as PDFs and in a number of electronic chart formats, that the loggers can use.”

The project is just starting up for U.S. waters, and TeamSurv is ready for cruising vessels to participate here. Would you like to be part of this worthwhile project and help the cruising and boating community? If you plan to log some miles over the next few months, please help make this new project a success!

Click here to register and apply. Please feel free to contact me…I will try to help coordinate the efforts on this side of “the pond.”

Source: WG Staff

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AGLCA Radio: Looping single-handed

Date Reported: Apr 16, 2014

Reported by: Janice Kromer

Ed. Note: The America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association Blog Talk Radio Show airs at 10 a.m. each Friday; however, each show is archived so you can listen anytime you want after the air date. From Janice Kromer, Executive Director, AGLCA:

This coming Friday, April 18, 2014, we'll offer a very interesting show for our Loopers. Arch Fonken will be our guest host. Arch just completed his Loop week, but the difference from other Gold Loopers is that Arch did it single-handed. If you listen, you'll learn and Arch's adventure and his thought on doing the Loop alone. 

You can listen live by going to our website at www.GreatLoop.org, clicking on AGLCA Radio in the Free for Everyone section of the top navigation bar, then scrolling down to the Great Loop Radio player. Then, just left click on the arrow below the name of the show to start listening. Be sure not to tune in too far in advance or you will be listening to the show from the prior week. If you'd like to ask a question or offer a comment during the show, just dial toll free (877) 497-1815 and you'll be connected to the hosts.

You can also listen to the show on Blog Talk Radio's website. Just click here, or go to www.BlogTalkRadio.com and type AGLCA in the search box. That will take you directly to AGLCA's page where you can listen live, or, check out the archives. The show is also available on iTunes.

Source: AGLCA

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Onboard alarms - part 1

Date Reported: Apr 15, 2014

Reported by: Steve D'Antonio


A client of mine contacted me and asked about which, if any, alarms he needed to have installed aboard his boat while it was undergoing a refit.  The "Which if any" comment caught my attention.  Indeed, if there's one thing a skipper needs while he or she is cruising, be it under way or at anchor, it's information about the vessel, the propulsion system, generator and the integrity of the hull.  A vessel that includes complete, operational systems alarms is less likely to suffer catastrophic breakdowns, flooding, fires and other seaborne calamities as well as being less expensive to operate in the long term.

Engines and Generators

One of the tests I carry out during a vessel inspection involves confirming that the engine's own integral alarms work.  Virtually every marine diesel engine and generator includes, or included when it was originally manufactured an alarm to alert the user to a few key events.  Typically, and at the very least, these include high coolant temperature and low oil pressure annunciators.  The coolant temperature alarm threshold varies from engine to engine, however it's typically somewhere around 220°F.  Oil pressure alarms also vary; their alarm set point may be as low as 8 psi.  Generally, oil pressure rarely has an in between failure, either it's within specifications or it's zero.  Both of these alarm scenarios call for immediate action on the part of the skipper, particularly the latter... 

To view the rest of this article, please follow this link:


This is an excerpt from Steve D' Antonio's "Marine Systems Excellence" blog. With nearly 25 years of experience as a marine mechanic, electrician, consultant and boatyard manager, Steve ranks as one of the most knowledgeable boating experts in the country. His ability to explain highly technical information on a wide array of boating topics in a clear, easy to read and easy to use manner has made him one of the most widely read boating writers and lecturers today. Steve's commitment is to strive to improve the safety and reliability of boating products while increasing the confidence and enjoyment boat owners. In short, Steve strives to help bring the fun back to searching for, building, maintaining, repairing and owning a boat. Text and photos by Steve D'Antonio - © 2014

On April 24th, Steve will present a lecture for Deltaville Boatyard employees on the subject of technical photography (Deltaville, VA).

On April 26th, Steve will deliver a lecture at Brewer Yacht Yards' Pilot's Point Marina, on achieving maximum vessel reliability and economy of operation, as well as ABYC compliance (Westbrook, CT).

For more information on either event, or hiring Steve to lecture for your event or organization, please e-mail Katie.

Source: Contributing Professional

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Join the Snowbird Rally Down the ICW this fall

Date Reported: Apr 12, 2014

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

SAIL-ICW-Snowbird-Rally.jpg(Updated from 4/10/2014)

Planning on cruising south on the ICW next fall? The first-ever SAIL Snowbird Rally is already getting geared up, and registration is open!

After a pre-rally seminar in Annapolis and Halloween party kick-off in Hampton, VA, Wally Moran (longtime ICW cruiser, SAIL Magazine Contributing Editor, and Waterway Guide Cruising Editor) will lead the flotilla of sailboats on a journey south. Enjoy plenty of stops for potlucks and parties along the way with your fellow cruisers to arrive in Miami, FL in December – perfect timing to spend your winter in the Keys, Bahamas, or beyond.

Wally's intimate knowledge of the route, and real-time assistance from Waterway Guide and other ICW experts, will help you each day with weather conditions, shoaling and trouble spots, finding the best anchorage and docking options, and lots of interesting things to look for along the way.

Rally participants receive 1 free entry per boat to SAIL's Secrets to the ICW Seminar, Oct 12, Annapolis, MD, during the Annapolis Sailboat Show (where you can pick up the newest editions of Waterway Guides and Skipper Bob guides).

The Rally officially kicks off on Halloween at Hampton Public Piers (a Waterway Guide Cruising Club Partner!) with a "WWRD? Party" ("What Would Redford Do?" – a fun takeoff on Robert Redford's recent sailing movie All is Lost.

Along the way, the Rally will enjoy potlucks and other events hosted by towns and marinas along the way, including:

  • Beaufort, NC – At Beaufort Town Docks, we’ll grill and picnic together either dockside or in a nearby park and gazebo. The North Carolina Maritime Museum will be displaying its famous artifact exhibit from Blackbeard's famous pirate ship. (Click here for Marina Close-Up.)
  • Wrightsville Beach, NC – Seapath Yacht Club offers plenty of amenities such as courtesy cars, grocery stores, propane refills, and on-site shops and restaurants. Plus, there’s an anchorage nearby if you’d prefer to moor. One night, we’ll throw a cruiser party. We’ll spend two days here to give you all the time you need to shop at Mayfaire Town Center.
  • Myrtle Beach, SC - River Dunes get-together & events at Grace Harbor at River Dunes (click here for Marina Close-Up).
  • Charleston, SC – We’ll gather at the Charleston Maritime Center (CMC) for a potluck bash held in a private room overlooking the harbor. The CMC is close to historic downtown, which has an aquarium, plenty of sites, shopping plazas and restaurants, and Patriots Point, where we can tour the USS Yorktown, submarines, the Vietnam Support Base and plenty more.
  • Beaufort, SC – As a co-host of the Rally, the exquisite town of Beaufort is going all-out! The marquee event begins in downtown Beaufort with sailors docking and mooring vessels in the Downtown Marina of Beaufort. Rally participants will be greeted by their very own Personalized Beaufort Host, host and hostesses from the local Yacht Club, who will assist in shuttling them to acquire provisions and food, and will also coordinate carriage tours, activities, and discounts. That evening, Snowbird Regatta sailors celebrate their arrival in Beaufort with a private outdoor dinner at one of the town’s signature plantation homes overlooking the water. The residence, known for having “the most beautiful garden in Beaufort,” will offer guests the opportunity to relax over cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres while strolling through the garden and soaking in the harbor view. Dinner will include seasonal Lowcountry cuisine served at farm style tables beneath a rustic canopy and homegrown Band, The Bull Grapes, will provide the entertainment. See feature article at BeaufortSC.org...
  • St. Marys, GA – There is plenty to see at St. Mary’s. Test your film knowledge at the Film Museum, bird watch on the Colonial Coast Birding Trail or see the beauty of the town by going on a Tram tour. Sailors can also explore the oak canopies, various wildlife and beautiful beaches of nearby Cumberland Island, the largest of George’s barrier islands. We’ll join the Cruiser's Thanksgiving Potluck—an annual tradition at St. Mary's—to celebrate the holiday.
  • Titusville, FL - Enjoy a get-together & events at Titusville Marina (a Waterway Guide Cruising Club Partner!).
  • Much more to come...

At many of the stops, The group will be touring maritime museums and local sites of interest, dining out, and getting to know the towns and cities of the ICW.

The Rally will finish at Miami's "No Name Harbor" at beautiful Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park where there will be a final blowout, awards ceremony for cruisers, barbeque and party. A day of advanced cruising seminars is planned to assist Rally participants in safely negotiating the next stage of their journeys.

Check out http://www.sailmagazine.com/icw-itinerary for updates. Sign up early...space is limited.

To take part in the SAIL Snowbird Rally, your boat must be a sailboat, capable of completing the ICW between Hampton, VA and Miami, FL. (Mast height must not exceed 64 feet. Draft must be 7 feet or less.) 

IslandPacket.com posted an article today featuring the Snowbird Rally and its planned stop in Beaufort, SC.

Source: WG Staff

Comment submitted by Richard CLagett - Tue, Apr 15th

This sounds like a great cruise. How about power boats joining the group. I have a 22 CDory and would love to travel with you all. I have made most of the trip before, however this was done by ourselves, having others along would make it much more enjoyable.

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The Rebel Heart rescue - UPDATE

Date Reported: Apr 12, 2014

Reported by: Wally Moran

UPDATE: Here is a very uplifting video: Guardian Angels from the 131st Rescue Squadron speak at a press conference about the Rebel Heart search and rescue mission (Moffett Federal Airfield, April 9, 2014 – U.S Air National Guard video by Airman 1st Class Julia Bates). In the 23-minute video, members of the rescue team express that the cruising family "made the right call to call for help when they did" and handled themselves very well during the rescue – "The family was very very well-prepared for the voyage...they did everything right, including calling us as early as they did." When a reporter asked whether "the taxpayers pay for the rescue" or whether the family will be billed, the rescue member stated "we're using the same resources we would have used if we were training in Monteray Bay...just this time we come back with four lives...we're in the saving-lives business, not the billing business." There are many more moments like these, plus some very stupid questions from the reporters (like "were they worried that people would think they were terrible parents?")...worth a listen:

kaufmann-family.jpg(4/8/2014) Ed. Note: I'm very happy that the family is safe and sound, and sad that their circumnavigation – and their "home" – was lost in the tragedy. World cruising is life-affirming. It is also potentially dangerous, as life is generally (like crossing the street, for example).

I have met dozens of kids cruising the world with their families, and have found all of them to be joyous, engaging and remarkably smart. Thanks, Wally, for the "call to action" and your seasoned perspective:

This week's BIG news in sailing circles is the Rebel Heart story. Very briefly for those not familiar (what? how long can you stay at the top of your mast anyhow?), a family of four including a three year old and a one year old left Mexico two weeks ago on the first leg of a circumnavigation. The baby became seriously ill about 900 miles out, and the US Navy parachuted four paramedics to the boat. Her condition was stabilized, but - and not all of this is confirmed by any means - the boat was experiencing some issues. From the reports, it sounds like they had a packing gland problem as water was coming in when the engine was running.

The Navy then sent out a fast frigate to take the family off the boat, and scuttled Rebel Heart rather than leave it floating, and a danger to other vessels. A google search for Rebel Heart will find you all the details.

Of course, it didn't take long for the media to pile on this one. Great story: young family, adventure, sick child, rescue of sinking boat - wow! WWRD? (what would Redford do?)

And of course, online, thousands of people are taking the parents to task for risking their childrens' lives in a foolhardy adventure.

None of them are, of course, sailors or boaters. Many seem to want the government to take their children away, to force the parents to pay for the rescue (ignoring that they get free 'rescue' if they crash their car or their house burns down), develop legislation preventing this sort of thing from EVER HAPPENING AGAIN! On and on it goes.

Read more on Wally Moran's LiveBloggin' website, including an appeal: Let's add the cruisers' perspective to offset the harsh bashing on mainstream media sites.

And a statement from the United States Coast Guard:

"The Coast Guard does not charge for search and rescue operations," said Lt. Anna Dixon of the 11th Coast Guard District.  "We don't want people in trouble at sea to hesitate to call for help for fear they'll be charged for assistance.  Mariners assisting one another at sea is a both a time honored tradition and a requirement of the Safety of Life at Sea Convention of the International Maritime Organization."  

The Coast Guard is the Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator (SMC) for the Rebel Heart rescue operation, but no Coast Guard vessels or aircraft have been deployed.  A Navy vessel and California Air National Guard aircraft are involved but those agencies have not indicated plans to seek reimbursement for this rescue operation.

Follow this link to the sailing blog of Eric, Charlotte, & family (no updates posted since the rescue, at the moment of this posting).

Source: Cruising Editor

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BoatUS: Annual list of top ten boat names

Date Reported: Apr 10, 2014

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

A valuable resource for deciding what NOT to name your boat (Serenity Now!). From a BoatUS press release:

If a car’s vanity license plate can tell you a lot about the person behind the wheel, what can a boat name tell you about the person behind the helm? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) just released the national boating organization’s 24th Annual Top Ten Boat Names List and may have the answer.

The BoatUS list of Top Ten Boat Names:

1. Serenity
2. Second Wind
3. Island Girl
4. Freedom
5. Pura-Vida
6. Andiamo
7. Island Time
8. Irish Wake
9. Happy Hours
10. Seas the Day

“We’ve had indicators that a boater who names their boat Second Wind may have rebounded from a misfortune...Read more...

Source: BoatUS

Comment submitted by Glenn McCormick - Thu, Apr 10th

Lets have the Top Ten in both power & sail.

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Get Congress boating!

Date Reported: Apr 08, 2014

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

With the annual American Boating Congress approaching, here's an urgent message from Boating United – an advocacy community of boating businesses, enthusiasts and supporters, managed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (Let's also get a message to Boating United to include "Maintaining the ICWs" as part of their agenda!):

Ask your member of Congress to stand up for the recreational boating industry by joining the Congressional Boating Caucus, an informal, bipartisan group of U.S. Senators and Representatives formed to advocate the interests of the recreational boating industry. Click here to make your voice heard!

You can also join the industry this spring in Washington, D.C. during the annual American Boating Congress, May 5-7. Click here for registration and more information.

Source: WG Staff

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The trip of a lifetime (Part 4)

Date Reported: Apr 08, 2014

Reported by: Captain BullDog Thal

Beaufort-to-Charleston.jpgContinued from Part 3:

Our last leg from Beaufort around Frying Pan Shoals does deserve a stern warning. We had a perfect weather prediction – sunshine, mild SW winds 10-15 knots and 2-4' seas with ocean swells coming from the

south with 11 second moments. What we encountered was a rogue sea with 4-6' waves and I would guess 4 second moments between wave peaks. If you commit to this outside run that puts you 35 nm off of the coast, you must know that if the weather turns snotty your alternatives for coming in are few and some inlets very tricky and precarious. I did have the cutoff for Masonboro Inlet laid in on my computer but we slugged it out for a good 12 hours because the boat had to be in.

On our return trip starting on April 19th, I will highlight the inside route. With its shallow spots, bridges and sharp twists and turns it will add maybe three additional days to our trip, but the ports are all beautiful...Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, Southport, Wrightsville Beach. I know about the questionable spots, but the True North with her protected prop and rudder – and 3'6" draft – is the perfect boat to test run this region.

I do advocate always, "better safe then lucky" – so when depths get less than 10 feet, I get off plane. Less than 6 feet, I go dead slow. 

Also, I slow down for everybody without exception. No one has a right to ruin someone else's day on the water.

Captain BullDog, in service and on the job
UMM Master Captain
Pro Captain's Delivery Service
Sail or Power, Eastern Seaboard
(203) 550 1067

Source: Cruising Contributor

Comment submitted by Gus and Row Ambler - Mon, Apr 21st

Thank you Captain Bulldog for your anchoring tips. Keep up the good work informing all of us of the hazards we face and what is the workaround.

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New certified printing agents added for NOAA paper charts

Date Reported: Apr 06, 2014

Reported by: Mike Ahart, News Editor

For those who prefer or require traditional, full-size print-on-demand charts, there are now 7 companies who can provide them – always updated with the latest LNMs up to the week of purchase. Weekly updated PDF versions are also available for download and self printing, but do not satisfy carriage requirements for commercial mariners (see related post). From a NOAA Coast Survey news release:

It won't be long before mariners and the boating public will have a wider choice of options and special services when they purchase NOAA paper nautical charts, thanks to NOAA's expanded "print-on-demand" chart production and distribution system, Coast Survey officials announced today. This week, Coast Survey certified new print-on-demand chart printing agents, and gave them the flexibility to offer different color palettes, various papers, a cleaner margin, and a range of services.

NOAA has now authorized seven companies to sell NOAA's paper nautical charts that are printed when the customer orders them -- or "on demand." The information on the charts is still maintained by NOAA, and the charts are corrected with Notices to Mariners up to the week of purchase.

"Last October, we announced that NOAA would stop using the government printing and distribution system we originally adopted in 1861," explained Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director of NOAA's Office of Coast Survey. "We asked private companies to help us transition from the government-run system to a robust and competitive market for paper nautical charts, and we are pleased with the results."

Five companies have now joined the original "print-on-demand" distributor OceanGrafix and the more recently certified East View Geospatial. The newly certified companies are Frugal Navigator, Marine Press, Paradise Cay Publications, The Map Shop, and Williams & Heintz Map Corporation.

Glang is confident that the expansion of the print-on-demand program will lead to new options for all who purchase U.S. nautical charts. As a premium service, for example, print agents are authorized to customize charts with user-specified overlays.

"With more chart printing agents, we hope to encourage competition and ensure fully up-to-date charts are widely available. Buyers can shop around and find different types of paper, or choose between traditional or new color palettes. Our printing agents can offer delivery or in-shop service, and customers can have their navigation track lines or other information printed as overlays on their chart," Glang pointed out.

"All charts sold by NOAA-certified printing partners are NOAA charts and fully meet navigational requirements."

For the last 150 years, the federal government produced nautical charts using lithographic printing presses. Although chart-making techniques advanced from the 19th century's delicate hand-applied etchings on copper plates to a process that is now completely computer-based, the system remained based on printing large volumes of charts, then selling them from stock for years. Charts for sale were gradually more and more outdated until a new edition was printed. The print on demand system allows the changes made by Coast Survey cartographers to reach mariners much faster.

Coast Survey continues to examine applications from additional companies wishing to become certified as NOAA chart printing agents. The examination process includes testing of applicants' sample charts, to make sure they stand up to normal onboard usage conditions.

The paper charts sold by the NOAA-certified printing agents meet carriage requirements for ships covered by Safety of Life at Sea regulations, specified in Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Source: NOAA Coast Survey

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The trip of a lifetime (Part 3)

Date Reported: Apr 03, 2014

Reported by: Captain BullDog Thal

Banjo(Continued from Part 2)

"PROTEUS" aka "Banjo" made the "dance" without incident to Charleston and on time for her owner and guests to enjoy a ringside seat for the big Charleston Race Week.

Leaving the Beaufort/Morehead City area for Charleston you have a choice of going outside around Frying Pan Shoals, which puts you out about 35-40 nm, or cruise a very circuitous route inside through Bogue Sound.

Marine weather reports suggested 10 to 15 k winds out of the SW and 4' seas with 11 second moments, so we went outside on a 215 nm 12-hour run. Well, like anything from government these days in the words of the WII GI's "SNAFU" (Situation Normal All.....I'll let you fill in the blanks). Winds were from the SW but weather was really snotty and the trip was a labor of pain. Like the legs from Manhattan to Cape May and Cape May down the DelMarVa to Portsmouth, the leg from Morehead City to Charleston can be a bear. "Choose wisely Grasshopper" – it's not worth getting beat up over. Stay over and wait the weather out. Weather trumps boat and crew always.

Here is our stout vessel at Charleston's Maritime Center on the Cooper. By the way, while Charleston is a foodie's paradise, I love going over to Mt. Pleasant up Shem Creek and visiting a dive on the water for a Low Country boil. Just another note – you will be out of cell phone range shortly after leaving Beaufort Inlet, so call your destination before departing to make sure you get your slip assignment and bathroom or security code.

I will be returning with Banjo on the inside going from Charleston to Myrtle Beach, then Southport, Coinjock, Ocean City, Manisquan, and back to Milford, Connecticut, to report in.

Captain BullDog, in service and on the job
UMM Master Captain
Pro Captain's Delivery Service
Sail or Power, Eastern Seaboard
(203) 550 1067

Source: Cruising Contributor

Comment submitted by Jeffrey Patterson - Fri, Apr 4th

Have made the passage you describe about 200 times over the last 40 years, most of the time the leg from Beaufort,NC to Charleston can be much calmer by going in at Masonboro Inlet (Wrightsville Beach)down the ICW to Snow's Cut then down the Cape Fear River and back out to the ocean at Southport/Bald Head Island. This route eliminates Frying Pan Shoals( The Slue) and does not add all that much distance. This way if the weather really gets bad it would be a close duck in a Little River or Georgetown. Had to do this route 2 weeks ago in 32 Topaz

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