Top 60 Boating Tips by Boating Magazine

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!!

Sorry I've been away for awhile, but sometimes distractions do make sense. In any event, please read the prior post on cooking safely and keep those ugly fires inside the cooking equipment where they belong.

Speaking of fire, tonight is of course July 4th and the big fireworks display night and, unfortunately, we'll always have a few idiots who believe they can set off more, bigger and better fireworks than the professionals. In two words... They can't! The emergency room will see quite a few who think they can. Again, They can't!

Fireworks around a boat full of flammable fuel is stupid. No other way to put it. Fireworks set off by people sotted with booze, and around vessels laden with combustibles and flammable gasoline is downright lunacy, and criminal behavior at best. A fire started in such a manner is a felony in most states and if someone is injured, or God forbid, killed, the person playing with the pyrotechnics could end up facing manslaughter charges or worse.

So, let the professionals set off the fireworks displays and just sit and enjoy them. If you don't have to get behind the wheel of a boat or vehicle, pop open a cold one and enjoy the show and count your blessings for a Free USA. Oh yeah, count your eyes and fingers while you're at it too, since there is a good chance if you played with those pyrotechnics yourself, you might be missing a digit or two, or not be able to see the beautiful fireworks display.

Take it from one who has seen many years of the beauty and the beast in pyrotechnics, gone good and gone bad. You never want to see the bad side, believe me.

Happy Fourth of July and have a Safe Summer.

Safe Boating.


Well, many of you will want to know what makes me an expert on cooking safety. I don't cook much, still have all my fingers, some of my hair, and haven't burned up my boat, so I'm at least one up on a few commercial boaters in Southern California. But, seriously, cooking accidents are especially dangerous aboard a boat, and a few precautions can reduce the risk to you and your boat.

Alcohol Stoves:

Some older vessels still have alcohol stoves. NEVER fill a hot stove. On a pressurized stove, let the stove cool before bleeding off pressure and filling. On a cartridge or canister type stove, let the canister cool before filling, and ALWAYS remove the canister from the stove before filling. Remove extra alcohol from the area where you are cooking. Keep spare fuel tightly capped, and stowed where the container will not rust through. Wipe up spilled fuel immediately. And, keep a small spray bottle filled with water near the stove. A fine mist will tame alcohol flare ups, and repeated mist sprays will usually extinguish a small cooking fire. DO NOT use a straight stream; this will only spread the burning alcohol, or grease, to other areas.


If you use liquid propane gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG), check the appliances and all supply lines regularly for leakage. Be sure regulators and solenoids, if equipped, are working properly. If you use LPG, the preferred tank location is above decks, away from openings where escaping vapors could enter the enclosed spaces of your vessel. If your tank is in an enclosure, designed for LPG storage, be sure the vents are free of blockage and there are no openings that will allow gas to seep into the bilge. Check the tanks frequently. If a tank is damaged, or severely rusted or corroded, replace it. With CNG, refuse to accept exchange tanks that are damaged or deteriorated. And, shut off the supply at the tank when the system is not in use.

Install a gas vapor detector in the engine and bilge spaces of the boat if you use LPG. Vapors are heavier than air, and a leak can go undetected, while filling your bilge and engine spaces with explosive vapors.


Some people combine business and pleasure by having a gas barbecue on board, either the type that uses the small disposable cylinders. Always store the cylinders above decks, and take the same precautions you would with larger tanks. These cylinders, containing sixteen to twenty ounces of LPG, can put enough gas vapor in your boat to destroy it at the slightest spark. Consider a mesh bag tied to a deck stanchion or railing where the cylinders will not be damaged yet receive plenty of ventilation. If your deck cooking arrangement is plumbed into the LPG/CNG gas system of the vessel, it deserves the same respect and care as the galley stove. Check the supply lines regularly for damage or corrosion.

If you use charcoal for occasional deck cooking, be sure it's COMPLETELY cool before disposing of the coals. While the briquettes can be only warm on the outside, the centers can still be glowing hot, sometimes for up to eighteen hours after cooking. I have personally witnessed fires started like this. And, don't use flammable liquids, such as gasoline, for igniting the briquettes. Use starter fluid, starter cubes or similar to ignite your fire.

Be sure to have a fire extinguisher in the galley area, so it is ready for use if needed. Don't mount it over the stove, where you won't be able to reach it if there is a fire. Keep an extinguisher on deck near your cooking area too.

A fire on board can be a terrifying ordeal for all. Cook safely, and you won't have all those extra guests, from the Coast Guard, Harbor Patrol or from the fire department, on your boat at chow time. They really won't mind not being invited.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Outdoor Christmas Lighting & Holiday Displays

The time of year is once upon us; time to emblazon the masts and decks with festive lighting adorning our boats and yachts in Christmas cheer. Unfortunately, numerous times during this joyous season, injuries and fires occur as a result of decorative lighting, so here's a few tips to help make your holiday decorating safe:

1. Every outdoor light or fixture must be connected to a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, often referred to as a GFCI. It's a protective device that is critical for all outside lighting and decorative devices. If you don't have GFCI's permanently installed on your electrical system controlling your deck and other outside outlets, get them installed! In the interim, you can purchase temporary GFCI's as part of electrical cord sets such as contractors use and plug your light sets into the cord set. Not highly recommended over permanent GFCI's, but lots better than none at all. All potentially wet or damp location electrical outlets requires a GFCI. Period.

2. Use only U/L Listed electric lights, cords and timers. It's also wise to check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website on occasion for recalled products ( as some of the poorly assembled light sets from overseas are frequently recalled due to shock or fire hazards.

3. Use only lights that are listed for outdoor use if you are placing them outdoors. Those listed for indoor/outdoor use are suitable too. Same goes for extension cords and timers and other electrical equipment. Be sure it's listed for, and suited for, outside use. Protect timers and connections from direct rain and moisture as much as possible, Be sure to place electrical connections where children will not be prone to contact them. I wrap every plug connection with electrical tape or shrink tape to form a weather-resistant mating just as an extra measure of caution, in case the wire ends up laying on the deck in the rain. Keep cord sets up and off the decks and protected from being in direct contact with the water as much as possible. Remember this is 120 volts we're dealing with and it can be deadly!

4. Connect only the recommended number of strings of lights together so as not to exceed the safe current capacity of the wiring. You may be running the lights off a fifteen or twenty ampere circuit but the wiring to the strings may be only able to support a fraction of that amount of current.

5. Consider using L.E.D. (Light Emitting Diode) lights, and replacing worn out strings of lights with the new LED lights. They use much less electricity, which will save on your electric bill, are cool to the touch so they're safer, and many are rated for 10,000 hours of light which means years of use without trying to find that darned single burned out bulb in the string that caused the entire thing to go out! Prices have come way down besides, making them very affordable.

6. Use care when hanging lights. Wiring is fragile and can be damaged easily on some of the strings. If a string appears to be damaged, do not attempt to repair it. Discard it and replace it with a new set. Plus, some of the home centers have trade-in coupons on trading in your old incandescent lights on the neer LED lights!

7. Consider using timers on your lights to avoid having to plug in and unplug your lights every night. Timers come in weatherproof versions at very reasonable prices, and many are available that will allow lights to come on at dusk, then remain on for a period of time you set, from 2 hours all the way up to 12 hours, or until daylight if you prefer. Saves energy, both electrical and yours!

8. Check all lights and wiring before using and again at the end of the season. If anything needs replacement, after Christmas sales may be the ideal time to do so, saving some cash and a potential injury or fire loss at the same time.

9. Take care when placing decorations and lights near walkways, docks, and other areas people or animals may transit. If they brush against or become entangled in the wiring, falls, shocks and other injuries can occur. We all laugh as Chevy Chase and others stand in awe as the decorations fall off the roof, or the lights fall on the neighbor, but when it happens at your boat or home, it isn't all that funny.

10. Be safe with ladders. Make sure the ladder is securely footed and has a good grip on the deck or ground. The base of the ladder should be level and firm and far away enough from the vertical surface that the ladder will not tilt back when you climb it. Follow the 1:4 ratio, where the base of the ladder is one foot away from the vertical surface for every 4 feet of vertical rise. Thus if you have a 10 foot bulkhead, the ladder should be a minimum of 2 1/2 feet away from the wall at the bottom. The top of the ladder should extend 3 feet above the roof or support surface at the top. Have a ladder buddy hold the ladder when possible. Use a ladder with rubber non-slip feet.

If you're using a stepladder, never stand on the top; it's not a step. Stay two steps down from the top. Be sure the ladder is secure before climbing.

Be sure ladders are in good condition before use. And, look around before using a ladder. If you're using an aluminum ladder...check for electric lines! (This applies to when you are installing antennas or masts as well...I hate the crackling sound of fried mariners!) Get in the habit of checking your surroundings, so when you put up or remove your decorations, you can do it safely. Aluminum ladders and electricity are NOT friends. Be safe, not sorry.

11. If you're using a generator to power your lights and display, be sure it has a GFCI connected to the power outlet, and that the generator is grounded! Generator power can be just as deadly as utility power if something goes wrong. If you're using a generator, be sure the exhaust is located far away from all sources of entry to your vessel to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Have your CO monitors up and working; test them regularly and heed any alarms you receive. Many a party has ended suddenly and, in some cases, tragically, as a result of generator exhaust entering the cabin and overcoming the party-goers. It's a silent killer, so be sure it doesn't come stalking your holiday gathering!

Enjoy the season safely and ...



My apologies are in order for letting this blog get so far behind. I write other blogs and combined with a busy summer and fall, I just let this one slide too far behind. In the old Latin essence, Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa. No other way of looking at it. I'll be getting some new information up here real soon for you and I appreciate your continued viewing.

Be safe and for those who still have open water under their hulls, Safe Boating!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Piracy and Justice

Just a few comments on the recent piracy issues off Somalia.

Great shooting, U.S. Navy! Keep those snipers active and you can bet they'll be very useful again. And, if there are more piracy events, the Marines should recreate a move like their take down of the Barbary Coast pirates in 1805 and clean house! As memorialized in the Marine Hymn..."to the shores of Tripoli,"

It's about time we quit putting up with people who want to hold the US, or any other maritime venture, for ransom. Get tough and kick butt. Pirates have always been somewhere but when they get this bold, destroy them. Go into the pirates den, smoke them out and get rid of them like the cockroaches they are.

The seas have been open to trade for centuries and when a band of rogue bums who call themselves anything but what they are, pirates and thieves, disrupts commerce and free trade, it's time to get tough and take them out, so trade can resume without fear.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Emergency Procedures # III

You need to write your own game plan, but this is mine so feel free to copy it and use it to your best interests:



In the event of fire on deck or in the cabin areas, there are three dry chemical fire extinguishers available. These are located:

a. In the cabinet under the aft deck wet bar.
b. In the aft cabin closet.
c. Under the port seat in the cockpit.

To use these units, you should:

1. PULL THE PIN from the extinguisher handle.
2. POINT THE NOZZLE of the extinguisher at the BASE of the flames.
3. SQUEEZE THE HANDLE and sweep the powder stream from side to side.
4. WATCH for re-flash and be prepared to use additional units if needed.

Should the fire be in bedding or a cushion, water may be needed to extinguish the remainder of the smoldering materials. Use copious quantities of water from the galley and pour on the fire as needed.



In the event of a fire in the engine room, DO NOT OPEN THE HATCHES. Shut down all engines, machinery, and blowers. The fixed Halon extinguishing system will actuate and should extinguish the fire. Any further fire extinguishing efforts should be undertaken carefully, as opening the hatches may result in flare up of incompletely extinguished materials. If you MUST open the hatches, stand by with an extinguisher at the ready and do so very carefully.


This should be treated as a cabin or deck fire and hand portable extinguishers used as above. However, if the fire cannot be controlled with hand extinguishers, it is likely best to close the hatches and wait for the fixed Halon extinguishing system to activate. Then, handle as above.


A personal flotation device has been provided for every person on board this vessel. These are for your own protection. The sea is a very unforgiving environment, and you can't stay afloat long without a life jacket. Life jackets or life vests are located in the yellow "LIFE JACKET" bag in the cockpit and also in the compartment under the port side mates seat in the cockpit.

Read the instructions on the life jacket or vest for complete information on how to put it on and fasten it securely. If you don't know how to use it, ASK THE CREW NOW. We'll be glad to show you how. Don't wait until you really need it to ask.

If you do not swim, you should wear your life jacket at all times, particularly when you venture outside the cabin or cockpit areas. Even if you are a good swimmer, you should wear your life jacket whenever conditions warrant. And, during severe sea conditions, or whenever the captain indicates he believes it is prudent to do so,


Children who do not swim will be required to wear life jackets at all times. Parents or guardians will be asked to bring appropriate personal flotation devices for their children, and will be expected to do so. We will make every attempt to accommodate everyone with the correct size life jacket, but if there is even one person who does not have an appropriate personal flotation device available, WE WILL NOT LEAVE THE DOCK! No day on the water is worth endangering a human life.


Welcome aboard the Gypsy Rose II. We're glad you're here and hope you enjoy your time aboard.

A boat is much different than a house or car, and some systems are very temperamental, so I'd like to point out some very simple rules we all live by while on board:

1. YOUR PFD or LIFE JACKET: There is a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) for everyone on board. Be sure you know where they are and how to put them on. If you have children with you, it's YOUR responsibility to be sure they wear their PFD whenever necessary.

2. NO SMOKING. There is no smoking allowed on board. If you must smoke, please feel free to step out on the dock, away from the vessel. While we are underway, feel free to step off the swim platform. (Take your PFD!)

3. THE TOILET: We call it a HEAD, and the simple rule is; IF YOU HAVEN"T EATEN OR DRANK IT FIRST, IT DOESN'T GO IN THE HEAD. No papers, paper towels, sanitary napkins, tampons, diapers, baby wipes, cloth, pins or anything else. These will clog the unit and make life miserable for ALL on board. Before you need to use it, please ask us to show you how it works.

4. The GALLEY (kitchen) sink: Again, please refrain from putting anything down the sink except water. We don't have any plumbers at sea.

5. GARBAGE: Please place all trash and garbage in the trash cans provided in the cabin and in the cockpit. In addition to saving our environment, it's illegal to dispose of trash and garbage carelessly.

6. PLASTIC: Please be sure that all plastics, regardless of how small or insignificant the pieces seem, are discarded in the trash cans. While plastics make our life better, they severely endanger the marine environment. And, again, it's the law.

7. ZERO DRUG TOLERANCE: We do not condone nor will we allow the use of or carrying of illicit drugs aboard this vessel. If you are carrying or using illegal drugs, LEAVE NOW. You are not welcome aboard and will be reported to authorities.

Please take a few minutes and review the information in this manual. We always expect a smooth voyage, but we always like to be prepared in the event things don't go just the way we planned.


Emergency Procedures #II

In the event of a NON LIFE THREATENING EMERGENCY, follow the instructions 1 through 4 above, but say the following:

VESSEL ASSIST, this is the NAME OF YOUR VESSEL AND CALL NUMBERS. Release the button and listen for a response. If no response, try again.

When asked, give the following information:

A. The nature of the emergency.
B. The number of people on board.
C. Your position. (Look at the LORAN and/or GPS screen and give position in lat/lon)
D. Description of vessel. (mine would be 36 ft. express cruiser, white hull and decks, red trim, red canvas, registration number CF 1889 SE) and any other information requested. Vessel Assist or Sea Tow, the at-sea version of the Automobile Club,may request the membership number, if known.

If you are a member of a towing service, there is usually no charge for towing back to your home port. Be sure to specify just where that home port is and request towing to there, or you could wind up at the closest fuel and repair dock.

If you cannot contact your towing service. call the Coast Guard and request they contact the towing service for you. Explain to the Coast Guard the nature of the problem, and they will advise you as to procedures.


You can also utilize the cellular phone for emergencies. If there is a life threatening emergency and you cannot reach the Coast Guard on the radio, try the cellular and dial 911. The police can assist you and contact the Coast Guard. Just remember a cellular phone has very limited range, and if you're far offshore, the cell phone may be useless. It is no substitute for the marine VHF radio!