Hearing slapping halyards can be annoying or even enraging. It’s an unnecessary noise, and the person who doesn’t tie off the halyards is being inconsiderate of others. It’s as annoying as a barking dog that yaps all the time, ignored by its owner. If you’re a sailboat operator tie, off the halyards away from the mast whenever the boat is at anchor, on a mooring, in a marina, or stored on land. Even the halyards on a small sailboat can make a racket. If you’re bothered by a noisy nearby sailboat and someone is aboard, it’s perfectly OK to ask that the halyards be tied off. I know some boaters who will go aboard an unoccupied sailboat in a marina with a length of heavy twine and tie the halyards off themselves. It’s probably not legal to go aboard, but they are annoyed enough to do it. There’s a story circulating about a woman who lived at Great Salt Pond in Block Island, Rhode Island, who rowed out to sailboats to request that they tie off their halyards because she could hear them from her house on the harbor. Be a good neighbor.
With the recent rescues of disabled Carnival cruise ships by the Coast Guard, it has been suggested by some legislators and some of the public that the cruise line should reimburse the government for the cost of the services. From time to time, someone suggests that anyone who uses Coast Guard services should be required to pay for the rescue.
Mario Vittone has written an interesting perspective on this issue on gCaptain.com: http://tinyurl.com/c8yk9m7. Mr. Vittone has twenty-one years of combined military service in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, and he writes and lectures extensively on maritime safety topics. His website has important and interesting information for the general boating public: www.mariovittone.com.
Long, well-written, detailed analysis by Thom Patterson on CNN.com about the sinking of the tall ship Bounty. http://www.cnn.com/interactive/2013/03/us/bounty/?hpt=hp_c1
I recently attended the Seven Seas Cruising Association Gam in Annapolis, MD and had the pleasant fortune to sit at a dinner table with three couples who are preparing to begin long-term cruising in the next few years. Conversation flowed freely and they talked about what they have been doing to get ready to go and how they were feeling about what lies ahead. It seemed that they all share the cruising attitude, one of the requirements for a successful experience. Some of the things they were doing include:
(1) paying attention to preparing the boat.
(2) developing skills for self-reliance afloat.
(3) reading as much as they can about all sorts of subjects relevant to cruising and attending cruising-oriented events to hear presentations from recognized experts.
(4) taking courses in navigation and other nautical subjects.
(5) learning and practicing safety techniques.
(6) having realistic expectations.
(7) looking forward to new experiences and meeting new people.
(8) expressing a positive attitude, enthusiasm AND (last but definitely not least) a sense of humor.
What else can you add to this list?
Here I’m talking about boats in the approximate 8-18ft/2.5 to 6m range, such as canoes, kayaks, dinghies and small rowboats with or without an outboard. An excursion could be a long ride from the big boat to shore or to another boat, a trip up a river or creek, a ride out to a nearby island or fishing spot, or any trip that takes you away from immediate aid if something happens to you or the boat. The farther you take the boat from land or nearby vessels, the better it should be equipped.
In addition to whatever comfort items you take, such as food, drinking water, fishing gear, extra clothing, etc., have lifejackets for everyone aboard and proper navigation lights for the boat’s size, if you’ll be out after dark. An outboard powered boat should have an air horn to comply with the Navigation Rules for power-driven vessels, and it’s also a good emergency signaling device. Comply with any equipment rules set by your state or country.
The following supplies fit in a small carrying bag or box: duct tape, spare pieces of rope and light line, WD-40® or similar, a sharp knife, a basic first aid kit, a survival blanket, a simple tool kit or a multi-tool, and anything you may need for the outboard.
The boat should have an anchor of suitable size and a length of anchor rode approximately three times longer than the prevailing depths where you will travel. Can you row the boat in a breeze, against a current, or if the motor dies? Having an anchor may be very important if you can’t! For some excursions you may wish to include a handheld VHF radio and/or a mobile phone (if within coverage range).
Flag etiquette may seem to be an old-fashioned concept, but even today there are guidelines for the proper display of flags aboard a boat. The purpose of the guidelines is to give each flag the respect it deserves by flying it in the proper position and to show respect for maritime traditions. The national flag (also called the ensign) of the country receives the place of honor: it may be flown on a stern staff on all boats, or two-thirds up the leech of the aftermost sail of a sailboat. In most countries, the correct national ensign is that of the country where the boat is registered, not the national flag of the skipper’s homeland, if it differs from the country of registry. The ensign should be in good condition; replace a faded or tattered flag. In some countries it is customary to display the ensign when the vessel is moored or at anchor only from 8:00 a.m. until sunset (or some particular evening time, such as 9:00 p.m.). Flags are flown continually when the vessel is underway. Where do you fly other flags, such as a yacht club or cruising club burgee, a courtesy ensign, or a “fun flag”? The website of the U.S. Power Squadron (www.usps.org) has guidelines for the proper display of flags on U.S.-registered vessels. The UK RYA (Royal Yachting Association, www.rya.org.uk) has a good booklet on “flag etiquette and visual signals” as they apply to both UK-registered vessels and vessels of other countries. The websites of boating organizations in other countries may have flag display guidelines for vessels registered in the particular country.
Priscilla Travis spends more than 110 days each year on the water, takes photos, and writes about nautical topics.