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Florida By Water

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Don’t be a rope-a-dope

Screen_Shot_2012-12-11_at_6.52.52_PMIn the whole scheme of boating one of the least expensive items you’ll buy for your boat is a set of dock lines. You’ll handle the lines every time you go boating.  So why do so many boaters refuse to spend a few bucks?
At my marina you’ll see lines of different sizes and colors, some with eye splices and some with knots and I’m talking about the same boat. One of the signs of an amateur boater, in addition to cruising around with all your fenders hanging, is wrapping the excess line around the dock cleat 35 times rather than making a neat Flemish flake or a slip chain. Lastly, don’t be a rope-a-dope. There are no ropes on a boat. As soon as a rope goes on the boat or is tied to it, it’s a line.
The test of a good knot is can it be untied easily. Recently a boat in my marina was moving and the owner had his detailer, Jose, helping him move. Jose spent half an hour to untie the line from the piling. This negated the savings of not buying a line with an eye. Three strand nylon with a prespliced eye is only a few dollars more. A knot can reduce the strength of a line up to 50%. A splice can retain about 90% of the tensile strength.

Captain’s License Renewal


bobe2My first ICW trip was on my Uncle Russ’ Higgins named “Tempus Fugit.” If your Latin is rusty, tempus fugit means time flies. Time does flies; five years have passed and it’s time to renew my Captain’s License. My license expires in 2013. However, the process can be started 12 months prior.

Under the provisions of the new Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC) regulations, which became effective April 15, 2009, mariners are able to submit credential applications by mail to one of the 17 Regional Examination Centers (REC) located throughout the nation and will no longer need to appear at an REC. This will save mariners time and money. If you live in the Miami area you’ll avoid lots of aggravation.

Safe Boating


National Safe Boating week ended on May 25th. If you are reading this article it means you lived through it. In 2011, according to the USCG, there were 4588 accidents and 758 deaths. The Coast Guard and most boating organization stress the importance of wearing a PFD, and for good reason. Seventy percent of the 2011 deaths were due to drowning. So while this is good advice it’s better if you never find yourself in the water. You’ll notice in the picture below the driver is wearing a PFD.

Operator inattention and improper lookout are the top causes of accidents, as the operator in the picture above is demonstrating. To me they are one in the same. Third place is inexperience. While it’s important to take a safe boating course, such as those offered by the Coast Guard Auxiliary or the US Power Squadron, they don’t teach you how to operate your boat. Unfortunately a safe boating course and a check book are all you need to buy a boat and head out to sea.


B & B on Peanut Island

Screen_Shot_2012-04-28_at_6.50.58_AMIf you’re thinking Bed & Breakfast, think again. I’m talking Beer & Boating. Anchored in a quiet cove with a cold beer watching the young girls in bikinis on the neighboring boat; it doesn’t get any better than this. This scenario has spawned a TV Reality Show filmed at Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where local police go from boat to boat looking for intoxicated boaters. Local city officials claim it gives the city a bad name. The chamber of commerce probably thinks otherwise.

Each year Sea Ray hosts a national raft-up party called Aquapalooza. The signature event in 2010 was held at Lake Travis, Texas and featured Brad Paisley. Unofficial estimates put the number of people at 50,000. The 2011 event, featuring Sawyer Brown, was held at Lake Martin, Alabama, but only attracted 25,000 people.


Boat Show Masochist

bobe2The 27th annual Palm Beach Boat Show was held this March. Even though I sold my boat a year ago I thought I’d take a look. My wife asked “why I do this to myself; you know it will be painful.” The show fell on my birthday. What better way to spend my birthday than to roam the boat show; not to mention the free tickets. I had went with my wife and her sister, who also had March birthdays. However, they would not accept the free tickets as birthday presents.

I parked at the garage at City Place. I checked the fine print and calculated that it would cost me about $5 to park. Luckily I had an extra ticket, so I waited by the box office for someone looking to save a few bucks. Admission was $14, so I thought $5 for the ticket was reasonable and it would cover my parking. I sold it to my first customer.

We took the free trolley from City Place to the show. When we got off the trolley I bumped into an old friend who was displaying a boat in the show. He asked why we were there so early? “What do you mean, the show opened at 10:00?” I said. “Better check the fine print on the ticket.” Sure enough the first day the show opened at 12:00. We were only an hour early. It was a long hour as my wife berated me for not reading the ticket. If that wasn’t bad enough, when we picked up our car to head home, the parking cost $10. I got another tongue-lashing for not reading the sign at the garage entrance. You’d think they would cut me some slack for my birthday.