A Face Plant at Speed

sailing, spinnaker

A Face Plant at Speed in Big Wind

Running with the spinnaker up in good wind with a planing hull is a rush when the boat pops up out of the water and starts planing.

If the wind is too big serious damage can be done, from the simple like destroying a sail when the spinnaker is “shrimped” and wrapped around the keel, putting crew overboard, injuring the crew, breaking the mast or other damage to the boat.

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Correcting chart discrepancies at Alaska’s Whale Passage


The difficult struggles NOAA goes through to bring us updated charts were highlighted for Alaska’s Whale Passage. Frequent 7 knot currents, currents so bad that surveys could only be done in one direction, areas last surveyed 100 years ago, projected currents not at all like the actual currents, charted depths twice the actual depths (charted 48 ft. but the actual was only 24 ft.)
Hats off to NOAA for yet another chart update in tough conditions.

Originally posted on NOAA COAST SURVEY:

by Ensign Sarah Chappel, NOAA Ship Rainier

NOAA Ship Rainier recently surveyed Whale Passage, which separates Whale Island from Kodiak Island, Alaska. The area has never been surveyed with modern full bottom coverage methods, and some project areas were last surveyed by lead lines around a hundred years ago. The area frequently experiences 7 knot currents, making rocky or shoal areas particularly treacherous. Whale Passage is a high traffic area for fishing vessels, U.S. Coast Guard cutters, barges, ferries, and small boats, which is why updating the area’s nautical charts is so important.

entrance to Whale Passage

Strong currents push around Ilkognak Rock daymark at the entrance of Whale Passage. (Photo by LTJG Damian Manda)

The dynamics of the passage and surrounding area create several challenges for the hydrographic survey teams. The local tidal and current models are not well-known. To resolve this, Rainier was instructed to install four tide gauges in the…

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Making Spiral Pelican Hook Lanyards & Key Fobs

Spiral Portuguese Sennit, key fob

Spiral Key Fob using a Spiral Portuguese Sennit

After I wrote the original article on Lanyards & Key Fobs, some friends saw the spiral version and wanted to know how to make the spiral key fobs.

Making a Spiral Portuguese Sennit, key fob is not too difficult and the spiral gives a new texture and color pattern.

Either the original flat Lanyards and Key Fobs or the Spiral versions are easy to make with a bit of practice.  These make great little gifts for people, make them in their college or favorite colors.

If you have friends with sailboats with Pelican Hooks on their lifelines, make them a set Red & Green Lanyards for their Pelican Hooks, if you are in a bit of a joker mood, install them with the colors reversed.

I have given many Key Fobs & Pelican Hook Lanyards to friends and others as gifts, since everyone seems to like different colors, I made a large assortment of many different colors and line types then let people choose their favorite color.

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Coast Survey improves access to data on thousands of wrecks and obstructions


NOAA keeps getting better, now the public has access to information on 13,000 wrecks and 6,000 obstructions.
Great job folks

Originally posted on NOAA COAST SURVEY:

Knowing the locations of shipwrecks and other obstructions has always been important for safe navigation ‒ but mariners are not the only people who want to know about wrecks. They are also important for marine archeology, recreational diving, salvage operations, and fishing, among other interests. Now, Coast Survey has improved our Wrecks and Obstructions Database, giving everyone easy access to new records to explore.

Web-based map of wrecks

Coast Survey’s wrecks and obstructions database provides info on thousands of wrecks.

Historically, Coast Survey has maintained two separate sources of information on wrecks. We recently combined the sources, bringing together information on nearly 20,000 wrecks and obstructions.


Coast Survey established the Automated Wreck and Obstruction Information System (AWOIS) database in 1981 to help estimate the level of effort required to investigate items during a planned hydrographic survey, but maritime users were also interested in AWOIS’ historical records. However, because the emphasis is on…

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Round Turn and Two Half Hitches

Round turn and two half hitches - fender knot

Round Turn and Two Half Hitches, great knot for tying fenders and all around useful knot

A great Fender Knot is the Round Turn and Two Half Hitches, it is also a great all around knot for both using on a boat and at home.

I find the Round Turn and Two Half Hitches just as quick if not quicker to tie and much more secure than the more commonly used Clove Hitch.

The Round Turn part of the knot provides friction on the item it is tied around, the friction lets you control a load with ease.  When tying a fender the Round Turn lets the fender be held up using just your finger tips while tying the Round Turn and Two Half Hitches.

If I use a Clove Hitch, most of the time I will use Two Half Hitches to secure the Clove Hitch to keep the Clove Hitch from slipping.

The Round Turn and Two Half Hitches is my preferred knot for Tying to a Bull Rail.

A Towboat Hitch / Capstan Hitch is another great knot when you need to tie a line to a single post or a winch on a sailboat.

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Towboat Hitch / Capstan Hitch – UPDATED

Towboat / Capstan Hitch tied on a sailboat winch

Towboat / Capstan Hitch tied on a sailboat winch

The Towboat Hitch or Capstan Hitch is a great knot or hitch to use when you need to tie a line to your winch or a post.  The Towboat Hitch or Capstan Hitch is quick and easy to tie, very secure, and can be released under load.

The Towboat / Capstan Hitch is great when you need to tie to a piling or similar object.

Winches on sailboats are usually very solidly mounted because of the high sheet loads, this makes them a nice attachment point when towing another boat, winches are also usually easier to reach than cleats.

The Towboat / Capstan Hitch is a well kept secret, I have demoed this for people who have sailed all their life and the look on their face is one of amazement.

I have updated the instructions with better pictures and instructions.

Practice this one a few times and amaze your friends and fellow boaters.

Read Towboat Hitch / Capstan Hitch – UPDATED

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Pelican Hooks

Pelican Hook for a Lifeline

Pelican Hook for a Lifeline

The simple Pelican Hook seems to befuddle many crew members (and a fair number of skippers also).   Here are some simple tips to take the mystery out of the Pelican Hook.

Improper operation of the Pelican Hook can damage the Pelican Hook or cause it to open up unexpectedly causing the gate of Lifeline to open up.  That can lead to crew members falling overboard if the lifeline is not secure.  Even if a crew member is just using the lifeline to help a bit with balance, suddenly having the lifeline go slack can be a very bad surprise and can lead to injury or crew going overboard.

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21st Century ATON’s & Waterway Safety

Virtual AIS ATON's

Virtual AIS Aids To Navigation (ATON’s) help protect the Bay Bridge in San Francisco

Tuesday June 3, 2014 I attended the Future of Navigation Listening Session in Seattle.

This was a chance for Puget Sound boaters to find out about recent Aids to Navigation changes and hear about changes on the way and for boaters to give feedback on their needs and concerns on the future of navigation.

I arrived way early for the session, that was a very good decision as LT R David Lewald, USCG introduced himself and we had a nice chat before the meeting started.  I expressed concerns I and my friends had as recreational boaters.  The concerns ranged from shifting to AIS (Automatic Identification System) based Virtual Aids to Navigation (ATON’s that are not physical but represented by an AIS signal (see below for more info)) to the changing of the physical ATON’s and a concern the physical ATON’s would be removed.  Mr Lewald indicated that the Coast Guard District 13 would be maintaining the current ATON’s, however he noted that change happens and vessel traffic changes over time and the ATON’s need to change to meet the changing needs.  He also said that the Coast Guard was adding new tools to help them better meet recreational boaters needs and the open Listening Sessions held at several cities are another attempt to get feedback from everyone that uses the waterways.

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