Hoax calls affect us all – A Bit of History

Coast Guard RBM going quickly, photo courtesy USCG

A rather sobering bit of information from the U.S. Coast Guard 5th District Mid-Atlantic on the impact of false MAYDAY calls.

This is the fishing vessel SOL E MAR. This is a MAYDAY, were sinking, we need help now! were the some of the last words of 19-year-old Billy Hokanson, as the fishing boat that he and his father, William was on sank to the bottom of the ocean on March 25, 1990.

Coast Guard Stations Menemsha and Brad Point, both off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, received the distress call on marine radio channel 16 distorted by heavy amounts of static. Both stations attempted to call the boat back, but did not get an answer. About a minute after Hakansons transmission, a separate call came through channel 16.

SOS, I’m sinking, the caller said in playful tone with laughter.

Both distress calls were presumed to be related and deemed as hoaxes.

The bodies of the Hoakansons never found.

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Coast Guard locates vessel with 49 people after passenger calls 911 reporting operator lost in heavy fog off Navy Pier.

Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class LaNola Stone
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters

What was anyone not thinking?  In fog with no navigation system or marine radio.

CHICAGO  —  The Coast Guard located a motor vessel with 49 people aboard after one of the passengers called 911 stating she was concerned that the operator had become disoriented in heavy fog off of Navy Pier near the Chicago Harbor breakwall, Saturday.

Shortly before 11 p.m., a watchstander in the Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan command center received a call from Chicago 911 that a concerned passenger aboard the vessel, Serenity, a 56-foot yacht, reported the vessel had become disoriented in heavy fog with visibility less than one-quarter of a mile.

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Contest – Depose the Bowline – My Entry Was The Winner!!

Towboat Hitch / Capstan Hitch

Towboat Hitch / Capstan Hitch

Recently Brion Toss a well respected Pacific Northwest Yacht Rigger and author of several books on yacht rigging had a contest to find a knot that might not be as well known as the Bowline but worthy of more people being aware of it.

I entered the contest and won, please see below for Brion’s original question and my winning answer.

This week’s Puzzle will be a little different: instead of asking you some tricky rigging question, I want you to convince me that you have the best answer to the following:

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NOAA announces launch of crowdsourced bathymetry database

Great way for NOAA to extend it’s reach and detect when an area needs to be resurveyed. Also for boaters to get the benefit of “local knowledge” about changes to the sea floor before you run aground on a new shallow area.


By, Lt. Cmdr. Adam Reed, Integrated Oceans and Coastal Mapping (IOCM) Assistant Coordinator

Today NOAA announces the end of a testing phase in the development of a new crowdsourced bathymetry database. Bathymetric observations and measurements from participants in citizen science and crowdsourced programs are now archived and made available to the public through the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry (DCDB) Data Viewer. The operationalized database allows free access to millions of ocean depth data points, and serves as a powerful source of information to improve navigational products.

The crowdsourced bathymetry database, displayed in the IHO Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry Data Viewer, has an updated user interface. The crowdsourced bathymetry database, displayed in the IHO Data Centre for Digital Bathymetry Data Viewer, has an updated user interface.

NOAA began database development in 2014 with the IHO Crowdsourced Bathymetry Working Group. The database is part of the IHO DCDB and is hosted at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), which offers access to archives…

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NOAA releases documentary on women’s service in the NOAA Corps

Rear Adm. Harley Nygren (NOAA ret.) and Cmdr. Pam Chelgren-Koterba (NOAA ret.). Nygren was the first director of the NOAA Corps and penned entry for women to serve. Chelgren was the first woman to join the NOAA Corps in 1972, under Nygren’s leadership. (NOAA Image)

An interesting video by the NOAA Corps on the integrating of women onboard ships and airplanes starting in 1972 as told by many of the women that were there.

NOAA has it’s roots from 1807 when Thomas Jefferson called for The Survey of the Coast, NOAA has been proudly serving the country ever since.

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, NOAA announces the release of Women of the NOAA Corps: Reflections from Sea and Sky, a documentary that highlights the important role women play in the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.

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NOAA launches new Nautical Chart Catalog

Fewer clicks and easier for me to navigate, Shows all the charts for a given area (i.e. South Puget Sound shows all the current charts available with a button to click on for the options such as a PDF file or a Booklet Chart.

Easier for me to use, hats off to NOAA for a nice improvement. Thanks Much


With NOAA’s new Nautical Chart Catalog, users can readily access raster data and charting products in list format. The website serves as a complement to the Chart Locator by providing search capability for any of NOAA’s thousand plus nautical charts.


The catalog redesign simplifies the user experience by reducing the number of clicks it takes to access a product. Legacy website data has been consolidated into a single page which makes the searching process a more intuitive user experience. Responsive design has been implemented making the site both desktop and mobile friendly.

Additional searching and sorting functionality has been added to the new catalog to increase product accessibility. The redesign provides the ability for users to find and download NOAA RNC®, full-sized nautical charts in PDF format, BookletCharts™, notice to mariners chart corrections, a list of chart agents, and the ability to view online images of raster (paper) charts. A…

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Repairing The Lower Boom Vang Mount

Failed lower Boom Vang Mount and mounting bolts

Last fall we were sailing along nicely on a medium wind day when we heard a loud bang, the bang got our attention but looking around we were not able to see anything wrong, shrouds and stays were fine and the rest of the rig also looked OK.

A few minutes later as we were still trying to figure out the first bang a second loud bang happened and the boom jumped up and we could see the Boom Vang hanging loose, mystery solved!

With no Boom Vang the trip back home was cautious, I probably could have rigged a temporary lower mount but the wind was not too bad and we were not far from home so we did not rig a temporary mount.

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Avoiding The US Coast Guard Vessel Documentation Scam

US Coast Guard Vessel Documentation

There seems to be a bit of a scam going around with several companies offering to “help” you renew your USCG Vessel Documentation, the catch?  The help will cost you several times the normal cost $ 26.00  the US Coast Guard charges.  Some people in a sailing group I belong to have fallen for this scam.

The Vessel Documentation scam works in at least two ways,

1) You go  to the internet and search for something like “USCG Vessel Documentation” and click on one of the links that looks like a Vessel Documentation link, the bogus links look real official as do the web pages.  From there you are prompted to click on some links and enter your vessel information and pay some money.  The catch?  One of the sites I looked at wanted $ 76.00 for a single year, a nice $ 50.00 service fee.  The Coast Guard site is so so for search engines so the official US Coast Guard Vessel Documentation site was down toward the bottom of the first page for me, so you need to look and be careful or use the link posted below.

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