Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rigging Accommodation Ladders Aboard Ship

Ships are fitted with accommodation ladders that can be rigged and lowered over the side. These ladders provide a way for boarding or leaving an anchored vessel. Some accommodation ladders can be modified for use on a pier or barge. If more than one ladder is rigged, the forward accommodation ladder is the quarterdeck and reserved for officers and ceremonies. The after ladder is used by work details and crew liberty parties. The accommodation ladder, has an upper and lower platform that is connected by the ladder and supported by either a chain or wire bridle and bail hanging by a pendant.

Another method is the use of a metal bail shaped like an elongated upside down letter U which holds the ladder by a pendant rigged to the side of the ship or from a J-Bar davit. The lower platform of the accommodation ladder has additional parts that must be rigged. An H-Frame equipped with fenders is rigged to the outboard side of the lower platform. This H-Frame is where boats can come alongside to pick up or discharge passengers. The inboard side of the lower platform is fitted with ports called shoes, that when rigged hold the ladder in the proper position off the side of the ship. The shoes have pads attached to their ends to help prevent damage to the ship or the ladder. The lower platform also has turnbuckles, and in some cases, pendants to restrict the fore and aft movement of the ladder. The upper platform is supported by a brace known as a wishbone.

A single-sheave block is attached to the underside of the forward outboard comer of the upper platform. A line is rigged through this block which acts as a sea painter to keep a boat alongside in position with the accommodation ladder. A toggle between the strands of the line prevents the line from running up into the block and becoming inaccessible to a boat. There may be some accommodation ladders made of steel still in service, but for ease of handling, the Navy has changed to aluminum. When an accommodation ladder is secured for sea, everything is rigged in, disassembled in most cases, and stowed in brackets either on the rail or along a section of the superstructure. All of the smaller portable parts are stowed in a gear locker close to where the ladder is rigged. You should make sure all parts are on hand and that the toggle pins and bolts are seized with short sections of wire and attached to the ladder to prevent them from being lost over the ship's side.

The next step is to rig the upper platform. Remember to be careful in lining up the brackets when you are engaging the bolts. Many a hand injury has occurred from careless rigging operations. Once the upper platform is in place, the next step is to secure the ladder to it. Some ships have the ladder stowed against the rail. To attach this type ladder, you use a series of outriggers (arms swung out from the ship) to lay the ladder on and seat the ladder to the upper and lower platforms. On ships that do not have outriggers, the J-Bar davit can be used to support the ladder over the side to attach it to the upper platform. Another method is to use a ladder that engages pad eye. Depending on the type of the ship, rigging will vary. Now that you have the ladder attached to the upper platform, the lower platform and the H-Frame must be rigged. It is easier if the H-Frame is rigged to the lower platform while it is still on deck. Once the H-Frame and the lower platform are rigged on deck they must be worked over the side to attach to the ladder. This can be done by using the falls from the J-Bar davit or from some other attachment point. The ladder is now taking shape and nearly ready to lower. Rig the bail and bridle to the ladder and attach the wire pendant between the bail and the J-Bar davit. On some ships, the pendant is rigged between the bail and a pad eye alongside the ship.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How to make a Bell Rope

Back in the day of sailing ships there use to be a bell rope attached to a bell. Today even the smallest boats carry a ships's bell as required by law, but the average yachtsman generally tosses it into a locker where it lies until the day arrives when he suddenly needs it, then he discovers it has no bell rope.

Now your old time sailor, to whom the making of so common a thing as a bell rope was a labor of love rather than a chore, would have welcomed the opportunity to display his talents and would have proceeded straightforth with care and patience, as though his life depended on it. The result would be a bell rope useful and handsome, and many years and many ships later it would still be doing its duty, a monument to a simple sailor who knew his craft and took pride in the knowing.

So drag that old bell out from under the after deck where it has laid for who knows how long, polish it up, and fit it out with a real old time bell rope, sailor fashion. I'll bet you won't hide it again, but will keep it where friends can see and admire it. Which is as it should be.

The bell rope described here is a rather simple example and easy to make, it took me about four hours. Four 12 foot lengths of white cotton rope were middled and a 20 inch section laid up into a 4 strand flat sennit braid. This was doubled to form an eye or becket and a seizing put on. Then the 8 strands were divided into pairs and a square sennit worked a distance of 3 inches by alternately crowning the 4 pairs of strands first to the right and then to the left. Here the 8 strands were seized and all the slack worked out of the sennit by pulling up each bight in turn with a crochet hook.

The handle required a solid core, for which I used a 4 inch piece of wooden dowel. The 8 strands were continuously crowned to the right around this core and a seizing put on the end. The pattern formed by the crowning had a tendency to spiral to the right somewhat, so it was necessary to twist the whole works to the left in order to get the bights aligned vertically. The slack was taken out carefully until all the strands were tight and the core completely hidden.

To finish off the end, the strands were again paired and made up into a double wall and crown knot. Around the base of this knot was placed a 4 strand Turk's head. A 3 strand Turk's head next to the eye or becket, and a 2 strand Turk's head in the middle completed the job. The finished bell rope was then shellacked and given two coats of semigloss white paint. This treatment fills up the interstices between the strands and gives a weatherproof finish.

The becket was secured to the striker or clapper of the bell by a lashing of marline. You can and I have stained and vanished bell ropes, just use your imagination, make it a work of love.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sunrise and Sunset

Horizon: Wherever one is located on or near the Earth's surface, the Earth is perceived as essentially flat and as a plane. The sky resembles one-half of a sphere or dome centered at the observer. If there are no visual obstructions, the apparent intersection of the sky with the Earth's (plane) surface is the horizon, which appears as a circle centered at the observer. For rise/set computations, the observer's eye is considered to be on the surface of the Earth, so that the horizon is geometrically exactly 90 degrees from the local vertical direction.

Rise/Set: During the course of a day the Earth rotates once on its axis causing the phenomena of rising and setting. All celestial bodies, stars and planets included, seem to appear in the sky at the horizon to the East of any particular place, then to cross the sky and again disappear at the horizon to the West. The most noticeable of these events, and the most significant are the rising and setting of the Sun and Moon.

Moonrise and moonset times are computed for exactly the same circumstances as for sunrise and sunset. However, moonrise and moonset may occur at any time during a 24 hour period and, consequently, it is often possible for the Moon to be seen during daylight, and to have moonless nights. It is also possible that a moonrise or moonset does not occur relative to a specific place on a given date.

Transit: The transit time of a celestial body refers to the instant that its center crosses an imaginary line in the sky, the observer's meridian, running from north to south. For observers in low to middle latitudes, transit is approximately midway between rise and set, and represents the time at which the body is highest in the sky on any given day. At high latitudes, neither of these statements may be true, for example, there may be several transits between rise and set. The transit of the Sun is local solar (sundial) noon. The difference between the transit times of the Sun and Moon is closely related to the Moon's phase. The New Moon transits at about the same time as the Sun, the First Quarter Moon transits about 6 hours after the Sun, the Full Moon transits about 12 hours after/before the Sun, and the Last Quarter Moon transits about 6 hours before the Sun.

Twilight: Before sunrise and again after sunset there are intervals of time, twilight, during which there is natural light provided by the upper atmosphere, which does receive direct sunlight and reflects part of it toward the Earth's surface. Some outdoor activities may be conducted without artificial illumination during these intervals, and it is useful to have some means to set limits beyond which a certain activity should be assisted by artificial lighting. The major determinants of the amount of natural light during twilight are the state of the atmosphere generally and local weather conditions in particular. Atmospheric conditions are best determined at the actual time and place of events.

Civil twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 6 degrees below the horizon. This is the limit at which twilight illumination is sufficient, under good weather conditions, for terrestrial objects to be clearly distinguished; at the beginning of morning civil twilight, or end of evening civil twilight, the horizon is clearly defined and the brightest stars are visible under good atmospheric conditions in the absence of moonlight or other illumination. In the morning before the beginning of civil twilight and in the evening after the end of civil twilight, artificial illumination is normally required to carry on ordinary outdoor activities. Complete darkness, however, ends sometime prior to the beginning of morning civil twilight and begins sometime after the end of evening civil twilight.

Nautical twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening, when the center of the sun is geometrically 12 degrees below the horizon. At the beginning or end of nautical twilight, under good atmospheric conditions and in the absence of other illumination, general outlines of ground objects may be distinguishable, but detailed outdoor operations are not possible, and the horizon is indistinct.

Astronomical twilight is defined to begin in the morning, and to end in the evening when the center of the Sun is geometrically 18 degrees below the horizon. Before the beginning of astronomical twilight in the morning and after the end of astronomical twilight in the evening the Sun does not contribute to sky illumination; for a considerable interval after the beginning of morning twilight and before the end of evening twilight, sky illumination is so faint that it is practically impossiable for celestial sights.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Navigation Rules FAQ

Have there been any changes to the current edition? Edition D is the most current edition of the Navigation Rules, and in 2003 several changes were made to the Navigation Rules, most dealt with Wing in Ground Craft.

Can I order the Navigation Rules over the phone? To order a copy of the Navigation Rules, call the Government Printing Office at (202) 512-1800 and provide the GPO stock number (050-012-00407-2).
What "vessels" are required to comply with the Navigation Rules? In Rule 3 the word vessel includes every description of watercraft, including non-displacement craft, WIG craft, and seaplanes, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on water.Courts have interpreted transportation to not just include passengers, but also goods or services. The Navigation Rules address vessels, not whom/what is controlling them.

Am I required to carry a copy of the Navigation Rules? According to the Inland section of
Annex V after January 1, 1983, the operator of each self-propelled vessel 12 meters or more in length shall carry on board and maintain for ready reference a copy of the Inland Navigation Rules.

Rules 24(a), 24(c) and 24(d) confuse me: The intent of Rule 24 is to state that the towing identification lights on a power driven vessel when towing may be carried in either the location of the forward masthead light or the after masthead light if carried. Rules 24(a) and 24(c) concern the description of the towing identification lights and where they shall be carried. Rule 24 (d) refers to Rule 23(a) which concerns the requirement for the masthead light(s).

What is a safe passing distance for vessels? According to
Rule 16 there is no specified distance one must keep when crossing, meeting, or overtaking another vessel, other than, as the give-way vessel, you are to keep well clear.As to what distance a vessel may be required to take action to avoid collision, it will vary, however it should be in accordance with Rule 6, Safe Speed, and Rule 8, Action to Avoid Collision. These rules which state amongst other things that: Any alteration of course or speed shall be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel and taken early enough to allow sufficient sea room for the safe passage of the other vessel and at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.The provisions prescribed in action by the Give-Way Vessel and Stand-On Vessel apply only when vessels are in sight of each other.

What is a special flashing light? View the
Arcs of Visibility page for an explanation of a special flashing light.

Who specifies whether a waterway is a Narrow Channel and therefore Rule 9 is applicable? A waterway is deemed a narrow channel by the practical and traditional uses of that waterway (usually a court determination) or it can be specified by the Secretary in
Title 33 CFR part 89.25.Note, Rule 9 differs between the International and Inland sections..Rule 9 Inland Rules: (a) A power-driven vessel traveling downbound with a following current shall have the right-of-way over an upbound vessel in the Great Lakes , Western Rivers , and those waters specified by the Secretary.Rule 9 International Rules: (f) A vessel nearing a bend or an area of a narrow channel or fairway where other vessels may be obscured by an intervening obstruction shall navigate with particular alertness and caution and shall sound the appropriate signal prescribed in Rule 34(e).

What are the regulations concerning wake effects, wake damage, and responsibility? Regarding one's wake, vessels over 1600 Gross Tons are specifically required by Title 33 CFR 164.11 to set the vessel's speed with consideration for...the damage that might be caused by the vessel's wake. Further, there may be State or local laws which specifically address "wake" for the waters in question.While vessels under 1600 GT are not specifically required to manage their speed in regards to wake, they are still required to operate in a prudent matter which does not endanger life, limb, or property (
46 USC 2302). Nor do the Navigation Rules exonerate any vessel from the consequences of neglect (Rule 2), which, among other things, could be unsafe speeds (Rule 6), improper lookout (Rule 5), or completely ignoring your responsibilities as prescribed by the Navigation Rules.As to whether or not a particular vessel is responsible for the damage it creates is a question of law and fact that is best left to the Courts. For more information, contact your local Marine Patrol or State Boating Law Administrator.

Am I required to have Radar? Radar is not required on vessels under 1600 GT (Title 33 CFR part 164.35), however,
Rule 7 states that proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational. In other words, whoever has one must use it.The Navigation Rules are not meant to discourage the use of any device, rather they expect prudent mariners to avail themselves of all available means to make full appraisal of the situation (Rule 5), e.g. the use of radar. At issue is whether the use of radar is appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and that is a determination made by the Master; and, ultimately decided by a trier of fact.Should you be in a collision how would a judge/jury rule on your contention that the use of radar was impracticable (due to electrical drain, crew shortages, etc.)? Also, if a collision does occur, then there was obviously a risk of collision beforehand. Could the determination of that risk have been made sooner with the use of radar? It is difficult to answer such questions because the circumstances of each case are different.More importantly, remember that Rule 7specifies that assumptions shall not be made on the basis of scanty information, especially scanty radar information.

When do I need a Look-out? According to
Rule 5, all vessels are responsible for maintaining a proper look-out at all times this includes one-man crews, unmanned crafts, and recreational boats.The term look-out implies watching and listening so that he/she is aware of what is happening around the vessel. The emphasis is on performing the action, not on the person. Still, in all but the smallest vessels, the lookout is expected to be an individual who is not the helmsman and is usually located in the forward part of the boat, away from the distractions and noises of the bridge. While no specific location on a vessel is prescribed for the lookout, good navigation requires placement at the point best suited for the purpose of hearing and observing the approach of objects likely to be brought into collision with the vessel.The size of the vessel and crew effect this answer, however, the emphasis in every legal decision points to the need for a proper, attentive look-out. While the use of radar to evaluate the situation is implied in the requirement to use all available means, that is still understood to be secondary to maintaining a look-out by sight and hearing.

Where do Kayaks and Canoes fit into the Navigation Rules? Neither the International nor Inland Navigation Rules address "kayaks" or "canoes" per se, except in regards to "vessels under oars" in
Rule 25 regarding lights. One could infer that a "vessel under oars" should be treated as a "sailing vessel" since it is permitted to display the same lights as one, but, ultimately the issue of whom "gives way" would fall to what would be "required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case" (Rule 2).

Can I use Strobe Lights to be more visible at night? For any other lights beyond those specifically defined within the Navigation Rules they should be such lights as cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these Rules, or do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, or interfere with the keeping of a proper look-out (
Rule 20).Displaying a strobe for “higher visibility” would confuse other vessels as to your navigational status (many aids to navigation use a strobe or flashing). Also, lights provide direction and aspect information to other boat operators. For example, if while operating my vessel I see a red light on my starboard side I know I am the give-way vessel (Rule 16, 17). The use of a strobe light could overwhelm a vessel’s navigation lights and cease to provide such crucial direction and aspect information to other boat operators.Also, Rule 36 of the International Rules addresses signals to attract attention and for the purpose of [that] rule the use of high intensity intermittent or revolving lights, such as strobe lights, shall be avoided. Rule 37 of the Inland Rules addresses strobes in regards to distress signals so that when a vessel is in distress and requires assistance she shall use…a high intensity white light flashing at regular intervals from 50 to 70 times per minute.Since strobe light use is to be avoided (International waters) or used as a distress signal (Inland waters), it cannot be used to routinely mark vessels operating on the water.

How do I report a marine accident? Title 33 CFR part 173 provides guidance in regards to accident reporting. For most States the issuing and reporting authority is the State itself – if in doubt contact your local Coast Guard Marine Safety Office.

Who is responsible for damage incurred during a marine accident?There is a long standing notion of Tort Law--that one is responsible for one's damages--the issue however is culpability and to what degree. These are matters of fact and law.

What does WIG stand for? WIG stands for
Wing in Ground Craft.

What are Demarcation Lines and Territorial Seas?
Demarcation Lines divide the high seas from harbors, rivers, and other inland waters of the United States, for the purpose of determining the applicability of Inland Rules in lieu of the International Rules. International Rules are tantamount to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, (72 COLREGS), while the Inland Rules are synonymous with 33 CFR 80 of United States Code.Note, the term international water is not defined by U.S. law or the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), yet, it is commonly used to convey high seas. High seas are those waters beyond territorial seas. Territorial seas are a maritime zone extending beyond the land territory and internal waters of that country over which the country exercises sovereignty and jurisdiction, to include the airspace over the territorial sea, as well as to its bed and subsoil.Territorial seas of the United States are 12 nautical miles from the baseline of the United States of America, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and any other territories or possessions over which the United States exercises sovereignty. The territorial waters of the United States can sometimes extend out to 24 or 200 miles depending on the matter in question; see 33 CFR 2 or UNCLOS for further information.

What are the Waters Specified by the Secretary? There is a list of waters specified by the Secretary as quoted from Title 33 CFR part 89.25. These waters are referred to in the Inland sections of
Rule 9(a)ii, Rule 14(d), Rule 15(b), and Rule 24(i).

What is Outer Continental Shelf Activity? Outer Continental Shelf Activities and Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU) are accountable to the regulations found in Title 33 CFR, parts 140-147 (Subchapter N).According to
Rule 3 Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODU) are not considered underway when drilling because they are “attached” or “made fast” to the bottom. That being established, requirements for MODU’s can be found in Title 33 CFR, part 67.05, Aids to Navigation on Artificial Islands and Fixed Structures. MODU’s fall under the definition of “structures” which includes drilling platforms and barges.
What is Automatic Identification System? For more information on Automatic Identification System (AIS), visit the USCG AIS Webpage.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

How to find Mariner Licensing and Documentation Information Online

The primary website, has the majority of the information mariners need.
Here you will find the information mariners use when submitting applications for merchant mariner docu­ments. On the left side of this webpage, you will see the website menu bar, which provides a list of infor­mation topics that can be found on the site. In the middle of this webpage, you will see the pages most often accessed.­

At the bottom of each page on this website, you will see items to assist users, such as the NMC contact e-mail addresses, including for mariner application questions and the website e­mail address D05-DG­ for content issues, updates, and questions. You will also see the NMC help desk phone number: 888-427-­5662.

Homeport,, is the U.S. Coast Guard portal to information covering Coast Guard mis­sions. To access merchant mariner information, click on the "merchant mariners" button on the left-hand menu bar, approximately 10 buttons down from the top.

The difference between Homeport and the NMC website is that Homeport provides greater in­formation security. For this reason, mariners can use Homeport to check their application status online. It also provides access to the new sea service calculator, which will as­sist mariners in determining if they meet renewal sea service require­ments.

Coast Guard Listserve
The final Internet tool the NMC uses is the Coast Guard listserve, at grp_list.php. With this tool, they can notify the maritime community when there is new or updated con­tent posted on the NMC website. These notifications are sent via e-mail to subscribers.

How to Use the NMC Website
The NMC website contains information guides and checklists that provide guidance to mariners applying for a license or docu­ment renewals or up­grades.
PowerPoint presen­tations that walk mariners through the application submis­sion process,
all the forms needed to complete an appli­cation request.
It also provides information about MLD program poli­cies, links to other maritime sites, and a feedback page.
To navigate the site, just move your cursor over the left menu. As you move down the menu options, you will see sub-menu items or topics. As long as your cur­sor remains on the menu bar, the sub-menus will be viewable on the screen. To open these sub-menu items, move your cursor over and click on the topic you wish to review and that page will open.
The left-hand menu is organized by type of application, such as new mariner, renewal, or license, and required information, such as checklists for specific types of cre­dentials or user fees and drug test information.

Within the FAQ page you will find general information about what is required for the type of application being submitted. On the "new mariner" page, there is a help guide that will walk you through what is needed to ob­tain an MMD. Within the "merchant mariner info cen­ter" page, you will find policy and guidance, REC information, and course and examination information. The "application & forms" page has all the application forms you may need to apply for any of the various types of mariner licenses or documents.
There is even a pdf application form (CG-719B-F5) you can fill out online. The final pages you will find are "links/feedback" and "site map." Under "links/feed­back," you will find various links, such as the Trans­portation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) site that provides you such information and the REC web pages that provide hours of operation, addresses, and phone numbers. The "feedback" section provides an avenue for comments, suggestions, and recommenda­tions. Under the "site map" page you will find a list of all the pages in the website. Each item is a link that will take you to that page when clicked.
Some upcoming website enhancements include pro­viding a keyword search function to quickly locate website information, and the ability to post large quan­tities of content in a format that eliminates the need to open multiple pdf and Word documents.

How to Use Homeport
Homeport provides mariners with a secure environ­ment to check on the status of an active application. Once on the Homeport homepage, find the "merchant mariners" button in the left-hand menu bar and click on that button. A new screen will open up and at the top of this new screen you will see" merchant mariner application status." When you click on it, another screen appears, and you will need to fill out all the re­quired fields.

Enter your mariner identification number (also known as reference number).
Enter your application number.
Or, if you do not know your identification number and application number:
Enter your last name.
Enter the last four numbers of your Social Se­curity number.
Enter your birth date.

Next, hit "go" and information on the status of your submitted application will be displayed. Remember Homeport is a security site, and part of its security measures is a time-out function. If the Homeport win­dow is open for more than 60 minutes, the system will "time out" on you, and you will have to log back in.
Note: You must access the merchant mariner ap­plication status tool though Internet Explorer. If you at­tempt to access Homeport from your AOL, Yahoo, or other Internet service provider accounts, the merchant mariner application function might not work.
The content of Homeport is organized slightly differ­ently than the NMC website, but most of the menu but­tons are the same. The first item on the menu is the merchant mariner application status. Next is the sea service renewal calculator, then "What's New at NMC." The content under this menu is the same as that of the NMC website.

How to Subscribe to the Listserve
Anyone can subscribe using the link grp_list.php. Once on the home­page, scroll down to "Mariner Licensing and Docu­mentation" and click. The NMC subject or topic-specific lists will appear. Select one you want to subscribe to and click the" subscribe" link. This will take you to the subscription page. Complete all the re­quired fields and click on the "subscribe" button. Re­peat this process for each list you want.

You will begin to receive all notices of new or updated information for that list. The notices provide you the name of the new or updated document, a brief de­scription, and a link that will take you to that content on the NMC website. The notice also provides a link back to the NMC CGLS lists and a method to unsubscribe to any of the lists.

If you want to be removed from a list, click on the link at the bottom of the notice, this will take you to the CGLS list page. Select the subject or topic you wish to "unsubscribe" and click the "unsubscribe" link. This will take you to the subscription page. At the bottom of this page, click the "unsubscribe or edit options" but­ton. This opens another page, and in the middle of the screen you will see an "unsubscribe" button.

This process generates an e-mail to you with a link you must click to complete the removal process. If you do not complete this step you will not be removed from the subscription list.

Lists include:

NMC updates: information about NMC's op­erations, ongoing process improvements, and important information about merchant mariner credentials.

NMC performance reports: information on credential production performance statistics,
including processing time, application inven­tory, and customer satisfaction.
MLD program policy updates: information concerning changes to regulations, Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars, and other pol­icy guidance.
REC news/announcements: concerning REC locations, hours of operation, contact informa­tion, and other operations information. Mariner information/news: information for mariners seeking licenses and/ or MMDs, in­cluding changes to credential application, physical and other forms, revisions to the checklist, information packets, instruction guides, information for healthcare profession­als, selected frequently asked questions, NMC points of contact, and other pertinent informa­tion.
Coast Guard-approved courses: information on Coast Guard-approved training, courses, examinations, course audits, and other infor­mation. Hope this will help you in finding information on licensing and documentation.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


Under a agreement between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), software has been created to assist Volunteer Observing Ships (VOS) in submitting marine weather reports and participating in the Automated Mutual-assistance Vessel Rescue system (AMVER). This program allows ships to report marine weather to the National Weather Service (NWS) so that high seas forecasts will be as accurate as possible. The AMVER system allows ships to report their intended track so that in the event of an emergency all available resources may be focused on aiding ships in distress. Both of these systems are voluntary and are intended to aid all mariners on the high seas. All transmission costs are paid by the U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA. The ship is not responsible for any transmission costs, provided messages are sent to the address specified in the user's guide.

NOAA's SEAS (Shipboard Environmental data Acquisition System) program relies on volunteer observers to report weather at least four times per day at 00Z, 06Z, 12Z, and 18Z. Ships are encouraged to also submit reports at 03Z, 09Z, 15Z and 21Z. AMVER reports allow the U. S. Coast Guard to track a vessel's position. The AMVER program relies on ships to submit four types of reports: (1) Sail Plans; (2) Position Reports; (3) Arrival Reports and (4) Deviation Reports, when necessary. The U. S. Coast Guard updates their database with the position information from these reports, which allows them to identify vessels in the vicinity of a ship in distress.

Ships may participate in either the AMVER or SEAS program, but there are benefits to participating in both. A ship can reduce reporting requirements, since AMVER position reports are created from every weather message and automatically forwarded to the U.S. Coast Guard.
A typical voyage would require the submission of an AMVER Sail Plan before departure, submissions of weather reports four times per day and the submission of an Arrival Report upon arrival. A Deviation Report is only submitted if the ship deviates from its original plan. Ships that follow the same routes repeatedly get an additional benefit since Sail Plans can be stored in the system and recalled and modified rather than creating new ones.

The AMVER/SEAS PC software was developed for use with INMARSAT C transceivers. To participate in the AMVER/SEAS program the ship must possess an INMARSAT C transmitter with a floppy drive and the ability to send messages in binary format, and a 286 (or better) IBM compatible PC.
I have participated in this program and for the last 12 years, it one way to help the maritime industry. There is more information at the SEAS website at:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Plotting RDF Fixes


Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008


WWV (Fort Collins, CO) 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20 MHZ (AM)

8 Minutes past the hour

Atlantic highseas warnings

9 Minutes past the hour

Atlantic highseas warnings

10 Minutes past the hour

Pacific highseas warnings

WWVH (Hawaii) 2.5, 5, 10, 15 MHZ (AM)

48-51 Minutes past the hour

Pacific highseas warnings

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), broadcasts a time and frequency service from stations WWV in Fort Collins, CO and WWVH in Kauai, Hawaii., known to mariners as the "Time Tick", used as an aid in celestial navigation. Included in these are hourly voice broadcasts of current high seas storm warnings for the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico provided by the National Weather Service.The difference between the two stations is that WWV uses a male announcer for announcement of time, while WWVH uses a female announcer.
If you need more information on WWV, WWVH and time signals worldwide, look in NGA Publication 117 "Radio Navigational Aids"


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Radio Direction Finder Fixes


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Calibration Table Problems


Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Loran Navigation System

Line of Position from a Loran System
The name LORAN comes from the words LOng RAnge Navigation. The LORAN radionavigation system was originally designed in World War II as a navigation aid which could provide all weather fixing information for both ships and aircraft at sea. Its main use was in the Pacific theater to assist aircraft navigation in long overwater flights. The original system was known as LORAN A. It was used from 1955 through 1970 throughout the coastal waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific regions. The last sta­tions remained operational until as recently as the late 1970's.

LORAN is a hyperbolic navigation system. In this hyperbolic system a master station generates a brief pulsed signal which is followed at a axed interval by a short pulsed signal, on the same frequency, from a slave or secondary station. The shipboard receiver, capable of measuring time in microsecond intervals, measures the interval between the arrival of the master signal and the slave signal. The resulting reading of time delay (TD) places the ship somewhere on a hyperbolic line, which represents a line of all possible points where the difference between the times of arrival of master and secondary signals is equal to the receiver reading. The loran lines printed on charts are hyperbolic lines. Each hyperbolic line is actually a line of position for the associated time differ­ence measurement.

A fix results when the receiver measures the time delays of two or more master/secondary combinations. The intersection of the hyperbolic lines representing the time delays measured is a LORAN fix. LORAN readings are considered most accurate when close to the baseline. The dashed lines extending from the base line outward from the master and secondary stations are known as the base line exten­sions. LORAN receiver readings of a station pair are not accurate if the ship is in the area of the base line extension. The typical LORAN C arrangement is for one master station to be grouped with two to four secondary stations (three secondaries is the typical arrangement). Such a grouping is called a chain. The secondaries of a given chain are designated X, Y, and Z. If four secondaries are in a chain, W is also included. Baseline distance between the master and secondary stations can be as much as 1000 miles.

Characteristics of the Loran C Navigation System
All LORAN stations in the system transmit their signals on a common frequency of 100 KHZ. The transmitted signal can travel by means of a sound wave (signal follows ground), or by means of the sky wave (signals reflected off the ionosphere). The ground wave range of LORAN C is about 1200 miles, and one hop sky wave range is about 2300 miles. One hop means one reflection of the transmitted signal off the ionosphere back to earth. The absolute maximum distance over which usable LORAN signals may be received is 3000 miles. A zone where no signal is received, called the shadow zone or skip zone, exists between the maximum range of the ground wave signal and the area where the one hop sky wave returns to the earth's surface. When in an area where only sky wave signals may be expected, sky wave corrections must be applied to the receiver time delay readings in order to correct them to equivalent ground wave values. These corrections (both day and night corrections) are printed on LORAN charts at the intersections of latitude and longitude lines.

The accuracy of positions based on LORAN C lines of position depends on the range of the receiver from the transmitting stations. At a distance of 200 miles from the stations accuracy within +/- 300 feet may be expected. At 1000 miles accuracy diminishes to +/- 500 to 1700 feet. Fixes based skywaves are substantially less accurate than ground wave fixes. As with any electronic navigation system, accuracy and reliability can be effected by interference. In addition, accuracy is decreased if the signal must travel a significant distance over land before reaching the receiver.

The format of the characteristic LORAN C signal is multi-pulse. Multi-pulse operation permits higher signal energy at the receiver while keeping transmitter power relatively low. As originally designed, the arrival of the signal from the master station triggered the signal from the slave.

The multi-pulse signal consists of 9 pulses for the master station and 8 pulses for each secondary, which are separated by 1000 microseconds. The ninth pulse, used to identify the master station, follows the eighth pulse by 2000 microseconds. The time interval between the transmission of master station signals and all secondary station signals is called the group repetition interval or GRI. This interval is unique to a particular LORAN C chain and is also called the LORAN C "rate". When expressing a LORAN C reading such as 797Q-X-1l340, the first four digits indicate the GRI, the letter represents the secondary station, and the last five digits represent the time difference reading in microseconds (millionths of a second).

The master station transmitter's ninth pulse is also used to send what is referred to as "blink." Blinking is used to warn receivers using the chain that there is an error in the transmission of a particular station or stations. An example is when the stations are not properly synchronized. Blinking is accomplished by alternately turning on and off the ninth pulse. The secondary station of the pair also blinks by turning the first two pulses of its group off and on. Blinking triggers an alarm in the shipboard receiver, so that the operator is warned against using the pair until blinking stops.

Loran C Receivers

Most modern LORAN C receivers provide displays of either actual time difference readings or direct latitude and longitude readout. When turned on the receiver should be automatically tracking all loran stations within range within about five minutes. If you are at the outer limits of LORAN C system automatic tracking may take longer. Most receivers have an alarm light that remains on until the receiver is tracking properly, and it will also come on whenever the receiver ceases to track a given station pair.

For the Coast Guard exam you should become familiar with plotting LORAN C fixes on charts with LORAN lines which are printed on the chart. It is also possible to plot LORAN LOP's on charts without a printed overlay by using the LORAN Lattice Tables. These tables are published by the Defense Mapping Agency and numbered in the 221-(XXXX) series. Plotting of LOP's by use of these tables is one of the problems which might be found on the license exam for deck licenses.

The Coast Guard will not have the actual lattice tables for your use during the exam. Instead, they have available a plotting sheet which incorporates the portions of the applicable lattice table necessary to solve the given problem.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

How to Select Stars for a Fix


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Time Calculations


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

TWIC Hassle

Long waits at understaffed enrollment centers, jammed phone lines, computer glitches, card processing problems. incomplete government criminal databases, and errors in fingerprint reading and file keeping. As a result, some mariners are putting it off while others have waited hours in lines, and then several more weeks before finally receiving their Transportation Worker Identification Credential.

Mandated by Congress in 2002, all U.S. Coast Guard credentialed merchant mariners, port facility workers, longshoremen and truck drivers must obtain a TWIC by April 15,2009.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that 412,000 workers had completed the enrollment process, 267,000 cards had been printed, and 157,000 cards had been activated and picked up. The average enrollment time nationally was just over nine minutes. Initial disqualification letters have been to sent to about 7,000. About 2,900 people have appealed, and 2,351 appeals were granted. Having a disqualifying offense doesn't result in an automatic denial of a card, as a waiver can be filed to determine whether the offense is a security threat.

Many mariners have sailed through the enrollment, but others have experienced problems. Delays have been caused by problems with card activation and software configuration for the card management system. In addition, checking the status of an application has been delayed by fingerprint rejections, a backlog of card printing and poor communications regarding card availability.

Mariners have been told to return to redo their fingerprints. while others have complained that they were never notified as promised that their cards were ready. Mariners have to go back to the enrollment center which for some is hours away, after they enroll to pick up their cards. TheTSA says its for security reasons, the mariner must receive the card in person.

Some mariners have been told to come back because of computer glitch kept indicating that the application is in error. There has been alot of frustration with the process.

There are plenty of examples of the system not working very well, and there's lots of blame to go around, from the service delivery by the contractor Lockheed Martin to the agency in charge of the program.

The agency does'nt totally understood the needs of the workers affected by the TWIC mandate. They are dealing with people's livelihoods because without this document, they can't work. The TSA has not moved quickly to solve problems and has not been receptive to ideas on how to fix them.

There also seems to be some confusion within the ranks of TSA about the TWIC. Some mariners have said that TSA workers would not accept the card as a proper form of identification at many airports, even though the card was issued by TSA.

For alot of mariners who have gone through process and received the card, it seems like its unnecessary and duplicative, but one that they accept.There are two persistent problems with the TWIC program, the long waits when mariners call in for help, and problems with card production.

There have been eight of the 12 machines used to make TWIC cards have been returned to the manufacturers, thus delaying card production. It's hard to determine which is more astonishing the fact that the facility producing these cards is experiencing a 66 percent machine failure rate or the fact that this machine failure rate has resulted in a tenfold increase in the card production schedule. Every production delay increases the likelihood that the April 15th deadline will not be met.

Also the "help desk" designed to answer workers questions about TWIC are putting callers on hold for much longer than the three minutes mandated in the contract with Lockheed Martin.

The help desk has proven to be poorly designed and managed program that is impacting those individuals who comprise the valuable eyes and ears of our nation's transportation system. Workers are being asked to stay on hold for hours at a time to receive information that is often incorrect and misleading.

Lockheed Martin said it has taken steps to correct problems. Oookay.

How to Determine your DR Position by Calculator


Monday, August 11, 2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sound Ranging

The speed of light or of radio wave transmission is so rapid that it is regarded as instantaneous in navigation (161,800 + nautical miles per second). The speed of sound through the atmosphere varies slightly with its density (temperature and barometric pressure), but, for this purposes, it may be considered to be 1,118 feet per second, or 0.1838816 nautical miles per second. If you're doing mental calculations, regard it as just over 5 seconds per mile.

Flash-Bang "Flash-bang" is a term borrowed from the marines who locate enemy artillery by timing the interval between the "flash" of flame from a cannon's mouth and the arrival of the "bang" at their position. Any time you see the production of a sound (the flash of lightning, or the puff of smoke from a starting gun), and then measure the time taken for that sound to reach your position, you may determine the range, the distance off, of the sound producing object. When two yachts cruise in company, they can keep track of the distance between them if one sounds its foghorn and simultaneously waves toward the other. If a navigational aid such as a lighthouse synchronizes its foghorn and its radiowave transmissions and you time the interval between their receptions at your location, you will get a fair distance off.

Distance off (nautical miles) = 0.1839 x seconds between flash and bang.

Time between flash and bang (seconds) x 0.1839 = (distance off in nautical miles)

"Dog-Bark" Where cliffs or large buildings on the water's edge reflect sound emitted from your vessel in the form of an echo, another method of sound ranging is possible and it requires no one else's help. The story goes that in the old days, downeast skippers of trading schooners found their way through fog with the echoes of the ship's dog's bark reflected from the cliffs, hence the term "dog-bark navigation."

The technique is simple-just emit a loud sound on board (the short blast of your horn, a hammer against something sturdy, while simultaneously starting your stopwatch. When you hear your echo, stop the watch. The time obtained will give you your distance away from the echo producing wall. In this case, the sound must travel twice: once from you to the cliff, and then back again. So it takes twice the time as in flash-bang ranging.

Distance off (nautical miles) = 0.0919 x seconds to return echo to ship.

Time between generating sound and hearing echo (seconds) x 0.0919 = distance off in nautical miles.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Turning a Mark


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rope Fenders

If I were to evaluate the thousands of applications of the art of marlinespike seamanship I would place the sea chest becket at the top of the list, and way down at the bottom would be the lowly rope fender. The chest becket deserves the honor because it is the highest form of the sailor's art, but all we ask of a fender is that it suffer violent shocks and protect a boat's hull from dam­age. Beauty is something not generally associated with fenders. Canvas wrapped auto tires do not rank as works of art no matter how practical they may be.

But in spite of its lowly origin, made as it is of sal­vaged material, I can still see beauty in a well made rope fender. That is the amazing thing about rope, its inher­ent, dormant, potential beauty. The minute you unlay a piece of rope and rearrange the strands it begins to acquire character and design, the degree of art attained being limited only by your skill and ingenuity.

The simple fender shown here requires only an ele­mentary knowledge of rope work and very little skill to make. On second thought I suppose I should qualify that statement before someone makes an issue of the degree of skill required. To be candid, shortly after you start the fender you imagine yourself wrestling with an octopus, and before you are finished you sort of wish you were an octopus.

Middle a 20 foot length of 3/4 or 1 inch rope and form an eye with a stout seizing of marline as. Unlay the strands of both parts to the seizing. Now hold the eye between your knees and form a wall knot with the six strands. On top of this form two or three more walls. Do not draw the strands up tight, but just enough for the wall to hold its shape. Cut a 12 inch length of com­mon garden hose and insert it in the walls you have formed. This acts as a waterproof core for the fender, gives it resilience and keeps it from losing its shape. With the hose in place, continue walling the strands until you reach the top.

Now go back to the first wall and with your marline­spike proceed to draw up the strands tightly. Do not try to follow one strand the full length of the fender, but rather tighten each wall in turn. When the last wall is reached you will find the strands have snugged down, leaving some of the hose protruding. Add more walls and tighten up until the hose is completely hidden.

To finish off the fender crown the strands over the end of the hose, tuck the ends through the last wall and cut them off. Splice a 5 or 6 foot length of 74 inch cotton rope to the eye of the fender and it is ready for use.

Most fenders of this type have a core composed of rope which has been unlaid, chopped up and crammed in. This soaks up water and never dries out, therefore I use rubber hose. Another variation is to crown the strands instead of walling them. But whether you wall or crown, the result is a good looking practical fender that will last for years and cost you nothing.

I have seen boats moored at a bulkhead, or dock their topsides protected by what was once a good anchor cable, but converted on a rainy Sunday afternoon to rope fenders. They squeak as she surges slowly back and forth on her spring lines, a mighty comforting sound it is, for I know they are doing their job. By the time they are worn out I'll have accumulated the makings for some new ones, old rope that is too poor to use and too good to throw away.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Wooden Cleats for Small Boats

To the yachtsman who likes to make his own fittings, nothing gives more satisfaction than wooden cleats. When properly designed, they are easier on line than their metal counter parts. Having more surface area, resting in more friction, the line is less liable to slip. They have a rugged honest appear­ance that appeals to all sailors. Most of the cleats that I have seen are made af locust, well seasoned and close grained, and were soaked in hot linseed oil when finished.

The first is an all purpose cleat designed to handle 3/8 or 1/2 inch line. The blank was roughed out on the bandsaw to the dimensions given. The horns were rounded off with a wood rasp, and the neck or throat was hollowed with a rat-tail file. Sandpaper removed all the high spots and gave it the final shape. It was bored to take two 1/4 inch carriage bolts, the heads being slightly countersunk. The second cleat is a jam cleat for 3/8 inch rope, and was designed to handle jibsheets on a small center boarder where speed in handling was of prime importance. The sheet can be led around the wide after end and held in the hand, the cleat acting as a deck block or fairleader. To belay, the hauling part is pulled across under the long horn where it is jammed securely between the horn and the deck. To release, give it a jerk and it is free to run. It is secured to the deck by carriage bolts.

The last item is a shroud cleat to belay flag halyards. In days gone by it would probably have been made of whalebone, but lignum vitae, if obtainable, is the best substitute. It was designed for 3/16 inch wire rigging, which is parceled with friction tape and served with marline for a length of 4 inches, to which the cleat is seized. After the blank is roughed out it is finished with a file, shallow grooves are cut to receive the seizings, and the base is hollowed out with a rat-tail file to fit the served shroud. The cleat is mounted breast high on the after side of the shroud and secured by three seizings of tarred yacht marline, drawn up as tightly as possible and then given three coats of spar varnish.
Regardless of whether you varnish or paint them, wooden cleats should first be soaked a long time in hot linseed oil until the wood is saturated. This prevents any tendency to check, and seems to harden the wood con­siderably. You should allow at least three days for the oil to harden before

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Wooden Bilge Pump

After two days and nights of easterly gales and torrential rains, the morning dawned with clearing skies and the meadows sparkled in the welcome sunshine as I walked down the path to the creek to see how the boat had fared. It was the sort of morning that made a boy glad to be alive and anxious to be up and doing. I found my row­boat half full of rainwater, and then it dawned on me that I had didn't have a bailer. As I debated the question of whether to go back to the house for a bailer I heard a familiar homely sound. In the doorway of his shanty, his ancient straw hat cocked over one eye, sat "Uncle" Bob, as I called him.

I asked if I might borrow a bailer. He reached inside and handed out a battered old wooden affair, the likes of which I had never seen before. It was made of half inch cedar, about 4 feet long and 4 inches square. As I pulled out the plunger to see how it was con­structed Bob said, "Never seen one of them before, did you? Lots of them around when I was a boy. They don't make no noise, 'n they don't chew up the plankin' like them tin ones do." As an after thought he added, "Don't cost nothin' neither."

The construction of the pump was simplicity itself. The plunger con­sisted of a 3 inch square of sole leather tacked to a 2 inch square block of wood, with a 1 inch oak handle. The valve was a plug of wood in the bottom of the pump, with a 2 inch hole in it covered by a leather flap tacked over it.
The pump raised an enormous stream of water, and after a life­time familiarity with all sorts of metal pumps I was struck by its quietness. There was none of the screeching, scraping, rusty clatter I had always known, and for the first time in my life I enjoyed pumping. All the while there was a faint stir­ring in the dark corners of my mind, something clamoring for remem­brance. Ah yes, Standing on a dock long long years ago, looking down on a big oyster sloop, just docked after dumping a load of "seed". An old man in a derby hat working a pump just aft of the hatches a square, wooden, built-in well from which there gushed a flood of foamy water, fanning across the deck and streaming through the scuppers in the rails.

It was probably the same kind of pump I had borrowed, and a type known to man for hundreds of years, but to me it was an exciting discovery. In the belief that there are others who take a curious inter­est in such simple things, I have felt justified in devoting this space to its story.

Last summer I met up with a sec­ond wooden bilge pump, a different type and rather unique. My good friend of mine had invited me aboard his venerable catboat. He is inordinately proud of his boat, and well might he be, for it falls to the lot of very few boats to have the loving care of a sailor such as he. During the my visit he proudly pointed out that she had two built-in wooden bilge pumps, one on either side of her centerboard trunk, discharging onto the floor of her self bailing cockpit.

The plunger is a very curious affair. A piece of oak, 1 by 3, has a shoulder cut in its lower end on which is tacked a pure gum rubber flapper 1/4 inch thick. To prevent its collapsing on the up­stroke two bronze dowels or pins are fixed in the oak immediately beneath the rubber flapper. The wood is reduced to a round section above to form a han­dle. A pretty neat affair, I say. On reflection I will have to admit that wooden pumps are about as elementary and rude as man could devise, but like many other simple handmade tools of ancient origin they work beautifully. And as Uncle Bob said, "They don't cost nothin' neither." What more could one ask?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shipping News Briefs

A woman was reported to have jumped from the Costa Mediterranea off Florida, apparently after an argu­ment with her boyfriend. Her family disbelieved his story, saying she was scared of heights and afraid of water. Passengers on the Princess of the Caribbean filed a class-action suit, claiming their Mediterranean voyage was spoiled by many toilets that never worked, a stench such that some slept on deck, and an explosion on the third day that caused the ship to list. Many passengers returned home with stom­ach aches, diarrhea, and headaches. At Durban, the 3,000-grt Madagascarwill be auctioned off. The beloved yacht like ex -Stella Maris II was arrested in 2005 after successive failures of two cruise companies, one of which was named Razzmatazz Ocean cruising.

The busy oil industry lacks ac­commodations spaces near offshore rigs and so the small, elderly (1967) Danish cruise ship Sikker Havn will go the Middle East to act as an offshore floating hotel. The Sky Wonder, a cruise ship with an unhappy past as the Pacific Sky, ran aground in strong winds in Turkey and most of its 1,000 passengers decided to go ashore. Several previous trips had been cancelled due to gearbox problems, the ship had to anchor in the Malacca Strait for several hours in 2006 due to mechanical problems, it ran aground in Argentina in January, and an Australian woman died on her in 2002, a death that triggered much discussion into what actually went on during its cruises.
The cruise industry spent $765 million in British Columbia last year and $1.1 billion in all of Canada. That works out to $237 per passenger and $55 per crewmember, at least in Vancouver.

The final report on the sinking of the Canadian ferry Queen of the North in March 2006 failed to reveal what happened during the sinking, merely stating, "Essentially, the system failed that night." Bridge management was in­adequate and there was no third qualified person present. The report also quietly noted that the male officer on duty and a female crewmember at the helm had recently broken up a relationship. The ferry failed to make a course change after exiting the Grenville Channel, sailed on for nearly 15 minutes before hitting Gil Island, and then drifted for 1 hour and 17 minutes before sinking. Two people died. And residents of the nearby Indian village of Hartley Bay have sued, claiming that the ferry company has left the sunken ship in its territory without their permission and traditional fishing grounds were polluted. Hartley Bay residents were the first to arrive at the scene.

Continued bad weather and hurri­cane force winds rolled the grounded Irish Sea ferry Riverdance farther on its side, to 110 degrees, and did so much damage that the 6,000-ton vessel was declared a total constructive loss and will be cut up in place, Until gone it will be a major attraction at the UK's favorite family resort, Blackpool. However, unrecognized by most spectators was the historical significance of timber ends sticking out ofthe beach a few hundred feet from the Riverdance. They were the remains ofthe 1798-built, 80-gun ship ofthe line HMS Foudroyant, once Admiral Horatio Nelson's flagship in the Mediterranean.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Maritime Odd Bits and Head Shakers

When the Panamanian- flagged cargo ship Voyager II entered a Dutch port, a Dutch court fined the master 5,000 euros for an oil discharge in Estonian waters.
Pilots boarded the bulker Ocean Victory to take it from Baltimore to sea but they finally anchored the ship because too many of the crew were drunk and, at one point, no crew member was in the wheelhouse. Arrested were the master, the second officer, two ABs, and an oiler.
Back in October 2006, the master of the German excursion boat Adler Dania, while sailing in Polish waters towards a Polish port, learned that Polish customs agents in plain clothes were aboard to investigate illegal sales of duty-free alcohol and cigarettes and were about to confiscate the stocks. In spite of warning shots from Polish patrol boat, he took the vessel into German waters, thus "kidnapping" the customs agents. Recently, he was fined 4,000 euros by a German court.

The smallish multipurpose carrier Beluga Skysails completed a successful l2,000-mile calibration and observa­tion voyage from Germany to the US, Venezuela, and Norway using a giant parasail to supplement its engine. The crew deployed the device for periods lasting minutes to several hours. The parasail produced five tons of pull in Force 5-6 winds and will be replaced with one twice as large for the next voyage. It may save between 10% and 35% of fuel costs.
Temperature differences at different levels in the sea power a robotic un­derwaterresearch glider. Warm surface waters melt wax stored in tubes. The molten wax expands and exchanges oil between a bladder inside the ves­sel and one outside. The change in glider volume changes its buoyancy and it sinks. When the wax cools, the glider surfaces and accesses two satellites for positional information and further instructions. One thermal glider has been yo-yoing its sawtooth way back and forth across the 4,000­meter-deep Virgin Island Basin since last December.
The State of Alaska conceded that cruise ships have advanced systems (far better than shore based systems) for cleaning wastewaters but will insist that cruise ships must meet water quality standards for ammonia, copper, nickel, and zinc by the 2010 season.

What do bananas, ceramic floor tiles, and kitty litter have in common? All are among products bugging inspectors of cargo containers because all emit detectable amounts of radiation. (Since cats usually don't spend much time in the litter box, the low-level radiation from bentonite, a common litter mate­rial, probably doesn't pose much of a risk to cats or their owners.)
You can now buy a high-speed, long-range motorboat that is also a submarine. The 34-foot-longcraftcar­ries five people, 525 gallons of fuel, and more than two tons of cargo and uses two 440 hp diesel engines for 40 knots when on the surface.
Mega-yachts and warships are alike in that many are about the same size and all need exceptionally well-trained crews. Which is why the financially stricken Royal Navy is gladly using its training facilities at Portsmouth to train stewards, skippers, and pursers for the mega-rich.