By Capt. Scott “Fraz” Murie
Everything that has to do with our business takes a great deal of maintenance. In order to keep our boats, tackle and equipment running the way they should, we perform maintenance. When we do that maintenance, we think nothing of the cost. We just want the best product for that particular job at that time.
As crew, we spend countless hours doing upkeep on our boats. Maintaining all the systems is a never-ending process. Think about it—from engine room maintenance and pumps, to interiors, metal, fiberglass, skiffs, davits, paint, from stem to stern, the maintenance never stops. But that’s a good thing because that’s what we do. The fact that boats need constant attention keeps us employed, and we enjoy our work.
A boat that is properly maintained will hold its value and last for many years and be very dependable. On the other hand, the boat with no maintenance stays broken down, is undependable, unreliable and is pretty much worthless. Now to my point…
The US Coast Guard has been cracking down on captains in recent years. They are holding back licenses and renewals because of numerous health conditions. Areas of Coast Guard concern include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart problems, sleeping disorders and vision just to name a few.
As crews, we are always on the go! This is especially true for traveling crews and tournament fishing crews! We get very little sleep while underway, eat whatever the sea conditions dictate (and most of that is junk food). Some of us smoke too much and maybe ingest a little too much alcohol!
I believe it’s very important that we do the proper maintenance on our own bodies. Everyone needs to get checkups and do some preventative maintenance on our own bodies. With today’s technology and advancements in medicine, we can often reverse such things as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. No one thinks twice about maintaining our boats or what it cost, so I’m telling you to take time to maintain your health.
You young guys are “bulletproof”— or so you think. Some of us older guys have learned this the hard way and we need to think healthier, too. I see guys my age (and even younger) who are broken down with health issues that might have been preventable. If only they would have done the maintenance required, just as they would have done on their boat! I did it by changing my diet and losing some weight. I reversed some health issues that I was facing with a simple change of diet.
Take the time for yourself and get some maintenance done so you can remain dependable and reliable. You are more valuable than any boat. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Hold your value and last many years. Don’t be broken down and undependable! Do the maintenance on your own body and keep yourself in top running and working order. When you hit that 60 plus mark, you’ll be glad you did!
– That’s my two-minute warning. Fraz
Do you have any comments or questions for us? We’d love to hear from you.
By Winslow Taylor
Between fish whistles, square groupers, and the inherent “leisure” aspect of fishing, it’s no secret that booze and other recreational substances have long since been around the sportfishing scene. I’m not condoning or promoting, it’s just a fact. If you can show me a sportfishing captain/mate who hasn’t seen some absurd behavior, I’ll buy you dinner for a month. Although booze has been legal since 1933, it’s only in the past few years that the political climate regarding marijuana legalization has begun to drastically change.
Medical marijuana was legalized in a few states as far back as the late 1990’s, but it wasn’t until 2012 that recreational marijuana became legal in Colorado. Since then ten states have legalized recreation marijuana, and of those ten states, seven border the ocean or a navigable body of water (Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, California, Maine, Rhode Island, and Michigan).
What does this mean? It means that many folks where marijuana is “legal” are avid boaters/fishermen and hold USCG merchant marine credentials. As a result, many may not understand the ramifications of marijuana’s use on themselves, their license(s), and vessel operation in navigable waters.
Legality of Marijuana
First off, I think it goes without saying, DO NOT USE ANY IMPAIRING SUBSTANCE while operating a vessel (or vehicle). It doesn’t matter if it’s a 9’ tender or a cruise ship – DON’T do it! Not only do you jeopardize your passengers and crew, but also the vessel, your license, your employment, and possibly your freedom. Where marijuana use is state legal, it’s STATE legal. Meaning if you finish up washing the boat in California and fire up a joint, you are not breaking any California laws. Again, don’t operate a vehicle while stoned, but you aren’t breaking any state laws onshore.
The problem is that marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. At the risk of preaching to the choir, the United States Coast Guard is a federal agency that enforces both federal and state laws on the water. It’s important to note that federal law supersedes states law. So, what does that mean?
SPRINGFIELD, Va., Dec. 31, 2018 – A sign of the times, the U.S. Coast Guard reports that it’s common for recreational boaters today to use cellphones to call during a boating emergency. While Boat Owners Association of The United States urges every vessel to have a working VHF radio with DSC (digital selective calling), the nation’s recreational boating advocacy, services and safety group also recognizes that cellphones are firmly embedded in boaters’ lives. But what happens when a boater tries to call 911 for emergency or routine on water assistance? Will the call go to the closest, most relevant rescue agency for a swift response?
Unfortunately that’s not always the case. But a provision in the recently passed Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization of Act of 2018 aims to improve reliability of the 911 system when recreational boaters need emergency help. In an effort to ensure timely dispatch of the closest potential rescue asset or on-water assistance provider, the Act requires the U.S. Coast Guard to review its policies and procedures to “formulate a national maritime Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) policy.” There are more than 6,000 PSAPs in the U.S. – local 24/7 call centers with trained dispatchers that receive 911 emergency telephone calls and route them to the proper emergency service.
“This effort will help minimize the possibility of maritime calls being improperly routed and to assure the U.S. Coast Guard is able to effectively carry out its maritime search-and-rescue mission,” said Tina Cardone, executive director of the Conference of Professional Operators for Response Towing (C-PORT). C-PORT members, made up of on-water towing industry companies from across the country, contributed to the legislative effort. This included TowBoatUS Mystic owner Capt. Jeff Dziedzic.
“This was a grass-roots effort by many and took years of working with U.S. Coast Guard and elected officials,” said Capt. Dziedzic. “We care about this because of our occasional role in responding to life-threating events as good Samaritans, as well as answering calls for more routine requests for assistance.”
In a video recently captured from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Capt. Dziedzic’s local congressman, thanked the captain for bringing the issue to his attention.
BoatUS also thanks the leadership of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Paul Mitchell (R-Mich.) and Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.).
Additional TowBoatUS C-PORT members joining the effort included Capt. Chad Noetzel, TowBoatUS Port Huron, Michigan; Capt. Terry Hill, TowBoatUS Potomac, Virginia, Capt. Richard Paul, TowBoatUS Cape Coral, Florida; and Capt. Chris Shaffner, TowBoatUS Palm Beach, Florida.
USCG Invokes Safety Zone for 70 Miles of ICW in South Carolina
The effects of flooding upriver and overall conditions on portions of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) has prompted the USCG to invoke special regulations for vessels transiting between mile markers 415-345.
Some bridges remain inoperable, water levels have created reduced height allowances for some bridges, and there is increased potential for floating and submerged debris.
You are required to contact the USCG via VHF radio or telephone before entering the area described below. Please read the announcement and adhere to the regulation. Speed limits and other recommendations may be in place and will be enforced.
The Captain of the Port Charleston (COTP) has established a temporary safety zone on all waters of the Waccamaw River along the Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) from Winyah Bay to the Little River Swing Bridge (AICW statute mile marker 415 to 345), all waters of the Sampit River, all waters of the Great Pee Dee River from Winyah Bay northward to Pee Dee Game Management Area, and all waters of the Black River from its junction with the Great Pee Dee northward to U. S. Highway 701 Bridge.
This rule is effective from September 24, 2018, through October 19, 2018, or until waters recede and conditions allow for safe navigation, whichever occurs first.
To seek permission to enter the safety zone, contact the COTP or the COTP’s representative via VHF-FM channel 16, or through Coast Guard Sector Charleston’s Command Center at 843-740-7050.
Anatomy of a SAR Case: Beware the Bar
As seen in the Coast Guard Mid Atlantic
All is quiet on the pier at Coast Guard Station Oregon Inlet, where two steely boats bob and sway in the shadows. One of the two suddenly roars to life, deck lights blazing and radar antenna twirling.
Five orange-clad figures bustle around on the boat, popping in and out of the compartments, snapping on life jackets. When the boat is deemed ready, they huddle up on the back deck and discuss the plan for this early morning underway trip.
Their objective: conduct a bar report.
Every morning, approximately 30 minutes before sunrise, the station crew heads out to assess the conditions of the Oregon Inlet bar, a sandy shelf that lurks only about 5 feet underwater at the inlet’s entrance. The bar serves as a harsh welcome mat for boats entering the inlet; rushing water collides with the sand bar, rockets up to the ocean’s surface, then spikes in a turbulent pile of breaking waves.
Station Oregon Inlet crews monitor the conditions at the bar, relay the information to local mariners, and help boaters navigate the dangerous strip of whitecaps and waves. It is a recurring part of the crew’s routine; depending on the weather and boat traffic, they often conduct bar reports more than once a day.
At 6:34 a.m., the crew reaches the bar, pleased to see that conditions are considerably mild. Waves arc about 2 feet over the ocean’s surface before dipping back down, tugged along by a strong ebbing current. Winds skim the waves at 10 mph, tossing up a pleasant, 64-degree breeze.
The 2-foot breakers are a welcome sight to the crew, who have experienced upwards of 14-foot waves at the bar. Boat rides are often wild, stomach-dropping roller coaster rides in the inlet, but such is life at a Coast Guard surf station.
The crew hovers near the bar to watch the procession of recreational fishing boats parade by, most of them headed out for a day of angling at the Gulf Stream. They all glide easily through the small waves at the bar, and the Oregon Inlet crew starts entertaining thoughts of breakfast back at the station.
Until, that is, a 60-foot sport fisher crests the bar, then completely stalls.
A flip switches on in coxswain BM2 Travis Porter’s mind. His eyes scan the name stamped on the boat’s stern – Lor-A-Di – and he calls out to its crew on the radio, trying different frequencies. When they don’t respond, he approaches. The Coast Guard crew sidles up alongside the stalled boat, their 47-foot Motor Lifeboat looking quite stalwart beside the sleek, white Lor-A-Di.
Through a shouted conversation, BM2 Porter learns that the vessel’s engines have failed and that the Lor-A-Di is completely dead in the water.
For a brief moment, he observes the vessel crawling south, tugged along by the strong current. He glances at the waves, now building to heights of 4 feet, and makes the call: “Prepare the deck for a stern tow!”
The well-trained crew flies into action, coiling lines and rigging gear. Even SN Nathan Kapsar, now technically participating in his very first search and rescue case, moves without hesitation, unfurling the heavy towline. On Porter’s command, the MLB’s engineer, MK2 Mathieu Desautels, chucks a heaving line to a crewman waiting on the Lor-A-Di’s bow: success in one throw.
Station Oregon Inlet coxswains and crew members practice towing on a regular basis, and on this February morning, it shows. In a matter of minutes, Porter tows the Lor-A-Di over the bar and away from the breaking waves.
Once clear of the whitecaps, the Coast Guard crew detaches the tow and waits nearby while the boaters examine their vessel for damage and try to restart the engines. They rumble to life, but the Lor-A-Di’s captain reports a severe vibration in the propeller shafts. They need to head back to Wanchese Harbor, but they won’t be making the journey alone.
Porter and his crew focus on the new mission at hand: escorting the seven people aboard the Lor-A-Di back to their homeport.
Although it’s only about 10 miles to Wanchese Harbor, the going is slow and the trip takes over an hour. The Station Oregon Inlet crew sees the Lor-A-Di safely moored, then waits for another MLB crew to arrive and relieve them.
This second crew conducts a vessel inspection to check all of the mariners’ safety equipment. The inspection goes smoothly; this was only the Lor-A-Di’s second voyage, and the brand new sport fisher is well-equipped.
Meanwhile, Porter wheels the MLB around and points the bow southeast, where the sun now gleams over the waters of Oregon Inlet. They have already accomplished so much, and all of it before breakfast.
Later, when asked about this case and others like it, Station Oregon Inlet personnel revealed that this is a common occurrence in the area.
“I have been stationed at Oregon Inlet for four years and have been a part of about 50 cases,” said Porter. “The most common case we get here is towing disabled vessels. Oregon Inlet is beautiful, but is a very dynamic and challenging area for mariners.”
“The shoaling conditions change on a daily basis, which is another reason this area is so dangerous,” SN Kapsar added.
When the station crew responds to a disabled vessel, they often find that the culprit is none other than the Oregon Inlet bar.
“We see lots of capsizing, grounding, and damage on the bar,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Mark Dilenge, the station’s officer in charge. “Even on a flat day, the amount of ocean water that flows in and out creates huge tidal effects, which can be super dangerous.”
Luckily, the crew is not only well-trained to tow vessels around and over the notorious bar, they are also well-equipped.
The 47-foot Motor Lifeboat is the workhorse on which station personnel rely to facilitate these missions, and rightfully so – the robust, aluminum boat is capable of handling much harsher conditions than those the crew experienced on Feb. 23.
In order to avoid being pulled to safety by a 47 MLB, the Station Oregon Inlet crew urges mariners to keep a constant eye on weather forecasts, heed the station’s bar reports, and take time to familiarize themselves with the Army Corps of Engineers’ depth surveys.
After properly outfitting their vessels and preparing themselves for every voyage, boaters should be able to fully enjoy Oregon Inlet and all its charms.
“I love the area,” said Kapsar. “I love how much history the Outer Banks have. The first Surfmen were here, and now I get to be a part of that history, protecting the same coastline they did.”
New LondonNEW YORK – Coast Guard crewmembers responded to a collision between two vessels near Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Tuesday, that resulted in the capsizing of one boat and the death of one mariner.
At 10:18 a.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound command center received a call reporting a vessel collision in Fishers Island Sound in which a 60-foot Viking yacht reportedly ran over a 25-foot Parker vessel, capsizing it.
Coast Guard Station New London diverted rescue crews aboard two 45-foot Response Boat-Medium vessels to the scene.
A good Samaritan maintained positive control of the mariner from the capsized vessel in the water until the Station New London crews arrived on scene at 10:46 a.m. With a paramedic from Watch Hill Fire Department aboard, the rescue crew recovered the unresponsive mariner from the capsized vessel.
The subject was taken to Stonington Town dock and transferred to a local Emergency Medical Service.
The capsized vessel was towed to Dodson’s Marina in Stonington, Connecticut.
Rescue crews included personnel from:
- Coast Guard Station New London
- Westerly Fire Department
- New York State Police Marine Unit from Fisher’s Island
- Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
The name and information of the deceased mariner will not be released until next of kin notifications have been made.
The cause of the accident is currently under investigation.