How the Heck Can I Remember All of These Rules?

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Ahh, the USCG Navigation Rules. Every mariner’s favorite topic – NOT.  They can be daunting to learn and remember and for many folks who use waterways they are completely unknown. However, anyone who ventures afloat on any vessel is responsible to know, understand and apply them. Even this last point is not known by most […]

The RPM Table and Search Patterns

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Coast Guard Auxiliary surface facilities need to be inspected each year to confirm that all required items are in place.  One of those items is an RPM table.  What is that?  Very simply, it is a table (or graph) that identifies the boat’s speed at various engine RPMs.  For example, here is the RPM table […]

The Art of Not Making Way

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Operating a power-driven vessel is generally pretty easy.  Push the throttle forward, and you get propeller discharge current which either flows across the rudder or is directed flow in the case of outboards and I/Os.  The faster you go, the more control you typically have due to the increased flow over the hull and through […]

Acting as a Man Overboard is Not a Competency

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If you were to look at the narratives of past Auxiliary mishaps across the nation, you’d see a lot of them involve crew falling into the water.  Not a good thing, especially in cold weather or at night.  At a minimum you’ll have a wet and exhausted crewmember and some paperwork to complete.  The worst […]

Line Handling Commands – Geek Out on Them

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Yes, it’s that topic again.  We discuss them a lot in the Ops world, every year.  And yet every year we have folks get underway and use them inconsistently or not at all.  Why is that?  Now I’m not suggesting everyone turns into A.J. Squared Away.  Who is that?  Here are a couple of online […]

How to Report Position While Underway

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We are all familiar with the requirement to report our ops status and position to whomever is maintaining our radio guard, normally at 30-minute intervals.  Of course the reason for this is to keep track of you for your safety, and to take action to find you in case something happens and you do not […]

Reciprocal Course

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There are situations where it is useful to quickly and precisely derive a reverse course.  The scariest scenario is a man overboard when shorthanded.  A smaller facility (less than 26 feet LOA) only requires the coxswain and one crewmember aboard.  While underway, the crewmember might go over the side without the coxswain/helmsperson even realizing it.  […]

How Far Away is that Waypoint?

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Imagine you are on patrol and your OPCON contacts you to respond to a boater who needs assistance at a given location.  Where is that waypoint and how do you get there?  Of course you are familiar with your chartplotter and can enter that waypoint and get underway.  But with just a few seconds of […]