Bruce's Boating Tips for Students

These tips are offered for your enlightenment. Most are suitable for the beginning boat owner and others may be of general interest. Please comment on any of these tips or submit suggestions for your own favourite tips. Neither Gulf Islands Cruising School Ltd. or the author assume any liability for the following information. 
 

Boating tips for beginners. Instruction offered in sail, power boat and coastal navigation. Abandon Ship

Never abandon ship until you have to step UP into your liferaft. This avoids abandoning ship too soon.

Boating tips for beginners. Instruction offered in sail, power boat and coastal navigation. Casting off


Cast off the slack lines first. Typically, there will be one or two dock lines under tension due to wind or current. Untie these lines last.

Boating tips for beginners. Instruction offered in sail, power boat and coastal navigation. Navigation


When your position is in doubt, assume the worst case as close to the nearest hazard.
When taking bearings from a moving boat, take the bearings off each side one after the other. Because of the boat movement, the bearings to the side will change most quickly. By taking these bearings together you will improve the accuracy of your fix.

Boating tips for beginners. Instruction offered in sail, power boat and coastal navigation. Sail trim


When in doubt, let the sheet out. Let the sheet out until the sail luffs.

Boating tips for beginners. Instruction offered in sail, power boat and coastal navigation. Piloting


When the depth sounder reads less than the boat's draft, you are definitely aground.
 

Boating tips for beginners. Instruction offered in sail, power boat and coastal navigation.  Collision Regulations. Here are some time honoured rhymes to assist you.

  Not under Command
Red over red the Captain is dead. Two red lights vertically indicates boat Not Under Command(NUC).
also Two black balls or red on red, then you know her rudder's dead.
 
When two side lights you see ahead,
Starboard turn and show your red.
Green to green, or red to red,
Perfect safety, go ahead.
If to your starboard, red appear,
It is your duty to keep clear,
To act as judgement says is proper
To port or starboard, back or stop her;
But if upon your port is seen
A steamer's starboard light of green
There's not so much for you to do
For green to port keeps clear of you.

  Another version
If to port is clearly seen
A steamer's starboard light of green
There's not so much for you to do
For green to port keeps clear of you.

If to your starboard, red appear,
It is your duty to keep clear,
To act and do as you think proper
port or starboard, back or stop her;

  Masthead light
Steamers, white light on the mast,
A sailer no such light will cast.
But if she shows red over green
Then a sailer you have seen.

  White lights
If moving white light you discern
Then you know you've seen her stern.
One or two white lights and stopped,
Be sure her anchor she has dropped.

  Fishing
Green over white - trawling light,
Red on white - catch fish they might.
Two black cones, their points akissing,
By day you're sure that they are fishing.
A third, point up, like a cuckold,
Then your course well clear you hold.

  Aground
Three black balls to heaven bound,
Shows that boat is aground.
If by night to ground she's wed,
Two white lights and red on red.

  Sailing boat, sails raised & under power
A sailing craft, cone pointed down,
Her engine's pushing, driving home.

  Two sailing boats meeting, wind on opposite sides:
When the wind is on your port,
Then of wisdom don't be short.
Like the dogs of the street,
You'll avoid them when you meet.

  Two sailing boats, wind on same side:
If you are closer to the wind,
Of her stay clear and peace you'll find.

  Sail & power meeting in confined waters
No matter if you're a big three master,
If she's got power, she is faster.
A barquentine or sleek square rigger,
If she's got power, she is bigger.
To yourself, you always say,
"She has power - keep out of the way!"

  Sail & power meeting in open water: (Don't count on this one!)
When well clear, and in the offing,
The steamer's cap to you she's doffing,
To you the stand on she'll give
But keep well clear and you will live! 
 

Boating tips for beginners. Instruction offered in sail power boat and coastal navigation.  Anchoring


To anchor quietly, first discuss with the crew all the steps and where the anchor will be lowered. Crew lowers anchor just into the water as skipper brings the boat into the wind. When the skipper has brought the bow over the desired anchor location engage astern propulsion. When the crew notices the wave around the anchor has stopped, lower the anchor quickly to the bottom. Pay out the desired amount of line and cleat off the anchor rode. The boat will seldom reverse in a straight line. When the rode becomes taut, the boat will swing back into the wind. This confirms to the skipper that the anchor is holding. Slowly increase power to dig the anchor in while watching two objects in line(a range) abeam. If the objects stay in line you are not moving and the anchor is set. This process can be done without any talking.
 
A trip line can be used to recover the anchor from a foul bottom. The trip line is secured to the anchor so that the anchor can be pulled out backwards. The trip line must at least equal the depth at high water. The upper end can be tied to a float which will mark the position of your anchor. To recover the anchor, row out in your dinghy and pull up on the trip line. The trip line may also be secured to the anchor rode itself leaving some slack in the line. To recover the anchor take in the rode until you can reach the trip line. Untie it from your rode, slack the rode and pull in the trip line. 

For more information see my Anchoring Squidoo lens

 

Boating tips for beginners. Instruction offered in sail power boat and coastal navigation.  Weather Memory Aids

Use of the barometer

A sudden drop in pressure foretells stormy weather and rain.  The sharper the drop in pressure, the more severe the winds will be.

At sea with low and falling glass
The greenhorn sleeps like a careless ass
But when the glass is high or rising
May soundly sleep the careful wise one

A sudden rise in pressure from a very low reading forecasts a severe gale.

Quick rise after low
Foretells a stronger blow

The rate of change in pressure can also indicate the duration.

Long foretold, long last
Soon coming, soon past

If you see signs of deteriorating weather for many hours, that is an indication that the weather is moving in slowly and it will therefore be with you for some time.  If the weather changes very suddenly, it means that the weather system is moving quickly and will pass through quickly.

For more topics see my boating education Squidoo lens


 

 

 

 

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