Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Boating Laws for the New Year

Over the past several weeks we've noticed a few new boating laws announced or enacted across the US. If you don't see your boating community listed here, don't worry, we'll update you as new laws crop up near you.

New York
We already mentioned this one, but it's worth a reminder. As of last month, Boaters who venture out during the colder months must wear a life jacket.

Also in the Big Apple, Dayelin Roman – writing for The Post-Star – reported that a senator has proposed a bill that would make the transfer of invasive species illegal between bodies of water. With all the lakes and rivers within and bordering NY, not to mention Long Island Sound and the Atlantic, this law sounds like it would be a challenge to enforce if it passes.

North Carolina
As of May, 2010, boaters under 26 must complete a NASBLA approved boating education course before operating any motorboat, and it is now illegal for kids under 14 to operate a PWC. Are they going to need to keep their driver's license in their bathing suit? Source: Salisbury Post.

Boaters on Candlewood Lake will be restricted to boats under 26 feet in length if a law being contemplated by the CT Dept of Environmental Protection passes. Robert Miller of the Danbury News-Times suggests that the rule may grandfather in bigger boats already used on the lake. Not sure how that will work, or if lakeside property owners with big boats will stand for such a new law on Connecticut's largest lake, but it sounds like a good idea if it reduces the crowding on summer weekends.

Okay, Arizona has no new boating laws. In fact, an article that came out last week by Travis Grabow of the Cronkite News Service stated, “Arizona is one of only six states that don't require some or all of those who operate watercraft to complete a boating-education course.” Look out Arizona. With that type of press, Arizona will be passing more boating laws in the near future. By the way, the article was accompanied by the Coast Guard’s top 10 list of states with the highest total boating accidents in 2008. Arizona, at number 7, appears to be the only state that is landlocked.

This just came across our wires as we were about to post. Maine boaters have been getting socked (and shocked) with an unexpected tax bill, according to Soundings Trade Only Today.

Other than generating revenues for state governments, and the invasive species thing, most of these new and potential laws are about boating safety. Subscribe to the Daily Boater to stay on top of boating laws that may affect you, and for the absolute basics of boating safety, a good place to start would be the FirstBoat's boating safety page.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Safety Advice Straight from a Survivor

To say that boating safety advice is often ignored would be an understatement. That’s why this article by Shannon Tompkins in the Houston Chronicle jumped out at us.

The article not only presents good boating safety tips you can use, but Ms. Tompkins paints us a picture of how some of the advice actually saved the life of a waterfowl hunter who was rescued after spending 12 hours in the water.

This story is a must-read for all boaters, whether your vessel is a bass boat or a mega yacht, power or sail. Please share it with a boater you care about, and don't forget to check FirstBoat's boating safety tips for even more common sense advice for boaters.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Sea Song of the Week: Ho Ho Ho

...and a Bottle of Rum, by Jimmy Buffett.

What? Did you think we’d do something other than a Buffett tune a week before Christmas? Actually, since her 29th birthday is today, we did consider that Christina Aguilera song where she is dressed like a sailor, but it turns out that the lyrics have nothing to do with sailing or the holidays. Who knew?

Anyway, we hope you enjoy one of our favorite island Christmas songs.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Boaters Welcoming Winter

It is so cold in New England today that it’s hard to believe winter doesn’t officially start until Monday. Florida (because they can) is kicking off the season with several boat parades this weekend, including some rescheduled due to rain last weekend. But the big one is in California, where they are welcoming winter with a bang - despite the fact that the weather won't really even change for folks in SoCal. The 101st Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade kicked off on Wednesday and runs nightly through the 20th.

And while there are no boat shows this week, there has been plenty of boat show news. The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), which is behind more than a dozen boat shows all over the US, will own and manage Boston’s annual New England Boat Show beginning with this February’s event. With the NMMA in charge, the Boston show may include two programs that will help you out if you’re a new boater. First is the NMMA’s long-running Discover Boating program, which strives to introduce people to the joys of recreational boating (Just like FirstBoat, only bigger). Second is the NMMA’s new Affordability Pavilion – a special area on the show floor featuring boats that can be financed for $250 or less per month.

If you were making plans to attend the 49th annual Vancouver International Boat Show (April 8-11, 2010), you’re going to have to find something else to do. The show was canceled, allegedly because of construction. However, other boat shows have been canceled recently due to the economy. Just saying.

In Texas, the 2010 Houston International Boat, Sport & Travel Show, which boasts sixteen acres of boats and campers on display, has announced it will be held January 8-17 at Reliant Center.

Details and links for all of these boat parades and shows can be found on the FirstBoat boating events calendar.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Long Time at Sea

While we were busy holiday shopping and attending boat parades this past weekend, American artist, adventurer and sailor Reid Stowe was busy breaking the record for the longest solo sea voyage in history.

Stowe set off in 2007 aboard the Anne intending to stay at sea for 1,000 days, but he wasn’t alone for the first 300-ish days. However, as of this past Saturday, December 12, 2009, by staying at sea alone for 658 days after transferring his one crew member to another vessel, Reid Stowe has broken Jon Sanders’ 20-year-old record for a solo sea voyage. This is a remarkable accomplishment by any standard; in fact, Stowe, according to his website, has even received encouragement and letters of congratulations from Sanders himself.

Reid Stowe is expected to wrap up this fantastic voyage (which, by the way, is being called the Mars Ocean Odyssey) and reunite with his first mate, his newborn son, and the rest of the human race next June on the Hudson in NYC, and you are invited to the homecoming! If you’d like to participate with your boat in the flotilla, visit or contact soanya(at) with your name, vessel name, vessel size, and a contact phone number.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

Ghost Yachts has just unveiled a new yacht, and it's scary how cool it looks. The Dutch firm's G180 with its unique combination of cutting edge Dutch engineering and a stylish Italian look provided by Gloss Design of Italy will surely be a head turner.

The yacht will be easily recognized by its unique "vertical bow configuration," which appears to be a variation of the reverse or axe bow design. This innovative hull shape should have less resistance than hulls on comparably sized mega yachts, and "offers the possibility to reach semi-displacement speeds in excess of 20 knots," according to the company.

Ghost Yachts expects to be complete with production engineering by this time 2010, so now you know what to ask Santa for next year. You can learn more about Ghost Yachts and put your name on their waiting list at their website.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Sea Song: Christmas in the Caribbean

Christmas is only two weeks away and Hanukkah is already here, so what did you expect our choice for this week’s Sea Song to be? If you are looking to escape from all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, then sit back and relax, listen to this song and let Jimmy Buffett take you away to an island paradise.

Just realized that the "La La" link above may not allow you to play the full song. Here's the song on the Daily Boater YouTube channel, where, by the way, you can find most of our recent (and a few of our upcoming) picks for Sea Song of the Week.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

FL Packed With Boat Parades This Weekend

Florida is a pretty large state, with some points requiring a several hour drive or a short flight to reach them. But there are so many boat parades in the state this weekend, you won’t have to drive far to find one no matter where you are in Florida.

Check out our calendar
to see if there is one near you (and, as mentioned above, there IS one near you if you live in Florida.) Oh, there’s also a boat parade in Alabama this weekend.

Have fun and let the holidays begin!

There are a ton of boat shows over the next couple of months, especially in cold weather states like NY and MN. We're updating our calendar this week, so contact us if you want us to include your event.


Wednesday, December 09, 2009

An OnStar-like option for boaters

Three years ago we told you about a nautical product on the market that had similar features to what you see advertised for cars in OnStar. A vessel assist device that always knows where you are, even when you don’t, and can call for help.

Now imagine such a marine device working in partnership with the equivalent of the Automobile Association of America of boating, BoatU.S. Of course BoatU.S. is much more than that, but they do claim that their towing fleet offers North American boaters the largest network of U.S., Canadian and Bahamian towing ports with over 290 locations and over 600 towing assistance vessels - three times that of any other service provider – a similar advantage to AAA’s dominance on land.

With a new Spot unit combined with a BoatU.S. membership, boaters can now call for help with the touch of a button, even when cell phones and VHF won’t work, as the Spot Assist message is sent via communications satellites. And, like EPIRB, your location is determined by GPS satellites and sent with your help message.

BoatU.S. recommends that offshore boaters still carry an EPIRB, and that all boaters continue to carry a VHF radio. But at an annual price that is less than the cost of a tank of fuel for most boats, adding Spot Assist to your BoatU.S. membership is an inexpensive way to have additional peace of mind on your next family boating trip.

Learn more at BoatU.S. or Spot's website.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

EPA Gives Boaters a Breather

Imagine thinking you did everything right to winterize your boat only to find that your engine has major problems when you go to commission her in the spring. Or reeling in your lines as the sun goes down only to realize that your outboard won’t even hint at starting. Ever since ethanol has been used as an additive to fuel in the US, the blended fuel has wreaked havoc on boaters, reducing overall performance, causing safety concerns and costly engine repairs.

The Environmental Protection Agency has delayed its anticipated decision to increase the percentage of ethanol that can be blended into gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent (AKA E10 to E15). But the change may still be coming, perhaps in less than a year.

What can you do to make sure your boat can handle the current ethanol blend and to prepare for future changes to the cap?

A good place to start would be Suite101, where Alan Sorum has been advising boaters on the Ethanol issue through his Boating & Sailing blog since 2006. Also, Southern Ski Boats in Virginia has tips for winterizing your boat in an ethanol world on their blog.


Monday, December 07, 2009

The Gates of the Great Lakes

Have you read about Asian carp and the efforts to keep them out of the Great Lakes?

The fish are causing quite a stir in the maritime community. A boater in Indiana recently posted the following on Twitter, highlighting how serious a threat these fish may be: "Don't close off boating on to and from the Great Lakes. Look for alternative ways to keep the Asian Carp out!"

What is it about these little buggers? Why are they causing so much buzz?

First of all, the “little buggers” are not all that little. Almost every article about Asian carp states that they can grow to 4 feet long, and weigh 100 pounds, eating so much plankton that there is no food left for other fish. The new carp consume virtually everything, like the Borg, threatening entire civilizations (of fish). They’ve also been known to leap out of the water, lured (or annoyed) by the humming of a boat’s engine, and collide with a boat’s operator. Check out this picture of them jumping courtesy of the USFWS.

If these carp get into the Great Lakes, the region’s $7 billion-a-year commercial fishing industry will suffer. Recreational boating will suffer. To prevent the expected suffering, authorities have gone to great lengths. They have installed an electric fence and have poured 2,000 gallons of poison in canals leading to Lake Michigan, resulting in 200,000 lbs of dead fish. They have so far I.D.’d one victim in the fish kill as an Asian carp, with the rest being members of the species they were trying to save). The next drastic move under consideration is to shut down the locks, which will be a major annoyance to recreational boaters and a major financial burden to companies that rely on the water to ship goods through that region.

Other alternatives are being considered and stakeholders are taking up sides on this explosive issue, but time may be running out. What can be done to stop these invasive fish that we brought here 30 years ago?

Related stories and sources worth reading:
Washington Post: Fish kill called necessary to save the Great Lakes

Chicago Tribune: Asian carp worries fishermen

Indianapolis Star: Keeping the monsters away

Globe and Mail: Asian carp get past barrier, threatening Great Lakes

The Daily Boater: Warning: Flying Fish in FLA


Friday, December 04, 2009

Sail On, Sea Song of the Week

Today would be Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s 65th birthday, so the band’s Sail on, Sailor was a natural choice for our sea song this week.

As usual, Wikipedia has some interesting background on this tune, including how Dennis almost sang the lead vocals, but he went surfing instead. And the legend lives on...

Check out some of our recent picks, including Moby Dick and Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Boat Parades and St. Pete Boat Show

There are plenty of opportunities to fit boating into your holiday activities this weekend, especially in warmer areas of the US.

Thursday is the first day of the four-day St. Petersburg Power & Sailboat Show, which the show’s website claims to be “the Gulf Coast’s largest boat show”.

Also in Florida this weekend are boat parades in Eustis on Friday and Port Canaveral on Saturday. Other boat parades this weekend include the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights which can be seen from Washington D.C., as well as a parade in Stockton, California.

These boat parades are fun to watch and even more fun to participate in if you get the chance. Learn more about them and other upcoming boating events on our boat show calendar.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Light it up

Have you seen boats with underwater lights, or do you have a strong opinion of them?

With Christmas boat parade participants preparing to be lit up topside with decorations (and libations), wouldn't it be cool to see what's going on below the waterline?

When it comes to underwater lights, boaters seem to either love them or hate them, as discussed on Panbo several months ago (see: Underwater lights, stupid & offensive?).

But even if you think boat lights are useless and annoying, you might "see the light" when you check out Aqualuma’s LUMA-Vu Underwater Camera. As BoatTrader Insider points out, "this camera provides an underwater viewpoint from a perspective never before available." It’s true. Imagine simply watching sea life drift by from the comfort of your cabin, or capturing images of the fight you feel but rarely see as you reel in the catch of your life.

If you've thought about adding underwater lights to your boat but were hesitant because they just didn't seem all that useful, then the Aqualuma LUMA-Vu - with it's combination of lights and underwater camera - may offer you the excuse to brighten up the water below.

Learn more about these gadgets from BoatTrader Insider and Australian-based Aqualuma.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Top 10 Boats of 2009?

CNN's Mainsail just released its top ten boats of 2009.

The list is comprised of everything "from superyachts to sail-planes" and we’re proud to say that it even includes vessels recently featured on the Daily Boater - Super-environmentalist David de Rothschild's Plastiki and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's Eclipse.

Since Mainsail is a program that runs on CNN International, it is no surprise that many of their top 10 boats look like they were chosen more for their newsworthiness than for their seaworthiness. That’s okay with us, as the designs are out of this world.

Speaking of "out of this world", our favorite vessel on the list might be "Planet Solar" with a design reminiscent of the Star Trek Enterprise. What's your favorite?

On the web at

9:05 AM Editor's note: Shortly after we posted this story, CNN changed the title of the article on their website from "Mainsail's Top 10 Boats of 2009" to the more appropriate "Will this thing even float? The craziest boats on the oceans." Either way, we still like the boats!