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Summer Storms – A Textbook Example


Last week we talked about Summer storms and how to use Intellicast to help predict (and avoid) them. As that edition was being finalized last Wednesday, a VERY strong and fast moving Summer storm ripped through Norwalk harbor with wind gusts of 54 MPH and “white out” conditions

Here are the details of that squall and a look at how specific internet websites and technology can help us predict and avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The storm moved quickly southward from Massachusetts, through CT and dissipated as it crossed the Sound.

This is the view on Intellicast just before it hit Norwalk:

Summer Squall 1

This Fast Moving Squall scored a DIRECT HIT!


This is the view of the Norwalk Cove weather station during the storm.  Note the Barometer falling as the storm approached, then shooting back up as it passed by. The wind graph indicates the lower wind after the squall cell has passed through.  The temperature dropped noticeably and the wind was eerily quiet just before the storm hit. It came in with a vengeance, quickly building whitecaps in the harbor which then had their foamy heads blown off as the strong wind frothed them into a wall of salt spray.


Summer Squall 2


Below is the SailFlow view of conditions at Cedar Point Yacht Club showing the dramatic spike in windspeed and 180 degree change in wind direction as the squall hits and passes by.

Summer Squall 4

Here is a picture from the safety of the pilothouse on Independence as the Squall passes through.

At the height of the storm, Independence, a 43 foot cutter, was heeling 20 degrees on her mooring and local visibility dropped to less than 40 feet. The shoreline and other boats on their moorings disappeared in “white out” conditions.


Summer Squall 5


Lessons Learned

Prepare your boat like it could blow over 50 knots in 20 minutes.  Don’t leave cushions, lifejackets or towels laying out.

Watch the various websites and use these incredible aids to insure you aren’t “surprised” by a fast moving squall line. It least keep a watchful eye on the horizon.

Be prepared to ride out the storm. Pick up a mooring, drop your anchor, really think twice before running back into the “safety” of the Norwalk Islands if you are in the Sound. It may be much safer to stay in deep water, away from the rocks. Get in the lee of an island or the shoreline to lessen the effect of the wind and waves.

Consider keeping a diving mask or ski goggles aboard. When the wind blows in the 50’s with driving rain, you can’t see!

Know that it blows through quickly. Two hours later I went to the concert at the beach!


By Captain Rick Delfosse  203-216-7800

Rick is a Coast Guard captain, National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor.   He also conducts on-the-water courses and classroom seminars on coastal cruising and boating skills. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience.





AIS Grows Up


AIS (Automatic Identification System) is a tracking system originally developed to allow commercial port operations Vessel Tracking Service managers identify, locate and track large commercial vessels. Legally, all passenger ships (regardless of size) and all ships of over 300 Gross Tons are required to transmit their AIS information and use the information received from other ships while navigating.

AIS has trickled down to pleasure boating in a big way since it was first mandated on commercial ships in 2002. Prices have dropped and new features have blossomed.

If you haven’t yet experienced what AIS can do for you on your boat, click HERE to see a web based presentation of vessels in your area. Note that vessel types are color coded for identification, Blue = Passenger, Green = Cargo, Red = Tankers, Yellow = High Speed Craft, Blue = Tugs & Pilots, Purple = Yachts and smaller vessels.  Click on any vessel and see all their pertinent data and even a picture!


There are two types of AIS units for private boats, Receivers (which gather other’s data but does not send your vessel’s data) and Transceiver (both sends and receives data). These systems use a VHF antenna to receive other vessel’s data and need to be connected to an external GPS (or have an internal GPS) to transmit data. Some higher end transceivers have two VHF antennas, one to receive and one to transmit, as well as a dedicated GPS antenna.

Be aware that commercial transceiver systems broadcast at a higher wattage output (for a greater range) and broadcast their data more frequently than a recreational system does.

Vesper watchmate     Standard GX2200_thumb     Icom VHF with AIS


Receivers can be black box units that share your existing VHF antenna and connect to your existing chart plotter to overlay AIS info on the chart, or stand alone units (think redundancy here) with their own displays and antennas. They are now being integrated into the latest generation of VHF radios, so keep your eye on that market segment.

If you plan on doing any serious coastal cruising, an AIS unit is now a must have tool to add to your boat.

LINKS:     Web Based AIS  (note, volunteer stations collect this data, so not all vessels may be shown)

Standard Horizon Radios

ICOM Radios with AIS

ICOM Transponder Standalone

ICOM Black Box

Vesper Marine – Great AIS options

Ask at the Rex Marine or Norwalk Cove Ships Store for pricing and details.


By Captain Rick Delfosse  203-216-7800

Rick is a Coast Guard captain, National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor.   He also conducts on-the-water courses and classroom seminars on coastal cruising and boating skills. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience.

Dinghy Poker Run – July 26th 2014

Dinghy Poker Run 2

Pre-Register ASAP for the 3rd Annual Dinghy Poker Run !     

Participants of all ages are encouraged, and Pre-Registration is REQUIRED!!

Everyone is welcome… Shore & Country, South Norwalk Boat Club, Norwalk Boat Club, Ischoda Yacht Club… Come on down!

Dinghys, Jet Skis or kayaks are allowed (water pistols are encouraged).   Join your friends and enjoy a fun day on the water !

There will be 5 card pick-up checkpoints around the harbor. Collect a playing card (in an envelope) at each checkpoint. Bring the envelopes back to the finish and find out what hand you have for a prize !

Registration is  at 11:30 and Game time is noon – 3:00 pm followed by a BBQ, awards and volley ball at our beautiful Venue “Harbor View at Norwalk Cove” for all participants. Land your dinghy on the beach at Harbor View to finish. Entry fee is $5 per ‘hand’ and multiple hands per dinghy are allowed. Winner takes the proceeds.



Pre-Registration is required !  Please e-mail or call 203-838-3681 to pre-register.

There is a $ 5 cash entry fee per contestant…and there can be multiple contestants in each dinghy.  Entry fee will be collected at registration.


1. Participants of all ages are encouraged to join in on the fun. Children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian and wear a PFD.

2. All participants must register at 11:30 am on the event day in order to receive their cards at each checkpoint. Registration will be behind the Cove Service Department with the Start from the Service Department docks. The finish will be at the Harbor View Beach.   All participants should be back by 2:00 PM and winner will be selected soon after.

3. Participants must adhere to speed limits and no-wake zones as well as proceed with caution in congested areas and in the channel.

NOTE:  This is a run…not a race and there is no benefit to finishing ahead of everyone else.    Safety  First !!

4. All participating watercraft must have proper safety equipment, (kill switch lanyards are recommended) and must follow all boating safety regulations.

5. It is suggested that all participating watercraft carry a VHF radio and monitor VHF channel 68 (Not required).

6. Water guns are allowed (and encouraged) however, mechanically powered water cannons and water balloons are prohibited during this event.

7. Approach each checkpoint with your watercraft under control.

8. Tie-ups may be required at some destinations so please have 2 dock lines (1 fore and 1 aft) pre-rigged.

9. Maps of the card pick-up locations will be provided upon registration.

10. Participating boats are not to exceed 16’ in length.

11. All boats must start the race together upon starting signal. No departures before assigned start time.

12. Only one poker run hand is permitted per participant = one card redeemed at each checkpoint per participant.

13. Only sealed envelopes containing your cards will be accepted at card submission judging.

Do NOT open the envelopes containing your cards. This must be done in the presence of an event judge.

14. Cash prizes for top three best hands will be awarded based on the “Winning Hand Guidelines” below. Decision of the event official is final.

15. Each participant is required to sign a waiver upon registration in order to participate in the event.


Procedure for Obtaining Cards at Checkpoints:

At registration, each participant will be given five checkpoint passes, a map and instructions in a zip-lock bag. Please use the markers provided at registration to write your name and phone number on your zip-lock bag.

Each checkpoint pass is identified as A, B, C, D and E. You must go to each checkpoint as indicated on your map and can do so in any random order.   For example, if you start at checkpoint ‘C’, once there, hand your checkpoint pass labeled ‘C’ to the official and in return, you will be handed a sealed envelope labeled ‘C’, containing your first poker card.


Place it in the ziplock bag, seal the bag and continue on to your next checkpoint until all checkpoint passes have been exchanged for cards. (5 in total.)  If you have more than one registered player in your watercraft, they will need to have their own set of checkpoint passes to redeem for their playing cards.

Once completed, return to the Harbor View Beach by  2:00 pm where the event judge will open your envelopes and record your best poker hand.


Poker Hand Ranking

There are 52 cards in the pack, and the ranking of the individual cards, from high to low, is ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2. There is no ranking between the suits – so for example the king of hearts and the king of spades are equal.

A poker hand consists of five cards. The categories of hand, from highest to lowest, are listed below. Any hand in a higher category beats any hand in a lower category (so for example any three of a kind beats any two pairs). Between hands in the same category the rank of the individual cards decides which is better, as described in more detail below.


Winning Hand Guidelines

Hands are judged according to the following guidelines listed in order from best to worst hand based on 5-Card Stud Regulations.

Since it is possible to get a five of a kind, if a five of a kind should occur, it will beat all of the traditional poker hand rankings as outlined below. (Highest five of a kind is top hand.)

If a tie occurs with a four of a kind, three of a kind, two pair or one pair, the tie will be broken using the next highest single card held in each hand.   Any ties that cannot be broken using cards held will be handled by the team’s choice of either splitting the prize money or breaking the tie using the highest cut of the deck.

1. Royal Flush – This is the highest poker hand. It consists of ace, king, queen, jack, ten, all in the same suit. As all suits are equal, all royal flushes are equal.

2. Straight Flush – Five cards of the same suit in sequence – such as J-10-9-8-7. Between two straight flushes, the one containing the higher top card is higher. An ace can be counted as low, so 5-4-3-2-A is a straight flush, but its top card is the five, not the ace, so it is the lowest type of straight flush. The cards cannot “turn the corner”: 4-3-2-A-K is not valid.

3. Four of a kind – Four cards of the same rank – such as four queens. The fifth card can be anything. Between two fours of a kind, the one with the higher set of four cards is higher – so 3-3-3-3-A is beaten by 4-4-4-4-2. If you need to compare two fours of a kind where the sets of four cards are of the same rank, then the one with the higher fifth card is better.

4. Full House – This consists of three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank – for example three sevens and two tens. When comparing full houses, the rank of the three cards determines which is higher. For example 9-9-9-4-4 beats 8-8-8-A-A. If the threes of a kind were higher, they win.

5. Flush – Five cards of the same suit but not in sequence. When comparing two flushes, the highest card determines which is higher. If the highest cards are equal then the second highest card is compared. If those are equal too, then the third highest card, and so on. For example K-J-9-3-2 beats K-J-7-6-5 because the nine beats the seven.

6. Straight – Five cards of mixed suits in sequence – for example Q-J-10-9-8 (in varying suits). When comparing two sequences, the one with the higher ranking top card is better. Ace can count high or low in a straight, but not both at once, so A-K-Q-J-10 and 5-4-3-2-A are valid straights, but 2-A-K-Q-J is not. 5-4-3-2-A is the lowest kind of straight, the top card being the five.

7. Three of a Kind – Three cards of the same rank plus two other cards. When comparing two threes of a kind the hand in which the three equal cards are of higher rank is better. So for example 5-5-5-3-2 beats 4-4-4-K-Q. If you have to compare two threes of a kind where the sets of three are of equal rank, then the higher of the two remaining cards in each hand are compared, and if those are equal, the lower odd card is compared.

8. Two Pairs – A pair is two cards of equal rank. In a hand with two pairs, the two pairs are of different ranks (otherwise you would have four of a kind), and there is an odd card to make the hand up to five cards. When comparing hands with two pairs, the hand with the highest pair wins, irrespective of the rank of the other cards – so J-J-2-2-4 beats 10-10-9-9-8 because the jacks beat the tens. If the higher pairs are equal, the lower pairs are compared, so that for example 8-8-6-6-3 beats 8-8-5-5-K. Finally, if both pairs are the same, the odd cards are compared, so Q-Q-5-5-8 beats Q-Q-5-5-4.

9. Pair – A hand with two cards of equal rank and three other cards that do not match these or each other. When comparing two such hands, the hand with the higher pair is better – so for example 6-6-4-3-2 beats 5-5-A-K-Q. If the pairs are equal, compare the highest ranking odd cards from each hand; if these are equal compare the second highest odd card, and if these are equal too compare the lowest odd cards. So J-J-A-9-3 beats J-J-A-8-7 because the 9 beats the 8.

10. High Card – Five cards that do not form any of the combinations listed above. When comparing two such hands, the one with the better highest card wins. If the highest cards are equal the second cards are compared; if they are equal too the third cards are compared, and so on. So A-J-9-5-3 beats A-10-9-6-4 because the jack beats the ten.

 For more information please email   203-838-3681



The “WALK” Train Bridge OPENED!

Last Saturday, June 14’th, a flotilla of boats that had been “trapped” up the Norwalk River escaped!

With an army of almost 50 engineers, mechanics, electricians and laborers, the bridge (which was scheduled to open at 9:00 am), opened at 10:00 am for 30 minutes to allow the small armada passage.

The bridge will not likely open for the next three weeks as engineers and consultants troubleshoot the immediate mechanical problems. Discussions regarding a replacement bridge (and funding) have begun in Hartford and Washington.

For the Video, click HERE

(Do you know the “Star” ?)

For the HOUR article,  click HERE






Responsibilities of the Captain


We see the fun plaques:  The Captain’s word is Law….    or      Marriages performed by the Captain are valid ONLY for the duration of the cruise….

But what are the REAL responsibilities of the Captain (vessel operator or “boater”) ?


Three Major Responsibilities of Every Boater

  1. Practice good seamanship.
    It is the responsibility of every boat or PWC operator to take all necessary action to avoid a collision, taking into account the weather, vessel traffic, and limits of other vessels. Such action should be taken in ample time to avoid a collision and at a safe distance from other vessels. Be responsible for the safety of your crew and vessel.
  2. Keep a proper lookout.
    Failing to keep a sharp lookout is the most common cause of collisions. Every operator must keep a proper lookout, using both sight and hearing, at all times. Watch and listen for other vessels, radio communications, navigational hazards, and others involved in water activities.
  3. Maintain a safe speed.
    Safe speed is the speed that ensures you will have ample time to avoid a collision and can stop within an appropriate distance. Safe speed will vary depending on conditions such as wind, water conditions, navigational hazards, visibility, surrounding vessel traffic density, and the maneuverability of your boat or PWC. Always reduce speed and navigate with extreme caution at night and when visibility is restricted.

danger zone2

Overtaking Boat

approaching Head On

Stay to your Right when Approaching







Additional Responsibilities

  1. Review a pre-departure checklist.  (The same actions a pilot must take before taking off)
    Check the weather.  Make sure steering and engine controls are working. Check that lights are working.   Check for fuel / oil/ coolant leaks and check hoses. Check the bilge and drain plug. Check fuel level (1/3 fuel rule). Check battery voltage. Check Fire Extinguishers. Check Life Jackets. Leave a Float Plan with a friend.
  2. Review Safety Items with the crew and guests. Life Jacket and safety equipment. Man Overboard procedures.  VHF radio operation. How to call for help. How to stop / start the boat. Reckless operation rules. Trash and dumping rules. Docking / Anchoring procedures.
  3. Review BWI laws and your boat’s rules regarding Alcohol and Drugs.  Specify a Designated Operator.
  4. Review Rules of the Road with your crew, the 3 basic scenarios: Approaching head on, crossing, passing
  5. Review Aids to Navigation.  Red Right Returning  (and vice-versa when heading out) and speed limits  (NO WAKE within 100 feet of a moored or anchored boat, dock or in the channel… the entire channel)
  6. Review the basic rule of the sea: You MUST aid another boater in distress unless you are putting your crew or boat in jeopardy by doing so.
  1. PR-3
    Keep Them Safe !

Everyone who uses or enjoys the waterways of our country, whether boating, walking along the shoreline or actually living on the water’s edge has the same rights to enjoy the tranquility of the water. Boaters should respect the rights of others who live or play on the shoreline, don’t disturb private property owners by docking on their land. You should be careful about the amount of wake that you are leaving when operating close to shore, since you are responsible for any damage you cause with your wake. Control your speed and obey posted speed limit signs.

Finally, because sound carries farther over water than over land (especially at night)  you should keep voices, music and other noises to a minimum if anchored near a waterfront property.   Practice common sense, it can’t be legislated.


Capt. Rick Delfosse  203-216-7800
Rick is a Coast Guard captain, National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor.   He also conducts on-the-water courses and classroom seminars on coastal cruising and boating skills. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience

Things to Do and See, Fun Activities, Courses and Seminars


things to do



2014 List of  Fun Activities, Things to Do and See Along the Waterfront, on the Sound and Nearby.  Please see the end of the list for lessons, seminars and courses.




June 2nd 2014     Monday evening   Starting 5.30 pm

United States Power Squadrons   FLARE/UP!

West Beach, Stamford   (off Shippan Ave, south of soccer fields)

For details or information on how to donate flares:  Contact George Hallenbeck 203-348-7121



June 12-15    Mystic Seaport – Sea Music Festival

Fans of traditional sea music gather each year to hear international performers and the Museum’s chantey staff perform

music from the golden Age of Sail through the best of contemporary compositions.



June 21-22 New London, Conn. In-Water Boat Show. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. on June 21 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 22. Admission is free.

The New London In Water Boat Show will take place June 21-22 at New London Waterfront Park along City Pier and the floating docks.

The event will host exhibitors from around the state with an assortment of boats of every type and style from 15 to 60 feet.

There also will be displays of accessories, equipment, electronics, gear and services for boaters.



June 22    Clam-A-Palooza at IYC   June 22’nd 1:00

Benefit for Make-a-wish foundation.   Enter a clam dish or be a taster !

IYC 138 Water Street Norwalk



WED JUNE 25, 2014 (raindate: June 26)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

6:00 pm … Classic Car Show Beach Cruise presented by The Coachmen

7:00 pm … Concert: Tim Currie’s Motown Band



June 27 – 29 Mystic Seaport  –  The WoodenBoat Show

See more than 100 traditional classics and contemporary wooden boats of every type at the 23rd Annual

WoodenBoat Show — a festival hosted in partnership with WoodenBoat Publications that celebrates the

design and craftsmanship of wooden craft.



THURS, JULY 3, 2014, (raindate: July 5)        Fireworks & Entertainment for All Ages

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach


5:30 pm … The Amazing Andy Show (family fun)


6:00 pm … Dance to the Music with DJ Nuzzo

8:00 pm … Jimmy & The Parrots — #1 Jimmy Buffett Tribute Band

performance continues after Fireworks


WED, JULY 9, 2014, (raindate: July 10)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

7:00 pm The Cast of Beatlemania – celebrating 50th anniversary of The

Beatles with nationally-known tribute band


WED, JULY 16, 2014, (raindate: July 17)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

7:00 pm … Norwalk’s own Billy Genuario and Destiny


WED, JULY 23, 2014, (raindate: July 24)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

6:00 pm … Classic Car Show Beach Cruise presented by The Coachmen

7:00 pm … Concert: The Royal Kings – The Coachmen’s favorite band

July 25 – 27 2014  Newport Folk Festival    Fort Adams


July 26’th   3’rd Annual Dinghy Poker Run    Norwalk Cove Marina

Watch for Info on and in the weekly Harbor Talk Newsletter


WED, JULY 30, 2014 (raindate: 31)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

6:30 pm … Kids’ Show TBA

7:30 pm … Concert: ABBA Girlz — Mamma Mia! It’s the ultimate ABBA

tribute band



July 26 – 27 2014  Antique and Classic Yacht Rendezvous  Mystic Seaport



August 1’st – Friday     Starry Nights (The Bird People) at Norwalk Cove Marina

Watch for Info on and in the weekly Harbor Talk Newsletter



July 31 – Aug 3’rd 2014    Gather of the Vibes     Bridgeport



August 2   Saturday   Annual SWIM Across the Sound Marathon—marathon-2014-boat-captain-form


WED, AUGUST 6, 2014, (raindate: August 7)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

7:00 pm … Concert: Cash Is King   re-live the country sounds of Johnny Cash


August 8-10   Edgartown 12 meter Regatta



WED, AUGUST 13, 2014, (raindate: August 14)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

6:00 pm … Classic Car Show Beach Cruise presented by The Coachmen

7:00 pm … Concert: Déjà vu – music of the 50s & 60s

August 16-17 2014   SONO Arts Celebration


WED, AUGUST 20, 2014, (raindate: 21)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

6:30 pm … Kids’ Show TBA

7:30 pm … Concert: Desert Highway — #1 Eagles Tribute Band


August 21-24  2014 Newport Bucket Regatta! 

Exquisite Mega-yachts racing off the shores of beautiful Newport RI


WED, AUGUST 27, 2014 (raindate: 28)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

7:00 pm … Concert: Back to the Garden – celebrating the 45th anniversary of Woodstock

August 30, Sat –  Huntington Lighthouse Music Festival – 11 am – dark (Rain date August 31st)


WED, SEPTEMBER 3, 2014 (raindate: September 4)

Norwalk Concert Series at Calf Pasture Beach

6:00 pm … Classic Car Show Beach Cruise presented by The Coachmen

7:00 pm … Concert: Keith Marron’s Whistleville Band


Sept 5,6 & 7’th  2014  Norwalk Oyster Fest


Sept 11- 14 2014   Newport (R.I.) International Boat Show


Sept 18  – 21 2014    Norwalk Boat Show


Oct. 18’th & 19’th 2014       Oyster Bay – Oyster Festival


Trawlerfest – Baltimore

Sept 25 – 28  


Annapolis US Sailboat Show Oct 9 – 13



Annapolis US Powerboat Show Oct 16 – 19



Lessons, Seminars and Courses



Spring Boating Seminars:    Navigating the Norwalk Islands 

Will be offered again in June – stay tuned or call Capt’n Rick  203-216-7800   e-mail:

The Norwalk Islands…. Their Formation, History, Secrets, Stories and Navigation.

From the Ice age and the formation of Long Island Sound by the retreating glaciers, the Indians and early settlers, to the Oyster Industry, Hotels, Bordellos and Prohibition Speakeasy’s.  The Norwalk Islands have always played an integral part in the development of Norwalk and the region.

Public Islands, Private Sanctuaries, Posh Retreats…. all right off the Norwalk coastline.

Come discover their history, along with navigation and anchorages, tips and tricks around the 25 plus Islands.




Coastal Cruising
 Coming again in June – stay tuned or call Capt’n Rick  203-216-7800   e-mail:

This seminar will focus on the preparation, planning, and skills needed for memorable and safe cruises
        We will cover:
  • Planning & Provisioning
  • Plotting and Weather
  • A Review of Rules of the Road
  • Anchoring & Docking
  • VHF radios, DSC, AIS & Electronics
  • Cruising style – Marinas or Anchor out ?
  • Review of Charting and how to plot your trip
  • Traditional Plotting and GPS Navigation
  • Find a Marina for Transient Dockage
  • Safe Anchoring in Unfamiliar Areas
  • Safety and Emergency Preparedness


Landfall Navigation Marine Training Center 2014 Schedule



Want to add an event to this list ?  


Please send your submission to:

Rick Delfosse   203-216-7800







Hurricane Season – Be Prepared !

Hurricane Season is June 1’st through Nov. 1’st. The 2014 Hurricane Season Prediction sources are all forecasting at or below normal hurricane activity for this season :
See the 2014 NOAA prediction HERE

Live Storm Tracking. NOAA’s National Hurricane Center website is updated every 4 hours for live storm tracking when storms are active.     Go to    also see Intellicast:


Preparation and Action Steps:   Careful planning, taking precautionary measures, and making smart and safe choices during and after a storm are all necessary to reduce the impact a storm could have on you, your family and your assets:


General Hurricane Precautions and Preparations for Boat Owners

The key to protecting your boat from hurricanes or any severe threatening weather is planning, preparation and timely action. The following precautions and checklists are meant only as guidelines. Each boat owner needs a plan unique to the type of boat, the local boating environment, the severe weather conditions likely to occur in that region, and the characteristics of safe havens and/or plans for protection. The following preparation and precautionary suggestions are issued as guidelines to be used by the marine community.

Never Stay Aboard Your Boat.

Winds may exceed 100 miles per hour, and tornados are often associated with land falling hurricanes. First and foremost – safeguard human life!

Prior to hurricane season, develop a detailed plan of action to secure your vessel in the marina, if permitted; remove your boat from the threatened area; or take your boat to a previously identified hurricane refuge. Specifically, identify and assemble needed equipment and supplies. Keep them together. Before hurricane season, practice your plan to ensure that it works.

Arrange for a friend to carry out your plans, if you are out of town during the hurricane season.

Check your lease or storage rental agreement with the marina or storage area. Know your responsibilities and liabilities as well as those of the marina.

Consolidate all records, including insurance policies , a recent photo of your vessel, boat registration, equipment inventory, lease agreement with the marina or storage area, and telephone numbers of the appropriate authorities (i.e. harbor master, Coast Guard, insurance agent, National Weather Service, etc.) and keep them in your possession. They may be needed, when you return to check on your boat after the hurricane.

Maintain an inventory of both the items removed and those left on board. Items of value should be marked, so that they can be readily identified, if dispersed by the storm.

Before a hurricane threatens, analyze how you will remove valuable equipment from the boat and how long it will take, so you will have an accurate estimate of the time and work involved. When a hurricane is approaching, and after you have made anchoring or mooring provisions, remove all moveable equipment such as canvas, sails, dinghies, radios, cushions, biminis, and roller furling sails. Lash down everything you cannot remove, such as tillers, wheels, booms, antennas, etc. Make sure the electrical system is shut off unless you plan to leave the boat in the water, and consider removing the battery to eliminate the risk of fire or other damage.  NOTE: When wind and seas warrant, marine agencies (the marine police) remove their boats from service and will not be able to rescue foolish boaters.  In addition to these general steps, which should be taken no matter where you plan to leave your boat during a hurricane or other severe weather, the following specific steps should be taken depending on your situation and the option you select.

Trailerable Boats.

Determine the requirement to load and haul your boat to a safer area. Be sure your tow vehicle is capable of properly and adequately moving the boat. Check your trailer; tires, bearings and axle should all be in good condition. Too often a flat tire, frozen bearings or broken axle prevents an owner from moving the boat.

Once at a “safe” place, lash your boat to the trailer and place blocks between the frame members and the axle inside each wheel. Owners of light weight boats, after consulting with the manufacturer, may wish to consider letting about half the air out of the tires, then filling the boat one-third full of water to help hold it down. (The blocks will prevent damage to the springs from the additional weight of the water.)

Secure your boat with heavy lines to fixed objects. Try to pick a location that allows you to secure it from four directions, because hurricane winds rotate and change direction. It can be tied down to screw anchors secured in the ground. Remember that trees are often blown over during a hurricane.


Non Trailerable Boats in Dry Storage.

Determine the safest, most realistic, obtainable haven for your boat, and make arrangements to move your boat there. When selecting a “safe” location, be sure to consider whether storm surge could rise into the area. Wherever you choose to locate your boat for the duration of the hurricane, lash the boat to its cradle with heavy lines and consider, based on the weight of the boat, adding water to the bilge to help hold it down.

NEVER leave a boat on davits or on a hydro-lift.


Non Trailerable Boats in Wet Storage.

Owners of large boats moored in a berth or slip typically have three options:

Secure the boat in the marina berth or slip

Moor the boat in a previously identified safe area

Haul the boat

Each of these actions requires a separate strategy. Ask your insurance company what they want you to do.  (They may offer to pay a portion of the hauling bill to get the boat out of the water) Another alternative, running from the storm, is not encouraged except for large commercial vessels, unless there is enough time to get your boat beyond the storm’s projected path.  Double up an all lines and fenders and consider using short lengths of chain and a shackles to connect lines to dock beams or other secure fittings. Wrap lines passing through chocks and hawse pipes with chafing gear, fire hose or towels.  Remember,  Chafe is your enemy !


These tips and information are compliments of NOAA,  Collier, Lee, Charlotte and the Sarasota County Florida Emergency Management Departments. This information is advisory in nature.  It is offered as a resource to be used together with your professional insurance adviser in maintaining a loss prevention program. No liability is assumed by reason of the information in this document.

Capt. Rick Delfosse

NOAA – A Wealth of Information


NOAA, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, traces it’s roots back to 1807 when the Nation’s first scientific agency, the Survey of the Coast, was established.

NOAA encompasses various organizations which mariners should be aware of.

There are six main groups:

  • National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
  • National Marine Fisheries Service
  • National Ocean Service
  • National Weather Service
  • Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research
  • Office of Program Planning and Integration

These various groups offer many different services to boaters and here is a quick summary and some useful links….

National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service  offers Sea surface temperature charts and is home to SARSAT the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking division (the folks who receive EPIRB signals)     They also provide satellite images to commercial weather groups, web sites and TV stations.

National Marine Fisheries Service, you guessed it, is responsible for the management, conservation and protection of living marine resources within the United States’ waters to 200 miles offshore.

The National Ocean Service  is the nation’s ocean and coastal agency. It is responsible for Coastal Survey (nautical charts), tide & current info, Coastal Studies & Science, Geodetic Survey, Marine Sanctuaries and Response & Restoration.

The National Weather Service  is, the central resource of all things weather and clearing house for marine weather radio, alerts, warnings, current conditions, weather radar, marine buoy reports, climate monitoring, predictions and forecasts.  (You need to know about their services and key links ! – see below)

The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research   isthe research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet” and includes the NOAA Research Laboratories, the National Sea Grant College Program, the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, comprised of the NOAA Undersea Research Program and the Office of Ocean Exploration, along with the Climate Program Office and the Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

The Office of Program Planning and Integration provides corporate management to coordinate NOAA’s many lines of service and is the new (2002) corporate management culture at NOAA. It addresses the need to foster integration and strategic management among NOAA Line Offices, Staff Offices, and councils.

Wow, if you are interested in weather, that’s a lot to explore!   So here are some links that will get you started using what NOAA has to offer:

National Hurricane Center

Radar at   there is also a mobile version of this for your phone at  (new site) or  (find the local radar site and save it as a favorite)

National Data Buoy Center  (very helpful for longer cruises or to see what the current weather is around the Sound)   and the equally helpful DIAL A BUOY site which you need to program into your phone.

NOAA Marine Forecasts    or local link  for hourly weather forecast.


By Captain Rick Delfosse  203-216-7800

Rick is a Coast Guard captain, National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor.   He also conducts on-the-water courses and classroom seminars on coastal cruising and boating skills. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience.



VHF Radio Channels & Radio Use


If you carry a VHF radio onboard (and you should) you must maintain a watch on channel 16 whenever the radio is operating and not being used to communicate. You may alternatively maintain a watch on VHF channel 9, the boater calling channel. Note that urgent marine information broadcasts, such as storm warnings, are announced on channel 9 only in First CG District waters (northern New Jersey,New York and New England).

Channel Use
 01A        Port Operations and Commercial. VTS * in selected areas.
 05A        Port Operations.  VTS in Seattle
 06         Intership Safety
 07A        Commercial
 08         Commercial (Intership only)
 09         Boater Calling. Commercial and Non-Commercial.
 10         Commercial
 11         Commercial.  VTS in selected areas.
 12         Port Operations.  VTS in selected areas.
 13         Intership Navigation Safety (Bridge-to-bridge).
NOTE: Ships >20m length must maintain a listening watch on Ch 13 in US waters.
 14         Port Operations.  VTS in selected areas.
 15         Environmental (Receive only).  Used by Class C EPIRBs.
 16         International Distress, Safety and Calling.
Ships required to carry a radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain
a listening watch on channel 16.
 17         State Control
 18A        Commercial
 19A        Commercial
 20         Port Operations (duplex)
 20A        Port Operations
 21A        U.S. Government only
 22A        Coast Guard Liaison and Maritime Safety Info Broadcasts.
           Note: Broadcasts are announced on channel 16, continued on 22a.
 23A        U.S. Government only
 24         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 25         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 26         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 27         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 28         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 63A        Port Operations and Commercial.  VTS in selected areas.
 65A        Port Operations
 66A        Port Operations Commercial. Intership only.
 68         Non-Commercial-Working Channel
 69         Non-Commercial
 70         Digital Selective Calling (voice communications not allowed)
 71         Non-Commercial
 72         Non-Commercial (Intership only)
 73         Port Operations
 74         Port Operations
 77         Port Operations (Intership only)
 78A        Non-Commercial
 79A        Commercial
 80A        Commercial
 81A        U.S. Government only - Environmental protection operations.
 82A        U.S. Government only
 83A        U.S. Government only
 84         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 85         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 86         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 87         Public Correspondence (Marine Operator)
 88         Public Correspondence in selected areas only.
 88A        Commercial, Intership only.

* VTS: Vessel Traffic Service is a marine traffic monitoring system established by harbor or port authorities,

 similar to air traffic control for aircraft. Typical VTS systems use radar, closed-circuit television (CCTV), VHF
 radiotelephony and automatic identification system (AIS) to keep track of vessel movements and provide navigational
 safety in a limited geographical area.

NATO Phonic Alphabet


Code word

US Army

Roman standard



Alpha (ATIS)


(1955: BRAH VOH)


Charlie CHAR lee CHAR LEE or












India IN dee ah INDEE AH INDEE AH or


Juliet (ATIS)








November NOH vem ber NO VEM BER NOVEMBER or








Romeo ROW me oh ROW ME OH ROWME OH or






Uniform YOU nee form YOU NEE FORM or


Victor VIK ter VIK TAH VIKTAH or




X-ray or


Yankee YANG kee YANG KEY YANGKEY [sic] or







Code word Pronunciation


Zero (FAA)
Nadazero (ITU, IMO)


One (FAA)
Unaone (ITU, IMO)


Two (FAA)
Bissotwo (ITU, IMO)


Three (FAA)
Terrathree (ITU, IMO)


Four (FAA)
Kartefour (ITU, IMO)


Five (FAA)
Pantafive (ITU, IMO)


Six (FAA)
Soxisix (ITU, IMO)


Seven (FAA)
Setteseven (ITU, IMO)


Eight (FAA)
Oktoeight (ITU, IMO)


Niner (FAA)
Nine or niner (ICAO)
Novenine (ITU, IMO)


Hundred (ICAO) HUN-dred (ICAO)



. (decimal point)

Point (FAA)
Decimal (ITU, ICAO)

. (full stop)

Stop (ITU)


Marine Safety Tip: Sending a VHF Distress Call


You may only have a very short time to send a distress call on the VHF radio.  Here is the step by step procedure:

  1. Turn on and tune your VHF radio to channel 16.
  3. “This is (name of boat )” Repeat boat name three times.
  4. Describe your boat, such as, size, rig type, color and tell the number of persons aboard.
  5. Indicate the nature of distress (sinking, fire, etc.)
  6. Give position by latitude and longitude or by bearing and distance to a well-known landmark or navigational aid, or in any terms that will assist a responding station in locating the vessel in distress. Include any information, such as, vessel course, speed, and destination.
  7. Indicate the kind of assistance desired.
  8. End with “over.”

If you do not receive any answer, repeat your call every 2 minutes.

Note: If you are NOT in a life-threatening situation but still are in real need of assistance, use the same procedure as above, EXCEPT that in step 2, you replace the word MAYDAY by the the words “Pan Pan” (pronounce PAHNN PAHNN).

A Tip:  Push the button on the microphone to talk, release to listen!



Capt.  Rick Delfosse

Rick is a Coast Guard captain, the editor of Harbor Talk Weekly, a National Safe Boating Council close-quarters boat-handling and open water boat handling instructor, Connecticut and New York certified safe boating instructor and a US Sailing-certified instructor.   He also conducts on-the-water courses and classroom seminars on coastal cruising and boating skills. The owner of a 43-foot pilothouse cutter and an Aquasport powerboat, he has extensive cruising and one-design, coastal and offshore racing experience.


Boaters make better Lovers?


When it comes to setting the right mood for an evening of romance, would-be

lovers go to all sorts of lengths to woo their mate. But a recent survey found

that if you’re looking for love, the best preparation might be revving up the

engine and heading out on your boat.


According to a survey conducted by Discover Boating and Russell

Research, boaters expressed a greater level of satisfaction with their sex

life than non-boaters. While making waves in the bedroom may be reason

enough for many to chart their course, the survey found boaters enjoy

plenty of other lifestyle benefits over their land-based counterparts.

Happy on Boat

“Being out on the water, relaxing away from stresses on land instantly

sets the right mood for making a love connection,” said sociologist and

relationship expert Pepper Schwartz, PhD. “Not only is the setting a mood-

enhancer, but boaters are more active and exude confidence in their

physical appearance, which is naturally going to be attractive to other

active people.”


A Hobby That Will Get Your Boat Rockin’

The survey polled more than 1,000 boaters and non-boaters and compared

their viewpoints on several quality of life aspects. Specific to intimacy,

participants were asked if they agreed with the statement “I am satisfied

with the quality of my sex life.” Two-thirds of boaters (67 percent) agreed

or strongly agreed with the statement, while only 58 percent of non-boaters

held the same opinion. Of boaters who agreed with the statement, nearly a

quarter (24 percent) strongly agreed with the statement.


Boaters also expressed greater satisfaction with their marriage.

Seventy- five percent of boaters agreed or strongly agreed with the

statement “My spouse and I are happy with the state of our marriage,”

compared to 70 percent of non-boaters.  The boost to a boater’s sex life and the

increase in marital bliss can be attributed to many aspects of the boating

lifestyle. Boating offers unparalleled opportunities to relax and bond with

the people who are close to you, whether you’re just socializing or looking

to make that special someone your “first mate.” Additionally, the fantastic

vistas enjoyed from a boat can help set the mood for an evening of fun.


Feeling Fit, Feeling Confident

Feeling healthy and confident when you turn out the lights and turn up

the charm also plays a role in an enjoyable sex life. These were two areas

where boaters also scored higher than non-boaters, according to the survey.

Fifty- eight percent of boaters expressed satisfaction with their overall

physical fitness (compared to 50 percent of non-boaters,) while 76 percent

of boaters consider themselves leaders among their close friends (compared

to 69 percent of non-boaters).


Finding Your Own Love Boat

Finding the boat that will energize your sex life is just a few simple

steps away. The best place to start is with a visit to,

where you can take advantage of free tools and resources to get you started

in a hobby that soon will become a lifelong passion.

has all the advice you need, including a boat selector that helps determine

the style that best suits your interests and budget, a rundown of boat

shows across the country (a great place to start the shopping process,) and

destinations across the country where you can enjoy all the magic of time

spent on a boat. You can also request a free “How to Get Started in Boating

DVD.”    For more information, visit .


About Discover Boating

Discover Boating is a public awareness effort managed by the National

Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) on behalf of the North American

recreational boating industry. Discover Boating programs focus on

increasing participation and creating interest in recreational boating by

demonstrating the benefits, affordability and accessibility of the boating

lifestyle while helping to educate potential boaters and offering

opportunities to experience the fun and togetherness of being on the water

on a boat. Each year more than 71 million people in the U.S. enjoy boating,

the recreational activity that “connects like no other.” To find out more,