A Drowning Event at POYC



One of the reasons that I asked Gary Guss to publish on our Web Page the Slate Magazine article about the real signs of drowning was that we had a drowning event at the Club many years ago that matched what was stated in the article. Drowning that doesn’t look like Drowning  I have to say that when I read the article and thought back on the event, it made me very sick and upset.  We must improve our knowledge so that there is never a repeat of that event.

Many years ago Larry Caillouet and I invited a sizable number of international students to the Lake.  Larry was in charge of international students at Western.  When they first arrived, we had them go over to the Quarry area across the Lake (otherwise affectionately known as “skin beach”).  When they had finished with their meal, many of them came over to the Club.   Several Club members had volunteered to take them sailing and had already launched their boats.  Not surprisingly, I was still fiddling with Orion in our regular lot trying to get her ready to launch.  The students had already gone down to the Lake and started swimming.

Suddenly a girl ran up the path and called out, “He won’t come up!”  I couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.  Then Larry’s wife, Dianne, came up the path and said that a student may have drowned.  I jumped off Orion and started running down the path, shedding clothes as I ran.  When I got to the Lake I asked where the student had gone down.  Several people pointed to the middle of the area between our old wooden docks.  I immediately jumped in and swam out to that area and started diving.  I was in a lot better shape back then, but it was still very difficult to keep diving down about 10 feet repeatedly.  Soon John O’Connor, who was considerably older than I was joined me.  I told John, “You stop.  We can only afford one drowning today.”  The Lake bottom slopped away sharply from the shore.  I thought that maybe his body had drifted deeper than we could dive.

John’s cruiser was tied to the outer dock bow in.  I suggested that we back his boat away from the dock and use his Danforth anchor to drag for the student’s body.  And that is what we did, over and over without any success.

About this time four husky guys showed up.  I thought that they might be from the rescue squad.  Since that time I have been told that our own Troy Monroe was one of these guys.  One of the fellows had, or was handed a diving mask.  Fortunately, he did not ask where the student went down.  He just jumped into the water right next to the dock.  And there was the student.  The student was pulled out and some attempt at CPR was made.  I seem to remember that this was before the advent of modern CPR.  About this time the EMTs showed up and determined that that the student was dead.

Later there was a memorial service at the Baptist Student Union.  Because the young man was from India, John O’Connor and I made sure that there were Muslim and Hindu prayers as well as Christian.  Right before the service I was told that the student didn’t drown.  That he had a brain aneurism that burst.  That made us feel a little better at the time, but now that I have read the Slate Magazine article, I am convinced that he really did drown.

We were told that he was considered to be a good swimmer.  He apparently thrashed around just a very little and then went under with his hand sticking out of the water.  He did not make any sounds.  Once he went under, he did not resurface.  His friends thought he was pretending because he did not call for help or thrash around more.  But now that you have read the Slate Magazine article, you, like me, know exactly what happened.  It truly makes me upset and sad to think that this promising young man lost his life because no one knew what drowning really looked like.  We were expecting the movie or cartoon version.  Now we do know and we should spread the word and look for the real signs so that we can stop these unnecessary, tragic deaths.


Here’s the Slate article..

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning from Slate Magazine

May 26 2017 12:25 PM

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

In 10 percent of drownings, adults are nearby but have no idea the victim is dying. Here’s what to look for.

By Mario Vittone


A lifeguard keeps watch on opening day of the newly renovated McCarren Park Pool on June 28, 2012, in Brooklyn, New York.

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

How to Prevent Drowning

This Memorial Day weekend marks the start of another—hopefully safe—swimming season. In 2013, Mario Vittone dispelled a popular myth about how to tell when someone is struggling in the water. The original article is reprinted below.

The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine; what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their 9-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know—from 50 feet away—what the father couldn’t recognize from just 10? Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life.

The Instinctive Drowning Response—so named by Francesco A. Pia, Ph.D., is what people do to avoid actual or perceived suffocation in the water. And it does not look like most people expect. There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the No. 2 cause of accidental death in children, ages 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents)—of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. According to the CDC, in 10 percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch the child do it, having no idea it is happening. Drowning does not look like drowning—Dr. Pia, in an article in the Coast Guard’s On Scene magazine, described the Instinctive Drowning Response like this:

“Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.

Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.

Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.

From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.”

This doesn’t mean that a person that is yelling for help and thrashing isn’t in real trouble—they are experiencing aquatic distress. Not always present before the Instinctive Drowning Response, aquatic distress doesn’t last long—but unlike true drowning, these victims can still assist in their own rescue. They can grab lifelines, throw rings, etc.

Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:

Head low in the water, mouth at water level

Head tilted back with mouth open

Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus

Eyes closed

Hair over forehead or eyes

Not using legs—vertical

Hyperventilating or gasping

Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway

Trying to roll over on the back

Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder

So if a crew member falls overboard and everything looks OK—don’t be too sure. Sometimes the most common indication that someone is drowning is that they don’t look like they’re drowning. They may just look like they are treading water and looking up at the deck. One way to be sure? Ask them, “Are you all right?” If they can answer at all—they probably are. If they return a blank stare, you may have less than 30 seconds to get to them. And parents—children playing in the water make noise. When they get quiet, you get to them and find out why.

What Does Drowning Look Like?

How to Prevent Drowning

(See a video of the Instinctive Drowning Response.)

This article is reprinted from Mario Vittone’s blog. Join him on Facebook.

Mario Vittone recently retired from the Coast Guard. He’s a trained rescue swimmer and boat captain who lives with his family in coastal Virginia.




Safely Sail in Windy Conditions – by Lee Huddleston


By Lee Huddleston

Of course, one way to be safer when the wind is blowing hard is to not go out.  Before you go out, check the weather.  There are numerous aps available for your phone and computer.  Even if the weather is beautiful where you are just before you go out on the Lake, remember the admonition about Barren River Lake, “the only thing consistent is change.”

Even with a good forecast, look before you leap.  The wind in the Yacht Club Cove may be quite pleasant.  While at the same time just outside the Cove it may be blowing “like stink.”   If you look out on the Lake and see a herd of stampeding white horses, they aren’t horses.  They are whitecaps.  And whitecaps form on our Lake when the wind reaches about 12 knots.  That may not seem like a lot of wind, but it is enough to challenge most of our sailors, especially in dinghies.  At the very least, be prepared for a very rapid knock-down the second your bow gets past the protection of the point.

Another way to deal with strong wind is to hoist smaller sails, if you have them.  Of course, that may not be an option for you.  If not, perhaps you can reef your sails.  If so, reef them before you go out.  When you get out on the Lake and find that you can handle the wind without the reefs, you can always shake out the reefs.  It is much easier and safer to shake out reefs than it is to try to reef when you are already struggling to manage your boat.  There is another traditional admonition, “When you first think that it might be a good idea to reef, go ahead and reef.”  Trust your instincts.

On a windy day, a good crew can literally be worth their weights in gold.  But not if you coddle then and let then just go along for the ride.  You have a right to wear them out moving them all around on the boat.  After all, they are movable ballast.  It is a rule that Captain Bligh came up with.  In fairness, you might want to apprise them of this before they sign on.  There is nothing like a mutiny in the middle of a race to throw you off your stride.  On a dinghy normally have them sit as far forward as possible, such as right up against the shrouds, which are convenient since they can hold on to them as they hike way out.  You should slide right up against the crew, which is why you bought and installed that tiller extension.  On cruisers, if they are not performing their tasks such as adjusting a jib sheet at that instant, move them forward along the rail.  Sitting in the cockpit is not a good idea unless they are going to have to go back to work in a few seconds.  Technically, I understand that they can hang their feet over the rail but should not put their upper body outside the lifelines, if there are any (but, really, who is going to call you on that?)

Well, let’s assume that you are out sailing on the Lake when the wind is strong, either because the wind changed or because you are racing and having a blast.  You are able to handle the steady wind, but the periodic bursts are knocking your over and making you round up due to weather helm.  By the way, if you would like to see a prime example of that embarrassing event, watch the video on our Web page with my brother, Philip, and Margaret, my sister-in-law, one more time.  There is a shot where three cruisers appear to be about even with each other while they sail toward the camera.  Suddenly the cruiser in the middle, my own sweet Orion, rounds up, loses control, backwinds the genoa, and spins 360 degrees.  You see, the advice I have been trying to share with you in these articles was earn honestly over many years of sailing and making mistakes.  My role in life, I am afraid, is to be a bad example, “This is what will happen to you if you don’t do such and such.”

Meanwhile, back at being knocked over and rounded up in puffs.  There is a simple thing you can do to help solve this problem if you have a centerboard, keel-centerboard, or swing keel.  Raise or pull in the centerboard (or whatever you have) just a little bit.  The first few inches that you pull or crank in will not significantly reduce the lateral resistance provided by the board.  What it will do is move the majority of the board aft.  Your mainsail and the aft part of your genoa are acting like the tail on a wind vane. When the wind hits them, the vane, your boat, points up toward the source of the wind.  By moving the board aft, you are putting more sail in front of the pivot point and taking some sail from aft of the pivot.  In other words, you are reducing the power of the wind vane effect to a point that you can handle it.

If your boat is not rounding up on you but is still heeling more than you want in puffs, raise the board a little more.  Often sailors think of centerboards is binary terms, either up or down.  You should think in terms of analogue, an infinite number of positions.  If you keep heeling excessively in puffs, you probably are “tripping over your board.”  When the puff hits, it is trying to push your boat sideways across the Lake.  The board, with its lateral resistance, is trying to keep that from happening.  If you raise the board a little more (a little at a time and not all the way up if you want to sail to windward), when the puff hits, the boat will trade a little leeway for staying more upright.  In other words, instead of tipping, the boat will slide a little.  Even when racing, it is sometimes more valuable to stay flatter at the cost of some leeway.

When your boat is hit by a puff and tries to head up, there is a tendency to pull the tiller toward you (with your back to windward, as it should be, especially in strong wind) and just hold on trying to get the bow to go back to leeward.  Often that does not work when the bow has already started swinging to windward.  What is happening is your rudder is stalling.  It is no longer functioning as a rudder.  Water is passing around the rudder, sometimes around both front and back.  Water is not flowing along the sides of the rudder, which is essential to make it function.  It is similar to tires skidding.  Once they start skidding, they are virtually worthless.  With tires, you break the skid by momentarily releasing the brake and then reapplying the brake repeatedly.  With rudders, I call it rowing.  I quickly push the tiller forward to stop the stalling and then bring it back as though I were rowing a boat.  I do this repeatedly until I can get the bow back under control.  I think that the rowing not only breaks the “skid,” I think it actually does row the bow back to leeward.  In the Philip and Margaret film, I had to just sit there like a fool and watch helplessly.  That was before I figured out how to row the rudder.  Since learning it, I have made countless other mistakes but not that one again.  Where are the cameras now?

Maybe you can avoid such an embarrassment.  Be safe and have fun sailing as much as possible.



Anchoring on Barren River Lake by Lee Huddleston

If you are sailing on a hot day and decide to go for a swim, do one of two things: leave at least one adult on board while everyone else is swimming, or anchor the boat. If everyone gets into the water without dropping the anchor, you can be surprised at how fast a boat can drift away from you in the calmest wind. Even if you survive, it is quite embarrassing to have to flag down a motorboat to help you chase down your boat.

In some places, the Lake is surprisingly deep. Right off the Yacht Club Cove, at summer pool the Lake is 70 feet deep. The old river channel runs right through that area. Farther out from the Cove the Lake averages 50 feet at summer pool. When travelling between the Peninsula and Mason’s Island with a depth finder, it is fascinating to watch the depth get progressively shallower until it is about 15 to 20 feet. Then suddenly the depth will jump to 65 feet. That was a cliff that overlooked the old river channel.

The point is, the depth can cause problems in anchoring. As you know, “scope” is the ratio of the anchor rode let out to the depth of the water (and the height of your bow above the water). The normal recommended ratio is 7 to one. In other words, 7 feet of rode for every one foot of depth. The reason for that ratio is to make the anchor lie flat along the Lake bed so that when it is pulled it will dig into the bed. With 70 feet of depth or even 50, that scope is not practical. Few of us want to carry 490 or 350 feet of rode. Nor do we want to swing in a huge circle.

So, is it possible to anchor in the middle of the Lake? Yes, it definitely is. On a regular basis I anchor Orion in the middle of the Lake and only use about 100 feet of rode. One reason is that I don’t often anchor in the middle when I anticipate a very strong wind. Another reason is my ground tackle (anchor, chain and rode).

I have anchored Orion more than two times in winds exceeding 60 knots. Once just last year. Many years ago I saw a storm coming over the Dam and got in behind the eastern side of Mason’s Island (toward Bailey’s Point). I put the bow up close to the Island and dropped the anchor into the old river channel. When the wind pushed me back, the anchor dug into the relatively vertical eastern side of the channel. It was exciting (I’ll have to tell you the whole story at a later time). The other time was just last year. Nicole and I were just day-sailing and ignoring the warnings of remnants of a 90 knot storm in Indiana. We came around the southern end of Mason’s Island and there was the big, black, monster coming over the Dam. (Maybe the Dam just generates these storms.) I could see a whole herd of white horses bearing down on us. I told Nicole to go below and hold on. I then headed up and dropped the anchor and fell back on all of my 150 feet or rode. I then quickly got my sails down and secured (barely in time). The wind and rain hit like a full-force fire hose. In the short fetch between the Dam and our location the storm had kicked up waves about 3 feet high. I was proud that the ground tackle held us as if we were glued to the ground. The only problem was that I have needed to replace the port lights in my windows. As a result, we sat there laughing while the rain poured in on us. After the storm it took a lot of patience to get the anchor back on board. It had dug half way to China. I pulled up the rode and snugged it to the bow and then waited for the wave action to slowly work the anchor free. With repeated pulling and snugging the anchor finally broke free. When I tried to pull it up to the boat, it was a gigantic ball of mud, rock, and gravel. But after a few minutes of dunking it I was able to get it clean.

When I first started sailing Orion I purchased a 13 pound high-tensile Danforth anchor from West Marine. It has worked exceptionally well. You will recall that a Danforth anchor has a shank in the middle and triangular “flukes” on each side of the shank. When the anchor is on the bottom the flukes drop down somewhat. As the anchor is pulled by the shank the flukes dig into the bottom. The more the anchor is pulled, the deeper the flukes dig (which is why I got such a huge ball of Lake bottom in the last storm). If the anchor is not lying flat, the flukes can flip up and the anchor will just drag across the bottom. There are many types of anchors (Bruce, claw, Delta, CQR, plow) all of which can work well in the Lake.

Anchors do not hold due to their weight. They hold by digging into the bottom. And they dig into the bottom because of their shape. Accordingly a mushroom anchor or any variation of it is completely worthless. To be held by weight alone you would probably need to get an old engine block.

After the anchor, you need to get a chain to go between the rode and the shank. On Orion I have a 6-foot length of 5/16 inch chain. That is a relatively heavy chain on purpose. A light chain will not accomplish the purpose. And that purpose is to help keep the shank along the bottom when the rode is pulled. The difference between an anchor without a chain and one with a chain is dramatic. Any old rusty chain will do, the longer the better.

When I first started sailing Orion, I wanted to get the best for her. So for my rode I purchased 100 feet of ½ inch braid-on-braid Dacron line. Bad idea. When I sailed with Karl Millen in the Bahamas on his much larger cruiser, the Succubus, I noticed that his rode was smaller than the one I had purchased for Orion. When I asked him about it he pointed out that the breaking strength of his smaller rode was strong enough to lift his boat out of the water. He also pointed out that a smaller, twisted (rather than braid-on-braid), nylon line would stretch and absorb the jerks from waves that can pull an anchor free. So, I purchased 150 feet of twisted, nylon, 3/8 inch line. Since then my anchor has held much better even in the strongest winds.

One more technique that I have used on Orion occasionally and almost every time on the Committee Boat when I am running races can multiply the holding power of your anchor many fold. It is called a “sentinel” or a “kellet.” It is a weight that you run down your rode after you have set your anchor. On the Committee Boat I just use a concrete block. I run a line through the holes in the block and then around the rode. I tie another line on the block and secure the tail to the boat. I then push the block over the bow and slowly lower it with the added line. I lower it until it is about at the depth of the water and then I tie it off. At first the line from the block to the boat will be vertical. The line from the block to the anchor will be horizontal along the bottom. If the wind picks up and the boat tries to move aft, the rode will try to straighten out. To do that it will have to lift the block. As it does so, the force will be transferred to the anchor horizontally along the bottom, digging the anchor in deeper. Plus, due to physics beyond the scope of this article, the force necessary to raise the block is exponentially greater than the mere weight of the block.

I hope this has been useful to you. See you on the Lake.




Shifting Gears with Your Foresail by Lee Huddleston

The only thing on Barren River Lake that is consistent is change. Wind speed and wind direction fluctuate throughout most days of sailing. If you hoist a foresail that is perfect for 5 knots of wind, you probably will not be too surprised it the wind increases to 7 knots and then drops off to 3 knots. And the foresail you have chosen may be completely inappropriate for both 7 knots and 3 knots. If you have a large inventory of sails, you might stop and change sails and then stop again and change to another sail. Of course, most of us do not have the luxury of such an inventory. And if you are just day-sailing, who wants to keep fooling with sails.

If you are racing, you almost certainly do not want to stop and change sails. Even on a long course, stopping to change sails is usually fatal. So what do you do if you are beating to windward and the wind is too strong for your foresail and your boat is having a hard time staying upright? Even if you could instantly switch to a smaller sail, as soon as you round the weather mark and start running or reaching, you are going to wish you still had that larger sail up. The answer to your dilemma is to “shift a gears” with your foresail.

The key is the fairlead, the block or pad-eye through which the sheet goes before it is cleated or turned around the winch.  Normally, you set the fore and aft position of the fairlead by sighting along the seam in the middle of the foresail. The seam will run from approximately midway along the luff to the clew. If your fairlead is located along the line as though the seam extended aft pass the clew, your foresail should be set properly. When the sail breaks it should bread along the entire luff at the same time. If the sail breaks at the top first, the fairlead may be too far aft. If it breaks at the bottom first, the fairlead may be too far forward. (I hope that I have that correct; if I have gotten them mixed up, you have permission to laugh at me.) Unless you are intentionally “shifting gears” (as I will explain below), you need to move the fairlead to correct this problem. Otherwise, it will prevent you from pointing as high and will depower your sail unintentionally.

So, assuming for now that your telltales normally break at the same time all along your luff, here is how you “shift gears.” If the sail is too large for the amount of wind, move the fairlead aft. This will tighten up the foot of the sail and, more importantly, open up the leach. When a puff hits the sail, it will open up and let that heavy air escape out the back of the sail. It will depower the sail some, but you already have too much power.

What if the wind is too light? To some extent you can increase the sail’s power by moving the fairlead forward. Then when you bring in the sheet, you will be tightening the leach and loosening the foot. In other words, you will be making the sail more like a cup. And as you will recall, curves are power.

I can sense some of you thinking, “But I do not have tracks or movable fairleads.” If that is your situation, you can devise a system sometimes referred to as “barber haulers.” The sheet is run through a loose block (or even just the loop of a line). Then the block or the loop is tied down forward or aft of where the fairlead normally is. In other words, you change the angle of the sheet by making your own temporary fairlead. If you find that this works to make your sailing safer and more fun, there are probably tracks and moveable blocks in your future.

See you on the water,


Boat Juice by Lee Huddleston


By Lee Huddleston

A Beginning Point: These suggestions are meant to share with you “a” way to deal with “boat juice,” that is, electricity on your boat. They are not meant to express “the” way. You are intelligent and capable of taking these suggestions and modifying them to suit your boat and situation, or to reject them entirely.

Why Boat Juice: Lights, among other things. Not every boat needs lights. If you sail a small dingy and have no outboard, you can be “legal” by simply turning on a flashlight when approached by another boat. But, being “legal” is not the only reason to have lights. We have all seen motorboats travel across the Lake at very high rates of speed. You should give them all the help you can to see you in plenty of time to avoid running over you. You don’t want to be legal and dead.

If you want regular red and green bow lights and a white stern light, you don’t have to install a battery and wiring. All of the marine supply houses sell lights that can be temporarily attached to your boat. They are flashlights with a red/green lens and a white all-around lens. They may attach by a suction cup or a clamp. They use D-cell batteries. They cost less than $15 per light.

The Next Step Up: If your boat can handle a larger battery or you want more than just lights, let’s begin by discussing the battery. When I first started sailing Orion thirty-seven years ago (time flys when you’re having fun), I purchased a heavy 105 amp-hour deep-cycle battery. I wanted to be sure that I could operate the running lights and the interior lights for days on end and also start my 9.9 hp outboard. While the outboard also generated boat juice, I rarely ran it enough to adequately recharge the battery. This was before the advent of solar panels, so my only choice was to pull the “beast” out and take it home to recharge it. And at 105 amp-hours, it took forever to get a full charge. Lugging the huge battery around not only made me stronger, it made me smarter. I traded it in for a 34 amp-hour battery which I could carry with one hand. I could also charge it much quicker. With the 34, I never ran out of juice, so I had been lugging the beast for no good reason.

Later, solar panels became available and I installed one. Then I didn’t even have to take out the 34. For reasons I cannot recall, I switched back to a larger deep-cycle battery since the solar panel made it more practical.

For you, technology has made boat juice even easier. Up to this point the batteries I have had have been “lead-acid” batteries. They have thick lead plates that are surrounded by liquid sulfuric acid. They still have the advantage of being the cheapest type you can buy. But they have a few disadvantages. If turned on their sides, the acid can leak out and cause a lot of damage. Periodically you need to add water to the batteries because the water evaporates some when the batteries are being charged. If you don’t add water, the battery can be destroyed. And, finally, they lose some of their charge just sitting around.

Your benefit from technology has been the invention of AGM batteries. Instead of surrounding the lead with liquid acid, the plates are infused with and surrounded by a gel. You can turn them on their sides and even upside down without anything running out. They do not lose any charge just sitting around. And they take a charge faster. But, as you might expect, they are more expensive.

But you are in luck. Batteries & Bulbs, Plus on the By-Pass in Bowling Green will sell you AGM batteries in every size imaginable. And, they have a selection of “seconds” that they will sell you for half of what AGMs would normally cost. Their “seconds” are not damaged or used batteries. They just have some “blemish” which usually amounts to a missing label. I have purchased a 15 amp-hour AGM for $55 that I am going to try out on Orion for racing. It is only 5” by 3½” by 6½” tall and only weighs 11.8 pounds (compared to 55 pounds for my big lead-acid battery). This same battery or even one smaller would be perfect for most boats in the Club.

Wiring: Now that you have your battery installed securely, you will need to connect it to the light, bilge pump, or other device. If you are only going to connect to a very limited number of things, you can almost run your wires right back to the battery. Since we use direct current (DC), we have to run a wire from the positive (+) terminal on the battery to the positive side of the device and then from the negative (-) terminal on the battery to the negative side of the device. You will need some way to turn the device on and off. Sometimes that is on the device, itself, and sometimes you have to put a switch in the positive line. One other thing you should install is a fuse or circuit breaker in the positive line, as close as possible to the battery. On Orion I use circuit breakers for both the overload protection and as the switch. You can use circuit breakers made for alternating current (AC) in your DC system. You can get breakers from the marine supply houses, but you can probably get them cheaper from Lowe’s or Wal-Mart. Get the lowest amp breakers you can get and still let enough juice through to operate the device. If you want to use fuses, you can get fuse holders and fuses from any auto parts store. You can also get switches there too. The purpose of the fuse or circuit breaker is to shut off the juice if there is a short in the positive wire. Without a fuse or breaker, the short can cause your boat to catch on fire. Get extra fuses so that you are not out of business if one of them blows.

Wire Sizes and Types: Wires offer some resistance to the electrons as they pass through. You might think of it as pipes. The greater volume of fluid that tries to pass through a pipe, the more difficult it is for it to get through. The larger the pipe in relation to the volume of fluid, the easier it is for it to get through. Switching back to wires and electrons, if you try to push too many electrons through a thin wire, it will tend to block the electrons and will make the wire hot. So why should you care? Don’t try to run thin (as in 14 or 16 gage) wire for something critical like running lights. That good juice in your new battery will not get to the lights and they will be noticeably dimmer. By the way, the size of the wire increases as the gage number decreases. For Orion, all of my wiring is 10 gage (except for the wire from the battery terminals to the buss bars –more on this below). The greater the current, the lower the gage (and thicker the wire) needs to be. Also, the longer the total distance to and from the device, the lower the gage (and thicker the wire) needs to be.

Now for a “do what I suggest and not what I have done.” All of the books on marine wiring are adamant, “Do not use solid wire; use stranded wire.” The reason is that solid wire can work-harden with the vibration of a boat and become brittle. Well, I learned that little tidbit after I had wired Orion. Solid wire was just what I had. It has lasted for 37 years, but who knows; it could break any day now. Seriously, on Truelove which is intended to sail in the ocean, I would always use stranded wire.

Buss Bars: If you are going to connect more than a very few devices to your battery, you probably should use buss bars. A buss bar is a flat piece of copper about one inch wide and six inches long with holes drilled in it and usually number 10 copper screws put in those holes. There is a larger screw at one end. A relatively heavy cable is run from the positive terminal of the battery to the larger screw of one of the bars, and a relatively heavy cable is run from the negative terminal to the larger screw of the other bar. Then, rather than attaching the wires going to the devices directly to the battery terminals, those wires are attached to the appropriate buss bar. This keeps wires from getting tangled up and coming loose from the terminals. It also makes it much easier if you want to take the battery out of the boat; you only have to take two wires loose.

Splices and Rings: You can splice pieces of wire together to make longer wires. You can also attach a ring or other fixture to the end of a wire to make it easier and more secure to connect it to a device or buss bar. One major rule that even I don’t dare violate is: “Never use wire nuts (where you twist the wires together up in a plastic thimble) to join two wires or to connect a wire to a devise.” They may be acceptable on land, but they are forbidden on board boats for numerous very good reasons.

Splicing wires and attaching a ring use the same technique and supplies. For a splice, you get a small metal tube just barely large enough for the bare wire to go into. The tube is covered by plastic or some other material. There are generally three sizes for the gages we normally use. For thin wire the cover is red or pink. For the middle size the cover is blue. And for 10 and 12 gage, the cover is yellow. You start by cutting off the enough wire to expose good wire. You then trim the insulation of the wire back only about 1/8” or 3/16” and insert the bare wire into one end of the tube. It should stop half way through the tube with the insulated portion of the wire barely in the covering of the tube. You then use a crimping tool to crimp the half of the tube with the new wire in it. After that you do the same thing for the other wire on the other end. If you are attaching a ring, you will be putting wire into only one end and crimping it.

I recommend that for boats you purchase heat shrink splices and rings. Surprisingly, you can find them at some auto supply places as well as the marine supply houses. They are usually the same color as the others, but sometimes they are more translucent. Once you have both sides of a splice in and crimped, you heat the splice with a heat gun, or a lighter if you don’t have a heat gun. The coating on the splice will shrink tightly around the tube and wire giving the splice more strength and keeping water out. When I am working on Truelove, I even get heat shrink tubing slightly larger than the splice. I put a piece of the tubing on the wire and move it out of the way. After I have completed the splice, I slide the piece of tubing back down to cover the splice. I then apply heat and shrink the tubing around the splice. Just double protection.

Often people ask about using solder to join wires. The strong consensus is to use crimping instead. Like solid wire, the solder can get brittle and break. Also, if the wire gets hot, the solder can melt and let the connection go. Besides, crimping is easier to do correctly and, with heat shrink, produces a strong, weather-tight bond.

I hope this has been helpful to you.


The Blessing of the Fleet & Opening the Season

Commodore Hatcher welcomed all present and saluted the past commodores as is our tradition.

The Blessing of the Fleet

The Blessing of the Fleet

We started with the hoisting of the colors by Rob Wyatt and Bill Miller.

Hoisting the colors

Hoisting the colors

Rob Wyatt gave a nice explanation of the history behind the flag etiquette we use at the yardarm. Next was the Pledge of Allegiance led by Gary Reimer.

We then moved on to a recitation and performance of a sea chantey by Lee Huddleston

and an excellent homily on sailing by Deborah Champion.


Deborah Champion’s Homily on Sailing and Life

Reverend Judith Foster Reese then blessed all the boats in the yard and all present.IMG_20160430_122205310

We concluded with the ringing of 8 bells at our Plank park for our fallen members by Commodore Rob Hatcher.

Carol and Frank Kersting provided an excellent repast of heavy hors d’oeuvres and copious amounts of beer and wine.



As has been related elsewhere we then proceeded to a renaming ceremony for Gary Reimer’s boat which was well and truly renamed Firefly.

A good time was had by all and onward to a great 2016 season.


Spring Sermon

As it is Spring again, it’s time to refresh ourselves on our smooth docking rules, these are from Vice Commodore Miller from back in 2010, but still apply today.

Greetings and salutations to the mates of the POYC. Spring sailing has arrived and it is once again time for the yearly reminders as to what makes the club run smoothly. I first received this list during the reign of the venerable, and now Emeritus, Commodore Bill Hatter; and have since added a few more. Remember – your momma doesn’t live here so…

  1. If you mess it up – clean it up.
  2. If you use it up – replace it. You will be reimbursed.
  3. All members with boats in the yard are expected to mow the areas around their boats and keep them ship shape.
  4. NEVER block another mates boat trailer!
  5. If you appear to be the last one on the property please be sure to lock the heads and shed as well as turn off any lights. ( and Now Lock the Gate Please)
  6. NEVER leave your boat unattended on the inside of the first dock. This side is for launching/retrieval only.
  7. When leaving your boat on the dock ALWAYS springline your boat; please do not broadside.
  8. ALWAYS place an adequate fender on the dock at the bow of your boat. We have just retired the debt on the dock and want them to last as long as possible. Boats abrading the plastic are a serious issue where the docks are concerned. It is the responsibility of the captain to check on his/her boat frequently to insure proper dockage.
  9. POYC Regattas require room on the dock. If you are not racing PLEASE remove your boat from the dock prior to the race.

I would also like to mention, please say hello to your fellow members if you meet them at the club and also to our students if you encounter them. It means a lot to new members and students to feel welcome and helps them want to be a part of our club. We all started out not knowing the ropes and now we call them lines instead.

Thanks and see you on the water..

The Scribe

Knot of the Month for April – The Ocean Plait

Knot of the Month: The Ocean Plait

Use this knot to make placemats, hotpads and also for Welcome mats and other uses. Nautical uses for these were as padding (Thump mats) to protect the deck from damage from spars and other heavy objects. If you have an old main sheet or other long length of old rope this is a good way to use it up.

Here’s how to tie them:  Tying the Ocean Plait and another good article about them and some other mats for tying: Rope Door Mats