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Why GPS loses its maps

The Harbor Report

July 08, 2010|By Len Bose
  • The Balboa Island ferry crosses Newport Bay.
The Balboa Island ferry crosses Newport Bay. (Hand In, Daily Pilot )

I was still picking up BBs out of the boat from last week, fixing the head from the kids clogging it up, and wondering why all my waypoints have been erased from my GPS when Pam McGreevy, the mother of Andrew's friend Bubba, stops by the boat to pick up her son's bodyboard on her way to work.

As I see Pam walking down the gangway, she says, "Hey Len, thanks for bringing him back in one piece last week."

"Um, yeah, Pam. We did not use the boogie boards that much," I replied.

"Well, Bubba had a great time. Thanks for inviting him," she said.

"Sure," I said. "Did you happen read my story in the Daily Pilot last week?"

Pam had not, so I asked if I could interview her for this week's story. For those of you who do not know McGreevy, she has been a captain on the ferryboats for 14 years and holds her 100-ton skipper's license. Working 40 hours a week is a lot of time on the bay, and I cannot think of many people on the water more than Pam.

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When I asked what might be the biggest mistake she sees boaters make, she replied: "Going too fast and not paying close enough attention to their surroundings."

Seems McGreevy has come to notice the rental boats in the harbor and gives them plenty of room because "they never see you."

I then thought, what's the best way for me to communicate my intentions when crossing the ferry zone?

McGreevy told me you could always pick up your VHF radio and turn to channel 6.

"The large charter boat captains do this all the time" she said.

"It's always simpler for me when I know what the other captain's intentions are," she said.

Most boaters do not know the sound signals, but there are a couple of sound signals the ferryboat captain's use.

Three shorts blasts mean the boat is in reverse. Five short blasts mean danger. And one prolonged blast means leaving the dock. A number of ferryboat captains will also just honk at you to get your attention.

Pam also told me that one of her concerns is the speed the cars go when getting onto the ferry.

"With all the kids around and crossing over the sidewalks, I just wish more people would slow down," she said.

My last question for McGreevy was regarding boat handling and how she compensates for current and wind.

McGreevy told me to "always approach the dock, going against the current; you will stay in control longer." I have to try this because I have always tried to approach the larger slips at the Balboa Yacht Club by trying to time my side slip and approach the slip by going with the current.

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