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From the Boathouse: A safe holiday on the water

November 29, 2012|By Mike Whitehead

Ahoy!

The boat parades start next month in December, and as I promised in last week's column, I have some tips for those skippering in a parade. But first: Did you know that during December, sailors can receive a discount price for the 2013 Lexus Newport to Ensenada Yacht Race?

The entries open on Dec. 1, with an early entry discount of $50 for the April 26 start date. A majority of boaters take advantage of this special offer, and they also make their reservations at the Hotel Coral and Marina, where all the festivities will be held once again. I will have further details in the upcoming months, but go to newporttoensenada.com/race_info for registration and race information.

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However, I digress. Back to my tips for the holiday and Christmas boat parades. I have generated these tips from years of experience as a professional captain participating in numerous parades.

Let's start with everyone striving to boat smart and remembering prudent seamanship while underway. A little boater's etiquette can go a long way to keep peace on the water, especially in those close-quarter situations. Always follow the directions from the volunteer-operated parade control boats while using the inland rules of navigation.

The parade officials will be monitoring one of the VHF marine band radio's working channels, so find out which channel is being used by your parade and you can contact parade control with any questions. However, for all emergencies, use channel 16 to hail the local harbor patrol.

Additionally, do not hesitate to hail a larger vessel to let the skipper know your intentions. Because whether it is a recreational or a commercial vessel, the larger the vessel, the less maneuverability and the less visibility for that skipper.

You cannot interfere with the parade to leave your slip or to dock, so before you leave the dock, review a copy of the parade map and estimated time schedule.

On a recreational boat without professional crew, I always designate someone who will help with the lines and fenders and is able to assist, should a situation arise onboard. Find out who in your group has any boating knowledge and can keep a level head in a crisis. That person must be able to understand your requests, but do not confuse your mate by using only nautical nomenclature.

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