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From the Boathouse: Another warm winter in the Southland

January 10, 2014|By Mike Whitehead

Ahoy!

We can enjoy another beautiful weekend in Southern California with our picturesque views to the Channel Islands and our local mountains. Additionally, boaters can venture for a great time in the middle of winter, unlike in other parts of the country where boaters are dreaming of the spring thaw.

Normally, this time of year, I like to report the new boating laws that go into effect after Jan. 1, but I can only find a couple of regulations affecting the commercial boat operations. Those changes primarily deal with new homeland security issues. I will keep looking for any new laws affecting the recreational boater and if you know of any new laws, let me know so I can report it in this column.

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Our big concerns this time of the year in the Southland are any astronomical high tides and the low swings in air temperatures. Believe it or not, high tides can cause a lot damage to not only boats and docks but buildings as well. If the high tides are combined with a storm or big surf, then the ocean waves can flow over the beach and into buildings and also flood streets. I have seen the swells flow across the peninsula and into the bay. Now, that ride would make the record books for a surfer.

Additionally, the high tides can affect boaters, from docks floating free up and over their pilings to gangways flexing upward in the wrong direction and dock lines becoming snagged on the tops of pilings lifting the boats as the tide lowers. Remember that with every high tide, there is a corresponding low tide. The low tides can cause problems, too, from a dock twisting if it settles on the bay floor to high spots in channels where a boat might run aground and the strong tidal currents created by the seawater rush in or out of a harbor.

Ah, the difficulties of living in this area, as I ponder whether to go boating today or head up the mountains to go snow skiing.

However, this time of the year is my favorite time to go boating, since the crowds are gone, the air is crisp and guest facilities usually have available slip space for your boat in other harbors. As I always advise in winter, you need to keep an eye to the north for any storms or big seas heading our way. Presently, the jet stream is riding high to the north and this is pushing the storms to the east before any heads our way.

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