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From the Boathouse: Navigating water news on the web

April 25, 2014|By Mike Whitehead

Ahoy!

I receive numerous emails every day from people seeking nautical information, and not everyone is a boater. They want to know what a boat is worth, get navigational tips for a voyage and learn the long-range weather forecast because they will be attending a wedding in six months.

I try to answer my emails, but some are left on the cutting room floor because either I simply do not know why your 1970 OMC outboard engine will not start or I am traveling to distance ports. However, the Internet is a great tool for finding answers.

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Today's search engines provide useful links. Just do not believe everything you read. While on the topic of search engines, when did Google become a verb?

Marine-related websites are maturing to the point of actual usefulness, beyond just displaying advertising. The sites include user forums, online manuals, instructional videos, instant chat support, product updates and recalls. In addition, a plethora of websites offer cruising information, harbor and marina photos, harbor approach information, weather data and video cameras displaying real-time views of harbor entrances and sea conditions.

Along with the cameras, you can view websites that show real-time marine traffic of any vessel that is equipped with AIS onboard. In the distant future, recreational boats will have satellite high-speed Internet access, and I can envision boats' chart plotters showing nearby boaters' position, course and speed.

Let's not forget the new security systems that alert you via text message, email or phone call if your vessel's position changes or high water alarm is activated, for instance. You might decide to cool your vessel's cabin as you are driving to the marina by turning on the boat's air conditioner via website or phone app.

I believe the technology is great for boating. Say your engine hiccups — the data is automatically sent to your technician for the diagnoses. Most important, you can order a pizza too.

News of the week is that the Canadian government has taken the humpback whales off the threatened species list. The whales have been reclassified to species of special concern, a classification I did not know existed.

The move is not without controversy. Environmental groups are suggesting that the reclassification is linked to major pipeline projects. The proposed projects and increased ship traffic will not have to be protective of the whales' habitat with the new classification.

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