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George Stevens

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Boater's Education requirements by state. By Kevin Curran

Posted by George Stevens on Sun, Jan 25, 2015 @ 07:39 PM
Thanks a bunch for posting. Boater education is one of those things where everyone thinks they are being safe, but most people would benefit from a refresher. Awareness of your own states' boater education requirements is a great place to start.
 The benefit to this page is that you can scroll down and find your own state quickly. I include the latest requirements from each state's boating dept. As you know, the specifics are changing every few years, so I am periodically updating with new info. Within each state's page, I also include the link to the proper state dept. in case a reader wants more info.

Tags: boating, Inflatable life jackets, boating safety


Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 @ 06:28 PM


The shape of the land to windward of the race course will affect the wind. The first thing to look for is any low area that will let the wind onto the race course. In a flat country with no valleys to funnel the wind, what will affect the wind? There will still be geographic sweet spots, and fairly rhythmic, yet unpredictable, shifts. In shifty conditions you can’t be right all the time. Successful sailors punch out into the first shift, using their speed to stay in the front row half way up a first beat. In shifty conditions the middle of the starting line is usually a good home base. (Until one end is more than 15 degrees favored – then you have to get there). If the oscillations slow down then they become, effectively, persistent shifts. To be world caliber you need an aggressive starting mode on a lake just as on salt water.Deep Creek Lake

Geographic Effects

The land upwind of the race course will affect the wind. Trees and man-made features will cause wind shadows and holes, but also will create sweet spots that have more wind, more often, than the rest of the lake. The puffs tend to fan out as they hit the lake. Sail the edges of a fan puff to ride the lifts. The land can also bend the wind, for example, the wind aligning with streets and buildings which tend to be perpendicular to the shore. Perhaps this is why it usually pays to head towards shore. If one shore is in or near the race course a smart sailor can usually make it pay. It is not as simple as hit the beach, but play lifts and headers on that side. Look for an acceleration of the airflow in a near-shore band, and/or a heading shift on the tack headed most directly toward the shore that permits a boat to shorten its course by tacking to the lifted offshore tack. Generally, all other things being equal, the friction of a shoreline will bend the gradient wind left in the Northern Hemisphere compared to open water. So if there is a shoreline on the left side of the race course, the left will often (dare I say usually?) pay by providing port tack lifts.

To chase puffs or not?

The trick is to meet puffs, not chase them. The race is to the mark, so all speed should be directed in that direction. Small detours are permitted to catch or intercept puffs. Try to identify the geographic effects to find the places puffs touch down.


You will see oscillating, persistent, and geographic wind shifts on lakes, which is why lakes are more fun to sail on than open water.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Potomac River, adult sailing lessons, Sailing Instructors

For Paddlers, It’s High Season for Safety - NEWS From BoatUS

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Oct 06, 2014 @ 02:01 PM

For Paddlers, It’s High Season for Safety

ANNAPOLIS, Va., October 6, 2014 – It may be sunny outside with blue skies above, but waters are deceptively cold and unforgiving in the fall. For paddlers with just a few inches of freeboard to spare, getting wet this time of year can have serious consequences, so the BoatUS Foundation forBoating Safety and Clean Water has these seven tips for fall paddlecraft safety.Kayaking

Know how to re-board: All paddlecraft are different, so before you hit a lonely, remote stretch of river or bay, learn (in a safe place) how to get back in the boat quickly and efficiently as hyperthermia is a threat that increases by the minute. Some paddlers add extra floatation inside the boat as it can help reboarding. (Tip: this can be accomplished simply by inflating a beach ball or purchasing aftermarket float bags). If you do ever fall out and can’t get back in, stay with the kayak or canoe – it’s a bigger target for rescuers to see.

Don’t keep it a secret: Tell people where you’re going by filing a float plan. It could be as simple as telling your spouse, in writing, where you are going and what time you plan to return. Writing it down makes it become habit. Be as specific as you can – this isn’t the time to forget to mention you’re heading to your hidden fishing hole two miles off the beaten channel.

Understand the basic rules of navigation: You may not be out there with icebreakers just yet, but there may still be some recreational boating traffic and potential ship traffic. The simple challenge is the smallest boats are hardest to see. One simple tip to help visibility is to spray the tips of your paddles a bright color. Paddlers also can help themselves by understanding some basic rules of navigation.

Don’t leave without a bailer: With low freeboard -- or the distance from the water to the gunwale -- paddlecraft are prone to getting water aboard. Once it starts, it’s only a matter of time before your canoe or kayak becomes ever lower to oncoming waves. Keep water out and buoyancy up by having a bailer ready (Tip: tie one to each seat).

Thermal up or down: Neoprene gloves, a drysuit or wetsuit tops and hats are the ultimate protection in retaining body heat this time of year. However, have outdoor gear that offers versatility by being able to cool down or warm up when appropriate. Even if it may feel like summer, never leave shore in just a t-shirt and shorts. It only takes just a short change of weather or a dunking to drench you and the hypothermia clock starts ticking. A bright colored rain parka can also be seen at great distances.

Going remote? Go Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): Advances in GPS technology have brought down the cost of personal locator beacons, but if your budget is tight you can still rent a PLB from the BoatUS Foundation for $45 weekly, plus shipping. There are no additional subscriber fees and paddlers going to remote locations can order online at or call 888-663-7472 (Tip: mention code “DISC10” for a 10% discount on the weekly PLB rental rate through December 1, 2014).

Keep it secure up top: If you need to get your favorite kayak or stand-up paddleboard to the lake on your car or truck’s roof this fall, go for a quick read on the three basic types of roof rack systems and ways to safely tie down the load. Your kayak has no desire to meet the road or become a hazard for oncoming vehicles.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, currents and tides, Potomac River, Inflatable life jackets, boating safety, Cold Water, Boat US, adult sailing lessons

Life Jacket Type Code Labels Go Away BoatUS News

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Oct 01, 2014 @ 06:40 AM

Life Jacket Type Code Labels Go Away

Step Toward Eliminating Confusion and Introduction of New Designs

ANNAPOLIS, MD. September 30, 2014 -- In a move that’s expected to benefit recreational boaters, on Oct. 22 the US Coast Guard will drop the current life jacket type code scheme  -- Type I, II, III, IV and V -- that has been used for years to label and differentiate the types of life jackets and their specific use. Chris Edmonston, BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety President and Chairman of the National Safe Boating Council, said, “The boating safety community believes this move by the Coast Guard will help lead the way toward more comfortable and innovative life jacket designs, help boaters stay on the right side of the law, lower costs, and save lives.”

Explains Edmonston, “This is positive news is that we will no longer see a Type I, II, III, IV or V label on a new life jacket label after Oct. 22. This type coding was unique to the United States, tended to confuse boaters, limited choice and increased the cost of life jackets.” He says removing the type coding is a first step towards the adoption of new standards that will eventually simplify life jacket requirements for recreational boaters.

“This move is expected to lead to the introduction of new life jacket designs, especially those made in other countries as US standards will be more ‘harmonized,’ initially Canada and eventually the European Union,” said Edmonston. “Along with a wider variety, aligning our standards with those to our neighbor to the north and across the Atlantic will help reduce prices as manufacturers won’t have to make products unique to the US market.”

However, Edmonston cautions boaters must still abide by the current standards when using older life jackets marked with the Type I-V labeling, as they will remain legal for use. “We must continue to have a properly fitted life jacket for all aboard, and as always, you’ll need to follow the label’s instructions regardless of when it was made. Simply put, if you follow the label, you’re following the law.” A full list of the current life jacket types and descriptions can be found at, and any update on new life jacket types and styles will be posted here when available.

In additional effort to help change the mindset of what a life jacket must look like, The BoatUS Foundation, the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association (PFDMA) and the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), recently kicked off a “Innovations in Life Jacket Design Competition” to seek out the newest technologies and design ideas. Running through April 15, 2015, the contest seeks entries from groups or individuals, including collegiate design programs, armchair inventors or even boat and fishing clubs. Entries may be as simple as hand-drawn theoretical designs to working prototypes and will be judged based on four criteria: wearability, reliability, cost and innovation. For more, go to

Tags: boating, Washington Sailing Marina, Inflatable life jackets, boating safety

Green Winterizing Tips from

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 @ 10:06 AM

Green Winterizing Tips

  • Use less toxic propylene glycol antifreeze.
  • If practical capture any antifreeze in a bucket when flushing to prevent overboard discharges.
  • When performing engine work, place an oil-only absorbent pad under the area to catch drips or small spills.
  • Use small containers of oil and other hazardous cleaners; small containers mean smaller spills.
  • Keep containers near the center of the boat to minimize the chance of an overboard spill.
  • Temporarily plug all scuppers and drains and disable your bilge pump while performing maintenance. (Be sure to turn the bilge pump back on when finished.)
  • Look for used oil and antifreeze recycling at your marina and dispose of hazardous wastes properly. Visit to learn about local waste disposal.

Tags: Potomac River, boating safety, Clean Marina, Dyke Marsh

Heat Stress and Heat Related Illness: Safety Guidelines

Posted by George Stevens on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 12:41 PM

Heat Stress and Heat Related Illness: Safety Guidelines & OSHA Standards


Summer is here and that means hotter weather and higher risks for heat related illnesses

such as heat stress. Many occupations require work in hot environments for long periods of time. Following these safety guidelines can effectively reduce the risk of heat illnesses.


Guidelines for Reducing Heat Stress:

  • Monitor the weather every day.  When possible, reschedule work assignments to when the weather is cooler, or to cooler times of day. 
  • Make sure that you provide workers easy access to cold water near the work area. The water should be cool, at roughly 60 F if possible. 
  • Remind workers to drink water frequently throughout the work day to maintain hydration. During moderate activity one should consume at least on pint of water per hour.
  • Remind workers that consuming too much water can be dangerous; workers should not consume more than 12 quarts in a 24 period.
  • Schedule frequent rest periods with water breaks for employees.
  • Check up on employees who are using protective clothing.
  • Remind workers to avoid drinking liquids that contain caffeine or alcohol in them. 


Know the Signs of Heat Related Illness

  • Headache and dizziness
  • Weakness and wet skin
  • Irritability or confusion
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting

Why Boats Sink - 10 Prevention Tips from BoatUS

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 @ 12:32 PM


10 Prevention Tips from BoatUS

ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 30, 2014 -- When a boat sinks, that’s likely the end of her. That’s because repairs on a sunken boat often cost more than the actual value of the boat. So if boaters want to prevent a sinking at all costs, what can they do? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) recently took its first significant look since 2006 at its boat insurance claims files to identify the causes of boat sinkings and found that most were preventable. About two out of every three (69%) boats sink at the dock or mooring, while the remainder (31%) sink while underway.gI 121885 Causes of Boat Sinkings photo 1023 6 30 14

Of all of the dock/mooring sinkings, 39% occur when some small part gives up the fight with water due to wear, tear and corrosion. When it comes to gradual leaks due to slowly failing parts, too many boats existed in a “zombie state” somewhere between floating and sinking, dependent upon the bilge pump, which merely postponed the sinking until the pump failed or was overwhelmed. This one is a no-brainer: lack of maintenance is the factor here.

For boat sinkings while underway, the most common cause (43%) is hitting something – a log, the bottom or colliding with another boat or dock. Some of these sinkings might have been avoided if some some extra care had been taken – and some can be chalked up to simply bad luck.

Interestingly, low-cut transoms that were common on boats in the 1990’s and a cause of sinkings is no longer much of a factor, as contained splash wells separating the interior of the boat from the transom are more common in boat designs today. However, being swamped while tied stern-to waves remains a cause.

To prevent a sinking, here are ten tips from the boat owner’s group:

  • For inboard-outboard powered boats, inspect sterndrive bellows annually and replace every three to five years. The shift bellows is usually the first to fail.
  • For inboard powered boats, check the stuffing box every time you visit the boat, and repack – rather than simply tighten down the nut – every spring.
  • For engines with raw water hoses, replace them the moment they indicate wear – such as when small cracks appear or they feel “spongy” when squeezed. Rusty hose clamps are also a concern and should be replaced.
  • Replace the engine cooling system impeller every two to three years.
  • Inspect the boat’s cockpit and livewell plumbing – again look at hoses, clamps, and cracked or broken fittings. Make sure you can inspect all such plumbing, and if you can’t, install inspection ports to make the task easier.
  • Each season take are hard look at all below-waterline fittings, hoses, and clamps.
  • Don’t forget the drain plug – you knew this one would be on the list.
  • Keep a good lookout and ask guests to help keep their eyes peeled for deadheads. If you’ve grounded or hit something, consider a short-haul to inspect the bottom or drive gear.
  • Always pull trailerable boats from the water when storms are forecast. These boats generally have too little freeboard to stand up to any kind of wave action.
  • Dock line management systems that keep the boat centered in its slip can prevent snags that sometimes lead to a sinking.

Eight reasons to Sail from US Sailing

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, May 12, 2014 @ 10:44 AM
    • Sailing is fun!  Sailing is Adventurous. 
    • Sailing is social.  It is the only sport that all ages, genders and physical capabilities can enjoy---all at the same time.
    • Sailing is a lifetime sport (‘If you are going to do this for the rest of your life, is it not best to learn to the highest certified standards, the first time?  ergo, USSA)
    • Sailing makes one’s life bigger and the world smaller.
    • Sailing continually expands one’s knowledge of the physical world in many natural ways (STEM)
    • Sailing is transformational.  It is often a demarcation point in many lives (before vs after becoming a sailor)
    • ‘Sailing is for you’.  achievable, affordable, available,
    • Sailing is a quiet escape from daily tensions/pressures


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Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Learn to Sail, sailing, adult sailing lessons, US Sailing, sailing lessons for children, Sailing Instructors, teaching sailing

National Marina Day - June 14th (9 am till noon)

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 01:36 PM

 National Marina Day


In 1928, the word “marina” was used for the first time by the National Association of Engine and Boat Manufacturers to define a recreational-boating facility. Ever since then, marinas have been an integral part of not only American recreation, but also American life. I invite you to join your friends at Belle Haven Marina on June 14th from 9 am till noon, to celebrate Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day.


To observe this day, the staff at Belle Haven Marina has planned the following events for your enjoyment:


Free 1 hour canoe trips through Dyke Marsh

Free 1 hour kayak trips through Dyke Marsh


We believe thatAmerica’s marinas have a lot to celebrate. Across the country and right here at Belle Haven Marina we serve as gateways to boating for our customers and their visitors,  boater-education centers teaching safe and clean boater practices, environmental stewards  protecting our waters, and finally family-friendly communities who are united for a shared  passion for the water.


Now, more then ever, Americans need clean, safe, relaxing locations where they can spend their leisure time. You already know that boating satisfies this need, but why not bring some of your non-boating friends out to Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day to let them experience boating first-hand.


Thank you for your time and for your business. Without you, the customer, our business would not exist. As you know, my door and my phone line are always open. So, please let me know if I can ever answer any questions about our services. I look forward to celebrating Welcome to the Water on National Marina Day with you and to serving you in the future.




George Stevens - President
Belle Haven Marina Inc.
Mariner Sailing School
(703) 768-0018



Tags: Belle Haven Marina, boating, Potomac River, Clean Marina, Dyke Marsh, Alexandria Virginia

A Guide to Small Sailboat Hulls from

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Apr 30, 2014 @ 04:53 PM


A Guide to Small Sailboat Hulls

Resource Center > Tips for Renters > A Guide to Small Sailboat Hulls

A Guide to Small Sailboat HullsWhen you are looking for the right type of sailboat, you must navigate the bewildering array of choices that awaits any sailor. There are millions of options to consider, so we will start with the very basic shape of the sailboat: the hull. Besides the size of the boat, there are several different hull types to consider. You will find the basics below, along with some helpful information so you can choose which sailboat hull type will work best for you. 

Monohull Sailboats

Monohulls refer to boats with, as the name suggests, just one hull. These are the kinds of sailboats you will see most often — and in general are the easiest to learn on if you are a beginning sailor — but even in this category there are some choices to be made.

Flat Bottom

Most sailboats do not have flat bottoms, as this shape is not suited for ocean sailing even with their centerboard, daggerboard, or keel. Some small boats, used for beginners or racing, have flat bottoms, but they are not used for sailing over an extensive period of time. An example of this type of sailboat is the Optimist, which is one of the most popular sailing dinghies in the world.

Rounded Bottom

This is the typical shape of a monohull sailboat, with rounded sides sloping down to either a V-type point or the fixed keel. There are a variety of options with regards to width and length, as well as the angles of the hull's curvature. If you are looking for a monohull sailboat for reasons other than small dinghy sailing, this is the type for you. 

Multihull Sailboats 

Multihulls refer to boats with — you guessed it! — more than one hull. Though many types of multihulls exist worldwide, and they have been in use since ancient times, this section will focus on the two modern forms of multihulled boats that you are most likely to encounter.


A catamaran is a sailboat with two pontoon hulls with a mast in the center. Connected by a net, or fiberglass structure, they are fast moving and lightweight.


Trimarans have three hulls, generally in the shape of a larger central hull with two smaller hulls to port and starboard. Trimarans are not as fast as catamarans, but their three-hull construction makes them much more stable and less likely to capsize.

Catamarans and trimarans have their origin in the South Pacific, so the terms used to refer to their unique parts originate in these languages. If you are looking at a trimaran or catamaran, you may see the terms ama and aka. Ama refers to the smaller hulls — on a trimaran, those two that are connected to the main hull. The aka is the part of the frame that connects the ama to the hull.

Monohull or Multihull Sailboat 

Now that you know about the different hull types available, the question is which one should you choose?

In general, monohull sailboats are better suited for a greater range of uses because they come in a near-infinite variety. Catamarans and trimarans are good options for certain specific boaters. Some of the reasons you may choose to purchase or charter a catamaran or trimaran include:

  • Speed. Thanks to their aero- and hydrodynamic shape, certain types of catamarans are the fastest sailboats on the market. The America’s Cup boats of 2013 are a testament to just how fast this multihull can go.
  • Draft. Catamarans and trimarans both have significant advantages over similarly sized monohulls when it comes to their draft.  
  • Accessibility. Small catamarans are able, and often designed, to be launched from a beach. Since they do not have a single keel, they will stay upright and not lean over on to the sand like a monohull would in the same position.

With these advantages in mind, it is important to note that multihulls have unique disadvantages as well.

  • Tacking speed. Because of their wider-spread shape, catamarans and trimarans are often more difficult to tack.
  • Pitch-pole capsizing. Catamarans and trimarans can both carry more sail than monohulls, but they are more likely to “pitch-pole,” which is when the bow(s) of the boat drive down into the water and the boat is capsized end over end. In addition, they are much harder than monohulls to right once capsized.

A Guide to Small Sailboat HullsThere are, of course, other aspects of hull choice which you may want to consider. For instance, does the type of sailing you want to do require a planing or displacement hull?

With all these specifics in mind, you have some of the basic ideas of what type of sailboat hull is best for your personal needs. Remember that there is no right answer — there is only the hull type that best fits your home waters and what you will be using the boat for. There are many more considerations that go into choosing a boat, but these are the very basics and should help you with your choice. Happy sailing!