Sail Fast!

Just Go Sailing

Posted by By HEATHER STEINBERGER on Thu, May 16, 2019 @ 02:12 PM

Just go sailing

2018 March 1

A family raised on the water preaches that life is short; go sailing

As we age, we’re able to look back and see the little twists of fate that had massive reverberations in our lives. Mary Orme Ellis knows this better than most. When she was a 19-year-old college student in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she started dating a young man with a sailboat, and her life was forever changed.


The young man owned a 25-foot Coronado that he sailed on Wisconsin’s Lake Winnebago. He was, Mary remembered, exceedingly passionate about it. 


“He started working on the boat in the spring, and all I could think was, this better be worth it,” she said. 


Mary grew up in Milwaukee, one of four children in a family that wasn’t attuned to the water. For her, that one intense summer changed everything.


Samantha Orme and Mary Orme-Ellis share a special mother-daughter moment.



“I became transformed,” she said. “Maybe I was a sailor in another life. We sailed every weekend in June, July and August. Then I met a guy with a bigger boat, and we sailed out of Milwaukee the next summer.”


Mary finished school at age 24, armed with a business degree. Although she had a new job as a secretary, she couldn’t ignore the lure of the sea. She wanted to go sailing and was surprised when support came from a surprising quarter.


“My boss had chartered in the Virgin Islands, and he told me I had to go to the sailors’ capital of the world,” she said. “He gave me six months’ leave.”


That was in 1979. Mary bought a one-way ticket to the U.S. Virgin Islands, boarded a plane with two duffel bags, and began a six-month journey that would end up lasting three and a half years.


She started in Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas, where it was fairly easy to pick up crew jobs. She moved onto the British Virgin Islands when she met a Tortola-based skipper with an 84-foot ketch.  He hired her to be the vessel’s cook, responsible for feeding six to eight guests. 


After the owner was killed in a 1981 dinghy accident, Mary moved onto a little boat in Road Town. She was living there, at the Village Cay Marina, when she met the folks at The Moorings. A new job opportunity dawned.


“They sent me to New Orleans for an interview, which was their headquarters until they moved to Clearwater, Florida, in 1984,” she said. “I spent 15 years with The Moorings in various capacities (in the BVI and Florida).”


Along the way, she met a fellow sailor named John Orme, who had sailed from his home in Cape Town, South Africa, to Tortola. He participated in the iconic Cape 2 Rio Yacht Race three times and he worked as a charter captain. They married and became parents to Tanya, born in 1985, and Samantha, who came along in 1987.


“Sailing goes back many generations on John’s side, and he introduced both girls to sailing,” Mary said.


The Orme sisters were raised on and around the water, showing off their skills as girls on a Laser with their dad.



The family, which had settled in Tampa Bay, Florida, started chartering together when the girls were in diapers. With The Moorings, they could charter a boat whenever they wanted, provided they covered airfare and expenses. Over the years, they made many happy memories in the BVI, and cruised the Eastern Caribbean islands as far as Grenada.


After the Ormes’ marriage ended in the early 1990s, the newly single mother had to make ends meet as a yacht broker. Business was good during the tech-boom years, but boats stopped selling in the wake of 9/11, and commissions dried up.


Fortunately, Mary found a new calling, and a new life partner. While she was working for The Moorings, she met Creative Director David Ellis. The duo, who enjoyed beer can racing together out of St. Petersburg, married in 2000 and, after taking a course in copywriting, Mary joined her husband at his business, Affinity Marketing & Communications.


The family continued to spend time on the water together, enjoying the charter experience without “the headaches of ownership,” as Mary put it. Her girls remained enthusiastic participants, even as teenagers.


“They were always asking, ‘When can we go?’” she said. “Sometimes they’d bring a friend, but they always loved travel and sailing. In a way, we become models of our parents without realizing it.”


The teens also spent time on the water with their father, who built a large catamaran to sail out of  Tarpon Springs.


“The girls had so much sea time, they developed great sea legs,” Mary said. “They learned to handle any size boat.”


Both also were determined to travel as much as they could, as soon as they could.


At 18, Tanya took off for Costa Rica with friends, and as a college student, she spent time in Australia and New Zealand. 


“She was always looking for a new place to explore, and sailing trumped everything,” Mary said. “After she graduated from Florida Atlantic University, summa cum laude with a degree in anthropology, she just wanted to go sailing. Like me.”


At the time, the 1960 reconstruction of HMS Bounty was berthed in St. Petersburg, and the owners were seeking crew who weren’t afraid of heights and were willing to learn. Tanya took on the job of deckhand and eventually worked her way to rigging.


“She wasn’t afraid to be up there, handling all those sails,” Mary said.


Tanya Orme took to the rigging of Bounty without hesitation.



Aboard Bounty, Tanya sailed on a six-month passage to the Bahamas, Central America, the Panama Canal, the U.S. West Coast and Canada. The crew participated in tall ship events, races, festivals and meet-ups along the way. When the ship returned to San Diego, Tanya jumped off and headed for Tijuana, Baja California. From there, she and a friend embarked on a backpacking-and-hitch-hiking adventure across Mexico, which Tanya documented in her extensive journals.


“She traveled on a pauper’s per diem, but she made her money last, and she turned every adventure into a life lesson,” Mary said. “She was fiercely unconventional. She just rolled with everything, and somehow, she also found time to paint. Hundreds and hundreds of paintings.”     


Tanya finally came home for Thanksgiving in 2008, and then she took a job as cook aboard A.J. Meerwald at New Jersey’s Bayshore Center at Bivalve. She was living there when, on June 21, 2009, she was killed in a car accident. She was 24 years old.


Her sister, Samantha, was backpacking Europe with a friend when she got the news. She immediately booked a flight back to the States.


“I didn’t know how the rest of college would go down for her,” Mary said. “When you’re in shock and can’t even think straight, how do you study and do homework? But she’s so smart. She did it.”


Samantha graduated with honors from Florida State University with an industrial engineering degree. Although she would go on to use that degree in the industrial, solar, environmental, digital and financial arenas, she first chose to dive into her own adventures at sea. 


“I saw a link about a superyacht crew application, and I shared it with her,” Mary said. “She knew how to crew, and she knew big boats. So she applied, she made the final cut, and she got hired.”


The application was for Bravo’s new reality series “Below Deck.” Samantha appeared as a cast member, working aboard the 164-foot yacht Cuor di Leone (renamed Honor for the show). The 11-episode first season aired in summer 2013.


Young Tanya takes the wheel.



“We saved every episode,” Mary said. “The show actually had a lot of reality in it. Sami is outgoing and gregarious, she was voted ‘Most Memorable’ in high school, and she isn’t one to take authority well. She questions everything.”


Samantha left the show after the first season and moved to Los Angeles, where she worked for roughly three years. She and a high school friend toured North America for a year, and then she moved back to Florida. 


These days, Mary continues to work with her husband at their marketing firm. And they continue to enjoy chartering.


“We bareboat charter somewhere in the Eastern Caribbean every chance we get,” Mary said. “Usually, a friend or family member will suggest going and invite us along to captain and cook. Well, that’s a no- brainer!”


Samantha lives and works nearby, and she continues to enjoy sailing on her father’s 70-foot catamaran Rena. And elder daughter Tanya’s seafaring and adventuring spirit lives on, thanks to the creation of a book called Non-Local Flow: Good Chi, the Sea and Me.


Producing this book, which shares Tanya’s life journey through her art and writing, was a labor-of-love mission for her mother. Mary dedicated a full year to compiling and editing the project, with the help of her husband and their colleague Michael O’Keene. It was published in 2010.


“I spent every free moment on it,” she said. “I didn’t want Tanya to be forgotten. Even long after I’m gone, I want people to say, ‘Who is this remarkable young woman?’”


Tanya and Samantha grew up listening to the sea stories of their parents, traveling to other countries, experiencing other cultures, and reveling in every moment under sail. Mary said she believes this transformed them and deeply influenced the adult lives they would create.


“In their childhoods, they saw an unconventional America,” she said. “They were very blessed that way. They understood the importance of travel, especially to Third World countries. They had opportunities to see life on the other side.


One of Tanya Orme’s paintings, which is included in a book of Tanya’s art and writings called Non-Local Flow, depicts the artist’s love of sailing.



“They also developed their creativity and imagination,” she added. “We encouraged them to interact with real people, and engage with real things rather than the nonessential stuff. I suppose all of us are like-minded — travelers, adventurers and sailors who know that life is short, so get out there, and go sailing.”

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, boating, US Sailing, youth sailing lessons, teaching sailing

Peer-to-Peer Boat Rentals: What Do You Need To Know?

Posted by George Stevens on Tue, Feb 24, 2015 @ 03:50 PM


10 Tips From BoatUS for Owners and Renters

ALEXANDRIA, Va., February 24, 2015 – Airbnb may a popular “peer-to-peer” lodging site on the web, but if you want to rent a boat in your local area or away, you’ve got options, too., and are just a few of the new crop of online websites offering a chance to rent a boat for the day or weekend. These services, which connect private boat owners to renters, can help owners recoup some expenses, and can also give non-owners a chance to get on the water with friends without the cost of full-time ownership. So what do you need to know? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has some information for both boat owners and renters.

  1. Renters do not want boats that are not safe and or can barely get out of the marina, so these services are often better suited to newer vessels less than 10 years old. Older, larger or faster boats may require a survey or inspection. Rental costs vary widely based on boat size and location, and renters typically are required to have some boating experience as well as a deposit.
  2. These peer-to-peer boat rental websites generally handle every part of the transaction, including taking deposits and payments. They typically take 30%-40% of the rental fee, which covers overhead, profit, as well as insurance and on water towing services (more on both of those in a second…read on).
  3. For boat owners, most boat insurance policies don’t provide coverage during the rental period and some companies may not provide coverage at any time simply if you list your boat with a rental program. If you happen to own and insure your boat but desire to rent another, your insurance company (including BoatUS Marine Insurance) may offer a temporary endorsement for liability coverage while operating the rental boat – but damage to the rental boat still is not covered. That’s why these “peer-to-peer” boat rental companies often provide additional insurance coverage. However, it’s up to owners – and renters – to read the fine print. For owners, know what happens if your boat is damaged, the claims process, how depreciation may figure in, and, in the event of total loss, how the insurance will value your boat. For renters, ensure you are OK with the level of liability coverage being offered during the rental, know how much you would have to pay if you damage the boat, and whether injuries to both you and your passengers would be covered.
  4. TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist towing fleets provide on water towing and assistance service to some peer-to-peer rental services at no additional charge to the renter or owner. For the renter that means simply calling BoatUS’ 24-hour nationwide dispatch (800-391-4869) if there is a breakdown.
  5. Renters need to ask about any other costs or fees, including fuel or other charges like pump-outs. They should also clarify with the owner what happens if the boat breaks down and becomes unusable.
  6. Boat owners have the full right to say “no” to a renter, starting with an initial phone call. BoatUS member Bob Kellet, who has successfully rented his 30-foot sailboat, says owners are in full control of the process, from pricing to vetting renters. After speaking to a potential renter on the phone, if he’s comfortable, Kellet will meet at his boat for a full run-through. He may even take the renter out for a few minutes to show how everything works.
  7. Kellet also suggests having a detailed instruction guide for the boat’s equipment and a step-by-step guide for things like starting the engine. Be sure to include safety gear.
  8. Having a walk-through, pre-rental checklist is good for both parties, as is taking a few date-stamped photos showing the condition of the vessel.
  9. While there is a certain element of trust, owner and renter reviews tend to weed out bad apples quickly, so be sure to check the renter’s history or the owner’s reviews from past renters. “Reviews are the best indicator of whether there will be a positive rental experience,” says BoatUS Consumer Affairs Director Charles Fort, who adds, “These services may also help those looking to buy a certain boat to try it out, if you will, before they purchase.”
  10. One man’s experience: BoatUS Member Kellet said he was apprehensive the first few times he rented his sailboat to a stranger, but after a couple rentals he realized the renters cared about his boat, too, and they were there for the same reason: a love of the water and boating. A couple rentals a month easily pays his Seattle, Washington, area moorage fees. The only downside Kellet reports are scheduling conflicts when he’d like to use the boat himself.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Learn to Sail, boating, boating, Potomac River, boating safety, Boat US, Mariner Sailing School, Safety

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

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

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

Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce on Belle Haven Marina

Posted by George Stevens on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 @ 03:00 PM

Comments of Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce
Regarding EIS No. 20140006 Draft EIS, NPS, VA,
Dyke Marsh Wetland Restoration and
Long-term Management Plan

March 17, 2014

Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce is the premier business organization for the south
Fairfax area with more than 350 members. On behalf of our members we would like to
register our concerns with the implementation of the Dyke Marsh Restoration and Long Term
Management Plan and in particular language contained in Alternative C, the Preferred
Alternative presented by the National Park Service (NPS). Preserving and maintaining Belle
Haven Marina is a top community concern and implementation of Alternative C does not
clearly state the continued operation of this business. Belle Haven mooring area

Dyke Marsh and Belle Haven Marina are both popular recreation destinations and a critical
launching and mooring field for boaters in the Washington area. The two destinations are
from a geographical sense, bound to each other. The marina provides a boat ramp, slips,
sailboat rental, paddle craft rental and launch, and a sailing school. Area residents launch
boats and paddle craft to fish, bird-watch and enjoy the wildlife fostered by Dyke Marsh. The
marina also serves important education programs such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s
Potomac River Program which teaches youth conservation and preservation.

The vitality of both Dyke Marsh and Belle Haven Marina rely on a balanced management plan
that fosters the sustainability of the marsh and the economic viability of the marina.
However, current language contained in Alternative C could curtail or eliminate marina
operations. This language should be removed from Alternative C:

“This alternative contains an optional 20-acre restoration cell in the area currently serving as
mooring for the marina. Such an option would only be implemented should the marina
concession no longer be economically viable for the current concessioner, and no other
concessioner expresses interest in taking over the business, eliminating the need for the
mooring field.” Dyke Marsh Wetland Restoration and Long-term Management Plan / EIS,
page 37.

The National Park Service is the leaseholder to the concessionaire (in this case Belle Haven
Marina) and sets the lease requirements, insurance minimums, and defines what is or is not
“economic viability.” Language in the Draft ESI leads to the conclusion that the
concessionaire could be denied renewal of the lease at any time. A consistent and fair
approach to Belle Haven Marina will keep this business open to serve the community. Belle
Haven Marina is and has been consistently at 100% slip occupancy with more than 400
families on the waiting list for slips. This is important testimony towards the need to maintain
the 20 acres of current mooring field. The marina and sailing school also contribute heavily
to the local economy by providing 45-50 jobs and support nearby retail and restaurants.

Closing Belle Haven Marina would mean no public boat launch for more than 20 miles of the
Potomac River even though the nation’s taxpayers, through the National Park System, pay for
a good stretch of maintaining that river shore. Placing the access this marina provides to
the urban and suburban population in such jeopardy also directly conflicts with National Park
Service initiatives to remove obstacles to park access.

It is important to recognize the importance of maintaining the connection to the water that
facilities such as Belle Haven Marina provide, particularly in an urban area such as
Washington. For disadvantaged youth, on the water experiences are only made possible by
supporting recreational facilities like the marina.

We strongly urge the National Park Service to eliminate language in the Preferred Alternative
that puts in jeopardy the continued operation of Belle Haven Marina. The goal of continued
operation of Belle Haven Marina should be clearly stated in the EIS. There is a balance to be
found in providing access to Dyke Marsh and the Potomac River while preserving the very
elements that make these natural areas such attractive destinations. Preserving public
access to the marsh and river via support and enhancement of the Belle Haven Marina must
be a primary goal of any new management plan.

Additionally, dredging of Belle Haven Marina and the use of such dredge material to rebuild
eroded areas of Dyke Marsh would be a win-win strategy in moving forward and supporting
both entities. Creating deeper slips and mooring areas will help to solidify the area for
generations to come, while the use of native soils as fill to restore Dyke Marsh will cut down
in refurbishment costs.

In conclusion, Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce strongly urges the National Park
Service to 1) eliminate the referenced language in the DRAFT EIS, 2) add language that
guarantees the continued operation of Belle Haven Marina, and 3) dredge Belle Haven
Marina and use this material as fill as part of the restoration process. Preserving both Belle
Haven Marina and Dyke Marsh and the recreational and educational opportunities they
provide are important community goals and can be accomplished during this process.

6821 Richmond Highway / Alexandria, VA 22306

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, sailing lessons, boating, Mariner Sailing School

Gary Jobson - 34th America's Cup

Posted by George Stevens on Thu, Mar 13, 2014 @ 03:27 PM
raft up st michaels resized 600
Chesapeake Multihull Association is fortunate to have Gary Jobson - a top-tier personality in the world of sailing - make a presentation on March 30.  He has a talent for telling a story and he comes with terrific audio-visual support courtesy of NBC and ESPN.  The presentation will include:
 ·       34th America's Cup  (about half of the program)
 This proved to be one of the most exciting comebacks in all of sports. Commentating for NBC, Gary Jobson, was on the water every day for the Louis Vuitton Challenger Trials and the America’s Cup broadcasting live. Gary will present an exclusive inside look of this amazing story.
·       Setting Speed Sailing Records
·       Sailing Classic Yachts 
·       Unfurling the World:  The Voyages of Irving and Electa Johnson
·       Racing Highlights that includes:  Vendee Globe, Volvo Ocean Race, Kite Boarding, Crash and burn (always fun)
·       Gary's favorite stories laced throughout the program
In addition Gary will present a preview of his new film, Unfurling the World, the Voyages of Irving and Exy Johnson 1933 -1958, also a feature on speed sailing: the quest to be the fastest sailboat on the water.
Location:  Southern High School, 4400 Solomons Island Road, Harwood MD 20776
Time: 2:00 - 4:00 PM
Free to all, but donations to CBYRA are quite welcome

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, boating, Mariner Sailing School, Sailboat racing, US Sailing

Sailing And Life

Posted by George Stevens on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 @ 07:23 AM


Sailing on a sailboat is very different from motoring around in a motorboat with its loud engine. With a sailboat, you must feel and rely on the wind to move you to your destination. You can't just point your bow and throttle up. As the wind pushes the boat, you feel her surge with every gust. She heels over and then stiffens up as she cuts through the waves with ease and grace. Instead of bouncing over the waves, you feel the swell beneath your feet and time is not counted in minutes, but instead by the rise and fall of each passing crest. The sounds of the wind whipping through the canvas, the water lapping against the hull, and of winches and halyards raising the sails fill the air.

The silence of a downwind run ...BVI cruising

Working with Mother Nature and simply trying to overpower her is an amazing feeling. While sailing, you become more than just a simple human. You become part of the world around you, dependent on your boat, your knowledge, and the natural forces of our planet. You remember that we are all connected and, although it is possible to move at a faster pace - rarely is it as beautiful or as gratifying. The most important part of sailing is the journey itself ... not the destination. Wherever that may be - don't worry ... you'll get there.

Life is like that too.

By Fortadam

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, sailing lessons, sailing, boating, Potomac River, Sailboat racing

8 Most Ignored Rules of Boating by Amanda Rodriguez

Posted by George Stevens on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 @ 05:13 PM

One of the most enjoyable aquatic activities just so happens to be one of the most accident prone activities. Over time, boating has evolved into a much safer recreational sport but much more work needs to be done in terms of safety awareness and education. As long as your boat captain and fellow companions behave safely and follow basic boating procedures, you can easily avoid accidents and injury. Here are some most ignored rules of boating to which every boating enthusiast should pay more attention.

rules of boating resized 600

Reference capacity plate for loading

The capacity plate on your boat displays crucial information regarding the maximum weight in pounds of people and carrying load that your boat can handle safely. It also suggests a maximum horsepower that is recommended for your boat. Not many people refer to this information and oftentimes overload their boat, increasing the risk for their boat to capsize because of instability. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, capsizing and plunges overboard due to overloaded or improperly loaded boats are the most reported types of fatal accidents, accounting for more than half of all boating fatalities.

Balancing people on your boat

A main component of keeping your boat afloat is making sure you distribute the weight of all passengers and gear on your boat. To help keep the center of gravity low and thus improve stability, do not allow people to stand up or move around while the boat is underway. This is especially critical in smaller, less stable boats. You should not allow anyone to lean beyond the upper edge of the vessel’s side (gunwale.)

Starting your boat correctly

Before you start your boat, there are some safety checkpoints you should consider. One very important precaution to take is to make sure that water is being discharged from the exhaust system in the back of your boat. This indicates that the cooling system is operational and lubricating. If there is no water being supplied to the cooling system, your impeller could burn out quickly, which would seize your engine.

Avoid running aground

Despite efforts to not run your boat onto shoals, rocks, or islets, groundings do happen and are not uncommon, even among some experienced sailors. You should prepare yourself with knowledge on how to react should this occur. First, do not apply any more power to try to push your way across. Immediately put your vessel in reverse and increase power to back away from the grounding. Pay careful attention to your propellers, as this process may turn up mud or bottom vegetation and cause your propellers to overheat.

Pay attention to speed limits

When you’re out in the open water, you may not be aware of the speed limits, which are restricted in many areas. Look for speed zones marked by signs showing an orange circle around a black numeral. When passing landing floats, some state laws restrict your speed to five miles per hour. There are also other safe speed restrictions when passing a bather, a beach, swimming float, or other boats.

Boating while impaired

The U.S. Coast Guard has issued the claim that, “Alcohol is more hazardous on water than on land.” It’s no wonder that more than half of all fatal boating accidents are a result of boating while intoxicated (BWI). Imagine the combined effects of being on a boat: continual motion, sun, engine noise, and vibration from waves factored in with your altered state of mind. The chances of passengers falling overboard due to capsizing increase significantly when the driver is under the influenced. Furthermore, an intoxicated person overboard faces double danger of being unable to respond to the shock of falling into the water, and or swimming back to safety.

Proper nighttime lighting

Boats operating between sunset and sunrise or during times of limited visibility due to fog or other unpredictable weather conditions must pay careful attention to lighting configurations. It is your responsibility to make sure the lights on your boat are properly lit to adapt to any weather condition and provide for optimal visibility.

Carry required safety equipment at all times

All boats are required to carry certain equipment at all times, but these are just the bare minimum requirements. If you are engaging in any other water sports on your boat, make sure you have all the necessary safety equipment associated with the sport. If you’re carrying children, check your state laws for required personal flotation devices. Also, be sure you understand how to operate safety equipment like fire extinguishers and visual distress signals.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, boating, Inflatable life jackets, boating safety, Safety

Sun Protection when sailing on the Potomac River

Posted by George Stevens on Wed, Mar 21, 2012 @ 08:44 PM
Follow these tips to protect yourself from the sun when on the water.
By Ron Eldridge

Between the sun’s direct rays and reflections from the water and deck, boating is hard on your skin. Your sun protection strategy should also include the proper sunscreen, sunglasses and clothing.

Slather It On
Many sunscreens block only burning ultraviolet-B rays. Make sure yours also protects against the UVA radiation that causes deeper skin damage. Look for products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 50 or higher that are marked “broadspectrum protection” or “multispectrum protection.” The Skin Cancer Foundation ( recommends applying two tablespoons of sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapplying every two hours or after swimming. Make sure you take extra care applying in the spots most prone to skin cancer — for men, the ears and torso; for women, the arms and upper thighs.

Shades of Protection
The area around the eyelids is one of the most common places for nonmelanoma skin cancers. Shield eyes with polarized sunglasses that offer 100 percent UVA/UVB protection. Wraparound models with dark lenses are best.

Dress for Success
Dermatologists recommend doubling your protection by wearing broadbrimmed hats, shirts, shorts and swimsuits made from UV-resistant technical fabrics. Fingerless gloves, such as Patagonia Sun Gloves ($25, provide protection and sensitivity while fishing. They’re light, cool and comfortable — perfect for a day of fun in the sun.

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Tags: sailing, Sunscreens, boating, Potomac River