Sail Fast!

Ten Tips for Clean and Green Boating

Posted by Discover Boating on Mon, Mar 06, 2017 @ 09:39 PM


  1. Prevent oily discharges from the bilge. Keep your engine well tuned to prevent fuel and oil leaks. Secure an oil absorbent pad or pillow in your bilge and under your engine where drips may occur. Check the pads often, do not let them clog the bilge pump, and dispose of them as hazardous waste at a marina or local hazardous waste collection center.
  2. Spill-proof your oil changes. For oil changes, use an oil change pump to transfer oil to a spill-proof container. Wrap a plastic bag or absorbent pad around the oil filter to prevent oil from spilling into the bilge.
  3. When fueling, stop the drops! Prevent fuel spills by filling fuel tanks slowly and using absorbent pads or rags to catch drips and spills. Don’t "top off" or overflow your fuel tank. Leave the tank 10% empty to allow fuel to expand as it warms.
  4. Do not add soap. Never use soap to disperse fuel and oil spills. It increases harm to the environment, and it is illegal.
  5. Minimize boat cleaning and maintenance in the water. If possible, save maintenance projects for the boatyard. When performing work on the water minimize your impact by containing waste. Use tarps and vacuum sanders to collect all drips and debris for proper disposal.
  6. Reduce toxic discharges from bottom paints. Minimize the discharge of heavy metals found in soft-sloughing antifouling paints by using a less toxic, or nontoxic antifouling paint. Use only non-abrasive underwater hull cleaning techniques to prevent excessive paint discharge. Remember, dry storage reduces the need for antifouling paints and saves money.
  7. Dispose of hazardous waste properly. Dispose of paints, batteries, antifreeze, cleaning products, oil, oil filters and other hazardous wastes at a hazardous waste collection facility or event.
  8. Plan A-head! Manage sewage wastes properly. Never discharge sewage within 3 miles of shore. Use harbor pump-out stations and shore-side facilities. If you don’t have an installed toilet, use a port-a-potty and empty it at a harbor dump station or bathroom.
  9. Stow it, don’t throw it! Keep your trash on board. Never throw cigarette butts, fishing line, or any other garbage into the ocean. Take advantage of shore-side facilities to recycle plastic, glass, metal, and paper.
  10. Reduce Greywater discharges. Use a phosphate-free biodegradable soap to minimize the impacts of greywater on the marine environment. Also minimize discharge by doing dishes and showers on shore whenever possible.

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Potomac River, Clean Marina, Boat US, adult sailing lessons, Boating in DC

Boating in DC

Posted by George Stevens on Sun, Feb 19, 2017 @ 12:16 PM

There are many places to rent a boat in the DC area. You need to know where to go for sailing vs. kayaking or paddleboards. There are no powerboat rentals out of the major marinas at this time though there are private boats that can be available.

For the Sailors;

Belle Haven Marina

Washington Sailing Marina

Gangplank Marina


For kayaks & paddleboards;

Belle Haven Marina

Fletchers boat house

Key Bridge kayaks

National Harbor

Thompson Boat House


Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Flying Scot, Learn to Sail, Potomac River, Dyke Marsh, US Sailing, Boating in DC

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


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

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

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

Top Washington DC Marinas

Posted by George Stevens on Sun, Mar 30, 2014 @ 12:44 PM

Washington, DC Boat Slips, Charters, Lessons, Cruises and More

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Belle Haven Marina
George Washington Memorial Pkwy
Belle Haven, VA
Buzzard Point Boat Yard
2158 Half St. SW 
Washington, DC
Capital Yacht Club
1000 Water St, SW 
Washington, DC 
Columbia Island Marina
George Washington Memorial Pkwy 
Arlington, VA
District Yacht Club
1409 Water St. SE 
Washington, DC
Gangplank Marina
600 Water St. SW 
Washington, DC
James Creek Marina
200 V St. SW 
Washington, DC
National Harbor
163 Waterfront St. 
National Harbor, MD 
Washington Marina
1300 Maine Ave. SW 
Washington, DC
Washington Sailing Marina
1 Marina Dr. 
Alexandria, VA

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Potomac River, Washington Sailing Marina, Alexandria Virginia, NAtinal Harbor

Dyke Marsh Wetland Restoration, Comments of BoatU.S

Posted by George Stevens on Fri, Mar 14, 2014 @ 04:45 PM

Comments of BoatU.S. regarding EIS No. 20140006
Draft EIS, NPS, VA,
Dyke Marsh Wetland Restoration and
Long-term Management Plan

March 14, 2014

BoatU.S. is the largest organization of recreational boat owners in the
United States, with more than 500,000 members nationwide and over 51,000
members in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. 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 alternative preferred by the National
Park Service (NPS).

Dyke Marsh and Belle Haven Marina are both a popular boating
destination 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 serves education programs such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s
Potomac River Program which teaches conservation and preservation.

It is our strong belief that 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. Currently language contained in
Alternative C could very easily inhibit or possibly end the prosperity of the
marina. We propose that the following language 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

Since the NPS is not only the leaseholder to the concessionaire (in this
case Belle Haven Marina) but also sets the lease requirements, insurance
minimums, and defines what is or is not “economic viability,” we believe that the
concessionaire could be denied renewal of the lease at any time. Just over the
last 3 years, the insurance required by NPS has increased from $1,000,000 to 
$5,000,000. Even in the face of such drastic increases, Belle Haven Marina is
and has been consistently at 100% slip occupancy with over 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.

Should this marina be closed there would be no public boat launch for
over 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 President Obama’s America’s Great
Outdoors Initiative (AGO) to remove obstacles to park access. A key
recommendation to come out of the President’s AGO initiative is the following
(emphasis added):

Recommendation 2.1 — Support outdoor recreation access and
opportunities on public lands by establishing a Federal Interagency
Committee on Outdoor Recreation

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 having this kind of recreational facility
supported. All of the alternative management proposals limit access for the public
and the recreational boater, a management philosophy that directly contradicts
the intent of the AGO initiative.

President Obama followed through on the AGO recommendation on June
13, 2011, when he created the Federal Interagency Council on Outdoor
Recreation headed by former Secretary Salazar. As a stakeholder organization
that is actively engaged in the AGO process, we note several tasks charged to
the new Council that are of particular significance in our review of the Dyke
Marsh Restoration Plan:

Task: Coordinate recreation management, access and policies across
multiple agencies to improve public enjoyment and recreational use of
federal lands.

Task: Improve engagement of young people and their families in outdoor
recreation through healthy, active lifestyles.

Task: Identify ways to improve access to and benefits from our parks,
refuges, and other public lands, waters, and shores for persons with

Task: Target underserved and disadvantaged communities for both
access and engagement in the benefits of and opportunities for outdoor

We urge the Park Service to revisit its plans for Dyke Marsh with an eye
towards meeting the national recommendations contained in the AGO initiative.
The aforementioned language in Alternative C, could strongly jeopardize the
attainability of these goals.

We appreciate the delicate balance the NPS must strike in fulfilling its
mission of providing access to Dyke Marsh and the Potomac River while
preserving the very elements that make these natural areas such attractive
destinations. With their close proximity to metropolitan Washington, 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, we believe that the 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.

As this process moves to the final stages, BoatU.S. strongly believes that
a resolution can be reached that both maintains public access to the water while
preserving the very outdoors experience our mem

Tags: Belle Haven Marina, Potomac River, Clean Marina, Dyke Marsh, Boat US, Mariner Sailing School

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