Friday, May 20, 2011

A Safe Boating Season is a Happy Boating Season

May 20, 2011

Today marks the start of National Safe Boating Week (May 20-27).  As any seasoned boater knows, boating safety shouldn't just be relegated to one week.  More importantly, boating safely is an everyday practice. Speaking from the sailing side of things, nothing brings greater concern than seeing some of the risky behavior on the water at times.   It might be as simple as not checking the weather prior to heading out or even riskier behavior like not wearing life jackets or disregard for other boaters.

Smart boating means setting up successful practices that you put into action each time you go out on the water.   With these practices in place, you minimize the likelihood of a fatal mistake happening to yourself or one of your crew.

We thought we would share the enclosed article from YACHTING Magazine that originally ran in 1/2010.  It provides 13 basic seamanship skills that you should look to establish prior to leaving the dock.

Enjoy and Boat safely in 2011.

Knowledge Rules-13 seamanship skills you should know before leaving the dock.

By George Sass, Jr. / Published: January 27, 2010

Yachting Magazine

I once worked for a captain who told me that if I ever thought I knew everything, I'd better hang up my foul-weather gear and take up pottery. He was right. That's one of the many nuances of boating I love. I maintain there are so many scenarios, combined with a multitude of variables, that it would be mathematically impossible to experience every challenge. And that's why we should give a wide berth to the self-proclaimed know-it-all.

Knowledge on the water is often gained through mistakes. Over a period of time, confidence will increase and hopefully we will search out new challenges to take us to the next level. A summer cruise to Vancouver may lead to an extended cruise up the Inside Passage. A fall delivery through the inland waters of the East Coast could whet your appetite for a Bahamas adventure the following winter.

Each of these moments away from the dock can bring new experiences. However, there are some skills and tricks that I've learned after some bumps and bruises that may decrease your challenge factor. Here are 13 of them.

Know Every Inch Of Your Boat

It seems like a basic prerequisite that you should be familiar with the innards of your boat before leaving the dock. But ask yourself: Do you know the location of every through-hull fitting? If you begin to smell burning electrical wires, can you access your battery-disconnect switches easily? When was the last time you inspected the steering gear?

When I worked as part of the maintenance crew of a charter company, we had a plan-view schematic on each boat that pointed out all the through-hull fittings, fire extinguisher locations, and emergency gear. This sheet was posted above the chart table for easy reference for captain and crew.

Beside these basics, when you're cruising take the time to figure out various sweet spots for your boat. You can never know too much.

Keep Those Dead Reckoning Skills Polished

It's my opinion that if we don't understand the basic navigational principles, we can't fully exploit the capability of our electronics. And yes, if you have a solid understanding of navigation you'll be able to get home in case the electronics fail. Thus dead reckoning is a key skill that any prudent yachtsman must understand. It's the plotting of an approximate course on a chart relying on speed, time, and distance traveled. A key to dead reckoning is knowing your previous position, and then plotting the course using course steered, speed, and elapsed time.

I highly recommend you plot your position on a paper chart, especially when your electronics are working. How often you do this will depend upon your distance from land and hazards. Once you have your starting point on the chart, you can draw your intended course. Then it's a matter of plotting the distance (D) along the course using speed (S) and the elapsed time (T). Three formulas we all should know are D=ST, S=D/T, and T=D/S. You may want to get kids or grandkids involved in learning this as well. It will keep them busy and help to develop future mariners who know the basics. Next steps: Make sure you have a set of dividers, parallel rules, the correct paper charts, and some sharp pencils.

Easy Steps To Determine Distance-Off

Knowing your distance off land or a navigational aid is helpful. Even for peace of mind. During a passage along the coast of Eleuthera, we passed East End Point. Digging out our hand-bearing compass, I took a bearing on the light when it was 45 degrees off our port bow, maintained course, and then took another bearing when the light was 90 degrees off our port beam. The distance run between the two bearings is equal to the distance offshore. The two legs of the triangle that meet to form the 90-degree angle are equal. So if we traveled 4.2 miles from where the light was at 45 degrees to where it was at 90 degrees, then that point of land is 4.2 miles away. (On my old sailboat, I marked the 45- and 90-degree marks on my lifeline with tape.) Next steps: Include a hand-bearing compass in your navigational tools. They aren't just for racing.

Operating In Heavy Seas

I wouldn't dare try to explain running in heavy seas within this short article. But the point is you can't rely on textbook explanations to pilot your boat in heavy weather. Learn your boat's capabilities and its specific handling characteristics while the conditions are still manageable. The trick is finding your boat's sweet spot in a specific set of conditions, and this will take a little experimentation. And be aware, boats can break. Flying off the top of a wave at 35 knots may make for a nice picture in an ad, but if you're not kind to your lady, don't be surprised to find various forms of protest. You do have to drive your boat.

Be Able To Read The Clouds

Even with a sophisticated navigational suite, you need to be aware of what is going on around your yacht. Clouds are among the most visible indicators of weather and can often help predict thunderstorms, an approaching front, rain, or a squall.

Start by learning to identify cloud forms and how they may affect weather. This may feel like your kid's eighth-grade science project, but it's a necessary first step. Although there are infinite shapes a cloud can take, the common classification system includes 10 types: cumulonimbus, cumulus, stratus, stratocumulus, nimbostratus, altostratus, altocumulus, cirrostratus, cirrocumulus, and cirrus. It's important to learn the characteristics of each cloud type. Books such as Chapman Piloting offer a good overview and helpful pictures. Next, watch how clouds form in your area, determine whether they are increasing or decreasing in amount, and understand what shape they are taking. As a general rule, lowering or thickening cloud formations indicate wet weather is on the way. Then, begin to combine this information with other items such as barometric pressure and wind velocity.

First Aid And CPR

There's nothing worse than seeing a loved one wounded or sick-except maybe being unable to do anything about it. First of all, I shake my head at people who have $100,000 worth of flatscreen televisions on board, but are only equipped with a basic first aid kit that can barely mend a scraped knee. Buy the best kit you can afford, then ensure you and your mate take a first aid course. Even if you're within sight of land, knowing how to dress a wound to stop bleeding, or brace somebody until help arrives, will make a crucial difference. I also strongly believe in equipping a boat with an AED to address cardiac arrest. For about $1,400, you can equip your boat to save somebody's life. And it only costs about as much as one TV! Make sure you also sign up with your local Power Squadron or firehouse and take a CPR course. Next steps: Check out the first aid kits at and log onto  to order your Charles Industries Heart-Sine AED.

Action Steps Before The Weather Turns Foul

The basic goal of any yachtsman is to avoid foul weather, but as we all know, it's bound to find us sooner or later. if you cannot make it into a safe port, you'll need to take some action. We'll assume that you already took the time to go through the boat with your crew for a proper safety briefing before you left. also, if you have a properly maintained boat, you'll fare better. (That's the subject of many books!) if you find yourself with an approaching squall, or sustained gale-force conditions, you can take steps ahead of time that will improve the safety and comfort of your crew.

Understand Weather Chart Basics

I once sent weather forecasters into a tizzy when I published an article on forecasting weather. I wasn't suggesting that we can all become armchair weather forecasters. I do suggest, however, that it is up to individual captains to understand their weather. Thanks to new electronics, getting an accurate forecast has never been easier. Yet, you still need to understand what you're looking at on the screen. Charts for surface-weather analysis, surface-weather prognosis, and extended surface prognosis will help you make sense of atmospheric weather conditions just above the water. Wave-height analysis and wave prognosis will keep you abreast of what's happening on the water. Radar charts and satellite-weather pictures are good for providing up-to-the-minute information about local disturbances.

VHF Radio Tips

Okay, maybe I sound like I'm preaching here, and chances are most of you know how to properly use a VHF, so forgive me. However, on any given summer weekend in my home waters, I hear a kid screaming into the mic or the U.S. Coast Guard coming on multiple times asking somebody to move their chatter to a working channel. Here are a few tips that will help us all.

Make sure you switch to a working channel once you make contact with the party you're trying to hail, so you can make way for others and your conversation won't be stepped on.

Try to keep conversations on the relatively short side. I once heard an excruciating call from a captain trying to give somebody directions. If you're coastal cruising, try the cell phone for long conversations.

Avoid using channel 16 for radio checks. Do not call the Coast Guard for radio checks. It's not their job.

Use channel 9 for hailing, not 16. This measure was established to limit the congestion on channel 16 and keep it free for emergency situations.

In case of emergency, speak clearly, deliberately, and with the mic away from your mouth.

MOB Drill

Last summer, I participated in the annapolis to newport race. One of the race requirements was executing a man-overboard-drill with a person in the water. Two months before the race, we did our duty. Our captain ensured everyone knew their role. During the drill we discovered a few issues that needed to be corrected. I suggest a MoB drill be performed at the beginning of each season. Do you have a high freeboard powerboat? If so, how will you get back on board? Do you trust your crew to be able to mark the spot on the GPS, deploy a flotation advice, and get you back on board safely? Take your time to answer. A MOB drill will help. Trust me.

Keep The Water Out

There is nothing that sucks your breath from your lungs quicker than lifting the sole to find rivers of water where you usually see a barren bilge. Before you leave the dock, ensure your bilge pumps are properly sized. Unfortunately, quite a few builders install inadequately sized pumps. Install an electric bilge pump that can keep up with the inflow of water if the largest inlet fails to be safe. For many yachts, this would be the raw-water intake. I'm also a fan of yachts with raw-water sea chests and common drains that tie incoming and outgoing water into a common source, reducing the number of penetrations in the hull. Also, be sure to have properly sized built-in manual pumps on board that can continue to operate if you lose power. Install engine intakes with a bilge suction bypass, which are easy to operate. The principle is simple: If a large amount of water is coming in, a valve is turned (some systems require a plug to be removed), and the running engines suck water from the bilge, not the sea.

Setting The Anchor

Know how to drop and secure the hook for typical cruising endeavors. Ensure your boat is properly equipped with the correct anchor. Also make sure you're set properly before you turn off the engines. I was once off Sicily and we jumped in to cool off, then noticed the boat was drifting. We had to swim like hell to get out of the captain's way so he could start the engines. Next steps: Click here for a complete anchoring guide.

Current and Tide Basics

On some boats, an adverse current will not prohibit the ability to get underway. However, it may be nice to place a few knots of current behind you.

Make tide and current awareness part of your predeparture checklist. Ensure you know the time, strength, and direction of tidal currents. Most new electronic software has a very easy to use tide function. I also keep a tide table at my house to reference before I leave for the boat. Next steps: For those who have dived into the world of smartphone apps, try the Tides or Marine Tides apps.

If you have tips or secrets you've learned while on the water, I would love to hear them. please e-mail me at , and include your name and boat type. We'll be sure to incorporate them in a follow-up article. Happy cruising.


For More Information Ask Karma Yacht Sales by email  or call 1-877-KARMA-Y-S (527-6297)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Karma Yacht Sales Co-Founder selected US Sailing's "Sailor of the Week"

Lou Sandoval

Lou Sandoval (Chicago, Ill.) feels fortunate that the sport of sailing has played such an important role in his life today. “I am a bit of an anomaly when it comes to sailing,” he said. “I grew up in a part of the city where sailing wasn’t what you did.” Lou was introduced to sailing as a Boy Scout many years ago, and now he is a five-time winner of the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac and the current Vice-Chairman of the race for 2011.

“If you had told me back then that I would be sailing in the oldest annual freshwater distance sailboat race, much less heading the organization of the race, I might have laughed,” he added.

Lou has won the Race to Mackinac five out of the last seven years. He has served on the organizing committee for the past six years. His list of accomplishments, community sailing involvement and civic duty is extensive. He is co-Owner/co-Founder of Karma Yacht Sales, a Lake Michigan Beneteau dealer. His firm has been instrumental in the development of the first 36.7 one-design fleet. Lake Michigan is home to the largest F36.7 fleet in North America. He served as chair of the Beneteau 36.7 North American Championship in 2008. Lou was selected as a delegate to represent the Chicago Yacht Club on the Lake Michigan PHRF council from 2002-2009.

Aside from being a leader in the marine industry, Lou is involved on the civic front at many levels. He serves on the board of directors for the Judd Goldman Adaptive Sailing Foundation (JGASF) and the Chicago Area Council Boy Scouts of America. JGASF is a national foundation that seeks to expand the sport of sailing to sailors with disabilities. He chairs the local chapter of the national Hispanic outreach initiative for Scouting. Lou credits scouting with his exposure to the sport. He has successfully built a company that has obtained national recognition and can serve as an inspiration to youth in the Hispanic community. Lou spends time presenting to Hispanic high school students in Chicago about the importance of setting goals on education and the application of navigating sailboats as a metaphor for life, involvement in the community, business and leading teams.

Lou is focused on leveraging technology to share the Race to Mackinac experience with fans. “Through the use of tracking technology and social media, viewers around the world are able to watch the progress of competing boats,” he said. Lou was quick to give credit to over 150 very competent volunteers on the committee that he described as experts in their own right.

The JGASF along with Chicago Yacht Club is host to the North American Challenge Cup, the national competition for disabled adult sailors. “Having participated as an able bodied sailor in years past with this event, it is impressive how many of the competitors are able to break what many would consider barriers to participating in the sport,” he explained.

“I look forward to the opportunity of being part of this renaissance period by sharing the message of sailing so that the sailors of tomorrow continue to grow up in the sport,” said Lou.

For More Information Ask Karma Yacht Sales by email  or call 1-877-KARMA-Y-S (527-6297)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Local Illinois Congressman introduces bill that may cost marine and real estate industry jobs

Local Illinois Congressman introduces bill that may cost marine and real estate industry jobs

5th Congressional Representative Mike Quigley (Sun-Times photo)

May 3, 2011

Fifth Congressional Representative Mike Quigley introduced a bill in Congress earlier today that seeks to end mortage interest income deductions for boats that qualify per the IRS requirements.   The move comes as the marine industry has started to see modest improvement in boat sales.  The uptick in activity has been led by the Great Lakes region, an area that has been particularly hard hit by the loss of jobs accross many sectors.  Illinois has led in job losses, however, it has been one of the first states to show promise in increased boat sales this Spring.

The Mortgage Interest Income deduction has been used by boat owners to buy boats that qualify by having a seperate galley, head and sleeping quarters.  Regardless of the size of the boat, it has been a factor that some boat owners have used to justify purchasing their boats.  The resultant tax income has helped cities, counties and states through the traditional tax channels.  In cities like Chicago and Cook County it has been the one of the few reliefs that boat owners have used to offset the highest retail tax rate in the nation.   As home to the largest municipally run harbor system in North America, Chicago has a relatively high number of boaters.

Quigley, representing the Fifth Congressional district (which has origins on the Northside lakefront area and proceeds along the I-90 corridor out to Bensenville, Norwood Park, Elmwood Park and the Northwest side communities of Chicago) was a formerly a Cook County commissioner whose juxtaposition to the hyper taxation antics of former County President Todd Stroger won him popularity among some centrist voters. 

"It is surprising that Congressman Quigley who campaigned as a 'fiscal conservative' would propose a bill that stands to impact hundreds of thousands of jobs in the marine industry accross the United States.  Much less look to limit the real estate industry which has already been dealt a devastating blow in declining property values, sales and jobs.  Removal of the mortgage interest deduction has the potential to quell any comeback of these two industries and can cost thousands of Americans jobs sending two industries spiraling' said Lou Sandoval , co-Owner and Co-Founder of Karma Yacht Sales a sailboat dealer serving Lake Michigan and based on the southside of Chicago. "The bill is very shortsighted: The effect could negatively impact the city of Chicago Harbor system which is currently looking to fill a new marina at 31st street that will house over 800 boats and opens in 2012." said Sandoval.  "The revenue from the Harbor system looks to offset many land based programs in the Chicago Park District ".

This bill comes as States like Florida and Texas have made moves to promote the purchase of marine pleasure craft by capping the tax rates on boat purchases, a move that can be seen to stimulate sales and drive taxation revenue by the resultant increase in sales tax volume. Of additional irony is that Rep. Quigley decided to propose this bill during the week of the American Boating Congress (ABC) being held on Capitol Hill May 4-5.  

Boaters and property owners in Chicago and especially in Congressman Quigley's district should be encouraged to contact his office and voice their displeasure for his proposal.   This is especially important as many congressman including Rep. Quigley ramp up their efforts for re-election in the 2012 cycle.   There is NO time better than the present to speak out against this issue

Copyright: Editor  Karma Yacht Sales- Docktalk Blog

Information for Contacting Congressman Quigley's Office can be found on this link:  
Quigley 5th Congressional

To view the original  Press Release

Quigley, Walz, Peters Introduce Bill to End Subsidies for Luxury Yachts

Tuesday, 03 May 2011 13:29

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), along with Reps. Tim Walz (MN-1) and Gary Peters (MI-9), introduced legislation to eliminate taxpayer subsidies for yachts. The Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act will amend a tax provision that allows boat owners to write off their mortgage interest payments if they classify their boats as second homes.

“There’s absolutely no reason why taxpayers should subsidize luxury yachts,” said Quigley. “As we work to address our budget challenges, closing this frivolous tax loophole is a no-brainer.”

“We’re going to have to make some hard decisions to tackle our national debt, but this isn’t one of them,” said Walz. “Closing this tax loophole restores the Mortgage Interest Deduction to its original purpose; helping middle class families realize the American Dream through homeownership.”

Currently, taxpayers are allowed to deduct mortgage interest for up to two homes from their tax returns. Yachts equipped with bedding, toilet facilities, and a kitchen qualify even if they aren’t used as a primary residence. The Ending Taxpayer Subsidies for Yachts Act would limit the tax deduction to only those who use their boats as a primary residence.

“We need to get the deficit under control, and that means simplifying the tax code and eliminating special interest tax giveaways like the Yacht Loophole,” added Peters. “Homeownership is part of the American Dream and we should encourage it, but yacht owners don’t need any special handouts, especially in the middle of a budget crisis.”

In 2004, there were approximately 500,000 pleasure boats in the United States large enough to qualify for the tax break, but only around 100,000 people live full time on boats according to the 2000 Census.

The proposal is included in Quigley’s Reinventing Government: The Federal Budget Part II. The report is due out next week and will include detailed cost-saving recommendations to follow up on Part I, which focused on transparency in the budget process.

For More Information Ask Karma Yacht Sales by email  or call 1-877-KARMA-Y-S (527-6297)