Monday, October 31, 2011


Sport diving operations flag
International Code diving operations day flag signal display 'Alpha'
International Code diving operations night light signal display 'Alpha'
One of the aspects of boating safely is diving safely.  Living in South Florida most times when we go boating we meet up with divers.  It is popular sport in this area with many marked locations for divers - would that the divers were as well marked as those locations.  

NAUTICAL LOG is not a diver so in an effort to learn more about things we made visits to the diving section of local marine chandlers and dive shops themselves.  It is an eye-opener sometimes to see the state of the shop with equipment, tools scattered about, little organisation, with tanks connected up every-which-way.  Also the people doing the work in such a place makes one wonder at the quality of that work.  Usually amongst seafarers the 'turn out' of the person gives an accurate indication of the quality of their work. 

It seems that the USCG are also concerned as there is a report published this morning "Diving deaths spike in Florida."  On Thursday 10/27 a training exercise was held in Biscayne Bay, FL.  As usual in this type of Post we quote directly:

"The number of injured-diver incidents has risen in Florida this year with 60 so far compared to 44 for all of 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard said.  Most of the incidents occurred in South Florida.  Coast Guard Sector Miami, which goes up to Fort Pierce, had 43 of those 2011 dive incidents.  Thirteen (13) divers have died off Sunshine State shores so far this year with nine (9) fatalities in South Florida."

What is being done about all this, well the Coast Guard strongly urges divers to take safety classes and make performance checks on their equipment.  NAUTICAL LOG would add to that check out those dive-shops and compare them before entrusting your equipment to their hands because you are also entrusting your life.

Good Watch.

Now that British Merchant Navy vessels and those of other Nations are going to have armed guards perhaps we can expect a reduction in the numbers of piracy attacks.  Since extreme prejudice has been authorised perhaps the numbers of pirates will also be reduced.  However let us not forget that 400 of our fellow seafarers are held captive by pirates off Somalia.  It now becomes even more important that they are rescued.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Armed guard on starboard Bridge wing
Further to the NAUTICAL NOTES comment regarding defence against piracy, we quote from a BBC News report with editing by NAUTICAL LOG:

"Ships sailing under a British flag will be able to carry armed guards to protect them from pirates, the Prime Minister has announced."

As one might expect there are comments attached to the report most of which show either an ignorance of operating ships in pirate infested waters, are against the Prime Minister Mr. Cameron from a political standpoint or a combination of both.  Putting that aside as having no real value in dealing with the piracy issue and the decision taken, we quote further.

"Under the plans the British Home Secretary would be given the power to license armed guards for ships.  Of 53 hijackings last year 49 took place off the coast of Somalia.  No ship carrying armed security has yet been hijacked, the government claims.  Up to 200 vessels flying the Red Ensign - the British Merchant Navy flag - sail (through the Horn of Africa area) close to Somalia.  Officials estimate that about 100 of those would apply for permission to have armed guards.  It is thought that many British registered ships already carry armed guards because they feel they have no alternative."

Arrangements will still have to made with some countries however there seems to be a general agreement that the situation has declined so that this measure has to be taken. Overall it must be carefully monitored.

For months now Post after Post NAUTICAL LOG has written a reminder in RED about the 400 seafarers held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia.  We can only be pleased therefore that the British have the moral courage to take this step - which is controversial.  No doubt other maritime nations will also now consider the issue and might decide to also carry armed guards.  Once the piracy stops it will then not be necessary to carry armed guards thus it can be viewed as a temporary measure to solve a specific problem.

Good Watch.

Let's not forget that the 400 seafarers are STILL held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia.


HMAS Broome
MS Vega Fynen
The Broome that brushed

The PR folder brought lots of interesting news this morning as NAUTICAL LOG catches up on things after a busy day and tropical downpour yesterday.

The HMAS Broome went 146 miles at best speed (25+ knots) to assist the MS Vega Fynen which had lost power and drifted towards Ragelapra Reef, Papua New Guinea.  On arrival the C/O and Master conferred, it was decided to take the drifting vessel in tow by passing a stern to stern towline.  At that time the Phillipine crewed container ship was 700 metres from grounding on the Reef.  The tow effort lasted six (6) hours until the arrival of a commercial tug better suited for the task at hand.  HMAS Broome then returned to berth at Alotau, Papua New Guinea having averted a brush with an environmental disaster.

MS Schelde Trader
Not again!

It seems container ships are not having a very good time in New Zealand.  At the Port of Tauranga, NZ the MS Schelde Trader also lost power and went aground on the rocks off Mount Maunganui.  The vessel had a Port Pilot on board and an escort tug at the time.  We wonder how escort tugs escort in NZ - no doubt the investigation will reveal their secret system - and yes we are being sarcastic.  The vessel was refloated (perhaps by that escort tug?) and berthed at Mount Maunganui wharves.  No oil leaked and there will be an inspection and investigation.  This incident occurred at a Port near where the MS Rena is aground and breaking up on Astrolabe Reef, NZ.

Voith Steam Trac
Operating principle graphic
Back to the future

Voith have announced a steam engine which can be operated in connection with diesel engines  using the heat to raise steam.  Using a waste heat recovery system it acts as a turbo connecte to provide additional driving power to the vessel.  The application seems to be directed towards smaller vessels and ferries.  NAUTICAL LOG is still learning about the system from Voith.

PLAN hospital ship heading to berth at Kingston.
Harmonious Mission progresses

The Chinese hospital ship PLAN Daishandao/Peace Ark left Havana, Cuba on Thursday 10/27 and arrived in Kingston, Jamaica on Saturday 10/29 for a six day visit.  During this time she will offer medical services and interact with the local Chinese community who welcomed the vessel with traditional Chinese greetings and dragon dancers.


Finally some good news Mr. Cameron the British PM has authorised armed teams and response in British Flag ships due to the ever increasing attacks by pirates off the Horn of Africa.  Hopefully this will lead to other Flag States following the British Merchant Navy example.

Good Watch

As usual we remind you that 400 of our fellow seafarers are being held captive by pirates off Somalia.  By this time we had hoped that they would have been rescued and released.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Reading through some of the other maritime themed blogs is often interesting.  While we do see Posts about the latest adventures of "Lego-Man" - he was at Sarasota Beach, FL this past week - there are also more serious Posts.  There is one about vessel encounters entitled "When vessels encounter drunks".  It is by an experienced Master currently in Command of a large ocean-going car carrier if one remembers correctly.  No it is not wrong but the approach struck NAUTICAL LOG as a little different perhaps even strange.  But then NAUTICAL LOG does not have the greatest sense of humour or is even faintly amused when it comes to vessel encounters and the Navigation Rules not being followed. 

Living in South Florida on the edge of Biscayne Bay one encounters all too frequently BUI boaters and while the Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies do the best job they can the real answer is personal responsibility - unfortunately it is sadly lacking being in a large part due to the cult of 'machismo' prevalent to the area  That coupled with little or complete lack of knowledge of the NAVIGATION RULES as laid down in USCG M16672.2D (or latest edition).  This is the only book in the United States that counts to learn from, fully understand and follow.  Yes there are others designed to be helpful, make money for the author, however they are not the official word.

The article by the above mentioned Master quotes a Mr.Crawford's book who uses the medium of the theater as an aide memoire to the learning of the Navigation Rules.  The article quotes Rule 2 and then says, quote: "then be ready to 'ad lib' " when the Navigation Rules are not followed.

This is very bad advice indeed.  The Navigation Rules cover just about every situation that can occur between two or more vessels on the High Seas or Inland Waterways.  They even cover those situations where things go very wrong indeed, far from 'Ad Libbing' they give precise instructions on how to behave.  It is 'Ad Libbing' from those precise instructions that gets seafarers into serious trouble.  From appearing to be in the right they find themselves in left field and handing in their respective License/Certificate to their Maritime Authority.

So as well as following the Navigation Rules on what to do in a particular situation at sea know also what to do when things go wrong.  The solutions are found in Rule 2 (b), Rule 8 (e), Rule 17 (b) and of course in Rule 1 - General Application - how to follow the Navigation Rules as per USCG M16672.2D (or latest edition).

"A Collision can Spoil your whole Day."

Good Watch

There are still nearly 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia.  Simulation programmes, however well intended and useful for training, will not help a single one of them.  Skilled rescue using extreme prejudice would have a marked effect on piracy per se. NAUTICAL LOG fully supports armed vessel protection and response.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Map of Whale Trail sites

Ferry and Terminal poster
Up in the northwest is the State of Washington and the famous Washington State Ferry System.  During the trips between the Salish Sea islands and mainland there is something new and interesting to do - other than trying to keep warm.  In the Fall the orcas travel in Puget Sound and the Washington State Ferries and Whale Trail have developed a poster which will be displayed both on board the ferries and in the Terminals. 

The signs provide descriptions of orcas, gray whales, Dall's porpoise, harbor seals and California sea lions.  It also explains the habitat needed for the mammals to remain healthy in the region.  the Whale Trail has established 20 sites in Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Washington coast and more are planned.

Shown above is a map of those sites and the poster displayed on board the Ferries and in the Terminals.  So if you ride the WSF have a whale of a trip.

"Develop a discerning eye in all matters."

Good Watch

Read the Somalia Report to get the latest piracy news from the Horn of Africa and remember 400 of our fellow seafarers are held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Mothership with attack craft types

Large attack craft
From the NAUTICAL LOG PR folder comes this gem, an anti-piracy simulation.  The Transas® Group well known for training equipment and programs has developed an anti-piracy simulation training program.  The idea is to make nautical students aware of what pirates off the Horn of Africa look like, techniques to avoid attacks and being hijacked.  While it most certainly serves a training purpose it does nothing to prevent piracy or being hijacked - why?  The program continues the current political approach and says nothing about armed response.  It covers the range of the pirates known weapons, changes of speed and course, best angles of approach, and speed and courses for closing and engaging pirates.  Engaging them with what?  Since a no weapons response is recommended by the UN-IMO NAUTICAL LOG wonders just what is the point of this training. 

Hopefully, because thats all we have at present, by the time these students become Masters the issue will have been solved.  It is the present day Masters who need training because many do not seem to know either the capabilities of their vessels, have the knowledge or interest to aviod or prevent an attack.  Most seem to run to the 'citadel' (the latest piece of bovine scatology) at the first suspicious sign and hope that someone will turn up to resolve the problem for them.  They have also received orders from their shipowner employer to basically just 'give up' - it is all rather pathetic.  Some have even been given orders not to report an attack at all because of possible increased Marine Insurance premiums.

So good luck with the Transas® anti-piracy simulation but it is not going to stop a single hijacking.  The way things are these days the Somali pirates more than likely already have their own copy of the simulation, have figured counter-measures to it and of course they ARE armed.

"Know the Ways of all occupations."

Good watch.

Those pirates are still holding 400 of our fellow seafarers off the coast of Somali, perhaps they watch the Transas Simulation together on the vessels equipment.


USCG Cadets using the sextant
This week NAUTICAL LOG has been catching up on his reading including a series on Celestial Navigation in another maritime themed blog.  It is quite interesting to see the different approach taken by today's navigators to the way we were trained.  For example when NAUTICAL LOG served with the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand (1959-1961) the cargo vessels were not fitted with either gyro compass or radar.  The TSS Tamahine (Built 1925) ferry carrying passengers, cars and PMG mail also did not have gyro or radar in spite of running across Cook Strait between Wellington, North Island to Picton, South Island daily, with some night transits at weekends.

The point that caught my eye was the article about Ex-Meridians which included remarks about Amplitudes.  This Post is not meant to be critical (well maybe just a little bit) of the Article titled "Ex-Meridians for USCG exams" but to show the difference between today's  OOW/navigator, who apparently uses Celestial Navigation only as means to check his/her electronic wonderland of a Bridge, to my generation of Navigators which used Celestial Navigation to navigate the oceans worldwide - well and safely too.

The writer states quote:  "This topic is beyond the scope of even what we normally teach as "advanced celestial navigation". However esoteric though it is, it shows up on USCG licensing exams for 1600 ton Mate Oceans and above".

He further goes on to describe an Amplitude:  "which is basically useless"

Yet further on Ex-Meridian's he states: "no modern navigator worthy of the name would ever use the ex-meridian sight".

Ouch! Now that hurt my 60 years experience.

How things change and professionally maybe not for the better.  When NAUTICAL LOG served in the British Merchant Navy there was a daily procedure for the Navigation Day's Work (similar to USN refer OPNAV 3530/1 and 30-44).  The Navigator was usually the 2nd. Officer, however passenger vessel rankings were slightly different. 

The day at sea ran from Noon to Noon and the Noon (LAN) Sight was a Merchant Navy religious event with several Officers all with their personal sextants lined up on the Bridge wing to watch the sun reach its highest point.  Once this had been agreed upon, if the Master was in attendance his "that seems to be it gentleman" indicated the Latitude should be quickly calculated, the savvy Navigator having worked up his 'magic number' ahead of time, immediately stated the Latitude, the Longitude was run-up, the Noon position for that day, distance, the days run average speed, ETA to next Port all calculated.   Other than the OOW the Bridge Party could then retire to the Masters Dayroom for a gin before lunch.

How was all this arrived at - by that daily procedure.  The morning star sight and Amplitude were taken by the 0400-0800 OOW, the morning sunline and azimuth by the 0800-1200 OOW, Noon Sight (LAN) by all Deck Officers, afternoon sunline and azimuth by the 1200-1600 OOW, and evening star sight and Amplitude by 1600-2000 OOW.  The Amplitudes gave an instant compass error confirming the working of those Azimuths.  Now do you still think an Amplitude is "basically useless" - not for my generation of Navigators.

But what about the Ex-Meridian which started out this Article.   If the Navigator saw that the Noon Bridge Party was going to be disappointed because of cloud cover or rain he would get an Ex-Meridian so as to have a quite decent Noon Position to give to the Master - and perhaps get a gin at the same time.   If there had been no luck before LAN then maybe after and see how that compared with the Latitude chosen for Noon Position.

Personally NAUTICAL LOG privately used the Stars to Stars positions for all navigational calculations and based answers to the Master's questions on that information. A personal preference that worked out well over the years.

"Touch upon all the arts."

Good Watch

There remain some 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates off Somalia.  Lets us continue to work for their release.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


With the death of CAPT. William Cummins one of the Waterford 'boys' who went to sea with Irish Shipping Ltd. (ISL) one is reminded that we are a passing generation.  Also we are a unique generation coming from a variety of schools across Ireland ranging from Clongowes to the Christian Brothers.  Not that it really mattered where ones parents sent us to get our education it was the same for all due to the Irish education system in which every student did the three national examinations of Primary, Intermediate, and Leaving Certificate.  Thus when competing for a place in University or employment all were equally qualified.  For those of us who chose to go to sea there was ISL and for the first time the Irish could sail under their Tricolour as all the ISL ships were registered in Irish ports.

When we sailed overseas many times Irish families would arrive to visit the ship never having seen a vessel flying the National Colours of Ireland on the stern.  Many of the Irish religious had their only contact with Ireland during a lifetime of overseas religious service - it seems impossible to imagine such a sacrifice today. Such a wonderful thing and a credit to the country - all to be thrown away by ISL bad management combined with a stupid and ignorant Irish government.

ISL trained four (4) or even six (6) in the SS Irish Cedar Deck Apprentices, a national treasure of well educated young men ready to serve the country in the Maritime Industry.  Instead of a selection being sent to University to complete degrees in Business Management, Transportation and Maritime Law nothing was done.  Once the Apprenticeship was completed ISL seemed to loose interest.  The result was ill chosen vessels, bad contracts and the collapse of ISL with unemployment and terrible hardship.  This was repeated again with coastal companies.  Instead of reorganizing companies and building on us the generation they had trained the Irish Merchant Service faded to nothing.  If a Merchant Service had been properly built what a complement to the Irish Nautical College, young Irish Merchant Service and Irish Naval Officers could not only educate together but go on to sail together.  The experience gained in ocean-going vessels could be applied to both services with the Irish Merchant Service Officers being also Irish Naval Service Reserve Officers, a highly motivated and professional maritime entity.

As does NAUTICAL LOG (CAPT. D. Peter Boucher), CAPT. John Molloy and others of our generation the recently deceased CAPT. William Cummins felt much the same and we quote him from past interviews:

"Capt. Cummins is thankful to him Eamon Rothwell, John de Courcy Ireland and Tom McSweeney (Seascapes RTE) for their great endeavours in the cause of Irish maritime affairs.  As an island maritime nation ---it is a shame to see so many, if not all Irish shipping companies sailing no more.-----they (ISL) had 21 ships many of them carrying four cadets but that type of four year training is lost forever and successive Irish governments have failed to halt the situation----- going now to foreign shipping companies to serve their apprenticeships."

At this present time the Celtic Tiger has long made its last growl and is silent.  It is time for the current Irish government to rebuild the Irish Merchant Service as they rebuild the nation.  It can and should have both a coastal fleet and an ocean-going fleet of vessels registered in Irish ports and flying the Tricolour.  It will well serve the country's needs and motivate Irish youth to again serve the Nation as our generation did.  Hopefully none of them will then have to go overseas to make a successful career at sea never to return to work again in Ireland  - NAUTICAL LOG speaks from first hand experience on that issue.  Of 60 years in the maritime industry only six (6) were under the Irish National Colours - 54 years in foreign service.

Good Watch
There remain some 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates ashore and off the coast of Somalia and in deplorable conditions.  We hope you will join us in working for their freedom.


CAPT. William Cummins
From our correspondent CAPT. John Molloy, William Street, Waterford, Ireland comes news of the death of CAPT. William Cummins, Viewmount Park, Waterford at the Waterford Regional Hospital.  As was NAUTICAL LOG he was a Deck Apprentice in Irish Shipping Ltd. joining the SS Irish Poplar in November 1956.  It turns out we had things in common, his first Master was CAPT. E.C.G. Horne and he was the Master when NAUTICAL LOG joined the SS Irish Elm in December 1953, and we both had an interest in the Law.

CAPT. Cummins after serving in ISL obtained his Master's Certificate of Competency and settled into the coastal passenger vessels between Ireland, and the United Kingdom.  He received a command in B+I Line and ended up commanding in turn all their vessels.  When B+I Line went the way of ISL he found his position with Irish Ferries which took on the inter-island passenger service. He went on there to command one of the largest, 34,00 tonnes, ferries in the world and the largest vessel to enter Rosslare Harbour, Co.Wexford to berth at the Ferry Terminal.

Like NAUTICAL LOG ,who was in the group of Deck Apprentices ahead of him in ISL, he was one of the unique group of Irishmen and later women who could serve under the Flag of their country.  All ISL ships flew the Tricolour and were registered in Irish Ports including our homeport of Waterford, Ireland.  As our generation passes there will soon be none of us left who had this experience due to the demise of the Irish Merchant Service.

Arrangements have been made for CAPT. Cummins and you are directed to the Waterford and National newspapers of Ireland for those details.  We express our deepest sympathy to the Cummins family.

Good Watch

Friday, October 21, 2011


  • The saga of the MS Rena continues in New Zealand as salvage operations progress the main operation being the removal of oil from her tanks.  The crew were removed ten days ago and on October 12, 2011 the Master was charged under NZ's Maritime Transport Act Section 65 with "for operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk".  It is likely that as the overall operation and investigation proceeds there will be additional charges laid.  NAUTICAL LOG understands the Second Officer, who was OOW at the time of impacting Astrolabe Reef, has also been detained.  We further understand that both the Master and Second Officer are Filipino Nationals however since we are 'Forbidden' by our server from access to Marine Cafe Blog (MCB) cannot use this first hand information source, it would seem both Officers are products of the 'Pinoy Seafaring Factory' to use the MCB term.  CAPT. Alex van Wijngaarden the NZ National OSC said about 200 tonnes of fuel had been removed of the 772 tonnes in number 5 port fuel tank.  The Maritime NZ website  has regular updates and there is a link in 'My Link List'.

Approaching berth
Passing El morro, Havana, Cuba

  • From Prensa Latina Havana, Cuba comes news that the Chinese hospital ship Daishandao/Peace Ark has docked there.  this is the first stop on a tour that will take her to Jamaica, Trinidad-Tobago, and Costa Rica.  To quote the Chinese: "The Peace Ark's missions include promoting fraternal links with Caribbean countries and improving the capacity of Chinese Navy to fulfill multiple tasks".  The hospital ship will stay in Cuba until October 24, 2011.

Marie Dedieu

  • The weekly piracy reports continue, mainly they are about East Africa as the incidents spread up and down that coast.  However there are not weekly reports of action taken to free those captured by pirates and held captive.  Sadly one captive did die this week, a french woman taken from Kenya if one remembers correctly.  Perhaps now the FFL will be allowed to execute (one uses the term precisely) an action using extreme prejudice in response to this murder.  Some 400 of our fellow seafarers remain captive in deplorable conditions off the coast of Somalia.

Good Watch

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


NAUTICAL NOTES is a new feature of NAUTICAL LOG which will be added too from time-to-time.

  • There is a M-Notice MIN 417 (M) issued by the UK-MCA regarding the survey of carbon fibre masts and spars in Large Sailing Yachts.  NAUTICAL LOG would suggest to Operators of such vessels to inspect this equipment prior to an official survey.  The standards of managing and operating STV's is clearly in need of Auditing.  The knowledge of STV Masters and Officers in Ship Stability and its associated calculations from the vessel Stability Book is clearly in need of assessment and testing.   Operators, Managers, Masters, Officers and crews would do well to read, study and take-to-heart the Report on the knockdown and sinking of STV Concordia by TSB Canada.  Lack of a Designated Person Ashore (DPA), as required by the ISM Code, for the Operators caused complications after her abandonment. Lack of Stability knowledge by her Master and Officers led to her knockdown and sinking off Brazil.  Those Organizations planning to place persons in STV's for sea experience and training must conduct an Audit of each individual vessel prior to doing so - these are human lives we are dealing with not playing "sailor-at-sea" games.

PLAN Daishandao 866

  • The Chinese hospital ship PLAN Daishandao/Peace Ark has crossed the Pacific and arrived in the Gulf of Panama on Friday October 14, 2011.  She is on a mission to several Caribbean Nations and will transit the Panama Canal.  The hospital ship refuelled from the coastal tanker MT Lorenzo Sea in the Pacific side anchorage area. On the evening of October 15 she transited the Panama Canal to the Atlantic side.  She is now in the Caribbean on "Harmonious Mission" which includes a visit to Cuba and several other Caribbean Nations.

  • The U.S.Government is making arrangements to inspect the Spanish oil rig which will be conducting operations off the northern coast of Cuba.  In the event of any incident that requires response the USCG will have to able to conduct its response to protect the U.S. coastline.  Due to the Gulf Stream spills will quickly be swept along the Florida Keys and up the Florida coastline with the possibility of disastrous results.

suspect speedboat

  • In a first attempt by Somalis and African Union Officials to restrict piracy off East Africa a speed boat with seven (7) aboard, AK-47's, RPG's, and ammunition was arrested at sea.  We shall await to see what happens now.

  • As always please remember that there are 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates both ashore and off the coast of Somalia.

Good Watch.

Monday, October 17, 2011


As a Navigator NAUTICAL LOG was always fascinated by bird migrations and how they found their way coming to the conclusion, several decades ago, that it was by following the Earth's magnetic field.  Of course it is not quite that simple as one size does not fit all there are several types of bird movement some quite short.  However some migrate from Northern Canada to Southern South America - now there's a thought wonder if such birds tweet in french, English and Spanish.  Seriously living here in South Florida we are on a major migration route and this is evident this month as the NAUTICAL LOG patio bird feeders are extremely busy.  Florida lies between an Agonic Line and Isogonic Line 10° so it seem to make sense that the long distance migratory birds do make use of the Earth's magnetic field.  The short distance migratory birds likely use the Sun as a compass as most fly by day and rest at night.  However Warblers are night fliers so they reinforce for NAUTICAL LOG the magnetic field navigation system theory.

Just this weekend there was an interesting article in the local paper about all this and coupled with observations of the patio bird feeder got the brain cells working.  In the State of Florida it is possible to observe some 485 species and of those just this last couple of weeks we have seen:
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Blue Jay
  • Spot-breasted Oriole
  • Painted Bunting
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • House Sparrow
  • Palm Warbler
  • Boat-tailed Grackle
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Northern Cardinal
Painted Bunting
Spot Breasted Oriole
Blue Jay
Boat-tailed Grackle
Palm Warbler
House sparrow
Savannah sparrow

For those of you who travel keeping alert to the countryside there are quite a few places for bird-watching both formal and informal NAUTICAL LOG is an informal watcher:
  • Apalachicola National Forest
  • St. George Island State Park
  • St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
  • Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
  • Ocala National Forest
  • Lake Apopke Restoration Area
  • Honeymoon Island State Park
  • Caladesi Island State Park
  • Fort De Soto Park
  • Oscar Scherer State Park
  • Myakka River State Park
  • Lake Kissimmee State Park
  • Three Lakes Management Area
  • Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park
  • J.N."Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Stormwater Treatment Area 5
  • Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
  • Big Cypress National Preserve
  • Corkscrew Swamp Sactuary
  • Everglades National Park
  • Dry Tortugas National Park

That should keep you busy!!

Good Watch

While we enjoy these birds let us not forget that 400 of our fellow seafarers are held captive by pirates both ashore and off the coast of Somalia. 


The following M-Notices are available at  If you experience any problems call the M notice Administrator at 023 8032 9391

MIN 415 (M)  Changes to Requirements for Inland Waterways Non-Passenger Vessels in the UK

MIN 417 (M)  Large Yachts:  Examination and Inspection of Carbon Fibre Masts and Spars Survey of Composite Masts and Spars Used on Large Yachts

MGN 436 (M+F) WHOLE-BODY VIBRATION: Guidance on Mitigating Against the Effects of Shocks and Impacts on Small Vessels

Good Watch

We remain hopeful that the 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by Somali pirates well soon be rescued.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Lace Line   A line used to secure a sail to its yard or spar

Larboard  The old name for 'Port' or the left side of a vessel

Lateen  A trangular fore-aft sail on a long yard

Lazarette   A small hold or locker usually in the stern used for stowage

League  An old measure of three nautical miles

Letter of Marque   A Royal license authorizing a non-naval vessel to act as a 'warship' under the Royal flag

Lewis Bolt   An eyebolt socketed and wedged under deck for extra strength.  Usually fitted when a breakbulk cargo vessel had a heavy-lift derrick

Limbers  Holes   Holes in the frames at bilges level to allow drainage

Loblolly  A porridge usually served to sick crew

Loblolly Boy  A surgeons assistant in a naval vessel

Lobscouse   A hash served to crews

Long Stay  A term used for a long anchor rode

Loof  The taper of the hull toward the bow and stern

Lubber  An ackward or not to bright sailor

Lubber's Hole  The hole in a square-rigger through which the shroud heads pass to the mast

Lyle Gun  A small cannon used to fire a projectile to pass a light line, such as a Breeches Buoy rescue rig

Manhelper  A long pole to which at paintbrush or scraper can be attached

Manifest  A master document of a merchant ship listing her cargo, passengers with details

Mitten Money  The extra pilotage fee charged in very cold weather

Mother Carey's Chicken  A seafaring name for stormy petrels

Mouse  To enclose a hook with small line or wire to prevent it jumping free

Good Watch

There still remain some 400 of our fellow seafarers held ashore and off the coast of Somalia.  There are now quite a few shoddy security outfits trying to make money from this misery.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Hog  A craft that sags downward at her bow and stern

Hooker  A term describing any older vessel - also a small two-masted craft such as an Irish Galway Hooker

Horns  Protrusions on the sides of a rudder to prevent it turning beyond an allowable angle

In Irons  A sailing craft caught dead to wind and unable to fill her sails on a new tack

Isobar  A line of equal barometric pressure on a weather map

Jack   A small flag flown at the bow, correctly flown  only when not underway

Jackass   A plug for a hawsepipe

Jacobs Ladder  The type of ladder used as a "Pilot's Ladder"

Jews Harp  A shaped shackle for stock anchors

Jigger  The name of a fore-aft sail rigged aft on the mizzen mast

Jumbo  Name of the heavy lift derricks of 100 tonnes or more seen on breakbulk cargo ships

Jury  A temporary or makeshift arrangement repairing damage

Keckling  Old line served around the rope anchor cable before chain cables

Kenning   Term for the distance (about 20 miles) from which high land could be sighted at sea.  Kennen sketches were common on the British Admiralty (BA) coastal charts.

Kentledge  Inboard ballast (¡¡does not include useless crewmembers!!)

Kevel   A large cleat or pair of bitts in sailing vessels

Killick  A simple anchor - also the nickname of a British Royal Navy Leading Rate as it is his rating insignia

Kippage  All the apparel and personnel of a vessel

Knock Off  Stop all work or whatever task is at hand

Good timing - lets knock off for now.

Good Watch

Some 400 of our fellow seafarers are still being held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia.  Let us work to bring them home.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Puntland fishermen - we think!
Puntland has been famous and had the same name since the days of the Pharaohs - today it is infamous for its pirates.  However there is a solution at least according to Dr. Mohamed Farah Aadan, the Minister responsible for Fishing in Puntland.  We quote him:

"We know that pirate activities in the region have caused fear among local fishermen, so we need to help them.  We will issue them uniforms and ID cards.  First we will register all local fishermen in Puntland.  We have already begun in Bosaso and all coastal lands in Bari region.  We will inform our coast guards and international warships that there will be a clear difference between the pirates and fishermen."

Is it only NAUTICAL LOG or has just about everybody lost their collective minds about dealing with the Horn of Africa piracy.  This gentleman clearly has absolutely no grasp of the overall picture.  The pirates can just dress in those uniforms and cause even more confusion when they approach a vessel to hijack.  Once again this idea shows the necessity of extreme prejudice response to this ever growing situation.  Most likely the pirates have already registered as "fishermen" and been issued one of Minister Aadan's ID cards - so international forces can pretty much discount those already.  As to the Puntland "coast guards" they largely consist of the pirates themselves or so we have been told.

What a load of nonsense - an absolute idioctic response in a country with no effective government, wide spread hunger and a refugee problem.  

Good Watch

Held captive by these Puntland pirates are some 400 of our fellow seafarers off  the coast of Somalia.  With thinking like that quoted above not much hope of  their release exists.  Unfortunately armed response with extreme prejudice to the issue is now the only really effective solution.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


¿What's all this about?

"You don't have permission to access /mcblog/ on this server.  Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request."

"Apache mod_fcgid.2.3.6 mod_auth_passthrough/2.1 mod_bwlimited/1.4 FrontPage/ Server at Port 80"

Wow that's pretty impressive stuff and NAUTICAL LOG has absolutely no idea what it all means - enlightenment please!!

Marine Cafe Blog was a pretty good maritime themed blog apparently based in the Philippines and commented quite scathingly at times about the "Pinoy Seafaring Factory" as they called it.  After a short break they reappeared but were rather anti-American in some of the comments responding to an article of theirs.  Of course NAUTICAL LOG jumped on them, for not being fair and balanced, in our Post Friday Update "the price to pay".  Then they had an article by a guest which we were quite harsh about in our Post "Maritime Insecurity".

Earlier this week we checked to see what they were writing about and lo and behold we got the above message.  Trying to link through other maritime themed blogs we got the same message. and it is still coming up.  It has been suggested by some really informed computer persons that NAUTICAL LOG has been blocked from access to the Marine Cafe Blog website.  If this is true what a strange reaction to a critic instead of allowing one to see a counter-reaction to reinforce their viewpoint.  Is not that one of the reasons one writes an activist blog to express ones viewpoint in the first place.  If you then block your publishing to critics what is the point of writing it at all?

Of course it has also been pointed out to me that in this world of post 9/11 maybe some authority took offense and has cut them off - NAUTICAL LOG thinks that rather unlikely.   Wonder what they are saying now that some politician has put his big stupid foot in it about sex tourism in the Republic of the Philippines. Who ever heard of that - hmmm!

Love to read about it all in Marine Cafe Blog but its Forbidden.

Good Watch.

There are 400 of our fellow seafarers, many from the Philippines, held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia lets continue to work really seriously for their release.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


For seafarers dealing with "The Authorities" for immigration, customs, agriculture and safety is an every port occurrence for the Master.   As a young Officer he or today she, learns the procedure over the years in accordance with country and the part of the world it is situated in.  Most seafarers are pretty cynical about entering into a port and know that a "consideration" necessary in one country can be cause for years in prison for "bribing-an-officer" in another. To us it is all pretty much a routine - or is it?

Recently we have seen the release from prisons in two very different parts of the world of young Americans.  However the dramatic behaviour and posturing of the Authorities involved was, surprisingly, not that different.  It is therefore food-for-thought about what seafarers might expect if and when we find ourselves involved in a situation in a country other than our own.  These days it is not far away only as far as our vessels Flag State.  We sail in vessels which have a Flag State different from the Passport we hold.  We now must obtain the Maritime Qualifications of that Flag State and therefore have placed yourselves under the jurisdiction of that Flag State.  Seafarers today must know the law of their Flag State, how it applies to them and how the Flag State will apply it under a maritime situation - some do not have any system but "consider" the matter!!

When NAUTICAL LOG taught maritime law the point was made to explain that issue to the students.  For example there are different legal systems each of which has an entirely different way of applying its law in its Courts.  The three most prominent systems are Common Law, most used of all as the last vestige of an empire on which "the sun never set".   Sharia Law, used by countries whose population are followers of Islam.  The Code Napoleon used by most European Union, Central and South American and African countries in several differing forms.  Brehon Law was used in Ireland and NAUTICAL LOG considers it a great tragedy that it was overtaken by Common Law during the 800 years of occupation by the British.

Most seafarers might think that the problems with the Authorities mostly occurred outside Europe mainly in Africa, the Middle and Far East.  However as we have seen just this last weekend this may not be entirely true.  In the European Union Italy has the most law enforcement agents per capita of all the countries, in fact it has twice as many agents as the United Kingdom for the same population size, some 325,000 officers.  They are divided into seven (7) different police services - all superbly uniformed, driving Alfa Romeo's and in one case Subaru's.  There is overlapping authority in maritime affairs so it is possible to meet several agencies when arriving in an Italian Port.  At one time most all were paramilitary forces but since 2000 some have been transferred to Civilian status.

The seven (7) are:
  • Arma dei Carabinieri
  • Guardia di Finanza
  • Polizia di Stato
  • Poliza Penitenziaria
  • Corpo Forestale dello Stato
  • Polizia Provinciale
  • Polizia Municipale
In addition there is:
  • Corpo dello Capitanerie di porto - Guardia costiera
The Italian Coastguard is a division of the Italian Navy which seafarers will also probably meet up with as well.  Amazingly with all this policing the Italian Justice System seems to have great trouble with its investigations, the proper taking of evidence, the preserving of such evidence, and securing of such evidence.  It also suffers from overly dramatic Court behaviour even for the rather expressive Italian culture.  These are all things for Masters and Officers to be aware of should a maritime incident occur.

Good Watch.

There are still some 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates ashore and off the coast of Somalia.  They hope for release - get involved to reduce the trauma they and their families suffer.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Some of the Japan Fisheries Agency vessels which could possibly escort the Japan Whaling Fleet

The NAUTICAL LOG Press Release folder held a report from BBC NEWS Asia-Pacific that the Japanese are off whaling again this season 2010-2011. 

Titled "Japan confirms whaling fleet to sail" it continues:
"Fisheries Minister Michiko Kano said extra ships would escort the fleet to the Antarctic to guard against harassment from anti-whaling activists."

Last year Japan cut short its whaling season because of harassment.  Australia which is challenging Japan's whaling in the International Court condemned the announcement.

"There is widespread concern in the international community at Japan's programme and widespread calls for it to cease" Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said.

There has been a ban on commercial whaling for 25 years but it is poorly enforced - including by Australia which does not even patrol its own Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary - leaving it up to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) to do so.  Japan catches about 1000 whales each season under the guise of a "scientific research program".

Mr. Kano continued in his announcement "Japan will conduct the research whaling while strengthening measures against acts of sabotage, including Fisheries Agency escort ships."

The SSCS has already announced they will organize anti-whaling activism under their "Operation Divine Wind "  which if it is anything like last years operation will be mainly hot air. The aging and according to SSCS internal reports unwell 'Wats-his-name' is a recognised expert at dramatically worded hot air reports.

Good Watch

Please remember the 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates.  Let us work for their freedom together.

Monday, October 3, 2011



The bored to death conference group
Frankly NAUTICAL LOG is irritated and at the same time amazed by the number of meetings, conferences, programs and reports the piracy situation generates.  Surely these people have better things to do and surely they must be embarrassed by all these phony political performances.

The latest is a conference to develop a new programme to help seafarers and their families cope with the physical and mental trauma caused by being captured by pirates.  The deplorable behaviour they go through as a result includes phone calls to these families.

Recently there was a conference of security companies in Switzerland which produced a Code which we addressed in a recent Post.  In turn this produced an article by a security company planning to 'cash-in' on the situation aboard ships transiting the Horn of Africa sea area.  The proposal was totally ridiculous and showed virtually no knowledge of the maritime industry, maritime law or the operation of ships. 

If all the monies spent on these meetings, conferences, reports et cetera, et cetera was made available for an 'extreme prejudice' operation to be mounted we just might get some effective results. This would resolve the crews and their families trauma by releasing the crews and at the same time getting rid permanently of the pirates.  But no the wonderful socialist European Union just has its meetings, conferences, reports et cetera which is what that type of administration always does - talk, more talk, with little or no action.

Good Watch

Meanwhile the 400 of our fellow seafarers remain as captives of pirates both ashore and off the coast of Somalia.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Some more "Mystical" sea terms;

A-Burton  Stowage of casks with their axis athwartships.

Arse  An old term for the fall side of a block, also called the choke.

Baldheaded Rig  A gaff-rigged schooner with no topmasts.

By and Large  A vessel that is a good sailer on all points.

Corposant  A ball or streak of lightening sometimes seen aloft, caused by static electricity.

Dog-and-Bitch Thimble  A specially shaped thimble to allow a block to be brought up close to a fitting.

Ephemeris  An astronomical almanac containing data on celestial bodies.

Felloe  The segments a wooden ship's wheel is made-up from.

Golliwobbler  The nickname of a large main staysail used in a schooner in light winds.

Gundalow  A small boat used as a riverine gunboat.

Good Watch

Lets not forget our 400 fellow seafarers held captive by pirates ashore and off the coast of Somalia.


Sometimes terms are used in the maritime world which are no longer suitable for use due to changes in the society in which we live.

At present there has been a Media stirred up controversy about the name of a hunting camp used by Gov. Perry's family in Texas.  Mr. Herman Cain called the name insensitive - today is so considered. We shall not quote it here but refer readers to "Origins of Sea Terms" ISBN 0-913372-31-5 by John G. Rogers page 120 (fourth word down) published by Mystic Seaport Museum. 

However all parties concerned may be interested to know that the name is a sea term given to the "gipsy head" on a winch or windlass aboard ship or a large single bollard ashore for a mooring rope eye.  The American term was never used in Europe as we always used gipsy head or bollard.

Working with tugs in the United States however NAUTICAL LOG has heard the term used in the distant past by tug and barge crew.

Of course with the Media always looking for the worst in people's lives, rather than good points, no doubt considerable effort and research went into finding and developing this issue which in and of itself is pointless. 

Good Watch

What is NOT pointless is working towards the release of 400 of our fellow seafarers held captive by pirates in deplorable conditions ashore and off the coast of Somalia.  Perhaps the Media could raise that subject with the candidates.