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Showing posts from October, 2011


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 deathsspike in Florida."  On Thursday 10/27 a training exercise was held in Biscayn…


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 Afr…


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.

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…


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 Navi…


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…


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…


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 usethe MCB term.  CAPT. Alex van Wijngaarden the NZ National OSC said about 200 tonnes of fuel …


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 Or…


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 …


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.


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 …


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 …


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 activitiesin 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.  Onc…


¿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 P…


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.  …


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 seas…


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 al…


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 peo…