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 Windsong Dockbox: Windsong Dockbox - February 2013

Windsong DockboxLast month we discussed non-ethanol fuel and we received several requests from our neighbors where to buy ethanol free fuel. The closest gas station to Gulf Harbors, is a Citgo located at 7502 US 19 North, just before the Cotee River bridge on the right hand side.

Should you find yourself elsewhere in Florida with your boat, here is a complete list of all Florida cities offering ethanol free: http://pure-gas.org/index.jsp?stateprov=FL.

This month we are going to talk about safety on the water and some rules of the road. We will also be providing some useful online resources for weather and wind predictions so you can safely plan your day on the Gulf of Mexico.

Ever wondered why the steering on most boats is on the right hand side, opposite to cars? This is so the driver has a better view of the side of the boat where he/she has to give way to other boats. Yes, if another boat is approaching you on the right (starboard) side of your boat, you are required by law to give that person right of way. That means it is your responsibility to turn away in order to avoid a collision. Conversely if a boat approaches you on the left (port) side of your vessel you have the right of way.

Exceptions to this rule occur when the approaching vessel is limited in its ability to maneuver. Examples of this are sailboats (provided they are under sail and not engine power) which have right of way over powerboats in any direction. Also larger ships such as freighters have right of way over smaller power boats. A vessel towing another vessel also has right of way. Vessels that have no engine such as row boats and kayaks have right of way over power boats. When passing a vessel under tow in a marked channel you are required to maintain a no wake situation while passing them even if the channel is not designated as a No Wake Zone.

In the final analysis, the law states that irrespective of the rules of the road it is the responsibility of the boater in any situation to do whatever he/she has to do to avoid a collision. The old sailor’s tale goes: “Ned, Ned the sailor’s dead, because on a fine day, he was convinced he had the right of way!”

What about wakes? The law states that even outside of a no wake zone the driver is responsible for any damage caused by their wake. For example if you are driving a large power boat throwing out a big wake and you pass by a smaller boat and your wake causes damage or injury to a person in that boat, you are legally responsible for that damage and could be sued by them. If seen by our friendly Marine Patrol, Pasco County Sheriff’s Department Corporals LaRoche and Reece, this scenario would be fully enforced in the marked channels of North and South Gulf Harbors.

Florida has no law regarding a No Wake Zone near anchored vessels at the Anclote Key State Preserve Shorelines. However, the law does state that a vessel’s wake must not be excessive nor create a hazard to other vessels. We would recommend, so that you don’t find yourself getting a “Reckless Operation” violation from our friendly marine patrol, that you maintain a no wake situation 200 feet away from any anchored vessel, swimmer or the sandbar. A citation for “Reckless Operation” of a vessel carries a First Degree Misdemeanor.

Another law many boaters are not familiar with is that allowing someone to sit on the bow of a vessel with their legs dangling overboard is unlawful if that vessel is underway. This is something we often see in Gulf Harbors. Here is the actual wording of the law: Allowing passengers to ride on the bow, gunwale, transom, seat backs, seats on raised decks, or any other place where there may be a chance of falling overboard is prohibited.

For more information on Rules of the Road visit The Official Florida Boater Safety Handbook at www.boat-ed.com/florida/handbook

Finally, here are some great websites for checking on the weather before you head out for that perfect day on the water.

http://forecast.weather.gov/shmrn.php?mz=gmz853 - this takes you to the official marine weather forecast for our area.

www.windfinder.com/weatherforecast/anclote_gulf_park - a great forecast for wind in our area, as well as wave height and direction.

http://tides.mobilegeographics.com/locations/2331.html tides for Gulf Harbors with a handy graph. [ Editor's Note: You can also get full graphic tide charts in the "Marine & Tides" section on GulfHarborsLife.com where you can enter the date and get a detail tide chart! ]


this page displays recent wind speeds and wave heights as measured by the buoys and weather stations in our area. Information is typically only 1-2 hours old, and we find FHPF1 to be the most accurate station. This particular station is located at Fred Howard Park out on the causeway and is a good representation of the wind speed on the waters close to Anclote Key.

Once again we are happy to answer any boating questions or other topics you may find useful.

Drop us a line at bruce@windsongcharters.com.

We look forward to answering more questions in next month’s issue of The Boater’s Corner.

Until then, be safe and Happy Boating!!

Note: Bruce & Wendy Longman are USCG Licensed Captains who live in Gulf Harbors and own Windsong Charters. Visit their site at www.WindSongCharters.com

Posted On Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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