From the Boathouse: Happy New Year — but watch those balloons


I want to wish everyone a very happy New Year, and I know that 2014 will be a great year for boating. As we leap into the New Year, let us reflect for a moment on the people you know personally who are boaters and those who work in the maritime field. You will be surprised how boating touches almost everyone's life at one time or another.

Sailors are a very superstitious group and just what kind of resolutions should boaters make anyway? We can easily cast off into this dialogue with the No. 1 resolution that all boaters will be courteous to everyone while on the water, whether sailing or in a power boater or on any type of floating craft. Reminds me of asking for world peace, but give it a try.

Second resolution is that all water enthusiasts who take controls of a watercraft learn the basic navigational rules of the road — simple to accomplish, as the Division of Boating and Waterways has t an easy-to-read publication titled "ABCs of California Boating" on its website at

We can continue with the pledge to always display the correct navigational lights at night. Not only required by maritime law, but common sense for right-of-way situations and safety.

Another good resolution is that you will not cruise with your boat's docking fenders hanging over the side of your vessel, which is commonly referred to as the Del Rey stripes named after Marina del Rey boaters.

What are fenders, you ask? That cylinder-shaped vinyl item that you place between your boat and the dock that is too often mistakenly called a bumper. Following up with the previous resolution, learn basic nautical nomenclature and, as such, use the proper terminology when referring to "boating things."

Nearing the end of my short list of resolutions is that you will not scream profanities at your spouse or significant other when you are attempting to crash-land your boat at the end of the voyage. I wonder how some marriages have stayed together after watching the transformation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde when the boat nears the dock. 2014 is the perfect year to learn how to control your boat for a perfect docking.

I find it very interesting that banning plastic bags is the hot topic to protect our waterways, yet I see balloons floating on the waters and affecting the sea life much more than a stray bag. It is really amazing the number of balloons that I see while out transiting the Pacific Ocean.

On my voyages to Hawaii and back to the mainland, I will see balloons that are hundreds of miles off the nearest coast. I can only imagine the number of balloons that wash down the storm drains in the harbors and ocean.

Well, the damage these balloons cause on the waterways is huge because the sea creatures eat these floating objects thinking that the balloons are food. Please do not release balloons in the air for any reason. Any event that releases balloons into the air is doing a major disservice to our environment, much more than the plastic bags.

Finally, I want you to think about all that we have to be thankful for with our beautiful harbors and ocean. Southern California has some of the best harbors to enjoy year-round and these waterways are very valuable resources. I want you to enjoy it and thank you to the boaters who respect our aquatic playground. As urban runoff pollution decreases, the enjoyment and benefits of our waterways increase for marine and human life.

As for me, I do have two New Year's resolutions for 2014. The first is to continue bringing the boating world to you through the print and broadcast media, and my final decree is to thank the boat's chef more often for the amazing "chef's special" that she serves up without hesitation.

Captain's Log final for 2013:

Time — 23:59 on Dec. 31, 2013

As I enter the harbor to head for our dock, I can only wonder what 2014 will bring to top 2013.

"All safe, yacht is securely moored at home slip."

End Captain's Log:

Happy New Year!

Please be boat smart and boat safe. Lastly, please boat responsibly and look behind you before you turn the wheel at the helm.

Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting live coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network. See times at, and

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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