From the Boathouse: Know what to watch for around whales


I received a few emails asking for more information about the rules and regulations for whale-watching that I mentioned in my column last week. Additionally, some readers were wondering how to report someone who may be harassing a whale, whether a boater or swimmer.

Yes, people have been known to swim out to try and "pet" the whales, and one person off Laguna Beach was badly injured when the whale flicked the swimmer away with a fin.

I highly recommend the NOAA Fisheries website that is loaded with excellent and easy to read information on a page titled "Responsible Marine Wildlife Viewing." The subtitle is very appropriate: "ADMIRE FROM A DISTANCE...for your safety and their protection. Never touch, swim with, feed, or harm in the wild." That is online at

There is also contact information if you see anyone deliberately harassing a whale. You can report the incident to the NOAA Fisheries Enforcement Hotline, available 24 hours daily at (800) 853-1964, or radio local Coast Guard office via channel 16 on the VHF marine band.

Did you know that the Marine Mammal Protection Act cites two levels of harassment and prohibits hunting, capturing or killing any marine mammal?

Level A harassment is to injure a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild, and level B harassment is to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by disrupting behavioral patterns. As such, I find the dolphin killings at Taiji Cove in Japan deplorable, and the MMPA should be international law.

On another note, are you looking for a fun family activity this weekend? Well, the Los Angeles Boat Show is underway through Sunday, and again, there are two locations for you to view the boats both in and out of the water.

The main show is at its usual location in the Los Angeles Convention Center, and the in-water boats can be viewed at the Burton W. Chace Park in Marina del Rey. This MdR venue will provide the opportunity for brokerage boats and yachts that are too big or too expensive to trailer inside the convention center.

The boat show will have hundreds of boats for your family to step aboard that will range from family day-cruisers to lavish million-dollar yachts. Additionally, vendors will be displaying the newest marine accessories and gear. This event has scheduled seminars and activities from advanced docking to seamanship to my favorite: the kids' zone build-a-boat.

The show was formerly organized by the National Marine Manufacturers Assn. (NMMA). NMMA, which produces boat shows across the nation, is a leading advocacy group for recreational boaters and marine manufacturers. You can find out show information, times and ticket prices at Unfortunately, I will miss this year's show, as I will be boating in the San Francisco Bay area this weekend.

Tip of the week is for boat owners to double-check their dock or mooring lines. During this time of year, most boats sit idle, and the lines are chafing to the breaking point. You must replace any worn lines before they break, and be certain to use chafing gear anywhere the lines rub against a hard surface.

Remember that you must use the proper type of dock line and the correct diameter for your boat's size and docking conditions. I always add in an extra spring line this time of year to help absorb some of the additional stress off the bow and stern lines. If you're on a mooring can, use an extra helper line along with your primary line, plus, as I mentioned, chafing gear.

Lastly, as we enter, hopefully, our rainy season, vessel owners need to regularly check their sea strainers. Sea strainers are the collection baskets connected inline after the through-hull saltwater pickups, commonly referred to as raw water strainers.

The sea strainers collect debris sucked up into the hose from the water, similar to a pool pump's cleaning basket. This helps to protect your engines, generators, heating and air conditioning, heads, bait tanks and water makers. Any rain will flush debris from the land down storm drains to the ocean.

This debris will clog up the strainers, thus preventing the normal water flow. Be proactive with your lines and cleaning your sea strainers.

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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