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Cruising Life through the Eyes of Tom Neale

Fire on board! Here’s what to do

A fire at the dock can be as dangerous as one at sea if there is no means of egress for anyone trapped aboard.On March 31, 2008, about 4:52 a.m., a serious fire was reported aboard a large yacht at Miami Beach Marina. The vessel was said to have cost $5 million when it was new.

Seven people were aboard. Five made it out with injuries. Two were trapped in their stateroom. Luxurious by most of our standards, the stateroom had no escape hatch.

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Don’t put blind faith in the magenta line

The Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the I-95 for north- and southbound traffic on the Eastern Seaboard, demands a high level of situational awareness.If you’re familiar with the various East Coast intracoastal waterways, you’re familiar with the magenta line. It’s been snaking around for many years on charts of various areas to (hopefully) show us where to go. And it’s been very helpful to many of us, although less so recently.

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I hate when things go kerplunk, then sink

The only good thing about dropping your car keys overboard is that they don’t splash you. You hardly even notice that dainty little “plink” as your keys and your day go down the tubes.

However, your typical outboard is an entirely different story. The splash when you drop that over can half-drown you.

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The truth hurts: Storms just don’t care

Andrew smashed into Florida more like a mammoth, ferocious tornado than a hurricane.In a way, they’re like ticks. If you’re out in the woods long enough, you’re bound to get more than a few bites. I’ve been on the water in many different boats and in many different places for the majority of my life. So I’ve been bitten by more than a few hurricanes, and I’ve collected a lot of hurricane stories.

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The small things to do before a big storm hits

If you're well prepared before the weather turns, you'll keep your anxiety levels down when storm clouds do appear.When storms come, it may be far too late to do what you need to do. Although some things, such as adding extra lines, can often be done within a few hours of the expected blow, other things should be done well in advance. Many of these are important not only to survive a particular storm but also for your overall boating safety.

Here I’ll discuss some of the steps you should take for basic readiness.

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