Fall 2014

From the Helm,

For the most part, it has been a relatively quiet summer from the President’s standpoint. Capt. Larry Liencziewski, our Drug Administrator, has been working hard at getting all our members in compliance with our Alcohol and Drug Program. This has entailed sending out Drug Program DVDs and the tests to be taken once it is watched. Compliance is mandatory to maintain MCBA membership, and 99-percent of our membership has responded in a timely manner.

Our annual conference is now less than a couple months away, and will be held the weekend of October 24-25 at the Double Tree Hotel in Holland. Capt. Liencziewski has negotiated a special room rate of $94 per night, so I hope the membership takes advantage of it. Registration and conference details appear elsewhere in the Cannon Ball.

By now, most everyone has heard or read about the 34-Pursuit whose captain launched it upon the break wall at Ludington. The news media reported no one was seriously injured. That’s the good news. The bad news is it did not have to happen.

The Rules of the Road address navigating under conditions of poor visibility by stating, international, inland and othersrequire a reduction in speedin which the vessel can come to a complete stop in one-half the existing range of visibilityposting a lookout is required. Chapman in his book, Piloting and Seamanship, suggests, Reducing engines to idle speed might be even wiser in conditions of extremely poor visibility, further adding, It’s also a good idea to occasionally stop the engines altogether and listen for any sounds of fog signals of other vessels.

Finally, one cannot ignore the value of radar while piloting in thick weather?. I’ve never understood why it isn’t a requirement on every commercial vessel.

Several years ago, I left port out of Oscoda under a blue-bird sky and had to return later that afternoon in heavy fog that required engines at idle speed, lookouts posted, stopping and sounding the fog bell at required intervals, and my eyes glued to the radar screen and chart plotter. As a precaution, my first mate had everyone in life jackets.

As the radar showed the pier heads getting closer and closer, I was praying what it displayed was 100-percent accurate. We were actually just inside them before I physically saw them. I was mentally drained, soaked with sweat, and darned thankful to have my crew safely in port.

I’ve used my radar occasionally since then, but in nothing that extreme. However, in darkness and heavy fog, I’m convinced it’s the best navigational and safety device there is.

Have great fall fishing, and I look forward to seeing you at the fall conference.

Capt. Terry R. Walsh