Friday, May 06, 2016

The Harbor Report: Yacht clubs celebrate traditional Opening Day

Opening Day is a celebration and tradition to welcome members to the yacht clubs' facilities for the upcoming season.
This Saturday, I plan to attend Opening Day at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club with Commodore Sandy Mills, who will be opening the 2016 yachting season.
The tradition of opening day started many years ago, where yacht clubs would close down for the winter and, of course, re-open before each summer season.
Tradition plays a big part in every opening day, starting with the inspection of the fleet.

I am a big supporter of the inspection process because it leads to the boat owners' preparation and maintenance for the upcoming season. Fleet inspection normally starts early in the morning, with the inspection chairmen and their committee assigned to the different boats for judging.
The judges will then head out to the fleet and meet with the boat owners who have entered into the inspection.
Judges are looking at overall appearance inside and out. They will then head into the bilges of the boats and take a look around with a boat surveyor's eye toward integrity of the vessel.

Some judges might even know Coast Guard, National Fire Protection Assn. and American Boat and Yacht Council standards.
This would cover everything from batteries being boxed and properly secured, looking for fuel leaks, making sure a set of tapered soft wood through hull plugs are leashed to each through hull and to make sure there is a corkscrew for happy hour in the galley.
I have known more than one boat owner who could tell me how many door hinges they have on their boats because they have polished each and every one of them. For the boat owner who has taken the last week off work and has gone through the inspection checklist themselves, I salute you for a job well done.
The odds of you having an equipment malfunction this season have been greatly diminished because of their hard work. If you happen to know this type of yachtsmen, send me a note; I would like to interview them.
Let's talk flag etiquette
This is when I start my yearly rant about flag etiquette. Now, the bottom line is you are enjoying your boat, and are having fun doing so, and I should stop here.
But I have a hard time with people flying pirate flags and thinking that the more flags you fly the better. I noticed one boat last weekend flying a set of plastic flags from the sign shop.
The guy could not have been any happier and said, "Look at all the color I have flying."
I replied, "Looks like you are going to have a fun opening day."
As I turned away, I suffered from acid reflux, but, hey, people on the boat were having a great time, and that's all that really matters.
So, yes, I am a type of snob when it comes to flag etiquette. I wrote a story nine years ago on this topic. You can find it on my website,

Here is the Chapman, book of seamanship, recommend list for dressing ship:
"On the Fourth of July and other special occasions, yachts may dress ship when at anchor. The international Code Flags are displayed from the waterline forward to the waterline aft, using weights at the end in the following order arranged to the effect color patterns throughout: Starting forward:AB2 UJ1, KE3, GH6, LV5, FL4, DM7, PO 3rd repeater, RN 1st repeater, ST0, CX9, WQ8, ZY 2nd repeater."
Now, if you do not have your signal flags in this order, and you get marked down, you can ague that this is only a recommendation for a color pattern, and there is no official pattern.
I have to take Tums every time I see boaters dress ship a week before and still have their signal flags up a week after opening day.
One last bit advice for the upcoming season: Make sure your first mate understands how to read your GPS and how to work the VHF radio and call for help.
Let this person engage and disengage the auto-pilot and let them hand steer to or from Catalina once this season.
It's summer and the sun is out!
Sea ya.

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist for the Daily Pilot.

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