Boat Buzz Newsletter


JULY 2012

Entrance Procedures

I recently brought a boat from British Virgin Islands to the Annapolis area. After a 10-day passage, we entered the Chesapeake Bay, and as we crossed the three mile line prior to entering, we hoisted the Q flag. It’s the all yellow one which represents the letter “Q” to tell all authorities we were entering US waters and had not yet cleared customs and immigration. At the same time, I called immigration to inform them that we were going to be docking at a marina in the Norfolk area. This person made arrangements for a border patrol officer to come to our vessel and complete the necessary paperwork for our entry.


We first approached the fuel dock where we refueled, but we were not allowed to step off the boat. Once we were finished with our fueling process, we were directed to our slip. Again, we were not allowed to exit the vessel. In a very short time, Officer France arrived at our vessel. I cannot express how great a person he is! He treated us with pleasant professional courtesy. I asked if he could possibly process two of the crew first, one who had to be at work the next day in Washington DC, and another who needed to seek immediate medical care due to a personal health issue. Officer France did their immigration forms right away, and allowed them to depart the boat within 20 minutes of his arrival. During the entire procedure, we had pleasant conversation about our passage experience, and other personal experiences. We also learned that Officer France is a former marine who has served as a border patrol agent for many years. In fact, after the Iraq war, he was one of the US professionals assigned to Baghdad International Airport to assist the new Iraqi government establish good safety inspections at the airport.


We had only one small issue arise during our clearance – Officer France had forgotten to bring along the necessary cruising permit paperwork for the boat. He promised me he would deliver it the very next morning. And he did! During my experience I thought of the many times I had entered the US at various airports along the east coast. None were as cordial, and many were actually rather intrusive. As Officer France disembarked, wishing us a pleasant journey up the Bay to Annapolis, I had the crew strike the Q flag and hoist the US courtesy flag. We were now legally cleared into the US.



It seems that this season many of my beginning sail students have discovered the miracle and wonder of reefing! I think too many people have seen images of sailboat races with vessels heeled at 45°. We cruisers just don’t do this! First, the boats actually sail slower; second, when we have too much sail up, we can’t easily control the helm. So whenever the winds build toward 15 kts, we immediately put a reef in the mainsail. If the wind should be even stronger, as it was for our last ASA 101 class, we reef the main and the jib. Why? The boat sails faster, flatter, and easier. Instead of fighting the helm and the heel, everyone will have a great time!



Weather Question –
What do you do when you encounter 50 kt winds, heavy downpour, and 16’ seas? Check for the correct answer in next month’s newsletter.

Practice Makes Perfect –
It’s time to review and practice your knots. This month, try the square knot, used to join two lines of the same diameter and material.


Hold an end of the line in each hand. Wrap the line in your right hand around the line in your left. When done correctly, you’ll have switched the two ends from one hand to the other. Now wrap the line in your left hand around the one in your right hand, and you have completed the square knot. If it doesn’t look like the picture, you’ve tied a granny knot! Time to start over. Practice this knot until you can tie it without thinking.



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