Editor:  Doug Jones

June 2016



In this issue:
What to Do?
Commodore's Report
Membership Report
Education Report
Cruising News
Social Events
Events at a Glance
Sunshine Lady
Meeting Minutes

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What to Do?

Those Seafarers who migrate north in the summer may wonder what everyone down here does in the summer.  Well, take a look at the above photos, all from Seafarers' events in the month of June in years past.  If you click on any photo, you will go to the photo album that shows where and when the activity took place, and lots of other photos of it as well.   For new arrivals, this may give you some ideas about where to go...and for you oldtimers, there may be a bit of nostalgia.  Either way, it's a reminder of the fun times Seafarers have together year round.

To view the past 12 months' newsletters, click here (be sure pop-up blocker is off):
June | July | August | September | October | November | December | January | February | March | April | May |



Commodore's Report: by Mike Clark

Well, here we are in June.  Summer is coming and the heat is rising!!  As the snow birds leave and the traffic slows until October, but the Seafarers continue to have fun!

May began with the Palm Island cruise that actually began in April and ended in May.  There is a social event at the Alligator Rum Distillery, followed by a marina cruise to Boca Grande.  There is also talk of several raft ups and lunch cruises, so be sure to check the activity calendar for new events, surely to be added as the month goes.

 Our twice a month social hours resume on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of each month at St Andrews.

Continue the fun and we will see you on the water AND on the land!



Membership Report: by Gayle Clark, Director

There are no new members this month so our membership remains at 297.


Education Report: by John Tiller, Director

Emergency Signaling Devices

Last month, this column was intended to be the first of a series of articles on emergency signaling.  Now understanding that an article may be longer than I supposed, this month’s column addresses the entire span of devices at once, including a repeat of last month’s material.

 This column summarizes an article in the February/March edition of BoatU.S. Magazine which identified seven different devices for communication in an emergency to request a search-and-rescue (SAR) mission.  Each device has advantages and disadvantages, as outlined below.

Cell phone 

A cell phone is easy to use and most of us have at least one.  In an emergency, simply talk directly with the appropriate SAR entity, using your cell phone and its GPS to give precise location, problems, and conditions. 

A cell phone is simple to use and reliable under most conditions, but there are concerns.  Are you in range of a tower with a clear signal?  Are the batteries in good shape and charged?  Can you ensure the dryness of the cell phone?  A practical matter is that a cell phone can only call one number at a time and not put out a general call/signal to all in the area.  Very importantly, the Coast Guard does not want information via text or email; and the Coast Guard phone number varies locally.  A cell phone may be adequate for harbor or coastal boating, but not primary emergency device in more advanced situations.

VHF radio with DSC

The VHF radio is commonly installed, easy to use, and allows two-way direct conversations.  Adding a digital selective calling version can be a good idea.  Just hit the designated button and if the Coast Guard is in range it will automatically recognize your individualized distress signal, your exact position, and the boat you are on.  Such a VHF is relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and ruggedly reliable.

But, like a cell phone, its effectiveness depends on the distance.  The maximum range is about 20 miles, maybe less, depending on the height of your antenna and the atmospheric conditions.  Power may be a problem, as most VHF devices depend on the boat’s power or batteries; the device may not be of much use if the batteries are incapacitated or you are in a life raft.  If you rely on one, ensure that the it is properly interfaced with your GPS (amazingly, about 80% of boaters fail to do this) or has its own GPS.  Also, register with a Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.  Backup hand-held devices may be a good idea for coastal and harbor boating, but their range is only about one mile.


An emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) is currently the most desired device for sending emergency signals to SAR personnel.  EPIRBs interface with SAR satellites (the Cospas-Sarsat system, for you techies) that can calculate your position almost everywhere on the globe.  An EPRIB will have a manually or automatically activated strobe light, will float, and will be waterproof.  Some have integrated GPS signaling and a homing signal.  If you purchase one, register it along with information about the boat, your medical conditions, and contact details.  EPIRBs have been around about 30 years and are credited with assistance in over 35,000 rescues.

Sounds perfect, right?  Well, there are drawbacks.  The costs range from $500 to over $1,000, and lower priced models do not have the GPS feature.  Batteries need to be serviced by the manufacturer, but generally only every five years or so.  Most importantly, there devices are limited communication. They do not allow two-way conversations about emergency repairs, medical needs, and such.


A personal locator beacon (PLB) is similar to a EPIRB, but in a smaller package for individual use.  PLBs use the same satellite system as EPIRBs, and are cheaper, starting under $300.  Some have strobe lights.  Each crewmember can carry one. 

On the negative side, the battery life of a PLB is rated at less than half that of an EPIRB and manual activation is required.  And, PLBs suffer from the limited communication as EPIRBs.

Satellite Messengers

Satellite messengers are only about five years old and are adding features and refinements quickly.  They operate as text devices using the same satellites as the EPIRB and generally include a pre-coded distress message when an SOS button is pushed.  Some allow for return texts or use Bluetooth to allow use of your cell phone; others have no keyboard or Bluetooth, only the pre-coded feature.  Relatively cheap at $120 and up, they are reliable and small.

On the negative side, you have to have a contract to access the satellite system.  Perhaps of more concern, your message does not go to the Coast Guard immediately.  Rather it goes to the GEOS Emergency Response Coordination Center which relays the message to the proper authority.  The track record is good (over 3,500 individuals have been rescued at least partly due to these devices in five years), but this process does add steps and time to responses.

High-Frequency Radio

A High-Frequency radio (HF) is useful for trips out of cell phone and VHF range.  These single sideband or ham radios allow for two-way conversations over large distances, providing direct communication with rescuers hundreds of miles away.  Newer models have push-button emergency signals like many of the devices discussed above. 

The purchase of a good HF radio, an appropriate antenna, ground planes, and installation can be $2,000 or more.  Ham radios require that an operator obtain a license; SSB devices while requiring no license cost $3,000 and up, installed. The quality of transmissions and frequency reliability varies significantly with atmospheric conditions and solar activity.  Lastly, HF devices require significant electrical power and are useless of your batteries are drained.

Satellite Phones

Satellite phones are not limited for direct two-way conversations with SAR personnel, or anyone else.  Coverage is global.  Obtain a portable marine model which will be rugged and waterproof, with extra batteries and the device goes with you and is reliable if you have to abandon ship.

Devices cost $1,000 to much more and are pricey to use, generally a $1 per minute or more and possibly requiring a contract.  Devices can be rented from Boat US and others.  You need to have the local Coast Guard numbers available or even pre-coded, as there is not a single national hotline for SAR.  While portable models are reliable and useful, their battery life is short, so get those extra batteries.

Remember, Safety on the Water is No Accident



 Cruising News: by Joe Preece, Director

Ralph Steele led a great lunch cruise to Bert’s at Matlacha on Pine Island the last week of April. Nice smooth boating, a beautiful day to sit outside, good food and great company.

A few days later the overnight cruise to Palm Island got underway. JR (Bob) Clark fell victim to the flu the evening before the trip and RJ (Bob) Hiebner became Cruise Leader (de facto). Nine boats made the trip and all reportedly had a good time. The Roussel’s won a night’s free dockage donated by the Marina and Dormans won a $25 gift certificate donated by Rum Bay Restaurant. Afternoons around the pool were enhanced by the Leaverocks' guitar player while evening we enjoyed music provided by our own Mike Slattery and Bob Dorman. Capt. Bob the water taxi topped off the return trip after dinner by coaxing some of his best dolphin to perform from us.  Good time.. Saturday is free beer day and Sunday AM is free doughnuts. What more could one ask?

Four boats attended a lovely raftup lead by Andy & Sandy Nikitich on May 11th at the Myakka River Bridge.

The Boca Grande Marina cruise took place May 20-22 lead by Harry Ensley, details later. Mike Slattery will be leading an overnight cruise to Cape Harbor Marina on Friday June 17 and 18th returning home on the 19th. Cape Harbor has all of the amenities we look for in a cruise such as pool and top class food at the nearby Rumrunners Restaurant. At the time of the writing of this article there are 8 boats signed up out of a possible 15, so get to the internet and join. An overnight cruise in July is in the planning stage so watch the calendar for more info.



Cape Harbour Marina Cruise
June 17 - 19

Social Events: by Bev Riggs,  Director

On May 19, the Seafarers enjoyed a tour of the new Alligator Bay Distillery on Marion Avenue.  Afterward, samples were served of their Sun Gold and Clear rums.  We then moved the party to upstairs at the Celtic Ray where Fish & Chips and Shepherd Pie was served.  Good time had by all!

Thank you to Sue Preece for coordinating our delicious dinner of pulled pork for our May meeting. 

Terry Miller is planning a BBQ on June 12 at the PGICA.  Details will be forthcoming.  Watch your e-mail.

Other socials coming up are darts at the Ice House and Karaoke at Burnt Store.  Stay tuned!




BBQ at the PGICA

June 12

 Events at a Glance


Social at St. Andrews Country Club 5-7 pm
Cape Harbour Cruise
Social at St. Andrews Country Club 5-7 pm
General Membership Meeting PGICA 5:30 pm

 The Sunshine Lady -
Marsha Rutherford

While our own Cynthia Cowdrey is laid up, Marsha Rutherford has graciously stepped up to fill the Sunshine position.

If you hear of anyone who is ill or hospitalized, or of anyone who has lost a family member, please contact Marsha at marsharutherford@yahoo.com.


Membership Meeting Minutes -- Click here to view.


  Original Newsletter Layout Design:  John Magnin