Letters from You - May 2020

Laura Scheidegger carbon copied me on this email to Skip Allum of the Department of Transportation. Traffic on State Route 12 and State Route 160 has been problematic lately and it is good to see some positive things happening! Ken and Laura Scheidegger own and operate the Delta Farmers market on the corner of SR 12 and SR 160.

Bill

 

Hello Skip,

I am writing to thank you for your efforts in working with Delta Farmers Market to try and mitigate the amount of lost business by us during the 5 weekend Hwy. 12 road closures during April and May 2020.

The lane established and the digital signage were very helpful along with the 3 6-foot x 4-foot banners we had made and hung (see below). Although down, we still had satisfactory sales and are able to cover our costs.

Thank you again for your reliable communication and your meaningful help.

My best,
Laura Scheidegger
Owner, Delta Farmers Market

Captain Pat Carson,

I always enjoy reading “Lessons Learned” and never fail to learn something new.

Like you, I’ve transited the Seal Island Channel by the Military Ocean Terminal Concord (MOTOCO) many times. I’ve probably made 10 trips, at least three when U.S. Coast Guard patrol boats were in the area, and once when a ship (assume munitions) was at the gantry with a patrol boat outside of it. Naturally, I went outside the Coast Guard boat, although it is worth noting that if you stay in the ship channel by ship unloading, you are closer than the “required” minimum distance of 500-yards from any military ship. Your February column mentioned meeting an East bound tug in the channel.

On one of my last trips I was stopped by a MOTCO small patrol craft and instructed that the Seal Island Channel is a restricted area and “No person, vessel, watercraft, conveyance or device shall enter or cause to enter or remain in this area” (Active Captain citation likely from the Code of Federal Regulations).

I explained to the officer that I had just came the opposite direction yesterday and a USCG boat from Rio Vista had been right there and never said a word. The officer mentioned that “sometimes they stop boats.”

I would like clarification on this channel as there are buoys and markers all along this channel. The chart does state “Restricted Area 334.1110 and See Note A.” Note A refers you to Chapter 2 in the Coast Pilot. However, if this is indeed a closed area, why don’t they have absolutely clear signage at both ends along with upfront information on NOAA charts?

Thanks for your help on this.
Armand Seguin, USCG Veteran
USCG Master’s License
Vallejo, California

 

Armand,

33CFR § 334.1110 Does describe the restricted area around MOTCO and includes both seal islands and north to the western most point of Roe Island. That area includes the main ship channel. Reading that portion of the regulations does not really shed much light on the actual restricted zone. I have attempted to reach the commanding officer of MOTCO however with all of the closures and limited duty I have not yet received a response.

Once I have a clear understanding of the base commanders policy and vessels transiting the Seal Island Channel, whether active loading operations or not, I will publish it.

Pat

Hi Pat,

I found your column about vessel safety checks very interesting. I had one question though. When we had our boat checked by the Coastguard Auxiliary, they asked what containers we had on board for bailing water from the vessel. When you mentioned required items to have on board, bailing containers were not mentioned. Is this an actual requirement?

Daniel

Daniel,

Good question. Sometimes there is a misunderstanding between required and recommended safety items to keep on board.

No, a backup dewatering device is not required but it is recommended. That device can be a bucket, sponge, or even a super soaker water toy. Anything that will remove water if needed however nothing can replicate the effectiveness of properly working and maintained bilge pumps.

Separate from the required equipment there is a list of recommended safety items that we usually review and discuss their importance. 

1. VHF radio

2. Anchor and rode

3. First aid kit

4. Mounting the handheld fire extinguishers

5. Backup dewatering device

6. Inland visual distress signals

7. Capacity certificate of compliance

Thank you for asking and glad you found my article usefully. Appreciate the feedback.

Pat

Hi Pat,

On another note, I do have a boarding story with the coastguard. A few years ago, we were taking an old friend’s father for a birthday cruise on the Bay. Shortly after leaving Jack London Square, we saw the orange Coast guard boat you mentioned. At first, we thought they would pass us when they saw our sticker, but instead they came our way. My father, who was driving, was a little bit embarrassed about being boarded with guests on board. Upon telling the coastguard that we had the sticker certifying our safety check they said, “that doesn’t matter, we’re coming aboard.”

After the inspection was finished and we passed, my father asked for the printed report. The coastguard official responded, “ordinarily I would give you that, but my mate thought the printer looked better on the bottom of the estuary. Therefore, I will mail it to you instead.” After the ordeal, we apologized to our guests, but they said that being boarded was the coolest thing they had ever seen.

Daniel

Daniel,

Just like nearly every USCG boarding story I get, the experience was a positive one. I have personally been boarded more than 40 times from San Diego to the San Juan Islands and have never had a bad experience. I, also, have even been boarded on vessels with a current VSC sticker and although sometimes an inconvenience, the 15 minute delay is always a learning experience and possibly a good training experience for newer members of the Coast Guard crew.

As we tell the owner/operator when doing a courtesy safety check, having the sticker is not a guarantee that you will not be boarded, but is does provide comfort that you know your vessel will pass muster and that you have nothing to worry about. Besides now you have another great boating story. Thank you for sharing

Pat H


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