The Nautical Blog

In Memory of George Kaiser – Model Ship Builder

I met George Kaiser back in 2007 at an event in Winthrop, MA that I was photographing.  I learned he was a model ship builder and asked for his card. A few months ago I contacted George to see if he was was still building model ships and if so, could I interview him. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of  spending a few hours with him learning about his adventures into model ship building. Here is the interview we did along with a few photos of his models and workspace that are referred to in the interview. Sadly, George passed away February 16, 2015. 

Click on Audio Icon to hear interview 




What a fascinating life journey Mr. Kaiser has had and is having at a
young 87. From the Depression, through WW II to the current. He is so  modest
about his artistic skills and you really captured his charm in this
interview. I will go see his model at the Constitution Museum. Your photos  are great
and makes me yearn to own one.
Thank you for sharing this, it made my day.
Hope to see you soon.Sally Higbee
via email


Boating Accidents in Florida – Press Conference

Since last June I’ve been writing and giving speeches for my Advanced Competent Communicator Award via Toastmasters. The project consists of 10 speeches. The last 5 of which are “Communicating on Video”.  Project #4 is “The Press Conference”. The objectives are:

— To understand the nature of a video broadcast press conference

— To prepare for an adversary confrontation on a controversial or sensitive issue

— To employ appropriate preparation methods and strategies for communicating your organization’s viewpoint

— To present and maintain a positive image

Time: three to five minutes for presentation, two to three minutes for question period.

In light of the recent incident with former Miami Dolphin football player Rob Konrad, I felt it was time to come forward and address the issue of boating accidents. Plus, the seriousness of wearing a life jacket.

Here’s the video of that Press Conference. Let me know your thoughts!

Float Plans – Do You File One?

As the Miami Boat Show quickly approaches it reminds me of the many boaters who travel from all over the world to attend this show. And, I can’t help wondering if the guy I overheard on the bus trip from the parking lot to the Strictly Sail Show ever got his catamaran. If so, did he file a float plan before leaving the show? You see, the guy announced he was there to buy a catamaran though he had never been on one, much less know how to operate one.

At the Ft. Lauderdale Show a couple years ago I had the privilege of interviewing Captain sinkingboat1
Kevin Keith and his girl friend. Captain Keith talked about how his crew became members 
in the survivor club through ACR Electronics. He talked about what happened with his situation and gave details of an interesting rescue where a combination between US Coast Guard and Sea Tow took place.

After the award ceremony I asked Captain Keith if he filed a float plan. His response shocked me. He and his crew had not done this. In fact, he went on to say he wasn’t familiar with them and wasn’t sure where to get one.

float_plan_thumbWe did agree, however, filing a float plan is something they would start doing. “Just as important,” says Captain Keith, “is to make sure the MMSI number for one’s EPIRB gets registered.” The MMSI number should have the contact name of a family member who should know your plans as well as verify the number of people on board, where you went out of, approximately how long you’re going out for. All this information is also on a float plan.

Today it’s really easy to file one. Just go online to Click on the green button that says USCG Float Plan to get the current version. If you have more than 5 passengers or 6 destinations planned for your seafaring voyage, click on the Float Plan Supplemental link to include these extras.

US Power Squadrons Demonstration of Virtual Trainer at MDCE Orlando FL

At the Marine Dealer Conference and Exhibition (MDCE) this year in Orlando I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa Herndon. She was talking to a lot of dealers and attendees at the show about the US Power Squadrons latest project – the Virtual Trainer. It’s the result of a grant, the first of its kind and a really neat way to practice/learn how to drive a recreational power boat.

The Virtual Trainer has 9 exercises, is multi-lingual (Spanish and French). You’ll be departing the dock on a 20′ Boston Whaler with a real mercury marine throttle. There are posed exercises to be used with an instructor to help with rules of the road, docking exercises, mooring, navigational, plus more.

For more information go to:


Suddenly in Command

This article was published in Winter 2015 Nor’Easter for TONE (Tartan Owners Northeast).

Suddenly in Command

by Robin G. Coles

Boaters will tell you the two most exciting days in their life are:  1 the day they bought their boat, and 2 the day they sold it. An inexperienced boater will say the scariest day for them is when they had to be “Suddenly in Command”.

Taking the helm when you least expect it and are not prepared is no joke. It is a lot of responsibility and your life could depend on it. That’s why it’s important to make sure your sailing buddy knows how to handle certain things. This [buddy] could be your spouse, significant other, or friend.  These “things” are: the radio, engine, first aid, man overboard.

Years ago Luke had a heart attack while sailing in the harbor. The only other person on the boat was his wife, Dani. She had never taken the helm before and was now “Suddenly in Command”.  According to Dani, she was a nervous wreck. Her husband was sick, the sails were up and her focus was to get back to the marina. She didn’t use the radio. She didn’t call the Coast Guard.  Not even to the other boats they knew passing by.  Today, if she had to do it all over again, she would alert someone that they were coming in.

Last summer a call for help came over the radio. A woman fell overboard and they didn’t know how to get her back into the boat. We did not hear where this person was.  They just kept asking how to get her back on the boat.  A few minutes later we heard a second incident of man overboard.  Both times it was clear the person on the radio was not used to using it. Nor could they give a good description of where they were.

In Ray McAllister’s curriculum “Suddenly in Command” he writes about the important use of a VHF radio.  He goes on to talk about an incidence where a woman took the helm and radioed for help. The problem was that she did not depress the button to allow others to respond back to her. This I’m sure only made matters worse as she felt like no one was listening. Again, the radio is one of the top four things your mate should know how to use on the boat. Teach them these simple procedures: How to turn the radio on (power it up); How to transmit and to remember that they need to RELEASE the microphone button so the Coast Guard can communicate with them.

So remember, when using the radio in a distress situation you simply mention May Day three times.  In fact, print off the following instructions, laminate them and place it on your boat where everyone will see it.

May Day May Day May Day, give the name of your boat, number of people on board, where you’re located, and the nature of your distress. Always start off saying May Day three times and then the basic information about your situation.

For additional information see Nor’easter 2014
Winter edition pages 3,4 17,18.

Robin G. Coles is a writer and author of “Boating Secrets” – a tremendous encyclopedia of boating tips,
as well as a passionate marine enthusiast and sailor who has visited, interviewed, written about, and
photographed hundreds of marine ports in the US and abroad. Additionally, she maintains a fabulous
Be sure to check it out.
You might be interested in her book which is
available in both softcover and on Amazon Kindle.


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