Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Bay Starts Here

I am not a tree-hugger, especially when it comes to silly and unjustifiable laws like the Montgomery County (MD) bag tax. In eleven years living in this county, I never allowed one of those plastic grocery bags to hit the street. Instead, I recycled them as small trash bags, which freed me of the need to buy such bags.

Now I recycle grocery bags for use as grocery carriers because I refuse to pay five cents to use a new one. But now I buy small trash bags. Thus, my use of plastic has gone up thanks to the well-intended yet idiotic bag tax.. Since I'm inconvenienced to solve a problem I did not cause, I'm now less inclined to support environmental causes than before.

Sometimes those conservative Republicans have a point, but I digress. While I am not a tree-hugger, I am a boat lover. I do pay attention to clean water issues.

While walking Joe the Wonder Dog along Sligo Creek I found this interesting flyer on the topic by The Friends of Sligo Creek. I did not see the text posted on their site or anywhere else. It's a message worth reading, so here it is on Boating Fever.

"The Bay Starts Here ... says a sticker on one of the toilet tanks at the Brookside Nature Center in Wheaton -- telling one part of the story.

"Most of the water coming to the faucets and toilets of the Sligo Creek watershed is taken from the Potomac River above Great Falls, then processed and piped to our homes; about 10% comes from the Patuxent River to our east.

"Everything that goes down the kitchen sink or toilet flows -- following gravity -- to lateral pipes under the street in front of the house and then through trunk mains laid within the streambed of Sligo Creek. Leaks in these pipes mean raw sewage contaminating our creek.

"Sligo wastewater is piped on southward through Prince Georges County, joining other watersheds' waste, and then through a 23-foot diameter pipe underneath the Anacostia River, ending at Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant in southeast Washington.  The filtered and treated liquid of Sligo Creek is returned there to the Potomac River. Then it flows to the Bay."

The flyer goes on to tell of a meeting about the Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission (WSSC), the water and sewer authority, that is running a project to repair the sewer lines under Sligo Creek.

Maybe this is of interest only to me. But, it's worth knowing that clean treated water comes out the other end of the pipe to waters where we boat.

Friday, February 8, 2013

If hypothermia leaves you cold, then read this....

If you're like me, and I know I am, I shudder at the thought of freezing to death.

Bad pun aside, the human body operates best when its internal temperature ranges between 98 and 100-degrees F. The body starts to lose function when its internal temperature falls below 96-degrees F. Hypothermia is a bitch.

News of the blizzard expected to hit the northeast U.S. this afternoon brought hypothermia warnings to the fore. Hypothermia is easily avoided for most. Avoid the cold. Dress warmly in layers. Pay your heating bill. Be alert for signs of hypothermia.

Wikipedia -- you can always trust Wikipedia -- lists mild, moderate and severe hypothermia symptoms. At its mildest, hypothermia can cause involuntary shivers and mental confusion. At worst, hypothermia causes loss of muscle coordination, decreases in heart and breathing rate, blood pressure and can cause hypoglycemia.

The Power Squadrons is a boating civic & safety group. We are concerned with captains and crew who fall from the boat into cold water. This 2007 story at The Ensign is a dandy piece on hypothermia safety for boaters. It includes a chart that show survival times based on water temperature. If you fall into 32.5-degree water, you've got 15 to 45 minutes to get the heck out.

A second chart lists survival rates in 50-degree water with and without flotation devices. A life vest keeps you warmer as well as afloat. That's why the Coast Guard has become a doggone pest about wearing one all the time.

By the way, boaters, alcohol won't keep you warm in cold water. Instead, it speeds up hypothermia's effect. Save the drinkin' for the dock party.

Hypothermia is best avoided. If you must run the risk on land or on the water, be ready.

Image found on, which also pointed me to this 10-minute NASBLA video on surviving hypothermia in the water.

Coroner: Woman suffers hypothermia, drowns after swimming in 45-degree water.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Power Squadrons is going social

Though United States Power Squadrons members are of all ages, it's most active volunteer leaders are, um, "seasoned." That can mean that we they are slow to adapt to trends and culture shifts. Power Squadrons* members are especially slow to adapt to all things Internet.

Members I speak with -- nearly all are, or near retired -- are casual users of email and downright distrustful of social media. We always laugh when I tell them their grandchildren will force them to Facebook, Twitter and texting. Young people will listen to music on their handhelds, but will not answer a phone call. Granny, meanwhile, believes one-on-one contact is the only authentic form of communication.

The Power Squadrons was wildly successful with authentic communication in the mid-20th Century. Today, that's a tough way to reach potential members who haven't the time for after-hours meetings and sit down classes. Face time will always be important to the Power Squadrons, especially for events like dock parties. That one-on-one stuff has faded as the best channel to reach the demographic critical to the Power Squadrons' future -- the 40-somethings new to boating.

Power Squadrons is no longer fighting the tide. Now they are on FacebookTwitter and YouTube, with links to all three from the Power Squadron's home page.

But members have to "get it" that Facebook and Twitter ( and Google+) are conversational. One visits them to say something, not just to soak updates. Soaking is for Web sites. Social Media is for everybody, EVERYBODY, to start conversation. I'm skeptical, yet hopeful, that Power Squadrons members will share.

Social media draws an audience because everyone shares something -- anything -- from comments to a post, to links to a story, or reaction to unfounded rumors that old people (yes, I said it) frown upon. I find that unfounded rumors draw bigger audiences (It's called trolling for hits), and that reaction to the reactions lead to the most vibrant conversation, if not to the truth itself.

Social media just does not work if the site moderator is the only contributor.

In time, Power Squadrons will reach more potential members through Facebook and Twitter than face-to-face. Since YouTube is more visual, that channel makes the most compelling case for what we do. In fact, Boating Fever will  link some of those video's here in the future.

I worked for a high tech company for 20 years, so have always been comfortable with the potential of this stuff. Threats to privacy are real, but nowhere near what old folks make it out to be. That's why I am comfortable pointing you to links to my personal Facebook profile, my Facebook Hog Heaven page covering the Washington Redskins and to my Twitter page that also covers the Redskins. Feel free to "friend" my profile page, "like" my Hog Heaven page, and "follow" my Twitter page.

The more you use social media, the more you learn to protect yourself. The first step is always to set your privacy settings to your comfort level. Your grandchildren can show you how to do that.

* United States Power Squadrons and Power Squadrons is always shown as a plural even when used in the singular. It's the Power Squadrons recognition of the 400 or so individual squadrons that make up the organization. Local squadrons are always shown in the singular when referring to a single squadron. 

Used in sentences:
The Power Squadrons is the largest non-profit volunteer boating safety civic group.
Power Squadrons is no longer fighting the tide on social media.
Boating is fun. Power Squadrons shows you how. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

History of Potomac River Squadron now online

Founder’s Day 2012
View more PowerPoint from Potomac River Power Squadron

This is a brief history of Potomac River Power Squadron, a unit of United States Power Squadrons, that I presented at the squadron's 97th Founder's Day & Change of Watch Ceremony.

Potomac River's history is United States Power Squadrons' history. Potomac River is the oldest Power Squadron in continuous operation. Potomac River's early leaders, especially Dr. A.B. Bennett, SN, were significant early leaders of the Power Squadrons movement. (By the way, Power Squadrons" is always expressed as a plural.) hosts the presentation. It's on the free account so there is advertising and clutter if you go directly to Slideshare.

If you are like me and I know I am, you enjoy histories. If so, check out the links to these well-written histories:

Northern Virginia Sail and Power Squadron,

Corinthian Yacht Club (Washington, D.C.) A Historical Review.

Northern Virginia is a descendant of Potomac River Squadron, which was itself formed by members of the Corinthian and Capital Yacht Clubs.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Chesapeake Bay Magazine features story on the Anacostia River, birthplace of the Potomac River Power Squadron.

When was the last time the Anacostia River got any good press?

I'm a native Washingtonian and I can't recall any. Even the positive story in Chesapeake Bay Magazine, that I am about to refer to you, goes by the headline The Bad and the Beautiful. The subhead tells the full story, however. "Washington's hard-luck Anacostia River may be the city's ace in the hole." (February 2012 issue, pp 22- 27, continued on pp 48-49)

The Anacostia is still muddy, still polluted, still infested with litter and I wouldn't eat anything caught in those waters, but the river is about to get the mother of all face lifts along with the nearby Washington Channel.

The projects are already underway, kicked off by the District of Columbia's heavy and much fought-over investment National's Park, the baseball stadium.

The magazine story touches on that, goes into the District's Southwest waterfront project for the nearby Washington channel and has waxes eloquent about features about the river of interest to small craft boaters. Yes, Anacostia still features wildlife areas. The Kenilworth Gardens, contains the sole remaining marsh that was the dominant feature of the area when George Washington picked the place as the nation's capital.

The area is important to the Potomac River Power Squadron. It was born there in 1915 when Dr. A.B. Bennett, then cruise captain of the Corinthian Yacht Club, convinced members of his club and the nearby Capital Yacht Club to join the power squadron movement.

The Corinthian was based on St. James Creek on the Anacostia. The have since moved downriver, but Capital Yacht Club remains on the Washington Channel. News accounts of the day reported squadron on-water activity from the channel to Occoquan Bay.

Potomac River Squadron is one of many sponsors of the Anacostia River Cleanup Day held annually on Arbor Day. Past Commander Howard Gasaway, Sr., P, is the spark plug behind both the squadron's participation and the clean-up day itself.

Read the feature story on the magazine's web site, Click here.

Long articles are hard on eyes, especially old ones, when read online. So look for the February 2012 edition of Chesapeake Bay Magazine, if you can find it.

For a brief history of Potomac River Power Squadron, check out the Founders Day presentation posted on SlideShare here.

Other Anacostia links:

Anacostia Watershed Society web site -

State of Maryland Department of Natural Resources - The Anacostia: River of Recovery

Thursday, October 13, 2011

BoatUS Mourns the Passing of President Nancy Michelman

ALEXANDRIA, Va., October 10, 2011 – Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is deeply saddened to announce the passing of President and Publisher Nancy Michelman, who died on Friday after a year-long battle with cancer. A selfless leader with an infectious laugh and the gift of inspiring others to get together and do their best, Nancy’s courageous fight was marked by her optimism and energy.

Michelman was a self-described “Jersey Girl” who began sailing at summer camp in Maine as a child, and grew up with a love of boating. In 1989, as a rising star with the American Automobile Association (AAA), BoatUS Founder Richard Schwartz was impressed with her energy and intelligence. He hired her immediately to run the BoatUS membership department, manage partner relationships and grow benefits and services.

Read the rest of the story here.