Tuesday, December 24

It’s a Wrap!
By Michael Argyelan

From all of us to you and yours, we wish you our best. We hope you've had an amazing year thus far and continue to enjoy the rest of 2013. Have a safe, warm, happy holiday and a happy new year!

In other news, the start of the 2013 Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race starts tomorrow. I've copied some info from the website for your pleasure. Check on this link to see some cool shots of the maxi yacht Wild Oats XI. She’s just one of the 100’ yachts sailing in the race. It should be pretty exciting. Enjoy!

On Television
Over 80 production and technical personnel are involved to putting together the race start coverage. Covering the race is tricky and relies on numerous specialty cameras that are linked back to the main production facility using digital radio links.

Three helicopters and two chase boats track alongside the fleet. Two of these helicopters supply aerial footage whilst the third acts as a link platform, relaying close-up on board footage from two of the yachts as the crew undertake pre-race maneuvers and begin their race south. On top of this, two land based cabled cameras located at vantage points on North Head and South Head are incorporated into the coverage.

ABC TV will be following the fleet down the eastern seaboard and provide all the in race news footage that is used by the various Australian and International news networks.

On The Web
For those who can't get to watch the live broadcast of the start of the Race on the Seven Network across Australia, Yahoo!7 will web cast the program. You can also watch the same web cast on the home page of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race website.

The official race website is one of the most popular Australian sporting websites during the Christmas New Year holiday period and is your information portal for everything there is to know about the 628 nautical blue water classic.

Included on the website is the complete list of yachts entered, along with a photograph and description of each boat, a rundown on the crew, and the boat's past racing record.

You'll also be able to follow the event on twitter for race updates and via Facebook.

Yacht Tracker
By far the most visited page of the website is the Yacht Tracker page, which allows viewers to track the entire fleet or a particular boat from start to finish. Yacht Tracker uses a specifically designed tool that calculates the predicted results for each and every boat in the fleet, so you can see how each boat is performing.

Each yacht will be fitted with a Yellowbrick tracker that will obtain a position using the GPS satellite network, and then transmit that position back to Yellowbrick HQ using the Iridium satellite network.

Each yacht's position is then visualized on the race yacht tracker map or overlaid on Google Earth. In addition, the yacht tracker system also shows distance to finish line and progressive corrected time positions under the IRC, ORCi and PHS handicap divisions.

To do this, the CYCA equips each boat in the fleet with a Yellowbrick tracker that automatically updates the yacht's latitude, longitude, course over ground and speed over ground - and transmits that information via satellite to a land. From there, the data will be transferred to the website, which shows in text and graphics each yacht's position in the fleet, its place relative to other boats and known geographic features, and the speed currently being achieved through the water, as well as the direction in which the boat is sailing.

Viewers have the option of viewing the yachts on a chart through Yacht Tracker, or alternatively against satellite pictures on Google Earth. Line honors and progressive corrected times under the IRC, PHS and ORCi handicap categories are updated every 10 minutes.


Wednesday, December 18

That thing is huge!

In the pic are Assistant Store Manager Mike Travis and Production Manager Andrew Spaulding (L-R) in front of a massive boat at Newport Shipyard in Rhode Island. Andrew, Mike, Nick Fugate the Purchasing Manager, and I were doing recon out east when this was taken. I had them stand next to the prop for scale.

Safety Isn’t a Four Letter Word
By Michael Argyelan

Anyone living in the Chicago area has heard of tragedies involving our greatest of lakes, harbors, and tributaries. Whether it’s a fisherman falling in the water accidentally, a man overboard during a sailboat race, or the soft spoken gentleman a few docks down that decided to take friends out during a gale, accidents happen when on or near the water and we all need to think safety first.

As the Store Manager at Crowley’s, I hear so many stories in the store and around the yard. Some end as a comedy and some as tragedies. The most recent was of a MOB during a MORF race. Turns out that in the heat of the moment, “things”, very important procedural things, were missed or forgotten. All ended well with the sailor brought back aboard safely and a successful debrief. How can we prevent mistakes? One key word comes to mind, preparation.

Our boats are safely snuggled up in a boat yard, shivering and dreaming of warmer times. This does not mean our season is over. It’s never over if you’re planning on being prepared. This article will not be the be-all end-all to all things safety. We can only give you tips, tricks, and products to be aware of. It’s up to you to stay up to speed on all the rules, regulations, products, personnel, and hardware on your vessel.

Do you and your guests know where your safety items are aboard?  If not, it’s time to use the off season and make up a safety diagram. Find a diagram of your boat or a similar boat (try sailboatdata.com), and mark where your safety items are. Items we mark on my boat are the knife, flashlight(s), fuel shutoff, battery switches, fire extinguishers, PFD’s, flares, and wood plugs/through hulls.

With that last list in mind, don’t forget to check your equipment for optimal operational status. Check all extinguishers. Make sure your flares are up to date. Make sure the fuel shutoff opens and closes smoothly.

If your PFD’s are inflatable, take them home, blow them up manually, and let them stay inflated for 24 hours. If they are just as full as when you left them, you’re good to go. If not, it’s time to check for leaks. With the same PFD’s, check the dates and condition of your cylinders and see that they are in optimal working order. If you don’t have whistles on your PFD’s, get some.

Do you have an air horn or signaling device? You need one. Do you have extra batteries for your flashlight? When was the last time you replaced them? You get the idea.

Going above deck, we need to check our lifelines, hand rails, stanchions, and pulpits. Be sure to check the bases for cracks and the fittings for corrosion. Do any of the fittings leak below deck? If that’s the case, you will be dealing with wet spots in the deck and have weak areas where you need strength.

When was the last time you practiced a MOB drill? Have you ever been shown recommended methods? If not, it’s time to get on YouTube and watch some videos, at the very least. I highly recommend having a written procedure that you practice at least twice per year. The process should be memorized. Only practice will develop the necessary muscle memory to be fluid while on the water in a panicked situation. A general Google search will bring up images and videos on techniques like the quick stop and figure 8 methods.

What equipment do we recommend above deck? At a minimum, we recommend having a horseshoe buoy attached to a 50 foot heaving line that floats that can be tossed carefully to the victim. That’s bare minimum.

The next step above that is the Lifesling2. 
The Lifesling2 is highly recommended and has a horseshoe shaped buoy with the heaving line attached all neatly stowed in a bag that hangs off the stern rail. The next step above the Lifesling2 is the MOM8.

MOM stands for Man Overboard Module. The MOM8 is one of the most advanced products in man overboard safety equipment. Here are some notes from the manufacturer’s website, “With the MOM 8 the only focus is on pulling a single pin. Located on the top of the canister is a deployment handle, which when pulled, releases the bottom of the canister and allows the inflatable devices to automatically inflate while falling into the water. When inflated, the ballasted Locator Pylon has a 6-foot waterline height. Located on top of the pylon is a water-activated, lithium-powered, flashing light with 5 years of life. The light can be seen nearly a nautical mile under normal night conditions. The pylon has 2 SOLAS reflective panels to aid the boat's search. Tethered to the horseshoe and the pylon is a 16" diameter, ballasted, self-opening Sea Anchor to reduce downwind drift keeping the victim in the same position as when he went overboard.” Pretty amazing huh?

To summarize, you mount the unit to the stern rail following the instructions, pull the pin in a MOB scenario, the unit automatically deploys a MOB pylon with a light, a line, a horseshoe buoy, all without thinking past step three of pulling the pin. If you don’t know what step one and two are in a MOB situation, it’s time to study!

Safety on the water applies to us all. Power, sail, race, or cruise, all boaters need to take safety seriously. If you have any questions, we are here for you. If you have an experience, tip, photo, or anything safety related you’d like to share, please email me at mma@crowleys.com.

Wednesday, December 11

20 Questions with Dan Bochnovic, General Manger.

1. How long have you worked at Crowley’s? 
24 years.

2. How did you first start working here? 
My recreational marine career started in 1979 at Sailing Specialist, a small shop in Clarendon Hills, IL. That experience led to working at Sea Castle Marine in Broadview, IL and then Patterson Marine in Chicago. I landed at Crowley’s as a Customer Service Representative in 1989.

3. Which departments have you worked in? 
All of them. I can paint a bottom, build a furler, change an injector, drive the travel lift, and program the database. 

4. What is the big new news in your current department? 
A continued push to be customer focused. Through events and technology we want our customers to be the smartest, fastest, safest, funniest, and most generous customers on the water. We host multiple events through the year. This past weekend was our newest event, the 2nd Annual One Day Sale Plus! Crowds of people came in on Saturday morning to learn about their boat and save a little money on holiday gifts and personal gear. We are industry leaders in internet communication with customers through online scheduling, sales, and bill pay.  Soon Crowley’s customers will be able to interface directly with the technicians working on their vessel. We are very excited about this prospect.

5. What is your favorite time of year at Crowley’s? 
I love the spring. The fast paced excitement and beauty of newly serviced yachts setting out for the first sail of the season gets me going.

6. How often do you go boating?
For pleasure, my partners and I have a standing sail date, every Wednesday evening.  Want to sail with us? Come on down, 7pm, North Juliet 11 in Monroe Harbor. Everyone is welcome.  Professionally, I’m on one of our customer’s boats or a work boat almost every day. Last week I took a little run to Hammond Marine to test some depth sounder readings. Walking around the facility is like a never ending boat show.

7. What kind of boat(s)?  
If it has a bow and stern, I’m on it. I have a Ranger 33. I sail both cruising and racing sailboats. I think its fun to back a 72’ motor vessel down the aisle into its berth at Burnham Harbor. Water skiing is cool too. Jet skies are thrilling. Last year my wife gave me the plans to build a wooden canoe. One of these days we’ll take it for a spin down the river.

8. Did you grow up boating?
Sort of. My brother wanted to be a rich banker. He needed his corporate advantage. He wasn't going to master golf so he bought a sun fish. I was the only one who would go with him to learn how to sail. That was the beginning of a long road.

9. What is your favorite boating activity?
There are so many. If I had to choose only one, I would go cruising with my wife Tina.

10. How many employees work for you?
I’m the General Manager at Crowley’s and we have 40 full time employees plus a dozen or more that come and go during the busy seasons.

11. Do they have job specific training? If so, how often do they go?
I make sure everyone attends professional training events throughout the year. I organize our in-house training. We have a class at least once a week throughout the winter. The range of topics is huge. Last month I was at the ASIS security show. Tomorrow’s topic is OSHA workplace safety. In a few weeks Grant and I will be at Underwriter Laboratories observing a test of the new StatX fire suppression system.

12. What job specific training do you have?
Over the years I have been to hundreds of lectures and classes on almost every aspect of recreational marine management, boat building, and repair.

13. What certifications do you have?
My college degree is in computer science. This year I completed the course work for my USCG Captains license. I'm currently reading the City of Chicago plumbing code, just for fun. I'm an IHSA Baseball umpire too. Basically, I have a hunger for knowledge and a self proclaimed nerd.

14. What is your number one recommendation to boat owners?
Take people boating.  Learn about every aspect of boating. Learn about every switch, every line, and every pump aboard. Learn about navigation and weather and the fish and the birds. While you’re out boating, teach others what you learned. Let them repay you with the wealth of their knowledge.

15. In your area of experience, what can a boat owner do to maintain their boat?
Clean it. The simple act of cleaning the bilge, the engine, the deck, everything, reveals the maintenance and repair required. A clean vessel is a safe vessel.

16. What is your number one money saving tip for boat owners?
Use your boat for your family summer vacation. No one will ever forget the experience. Ever. Guaranteed.

17. What is the toughest part of your job?
Time management. I want to spend the time to get the job done right. Many times there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get to everything I want to.

18. When are you most likely to be found in the harbors?
Wednesday nights chillaxin' on the fine yacht, Integrity, North Juliet 11, Monroe Harbor.

19. What is your favorite winter activity?
#1 Building things in my woodshop.  #2 working on the boat with my partners. We take advantage of indoor heated storage to increase our ‘boating time’. Sunday morning 9 to noon at the boat yard. We meet at the boat about twice a month, have coffee, catch up on life, turn this or rub that. Mostly ponder what we should do next time.

20. What is the best way to get a hold of you to ask a question?