Seattle, WA   February 15, 1998Number 3

USCG Changes Web Addresses

Washington, DC, Feb 14, 1998 Some time in the recent past the USCG moved the web location of their exam questions data base. After some searching around, we have found them again and updated our links in the Nav Rules Section. The new address is USCG Exam Questions. This periodic reshuffling of web addresses is becoming the internet equivalent of the tendency of all government agencies to change their names and organizational structure every few years.


Did you know...

that the proper affirmative answer to a question is Yes, and that the negative answer to a question is No?

Seems basic enough. But we have many times heard over the radio such answers given as affirmative or negative. And usually when we use the latter we are indeed trying to be more correct or clearer in our communication.

According to the Standard Marine Navigational Vocabulary, a publication of the International Maritime Organization (publication IMO-985E), however, a simple yes or no is recommended (Section 1-3). The goal of that publication is to make communications among vessels as clear as possible, keeping in mind that English (the official international language of navigation) may be the second or third language to many seagoing navigators. Other than the above and a few items highlighted below, the content of this publication is not of much interest to native English speakers, especially those accustomed to conventional navigational phrases most of its content is not a surprise. But for navigators just learning English, this booklet will shorten the process by specifically stating the recommended way to say just about anything that might be used in navigation communications.

Other items we found of interest were:

1-7. A Lat-Lon position should be given Lat first, with each expressed in degrees and decimal minutes, i.e. 47 39.5' North, 122 21.3' West (as opposed to using degrees, minutes, and seconds). This is, of course, the usual and preferred way of doing it from a navigational point of view, but it is nice to know where we go to support this use.

1-7,8,9. A position relative to a landmark or your own position should be given in degrees true from the landmark or from your position, i.e. I am located 3.4 miles off on bearing 055 from Cape Blanco Light.

1-11. The word &quod;speed&quod; should be reserved for speed through the water, or knotmeter speed, as opposed to &quod;ground speed&quod; or &quod;speed over ground.&quod;

1-12. The number 150 should be read as one, five, zero and the number 2.5 should be read as two point five, etc. This is especially valuable to note since one often hears alternative ways of saying decimal numbers.

The IMO web page includes a list of US and other outlets for IMO publications.


Starpath NavRules for WinHelp updated

Seattle, WA, Feb 2, 1998 There is a new version of our Nav Rules product available now for downloading. The new version is 1.08. In this version we have corrected an error in Rule 26 specifically that a basket is no longer (as of Nov, 1995, actually) an optional day shape for fishing vessels under 20 meters on international waters.

This change was indeed properly noted in the latest (1997) USCG printing of the rules, but we had not used that particular publication as a reference since it includes so many other typos and errors. To find this error we needed to track down the official printing of the International Rules which is International Maritime Organization publication IMO-904E, and subsequent supplements. These supplements are nothing more than photocopies of a single printed sheets, sent to the resellers of IMO pubs. It is left up to them to properly distribute the supplements with the products.

The basket correction was in such a supplement. Clearly it is important to know these exist and then to ask for them specifically. We also found in this supplement several other changes to the International Annexes which were not included in the 1997 USCG version of the Rules. Hence we have added these to the list of typos and errors.

Seattle, WA, Feb 9, 1998 For a period of time we were very happy to be the web host for the Seattle Women's Sailing Association (SWSA). This is a fine organization for both men and women, with extensive sailing opportunities for beginners and experienced sailors, along with a broad educational program on shore. Now they have their own domain and web site. Visit them at They will be updating the scheduling and program info there in the near future. Their annual fundraiser (auction/dinner/dance) called the Shilshoal Shuffle is in March. It is a popular event for Northwest Sailors.


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