Featured Posts

Sailing Fun for KidsSailing Fun for Kids Sailing is more fun with family and friends, so why not get your kids on the water on your next Caribbean vacation? The American Sailing Association is excited to debut the...

Read More

What you can do with your ASA sailing credentialsWhat you can do with your ASA sailing credentials Many prospective students ask us why getting certified is so important. Couldn't they pick up the same valuable sailing skills without passing a course and receiving a certificate?...

Read More

Dinghy Sailing vs. Yacht SailingDinghy Sailing vs. Yacht Sailing The kind of boat you choose to sail will define your relationship with the sport as a whole. Like wind and weather conditions, the boat is one part of the entire sailing experience....

Read More

Combine Sailing Lessons With an International VacationCombine Sailing Lessons With an International Vacation Vacations are for rejuvenation and exploration, right? So why not one-up all the normal resort-goers and take sailing lessons at your vacation destination this summer! Sailing...

Read More

Sailing is a Great Way to Spend Quality Time with your FamilySailing is a Great Way to Spend Quality Time with your... Whether you have a six-year-old son or a sixteen-year-old daughter, sailing is a wonderful bonding experience that everyone in the family will enjoy. Next time you suggest...

Read More

When it Comes to Your Sailing Education, You're the Boss!When it Comes to Your Sailing Education, You're the... One of the most important parts of beginning your sailing education is finding the right sailing school. Every individual has different strengths, weaknesses, needs, and ideal...

Read More

ASA in Croatia: Medieval Mysteries This is a story about ASA's 2012 Croatia Flotilla. For more info on upcoming ASA sailing flotillas, click here. Sailors (and tourists of all kinds) have beaten a well-worn...

Read More

Guanabara Bay: A Reminder to Preserve our SeasGuanabara Bay: A Reminder to Preserve our Seas “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.” –John F. Kennedy As sailors,...

Read More

Docking: Or, How You Can Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the MarinaDocking: Or, How You Can Learn to Stop Worrying and... Once, while sailing in the San Juan Islands, I saw something I'll never forget. A powerboater cruised into the dock at high speed with his wife on the stern, line in hand,...

Read More

ASA members unite for a special week in the BVIsASA members unite for a special week in the BVIs Lots of people sail the British Virgin Islands every year, but not many get to do it in quite the same style as the 2014 ASA Member's Event, which took place March 1-8. For...

Read More

Subscribe To ASA Feed

Save Our Sharks: Sailors for the Sea

Category : Legislation

This guest blog is by Jim Abernethy, renowned underwater photographer and pioneer in shark encounters without a cage. For decades he has interacted with the world’s most notorious sharks, most of which are labeled as “dangerous species”. He is best known as a crusader for their protection. His award winning marine life images are often featured in top photography magazines such as Wet pixel and Nature’s Best Photography. While running shark expeditions his business has hosted many of the worlds top nature filmmakers and magazines such as Imax, National Geographic, BBC Wildlife and the Discovery Channel. Abernethy lives in Palm Beach, Florida. You are invited to visit his website at www.scuba-adventures.com.

Courtesy of Sailors for the Sea.
jim abernethy swimming with sharks
Sharks today are facing the threat of extinction. It is estimated that nearly 100 million sharks are needlessly harvested from the ocean each year. Scientists believe that if sharks become extinct we will essentially destroy the delicate balance that is necessary for the survival of thousands of marine species! Severe depletion of certain species is already revealing devastating effects in some areas of the world. Allowing the marine ecosystem to collapse is not an option for mankind. Considering the fact that at least one third of the oxygen we breathe, and a large percentage of the food we eat, come from the ocean, immediate change from present day practices must be mandated if we are to ensure a healthy future for all. We have the knowledge and means to implement prudent restrictions, but will we actually make the changes necessary to avoid an otherwise imminent environmental quagmire?

As a nature photographer, conservationist and owner of a live-aboard dive ecotourism business, I have lived at sea for the last decade; I spend the majority of my life underwater. Diving with large predatory sharks in their natural environment (without a cage) has allowed me to witness firsthand the true and gentle nature of these animals. What is also remarkably evident is the serious decline in their numbers. While my passion to observe and photograph sharks all over the world continues, it is undoubtedly becoming more challenging to find them. As a photographer and filmmaker, I strive to bring their beauty and magnificence to those who would otherwise not experience these awesome creatures up close; all in the hopes of inspiring more people to advocate for their survival. Most people only see sharks through the lens of the media that perpetuates the misconception that they are man-eating monsters. The truth is, we pose the greatest threat-not just to sharks, and marine life in general, but to our own existence on the planet. When we continue to exploit the ocean’s resources, instead of coming to a place of appreciation and ethical stewardship, we harm ourselves the most. Preservation of our biodiversity not only demonstrates vision, it protects the natural resources so essential to our own survival. Sharks are not dispensable.

There are roughly 500 known species of shark and they have graced this planet for nearly 415 million years. Yet today, sadly, only ten percent of the large predatory sharks remain worldwide-only three are protected by restrictions on international trade (the basking, whale and white sharks). Like mammals, most sharks mature late in life and only produce a few offspring; too often sharks are harvested before they have had a chance to reproduce. Present day fishery regulations, primarily designed for bony fishes, are not adequately protecting sharks. Species such as the great white, hammerheads, tigers, bulls, lemons, and oceanic whitetip sharks are likely to face extinction in the not too distant future unless a resolution for their preservation is demanded by the public and enforced by governments worldwide.
shark and diver
As mentioned in my new book, Sharks Up Close, the primary offenders to shark populations are the fisheries that provide catch for the Asian delicacy, shark fin soup. The shark fins are cut off, then the fish is thrown back and left to drown. Because this occurs at sea, few people are aware of this inhumane routine. Can you imagine the public outcry if anyone could remove the appendages of selected land creatures (such as dogs), only to leave them in the street to die? We protect many national treasures by designating them as parks, but sadly we do very little to protect pristine offshore regions. At the time of this writing, while the Gulf coast is suffering incomprehensible damage from the BP oil spill, less than .5 percent of the world’s oceans are under some sort of protected status. According to leading conservationists, at least twenty percent of the world’s underwater areas should be protected as a marine reserve-the Gulf coast is a prime example of a location that needed those safeguards in place, for environmental and economic reasons. Palau is the first nation to designate an area as a “shark sanctuary”, and it is my hope other nations will follow this example.

Another major concern is the unsafe consumption of sharks because of the toxic levels of mercury found in them. “There is no known safe level of mercury”, according to World Health Organization. High levels of mercury may cause impairment of vision, speech, hearing, memory, and may also lead to sterility and sexual dysfunction. Outside of harvesting “poisoned” sharks for their meat, their existence is also threatened for the following reasons: fishing tournaments, commercial fishing by-catch, habitat destruction, and pollution. Some people believe shark cartilage supplements can cure diseases or heal ailments; it should be noted, there are no scientific studies to support this claim.
tiger shark and diver
Many steps need to be taken to replenish shark and fish populations. As individuals, we can have a big impact on how business is done by being a conscientious consumer and only supporting sustainable fisheries. New regulations for fisheries-from the state level to worldwide-need to be put into place before it is too late. Better care of marine habitats and water quality is also key. Every effort makes a difference; from instituting marine reserves to private citizens signing petitions in protest of shark fishing tournaments. While “catch and release” is better than killing the fish, some species are unable to survive the trauma; especially true for larger species of shark. Global warming is of course also linked to the well-being of sharks.

It is our actions that have directly, and indirectly, caused them such harm; now it is us that must save them. John Sawhill said, “In the end, our society will be defined not by what we create, but what we refuse to destroy.” We are their only hope; future generations of sharks, and people, are depending on us.

We can all make a difference:

  • Join organizations like SfS that work to protect our oceans
  • Boycott shark products and businesses that produce them, such as Shark Fin Soup; Shark liver oil (squalene) based cosmetics and creams — Preparation H for example and many face creams, lip balms, etc. Endangered deep water sharks are targeted for their liver oil, and plant based alternatives are equally if not more effective; Nutritional supplements like shark cartilage and shark liver oil. Scientific evidence does not support the health claims of these products.
  • Shark Jaw Souvenirs
  • Reduce, Re-use, & Recycle
  • Support “shark-friendly” officials such as US Senator John Kerry – Sponsor of S. 850: Shark Conservation Act of 2009; US Delegate to Guam, Madeleine Bordallo – Sponsor of H.R. 81: Shark Conservation Act of 2009; and Senator Clayton Hee who authored and introduced the historic SB 2169 to Prohibit the Sale, Distribution and Possession of Shark Fins in the State of Hawaii. This bill has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be signed into law within the next month by Governor Linda Lingle.
  • Sign petitions that strive to PROTECT sharks from overfishing & pollution
  • Fundraise for non-profit organizations such as: Shark Savers – http://www.sharksavers.org; WildAid – http://www.wildaid.org; Shark Foundation – http://www.shark.ch; Iemanya Oceanica (Adopt-A-Shark) – http://www.iemanya.org
  • If you fish, please practice “catch and release” and only fish for sustainable species

Learn what sharks are really like by going on a shark encounter with a reputable shark diving operation. Visit www.scuba-adventures.com to learn more about shark encounter expeditions.

How to Tie 3 Important Sailing Knots

Category : Equipment

There are as many sailing knots as there are stars in the night sky — or so it seems. But the reality is that most sailors can get along with only knowing a few, as long as they’re the right ones. In this blog I’ll single out three very important sailing knots, explaining what they’re used for and how to tie them. Don’t forget, it’s necessary to practice these in order to get them down. Your fingers need the tactile learning experience in order to develop muscle memory that will allow you to tie them quickly when you need to!

Knowing these basic knots will make you more useful as a sailing companion. Next time you go out sailing with a friend, take a charter, or join a flotilla, you’ll feel more comfortable helping out around the boat when it’s time to put fenders out, tie up to the dock, or make a line fast.

So, read about the knots here, and practice with any old piece of rope you have handy. (A synthetic rope like the ones used on sailboats works best!) Then sign up for an ASA sailing course to get hands-on practice.
how to tie a bowline
1. Bowline

The bowline is the king of sailing knots. It has been in use by sailors continuously for at least 500 years. Simply put, the bowline is way of turning the end of your line into a loop. Why is this useful? You can tie it around a post or other fixed object to make the line fast, or on smaller boats it is used fasten the halyard to the sail. It can also be used to tie two lines together. It has a number of practical uses as well, such as hanging a hammock. Under pressure the bowline tightens, so it won’t give way. However, note that it’s impossible to untie while bearing a load!

HOW TO TIE IT:
Step 1: Form a loop near the end of the line. (How much of the line you leave will depend on how big you want the final knot to be.)
Step 2: Run the end of the line back through that loop.
Step 3: Next, run the line around the standing end and back through the small loop.
Step 4: Now grasp the end and pull the knot tight.
Step 5: You should have a large loop now! Congratulations, you’ve tied a bowline.
how to tie a clove hitch
2. Clove Hitch

A clove hitch is an extremely useful and quick knot. It has the advantage of being very quick to tie and untie, but it doesn’t hold nearly as well as the bowline. On sailboats, one of its most common uses is hanging the fenders over the side as you come in to dock.

HOW TO TIE IT:
Step 1: Wrap the end of the line around the post (or whatever you’re attaching it to).
Step 2: Cross the line over itself and wrap it around the post again.
Step 3: Loosen the last wrap slightly and slip the end under, then pull it taut. This is a way of “locking” the knot.
Step 4: Give it a few tugs to make sure it’s secure, and you’re done!
how to tie a cleat hitch
3. Cleat Hitch

This type of knot is designed especially for one purpose, and I bet you can guess what that is. If you said, “Making the line fast to a cleat,” you were correct. As you might imagine, this is used all the time on a sailboat, whether you’re docking, towing a dinghy, or rigging a preventer. Knowing how to do it will make you a much handier sailing companion!

HOW TO TIE IT:
Step 1: Make a wrap around the base of the cleat. Begin your wrap on the edge furthest away from where the line originates.
Step 2: Make a figure 8 on the cleat. If the line is going to be under a lot of pressure, and the cleat is big enough, repeat this two or three times.
Step 3: Add a hitch to the final turn to lock it. Do this by making a loop with the tail end underneath, hook it around the cleat, and pull taut. The tail end should be pointing away from the line’s origin.

Remember, practice makes perfect! Don’t be surprised or discouraged if these sailing knots don’t come out right the first few dozen times you do them. But enough practice, and they’ll become like second nature. Armed with just these few knots, you’ll make a great addition to any crew, including one of the charter groups on our flotillas to places like Scotland, Croatia, and Tahiti.