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TGIF

TGIF!

Greetings and Happy Friday.

I’m excited to report that The Glamour and the Squalor, the documentary about influential DJ Marco Collins, has been funded! They will be completing the last few shots and editing the movie with the funds raised through the Kickstarter campaign. As I discussed last Friday, Marco was a DJ at a then-new Seattle ‘alternative rock’ station in the early 1990’s (can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that’s 20 years ago now…)

As the trailer states, he was in some measure responsible for launching the careers of many artists from Weezer and Nirvana to The Presidents and The Prodigy–bands that have influenced both other bands and listeners to this day. I’m thrilled that this film is going to be made–it’s an important piece of music history that deserves documentation.

Onto other topics! Last weekend we spent a bit of time at Point no Point lighthouse beach. Point No Point lighthouse is the oldest in Puget Sound with an in service date of 1879. If you were to walk past the lighthouse and turn right, you’d be looking due South down Puget Sound. In the distance, you’d see the tops of tall buildings in downtown Seattle poking up over Magnolia bluff.

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It’s still a functional aid to navigation for the Puget Sound, which has two major port cities–Seattle and Tacoma–as well as lots of cruise ship traffic during the Spring/Summer season, multiple ferry routes with hundreds of crossings daily, and military vessel traffic (we have one of the largest submarine bases in the nation here as well as two Naval bases). In order to ensure all of this traffic is safely managed, the US Coast Guard operates the Vessel Traffic Service in Puget Sound and related inland waterways.

In essence, the VTS acts as air traffic controllers for the inland waterways. They prevent collisions, groundings, and other potential accidents that could result in a major pollution spill (think Exxon Valdez), disruption to vessel-based trade/commerce, or worse. The VTS oversees waterways covering over 3,500 square miles, and connects with the Canadian Vessel Traffic system to ensure comprehensive vessel traffic monitoring coverage throughout all major inland waterways.

VTS employs a vessel traffic separation scheme (in essence, a defined ‘vessel highway’ for large commercial/military vessels with North/Southbound travel lanes clearly defined by buoys), radar surveillance, an Automatic Identification System or AIS for larger vessels, and a dedicated VHF radio vessel reporting system. They also monitor a specific VHF radio channel for vessel traffic reporting. This service is as essential as air traffic control–few civilians well ever be aware of it, but every time you have a safe ferry crossing the VTS has done its job.

As a recreational boater in Puget Sound and other inland waterways, you must know the VTS ‘rules of the road’–where you can and cannot pass, how to safely navigate around commercial/military/ferry traffic, etc. It’s a complex and ever-changing environment, and if you’re at the wheel you must have a high degree of situational awareness. It’s not uncommon for a ferry boat or big ship to suddenly be much closer than you thought because you weren’t paying attention–and then you realize you’re violating their right of way (and often times they are moving faster than you, especially in a sailboat). The US Coast Guard Auxiliary as well as many other organizations offer boater safety courses; I highly recommend any recreational boater new to Puget Sound waterways take them.

Hopefully I’ve managed to both teach most of you something new–and/or you stopped reading after the photo of the pretty lighthouse. In any case, have a great weekend!

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