January 2021
Launching a new ship with a ceremonial beverage has a long history among seafarers.

Some of the first ships built in America, such as the USS Constitution, were christened with wine or whiskey, but eventually champagne became the beverage of choice. The USS Maine was christened by the Secretary of the Navy’s granddaughter in 1890.

According to the BBC, the first royal to christen a ship (in the U.K.) with champagne was Queen Victoria in 1891, who broke a bottle of champagne against the HMS Royal Arthur. Tradition has it that if the bottle doesn’t break, it is bad luck for the voyage.

Safety at Sea
Like vehicle drivers on roadways, boaters use signs and symbols for direction and information while boating. Signs posted on the water can communicate danger, exclusions, restricted operations, and other important information.

Want to test your knowledge of the Uniform Waterway Marking Systems?

Finding yourself in a sinking boat isn't a common occurrence—but holes below a boat’s water line and/or swamping can result in your boat taking on water. The winter months are the perfect time to assess your boat’s safety and prepare for worst-case scenarios like a sinking vessel. Be sure you know how to avoid—and contend with—a sinking boat.

Compass, a publication of America’s Boating Club, suggests the following first steps should your boat begin taking on water.

  • Make sure everyone is wearing a life jacket.

  • Request assistance from the Coast Guard or other authorities.

  • Check that bilge pumps are in working order.

  • Then take action to remove the accumulating water.

The Compass article also discusses bilge pumps, scuppers, and when to abandon ship.