Do you have
questions about boat handling, communications,
and navigating the local Ohio River? Send them
in and we'll try to get you a good answer.
Are you on
the Forum? Many of these questions came from
there, and these are the short answers to the more general questions.
PortKY River Forum (link to left) for more information
AND many more questions from our members.
Submit your inquiries
using the feedback link above. -Eric
Previously submitted questions
(listed newest to oldest):
11/12: I have a contract to purchase a slip at (a local marina). It was listed on Port KY. I have never purchased a slip before and was looking for some guidance. I would like to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
For starters, you should find a closing attorney to handle the transaction. As it is deeded property, they can handle the appropriate courthouse paperwork and talk to you about a title search or any outstanding leins. As with a house or other property, they will give you a statement of estimated closing costs and tell you how much you need to bring to the settlement. A few things to consider are settlement fees and any taxes owed. I've found the process to be pretty straight-forward.
07/12: A friend had a window broken on his Carver from the wakes from a commercial vessel in (a small area). What should he do (to seek damages)?
From a good source: Get the vessel name, exact time of the incident, exact location of the incident and any witnesses. Call the Coast Guard on Marine Channel 16. ALL boat operators, private and commercial, are responsible for damages caused by their wakes to persons and property. Most cell phones today have cameras and "a picture is worth a thousand words." The main phone number at Sector Ohio Valley is 502-779-5300.
04/11: (Regarding Thunder) Does the corps reduce the flow at the locks and dam to control the flow during Thunder?
From forum member "Skip":
"No! The Corps does not shut the gates to retard the flow. As an ex-employee I can assure you that that doesn't happen...I was Captain on the Star about five years ago when the dam was 'all out' and the number of boats that fouled anchor lines was amazing!"
Eric adds, click here for more information about interpreting the NOAA hydrographs: link
03/11: Is it safe to swim in the Ohio River?
I grew up swimming in the river, and learned to take some precautions. Specifically, I would not recommend getting in the water within 72 hours of a heavy rainfall or flooding, as these conditions could exceed the capacities of some of the upriver sanitary treatment systems.
Also, take precautions on the shore to prevent cuts or scraps from rusty or abrasive objects that may have washed ashore during high waters.
Unlike some of our large, local lakes that are controlled by flood-control dams, the river is a constantly refreshing system. -Eric
Upon seeing the cows at Grassy Flats (above), a medical professional wrote-in with the point that humans are susceptable to infection from contanimated fresh water sources, through either consumption or contact. These waterborne baterial infections include, but are not limited to, Botulism,
Cholera, E. coli,
Salmonellosis. "Don't even get me started on the Protozoals."
03/11: Why do you only emphasize the "captain's" classes, when they aren't for everybody?
Port KY LLC is proud to be the only local group that promotes the OUPV and Masters courses for experienced boaters who want to expand their knowledge and earn a USCG license. Many do it for the same reason that a Private Pilot hones their skills and pursues the Commercial Pilot rating--that would be for the extra knowledge, insurance breaks, personal achievement and the ability to operate for hire.
Having said that, we also work with both the USCG Auxiliary and the Louisville Sail & Power Squadron to promote their classes for the youth and beginning boaters. All boaters between 12-18 need to attend one of these classes or an online course to operate on KY waters. These classes also offer a good review for exerienced boaters, and the LSPS also has advanced courses available.
See the Events link for upcoming classes, which are predominantly in the spring. -Eric
03/11: Can you help me find a slip to purchase or lease?
These questions come in every spring, as people shuffle their boats around or look for a spot for their winter purchase. I would suggest that you look at the "Marinas" link to get a basic idea of what's around.
Next, check with the marina websites or dockmasters to see what they can tell you. A majority of the slips are individually owned, so look for posters at the marinas and ask your friends. You can also check the classifieds.
I have noticed that paid ads in the newspaper are becoming less popular as free services like Craigslist become available. In the past, I tried listing slips on this site, but the workload was too high. I may revisit that in the future. -Eric
03/11: I'm a new boater--What's the "safest" place to hang-out on the river?
An attorney and boating friend said it best: "Tied to your dock." We're not trying to be sarcastic, but rather are trying to point out that you should educate yourself as to the risks and nuances associated with different areas of the river.
For example, when you master anchoring and learn how to avoid commercial traffic, you be able to enjoy a much safer boating experience. You can start by visiting the "Local Knowledge" section by and taking a safe boating course.
Also, ask your neighbors and peers where they like to go. The answer will vary based on the size and type of boat. The "Port KY River Forum" is another good place to ask people for more specific information. -Eric
03/11: Some guy was selling pizzas at 18 Mile Island. Can you legally make pizzas on a little boat for profit?
No, you can't make and sell pizzas on a boat without a permit. You're referring to Bob Conrad from River's Edge Marina (a Port KY sponsor, by the way). They have a fully functioning kitchen at the marina that has been approved by the local health department. The delivery is only that, a delivery. So, enjoy the pizza! -Eric
02/11: Why don't you feature more things south of Louisville?
Frankly, the majority of the local boaters stay north of McAlpine Locks and Dam. It's fun exploring new territory, so I'd recommend that you consult the charts if you're heading down that way. There are a few "Featured Articles" with pics using the menu link to the left. -Eric
10/10: What's this? Spotted by "iflyboeing" north of
votes that it is a duck blind, installed
by some hunters.
Be careful making duck sounds
as you pass! -Eric
09/10: When should I winterize?
Depends on where you keep your boat
and how you use it. I winterize my small boat as
soon as it gets too cold to enjoy it. I keep my cruiser
going until early December, as it sits in warm water
and I like having it ready for the occasional nice
day out. Late Fall, with less precipitation, offers
some of the best river conditions of the season.
As I type this, I just returned from a cruise in
45 degree weather, where we enjoyed no wind and the
warmth of the sun under the bridge enclosure.
Visit the forum for many other discussions
and tips on winterizing, including how to do it and
who provides shrinkwrap services. -Eric
08/10: [At a restaurant] Why do I need
my captain's license? I've been on the river for 30
years now and never needed one.
Well then, respectfully, I'm not
sure if I can help you. In all seriousness, I encourage
everybody to keep learning and broaden their skills.
become a safer and more aware boater in ways you
never imagined. Who knows--one day you may decide
to use your license to earn a secondary income. -Eric
08/10: Why don't you have more pictures
and information about parties on the water?
I decided early-on to focus on safety,
education and information for the Louisville river
boater. I'm a family man and don't have time to do
are some links to a few of the local social organizations:
Also, see the Links/Resouces tab to the left for
a few more sailing groups. -Eric
08/10: Capt. Eric, what type of boat
do you have?
We have a cruiser
that we keep in a local marina and a '90 Wahoo
1850. I use the Wahoo, affectionately known as the
"Pod Racer," for most of the zipping around required
by the maintenance and picture-gathering for this
Above is a picture of the "Pod
Racer," . If you see it, feel free to stop by
and introduce yourself.
08/10: [Forum] We were thinking about
putting in at Cox’s Park and going down to
catch Waterfront Wednesdays. Does anybody
have any information about docking/anchoring during
From "iflyboeing": I have been many
times. If your boat is trailerable, then you're in
the size range where you can shoe horn in somwhere.
(ie, you should be able to get a spot). Biggest issue
is that you'll be heading back after dark. Pay very
close attention to the presence of commercial traffic.
You will be passing the Louisville Marine Terminal
where there are often fleeting operations going on.
Just maintain good situational awareness. Make sure
you have a VHF radio as well.
From Eric: See the "Events" link
for more information on Waterfront Wednesdays.
08/10: [Forum] Does anyone know how
much they charge to launch a jetski right there in
Eric: That is a private operation.
08/10: "Do I need a VHF Radio
on the Ohio River?" (Overheard this question at
a boat store)
That's an emphatic "Yes."
See "Featured Articles" under "Operating Your Boat"
for a detailed explanation of why. -Eric
08/10: Can I park my boat overnight
The answer is a qualified "yes." See
the "Marinas & Fuel" link to the left for more information.
08/10: How far is it to Madison?
Short answer--downtown Madison is
Mile 558, roughly 45 miles from Louisville. I would
suggest that you consult one of our "PortKY
River Cards" for
a quick view, and don't forget to take along a set
off USACE Ohio River Navigation Charts. -Eric
Contributor Capt. Steve
adds: "Charts can be downloaded and printed at USACE
Navigation Data Center. The nice thing is you can
print off just the pages you need." See the Resources
link to the left for the place to download the charts.
Why can't I get an offer on my boat (for sale)?
Short answer is 1) Repo'd boats are
flooding certain markets, 2) credit is harder to
come by, 3) buyers are having a harder time using
home equity for purchases, 4) banks are requiring
more of a down payment, 5) with fewer buyers and
a depressed market, boats are being valued lower,
6) many otherwise qualified buyers are sitting on
is a bright side in that people are still buying,
and those on the sidelines will usher in the recovery
when their confidence returns. I would suggest
making your boat the nicest out there to grab the
attention of buyers. If you're moving up, I'd say
take the loss on the smaller boat and take advantage
of the prices on the bigger ones. New boats are still
expensive because production was slowed and supply
was reduced over the past few years. You'll also
notice less floor-planning.
Talk to your broker
for more information. -Eric
07/10: Where can I get a copy of the "PortKY
These cards are produced as supplies
run low and are distributed to several local marine
stores. Grab one for you and another for your friends.
If you find them useful, I would ask that you make
a small donation to the site to offset the costs (see
cards or the "Feedback" link above for the address).
07/10: Sometimes, when I am the sole
boater around (say, next to one of the islands),
huge swells appear seemingly out of nowhere. I have
guessed that these are due to locks releasing water.
Is this correct?
My first guess would be wakes and propwash
from barges. These tend to trail some barges for over
a mile. -Eric
To your wakes
and propwash, I would add wave reflectivity. Often
the waves will reflect from the banks (especially
where there is a vertical surface like barge or
sea walls, and will actually increase in size as
the waves pile up on top of each other. My oberservations
from the commercial tows have been the propwash
and the standing wave they create run parallel
with the river banks, and can also be additive
with other barge traffic. Since they are traveling
with the path of the river, that could account
the the "appear seemingly out of nowhere" as
described in your question. I was caught between
two tows going opposite directions...the bottom of
the standing wave was so deep I lost sight of the
horizon! -PH, Engineer
Most likely those wakes were caused
by a fast moving boat that was gone before the wake
broke at the shoreline. -George
07/10: I am planning a surprise 40th
birthday party for a friend of mine, and I’m
trying to find someone with a cabin cruiser who I could
pay to pick us up at Tumbleweed...
That sounds like a commercial operation,
so make sure you find a licensed captain who meets
the USCG requirements to ensure the safety of you
and your guests. With a licensed captain, you get
somebody who's been trained in not just the navigation
rules, but also deck safety and first aid. They've
also been enrolled in a random drug-testing program
and had were also subjected to felony background
I can recommend
a few local services who do exactly what you're
asking for. -Eric
06/10: Do you know what is going
on with the barges at the end of 12 mile? It looks
as if they are removing them. That would be fantastic!
I can’t find anything about it, so I would really
like to know. Thanks!
Those are being removed for scrap.
Boaters should exercise caution in that area, as there
may be submerged metal and sharp edges in that area.
05/10: This (the newsletter) is awesome!
How can I get on the e-mail list for the website?
The e-mails are sent out as news accumulates,
which can be every month in the summer or sporadically
in the winter. All you have to do is register for the
forum and you'll be on the list.
Also, thanks for the compliment!-Eric
01/10: Where can I list a slip for
We have disabled that feature on
the site. Besides checking for ads at the marinas,
I would suggest you check with the newspaper classifieds
or Craigslist.org. -Eric
01/10: Who are the local brokers (and
For starters, I would suggest that you check the "Services" link to the left for a comprehensive listing of local businesses.
Business who contribute to this site
are also listed on the "Sponsors" page. Please support
them and thank them for helping the PortKY site.
-Eric (updated 10/10)
01/10: I have a handheld
Garmin GpsMap 60csx. I was curious about buying some
more in depth software for marine use. anyone have
any experience with the Garmin inland lakes software?
The PC software is called "MapSource BlueChart".
The CD is "BlueChart Americas". The region
to unlock is "US (including Alaska & Hawaii)">>"US
INLAND RIVERS" Region US036-Inland Rivers, Jul
Once you buy the disk, you
can go online to "unlock" a
portion of the disk, which was Inland Rivers if I
remember correctly. Next, I was able to copy that
part of the CD to the PC. From there, you can use
it on the PC and upload to your GPS unit. They have
a newer software version out now called BlueChart
G2, but I think you'd be fine with the old one on
Having said all that, I'm not sure if you need GPS
charting capability on the river unless you plan to
01/10: Where can I attend
a safe boating course?
The United States Power Squadron is America's largest
non-profit boating organization dedicated to safe boating
through education. The Louisville Sail and Power Squadron
was chartered in 1959 as a unit of the United States
Power Squadron. LSPS promotes safe boating through
education, civic service and fraternal activities.
For more information about classes, activities, or
membership call visit our website (link) . -LSPS
12/09: Does anyone know
of a good site that contains water temperatures.
We have a link on the "Weather" page
on the site, but I have thought about moving it to "River
Conditions Here are the links I use: -Eric
11/09: Can you get an inspection
sticker from the Police, Sheriff's dept, or someone
else? I'd like to have the peace of mind that I have
passed the safety inspection, and avoid the hassle
of being stopped on a nice afternoon for a routine
The USCG Aux conducts checks and
issues the stickers at Cox Park several times a year.
We have the Louisville Sail and Power Squadron (LSPS)
here as well. That sticker indicates that you took
the time to demonstrate voluntary compliance, and
I'm convinced it made the difference in not getting
boarded a few times. BTW, there is an article on
the VSCs under "Featured
In addition to the USCG/USCG Aux/LSPS
Vessel Safety Checks, the LMPD provides voluntary
inspections and can give you an LMPD sticker.- Eric
09/09: What are some good day trips
in the area?
See Featured Articles (link at
left) for some suggestions. -Eric
09/09: If people cause damage from
their wake they are liable?
from "Ms. Mymoney": "If
they cause an inconvenience - no. If they cause
damage - yes. If they cause an inconvenience I
still exercise my right to get loose on them though." Couldn’t
have said it better myself- Eric
09/09: I've had difficulty finding
pumpout locations. Also, Captains Quarter's requires
that you bring your own adapter to screw into the
pumpout port and clamp onto their hose. Is this normal
practice in this area?
We’re going to add pumpouts
to the site in the future. For now, you’ve
Landing, Captain Quarters, a few more up Harrod’s
Creek, and one by Tumbleweed at the police
-as for the adapters, that is the exception, but not the rule. -Eric
08/09: What would you all think
about starting a voluntary directory of MMSI numbers
with members' names, info, etc.? That way we could
enter those into our DSC radios and unclutter channel
16. Plus it would be good practice in getting us
all more friendly and competent with the DSC feature
of our VHFs.
Good idea. Search the forum for
the thread with MMSI. -Eric
06/09: Where can I find a beaching
ladder for the bow of my boat?
Wesbar used to manufacture them,
but that is no longer the case. Your best bet it
to check e-Bay for occasional listings.
2010 Update: One of our sponsors
now sells them--check the "Sponsors" link to the
06/09: I have the Garmin data
card for my chartplotter...From what I gather, running
the Ohio may be simpler, i.e., "just stay in
the middle" for a 3ft draft boat, less confusing
nav aids, etc. If so, I see no need to buy a set
of Corps paper charts. Any opinions on this?
I would recommend you have
a set on board as a backup. It also makes
planning easier. If you have an insurance claim,
they can ask you if you have current charts and
know how to read them. -Eric
4/09: What is the status
of the docks at Buckhead's?
They were badly damaged
from Ike's winds in September. Update: as of 2010,
there is no indication that those docks will be reinstalled.
10/08: What is the Kentucky
State Law as it pertains to "Bow Riding"?
Do you have to have a manufacturer's built in seat
to ride on the front of the boat? What about a 40'
Cruiser or Express where someone is laying on the front
of the boat but against the upper deck which is a good
10 to 15 feet away from the bow or bow pulpit? Is this
considered bow riding?
Above, a vessel with bowriders
gets a friendly nod from authorities in the Thunder
- From Eric: We've all seen it out
there, and there have also been countless warnings
and citations issued. For the textbook answer, I
would suggest starting with the following links as
a primer: "Prohibited Riding" is described
at this KY link (5c.2).
Additionally, here is a USCG link describing "Negligent
Operation." Specifically, the USCG prohibites: "Bowriding,
also riding on seatback, gunwale, or transom." Here
is what KY currently defines as "Prohibited
- If a vessel is operating faster than at
idle speed, a person shall not ride:
- (a) On an enclosed bow;
- (b) Outside the protective railing
of a pontoon boat or houseboat;
- (c) On a seat which extends six (6)
inches above the plane of the gunwales;
- (d) On the sides, back, engine cover,
seat back; or
- (e) In an obviously dangerous position
which could lead to falling overboard
- From George, regarding larger vessels:
- "It is always at the very least imprudent,
and in most states illlegal, for passengers
to have their legs hanging off of any part
of a vessel when it is underway. There our
countless incidents involving death and serious
injury that resulted from setting on the back
of seats or dangling feet from a boat underway
so the ruling is sound.
- However, it has been my observation that
the KY Fish and Wildlife officers can be a
bit overzealous in enforcement of these regs
when it comes to larger vessels that are designed
for coastal or near coastal waters when these
vessels are being operated safely and responsibly
on inland rivers and lakes.
- Concerning enforcement, a prolonged or heated
confrontation would probably be ill advised.
If cited for an alledged violation, I would
think that pictures of the vessel and design
criteria presented to the court would provide
a defense that would be recognized.
- And finally, from Eric: How's that
for a half answer? Have fun, be safe, and if you
let your friends ride out front (at idle, of course),
be aware of those twin 26" meat grinders down
So What about this one?
Snap-on sunpad not quite as legal. I can guarantee
you from talks with the authorities that they will
stop you if they see this.
9/08: (After the 75 mph
winds from Ike in September...) I drove down to the
river last night to check on my boat and when I drove
by the area of the Louisville Boat Club, I noticed
that several boats sunk while tied up. Any idea what
Several boats were swamped from
the waves generated by the winds, which were in excess
of 40 kts. steady gusting to over 50 kts. for several
hours. There is a point where the bilge pumps just
couldn't keep up, and those unfortunate boats sank.
8/08: I know sailboats
have the right of way under sail, but what do you think
about a sailboat that takes a wide-open river and does
a quick tack putting himself on a collision course
with you right off your port front? I had a guy do
it to me yesterday, so I sped up to avoid a collision.
I waked him, but it was my best option rather than
stopping or turning.
The sailboat that you had the encounter with
was within his rights according to the USCG Rules
Of the Road. Your response was correct to avoid
him (Was it the best option?). You are only respsonsible for "damage" from
your wake, not discomfort.
From Eric: "While the Sailing
Vessel had the Right of Way according to the rules,
he also has a responsibility per the Rules of the
Road to avoid collision. When he turned in front
of you, you should have sounded the Danger/Doubt
Signal consisting of Five Short Blasts. It is entirely
possible that he pushed his Right-of-Way a little
too far by causing uncertaincy and a risk of collision."
08/11 Update: Upon reading this, a local sailor provided an afternoon cruise on his sailboat to offer another perspective. I learned that sailboats sometimes have no choice but to zig-zag up or down the river (tacking). Powerboaters should give enough space as they close on a sailboat to allow for such a maneuver.
Additionally, it is worth noting that a sailboat with the engine running is treated the same as a power-driven vessel under the Nav Rules, even if the sails are flying. It is highly unusual around here, however, to see a sailboat, or any other boat for that matter, displaying proper day-shapes. -Eric
8/08: I'd like more information
on getting a safety check?
From Eric: See "Featured Articles" for
a summary from Rick Schal on Vessel Safety Checks.
Also, there are some links provided under "Links/Resources."
I noticed that the charts
say all vessels must contact Vessel Traffic Services
between Twelve Mile Island and downtown Louisville
when the McAlpine Upper is greater than 13'. Does this
include me pulling out of the Louisville Yacht Club?
From George: I believe that is for
commercial traffic. However, if you were to lock
through you would need to contact them. I did a high
water rescue once for a disabled houseboat, and they
fouled props down around the Kingfish, and I was
talking to Louisville traffic on that one.
You mentioned in your "Running
the Boat at Night" article that your radar should
be on from the time you leave the dock. Is this a requirement
for recreational boats or just commercial operators?
From George: It is a USCG requirement
that radar equipped vessels are required to have
their unit on and a radar watch posted when they
are underway. It is not normally enforced on recreational
vessels but I put that bit in there to convince folks
to use the radar evry time they use the boat day
and night. That's the only way to learn how to use
it and to ensure that it will work when you need
it. Besides they already paid for it and doesn't
cost any more to use it.
Reply: Does this mean a boat with
radar needs two people at the helm?
- From George: The rule (inland)
is not interpreted that way. The helmsman can be
the entire watch section except when entering a
lock (the Master must be on the bridge) or during
high water when the Coast Guard requires Louisville
Traffic to communicate with all vessels up and
down bound in this area.
We had a problem on Six
Mile Island with a barge getting too close and mooring
at the "Federal Mooring Bouys for Emergency Use
Only." Can they do that?
Long answer. See the "Local
Knowledge" link to the left...
What is the story with "Party
Cove" located behind Six Mile Island?
Long answer. See the "Local
Knowledge" link to the left...
What equipment do you use to maintain the website?
Besides the "Pod Racer," which comes in handy for getting around on the river, here is the computer set-up:
- Canon Powershot SX-110 digital camera
- iMac Core i3, Intel 3.2 GHz processor
- Adobe Dreamweaver CS5 web-authoring software
- MacBook with a VPN, for secure updates on the road
What type of expenses do you have to run a site like Port KY?
Here's a quick run-down of the obvious and not-so obvious expenses:
- River Cards (Biggest Expense)
- Annual KY LLC Filing Fee
- Tax Preparation
- P.O. Box
- Envelopes, stationery and stamps
- Business Cards
- Web-authoring software upgrades
- VPN annual fee
Eric, Are you going to retire from the website?
Reminds me of an author I met at River's Edge one day. I asked him how much he was compensated for writing about places to stop on the river, and he said it was more like, "How much will it cost me to write this article?"
Again, I am grateful for our sponsors, who keep me slightly above the waterline!
We'd like to introduce our panel:
grew up around boats, and traded summers on board
his parents' Sea Rays for many man-hours of swabbing
the decks. He grew up in the little town of Sewickley,
Pennsylvania, home of the the Dashields Locks
and Dam and the USCG Cutter Osage. His family
would frequently navigate the Ohio, Allegheny
and Beaver Rivers, later moving the family cruiser
to Lake Erie.
As a commercial pilot, Eric
is currently qualified as a Certified Flight
Instructor and flies wide-body jets for a major
airline. He has owned recreational boats ranging
from PWCs to ski boats, day cruisers, and most
recently, a flybridge convertible that he keeps
in a local marina.
Eric is a USCG Licensed Master
with a Commerical Tow Assistance rating. Eric
conceived the idea for this website while searching
for information to help him become a safer and
more knowledgable local boater.
Capt. George East
East has been boating since he was seventeen,
has had other interests including flying (FAA
licensed pilot) car racing, and snow skiing,
but he has always remained an ardent boater.
After earning a USCG captain's license some 25
years ago, George spent time as a delivery and
demonstration captain for one of the major motoryacht
During this same period, while
he was building a successful construction and
ready mix concrete company, George still found
time to own and operate several boats including
two Chris-Crafts, a Gulfstar, and two Hatterases.
Fast forward to the present
to find George retired from his businesses,
devoting all of his energy to boats and the
boating industry. George currently holds a
100 Ton USCG Master's license. His specialties
are classic Chris-Craft and Hatteras yachts.
George instructed with the U.S. Power Squadron
for 15 years, and is now a broker with Paradigm
Yacht Sales in Louisville, Kentucky and Cape