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March, 2013

With traces of snow on the ground, it's hard to believe that there are only seven weeks until "Thunder Over Louisville." At this point, I think I'll leave my shrink-wrap on the boat for a few more weeks just in case we get one of those massive snowfalls that March can bring.

As we head into Spring, there are still some LSPS courses available. See below for more information on them as well as other items of interest.

First Aid and CPR/AED Course

On February 28th, Port KY hosted a First Aid/CPR course for boaters. It was a full class of 12 students, all local boaters. The course was advertised on the Port KY River Forum, and was fully booked in less than 36 hours.

It was great seeing so many boating friends all in the same place, all learning how to stay safe and take care of each other on the water in case of an emergency. If you have an interest in attending a future class, send in an e-mail and we'll add you to the notification list for the next course. link


Above, two of our local boaters with their new CPR buddies

Another Downtown Destination

As boaters, we're always looking for fun trips and a good reason to go somewhere. With the Louisville side of the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge open, you can head down to the waterfront docks by Tumbleweed Tex-Mex Grill*, then walk over the bridge to Jeffersonville and back.

The ramp on the Indiana side should open some time this summer. The bridge also makes for a good spot to view the river and its traffic.


Above, an early morning picture from a vantage point on the Big Four Bridge. Photo courtesy of Don Sivori, who serves as a Founding Member of the Photo Forum Camera Club of Louisville

Downtown Jeffersonville

If you've been following the River Forum, you're aware that some changes are coming to the Jeffersonville riverfront.

For starters, there is a plan. With the plan moving forward, the boaters currently using the Jeffersonville waterfront docks have received by mail notification that their leases will expire in November, 2013. Construction, per that plan, is to start by early 2014. There will be new docks, and those boaters already there will be the first to be offered dockage again beginning 2015.

Here's where it gets interesting. First, the plan is to remove the current docks all the way from the bridge up to Jeffboat. A fixed barrier will be installed upriver, with floating docks in place of the current ones. The new docks will feature amenities such as CATV, in addition to water and electric.

Second, the USACE has not been presented with plans that they could either approve or deny for such a project projecting out into the river. Third, the story continues that there is no current funding allocated to start construction.

So what about the boaters already there? They will have to scramble to find a new home after November, or roll the dice that they can stay longer. Many are asking why those boaters were not involved in the planning process.

We'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.


Above, the Jeffersonville waterfront, as viewed in February from the Big Four Bridge


Updated Links

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently moved many of their links, and the "Resources" page of the Port KY Site has been updated. Also corrected were some other links that had become either relocated or outdated. Included are links to our local navigation charts, as well as notices to mariners.

In case you haven't been there for a while, check out the page for some good boating and safety pages: link

More on the "Great Loop":

In the past, we've chronicled some of the movements of local boaters. Another local couple currently exploring the Great Loop would be Tom and Margie Binzer, who left the area in early October. After exploring the Tennessee River to Chattanooga, they headed south, down the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway to Florida.

While the rest of us are stuck here in wintery conditions, they've been enjoying the moderate Florida temperatures recently. Here is a link to their blog so you can follow their trip in the "BlewGrass": link


Above, the Binzer's Mainship 390 at Green Turtle Bay last fall

Steam Calliopes

There is nothing quite like the sounds generated by an old steam calliope. I've heard Galt House visitors complain of the Belle's music as being "loud" and, at one extreme, "a little creepy." You've got to admit, there is something unique about the sounds generated by steam blowing through special orifices and directed through pipes. Some cringe as those pipes get out of pitch, a result of the heat constantly changing the characteristics of the tune pipes.

My wife and I have childhood memories of hearing the Delta Queen coming up the Ohio River. Her family lived a few blocks from the water, and they would drop everything to run down and see the approaching sternwheeler as it cleared the Dashields Lock. We also enjoyed the calliope on the Merry-Go-Round at Pittsburgh's Kennywood Amusement Park, still a local favorite.

Calliopes are few in number these days, and can be very expensive. Their operation is very simple, with a compressed supply of steam routed through valves. The calliope keyboard general goes from middle C to the G-note two octaves higher, so the range is less than that of an 88-key piano. Each key operates either a valve or a solenoid to a valve that allows the steam to be directed to a pipe.

The Belle of Louisville no longer plays underway, but you can hear their calliope during a 15-minute window that starts generally 30 minutes before departure. The music travels for over a mile, and the crew on the bridge wears ear protection as they conduct their pre-departure checks.

If you're musically inclined, you'd be interested in something we stumbled across on the internet. Jon Tschiggfrie is a native of Dubuque, Iowa who grew up listening to the sternwheeler Delta Queen as she chugged by on the Upper Mississippi. Jon, a talented professional musician, put together a recipe for replicating the sound of a steam calliope on a Yamaha electronic keyboard that you can buy for around $100. Following is what works:

1st Sound: Ocarina (#96 on our keyboard), gives a good whistle sound

Dual Sound: Shakuhachi (#342 on our keyboard), bamboo flute, provides the "chiff" needed to simulate the sudden rush of steam as a valve opens. Set this to 33% volume so as to not overrun the whistle sound.

Touch Sensitivity: Turn off, as organ valves are on/off, as opposed to touch-sensitive like a piano key.

Main Voice/Dual Voice Octaves: Select "1" to move everything up an octave. That way you can have a more comfortable playing centered at the keyboard. Remember, it starts with Middle-C, which you just moved to your left.

Reverb: set to your liking. We found that "20" worked well.

That's all you need, so dig out your favorite vintage waltzes and ragtime music. You'll be amazed at how closely Jon's recipe comes to replicating the tones. If you try it at home, we guarantee you'll make your dogs howl and bring a tear to your grandmother's eye.

Jon Tschiggfrie, by the way, has several videos available through a YouTube search, and is currently working on a new website.


Above, a young boater and practicing musician attempts the "Maple Leaf Rag" on a typical Yamaha keyboard

For our Licensed Captains: OUPV/Masters Renewal

Time flies, and before you know it, you'll be upon the 5-year renewal deadline for your license. As a reminder, you can renew your OUPV or Master license up to a year prior to the expiration date. As you plan for your renewal, there are a few things you'll need to submit with your application.

Sea Service Forms

These will be used for both tracking your time and for consideration of tonnage upgrades.

Renewal Certificate

Unless you can show 360 "days" of sea service within the preceding 5 years, you'll need to attend a USCG-approved renewal course.

I recently attended such a class, and found the one-day course to be a good refresher of the knowledge we learned during the original 3-week course. We started with a review of Navigation Rules, followed by a test. Next, we did several plotting exercises to brush the rust off those skills that many seldom use in this day of chart plotters and GPS.

The test for plotting was a little challenging, as there were 10 questions that each built on the previous answers. You can imagine how a wrong turn with the plotter could send you back to the starting line. Fortunately, we were well-instructed, and in the end, everybody did just fine. To finish out the day, we covered general topics such as deck safety and first aid, followed by another test of our knowledge.

It is worth mentioning that like any review course, you'll get out of the material what you put into it. In my case, I prepared by reviewing my notes and flash cards from the original class. That, combined with using the material on an occasional basis at sea, made it easy. In the end, the one-day renewal course was a good review, and well worth the effort.


Above, Capt. David Wickham instructs an OUPV/Master Renewal class on plotting. TrueCourse Captain's School* is a local provider that hosts classes well within driving distance of Louisville. As in the past, they come to Louisville when they get enough numbers. Contact Capt. Ron Getter for more information: link

First Aid/CPR Course

Per the USCG's Policy Letter CG-543 dated May 10, 2010, a First Aid/CPR course is required within the previous year for mariners operating where "the geographic area over which service is authorized precludes obtaining medical services within a reasonable time."

Port KY plans to host this class as a service to our boaters occasionally, so be sure to check your in-box or the site's event page: link

Drug Testing

In addition, you'll need to supply proof that you are enrolled in a drug testing program as required by 46 CFR 16.230. If you are currently enrolled in a program, your provider will be able to provide a certificate of compliance.

Medical Exam

For the medical examination, you can use your own doctor, but be aware that he or she may not be familiar with the USCG requirements. Port KY has a favorite, a local doctor who is a licensed captain and is familiar with the forms and the USCG process. Contact us for more information: link

Worker Identity Credential, or TWIC card

It is worth noting that the TWIC cards are changing to a format that can be read by card readers. The application process fee for the new cards is $129. However, there is an option available from the TSA that will help many of you.

If your TWIC is current and expires prior to December 31, 2014, you can apply for an Extended Expiration Date (EED) TWIC. This new card will be good for 3 years at a cost of $60. As before, you'll need to visit an approved center. Fortunately, there is one nearby on Dupont Circle in Louisville.

This would be a good time to verify your TWIC's expiration date, then mark your calendar for renewal. Note that you should not renew until 4 months prior to your expiration date.

EED LINK: http://www.tsa.gov/sites/default/files/publications/pdf/twic/twic_expiration_policy.pdf



Here's a link to the USCG's National Maritime Center's Renewal Wizard, a series of instructions to help you plan:

Look for this information to be copied to a "Featured Article" in the near future for your reference.


Above, Capt. Allen Gailor completing a plotting exercise during the approved refresher course by TrueCourse Captain School in 2013

And Speaking of Captain's Classes

Capt. Ron Getter has informed us that the March 2013 TrueCourse Captains* OUPV course for Louisville will have to be postponed due to the number of sign-ups. We'll have more information concerning future classes as it becomes available.

Port KY River Cards

FREE, and Available NOW! You will find the latest version of the cards available on the counters at Marine Sales & Service*, Sea Ray*, Admiral's Anchor*, Kentuckiana Yacht and River's Edge Marina.

These cards are made possible by the people who help sponsor the site, and I'd like to thank our "Gold Sponsors" once again for their support! Click here for more information about our contributors and how to become one yourself: link


Reprint: Louisville Sail and Power Squadron Courses

Following are some courses you may be interested in taking:


"The safety and comfort of those who venture out-on-the water have always been weather dependent. In this course students will become keener observers of the weather. The course focuses on how weather systems form, behave, move, and interact with one another."

Where: Harrods Creek Fire Department 8905 US Hwy 42 in Prospect.
Price: $50 Members, $80 non-members
To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our web site: link

When: Eight sessions, Wednesday nights 7-9 PM, beginning March 27

America's Boating Course

"A fun, in-depth boating safety course. The United States Power Squadron's ABC course meets Kentucky and Indiana boating license requirements. Many boat insurance companies will offer discounts for boaters who complete this course."

Where: Harrods Creek Fire Department 8905 US Hwy 42 in Prospect.
Details: Price includes 244 page textbook, student CD, digital charting DVD including all US charts, and a 6 month USPS membership in the United States Power Squadron.
Price: $50. Families may share materials
To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our site: link

When: (2 classes to choose from)

Winter, Mondays in February 4, 11, 18, 25. 7-9 PM (underway)
Spring, two Saturdays in March 9 & 16. 9 AM- 1 PM

Advanced Piloting

(Classes are already underway)

Engine Maintenance

"Course covers the operating principles and beginning care and maintenance of inboards, outboards and diesels. Course will help you to "Know Your Boat".

Where: Middletown Christian Church, 500 Watterson Trail, Louisville, 40243
Price: $40 Members $70 non-members
To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our site: link

When: Spring, Eight sessions on Tuesday nights 7-9 PM March and April.


"Covers basic deck seamanship, marlinspike, anchoring, rafting, basic boat care and maintenance, and nautical and USPS etiquette."

Where: Harrods Creek Fire Department 8905 US Hwy 42 in Prospect.
Price: $50 Members $80 non-members
To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our site: link

When: Spring, Eight sessions on Tuesday nights 7-9 PM April and May

River Forum

Looking for the next great boating spot? What's the latest on your favorite restaurant? Want to know what marina is the best fit for your new vessel?

If you're not already there, the Port KY River Forum is a great place to see what's new and keep up to date. If you have any login issues, we're here to help. Forum Home: link

Slips for Sale

Still our Most Popular Newsletter Link, just updated!

There are still some listings for slips for sale or lease. There were recently five slips that sold as a direct result of the Port KY site, and the "Slips" page has been one of the most popular destinations: link

That's it for now--Stay safe, and we'll see you on the water!

Eric Grubb
USCG Licensed Master
Webmaster, PortKY.com

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