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February, 2014

The trees are covered with ice, the ground is covered with snow and there are small bits of slush floating along our banks of the Ohio. The boat show got us excited about boating, but the groundhog in Punxsutawney says we have another six weeks of Winter.

On the bright side, Spring is right around the corner, and Thunder Over Louisville is just over eight weeks away! Here are some of the the newsworthy items as we get ready to round the corner toward better weather:

Recent Cold


Above, Branta canadensis, a Canada goose, trying to reconcile the fact that it's 15 degrees here, but he still has 1,000 miles to go!

Below, a recent photo of the Rose Island Yacht Club. Submitted by Ron Hartlage.


Boating Get-Together!

Chris Morris, famous for having a small fleet of boats at the Louisville Yacht Club, has been suffering from cabin-fever as much as the rest of us. In case you missed the discussion on the Port KY River Forum, Chris has organized an event for our Port KY boaters with the purpose of giving our boat people an excuse to get together!

March 8th, Captain's Quarters Restaurant
6:30 p.m. - ???

Plan to give Chris $10 per person for appetizers
Drinks and dinner are "on you"

RSVP: chris@adldental.com by March 1st

Please include your boat name for name tags!

Chris has also generously suggested that your Port KY founder not have to bear an expense for this event. While not necessary, I am truly honored and grateful. While not sponsored by Port KY, the get-together is for our Port KY boating enthusiasts.

Meanwhile, Somewhere Warmer!

Capt. Richard Smith reminds us again that we're only a two-hour flight from Florida. He and a few friends just returned from Key West, where his boat from Rose Island is avoiding winterization.

Pictured above, the catch-of-the-day includes First Mate Becky Wilson's Triggerfish. They could see the bottom in 80' of water, and also saw a school of Saucer-eyed Porgy. Photos courtesy Richard Smith

Safe Boating Classes

It's that time of the year again! We are pleased to announce that the USCG Auxiliary and the Louisville Sail and Power Squadron are gearing up for their Spring boating courses.

From the USCG Auxiliary

BOATING SAFELY COURSE, Offered by United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

TOPICS INCLUDE: Boating Law, Boating Safety Equipment, Safe Boating, Navigation and Trailering

LOCATION: Harrod's Creek Fire Department
8905 Highway 42, Prospect, KY

WHEN: (Two courses to choose from)

Session 1 – February 12 and 19, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Session 2 – February 26 and March 5, 6 to 9 p.m.

COST: $30 for materials which can be shared

REGISTRATION: By e-mail to Bill Deane at wsdeane@bellsouth.net

Note: A person 12 to 17 years old must possess a Safe Boating
Certificate to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft
in Kentucky.


From the Louisville Sail and Power Squadron:

America's Boating Course

A fun, in-depth boating safety course. The United States Power Squadrons' 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 web site at www.louisvillepowersquadron.com Public Boating Class; or www.USPS.org America's Boating Course- Classroom Course

When: Mondays in February 3, 10, 17, & 24. 7-9 PM (Already Underway)
Weekends: Two Saturdays in March 22 & 29. 9 AM- 1 PM

Additional Note: We are adding a 2 hour on-water content to the ABC Class. The on-water section will be held on May for interested ABC members from this winters courses.

Engine Maintenance

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

Where: Middletown Christian Church, 500 Watterson Trail, Louisville, 40243
Price: $50 Members $80 non-members

To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our web site at www.louisvillepowersquadron.com; or www.USPS.org | Locate Things | Advanced Courses

When: 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: $65 Members $95 non-members

To enroll: Contact 502-228-7227; or visit our web site at www.louisvillepowersquadron.com; or www.USPS.org | Locate Things | Advanced Courses

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

McAlpine Lock Closure (reprint)

Please note that per Navigation Notice 2013-035, the McAlpine Locks and Dam, Ohio River mile 606.8, North Chamber (Old) will have intermittent closures of up to 10 hrs. for maintenance between January 14, 2014 and April 18, 2014 from 7:00 a.m. thru 5:30 p.m. This closure is necessary to repair the lock culvert valves.

Site Finances and Sponsorships

In our last newsletter, I asked our boaters to help support the site and forum expenses. While our advertisers help, it is our boaters who make the difference in maintaining buoyancy. Expenses include things like tax preparation, LLC and Post Office box fees, not to mention professional-grade web hosting.

Many sites rely on annoying pop-ups and mouse-over advertisements to cover costs. Those ultimately detract from the quality of the site, so our alternative is to pass the tip jar and keep the site as clean and unobtrusive as possible. As in the past, I have committed to keeping the site going as long as our boaters cover the expenses. To that end, I would like to thank the following people who have contributed so far for 2014:

Tom Christensen
Dick & Bert Coomes
Tony Deye
Martin Doll
William & Jennifer Glass
Keith & Ruth Leitner

David Mann
Sean McPherson
Chris Morris
Robert Ring
Terry Shellhamer

Our Gold Sponsors ($20 or more per year) are recognized on the site's "Sponsor"s page and in this newsletter. They will also have a "Gold Sponsor" star next to their avatars on the forum to indicate their contribution to the site.

Anybody wishing to contribute to the site can do so via the PayPal link on the PortKY.com homepage, or via regular mail to the address at the bottom of this newletter. As always, your sponsorships are greatly appreciated, and help keep the site going.

Steering the Course and Full Circle Miscellanea

I am a firm believer that one should never stop learning, and a recent search for technical detail resulted in an adventure that connected my interests in an unexpected way.

Specifically, a friend acquired a radio-controlled 4-engined helicopter contraption that is commonly referred to as a "quadcopter." Many of my boating friends are unaware that before spending money on boats and kids, one of my favorite hobbies was radio controlled aircraft and helicopters. A fully-equipped quadcopter drone capable of carrying a good camera is still quite expensive, but recent innovations have brought good ones down to the thousand-dollar range.


Right, the future Port KY Social Media Director holding a quadcopter that we had a chance to test-fly at a local park.

This version was a DJI Phantom 2 Vision with a gimble-mounted video camera, and featured GPS with a "return-to-home" feature in case of a loss of signal.

Around the year 2000, miniaturization of circuitry was going through a revolution, and Futaba's ceramic piezo-electric gyros enabled a helicopter to "lock on" to a heading, enabling amazing 3-D aerobatics. Boaters are seeing some of the same miniaturization in play with new sensors from companies such as Raymarine, with its multiple-sensor external rate gyro sensor processors.

For years, commercial airliners and submarines have had laser-ring gyros oriented to cover the three axes of pitch, roll and yaw. With the miniturization of components, hobbiests decided to take three of those RC helicopter gyros and mount them to three axes, enabling stabilization in pitch, roll and yaw. In fact, you can now get a board for about $20 that has three gyros, accelerometers and a heading sensor.

Growing up around airplanes, there are a few names that I've witnessed over and over again when it comes to autopilots and avionics. These include companies like Sperry, Honeywell and Collins. Boaters will note that Rockwell Collins now owns Raytheon. Many people have misconceptions about how autopilots are used in commercial aircraft. One recent high-profile event led people to think that the autopilots "do everything," enabling pilots to get bored, play with their laptops and ultimately overfly their destinations.

Above, a Sperry autopilot control head from a 1970s-vintage airliner.

In reality, they are similar to an autopilot installed on your boat in that, at a basic level, they do rudimentary tasks like keep the wings level, hold a heading or even hold an altitude. Thusly, the pilot is enabled to focus on other tasks such as reading navigation data from a chart. Going a leap further, today's airline pilots are freed from having to manually control thrust settings, pitch and roll, enabling them to better manage tasks such as flying complicated arrival and departure ground tracks and procedures as they integrate with hundreds of other aircraft. Over time, the precision has enabled increased fuel efficiency, reduced separation from other aircraft, lower landing minimums and less required crewmembers.

So, back to those quadcopters… I've been teaching my son basic electronics and programming using an inexpensive "Arduino Uno" circuit board module. This is a 2x3" wafer that plugs into your computer's USB port. Programs, some simple and some not-so-simple, can be edited on your computer then "flashed" to its memory. For example, we recently took a program that blinked an LED and added lines of code one step at a time until we had a program to flash words in Morse code. As for those flashing lights on top of buoys, well, he gets it now.


Above, an Arduino Uno circuit board. Photo courtesy Arduino

Searching for Arduino projects, we came across a whole-other use for those chips—programming home-made quadcopters. As it turns out, for under $100, you can get a three-axis set of gyros on a chip, along with other required electronics. The control logic features a proportional sequence that has been employed mechanically to control valves on things like water heaters and furnaces since long before vacuum tubes and transistors came to be.

Let's picture a quadcopter that is stable in roll, i.e. level. If a pilot were to input a roll to the left using his control stick, the logic would have to look at its present condition and compare it to the desired condition (roll) based on the input. The same goes for a boater who wants to make a turn. The way a proportional controller works is by looking at not just the desired state (i.e. heading), but also the rate of change toward that rate, or derivative, "D." They also mathematically or mechanically measure accumulated errors using integration, "I." For about $300, experimenters at home can piece together a basic quadcopter using an Arduino control board and open-source flight control logic, where, through experimentation, they can find their favorite control settings.

Back to boats… As it turns out, In 1911, Elmer Sperry was the first to fully develop the proportional controller. While observing the helmsman on the USS Mexico, he noted that the angular velocity (rate of change) of the rudder was more important than the position of the rudder itself with regards to steering a course.

According to Wikipedia, "Sperry's P-I-D control yielded sustained yaw (angular error) of ±2°, while adding D yielded yaw of ±1/6°, better than most helmsmen could achieve." If you think about it, you probably do this yourself, rolling out on a heading before you actually get there. If you over- or under-shoot the turn, you correct back. Sperry put into mechanics what you do unconsciously at the wheel.

Elmer Sperry was the inventor of the gyrocompass, as well as the proportional controller. His third son Lawrence went on to further develop the autopilot for aircraft, which were in their infancy at the time. Lawrence later did some crazy things on aircraft, to include walking on a wing to demonstrate the wing-leveler's stability.

So there you have it! An adventure into the land of quad-copters and control circuity led me back to one of my favorite aircraft autopilot names, which happened to be pioneered by a guy named Sperry watching a helmsman on a boat in 1911. Now you, too, have something to ponder next time you're steering your vessel or using the heading-hold mode as you chug down the river.


Above, Capt. Grossarth uses the proportional-integral-derivate controller in his noggin to navigate the J.S. Lewis through the bridges section of downtown Cincinnati.

2014 OUPV and Master Captain Class - Last Chance!

Captain Ron Getter of True Course Captains School is pleased to inform us that they have enough enrollees in the March, 2014 OUPV and Master Captain's Course to make it a "go."

This course, hosted annually by Port KY, is a great place for well-seasoned boaters who have an interest in obtaining their captain's license to round-out their knowledge and get the credential that goes with it. Some people get their captain's licenses to help supplement their income, while others enjoy the learning experience.

For more information, see the attached flier and contact Captain Getter for more information: LINK (.pdf, 99 Kb)

Please note the correction to Captain Getter's email: CaptainGetter@TrueCourses.com

2014 Captain Renewals

Speaking of the captain's class, there are now almost 30 captains in Louisville that are up for renewal in the 2014-2015 timeframe. Capt. Ron's renewal class linked above would be the perfect place to attend a renewal course right here in Louisville, in leiu of required sea service time.

Look for more information in the February newsletter about some changes to the process that I've encountered during my recent renewal efforts.

TrueCourse/Port KY Captain's Reception and Rendezvous

Port KY is proud to host TrueCourse Captain's School's OUPV and Master courses in Louisville. As in the past, new captains will be given their oath at a reception following their Sunday OUPV course, and past TrueCourse graduates are encouraged to attend.

March 9th

Captain's Quarters Restaurant
5 pm - ???

Snacks provided by Port KY and TrueCourse
Dinner and alcohol at your own expense and discretion

Spouses welcome!
RSVP to: webmaster@portky.com

This is a great opportunity to celebrate our new captains, as well as to meet your old classmates. Some stay for dinner, some don't, but a great time should be had by all!

Job Opportunities

This is just in from Bob Conrad at River's Edge Towing:

Looking for part-time, on-call captains. Call (502) 396-5491 for more information.

Above, Capt. Bob Conrad assists a boater into a slip after a fouled propeller incident.

Port KY River Forum

Don't let the winter blues set in! Stop by the Port KY River Forum to keep in touch with your friends and keep up with the latest: LINK

Slips for Sale

Still our most popular link! There were recently nine slips that sold as a direct result of the Port KY site, and the "Slips" page has been one of the most popular destinations.

There are some new listings, including three large slips at the Louisville Yacht Club, so check it out: link

That's it for now--Stay safe, and we'll see you at CQ!

Eric Grubb
USCG Licensed Master
Webmaster, PortKY.com

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