Prolific and knowledgeable, delivery skipper turns author
The chief reason Mike Maurice can offer an explanation or provide a comment on just about any subject under the boating sun is that he’s been there, done that, literally.
To the delight of many of the 2,000 participants in Trawlers & Trawlering List, Captain Mike is a frequent contributor, when he’s home in Beaverton, Oregon, inland near Portland.
Here’s how Captain Mike describes his boating background for Trawlers & Trawlering:
My first bar crossing was at Columbia River in 1958. I got my start in offshore operations running Deep Sea Fishing boats out of Columbia River starting in 1965. Pat Schenk and I were probably the first two baby boomers to get USCG licenses for offshore work on the Pacific Coast. By the end of the decade we both had Ocean Operator licenses and about 1,500 Columbia River Bar crossings. Some days we made as many as 12 crossings as we chased the fish back and forth across the bar with new groups of passengers. Some of the boats would do over 30 knots and could be surfed across a big wave face, with the engines idling!
Somewhere in all this, I started getting requests to move boats. These first boats were in really bad shape and although I never had an accident, I recall that some of these bar crossings were witnessed by fairly large gatherings, complete with betting pools. One such night in the dark, in a storm, with the Tillamook Bay bar breaking all the way across the entrance, I got a 36' single screw 5 knot boat across without so much as a scratch. I was the last boat across the entrance for three weeks as it stormed and stormed, almost without letup, in March of 1969.
It pays to learn from one's experiences and the one idea I got out of that incident was that there was little chance of as good an outcome, if I was so bold as to try something similar again. Almost without exception, most of my friends and acquaintances from that era have had serious accidents or been killed. I drew the conclusion that depending on luck was not the best tactic in the world. I made a vow to become more methodical or I would surely join them. That was almost 40 years ago and being methodical has kept me alive and out of trouble. If you are inexperienced and are hoping that boating for a few years won't expose you to as much statistical risk, keep in mind that what you lack in gross risk is more than made up for by inexperience.
When my sons starting growing up they were quite adamant about participating. Number two son when he was six and had been told that he was too young to go, was quite insistent and latched onto the subject with such a bulldog, wouldn't let-go grip that I finally relented. My wife and I home schooled them and they have been all over the world at sea, in storms, at night, learned to fly, joined the Air National Guard as crew chiefs and generally have had a hell of a good time.
The boys and I turned the occasional delivery into a full time business. Today I have about 200 deliveries under my belt, most of them on the US West Coast. There have been times when we made the run from San Francisco to Seattle as many as 3 or 4 times in 5 weeks. This kind of frequency teaches a fellow things that can not be gotten out of books.
Over the years I worked in a couple of mail order companies, developed some technology used in the fish taxidermy business, wrote computer programs in various languages, became an expert on the internals of MS Windows, published a magazine and am now up to my ears writing books to keep yachtsmen from injuring themselves. The book publishing business has forced me to get current with the present computer technology for publishing. I have had to learn book design, covers, text and graphics, relearn the grammar rules, stumble my way through the labyrinth of book selling. There is a special hell for authors who would be their own publishers. And I was warned?
Here’s how Captain Mike explains what caused him to author A Yachtsman's Guide: Smuggling Your Boat Out of Jail:
The idea for the book was not the result of one single incident, but came from observations collected from several overseas delivery trips and the trends in questions on Trawlers & Trawlering and Passagemaking Under Power forums. Yachtsmen are making more and bigger mistakes due in perhaps equal measure to, inexperience, bullheadedness, increased complexity of regulation and last but not least, the tendency to rely upon others whose expertise consists of mere hearsay.
Rumors breeds rumors not facts, and yachtsmen need accurate information to stay out of trouble and to be efficient and hold down expenses. Smuggling Your Boat Out of Jail is my attempt to do something positive about this. There have been two prior books targeted at this problem area, "Law for Yachtsmen" in 1952 and "Landfall Legalese" in the 1990s. Both books contributed something useful to the community, but LfY is now almost 60 years old, LL is almost 15 years old and both books suffer from other limitations.
LfY has several minor problems, in that the material is a little too complex for the present yachting community, and some of the legal summaries are now wrong due to changes in the way the law is interpreted or to explicit new statutes. Not to mention entire new regulations which were not even on the books at the time. LL is a very narrowly focused book which essentially consists of sample documents for clearing, for a small set of countries in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Both books are worth having, but each has severe limitations for which many inexperienced yachtsmen would be unaware.
I had this notion that something new was needed, and so here we go, "yeat-another-book". I thought it should use references to the internet because of the generally easy access and to being current, at least where using government web sites. That I did not want to just plow the same ground that has been covered, but only briefly in most cruising guides. So I have avoided reprinting what's in the cruising guides and have gone after the topics that they have missed. The cruising guides did not want to become mostly about the maze of cruising regulations and I did not want "Smuggling" to become mostly a cruising guide.
For the book, I chose an informal presentation style, but have used heavy footnoting to allow readers an easy path to doing further research on their own, without cluttering up the body copy with a lot of complex language. There is nothing similar or comprehensive available to yachtsmen today. I keep the latest copy of the manuscript handy at my desk as I find it indispensable while doing research to answer internet forum questions or to verify facts while writing other articles.
Here’s the promotional blurb Captain Mike uses to market his book:
A Yachtsman's Guide:
Smuggling Your Boat Out of Jail
The Foreign & State-to-State Maze of Cruising Regulations: Avoiding the Snares & Traps
A guide to the legal underpinnings of world wide cruising and sailing.
Written in an informal style, for ordinary sailors, but with numerous
footnotes and internet references to make it easy to find additional information and verify that it is current. This is not a lawyers manual,but even a lawyer could learn something. Any one of it's hundreds of tips could save you the price of the book, and in some circumstances, a whole lot more.
Subjects include: Customs Enforcement, Pilotage, Licenses, State & Federal Regulations, Notice of Arrival, Definitions & Terms, Clearance & High Seas Law, Documentation, Passports & Visas, Being Boarded, Piracy, Salvage, Innocent Passage, Law of the Sea, State Sales/Use & Property Taxes, War Ships, Safety at Night, Residency, Near Shore Obstacles, Bibliography, Suggested Reading, many tables, some pictures, with an Index & a large Table of Contents, etc.
Whether you work as a professional seaman or intend to, cruise for pleasure, or practice maritime law; "Smuggling" is the book, you should always have near at hand. Published 2008 in a convenient 6x9 inch format for easy carrying and as a handy, frequent reference near the helm.
By Captain Mike Maurice. 105 pages, available in 4 different bindings: paperback and hardcover. Order on line at the URL above or check your local boating bookstore. Perfect binding, ISBN 978-0-6151-8692-4.