An Old Salt's Guide to Free Maritime Websites

An Old Salt's Guide to Free Maritime Websites is a list of the various websites that I have found useful to the mariner. Some is real time information, like weather and sea conditions; other sites are for marine charts and publications. All information, electronic charts and electronic publications accessible from these sites are free. All web locations are hyperlinked for easy reference. More

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About Donald Brands

Boats and the sea have been my life. I think I was about eight years old when I got my first boat, a dilapidated canoe. A few years later I graduated to a healthier canoe with a lateen sailing rig. This was my first sailboat. I capsized it a lot, but had thoroughly caught the boating bug. I started racing sailboats by the age of 12.
In 1968 I joined the Coast Guard at the age of 17 and was discharged in 1975 with the grade of First Class Quartermaster. My first tour in the Coast Guard was an oceanographic trip to Africa on the CGC Rockaway. It was a three month tour with most of the time at sea, but it was my first adventure out of the country and I loved it. My second oceanographic tour on this ship took me to the Barbados, Trinidad, the Bahamas, and Puerto Rico. Later in this hitch I was transferred to the CGC Lilac, a triple expansion steam buoy tender, a fugitive from museums built in the early Thirty’s. I believe it is now being refurbished in NY City for display in the near future. I returned to the CGC Rockaway to finish my first hitch and made a Cadet cruise to England.
Discharged from the Coast Guard on Oct 22, 1971, I returned to England for a 3 month tour by bicycle. In January of 1972 I rejoined the CG and reported aboard the buoy tender CGC Firebush at Governors Island NY. In the summer of 1972, I took leave from the CGC Firebush and enjoyed a two week cruise along the south coast of England with a British friend on his 27’ Trident class sloop. This was a bilge keel rig that proved to be fairly important in an area with 30 foot tides. Many times at low tide we were aground, but vertical resting on the two keels.
After returning stateside to the CGC Firebush, the wanderlust hit me again and I requested and received a transfer to the CGC Gallatin which was making a cadet cruise through Europe. On this trip I got to Gibraltar, Portugal, Germany, Denmark and England. In 1974 I bought the Chesapeake Skipjack "Pale Moon" and sailed it from Maryland's Eastern Shore to NY for Opsail '76. Throughout this period I was involved in one design racing.
Since my discharge from the Coast Guard in January of 1975, I have been working on large seagoing tugboats and currently hold a 1600 ton Ocean Master's License as well as Unlimited Third Mate and an Unlimited Radar Observer endorsement. Additionally, I hold a certificate from the Coast Guard as a "Designated Examiner". This certificate qualifies me to evaluate the competence of other mariners to hold a Coast Guard License. I have written extensively on marine safety for Offshore Magazine and other publications. On my free time, I enjoy cruising with my wife on our Catalina 22 on Long Island NY's Great South Bay.

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