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BoatUS East Coast alerts by Mel and Tom Neale show boaters the way

by Scott Croft 19 Oct 2022 09:35 PDT
BoatUS East Coast Alerts authors Tom and Mel Neale © Tom Wicks

Every fall, a migration occurs along America's East Coast, but it's not of the avian type. Hundreds of cruisers aboard recreational boats (nicknamed "snowbirds") load up with crew in an effort to seek out warmer climates, trekking south down the 1,100-mile Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) from Norfolk, Virginia, to Key West, Florida.

Confronting them are myriad navigation hazards, including shifting shoals, lift bridge closures, construction, navigation aid repairs, and dredging projects that aren't marked on their chartplotters or paper charts, but that are included in monthly Local Notices to Mariners put out by NOAA. Signing up to receive the free email newsletter from BoatUS, East Coast Alerts by Mel and Tom Neale, can help to keep snowbirds informed and up to date of those hazards. Local boaters along the East Coast can also quickly and easily find the relevant hazards for their boating region.

"Local Notices to Mariners (LMN) are helpful for a safe passage," said Mel Neale. "However, it's an uphill battle to get boaters to use them. Each monthly LNM may be more than 100 pages long. Much of the information is repetitive, and it can take a long time to weed through. Our BoatUS East Coast Alerts distills LNM relevant information down to one place, making it easy to use. Whether you're a snowbird or local boater, we try to give you legitimate and credible information that you really need to see."

The Neales issue East Coast Alerts monthly, with critical updates two weeks after, based on U.S. Coast Guard 1st (Maine through New York Harbor), 5th (New Jersey through North Carolina) and 7th (South Carolina through Florida) District LNM information and other resources. Each newsletter is researched by the Neales and attributed with source contact information, whether it's a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydrographic survey, maritime contractor, commercial operator, AICW recreational boater, local news story, or Broadcast Notice to Mariners.

"East Coast Alerts is an invaluable tool to help Intracoastal boaters plan and navigate around new hazards that likely will not show up on their charts," said BoatUS Magazine editorial director and 15,000-mile world sailor, Bernadette Bernon. "Keep in mind, your electronic charts may be a year out of date. East Coast Alerts fills that gap."

After leaving professional careers to cruise the East Coast and Bahamas with their two daughters, the Neales were full-time cruising liveaboards for nearly 30 years. They now cruise part-time on their home waters of Chesapeake Bay. Tom, a book author, has written extensively for Cruising World and Soundings, and now serves as top technical editor of BoatUS Magazine. Mel, a professional artist, served as cruising editor for Waterway Guide and has authored features for various boating publications. Mel and Tom have been compiling East Coast Alerts for BoatUS since 2004. Members can receive it free.

To subscribe to the BoatUS East Coast Alerts email newsletter, go to BoatUS.com/ECA.

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