New baby cygnets

Rare new baby cygnets on Clear Lake.

This Column Keys On … safety outdoors. Thousands of Napa outdoors enthusiasts will be taking off for points around the world in an effort to broaden their horizons and smartphone camera banks. My special request to you is: “Come home safely so I can tell your special story in the St. Helena Star!”

Bare Minimum Survival Kit … Really! Right out of Outdoor Life. It was just a small part of their April 2017 “Survive Anywhere” issue — but forms the essential center of survival needs. With many of you ready to hit the trails, take a minute to look at the kit. It is easy and affordable to assemble and can save a life in the bush. It can fit in the bottom of your pack and consists of:

1. A large plastic survival bag for shelter and other hacks. 2. Tampons for tinder (still in plastic — store them with matches). 3. Survival knife with carbon steel blade at least 4 inches long and one-tenth of an inch thick. 4. Tub of storm-proof matches wrapped in a bike tire tube — it’s waterproof and burns well. 5. Whetstone for sharpening and blade repair. 6. Waterproof notebook and writing tool to draw maps, leave messages, etc. 7. Fire steel to strike a good spark. 8. Compass, tied with paracord. 9. Knot that to a signal whistle.

Sure, you’ll want to add food, water, emergency medical supplies, etc. Even a length of fishing line and some hooks. Sit with your dad, grandpa or favorite uncle to learn what they would add to the kit. Check your local library to see if they still have the April issue of Outdoor Life.

Gotta Get Home … from the most remote places on earth if you are injured or lost? The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) says Global Rescue will come and find you, patch you up and bring you home. This is peace of mind for everyone planning to travel this summer — with annual memberships starting at about the same cost as a day of golf — or a day of guided fishing.

Here’s a snippet of what they do: “We are the world’s leading membership organization providing evacuation, medical, security and travel risk management services to individuals/families, enterprises and governments.” Don’t leave home without it. I plan to fish the Amazon for peacock bass someday — and Global Rescue will be traveling with me. Check them out at

More Safety Stuff? … You bet. Beginning in January 2018, if you operate a motorized vessel on California waterways, you will be required to pass an approved boating safety exam and carry a lifetime California Boating Card. This is good news for everyone on the water because it will reduce accidents, injuries and deaths caused by untrained operators.

In an orderly procedure that will train and test hundreds of thousands of boaters, the first phase in 2018 will be for boaters 20 years of age and younger. With just six months left to qualify, better get going. Go online to to begin the process.

Fishing Can Be … more than you expected — causing you to expect more. Case in point: St. Helena angler Janet Peischel and I went bass fishing on Clear Lake last week. Yep, we caught a bunch of bass — but we also saw some rare white cygnets. These baby swans were out for a paddle in the sun with Mom and Dad.

Earlier, right at daybreak, a tiny fawn was gamboling around a patch of green grass — running and leaping broken up by some classic four-legged straight-up jumps of glee. Ospreys fishing and grebe babies nestled in between her wings on their mother’s back are just a few more of Nature’s Best.

Out And About … in St. Helena was easy to fill this month.

First we lead off with our own Jennifer Marinace, who was just selected as the 2017 Napa County Teacher of the Year. Jennifer is the eighth-grade English teacher at RLS. Here’s what her students say about her: “enthusiastic, caring, involved and fun.” Marylou Wilson, superintendent of the St. Helena Unified School District, added: “Her calm, caring and diplomatic manner is extended to every student, every day.”

And congratulations to St. Helena firefighter Elliot Bell, who helped pull an injured woman from a burning car in Rutherford recently. A new member of the St. Helena Fire Department, Elliott was smart to call his department mentor, Scott Dale, who talked Elliot through some next steps. He was honored by Major Alan Galbraith at the June 13 City Council meeting with a proclamation for “outstanding community service.” Tow truck driver Diego Serrano helped at the scene and was also honored. The proclamations called Bell and Serrano “good Samaritans” who risked their own safety to save a woman’s life.

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