Scott Marine Surveyor of Florida Blog


Posted On: October 17, 2020

Just because its Fall and there are less vessels on the water, doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind as far as safety is concerned. Here are several tips for avoiding some of the most serious boating mistakes.

Mistake 1: Underestimating What It Takes to Operate a Boat

All  too often, both experienced and novice boaters can underestimate the level of knowledge, skill and experience required to operate a boat effectively and safely. From trailer­ing and launching, to safe anchoring, to docking and undocking, the equipment, navigation, handling and rules of the road are completely different than on land. Serious accidents, including swamping and capsizing, often result from simple failures such as loading a boat properly and within capacity or anchoring safely..

Mistake 2: Inattention

The beauty and fun of being on the water in the fall can make boating seem carefree and effortless. A brief lapse in attention is often behind groundings, collisions and capsizing. Many accidents occur late in the day, when operators are fatigued. Many involve collisions with markers, jetties and other obstacles that are visible and avoidable. The water may seem calm and familiar, but operator attention and diligence are vital.

Mistake 3: Boating Under the Influence

Fun, relaxation and friendship go hand in hand with boating. While no amount of alcohol is safe for a boat operator, the sun and fun that make boating so enjoyable can also make alcohol more dangerous for passengers. Dehydration, physical exertion and fatigue can accelerate and amplify the effects of alcohol, more quickly impairing judgment and coordination, which increases the chances of risky behavior and injury, and the danger of falling overboard

Mistake 4: Failing to Recognize Risks

Bad weather, shorter days, unfamiliar locales and hazardous waters are risks that boaters sometimes fail to account for. Responsible boaters learn to respect the weather and to check conditions prelaunch and while on the water to avoid sudden storms. While exploring new areas is part of the fun, it’s smart to check with local boating authorities if you’re heading out on an unfamiliar body of water. They can point out known hazards and offer navigation tips.

Mistake 5:  Being Under-prepared  for Emergencies

Filing a float plan and ensuring that proper emergency and communication equipment are present and working are essential safety precautions. But preparation only begins there. Passengers, as well as the operator, need to know basic emergency procedures, how to communicate and how to use emergency equipment if the operator becomes incapacitated. Practicing with equipment is particularly important, as every moment is precious in an emergency.  Finally, ensure that everyone aboard wears a life jacket at all times. If something goes wrong or there is a fall overboard, there is often no time and no way to access a life jacket.



Posted On: October 14, 2020

How To Install Nonslip Tape Where You Need It

Nonslip tape is usually installed over slippery areas such as on hatches, where it provides grip without blocking too much light. You can also install it on the edge of stairs, any sloping surface, and other areas where the danger of slipping is present.

  1. Make sure the area to be covered is clean. Use a proprietary cleaner recommended by the manufacturer to clean the clear part of any hatches. Don't use acetone, which might discolor hatch glazing.
  2. Decide where you want to put the tape. Use a grease pencil to mark off areas. Cut tape to length and use a coin to make quarter-circles at each corner. Trim corners around the quarter-circle to prevent them from lifting later.
  3. Peel the backing off the tape and press it onto the area to be covered. Press the tape down firmly (stand on it!) to make sure it adheres properly. That's it, you're finished!


Posted On: October 07, 2020

Vibrations may be good when listening to music, but vibrations are often indicative of an issue with a component on the boat.

This is not a comprehensive guide by any stretch, but it will, hopefully, help you identify the source of any unwanted vibration, starting with the simplest causes.

Does the engine vibrate when it is running with transmission in neutral?

If Yes:

Worn engine mounts.

Inspect each engine mount in turn. Is one shaking more than the others? Is there excessive rusting or rubber residue adjacent top one or more of the mounts?

Remedy: Adjust or replace engine mounts.

Engine does not idle properly.

A rough-running engine can lead to excessive vibration. Run diagnostic checks in accordance with engine manufacturer's recommendations.

Remedy: Service or repair the engine.

Does the vibration occur only when the engine is in gear?

If Yes:

Fouled propeller.

Inspect propeller for rope, fishing line, weeds, or other fouling.

Remedy: Remove fouling and clean the propeller.

Bent, damaged, or missing propeller blade.

Carry out a visual inspection of the propeller.

Remedy: Repair or replace the damaged propeller.

Propeller not corrected fitted properly onto shaft.

Remove prop and check key, keyway, and taper for damage.

Remedy: Have the propeller lapped to the shaft to fit the taper correctly. Lap prop taper to ensure it fits correctly. Install new key.

Does the vibration increase or decrease at certain speeds?

If Yes:

Propeller may be out of balance.

Check prop with a dial gauge to ensure it is in round. On a sailboat with folding props, make sure that the blades open and seat correctly.

Remedy: Have the propeller serviced by a reputable propeller shop.

Cutless bearing is worn.

Grasp the prop and also grab the shaft near the bearing and try to shake/move it up and down and side to side with a lot of your strength. If there's discernable movement between the shaft and the inside of the cutless bearing then the bearing will need replacing, as it's worn. There should be zero fore and aft movement, which would be indicative of either a loose prop, a loose prop shaft coupling, or wear in the transmission.

Remedy: Replace the cutless bearing.

Is it hard to rotate the propeller by hand with the transmission in neutral?

If Yes:

Shaft may be bent.

If you suspect a bent shaft, have it inspected by a specialist facility.

Remedy: Remove shaft and have it straightened or replaced.

Propeller shaft strut out of alignment.

Check for visible cracking and twisting. Check mounting bolts for movement. Check hull around mounting bolts for vibration when you're running.

Remedy: Replace or repair strut.

Engine alignment poor.

Disconnect shaft from transmission. If shaft then turns easily, alignment issue is likely.

Remedy: Correct alignment between shaft and transmission.

Engine mounts may be worn and sagging.

Inspect each engine mount in turn.

Remedy: Adjust or replace mounts.

Is one shaking more than the others?

Is there excessive rusting or rubber residue adjacent top one or more of the mounts?

Remedy: Check and replace engine mounts.

Is there a visible wobble to the shaft inside the boat when operating at speed?

If Yes:

Coupling may be misaligned.

Separate coupling from transmission and check alignment.

Remedy: Adjust and/or replace engine mounts.

Engine mount(s) worn or improperly adjusted.

Inspect each engine mount in turn. Is one shaking more than the others? Is there excessive rusting or rubber residue adjacent to one or more of the mounts?

Remedy: Service, adjust, or replace engine mounts.

Shaft could be bent.

Specialist equipment is required to properly check for bent shaft.

Remedy: Remove shaft and have it straightened or replaced.

Transmission output flange distorted.

Specialist equipment is required to properly check for runout or defective coupling.

Remedy: Replace output flange.

Drivesaver, if fitted, is worn or damaged.

Remove Drivesaver from between shaft and transmission coupling and visually inspect for tears and distortion.

Remedy: Replace Drivesaver.


If you've made it this far, you should have been able to fix, or at least identify, the issue that was causing those unwanted vibrations. On the other hand, if you have not been able to isolate the issue, it may be a good time to seek expert help from a competent yard.

But at least you gave it a shot, and hopefully you learned something about your boat along the way.



Posted On: September 30, 2020

Photo of a boater's ditty bag contents

In the 17th century, British sailors kept their personal items in what they used to call a "housewife," a tubular-shaped fabric sack closed with a drawstring that contained their belongings as well as essentials for repairing clothing and some tools of the trade. These bags, companions to the sailors' sea bags or sea chests, were hung from a hammock ring or a hook or peg next to their bunks. Eventually, they became known as ditty bags, and they're still a great way to keep things close at hand. Whenever we go to our boat, the beach, or just on a picnic, my ditty bag goes with me and contains everything I might not even know I need. My ditty bag is about 6 inches by 12 inches with a zipper from end to end. Made from heavy material, it has carrying handles on the top and end. Inside are pockets and a plastic sleeve to hold papers. Outside is a zipper pocket to hold keys or money. The modern design is more like a duffle bag and is easier to access via that long zipper. A small backpack will also fit the bill, as long as it's reserved just for this purpose.

During the 40-plus years that I have been on the water, (ships, houseboats, powerboats, and sailboats big and small, I've carried a ditty bag pretty much every time I leave the boat, and it's saved my bacon many times. Inside mine is:

  • Flashlight
  • Leatherman multitool
  • Magnet on a string to retrieve metal objects that fall overboard or into crevasses
  • Cell-phone charger
  • Earbuds
  • Camera (though now those are on our smartphones)
  • Sun block
  • Tape measure
  • Waterproof sportwatch
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Index cards
  • Fishing license
  • Reading glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothpicks
  • Band-Aids
  • Chewing gum
  • Seasick pills
  • Extra keys

If you're going out exploring long distances in your dinghy, add:

  • Handheld VHF
  • Personal locator beacon

Carry anything you don't want to get wet inside resealable bags. Luckily, when we were locked out of our boat, we could open the companionway because I'd hidden an extra key, attached with a screw beneath an outside hatch. In my handy ditty bag was a screwdriver, and in minutes we were below enjoying those cold drinks.  



Posted On: September 23, 2020

Problem: Fishblood Stains On Nonskid

While evidence of catches on your deck means you had a great day on the water, it's just plain yucky to look at.


The best method is to wash down any affected surfaces before the blood has a chance to dry. Should you miss a spot, sprinkle some Bar Keepers Friend on clean, wet nonskid, scrub, and rinse. Alternatively, try hydrogen peroxide or OxiClean (or generic equivalent) for really tough dried-on stains.


Thwart future stains with a coat of Woody Wax, which is safe to use on decks.

Problem: Hard water stains

Those icky white spots that appear on your hull, glass, or engine cowlings from mineral deposits mar your freshly cleaned finish.


Spray a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, let sit for 5 minutes, then wipe off. Or keep a box of dryer sheets onboard. Moisten one with water, gently rub over the spots, then rinse for a sparkling shine.


Immediately after washing in a shady area, spritz the surface with a 4:1 water/vinegar mix. Use a wrung-out chamois to remove water droplets before they dry. Then apply a coat or two of wax, like Woody Wax, to help keep water spots at bay. For very hard water, consider adding a dockside or inline water filter to remove the minerals.



Posted On: September 16, 2020

Buying Quality Fasteners

For marine applications, the fastener material of choice, excluding aluminum rivets, will nearly always be stainless steel. Bronze is equally good but only for fastening bronze hardware. Avoid entirely typical hardware store offerings of brass and plated steel.

Where do you get high-quality marine fasteners? Your local boat-supply store should carry a good selection. Many hardware stores also stock stainless fasteners. However, not all stainless steel is created equal. Try to get a look at the box the specific fasteners came in. Retail fasteners labeled "18-8" are nearly always type 304. You will be better off, particularly if your boating waters are salt, using the more corrosion-resistant type 316

When Choosing A Metal Fastener, The First Question Is What Type. Here Are Some Options:

  • Bolts require nuts and access to both sides of the fastener hole.
  • Machine screws are identical to bolts but thread into a tapped hole. Sheet-metal and wood screws are self-tapping, cutting threads into the smooth surface of a drilled hole.
  • Rivets have no threads. They come with a factory head on one end, with the other end deformed at installation to create a second "head." The rivets contemporary boat owners are likely to use will be blind rivets, commonly called pop rivets, which can be installed even if you only have access to one side of the fastener hole.


Posted On: September 09, 2020

So you have decided to get a boat.

Getting an inspection can save you countless problems down the line.

Behind most successful used-boat transactions, there’s a Purchase Agreement and Bill of Sale that clearly spell out how the boat was bought or sold. While not perfect, this goes a long way to alleviate any misunderstandings.

“A Purchase Agreement is necessary if you intend to buy a boat, but require that certain things must be done before you will accept the boat, such as a satisfactory marine survey, specific repairs, and the ability to finance or insure the boat,” said BoatUS Consumer Protection Director Charles Fort. “It also describes both parties’ obligations. Once a buyer accepts the boat, the bill of sale is used as proof of purchase. You can download and print both forms 24-hours a day.”

Fort also added that while the two forms were designed to meet the needs of most buyers and sellers, they may want to seek legal advice if there are any questions about whether the forms are appropriate for their situation.

The Consumer Protection Bureau offers a dispute mediation service, the only national boating complaint database, and provides consumer-oriented information to help boaters make smart buying decisions.



Posted On: September 02, 2020

Presentation Pays

Deciding where to invest in fixing up your boat for sale comes down to two questions that every boat owner should ask themselves: What will it cost to make the repair or upgrade? What will it cost if I don't?

Fortunately, there are a few easy and inexpensive things you can do, which will always improve the marketability and speed up a sale.

Here's what the pros had to say:

Cleaned upholstery

You don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money to ready a boat for sale. Simply decluttering can make a big impact.

  1. "De clutter by removing anything that's not intended to be sold,"  "You want people to be able to open lockers and cupboards." He suggested removing personal effects that might make it harder for the buyer to imagine themselves in your boat. "Take the junk off, but keep Coast Guard-required gear, boat hooks, lines, fenders, pots and pans." Spare sails may be included in the price but don't need to be on the boat for viewing.

2. "Cleaning and waxing is the best money you can spend including all compartments, lazarettes, bilges, storage areas, and awnings.                                                                                                                                                                         Remove stains from furniture covers and headliners. Tidy up dock lines, sheets, and halyards. In the interior, make sure the heads are spotless and odorless and ensure the bilges are dry, clean, and odor-free." Consider hiring a professional cleaner.

3. "I've found that a lot of potential buyers walk right off a boat if it smells                                                                            Not necessarily just holding-tank smell, but musty smell, moldy smell, diesel smell. If a boat smells like anything, that should be dealt with. In some cases, it's the sanitation lines, and that can be a pretty complex and involved problem, but it's worth addressing if possible.

4. "Keep the engine room clean and tidy,"                                                                                                                                   Tidying wiring and replacing old hoses signal to the buyer that the boat is well cared for. Ensure basic maintenance is up to date including replacing oil, changing filters, and topping off all fluids.

5. "Repair anything you already know is broken or defective, including all electronics, lights, and accessories."               I also recommends checking all equipment on your inventory list and repairing any inoperative equipment or removing it from the list.

6. Make the boat accessible.                                                                                                                                                                  "If it's tarped in your backyard, that's not very easy or practical for the buyer , "It should be in the water, near the water, or easy to launch for an inspection or survey." If your boat is out of the water, keeping it "cleaned and covered, and add new zincs so it looks like it's ready to splash."

7. Take good photos that are bright, clear, and high-resolution,           

 Put 20 to 30 photos in the listing and then offer additional photos (say, 50 to 70 in a Dropbox file) to people who are serious. If you're not good at taking well-lit photos, find someone who can help, or consider hiring a pro."

8. Compile digital copies of service history, inventory list, photos, and survey.                                                                         "If you do the work on your boat, keep records of everything you do or if you've contracted a boatyard, have records of your invoices." Digital records are best. "We're working with buyers from all over the country, and the more info we can share with them the better," he says. He suggested compiling a detailed inventory, service history, a recent survey showing the boat in good condition, and additional photos — especially important for people who'll incur travel expenses to view the boat.

9. Like with homes, paint and varnish go a long way. Wills is in favor of bright-work touch-ups,                                           "If it looks ugly, sand the peeling varnish off and either paint or re varnish it."

10. Sometimes partial improvements can be effective, too. "I'd replace stained carpet but wouldn't reupholster everything on the boat,  Similarly, replacing deteriorated is in glass might deliver a better value-to-cost ratio than replacing an entire dodger or awning that still has life in it.

11. If you have the skills, you may want to embark on small fiberglass repairs.                                                             Anything that you can do yourself, do it, because that goes directly to marketing and sale-ability.