Blog October 2018

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BOATING SAFELY THIS FALL

Posted On: October 31, 2018


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 Underprepared  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.

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HOW TO MAKE YOUR FIBERGLASS GLEAM

Posted On: October 24, 2018

How To Make Your Fiberglass Gleam

Now's the perfect time to get that lustre back. Roll up your sleeves and get ready to work, but the reward is well worth it.

Here's an article by Lenny Rudow with step by step instructions.


Seal out the oncoming winter with rubbing, buffing, waxing, and polishing, but don't forget the elbow grease.

Keeping gelcoat properly maintained isn't just a matter of vanity, it's also a matter of protecting your boat's fiberglass. Now that we have that out of the way, let's get real — you do want to dazzle your slip neighbors with the mirror-like hull sides on Mom's Mink, don't you? You're far more likely to be able to raise a good shine come spring if you remove the season's stains now and protect the fiberglass from the ravages of winter with a couple of good coats of wax. Luckily, keeping your boat in tip-top shape is a lot easier than it was in the old days when wooden vessels called for scraping, sanding, and painting for hours on end. But don't get too smug. There's still a lot of work in your future, so let's get started.

Step 1: Remove Oxidation

For the purposes of this article, we'll assume you're starting with gelcoat that's slightly oxidized. If it's extremely oxidized, you may need to call in a pro. If your gelcoat doesn't show any signs of oxidation (yellowing and/or a chalky, dull appearance), skip to Step 2. Oxidation occurs naturally, as exposure to sun and weather break down the gelcoat's surface and turn it chalky and pitted. If your boat is more than a couple of years old and hasn't been meticulously maintained, chances are there's some level of oxidation. The more there is, the tougher this step will be.

You need to hit every inch of the fiberglass with a good oxidation remover. As a rule of thumb, it's best to use the least abrasive oxidation remover possible, so you don't grind away lots of gelcoat. How will you pick which one is right? Test a few different products on a small section of the gelcoat to find the least abrasive product that still gets the job done. If you try to deoxidize the entire boat by hand, you'll blow out your elbows; an orbital buffer is a must-have tool for this task.

Fit the buffer with a terry cloth bonnet, and pour a big "X" onto it with the oxidation remover. Then hold the buffer gently against the hull side with even pressure, and hit the power button.

WARNING: If you hit the power button before the buffer is sitting flat against the hull, it'll spray oxidation remover in every direction.

Once the buffer is running, sweep it back and forth across the hull, going over the same area three or four times and being sure not to leave any gaps in your coverage. Never hold the buffer still, or it can "burn" a divot in the gelcoat.

You've hit the entire hull? Now look carefully for spots the buffer missed because there are always a few (under the rub rail, transom corners, and around thru-hull fittings, for example) and do them by hand. Then put a new bonnet on the buffer, and use it to rub off the oxidation remover. If the oxidation was severe, or if the remover you chose was too weak, you may have to repeat this step.

Step 2: Eliminate Stains

Once the oxidation is gone, there's a good chance you'll see a few stains. Let's get rid of them. Most can be attacked with rubbing compound and a rag, but toughies like rust streaks will require the use of an acid-based cleaner. These are often marked "fiberglass stain remover," but read the active ingredients to be sure some sort of acid is listed. Also be sure to limit their usage to where they're absolutely necessary, and follow the instructions on the bottle; these cleaners can give off harmful fumes, burn your skin, and damage the gelcoat if you don't thoroughly rinse them away after use. Be careful that you don't rinse them into the water.

Step 3: Bring Out The Shine

Now we can polish the hull sides into tip-top shape. There are many good polishing products from which to choose, but this is not the time to opt for a combination polish/wax. That stuff is great for midseason touch-ups, but not for sealing out winter weather. Go for a dedicated polish such as Starbrite Premium Marine Polish. Apply the polish as you applied the oxidation remover, sweeping the buffer back and forth across the fiberglass until the entire boat has been covered. Let it dry, and then remove it. Whew! You've probably worked up a sweat by now, but we're just getting started; you need to do the entire boat a second time, because one of the keys to making a boat shine like the sun is to polish it twice.

Step 4: Seal In The Shine

We'll bet the glare coming off Mom's Mink is downright blinding right about now, but if you stop working, the gelcoat's finish will go back to being dull in a matter of days. You need to seal that shine in, and wax is the key ingredient. For this step, choose a paste wax that's based on bee's wax, NOT carnauba wax, which does create a better shine but also wears away faster. Again, you need to give the boat two thorough coatings of the paste wax, and unfortunately, this stuff gets applied by hand. Now for the coup de grâce: a coating of that shiny carnauba stuff. Apply it lightly and gently, so you don't rub away any of the paste wax. Then clean it off with a final pass of the microfiber buffer bonnet.

That was a lot of work, but a lot less than scraping, sanding, and painting. In the spring, you should be able to get away with a quick polish and then sealing in the shine. You can keep your boat looking red-hot all summer by washing it down with a wash-n-wax boat soap that contains a dose of carnauba. If you're a perfectionist, renew the shine by giving the gelcoat another carnauba wax job every other week. And don't look directly at your boat's gelcoat without wearing sunglasses, or you might burn out a retina. If not, then it's time to (sigh) go back to Step 1

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UNDERSTANDING THE LANGUAGE OF THE SEA

Posted On: October 03, 2018


BOATER'S ACRONYMS

Boating is seemingly filled with undecipherable abbreviations.

While most of these can be welcoming, landlubber friends can get lost in the often confusing and opaque jargon.

The boaters coded talk can be exclusionary, or it might just jeopardize a passenger’s safety.


For example, if the captain instructs everyone to “put on a PFD” so the boat can leave the dock, he’s concerned about safety. PFD stands for personal flotation device and it’s simpler to just tell everyone to wear a life jacket.

 

If the captain or a crewmember yells “MOB!” the cry is meant to kick everyone aboard into action. However, those not in the know won’t move until they know it means man overboard.

 

If you do fall overboard in chilly waters, it’s best to have learned the HELP position. That’s a heat escape lessening posture meant to conserve body heat.

 

If you’re heading for adventure on a kayak or SUP (stand-up paddleboard), wear a PLB to increase your chance of rescue if things go awry. It’s a personal locator beacon that sends a radio signal as to the wearer’s exact location.

 

Does your boat have an EPIRB? This stands for emergency position indicating radio beacon, another safety device that activates as soon as it is immersed in water. If the boat sinks without an opportunity to make a VHF (very high frequency) radio call, the EPIRB notifies emergency services by providing GPS (global positioning system) data that pinpoints your location on the planet by triangulating your position via satellites in space.

 

Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a GPS radio beacon that shows up on digital charts, detailing what a vessel is and where it is headed. In fog or at night, you will be able to tell whether a RADAR (radio detection and ranging) signal is a buoy or a tanker using AIS. While we’re at it, there’s also SONAR, which stands for sound navigation and ranging.

 

See the letters NDZ on a chart? That’s a no discharge zone where no sewage from your boat can be released into the waters. Everything must stay in your MSD (marine sanitation device) until it can be legally pumped out.

 

IALA is the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities. They specify what each navigation mark should look like, the meanings of colors of lights and shapes, and how each light should flash. By following these, you can triangulate your position using a hand compass and not, for example, hit a wreck guarded by a warning buoy.

 

Boaters say RRR as shorthand for red right return(ing). It’s our way to remember which side of the boat red navigation lights should be on when coming into the harbor from open waters.

 

If invited onto a RIB, you’ll be on a rigid inflatable boat. It’s a motor boat with a fiberglass hull and inflatable rims. What about an invite to ride on a PWC? It better be a two-seater, as it’s a personal watercraft (aka jet ski).

 

Should a tall ship with the abbreviation SSV before its name sail by, you’ll know it’s a sail school vessel.

 

Never be afraid to say to a boater, “I’m unfamiliar with that term.” On the whole, we’ll happily explain what we’re talking about. However, don’t ask what BOAT stands for, unless you’re prepared for at least two different answers. One is “break out another thousand,” but another is my favorite — “best of all times!”

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