Blog July 2019


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Posted On: July 31, 2019

It's said that every minute you spend planning saves 10 minutes in execution. When a hurricane threatens, you’ll be glad your plan is ready to go.

The first step in developing a preparation plan is to review your dock contract for language that may require you to take certain steps or to leave the marina when a hurricane threatens. Some marinas require boat owners to have and present a hurricane plan of their own. Ask the marina manager what hurricane plan the marina has in place. Planning where your boat will best survive a storm and what protective steps you need to take should begin before hurricane season.

The probability of damage can be reduced considerably by choosing the most stormworthy location possible and having your plan ready long before a hurricane warning is posted. You may be able to join a "Hurricane Club," which would allow you to have your boat hauled whenever a hurricane warning is posted. These usually require signing up long before the first hurricanes and sometimes require a nonrefundable deposit, but you'll be among the first to be hauled.

Before the Storm

  • Relocate the boat if necessary, and secure it as outlined in your hurricane plan included on the back of this page.
  • Check that deck scuppers and drains are open and unobstructed and the boat is positioned so that rainwater will drain from the deck and cockpit.
  • Reduce windage as much as possible by removing sails and canvas as well as dodger and bimini frames.
  • Clear the decks of anything that can blow away, including deck chairs and cushions, jerry cans, watersports equipment, dinghies, small outboards, and fishing equipment.
  • Make the boat watertight.
  • Seal any openings where water could get into the interior or the engine, including hatches, portlights, ventilators, and exhaust outlets.
  • Close interior seacocks/valves including those for the engine, toilet, and sinks.
  • Top up batteries and ensure that any electric bilge pumps are operational; clean all debris from the bilge to prevent clogging of the pumps.
  • Remove all valuables from the boat including electronics and fishing equipment as well as registration and other important documents, and store them at home.
  • Limit potential environmental damage by removing portable gasoline tanks, oil containers, paint cans, and other hazardous chemicals.
  • Lock the boat, but if the boat is in a marina, be sure to leave a spare key with the marina manager so he/she can get aboard after the storm, if necessary.
  • Update all contact information with your marina manager and ask how you be informed when you can return to your boat

After the Storm

If your boat is in a marina, access is likely to be restricted until the immediate dangers have been addressed.

For your own safety, don’t attempt to enter before the restrictions are lifted.

Once you know the status of your boat, contact your insurance company if you need to file a claim.

Be sure to alert your agent to any potential environmental hazards.

Take a complete set of photos of the boat’s situation and any visible damage. If possible, secure the boat against further damage, or ask your marina to do so.

If there is any chance water has gotten into the engine, have it flushed and pickled as soon as possible.

Dry water-damaged areas and items as soon as you get access to the boat to limit mold growth.

If you are insured and your boat needs to be salvaged, do not sign any contracts or make any agreements.

First inform your insurance company and let it negotiate with the marina or salvor.



Posted On: July 24, 2019

Storm clouds

Storm Prep

A hurricane or other major storm brings four threats — wind, rain, waves, and surge — and you can improve your boat's odds against all four by preparing early.

Based on a great article by Tim Murphy

We live in an age of unprecedented storm forecasting. In both the United States and Europe, ever more sophisticated computer models provide us with ever lengthier lead times to prepare our boats for the worst as a storm approaches.

Here's a day-by-day guide to getting your boat ready once a storm has been forecast for your region. Keep in mind that every tropical storm moves at its own speed, so treat this a rough guideline. The goal is to finish your boat preparations well before the first big winds start to blow.

Day 0: Advance Preparations

The first round of storm preparations is best addressed at the beginning of boating season — well before any particular storm starts brewing.

  • Review your boat's insurance policy. What actions does it require of you? If you live in an area that may be prone to hurricane activity, many policies may carry a "Named Storm Deductible" that is higher than your normal deductible.  Some policies allow you to lower your named storm deductible by properly preparing the boat by moving it to land, lashing it down with in-ground anchors and removing all canvas and/or sails from the exterior.

Day 1: Storm's First Reports

Only a few storms are destructive in any one region; many more are supremely inconvenient. When a forecast shows a wide range of possible landfalls, it's human nature to want to assume the storm will miss you. But avoid taking that bait. The first day that your boat's location is included in the storm's possible track — that's the day to start getting ready.

  • Rearrange your schedule for the next few days to allow for storm prep
  • Gather chafe gear for docklines, mooring pendants, or anchor rode. Duct tape and rags are not sufficient. Commercial products such as Chafe-Pro have been proven to work in extreme conditions
  • Gather any tools you'll need to remove gear or electronics from the boat
  • Marina Boats: check in with the marina manager; coordinate your plans. Make sure marina staff can reach you on short notice (cell phone, email)

Trailered Boats:

Confirm that the trailer and tow vehicle are ready to go.

Moored Boats:

Locate any extra pendants, chafe gear, shackles or any other gear you'll need to beef up your attachment to the mooring.

Anchored Boats:

Choose your hurricane hole. Gather all the equipment (extra anchors, chain, rode, chafe gear) you'll need to create a storm-anchor system.

Day 2: Storm Approaches

If a whole day has passed and your boat is still in the storm's possible track, it's time to act. Some marinas require you to execute your storm plan more than 72 hours before the predicted landfall. Check for bridge closures due to the storm. This is the time to think through a storm's four threats: wind, rain, waves, and surge. What can you do to mitigate each of those?

Prepare For Waves:

If your boat remains in a marina, keep in mind that sandbars and breakwaters may be covered by the surge, exposing your boat to the wave's full force. If waves are a possible factor, orient the bow facing them.

Prepare For Wind:

That means removing absolutely everything you can: biminis, cushions, chairs, tables, outriggers, dinghies, motors, sails. If your boat will be in a slip, position the bow toward the likeliest direction of storm winds — but give precedence to the direction of waves. Tie the boat as far from the dock as you can. Each dockline should be long enough to its own strong point to allow for surge.

Prepare For Rain:

Ensure that your scuppers and bilge are free of debris, sludge, and any obstructions. Remove electronics or other equipment that's sensitive to moisture. Tape over hatches and dorades to keep wind-driven rain out. Check that bilge pumps are working. Top off batteries that will run the pumps and turn of un-needed items that will drain those batteries. If you have a low-freeboard boat or one with inadequate drains, it will need to be hauled out or trailered to avoid sinking.

Prepare For Surge:

The spider web of extra long docklines recommended in "At A Dock" should allow for a rise and fall of water level that may be unprecedented for your area.

Day 3: Storm Imminent

Time is now getting tight. Secure any items that you might have missed; remove any valuable items from the boat that remain. Take photos of your storm preparation in case your insurance company needs them later.

Day 4: Storm Watch

A hurricane watch indicates that hurricane conditions may pose a threat within 36 hours. By this time, you should have done all you can to secure your boat. The focus now should be on getting yourself and your family somewhere safe.

Day 5: Storm Warning

A hurricane warning for your area indicates that sustained winds of 74 mph are expected within 24 hours. Hopefully, by now, you and your family are safely away from the coastline — and your boat is just about the last thing on your mind



Posted On: July 17, 2019


I digress. All too often I see and experience an all too common lack of common decency and basic boating right of way.

Heck, how about some common respect and manners.

This article addresses it very well and keeps my blood pressure in check.

How Close Is Too Close?

By Carol Newman Cronin

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. That's the moral code, right? Maybe it's time to apply that to wakes and personal boating space.

Recently, I attended a casual boating get-together that reminded me of the importance of respecting personal boating space. A wide variety of boats showed up, and probably 50 crowded the docks. It was a little windier than ideal, so I wasn't too surprised when a young sailor came in slightly out of control and raked his boom along the side of my boat. There was no physical damage to either vessel, but he'd definitely made a mark on my attitude. I called, "Hey, be careful!" and sent an annoyed glare in his direction.

I could easily forgive the kid for ignoring me, especially since he seemed shaken up. But his dad, who'd come down to catch a bow line, didn't say anything to me, either. Then, after only a short pep talk, dad calmly pushed his son off the dock again, whereupon he and his boat ran into mine twice more before eventually finding a way out to open water.

Only a few minutes later, two boats that were tied up side by side at the dock were ready to leave at the same time. The inside boat pushed off before the outside boat was ready, failed to make a sharp enough turn, and BANG! Luckily, there was only cosmetic damage, and both vessels continued out to enjoy the day — but without a single word of apology from the offending skipper.

Obviously, collisions like these are unacceptable, even when they don't result in an insurance claim. But when we're maneuvering in tight quarters around unfamiliar vessels, how do we figure out what constitutes an appropriate amount of personal boating space? Right-of-way rules refer only to "passing at a safe distance."

The definition of "too close" will hinge on many factors, including the size and type of boat, the size of the harbor or channel, and probably the size of other things as well. As a result, different boating fraternities have developed their own rules of thumb for what constitutes "too close."

Large powerboats, for instance, can have blind spots under their bows big enough to swallow a small whale, so their operators understandably get antsy when another vessel strays too close. Racing sailors are accustomed to tacking less than a boat length away from a competitor's bow. Within the confines of each specific fraternity, both approaches may be "correct," but they're just plain incompatible — and for good reason. In any situation, therefore, thinking like the other guy can help everyone maintain a comfortable distance.

Another incompatibility occurs between boats of different speeds. When one passes another, both going in the same direction — say in a waterway, river, or channel — the faster boat's skipper might think it best to maintain speed and get the passing over as quickly as possible. But this wreaks havoc with the slower boat; a big wake will hurl kettles across galleys and topple unsuspecting crew. Ideally, the boat being passed should slow down, allowing the passing boat to maintain a moderate wake while still getting by fairly quickly. Checking in with your fellow boater on the VHF (or even waving hello to each other) doesn't hurt, either.

The plot thickens even more once we realize that what's considered polite by one group of boaters directly contradicts the preferred behavior of another. Fishermen think the polite way to cross another boat's course is to steer across the bow. Why? Because there might be fishing lines hanging off the stern. Sailors underway think other boats should know to cross their stern, if at all possible. Why? Because even a small wake in a sailboat's path will send it wildly bobbing or stop it altogether.

Communication is key to amicably sharing the water with other boaters. (Photo: Billy Black)

Is it any wonder there are so many rude hand gestures between these two groups? The only answer is to accept our boats as extensions of ourselves and then consider the other perspective. As soon as we do that, it becomes obvious that "too close" has a different meaning for each operator.

So how do we learn to share the water amicably? Two ways. First, communicate. Use your VHF, hand signals, or anything else available to tell the other skipper what you're planning to do, and give him or her the opportunity to suggest a different approach. And ­second, whenever you have a chance to get out on another type of boat, take it. Appreciating other perspectives is much easier once you're standing in a different wheelhouse.

As a young kid learning to sail, I'm sure I occasionally came into contact with other types of boats, and harbors were much less crowded in those days. Mess about with boats long enough, and we inevitably end up on the receiving end of everything we once did to someone else. That's why it's important to understand that our own sense of personal boating space may not always be in sync with everyone else who is trying to enjoy the same body of water. We'll all make the most progress if we learn from our differences. Oh, and let's all apologize when it's appropriate




Posted On: July 03, 2019


Okay, so now that Summer is here, and the holiday is rapidly approaching, the waters tend to get busy so let’s remember some basics of having a safe summer boating season.

Below are some quick tips on boating responsibly in the great outdoors. 


Travel responsibly on designated waterways and launch your watercraft in designated areas.

  • Travel only in areas open to your type of boat.
  • Carry a Coast Guard approved life vest (PFD) for each person on board.
  • Always operate your boat at a safe speed.
  • Always have a designated lookout to keep an eye out for other boaters, objects and swimmers.
  • Never jump a wake. If crossing a wake, cross at low speeds and keep a close lookout for skiers and towables.
  • Comply with all signs and respect barriers. This includes speed limits, no-wake zones and underwater obstructions, etc.
  • Make every effort to always go boating with a partner.
  • Make certain your trailer is in proper working order and that your lights work and your boat is secure on the trailer before you travel to your destination.
  • When trailering your boat, balance your load including items stowed inside your boat.
  • Don’t mix boating with alcohol or drugs.