Blog April 2020

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BOAT CAPACITY ADVICE

Posted On: April 29, 2020

If you're taking a group of friends and family out, follow these tips to make sure you don't overload.

Be Responsible....

Capacity Plates On Smaller Boats

Boats measuring less than 20 feet and powered by a motor are required to carry a plate showing the manufacturer's designed capacity limits. Some manufacturers also provide capacity plates on boats up to 26 feet in length. This plate includes the boat's maximum capacity, usually in number of passengers as well as in total pounds, and may include maximum horsepower as well. Treat these numbers as an upper limit, and don't overly rely on them; if your boat was built before 2011, the capacity plate will assume an average weight per passenger of 160 pounds instead of the 185 pounds now in use. Keeping weight within the boat's capacity limit is key to safety.

Capacity On Larger Boats

If your boat doesn't have a capacity plate, your owner's manual or the manufacturer may offer guidance on how many passengers or how much weight your boat can carry. If not, one rule of thumb, used with caution, is to carry only as many people as there are fixed seats in the main cockpit of the boat; don't include seats in the bow or the flybridge in this calculation. If the boat does not handle well, feels sluggish, rolls excessively, or is taking water in through the scuppers, you need to lighten the load.

People Distribution

Even if your load is less than the maximum, poor weight distribution can still cause a capsize. Don't let everyone gather on one side or at one end of the boat to watch fireworks or help bring a fish aboard. The flybridge offers the best seats in the house, but four or five people on the flybridge with no one down below can cause even 35-foot boats to capsize. Have people take turns up top, and keep the number small enough that the boat doesn't heel or lean as they move around up there. Fore-and aft-weight distribution is just as important as lateral. Keep most of the weight in the center of the boat and as low as possible.

Total Built-In Seats

Don't assume that the total number of seats is the number of passengers you can carry or the best weight distribution for the boat. Many boats have seating in the bow, yet too much weight there while under way can adversely affect the boat's balance, its ability to plane, and your ability to steer while increasing the danger of flooding if you power into a wave or a wake.

Other Weight Distribution

A large cooler filled with liquid in the stern of a center-console boat can cause flooding from wakes or when backing down to bring in a fish. Take into account the levels of fuel and water tanks and bait/fish wells when deciding how you distribute the rest of the weight.

Adjust Weight Distribution Under Way

Proper weight distribution for your boat may not be the same when it is sitting still, running, or running on plane. If you experience poor trim, sluggish steering, or unusual responses when you turn the wheel, you may have a loading problem. Don't attempt to "correct" improper weight distribution with trim tabs. Stop and reconfigure the weight.

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MARINE AND BOATING ACRONYMS

Posted On: April 22, 2020

Below is a list of acronyms used in the past.

If there are other marine abbreviations you need an explanation for, or some you think we should include, email us and we'll do our best to answer or add them.

ACR: An automatic charge relay is a one-way gate for voltage that allows the second battery in a system to be charged when the motor is feeding the system via the alternator without having to select "both" on your battery selector switch.

AIS: Automatic Identification System (displays real-time ship and marine traffic positions).

BoatUS App

APP: Not strictly an acronym, but shorthand for application (for mobile phones and tablets).

AWA: Anchor Watch Alarm

CPA: Closest Point of Approach, the predicted minimum distance between your vessel and a target on radar or AIS if you both continue at present course and speed

DSC: Digital Selective Calling (allows a distress signal to be sent from a VHF)

DSM: Digital Sounder Module, also called a black box in some cases, a microprocessor dedicated to interpreting and improving sonar displays on your fishfinder

EBL: Electronic Bearing Line, bearing to a target as displayed on a radar screen OR Exposed Location Buoy if you're talking aids to navigation

EPIRB: Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (used to alert services in an emergency)

GPS: Global Positioning System (a satellite navigation system providing location and time)

IP: Internet Protocol, just a name for how devices speak to each other

Multifunctional display

LED: Short for Light Emitting Diode, a form of semiconductor that gives off light when an electrical current is applied. Far more efficient than incandescent bulbs, they also have a longer lifespan (when fed proper voltage) because there's no filament to break or burn up.

LCD: Liquid crystal display, just another way of making images appear on a screen

MFD: Multifunction display. Your chartplotter, can do more than show you charts, hence the "multi" part

MFI: Depending on where you see it, it could be Made for Apple (iPhone, iPad, etc) or Multi-port fuel injection, if you're talking engines

Personal locator beacon

MMSI: Maritime Mobile Service Identity (the number that identifies your boat. Important in an emergency.

MOB: Man Overboard

NMEA: National Marine Electronics Association

PLB: Personal Locator Beacon (portable transmitter capable of sending an emergency distress signal)

RTE: Route, in shorthand, or Radar Target Enhancer if you are being fancy with your radar reflector

VHF: Very High Frequency, the designation for the frequency bandwidth that marine radios operate on. Specifically from 156-163 MHz. Distinct from UHF (Ultra High Frequency) where cordless phones and baby monitors work

VRM: Variable Range Marker, the rings on a radar display that indicate distances from your vessel at the center. 

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MARINE SURVEYS - IT'S NOT ABOUT THE COST

Posted On: April 15, 2020

Don't choose a surveyor on price alone.

Of course you need to know up front what the cost of the survey will be, but it could be a case of "if you don't pay now, you'll pay later." That bargain-basement-price survey could cost you in the long run should the surveyor miss some important fault on the boat.

If problems are caught before inking the deal, you have the option of renegotiating the price or getting faults corrected before you take delivery of the boat. While there is no guarantee that you will get more from a more expensive surveyor, as in all things, you typically get what you pay for. Prices are generally around $20 to $22 per foot, but if you're quoted $12 per foot you need to ask yourself why.

Surveyors often get concerned when a client asks for a cheap survey because "it's only for insurance." Most surveyors are professionals and want you to be happy with your boat and ensure your safety on the water. In return, you want him or her to spot any deficiencies with the boat. Surveyors need to be able to stand behind their work (possibly even in the courtroom), and doing a "light" survey doesn't help anyone. Most surveyors have a set fee based on the size and type of boat, the type of survey, travel costs, and so on.

By all means ask how much the surveyor charges, but don't wait until the day of the survey and then try to start negotiating the fee. You have the right to back out of the purchase up until your contract acceptance deadline, which is often at least several days after the survey date. If you change your mind about the boat after the survey is done, the surveyor still has to be paid. Most surveyors expect payment on the day the service is completed. Surveyors typically won't send out the completed survey report until they get paid. It's the surveyor's version of "no cash, no splash."

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BE ALARMED

Posted On: April 08, 2020

High-water alarms are installed on all boats built to its standards, for good reason: These simple devices typically use a switch to activate an alarm when water reaches a predetermined level and can save your boat.

Statistics have shown that 69 % of boats sink while at their dock — a good reason to connect the sensor to the boat's horn so others will know if your boat is taking on water.

If your boat has multiple bilge areas, it's best to have a separate bilge alarm for each area, with an indicator light as well as an audible alarm and a label to indicate the area involved. If you're aboard, the warning can give you enough time to find a leak before it's too late.

Locate the detector switch high enough above the normal level of bilge water to prevent the alarm from sounding when the bilge has a small amount of water easily handled by the bilge pump. But it also should be located low enough to alert you if there's a real problem. The same issues that plague bilge pumps can affect high-water alarms: corroded wire connections and jammed switches. While the alarm itself may last indefinitely, float switches need to be checked at least annually.

Boats that sink at the dock usually do so because of three things: Water gets in at the stern-drive bellows (inspect every couple of months and replace every three to six years); leaking cockpit and livewell plumbing (inspect hoses and pipes at least twice a year, replace any suspect fittings); and leaking stuffing boxes (there should be no leaks with the engine off, two to three drops per minute when running).

Underway, boats usually sink due to boarding waves, leaking fittings, and overheated engines, which causes exhaust systems to fail and leak. Many thru-hulls are in the same place as the outdrive bellows and raw-water cooling system: the engine room.

Look there first.

A high-water alarm might just buy you enough time to find a leak before it's too late.

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USE YOUR TIME TO PERFORM MAINTENANCE

Posted On: April 01, 2020


Regardless of your boat's size and systems, routine inspections and maintenance can alert you to potential problems.

Changing engine oil, and checking fluid levels are the best way to keep your boat running smoothly. Even well maintained engines will show signs of age. Leaks from steering cables, drips from the last oil change, or fuel from leaky fittings can all find their way into the bilge.

While we have some down time, why not put it some good use.

Changing Engine Oil and Other Fluids

  • Use a self-contained spill-proof oil extractor to remove fluids. Manual and electric pumps can be found at most marine retail supply stores.
  • Temporarily disable your bilge pump so that it does not cycle on in the case of a spill. Use an oil-only absorbent pad under the engine and in the bilge to absorb spills. Place a plastic bag around the filter before removing to catch drips.
  • Top off your fluids, wipe up any spills, and reconnect your bilge pump. Recycle your filter and used oil at a recycling location and dispose of used absorbent pads and rags properly.

Changing Fuel Filters

Fuel can become contaminated or can separate and clog filters if it sits in a fuel tank for too long. Changing your fuel filter is especially important if you boat in an area that has recently switched to ethanol formulated gasoline. Ethanol has a tendency to clean out fuel systems, resulting in the need to change your fuel filter more frequently with the first few tanks of ethanol formulated fuel.

Changing spin-on or in-line primary fuel filters is relatively easy. However, changing some secondary filters (the one that tends to be mounted out of the way or internally in the engine) can be more difficult than your average fuel filter change and tends to be overlooked by many do-it-yourselfers. When in doubt, refer to your engine manual or let a professional handle it. Proper fuel flow and filtration is essential to smooth operation. Regardless of engine size, routine inspections can alert you to potential problems.

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