Blog May 2020


Posted On: October 17, 2020
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Posted On: May 27, 2020

Not Sea-Trialing The Boat After Repairs Are Made

A client purchased a used powerboat with a large outboard that had a cracked head. Because he wrote into the contract that the engine had to be working before he would buy the boat, the dealer had the engine fixed and claimed they performed a compression test to verify everything was fine. After paying for the boat, the first time the new owner took the boat out, the rod blew a hole in the side of the engine. The dealer he bought it from first said he'd replace it with a used engine, but eventually said that the contract stated that boat was purchased in "as-is" condition and was working on the day of the sale.

Lesson: When contingencies are written into a contract, spell out the details and don't formally accept the boat until you've verified that all repairs have been made properly. Because of the high value of the engine, it would have made sense to have an independent technician check it out and even come along for a sea trial.

Not Letting The Shop Be Involved In The Diagnosis

The small diesel engine in a client's sailboat was having starting issues. He brought it to a shop, and they told him they found water in the cylinders. The shop said they could fix it, but the member decided to buy a new engine himself and have the shop install it. He bought the engine and had it delivered to the shop. The new engine didn't come with such things as a starter, alternator, and intake and exhaust manifolds, so the shop reused the old ones.

After installing the engine, the next spring after only one use, the engine wouldn't start. The shop found water in the cylinders again and claimed their warranty only covered the installation of the new engine. There was no warranty on the old manifolds that leaked into the engine.

Lesson: For major work especially, let the shop recommend the repair. If your engine is running rough and you instruct a shop to, say, replace the carburetor, and that doesn't fix the problem, they will only warranty the work they did on replacing the carb. On the other hand, if you tell the shop the engine is running rough and want them to troubleshoot it and fix it, their warranty will cover a rough-running engine and not simply the parts that you directed them to install.

Not Using A Purchase Contract

A client wanted to buy an old 22-foot sailboat from a private seller for what she thought was a great price. When she looked at the boat, the usual equipment was onboard, such as a battery, anchor, and radio. She gave the seller a deposit and told him she'd be back with the rest of the money the next day. She returned and paid for the boat, but after she got it home and eagerly took the boat out for a quick sail to see how it performed, she noticed that the battery and some other equipment had been removed. The value of missing equipment was nearly half the value of the boat. With no purchase contract spelling out what was to be included in the sale, the member had no recourse.

Lesson: The details of any boat purchase should be included in a simple purchase contract, which will list the price, included equipment, and other details — and should be signed and dated by both parties.



Posted On: May 20, 2020

Renewing your boat’s U.S. Coast Guard documentation

The Coast Guard can't prevent outside vendors from helping boaters with renewals, but it comes at a cost — private companies typically charge three times more than the U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC).

Some of these third-party companies may also send out official-looking letters offering renewal.

A number of boaters  have complained that these letters direct them to the same misleading websites. Often, the mailings and websites have no easily discernible disclaimers to warn boaters that they are not dealing with the Coast Guard. Some companies may try to get you to pay for two or even five years of renewals, potentially costing boaters hundreds of dollars more than if they did it themselves.

The Coast Guard has confirmed that third-party businesses do not get priority, and paying extra for any "expedited" service will not get your renewal any faster than dealing directly with NVDC.

To easily renew your vessel documentation, simply go to the U.S. Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center website and click on "instructions and forms." Renewal is simple and the cost is approximately $26 per year.

To be documented, a vessel must measure at least 5 net tons and, with the exception of certain oil-spill response vessels, owned by a U.S. citizen. Boats about 27 feet in length or longer generally meet the weight requirement.



Posted On: May 13, 2020

Helping out is not optional. You have a responsibility when you boat.

Asking for Help

Offer to help catch the dock lines of a vessel coming to a dock; however, if the captain or crew wave you off, respect that they have a method and aren’t looking for assistance. If you’re on the ocean, stopping to assist a vessel in distress (or at least offering to relay messages to authorities or rescue agencies) is necessary—you’re legally obligated to render assistance so long as you don’t imperil yourself or your vessel.

VHF Radio Conduct

VHF channel 16 is for hailing and distress calls. Don’t use it for extended chats with other boaters. Once you’ve contacted another vessel ask them to switch to another frequency to continue the conversation. Making a false distress call is against the law. Keep kids off the radio because it’s not a toy.

Frequently Asked Questions on Boating Etiquette

What should I do if I’m a guest on a boat and I feel seasick?

First, tell someone, primarily the captain. Second, don’t go below because that will make it worse. Third, try to lie down or look at the horizon and breathe deeply. There’s no shame in getting seasick but it can be a dangerous condition that makes you weak and disoriented.

When should a Mayday call be made?

Mayday is a distress call that is a request for assistance. It should be made only if there is immediate danger to life, property or the environment. If you’ve run out of gas but are otherwise okay, don’t call a Mayday on the radio. Contact a vessel towing organization or the Coast Guard to relay a request for assistance.



Posted On: May 06, 2020

Wi-Fi has invaded just about every aspect of our lives. It's in our homes, our workplaces, and our cars.

Now it's even showing up on our boats.

But do we really need or want Wi-Fi aboard?

Despite the downsides of cost, complexity, and ceaseless badgering from the outside world, the answer for most of us is a resounding "Yes."

Getting your boat connected has some huge advantages. The enhanced communications offers both convenience and security; the ability to communicate with the cloud allows for effortless marine-electronics software and cartography updates; and the ability to integrate your boat's brain with your phone or tablet makes for easier operation.

With benefits like these, Wi-Fight it?

Before this conversation gets too confusing, we should differentiate between local Wi-Fi networks and those that connect to the rest of the world. Many marine Wi-Fi systems are essentially local network devices that simply integrate several devices on your boat, while others network your boat with the World Wide Web. Both have their own purposes.

Even if your boat can't communicate with the web while at sea, a local Wi-Fi network will allow you to integrate the devices on board it. For example, you could use your phone as a chartplotter repeater or to change the settings on your fishfinder. And some systems can be set up to operate both locally and in a broader context. Cartography updates, for example, can take place on your multifunction display (MFD) screen in real-time by tethering your plotter, fishfinder, and your Navionics app wirelessly. The data you've gathered can then be shared with the rest of the world when you return to port and get reconnected to the rest of the world.

What many of us are really after, of course, is the complete connection. Luckily, in this day and age, you can get one virtually anywhere on Earth. If, that is, you're willing to pay for it. The bottom line? The farther from civilization you get, the more it'll cost you.