Monthly Archives: March 2010

It’s a boat, it’s a car . . . it’s a WaterCar

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Five Reasons Boats Sink at the Dock in the Spring

Every spring, shortly after being launched and commissioned for the season, boats sink while safely tied up at the dock, turning what should be a good time of the year into a disaster.

According to BoatU.S. Marine Insurance claim files, for every boat that sinks underway, four boats sink in their slips. There are two reasons for this discrepancy. One reason is whenever a boat leaves the dock, someone is aboard, which leaves open the possibility that the leak will be discovered and the problem corrected before it sinks the boat. And, reason # 2, boats tend to spend a majority of their time at the dock.

The best defense against a dockside sinking? Visit your boat at least twice a season, inspect any fittings above or below the waterline that could be letting water into the boat. All too often, owners rely on bilge pumps to bail them out when they can’t visit their boats. The pump fails and the boat sinks. If you can’t visit your boat regularly, consider using a buddy system with other boat owners to watch each other’s boats.

BoatU.S., marine insurance claims also show important accident trends or lessons to learn. A study of the claims has identified the top five reasons for springtime sinking.

Top Five Reasons Why Boats Sink in the Springtime:

  1. Missing or damaged hose clamps: These clamps are often removed in the fall to winterize the engine, and then forgotten about in the spring when the boat is launched. Tight spaces in engine compartments make it difficult to see some unsecured or deteriorated clamps.
  2. Unsecured engine hoses: Over the winter, freezing water can lift hoses off seacocks (valves).
  3. Spring rains: Combine heavy rains with leaking ports, deck hatches, cracked or improperly caulked fittings, chain plates and even scuppers clogged by leaves and your boat could be on the bottom soon.
  4. Broken sea strainer: Glass, plastic and even bronze strainer bowls can be cracked or bent over the winter if not properly winterized, allowing water to trickle in when the seawater intake seacock is in the open position.
  5. Leaking stuffing box: If equipped, a steady drip from an improperly adjusted stuffing box (the “packing” around the prop shaft) has been known to swamp a boat.

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Woman Is the Youngest to Cross an Ocean Alone

From the New York Times:Katie Spotz completed her mission Sunday, becoming the youngest person to row an entire ocean solo, and the first American to row a boat without help from mainland to mainland. After 70 days 5 hours 22 minutes in the Atlantic, Spotz, 22, arrived Sunday in Georgetown, Guyana, in South America.

“You’re in a situation that you can’t escape, so you really have to dig deep,” said Spotz, who left Jan. 3 from Dakar, Senegal, on the west coast of Africa.

Her 2,817-mile journey raised more than $70,000 for the Blue Planet Run Foundation, which finances drinking water projects around the world.

Continue reading.

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What is Dragon Boating?

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To Buy Or Not To Buy, That Is The Question.

Boat show season and spring time bring out many potential first time boaters kicking the tires keels, in search of that perfect boat. Many of you have heard the old joke, “What are the two best days of a boat owner’s life? The day you buy the boat and the day you sell it.”

There are so many different kinds of boats it is hard to make the decision. Here’s a tip, try before you buy. Huh…what do you mean by that? Why not check out a potentially viable alternative by joining a Boat Club.

How Not to Trailer

How Not To Launch

Think of everything that you have to do if you own a boat. There is dockage or you have to trailer the boat. Of course you need to learn the proper way to launch your boat from the trailer. There is maintenance and cleaning and you have to provide insurance.

What if you had access to various kinds of boats such as fishing boats, bow riders, ski boats, pontoon boats, cruisers, etc. without all the extra responsibilities of ownership? That’s where the boat club comes in. All you have to do is make a reservation, show up at the dock and enjoy the day. The Boat Club takes care of everything else.

No two boat clubs are exactly the same, but most do share a similar method by which they operate.  Members are usually required to pay a one-time fee to join, then monthly dues, and membership often requires a one-year (or one season) commit­ment. Clubs also often offer different membership packages and sometimes have different levels within those packages.

Maine’s Port Harbor Boat Club has two pack­ages. The “Family Membership” gives customers’ access to four boats (sizes range from 15- to 28-feet and styles include aluminum skiffs, cabin cruis­ers, ski boats and center console fishing boats), seven days a week, at each Port Harbor location, one on the ocean and the other on Sebago Lake, the second biggest lake in the state.

Port Harbor provides the boats, safety and basic navigation equipment as well as the slips, then has fishing and water sports packages avail­able for rent and fuel, which members are respon­sible for, also on sale.

Another approach is that used by Minnesota’s Excel Boat Club, has three membership packages, based on the number of reservations you can make in a year and the days of the week that they are available.

Most boat clubs also have a certain ratio of mem­bers to boats. Carefree Boat Club, which has loca­tions in six states and the District of Columbia, keeps a ratio of 10 customers per boat. Carefree members also have reciprocity between locations, allowing them to use boats at any of the Carefree facilities.

Freedom Boat Club is one of the largest in the country having fifty-seven locations ranging from New Hampshire to Florida and west across the Gulf of Mexico and as far west as Austin, Tx. Freedom also has three levels of membership. The Freedom Boating Plan provides unlimited usage at the home club as well as the opportunity to use each of their other locations up to four times per year. As a member you can book as many as four advance reservations at a time.

The Winter Seasonal Membership Plan is written to satisfy the needs of part time residents in certain markets. It provides the same benefits as the Freedom Boating Plan but is limited to a specified six month time period.

Freedom also has a Corporate Plan, a business membership plan that provides organizations an opportunity to entertain clients, friends and family. It includes four advance reservations but allows for multiple employees to be named as members.

(We are not endorsing any of the above, nor are we affiliated with any clubs, we are just reporting.)

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Pre-Season Checklist – Dewinterizing Your Boat for the Season

Spring is almost here and it is not too soon to start thinking about dewinterizing your boat for the season. Even if you live in an area where the “boating season” doesn’t begin with the start of spring, your “season” will be here before you know it.

Because there are so many variables depending on the size and type of boat you have, we have categorized this list for your convenience.  In order to assure a safe and uneventful season make sure that you go through the list below and make a note of any discrepancies that need attention.

Applicable To All Large Boat Small Boat Sail Boat
Deck Fittings
Required Equipment
Below Decks
Electrical System
Inboard Engine(s)
Head System
Water System
Outboard Motor(s)
Mast & Rigging


  • Do a general cleaning of hull, deck and topsides using a mild detergent
  • Make sure drains and scuppers are clear
  • Put on a good coat of wax
  • Clean and polish metal with a good metal polish
  • Clean teak and oil
  • Clean windows and hatches
  • Clean canvas, bimini and dodger
  • Clean interior including bilges
  • Check spare parts and tools and replace as necessary
  • Make sure registration is current and onboard
  • Check and replace wiper blades if necessary


  • Check for hull abrasions, scratches, gouges, etc. and repair
  • Check and replace zincs
  • Check for blisters and refinish is necessary
  • Check rub rails
  • Check swim platform and/or ladder
  • Inspect and test trim tabs
  • Check shaft, cutlass bearing, strut and prop
  • Check rudder and fittings
  • Touch up or replace antifouling paint


  • Check stanchion, pulpits and lifelines for integrity
  • Check ground tackle, lines, fenders, etc.
  • Check chainplates and cleats
  • Check hull/deck joint
  • Check deck, windows, and port lights for leaks
  • Inspect anchor windlass and lubricate
  • Clean and grease winches
  • Check and lubricate blocks, pad eyes, etc.
  • Check dinghy, and life raft


  • Check, test and lubricate seacocks
  • Check condition of hoses and clamps
  • Make sure below waterline hoses are double clamped
  • Check bilges pumps for automatic and manual operation
  • Check for oil in bilges
  • Check limber holes and make sure they are clear of debris
  • Lubricate stuffing boxes, shaft and rudder logs


  • Check battery water level
  • Check/recharge batteries
  • Check terminals for corrosion, clean and lubricate
  • Check bonding system
  • Inspect all wiring for wear and chafe
  • Test all gauges for operability
  • Check shore power and charger
  • Check for spare fuses
  • Check all lighting fixtures (including navigation lights) and make sure you have spare bulbs
  • Check all electronics for proper operation
  • Inspect antennas


  • Sound signaling device
  • Check distress signals and expiration date
  • Check Pfds
  • Inspect life rings and cushions
  • Check fire extinguishers and recharge if necessary
  • Check and adjust compass
  • Check navigation lights
  • Check charts and replace as necessary
  • Check radar reflector
  • Check and replace first aid supplies
  • Check bailer and hand pump


  • Change oil & filters – have spare onboard
  • Check and change fuel filters – have spares onboard
  • Check and change engine zincs
  • Check cooling system change coolant as necessary – have extra onboard
  • Record engine maintenance log, especially date & hours of last oil changes
  • Check belts for tension
  • Check transmission fluid
  • Check and clean backfire flame arrestor
  • Check impeller
  • Check and clean water strainer
  • Check bilge blower
  • Empty water separator filters


  • Checked for smooth operation – lubricate and clean as necessary
  • If equipped with treatment system, have chemicals on hand
  • Y-valve operation checked, valve labeled & secured


  • Flush water tank
  • Check water system and pump for leaks and proper operation
  • Check hot water tank working on both AC and engines
  • Check for tank cap keys on board
  • Check and clean shower sump pump screens


  • Fill propane tank, check electric & manual valves, check storage box vent to make sure it is clear
  • Check refrigerator, clean and freshen, operate on AC and DC
  • Clean stove, check that all burners and oven are working
  • Check microwave, if fitted


  • Replace spark plugs
  • Check plug wires for wear
  • Check prop for nicks and bends
  • Change/fill gear lube
  • Inspect fuel lines, primer bulb and tank for leaks
  • Lubricate and spray moveable parts


  • Check for current registration
  • Check rollers and pads
  • Check and lubricate wheel bearings
  • Clean and lubricate winch
  • Lubricate tongue jack and wheel
  • Test lights and electrical connections
  • Check tire pressure and condition
  • Check brakes (if equipped)
  • Check safety chains
  • Check tongue lock


  • Check general condition
  • Look for wear and chafing
  • Check battens and batten pockets
  • Check all sail attachments
  • Inspect bolt rope


  • Check mast and spreaders for corrosion or damage
  • Inspect spreader boots and shrouds
  • Inspect rivets and screw connections for corrosion
  • Check reefing points and reefing gear
  • Clean sail track
  • Check rigging, turnbuckles and clevis pins for wear and corrosion
  • Inspect stays for fraying and “fish hooks”
  • Check forestay and backstay connections
  • Check masthead fitting and pulleys
  • Check and lubricate roller furling
  • Check halyards and consider replacing or swapping end for end
  • Tape turnbuckles, cotter pins, and spreaders

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Pending Boating Regulations

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is closely following boating-related bills in the following states:

Minnesota: Two bills recently introduced in Minnesota would prevent the state from developing boating access points on waterways that currently do not have one. State Sen. Tom Bakk and State Rep. David Dill introduced S2890/H3230 in an effort to protect currently clean waterways from being infested with invasive species. The NMMA is currently working with legislators to amend the overly broad language.

Florida: Less than a year after the Florida legislature enacted a boater-friendly law to prevent counties and cities from restricting the anchorage of cruisers, state Rep. Richard Steinberg (D-Miami Beach) has introduced HB 1361 to reverse that stance. A patchwork of restrictions in several coastal counties currently limits anchorage to as little as two days. Miami Beach, which has a seven-day restriction, was among the first to enact the limits to mollify waterfront property owners. NMMA and marine trade associations statewide are strongly opposing this bill.

Illinois: Illinois Sen. Don Harmon recently introduced a bill to require that a life jacket be worn by anyone who is the sole occupant of a boat less than 26 feet long. Harmon believes SB 3060 will provide a needed margin of safety when a person who is the only occupant of a boat is unable to summon assistance if he falls overboard or is involved in an accident. SB 3060 is the latest of several bills seeking to mandate the wearing of life jackets.

: Attorney general Douglas F. Gansler is pushing a bill to ban treated and untreated sewage discharge from commercial and recreational vessels in all Maryland waters, including a majority of the Chesapeake Bay. The NMMA is concerned about HB 1257’s requirements because of the lack of pumpout stations serving Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and because many recreational boats with Type 1 and 2 treatment systems do not have holding tanks.

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Mariners navigating waters in and around Chile should exercise caution.

From Bryant’s Maritime Blog:

There are unofficial reports that the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Chile last month has moved parts of the nation. The city of Conception may have moved as much as ten feet to the west, while Santiago may have moved eleven inches to the west-southwest. Even areas outside Chile, including the Falkland Islands and Brazil, may have been affected. As yet, there are no reports of elevation changes, but mariners navigating waters in and around Chile should exercise caution until definitive new surveys are done. The 1964 earthquake in Alaska caused significant elevation changes, particularly at Kodiak Island, and resulted in a number of groundings until charts could be updated.

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North Carolina Enacts Boating Education Requirement Beginning May 1

A new law goes into effect on May 1 for boaters in North Carolina, especially those under 26 years old.

Beginning May 1, anyone younger than 26 operating a vessel powered by a motor of 10 horsepower or greater on a public waterway must meet the requirements for boating safety education, as set by General Statute 75A-16.2

“Those boaters must take and pass a National Association of State Boating Law Administrators-approved course before taking the helm, or otherwise be in compliance,” said Capt. Chris Huebner, the state boating safety coordinator.

All vessel operators may be asked by law enforcement officers to present a certification card or proof of compliance.

To take the course online, click here.

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Second Phase of Virginia Boating Education Law Kicks in this Summer

In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law to establish a boating safety education requirement for Virgina boaters. The requirement for boating safety education is phased-in over several years and applies to all Personal Watercraft (PWC) operators and operators of boats with motors of 10hp and greater, according to the following schedule:

  1. PWC operators between the ages of 16 and 20 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2009, operators ages 14 or 15 may operate a PWC if they have successfully completed an approved boating education safety course;
  2. PWC operators 35 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2010;
  3. PWC operators 50 years of age or younger and motorboat operators 20 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2011;
  4. All PWC operators, regardless of age, and motorboat operators 30 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2012;
  5. Motorboat operators 40 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2013;
  6. Motorboat operators 45 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2014;
  7. Motorboat operators 50 years of age or younger shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2015;
  8. All motorboat operators,regardless of age,shall meet the requirements by July 1, 2016.

According to the Virgina DGIF, if you have taken a NASBLA approved course, you are in compliance with this regulation. Look for the NASBLA logo on your course completion certificate or wallet card.  For more information, visit the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.

To take the boating safety course online, click here.

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