Monthly Archives: March 2011

BoatUS Urges Boaters To Be Heard on New EPA Requirements

Remember the Clean Boating Act of 2008? The bi-partisan federal legislation stopped recreational boats from falling under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) permit requirements originally targeting “normal operating discharges” from commercial ships. However, the Act required the EPA to analyze recreational boat discharges and eventually mandate “Management Practices” to address environmental concerns.

Now the Agency is asking boaters to speak up about how they operate and maintain their boat as it moves forward developing and eventually implementing those management practices. The deadline for comments is June 2.

“Management Practices would be methods, techniques, or tools which could mitigate any environmental impact of normal discharges into our waters,” said BoatUS Vice President of Government Affairs Margaret Podlich. “They will vary according to boat type and what that vessel could potentially discharge. For example, the EPA is looking at engine maintenance and could create a management practice that requires the use of a bilge sock to soak up oil in your engine compartment. Of course, this couldn’t apply to a rowboat. But it’s important to understand they are looking at all recreational watercraft.”

Continued Podlich, “BoatUS has been working with boaters for years to help them understand how to minimize their impact while enjoying the water. We know that boaters are strong, clean boating advocates, and we firmly believe that any new mandatory management practices must be based in science, and should be practical, realistic, and economical. That’s why we need boaters to speak out now.”

To hear boater’s concerns and suggestions, the EPA has set up two ways to communicate:

1. Boaters can be heard at the agency’s alternative weekly online webinars that started March 21 and end April 25. To find out the dates and to register for these online listening sessions go to:

http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/lawsguidance/cwa/vessel/CBA/participate.cfm

2. Boaters can also email the EPA directly at CleanBoatingAct-HQ@EPA.GOV up until June 2.

The EPA is looking at several broad categories of vessel discharges including the use of anti-fouling paints and zincs, grey water (from showers and sinks), bilge water (with concern about oil and grease, which is already illegal to discharge), the use of cleaning products, disposal of garbage and fishing waste, and the transport of invasive species.

The Clean Boating Act law requires the EPA to consider many factors when developing these management practices, including the type of the discharge and its environmental affect, any effects on operation or safety, economic costs, international standards, and applicability to state or federal law.

The Agency also held a listening session in Annapolis, MD, which BoatUS attended. “The EPA shared with us that they expect to use some of the more common clean boating techniques already found in some areas,” said Podlich. “However, no specific proposal or required action was presented, so more details are elusive. As a result, boaters need to stay tuned to what EPA is planning and make their voices heard in these listening sessions.”

For more information on the Clean Boating Act of 2008, go to http://www.boatus.com/gov/cba/.

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New Boating Innovation to Simplify Manual Boat Launching

The slip-and-fall injuries that frequently accompany the manual launch of a small-to-medium boat into a shallow, murky access ramp can now become preventable with The L.A.W. System. The L.A.W. System is a high-strength, easy-to-use trailer application which allows a boat owner to launch their boat while remaining dry, out of the water.

It doesn’t get much better than a hot summer day spent out on the water, except the inconvenience of wading through dirty water atop submerged, slippery concrete – risking injury – to launch a boat at a manual-access ramp. The L.A.W. System allows the boat-owner to launch the boat above the water, circumventing any hassle that might accompany customary manual launches.

The L.A.W. System (Launch And Walk) is universally attachable to any small-to-medium boat trailer (any boat that might require a manual launch). A mostly aluminum mechanism capable of supporting up to 300 pounds safely, it is attached near the hitch and acts as a platform to conveniently and easily stand along the trailer, above the water, to manually launch the boat. Comprised majorly of an aluminum top and platform, The L.A.W. System is bolted to the trailer and adjusted through a spring-loaded pin.

The L.A.W. System was featured at this yeas Detroit Boat Show at Detroit’s Cobo Hall in February. It was presented by AMJ Companies, a private equity firm based in Metro Detroit. Mass production of The L.A.W. System is expected for the coming months, in anticipation of the upcoming boating season.

More information on The L.A.W. System can be found on the product web site, http://thelawsystem.com/.

The AMJ Companies is a small private equity firm based out of Harrison Twp, Mich. Having been around for over five years, AMJ Companies is involved in the acquisition of other small firms and various innovations. AMJ Companies specializes in the inception of an idea and sees it through to fruition and taking it to the mass market.

 

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Life Jacket Designs Break New Ground

 Back in January we reported on the BoatUS  – “Design A Better Life Jacket” contest. Well the contest is over and the winners are…

The first place winner is the “See-Tee”, a design from Jeff Betz of the Troy, NY based Float-Tech Inc. This isn’t Betz’s first life jacket innovation – his company started as the result of a graduate school project that designed the firm’s first non-traditional inflatable life jacket based on a foul weather coat.

The Sea-Tee is a standard rash-guard shirt that many water sports enthusiasts are used to wearing – but with a twist. It has a built-in inflatable bladder similar to most inflatable life jackets. Betz is careful not to call this a life jacket however, and simply refers to it as a buoyancy aid.

Said Betz: “The Sea-Tee is a thousand times better than traditional life jackets for many of the activities people engage in on the water. Most life jackets are designed to standards that are meant for offshore conditions, but most boaters are on calm inland waters. Jackets built to 100 percent of the current standards – but not worn, are zero percent effective. So with the Sea-Tee you can wear essentially the same shirt you’re used to wearing on the water, and have the back-up of a buoyancy aid in case of an emergency.”

The company received the $5,000 first place prize.


Second place went to the Directors Bureau, a Los Angeles based creative consulting company that works in the film industry. Their “Float Coat” is a windbreaker with added floatation. The Bureau, represented by Sebastian Pardo, said his firm had never delved into this type of project before. Pardo stated that their guiding strategy was to design something that, “should always work, shouldn’t require action by the person wearing the jacket, and should be fashionable.”

While not a unique design, judges felt that the distinctive placement of the floatation, which included never-before-seen hollow “microspheres,” or small spherical particles, along with fashionable styling, made it stand out. The firm took home a $1,000 prize.


Third place went to the design team of high school seniors Josh Jankowski and Nathan Karabon of St. Thomas More High School in Milwaukee, WI. Their design, which marries traditional foam floatation in a modern inflatable configuration, is a result of their school’s Pathway to Engineering curriculum that is part of the national “Project Lead the Way” program. Jankowski and Karabon’s interest in designing a life jacket came from learning about the competition while doing research as part of their senior research project.

As the youngest participants in the competition, the duo surveyed boaters and researched designs to come up with their prototype. Jankowski and Karabon took home a $500 prize.

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Why Do So Many Boats Sink in the Spring?

Last week we published a pre-season check list to assist in dewinterizing our boat for the upcoming boating season. According to BoatUS insurance division there are five things that are often overlooked that can result in you boats first trip being one that isn’t on the water but under the water.

The 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 in the winter if not properly winterized, allowing to water 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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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
General
Hull
Deck Fittings
Required Equipment
Below Decks
Electrical System
Inboard Engine(s)
Head System
Water System
Galley
Outboard Motor(s)
Trailer
Sails
Mast & Rigging

GENERAL:

  • 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

HULL

  • 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

DECK, FITTINGS, SAFETY EQUIPMENT:

  • 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

BELOW DECKS:

  • 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

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM AND COMPONENTS:

  • 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

REQUIRED AND RECOMMENDED EQUIPMENT:

  • 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

INBOARD ENGINE(S):

  • 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

HEAD SYSTEM:

  • 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

WATER SYSTEM:

  • 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

GALLEY:

  • 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
OUTBOARD MOTOR:
 
  • 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

TRAILER:

  • 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

SAILS:

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

MAST AND RIGGING:

  • 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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Coast Guard Monitors Radiation Risk to Pacific Ports

 Radiation Warning SymbolThe U.S. Coast Guard is working to ensure the safety of the maritime transportation system in the aftermath of the tragedy in Japan. Based on an analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there is no indication that harmful radiation will reach the U.S., whether it is the West Coast, Hawaii, Alaska, or U.S. territories including Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The U.S. government has determined that radiation levels outside a zone of 50 miles centered on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant do not pose a human health hazard. As a result, the Coast Guard has issued a Navigational Warning advising vessels to avoid transiting within a precautionary area of 50 miles of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

As vessels and cargo which remain outside of the precautionary area do not pose any human health hazard, they will not be subject to additional screening or evaluation. Vessels known to have transited the precautionary area shall be considered for additional screening. However, the probability of contamination remains low for these vessels and any hazards are likely below levels considered to be hazardous to human health. Coast Guard Sector Guam will employ a three-part protocol to ensure the safety of vessels and cargo that have transited the precautionary area en route to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands:

1. Perform an at-sea boarding to check for elevated levels of radiation on the vessel and its cargo.

2. Ensure on-dock screenings of all cargo offloaded from Japan to the Ports of Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Rota.

3. Ensure availability of appropriate emergency response teams if harmful levels of radiation are detected.

To date, there have been no vessels that have transited within the 50-mile zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant en route to U.S. ports, including the Territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Moreover, normal shipping routes of vessels departing ports open for operations in Japan do not place any vessels within 100 nautical miles of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Coast Guard, at the highest levels, will continue to monitor the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Coast Guard Sector Guam will continue normal screening, boarding, and inspection procedures to ensure the continued safety and security of ports and waterways in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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Boater’s Spring Commissioning Tips for Saving Gas

Boats at fuel dockWith gas prices forecast to remain higher than last summer, BoatUS has six tips on spring commissioning that can be done now to save you money on gas all summer long:

Lighten the load is one of easiest no-cost things to save on gas. Clear out all of that junk that’s been stored aboard the boat over winter.

Get a tune-up: An annual tune-up is a must if you’re truly serious about saving gas.

Check the prop: Props with little dings should be taken to a repair shop now. This is also the time to ensure you are happy with your prop’s performance – have a discussion with your marina or local prop shop to ensure you still have the right prop installed based on your current boating needs.

Paint the bottom: For boats docked in salt or brackish water, keeping the fuel-robbing “green gunk” growth from adhering to your boat’s hull can save a lot of fuel. But you’ll need to ensure the vessel has a new coat of bottom paint put on, making it difficult for anything to grow on the hull bottom.

Check the trim tabs: Unbalanced boats chew up the gas. During spring commissioning, ensure that trim tabs function properly. Check the reservoir for leaks.

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