Monthly Archives: March 2012

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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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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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

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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A Primer on Nautical Charts

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) history is an intrinsic part of the history of the United States and the development of its science and commercial infrastructure. The ancestor agencies of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration include the United States Coast Survey established in 1807, the United States Weather Bureau established in 1870, and the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries established in 1871.

The modern day NOAA not only deals with weather and nautical charts but education. Below is a sample of one of the  educational modules from NOAA.

To learn more about Nautical Charts and all aspects of Navigation consider taking the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course.

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Tax Tip: Boat Owners May Have Federal Tax Deductions Available

Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the TreasuryRecreational boat owners who paid state sales taxes on a boat purchase, or those who secured a loan to finance a boat, may have some tax deductions coming to them when filing their 2011 federal income tax return. The tax tip comes from the nation’s largest boater’s advocacy group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS).

The Sales Tax Deduction

For boat owners who paid substantial state sales taxes on a new or used boat purchase last year, the Tax Extenders Act of 2008 continues to offer a federal tax deduction for state sales taxes.  Boaters must choose either the state sales tax deduction or state income tax deduction on their federal tax return – you cannot take both.

In addition, to take the state sales tax deduction, the sales tax on a boat purchase must be applied at the same tax rate as the state’s general sales tax. In order to claim the sales tax deduction, tax returns must be itemized. State sales taxes are entered on IRS form Schedule A, line 5b.

The Boat Loan Deduction

For those owners with a secured boat loan, mortgage interest paid on the loan may be deducted from your federal income taxes. Taxpayers may use the home mortgage interest deduction for one second home in addition to their primary home, and must itemize deductions on their returns. A boat is considered a second home for federal tax purposes if it has a galley, an installed head and sleeping berth.

During federal budget negotiations last year, Congress sought to eliminate this deduction for boat owners while keeping it in place for second home and recreational vehicle owners. BoatUS lobbied aggressively for a more equitable all-or-nothing approach when applying the deduction, and boaters did not get unfairly singled out.

Some boaters may be unaware of this potential tax benefit because not all lending institutions send borrowers an Internal Revenue Service form 1098 which reports the interest paid. Not receiving the form does not preclude taking the deduction. If a 1098 is not available, boaters should contact their lender for the amount of interest paid and should enter it on line 11 on Schedule A along with the lender’s tax ID number. If a form 1098 is sent, boaters should simply enter the amount on line 10 of Schedule A.

Sorry, AMT
For those who fall under the Alternative Minimum Tax, most deductions are unavailable. Boaters are urged to contact a tax preparer or financial advisor for more information.

For more details on the mortgage deduction on boats that qualify, go to and download Publication 936 or the Fact Sheets. For state tax deduction information, download Publication 60 which also includes state-by-state tax tables.

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Restube – A Lightweight, Compressed-air Lifesaver

Most anyone that can swim can handle a float across the pool without significant risk of drowning, but being out on a large, open body of water like the ocean or a lake brings dangers to even the surest swimmer. While a personal flotation device (PFD) is a simple solution that will keep you afloat, it can be restricting and cumbersome to wear, making it uncomfortable for athletic activities like surfing or kiteboarding. The Restube gives you some of the life-saving power of a traditional flotation device without the unwanted bulk and discomfort.

According to its website, the device is the size of a mobile phone (looks like maybe a mobile phone from a few years back). You can strap it around your waist like a belt or lash it to a piece of equipment. If you find yourself in a situation where drowning is a risk, pull the trigger and the compressed air canister fills a flotation tube. Grab on, and you have an instant flotation device to keep you above water.


 The Restube’s bright yellow color should make it easy to spot by rescuers. You remain connected to the flotation device via a tether, so it won’t float away. Thanks to the tether, you can also dive underneath oncoming waves. When back on land, the Restube deflates and rolls back up for future use.

The one downside of this system is that the tube is a straight bar and doesn’t wrap around your body in any way. It requires you to hold onto it, which could be a problem if you’re injured, exhausted or in particularly rough water.

Restube is a product of German company Kopfproduktion. Several different versions of the system will hit the market in April. The company will release pricing closer to launch but has indicated it will start below EUR100 (US$135).

DISCLAIMER: There is no information about whether or not this is or will be USCG approved. It certainly does  NOT satisfy the carriage requirements of 1 PFD for each person in a boat. It should not be used as a substitute for a USCG approved personal flotation device. 

Source: Restube

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New Drunken Boating Law Advancing

The state of Indiana is getting closer to passing a law that will affect boaters in the Great Lakes state…

Source: Daily Boater

Adult male being arrested by USCG officers for boating under the influenceA new law in Indiana is getting closer to becoming a reality after a landslide vote in the state’s house this month. If the law comes to fruition, the penalties for operating a boat while intoxicated would be more severe than they currently are in the state. In fact, the laws would mirror those for driving a car drunk in Indiana.

This could become a trend across the country, as such regulations have begun to appear in other states. While the vast majority of boaters are very responsible, the past-times of boating and drinking have long been associated with one another. Boaters should be aware that today’s law enforcement on the water is beginning to crack down on boating under the influence. Penalties are increasing in more and more places.

For folks from other parts of the country and the world, you may not realize that Indiana is a pretty big state for boating. Not only does the state border Lake Michigan, but it contains over 1,000 lakes; unfortunately, the title “Land of 1,000 Lakes” belongs to Minnesota. The Ohio River runs along a stretch of another part of Indiana’s border, and several other rivers run through it.

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Boat Owners Association Announces Top Boat Names

The Boat Owners Association of  The United States announced their annual list of top ten boat names…

One of the annual top 10 favorite boat names is Second Wind, shown on this bottle opener, available with your boat name at Boat Name Gear.


For over 20 years, the folks at the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) have been sharing their list of the top ten most popular boat names. Don’t hate on these boat names for being bland… After all, by definition, the more popular a boat name becomes, the less unique it is. That being said, there are a couple of boat names we haven’t seen before on this year’s list.

Did your favorite boat name make the 22nd annual list?  Please read on to check out the top boat names.

Here are the 22nd annual top ten boat names according to Boat US…

1.   Seas the Day
2.   Nauti Buoy
3.   Aquaholic
4.   Dream Weaver
5.   Pegasus
6.   Serenity Now
7.   Second Wind
8.   Liquid Asset
9.   Miss Behavin’
10. Blew ByYou


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