Tag Archives: Boat Maintenance

Ways to Save on the Water this Summer

Fuel nozzleWith the ever spiraling cost of fuel for your boat, here are a few tips on how you can save. I know, the news has been reporting that prices should be going down but as was noted by Jay Leno before he recently retired , “The price of oil is now under $100 a barrel. The oil companies say they should be passing on the savings to us in six or seven years.”

Tips For Reducing Fuel Usage:

  • Slower speeds on the water will reduce use.
  • The proper use of trim tabs reduces drag, especially while accelerating up to planning speeds.
  • Minimize the amount of time that you idle at the dock.
  • Minimize the use of onboard generators.
  • Use dock-side electrical power in lieu of generators.
  • Have a float plan so you know exactly where you’re going.
  • Make sure the hull is clean.
  • Don’t under-power your boat. It’s important you have enough motor to handle the load.
  • Check your propeller. If your boat is slow “out of the hole” (getting up on plane) or lacks top-end speed, you might have the wrong propeller.
  • A well-tuned engine uses less fuel.
  • Use the grade of gasoline specified by the engine manufacturer.
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Annual List of Top Ten Boat Names

Each year our friends at BoatUS feature the list of most popular boat names.  The following article is courtesy of BoatUS.

If a car’s vanity license plate can tell you a lot about the person behind the wheel, what can a boat name tell you about the person behind the helm? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) just released the national boating organization’s 24th Annual Top Ten Boat Names List and may have the answer.

The BoatUS list of Top Ten Boat Names:

  1. Serenity
  2. Second Wind
  3. Island Girl
  4. Freedom
  5. Pura-Vida
  6. Andiamo
  7. Island Time
  8. Irish Wake
  9. Happy Hours
  10. Seas the Day

“We’ve had indicators that a boater who names their boat Second Wind may have rebounded from a misfortune such as divorce, health or other major issue, while someone who names their boat Island Girl or Island Time may enjoy a more carefree spirit and need an escape from everyday life,” said Greg Edge of BoatUS Boat Graphics. “And you can guess that boats with names like Happy Hours may be the most popular boats on Friday night at the marina or Saturday afternoon raft-up – their more outgoing owners celebrating with family and friends.”

Need a boat name? BoatUS has over two decades of top ten boat name lists and over 9,000 names in its online Boat Name Directory, a checklist to help pick a name, christening ceremony information and an easy-to-use online design tool to make your own boat name, all at BoatUS.com/boatgraphics.

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Pre-Season Checklist – Dewinterizing Your Boat for the Season

Spring is 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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Have the Water to Yourself – Enjoy Off-Season Boating

Submitted by John M. Malatak, chief, program operations, U.S. Coast Guard, Boating Safety Division.boating-in-the-fall

I love boating in the fall. The waterways that bustle with activity in the summer often have a different feel in the off-season, which is why fall is a great time to explore along the waterfront or find a quiet place to drop anchor and take in the scenery.

 However, boating in the off-season – when the sun sets early, temperatures drop fast and there are fewer boaters to come to your aid or call for help – carries certain risks, and experienced boaters know to plan for every emergency before heading out.

Consider Worst Case Scenarios

 There’s little or no margin for error in the off-season, so consider every possible scenario, beginning with the possibility of being stranded. Be sure you have enough fuel to get where you’re going and back. The rule of thumb is one-third out, one-third back and one-third for emergencies.

 As a responsible boater, you should always carry a first-aid kit, but in the off-season be sure you also have an onboard emergency kit that includes a change of clothes; calorie-dense snack food; fresh water; a thermos of coffee, cocoa or other warm beverage; duct tape; a waterproof portable flashlight with extra batteries; flares and matches. Stow all of these items in a waterproof bag. Remember to stay away from alcohol when you’re out on the water. It impairs your judgment and hastens the onset of hypothermia.

 Carry a mobile phone only as a backup to your VHF-FM marine radio. Mobile phones frequently lose a signal and are unidirectional – only one person receives the phone call compared to many who may hear a VHF radio distress call. If your boating activity takes you far from shore, consider adding an EPIRB as well. Rescue 21, the advanced command, control and communications system created to improve search and rescue, is currently being deployed in stages across the U.S. This new system gives the Coast Guard the ability to pinpoint the location of a distress call from a DSC-VHF marine radio connected to a GPS receiver. If you get in trouble, especially during the chilly off-season, every minute counts.

 Life jackets are essential boating equipment in any season. Lightweight inflatables are popular in the summer months, but in cold weather, float coats and jackets will not only keep you afloat but also provide additional insulation. Since there is rarely time to put on a life jacket during an emergency, make sure everyone wears one at all times while the boat is under way. Also, consider equipping your life jackets with devices to help rescuers find you more quickly (e.g., whistles, strobe lights, signal mirrors and/or personal locator beacons). If you do fall in, stay with your boat, so rescuers can spot you more easily.

 If anyone ends up in the water, think about how you’ll get them back in the boat. Climbing back in after a fall overboard can be next to impossible in heavy, cold, wet winter clothes, even for someone who is uninjured. Consider providing a sling if your boat has no boarding ladder. If you boat in cold weather often, I strongly recommend that you practice (under warmer conditions) getting back in your boat, as well as bringing passengers aboard under cold-weather conditions.

What to Wear

If you go boating in the fall, dress appropriately:

  • Dress in layers and recognize that even slight changes in the weather can make hypothermia a threat.
  • Take extra dry clothing in a waterproof bag.
  • Wear quality, nonslip footwear; wear socks, even with sandals.

Wear your life jacket or float coat/jacket. Cold water quickly saps your strength. Life jackets provide added insulation. If you fall overboard, wearing a life jacket could give you the time you need to safely reboard the boat. The first reaction when hitting cold water is to gasp and suck in water. A life jacket can give you crucial minutes to regulate your breathing after the shock of falling in.

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Five Fall Boating Safety Tips

As the days slide farther into fall, recreational boaters face a unique set of safety issues. Warm days collide with deceptively cold waters, greatly increasing the risk of hypothermia even on a “T-shirt” day. Weather can change quickly. And, if you run into trouble, the summer crowds have gone (cue the chirping crickets) leaving few potential rescuers close by. The non-profit BoatUS Foundation has five tips that will help boaters, anglers and sailors understand these unique safety issues and ensure everyone gets home safely.

  1. Dress for the water, not the weather: Indian summers can bring T-shirt days and downright balmy temperatures – but don’t be lured into this false sense of summer. The sun may be shining, but water temperatures are cooler. Always bring extra layers and rain gear this time of year. Fast moving storms can bring sudden temperature drops, and water temperatures are now getting closer to the zone where a simple fall overboard could be a big problem. 
  2. Tell a friend: A floatplan could be as simple as letting a family member know where you are going and what time you expect to return, or a more detailed written plan for longer trips, easily left on a windshield, given to a friend, or dropped off at the Harbormaster office. One piece of floatplan etiquette: always check back “in” upon your return.
  3. Always check the weather: “You could be well prepared, however, the one thing that’s out of your hands is the weather,” says BoatUS Foundation President Chris Edmonston. The good news is that with today’s technology, it’s easy to keep an eye on it.
  4. Always check the boat: Capt. Rich Lendarson of TowBoatUS St. Joe Michigan reports, ”The majority of small craft that I see in the fall wouldn’t have sunk if owners had checked to see they had a working bilge pump.” Also do a once-over inspection of the engine, communications and safety gear to ensure all are in good shape and ready to go.
  5. Leave the drinks for home: Beer, wine or distilled spirits all do the same thing — they quickly drain your body of heat bringing on hypothermia’s deadly effects much sooner when compared to warmer months. Help yourself by avoiding alcohol while you’re out on the water.

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Semi-Annual Safety Checklist

Twice a year we recommend going through our checklist to insure you boat is in great shape. It is a good idea to do this when you bring it out and get it ready for the season and prior to winterizing your boat for the winter again .

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

  • Check for wear or abrasion, weak or torn seams, secure straps and buckles. For the PFDs onboard for children, try to assess whether they will still fit in the spring. Perhaps a new PFD would be a great Christmas gift. Some types of PFDs are equipped with inflation devices; check to be sure cartridges are secure and charged.

Fire Extinguishers

  • Do you have all required quantities and types of fire extinguishers?
  • Have they been checked within the past year?
  • Are serviceable units tagged by a licensed facility?
  • Are units accessible?
  • Is at least one accessible from the helm or cockpit?
  • Are you and your crew familiar with their operation?

Fuel System

  • Is the system properly grounded at the filter, tank, deck, pump, etc.?
  • Is the fuel tank free from rust or contamination?
  • No leaks from tank, hose or fittings.
  • Hoses U.S.C.G. approved and free of cracking or stiffness with adequate slack to account for vibration.
  • Is tank secured?
  • Fuel shut-off valve on tank and at engine.
  • Engine compartment and engine clean and free of oily rags or flammable materials.
  • Blower switch at remote location.
  • Is your fuel system protected from siphoning?

Safety Equipment

  • Lifelines or rails in good condition.
  • Stanchions or pulpit securely mounted.
  • Hardware tight and sealed at deck.
  • Grab rails secure and free of corrosion or snags that may catch your hands.
  • Non-skid surfaces free from accumulated dirt or excess wear.

Ground Tackle

  • At least two anchors on board.
  • Anchor and rode adequate for your boat and bottom conditions.
  • Tackle properly secured.
  • Length of chain at anchor.
  • Thimble on rode and safety wired shackles.
  • Chafing gear at chocks for extended stays or storm conditions.
  • Anchor stowed for quick accessibility.

Stoves

  • Labeled and designated for marine use.
  • Properly ventilated to remove carbon-monoxide from cabin.
  • Retainers or rails for pots and pans while underway.
  • If built-in, properly insulated and free from combustible materials, CNG and LPG (propane).
  • Stored in separate compartment from boat’s interior and engine room.
  • Tightly secured shut-off valve at tank.
  • Proper labeling and cautions in place at tank location.
  • Hoses, lines and fittings of approved and inspected type.
  • Compartment is ventilated overboard and below level of tank base.

Electrical System

  • Wiring approved for marine applications.
  • System is neatly bundled and secured.
  • Protected against chafing and strain.
  • Adequate flex between bulkhead and engine connections.
  • Clear of exhaust system and bilge.
  • System is protected by circuit breakers or fuses.
  • Grounds to Zincs if required.
  • Wire terminals and connections sealed to prevent corrosion.

Bilge Pumps

  • Will pump(s) adequately remove water in emergency? Do you have a manual backup? Are bilges clean and free to circulate (clear limber holes)? Do you check bilges frequently and not rely on automatic pumps?

Corrosion Prevention

  • Through-hulls, props, shafts, bearings, rudder fittings, and exposed fastenings free of non-destructive corrosion.
  • Zincs are adequate to provide protection.
  • Through-hulls are properly bonded.
  • Inspect the steering cables, engine control linkage and cables, engine mounts and gear case for corrosion.
  • These items are properly lubricated or painted to prevent undue corrosion.

Through-hulls

  • Strainers, intakes and exhaust or discharge fittings are free from restrictions such as barnacles, marine growth or debris.
  • Inspect sea valves for smooth operation.
  • Handles are attached to valves for quick closure.
  • Hoses are in good condition and free from cracking.
  • Double hose-clamps below the waterline.
  • Anti-siphon valve fitted to marine toilet.
  • Through-hull plugs are near fittings or attached to hose in case of emergency.

Batteries

  • Stored in non-corrosive, liquid tight, ventilated containers.
  • Non-conductive covers are fitted over posts.
  • Batteries are well secured.

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What To Do With A Trailerboat In A Hurricane

Our friends at BoatUS and their insurance division want to remind us not to forget about your boat and trailer for those of you who may live inland and drive back and forth to your favorite waterway.

For protecting small boats in a hurricane, BoatUS recommends storing them inside, or placing them on the ground and filling them with water. 
 
As hurricanes approach the US mainland, it used to be that boaters on the coast only had to worry about making storm preparations. However, trailer boaters located far inland need to make preparations as well. For those who keep a trailer boat in their backyard, driveway or marina parking lot, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has these helpful hurricane storage tips as we enter the “peak” 2012 hurricane season, which runs through November 30.
 
Do a trailer check-up now: Inspect your trailer today to ensure it will be operable when it’s needed. Bearings should be greased, tires inflated and lights working.
 
Plan your escape: Map out an evacuation route and make the decision early if you are planning to take the boat with you or leave it behind. Bridges may have restrictions on towing boats.
 
When the Storm Strikes
 
Take it home: Remove all loose gear such as fenders, cushions or any extra other equipment and gear like rods, tackle boxes and electronics and store at home. This includes the boat’s papers.
 
The boat “wins” the garage: If you have a choice of putting the boat or car in the garage, pick the boat. That’s because a boat is lighter and more vulnerable to winds. If you have to store a trailer boat outside, placing the rig next to a building (on the lee side of approaching storm) for protection is good. Keep it away from trees.
 
Tilt me: Remove any cockpit drain plugs and tilt the trailer tongue up so any water entering the boat exits aft through scuppers or a drain hole. Let some air out of the trailer tires and chock the wheels.
 
Twist me: Secure gas tank caps tightly to prevent water from entering. Secure any hatches.
 
Bye bye bimini: Remove the bimini. Trailerable sailboats should have their masts lowered, safely lashed and any sails removed. Towing or mooring covers should be installed and secured with extra line.
 
Strap me: Secure the boat to the trailer with line or straps. If you have the ability, anchoring the boat and trailer rig with screw-type ground anchors adds extra protection.
 
Fill up the little guy: Small, lightweight and simply-built outboard powered boats and paddle craft can be placed on the ground and partially filled with a garden hose to add weight. (Rain will add a lot more water later.) This has the added advantage of giving you emergency water (non-drinking). If you choose to keep the boat on top of a trailer, ensure you add blocks between the trailer frame and springs to support the added weight.
 
Lift me down:  Whenever possible, boats on lifts should be stored ashore or moved to a safer location in the water. If the boat must be left on its lift, remove the drain plug so the weight of accumulated rainwater will not collapse the lift. Tie the boat securely to its lifting machinery to prevent the boat from swinging or drifting away. Plug the engine’s exhaust outlet and again, strip the boat. Make sure cockpit drains are free of debris.

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