Scott Marine Surveyor Blog

AVOIDING SOME SPRING SAFETY SNAFUS

Posted On: February 22, 2018

You've ripped off the shrinkwrap, de-winterized the powerplant, and lovingly rubbed a fresh coat of wax on the hull, but are you really ready for your shakedown cruise?

It's been a long, cold winter, and we're getting excited — no, thrilled — to get our boats back into the water ASAP.

But hold on there a moment, captain, and let's slow things down a bit. Even though your boat's been mothballed for months and you've gone through the usual pre-launch preparations, your shakedown could be disastrous if you don't take the time to check for these common issues.

Communications breakdown.

How many times have you left the dock only to discover that your VHF radio wasn't functioning properly? Dead mics, glitchy connections, and internal gremlins always seem to cause problems after a long layup, even though the radio may have been well-protected and under cover. If you usually do your spring radio check during your shakedown cruise, you won't discover the issue until — once again — your radio fails to work when you're already underway. So this spring, do that radio check before you cast off your lines. If you make your initial run early in the season and air temperatures are still below 50 degrees, pay extra attention to plastic VHF antenna mounts. These tend to get brittle in the cold, and can snap if the antenna whips back and forth violently. And for future reference, it would be a good idea to upgrade that plastic mount to stainless steel. Don't forget to check your handheld radio, too — make sure it's charged and ready to go.

Lower unit disaster.

Picture your first launch of the year: It's a beautiful spring afternoon, for the first time in months you feel the humming of the engine as its vibrations run through the fiberglass, a cool breeze blows through your hair, and then, there's a sudden KA-CHUNK! Forward motion ceases. Your boat settles into the water, and you're stuck. Bummer. What could be worse than blowing your lower unit, on your first trip of the year? Water intrusion in the gearcase over the winter can lead to such a disaster, yet go unseen during spring outfitting. Even a tiny amount of water can cause freeze damage that cracks metal and pops seals. Finding the problem and taking care of it before you run the boat will save a lot of time and money on repairs. So check the lower unit to make sure it's full of clean lube before that initial launch. Also check the ground below the skeg, and look for drips. Should you see any, head directly for your marine mechanic. If you make a habit of changing your lower unit lube in the fall, when you pull the boat for the season, you'll spot any water in the mix before it has the chance to freeze and cause harm.

Dated gear.

Okay, this is an obvious one. Yet it's worth bringing up because year after year, the Coast Guard busily writes citation after citation for expired flares and empty fire extinguishers. It may seem like you replaced them just yesterday, but the seasons slide by so quickly it's easy to lose track. Flares expire 42 months from the date of manufacture, not the date you bought them. Don't even think of launching this spring until you've checked and double-checked expiration dates and charge levels. Otherwise, you could end up with a ticket, or worse yet, in an emergency situation with ineffective safety gear.

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SAFETY TIPS WHEN CHECKING ON YOUR BOAT IN WINTER

Posted On: February 20, 2018


“Boating safety” usually means preventing injuries or accidents while on the water.

But boats in winter storage have unique safety concerns for boat owners who make periodic checkups over the long winter season.

Here are five tips from the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water to help boaters stay safe while visiting the boat this winter.

1. Injuries from ladder falls can be severe but are preventable. When using a ladder to climb aboard your frozen boat, be sure it is firmly planted, secure it with a line to avoid shifting, and have someone hold the base. Never descend a ladder facing forward or with your arms full. If moving tools, supplies or other objects to and from the deck, lower or raise them in a bucket using a rope.

  1. Don’t trust the nonskid to do its job. Nonskid decks are slippery when covered by snow or encrusted with ice. Brush away any buildup on the deck where you plan to step, and always hold onto something, just as you would if you were underway. In warmer winter climates, decaying leaves and algae can also make decks slippery.
  2. Snow and ice are heavy. One square foot of dense, wet snow can weigh more than 20 pounds, so use caution when going underneath a tarp or winter cover that’s loaded with snow. For even a small boat stored outside, over a ton of weight can be added after a storm, so brush off what you can before climbing aboard.
  3. Check your jackstands for proper support. Jackstands or blocking can shift as the boat gets laden with snow and ice, or due to repeated freeze/thaw cycles. Never adjust jackstands yourself. Have marina personnel adjust and move supports.
  4. Trailer boat frames should be supported at the rear cross beam. This prevents the tongue from lifting off the ground like a seesaw when climbing aboard from the stern.

 Based on a press release from US Boat Foundation

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LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY

Posted On: February 15, 2018

Lincoln's Birthday celebrates the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, one of the most popular presidents in United States history. It is a state holiday in some states on or around February 12. It's also known as Abraham Lincoln's Birthday, Abraham Lincoln Day or Lincoln Day.

 

Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, on February 12 in 1809. He lived for a time in Indiana before moving to Illinois. He worked on a farm, split rails for fences, worked in a store, was a captain in the Black Hawk War, and worked as a lawyer. He married Mary Todd and together they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity.

Lincoln began his political career at the age of 23 in 1832 when he ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Illinois General Assembly, as a Whig Party member. He joined the newly formed Republican Party in 1854 and was nationally recognized during the 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas despite Douglas’ win in the race for US Senator. Lincoln won the presidency in 1860 and, despite being a Republican, rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union case during the Civil War (1861-65).

Lincoln was known as the Great Emancipator, the Rail Splitter and Honest Abe. He was the president throughout the American Civil War and is known for his struggle to preserve the Union and the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. The assassination occurred less than two weeks after the Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox Court House in 1865.

It has been recorded that Lincoln’s Birthday was first celebrated as a holiday in 1866, one year after his death. Many states have a joint holiday to honor both Lincoln and George Washington, sometimes calling it Presidents’ Day.

Schools, and banks are open on Lincoln's Day. Lincoln's Birthday, Feb. 12, was once a major holiday, but now, along with Washington's Birthday, it is celebrated as part of Presidents' Day on the third Monday in February.

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WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY

Posted On: February 13, 2018


Washington's Birthday has a history as old as our country. It was celebrated publicly for the first time in the late 18th century, while George Washington was still president.

George Washington was born on either Feb. 11, 1731 or Feb. 22, 1732 depending on which calendar you consult.

At the time, England and its colonies were following the Julian calendar , instituted in 46 B.C. by the eponymous Julius Caesar. By that calendar, Washington was born on Feb. 11, 1731. But in 1752, England switched to the Gregorian calendar, which is still in use today, and that threw everything off.

Washington's Birthday became official in 1885, when President Chester Arthur signed a bill making it a federal holiday. Meanwhile, there was President Lincoln's birthday on Feb. 12, which never became a federal holiday but was celebrated as a legal holiday in many states outside the old Confederacy.

In 1968, Congress passed the Monday Holidays Act, which moved the official observance of Washington's birthday from Feb. 22 to the third Monday in February. Some reformers had wanted to change the name of the holiday as well, to Presidents' Day, in honor of both Lincoln and Washington, but that proposal was rejected by Congress, and the holiday remained officially Washington's Birthday.

Nevertheless, there was a popular misconception that the day had been officially renamed, a misconception only reinforced by the fact that the third Monday in February can only occur between Feb. 15 and Feb. 21. This means that the holiday is always after Lincoln's birthday and before Washington's birthday, without ever coinciding with either. Furthermore, some states which had previously celebrated Lincoln's Birthday dropped the observance after the federal holiday reforms, supporting the notion that the two presidential birthdays had been combined.

While the name change has never been authorized by Congress, it has gained a strong hold on the public consciousness, and is generally used on calendars, in advertising, and even by many government agencies. There have been attempts to introduce legislation requiring federal agencies to call the day Washington's Birthday, but these have never gotten very far. No matter what's in the law books, the popular usage is now well established.


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MAKING YOUR BOATING EXPERIENCE EASIER

Posted On: February 08, 2018

Photo of canvas snaps

Avoid Seized Snaps

Damaged canvas due to unyielding snaps is nearly always due to neglect. Snaps should be kept clean and lubricated. Wash all your snaps regularly, either with pressure from a nozzle or with a container of fresh water and a toothbrush. A little petroleum jelly or teflon grease smeared around the inside perimeter of the socket half of snaps to lubricate the spring and retard corrosion is sure to extend the life of your canvas.

Freeing Frozen Zippers

Plastic zippers are excellent in the marine environment, but far too many have metal slides. In a damp, salty environment, metal slides invariably corrode, becoming immovable. Don't just keep pulling until you rip the tab off. Soak a couple of cotton balls with white vinegar, pack them onto the top and bottom of the slide, and cover with plastic wrap. Wait. The acidic vinegar will dissolve the oxidation, freeing the slide. Once the zipper is again functional, flush both the slide and zipper with fresh water, dry thoroughly, then give the zipper and slide a liberal application of zipper lubricant. If you remember to flush and dry all metal zipper slides as part of your "putting the boat away" routine, an occasional application of lube should keep them all working smoothly.

Clear Fogged Plastic

There are lots of ways to restore the clarity to fogged plexiglass hatches, windows, and plastic instrument covers, but one of the most foolproof is to purchase an automotive headlamp-restoration kit. These are intended to remove fogging and yellowing from headlamp covers and they can do the same for UV-damaged plastic on your boat. Note that polishing kits will not clear internal crazing.

Forest Fresh

Adding a bit of aromatic cedar wood inside the enclosed areas of your boat adds freshness, repels insects, and retards mildew. You can line a locker with aromatic cedar closet-liner planks, add aromatic cedar blocks to drawers or bins, or just lay an aromatic cedar plank on a shelf. Occasionally you'll need to sand the wood and/or anoint it with real cedar oil to maintain the effect.

Vinyl Protection

Stores, such as Jo-Ann, sell a product called marine vinyl. We've found the "cut to fit" material easy to use (no sewing needed), easy to clean, durable, and inexpensive for use on a boat. We use it to protect our tabletop during daily use, thereby protecting the wood finish. We also cut pieces to fit our overhead hatches. With the hatch closed, the vinyl lies on the screen to block the sun, cooling the boat during hot, sunny weather, and helping our air conditioner to not run as much. 

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KEEPING A PROPER LOOKOUT

Posted On: February 06, 2018


In September 2015, a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain delivering a 60-foot boat from the Newport, Rhode Island, boat show to another boat show in Norwalk, Connecticut, ran over a small fishing boat, killing the lone occupant. After a trial, the captain was found guilty of, among other things, failing to keep a proper lookout. He said at trial that he hadn’t seen the 23-foot boat.

Often termed the first rule of seamanship, Rule 5 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) expressly requires that “[e]very vessel shall at all times maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.” Here’s a practical perspective to assist the recreational boater.

All mariners must utilize sight, sound, and all available means to monitor the presence and location of other vessels to avoid risk of collision, stranding, and other hazards to navigation. Courts have interpreted this to include the power and speed of your vessel, other vessels, prevailing weather and sea conditions, visibility, traffic density, proximity of navigational hazards, as well as other allision (running into something stationary) and grounding risks.

For a recreational vessel owner or operator who takes to the seas alone, complying with the lookout rule is not exactly as cut-and-dried as one may think. If a skipper decides to act as his or her own lookout, there must be an unobstructed view from the steering station, and there should be no conditions that would require a posted lookout, such as restricted visibility or a crowded waterway.

Courts have made it clear that a boat owner cannot turn control of his boat over to someone who may lack experience or may be intoxicated. If the boat is being operated jointly and a passenger maintains some active responsibility for and control over certain aspects of navigation, there still must be a clear delineation of duties with the lookout obligation always being assigned and satisfied. They have also consistently refused to recognize an exception to the lookout rule on account of size alone. One court found that a 36-foot sailboat owner was partially at fault for failing to maintain a lookout when an oceangoing container ship collided with his sailboat. 

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BOAT NOT STARTING NORMALLY?

Posted On: February 01, 2018


Reasons Your Boat's Engine Won't Start

Ok boys and girls, I have been asked numerous times about this, why their boat won’t start. There’s a myriad of possibilities, but here’s a collection of probable causes.

Empty Gas Tank

Fuel Lines Kinked or Severely Pinched

Water or Dirt in Fuel System

Clogged Fuel Filter or Screens

Motor Not Being Choked to Start

Carburetor Adjustments Too Lean (not allowing enough fuel to start engine)

Spark Plugs Improperly Gapped, Dirty or Broken

Loose, Broken Wire or Frayed Insulation in Electrical System

Cracked Distributor Cap or Rotor or Shorted Rotor

Loose Fuel Connector

Poor Engine or Ignition Ground

Low Compression

Safety Lanyard/Kill Switch Disconnected

Dead Battery

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CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND YOUR CONTROL... AKA BOATING

Posted On: January 30, 2018

At some point you're probably going to have to remove a fine threaded fitting.

Even if you're not hands-on, you may be stuck with the job due to circumstances beyond your control, commonly known as "boating."

Exceptionally fine threads seem to be used in the most strategic of circumstances, meaning if you strip them you're really screwed, pun intended. Typically you run into this problem on a diesel, and it's usually on the very high pressure injector pipes where they mate to the injector or the injector pump. Once you free two such fittings they're going to be difficult to rethread, particularly, as with diesel fuel pipes, if they're misaligned. And you're almost sure to misalign them at least a little if you need to bend the pipe back to separate the fitting. Avoid bending that pipe at all costs, even if it means disconnecting at both ends to avoid the bend. Better still, avoid completely unscrewing the threads. Typically this issue arises if you're bleeding your diesel, but you don't need to completely unthread the connection to accomplish the bleeding. But if you're not careful, you'll strip those threads when you're trying to re-mate them and end up spending a lot of money.

To get your parts rejoined, don't try to screw one part on to the other. Screw it OFF the other. Make sure your surroundings are quiet. Mate the two parts carefully, have the threads touching, press them together gently, and unscrew part A from part B as you press it toward part B. Listen closely. When you hear the threads quietly click it'll mean that they're probably just in place to mate and then, without reorienting the parts, start screwing the fitting on with fingers only. This is a precise operation, but if you do it carefully it can save a lot of time and perhaps a lot of money

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