Scott Marine Surveyor Blog

Subscribe

Via Email:    

Archive



THE RIGHT GRIP ON THE WHEEL

Posted On: August 02, 2022



Steering Wheel Control

Over-steering and over-correcting are common problems. We must know whether the wheel is straight or turned and, if turned, which direction and how far. There isn't room for guessing and making corrections if the boat doesn't turn the direction anticipated.

The Difference Between Steering A Car and Steering A Boat

  • Illustration of the turn radius of a carIllustration of the turn radius of a boat

When a car turns, the rear wheel tracks inside the turn, while when a boat turns, the stern tracks outside the turn, exactly the opposite of what we experience in our cars. Note how the stern could easily strike the dock if the operator isn't aware of the tendency of the stern to track outside the turn.

We're all used to driving a car. How much different can steering-wheel control be on a boat? Well, hugely different, in reality, and it can get you in trouble if you don't recognize the distinction. Cars steer from the front while boats steer from the stern. Boats pivot, cars don't. When you steer a car, the front tires turn the front of the car, and the rest of the car follows. Take a corner too tightly and the inside rear wheel hits the curb. When you steer a boat, the rudder, outdrive, or outboard swivels at the stern and directs the thrust in a way that pushes the stern in the opposite direction. Because of this, when taking a corner in a boat, your boat needs room on the OUTSIDE of a turn — the exact opposite of a car. This difference isn't too noticeable on open water, but critical in close quarters.

0

FILE FLOAT PLAN

Posted On: July 26, 2022

Every year I repeat this, because it is amazing how many people ignore it. 

A float plan, is a pretty simple way to ensure the safety of everyone aboard your vessel, whether on a multi-day adventure or an afternoon outing. I know many of you will say its not necessary you aren’t going far and you will be where everyone can see you. But suppose you are on an ordinary getaway to your favorite destination; suddenly the fog rolls in, the engine dies, or the wind quits blowing. Or worse, your back goes out while you’re attempting to raise the anchor and you can’t move. You realize you have no cell phone reception. You are either literally or figuratively up the creek without a paddle. All those people who see you, won’t know you are in trouble; and no one will know where to look hours later.

 Whether temporarily stranded or in need of medical attention (when every second counts), you’ve increased the chances of a timely rescue because you shared your float plan with a family member, friend, or someone at the yacht club or marina. Once you fail to return at the time you assigned, the nautical wheels are set in motion to bring you back to port safe and sound.

A float plan may be as simple as a note saying, “I’m heading to Tranquil Cove today and expect to be back around 7:00 pm.” It can also be detailed — yet not very time consuming. There are templates available so you can fill in never-changing information including your boat type, length, color, and vessel name. Attach a photo of the boat and duplicate the semi-completed plan. Then you only have to jot down who’s aboard, the particular day’s destination, and an expected return time before handing it to a responsible person. Safety experts advise you not to leave the float plan on the dashboard of a car or a boatyard bulletin board, as someone with disreputable intentions will see how far away from home you’ll be and for how long.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has a mobile app with a float plan component among its safety features. Personal information is stored on the phone but not transmitted unless the user chooses to send it, so authorities are neither tracking you nor logging your location unless a need arises.

Occasionally a boater will confess that he or she never bothers with a float plan. The usual excuse is that they only boat in popular local areas where they’d be spotted in case of an emergency and rescued immediately. That may sound reasonable, but does a boat bobbing on the hook in a cove convey outward signs of distress while the skipper’s down below feeling woozy or in pain?

“I don’t want to bother — I just want to hitch my boat to the trailer and go!” is another excuse. What would a loved one say to the authorities if they eventually suspected you might be in trouble but had no idea how to narrow down the search area? Without helpful information to narrow the search, precious time ticks away (and the weather or your predicament may worsen) while the USCG issues a non-specific “missing mariner” notice to all rescue crafts, boaters, and volunteers.

Once you grasp all the things that might happen because you kept your boating plans hush-hush, we’re betting you’ll  spill the beans every time you head out (don’t forget to give your land lookout a heads up when you return to shore after a fun and safe day).

0

DO YOU HAVE BO? (BOAT ODOR)

Posted On: July 19, 2022

You would be surprised how many times this comes up.

Yes, really!!

 Do you detect a smell when you are on your boat? Face it….


 DOES YOUR BOAT HAVE.......BO ? (Boat Odor)

More often than not, if you do, It’s most likely coming from the bilge.

 The bilge collects everything dropped, dripped, and spilled on the boat.  If your boat’s bilge has been neglected, pouring bilge cleaner in and closing the hatch may not fully resolve the issue.

 

THE SOUTION?

 You’ll need to roll up your sleeves, remove all the debris, and then scrub the bilge.  Rinse THOROUGHLY with hot water, and if necessary, repeat the process until the inside of the bilge is thoroughly clean.

 There are no shortage of environmentally safe products that are good at degreasing and eliminating odors. Cleaning the bilge is important, but if done routinely, it should become an easily accomplished and quick fix.

 If elbow grease and the proper products don’t eliminate the odor, I recommend checking the vent hose from the holding tank. If it is compromised or if the fitting needs to be tightened, it’s a quick fix.  Should the odor become markedly stronger and fouler, after the holding tank is pumped out, you may need to replace the hose from the holding tank to the outside pumpout fitting (this is a common issue for older boats).

0

THUNDERSTORM SAFETY

Posted On: July 12, 2022



 Stay Safe in a Thunderstorm

We all learn in grade school that lightning seeks the highest point, and on the water that’s the top of the boat — typically a mast, antenna, Bimini top, fishing rod in a vertical rod holder or even the tallest person in an open boat. If possible, find a protected area out of the wind and drop anchor. If the boat has an enclosed cabin, people should be directed to go inside and stay well away from metal objects, electrical outlets and appliances (it’s a good idea to don life jackets too). Side flashes can jump from metal objects to other objects — even bodies — as they seek a path to water.

Under no circumstances should the VHF radio be used during an electrical storm unless it’s an emergency (handhelds are OK). Also, be careful not to grab two metal objects, like a metal steering wheel and metal railing — that can be a deadly spot to be if there’s a strike. Some boaters opt to steer with a wooden spoon and keep their other hand in a pocket if forced to man the helm during a storm, while others like to wear rubber gloves for insulation.

Protection
A conventional lightning-protection system consists of an air terminal (lightning rod) above the boat connected to a thick wire run down to an underwater metal ground plate attached to the hull — large metal objects like tanks, engines and rails are also connected. New studies suggest multiple terminals and multiple ground paths work better.

An open boat like a runabout is the most dangerous to human life during lightning storms, since you are the highest point and most likely to get hit if the boat is struck. If shore is out of reach, the advice is to drop anchor, remove all metal jewelry, put on life jackets and get low in the center of the boat. Definitely stay out of the water and stow the fishing rods.

If all goes well, the storm will blow past or rain itself out in 20 to 30 minutes. It’s best to wait at least 30 minutes until after the last clap of thunder to resume activities.

 

There’s a Zap For That
A smartphone ­coupled with real-time National ­Oceanic and ­Atmospheric ­Administration (NOAA) lightning tracking ­information can make a powerful tool for ­avoiding storms. Some apps will even notify you if there is a strike near any of your ­designated areas. Do an Internet search for ­“lightning app NOAA” — there are a number of iPhone and Android apps available. A little early warning could give you just the time you need to make it back to shore and seek shelter.

Hit!
Knowing what to do in a storm and having the best lightning-protection system installed on the boat is by no means a guarantee that lightning won’t strike.

The immediate checklist for a direct hit is very short:

  1. Check for unconscious or injured persons first. If they’re moving and breathing, they’ll likely be OK. Immediately begin CPR on unconscious victims if a pulse and/or breathing is absent — there’s no danger of being shocked by someone just struck by lightning.
  2. In the meantime, have someone check the bilges for water. It’s rare, but lightning can blow out a transducer or through-hull — or even just blow a hole in the boat. Plug the hole, get the bilge pumps running, work the bail bucket — whatever it takes to stay afloat. An emergency call on the VHF is warranted if the situation is dire. If the radio is toast, break out the flare kit.


Lightning seeks the highest point, and on the water that's the top of the boat.

If there are no injuries and no holes or major leaks below, just continue to wait it out. Once the danger has passed, check the operation of the engine and all electronics. Even a near strike can fry electronics and an engine’s electronic control unit, cutting off navigation, communication and even propulsion. Some boaters stash charged handheld VHF and GPS units and a spare engine ECU in the microwave or a tin box for this very reason. These makeshift Faraday cages have saved equipment.

Obvious damage will need to be assessed and set right. Even those lucky enough to come away completely unscathed after lighting storms, with no apparent damage should have a professional survey done just to be sure. Minor damage to through-hulls can result in slow leaks, and all manner of electrical wackiness can emerge — sometimes much later. It’s best to catch these issues right away and get that information to the insurance folks for coverage.

 

Is Just a Ground Plate Enough?
An immersed 1-square-foot ground plate with hard edges creates a low-resistance path for lightning current to flow through (instead of through the boat or its crew!). But expert Dr. Ewen Thomson) believes multiple rods and near-water electrodes provide better protection.

Take it from a luxury trawler owner who sustained more than $1 million in damage from a strike: “Boat insurance turns out to be the best investment we have made in the past 10 years!” he said. “We will never again grumble about writing a check for an insurance premium.”

0

ASK THE EXPERTS

Posted On: July 05, 2022

Q: Marine surveys are a waste of money for smaller boats, aren't they?

A: A professional "condition and valuation" marine survey (typically costing around $15 to $20 per foot) can often pay for itself. It provides a list of deficiencies as well as needed repairs, focusing on safety. Deficiencies can be used to renegotiate the sales price or scrap the deal altogether if the repairs are too expensive or complicated. Without a survey, you may overpay or be faced with unexpected and expensive repair bills. For most people, a boat worth more than a couple thousand dollars is a candidate for a marine survey.

Q: Cheaper auto-engine parts work just as well on a boat, right?

A: Not so fast! Substituting certain automobile parts in your boat's engine can be dangerous. Inboard and stern drive engines are housed in an enclosed space, unlike car engines, which are exposed to air. A small spark can set off gas fumes that build up in a boat's bilge. Boat-engine parts, such as starters and alternators, are designed to be spark-proof or "ignition protected," while automotive parts aren't.

Q: My boat has a capacity plate. Does that mean the U.S. Coast Guard certified that my boat is safe?

A: Neither the U.S. Coast Guard nor any other federal agency certifies boats. Only a few federal laws govern boat-building, including flotation requirements for powerboats under 20 feet, passenger- and weight-capacity labels, and fuel-system safety. Manufacturers self-certify that their boats meet these legal standards. The Coast Guard does, however, have a factory-visit program that audits boat builders periodically for spot checks and tests a few dozen boats for flotation compliance every year.

Q: My boat has flotation, so it can't sink, right?

A: Only mono-hull powerboats 20-feet long and smaller and built after 1972 are required to have integral flotation designed to keep it from sinking, even when swamped. The U.S. Coast Guard requires these boats to be able to remain afloat and, in most cases, upright when filled with water. Sailboats aren't required to have flotation, and inboard/outboard boats have less-stringent requirements than outboard boats. Some manufacturers, such as Grady-White, install flotation in all of their boats, regardless of size.

0

DON'T GET HOSED

Posted On: June 28, 2022

There is no such thing as an all-purpose hose on a boat. No single hose type can withstand engine exhaust, bring freshwater to the galley, safely transport gasoline to the carburetor, drain the cockpit, and flush the head. Using the wrong hose can cause problems that range from an inconvenient mess to a burning boat. This handy run-down will help you identify one type of hose from another and assist in choosing the right hose for the job at hand. We'll start with a visual guide to common marine hoses, then go into more detail about each type.

1. Exhaust hose. Able to withstand temperatures to around 250 F, an exhaust hose is often reinforced with wire, which may be stainless, or other special reinforcement. Other, more expensive silicone hoses are capable of sustaining much higher temperatures.

2. Hot and cold PEX potable water pipe. Many modern boats use PEX tubing for hot and cold plumbing. PEX is available in three distinct grades: A, B, and C. Although all are perfectly acceptable for potable water, Grade A is the most flexible and easiest to run in the tight confines of a boat. Fittings are easy to connect to the pipe, although you may need special tools. PEX is not the only option for potable water, however (see 6).

3. Sanitation hose. Often white, with a smooth bore to prevent trapping waste that could lead to odors, sanitation hose has an expected lifespan of approximately 10 years.

4. Corrugated bilge pump hose. This cheap hose is often supplied with bilge pumps. While easy to run, cut, and bend, its ridged internal structure restricts flow, making it a poor choice.

5. Smooth-bore bilge pump hose. Although four times the price of corrugated types, smooth-bore bilge pump hose offers up to 30 percent greater efficiency.

6. Potable water hose. Potable water hose comes in both reinforced and non-reinforced types. They're easy to tell apart as the reinforced hose will have strong synthetic cord strands visible. This one is clear but opaque is generally a better choice for potable water because there is less chance of algae growing inside.

7. Fuel hose. Fuel hose must be marked as such and will be stamped A1, A2, B1, or B2. Older hoses are incompatible with fuel containing ethanol, so if yours is older than about 10 years, it's most likely due for replacement anyway.

8. Thru-hull hose. For any connections to thru-hulls, reinforced hose is the only way to go. A cheap hose may fail and sink your boat.

0

DON'T WAVE

Posted On: June 22, 2022

WAVE BASICS

No matter what boat — power or sail — you frequent, you have to be prepared to take on waves.

The first and best tactic is to stay out of large waves, with "large" being relative to the boat's size, shape, power, ballast, and structure. Tactics to avoid large waves include staying in the lee of a windward shore for as long as possible, traveling with wind and current running together, timing the entrance and exit to inlets and rivers so that the current is running with the wind and waves, waiting until slack tide before navigating strong inlets or rivers, or simply staying in port until conditions improve.

Second, don't take waves on the beam. If possible take them on the bow, or it may sometimes be better to take them directly astern or at an angle to the stern rather than the beam. Usually, when heading into waves, it's better to meet them at an angle off the bow to minimize pounding, hobby horsing, and burying the bow. If taking waves astern, it's extremely important to avoid losing directional control as the wave overtakes you. This may require a high level of seamanship skills. If you must change course, watch the waves carefully; time the move when you see a group of smaller waves or a long trough that you can turn in before the next wave comes.

When heading into waves, try to take them at an angle off the bow to minimize pounding.

Third, don't get caught in breaking waves. Breaking waves can occur when the wind is opposing a strong current, when waves are passing over a shallow bar, when they are ricocheting off a shore or rocks, when they reach a height too tall to sustain themselves and when they are leaving deep water and meeting shallow ground. Do everything you can to avoid areas where breaking waves might form.

0

MARINE TERMINOLOGY

Posted On: June 14, 2022


Marine terminology may sound like old, archaic jargon to some, but there are good reasons why it's important to use the right words aboard a boat.

 Say What?

Let's start with the most important four terms.

The front of a boat is called the "bow," and the back is the "stern."

"Starboard" refers to what is the right side of the boat if you're facing the bow; "port" refers to what is the left side if you're facing the bow. (To remember this, note that "port" and "left" each have four letters.)

So why don't we just say front, back, left, and right?

The answer is that the starboard side is ALWAYS the starboard side, no matter which way you, or anyone else, is facing on board. This is important. Imagine that you're on a boat and the captain asks you to quickly put fenders over the right side. If you were facing one another, would that be your right or his? Or imagine it's getting dark, or heavy weather is upon you, and you can't see which way people are facing on the boat. Saying "It's to your left!" or "Look to the right!" would make no sense to anyone and would create confusion that could threaten the crew and boat. If someone yells, "Man overboard! Port side!" clear directions and the use of accurate terms could mean the difference between locating, or losing sight of, a victim.

"Gunwale" (pronounced GUNN-ell) is the edge of the boat where the hull meets the deck; the name is derived from the lip at the edge of the deck that at one time prevented cannons from sliding into the sea as the ship rolled. The toilet on a boat is called the "head," which gets its name from its traditional location in the head, or forepart, of the ship. Cabins and other compartments within the boat are divided from each other by "bulkheads" (walls), which are vertical partitions between the cabin "sole" (floor) and the underside of the deck that provide structural stability to the boat's design.

0