Blog February 2018


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Posted On: February 27, 2018

The spring boating season will kick off soon. Before it does, make sure you and your boat are ready. Advance preparation will help to ensure you’ll squeeze every ounce of fun out of the upcoming boating season. This handy checklist  explains what to take care of now so you can sail right into spring!

    1. Vessel Preparation and Maintenance. What exactly this step should entail will depend on the type and size of your boat. At minimum, though, have your engine and all other critical parts and mechanical systems evaluated by a professional and have all fluids changed or topped off.
    2. Navigation and Safety Equipment. Your navigation lights are critical to your safety on the water. Make sure they’re operational and that you have replacement bulbs on board. Check that your emergency equipment like radios and fire extinguishers are in place and in good condition.
    3. Trailer Maintenance. Check the condition of your trailer tires and ensure they’re properly inflated. Also check all lights, signals, and safety chains.
    4. Trip Preparation. Nothing puts a damper on boating fun like procrastinating to plan your trip and discovering that your intended destination has no available boat slips. The time to plan and book reservations is now!
    5. Additional Tips. The more experienced you are as a boater, the more you learn about the little things you can do to set yourself up for a successful season. As you discover these gems of wisdom (ie: playing cards help pass the time during a long journey, packing detergent and a roll of quarters is a time saver for the laundromats in port), write them down and keep a running list. Refer to that list and add to it from year to year.


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.



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



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. 



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