Blog March 2019


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Posted On: March 28, 2019

It's Not Just About The Cost

Don't choose a surveyor on price alone.

Of course you need to know up front what the cost of the survey will be, but it could be a case of "if you don't pay now, you'll pay later." That bargain-basement-price survey could cost you in the long run should the surveyor miss some important fault on the boat.

If problems are caught before inking the deal, you have the option of renegotiating the price or getting faults corrected before you take delivery of the boat. While there is no guarantee that you will get more from a more expensive surveyor, as in all things, you typically get what you pay for. Prices are generally around $20 to $22 per foot, but if you're quoted $12 per foot you need to ask yourself why.

Surveyors often get concerned when a client asks for a cheap survey because "it's only for insurance." Most surveyors are professionals and want you to be happy with your boat and ensure your safety on the water. In return, you want him or her to spot any deficiencies with the boat. Surveyors need to be able to stand behind their work (possibly even in the courtroom), and doing a "light" survey doesn't help anyone. Most surveyors have a set fee based on the size and type of boat, the type of survey, travel costs, and so on.

By all means ask how much the surveyor charges, but don't wait until the day of the survey and then try to start negotiating the fee. You have the right to back out of the purchase up until your contract acceptance deadline, which is often at least several days after the survey date. If you change your mind about the boat after the survey is done, the surveyor still has to be paid. Most surveyors expect payment on the day the service is completed. Surveyors typically won't send out the completed survey report until they get paid. It's the surveyor's version of "no cash, no splash."

The Surveyor Works For You Only

You'll be paying the bill, so it's important that you understand that the surveyor reports only to you. He doesn't share his findings with anyone else unless you specifically request it. If you have a broker acting as your buyer's agent, then you may ask that the surveyor send a copy of the survey to the agent as it makes your broker's job easier if he's asking for things to be addressed. Keep in mind that a survey is only good for a specific time because it's really a snapshot of what the boat was like on a specific day. Old surveys should not be relied upon



Posted On: March 26, 2019

Don't Get In The Surveyor's Way

Most surveyors like it when the buyer is at the survey. They can answer questions and point out things of interest on the boat that may not find their way into the survey report. That being said, it makes the job slower if you hover. Allow the surveyor to do his job — you'll get a complete written report about everything he sees.

A Sea Trial Is Not A Boat Ride

The purpose of a sea trial is to check the boat's systems, engines, generators, electronics, and other parts that cannot be inspected while the boat is not under commission or is "on the hard." The surveyor will need to pay close attention to the engines, helm, and systems, and how the boat handles. To get the most from a sea trial, leave the kids, dog, and Aunt Kate at home. They can get a ride on the boat later, assuming you buy it. Too many folks on the boat makes it difficult for the surveyor to do the job properly.

Surveyors Are Happy To Talk Things Over With You

Most surveyors are only too happy to talk to you about the survey process, especially if this is your first time employing a surveyor. They will also answer questions after the survey, so don't be scared to call them up if you see something in a survey report that you don't understand. Surveyors are on boats every day, but owners and buyers may not always understand some of the technical terms.

Relationships Are Important

Surveyors want to build solid relationships, because their reputations are at stake. There's a saying experienced surveyors tell newbies: You're only as good as your last survey. Marine surveyors are often independent businesses and want you to call them first when you buy your next boat and also to recommend them to friends and family. If you have a problem with a survey (or a surveyor) don't hesitate to bring it up



Posted On: March 21, 2019

Ah… the first few warm days return and you got that itching spring fever to uncover the boat and get her wet for the first time. There is nothing worse than being gathered at the dock with a boat-load of people and you turn the key and nothing happens. It is likely this will happen if you do not take the time to de-winterize your boat.

Do an inspection before setting out on the first trip of the season.

Here’s a pre-launch checklist to get your boat ready for the boating season.

Oil Check

If you did not change the engine oil when you put the boat up for the season, now is the time to do it. Make sure you change the oil filter also. Check the oil in the outdrive.

Battery Inspection

Reattach the cables. Make sure the terminals are not corroded. If so, wipe them clean. If your battery takes water, fill it up. A dry battery is a bad battery. With a battery tester, check the volts and amps. If it is charged and still won’t start, it may be time to buy a new battery.

Cooling System

Hopefully you drained the cooling system if you live in a cold winter climate to prevent freezing. If so, fill 'er back up. Rinse out the strainer and check the hoses for cracks.

Fuel System

You also should have topped off the tank with gas to prevent any moisture and condensation forming in the tank and diluting the gas. Change the fuel filter. Make sure the fuel line is attached and not cracked. In the winter these hoses can become dry and brittle


Take the distributor cap off and clean it out. Corrosion could have occurred during the winter. Make sure all connections are restored.


Tighten the belts if needed. You should only be able to push the belt slightly down. If the belts do not fit snugly in their pulley grooves, they may be worn and in need of replacement. Belts that are not tight will wear faster because they will likely begin to slip. The alternator belt usually wears faster than the others. A sign of a worn belt is black soot somewhere in the vicinity of the pulley.

 Things That Should Not Be Ignored

  • Change the spark plugs
  • Lubricate the engine with WD-40
  • Check all hoses
  • Check power steering/cables
  • Test the bilge pump
  • Replace the drain plug
  • Check rudder and shafts
  • Inspect the prop
  • Test the horn
  • Test the VHF radio
  • Check the trim
  • Inspect personal flotation devices
  • Check the fire extinguisher expiration date
  • Make sure the anchor in on board

*** The above de-winterizing tips are only a list of suggested things to do your boat that I've collected over the years. Each boat may vary as to what needs to be done to de-winterize it. As always, for complete instructions please see your boat's owners manual or consult your boat mechanic.



Posted On: March 19, 2019

2019 March Madness bracket

The 2019 NCAA Tournament is finally upon us. 

You can't do March Madness right without a bracket. Fortunately, you've come to the right place. 

The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament is a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the United States, currently featuring 68 college basketball teams from the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), to determine the national championship. The tournament was created in 1939 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and was the idea of Ohio State University coach Harold Olsen..Played mostly during March, it is known informally as March Madness or the Big Dance, and has become one of the most famous annual sporting events in the United States.

How are the teams selected?

There are two ways that a team can earn a bid to the NCAA tournament. The 32 Division I conferences all receive an automatic bid, which they each award to the team that wins the postseason conference tournament. Regardless of how a team performed during the regular season, if they are eligible for postseason play and win their conference tournament, they receive a bid to the NCAA tournament. These teams are known as automatic qualifiers.

The second avenue for an invitation is an at-large bid. The selection committee (more on them in a second) convenes on Selection Sunday, after all regular season and conference tournament games are played, and decides which 36 teams that are not automatic qualifiers have the pedigree to earn an invitation to the tournament.

How can you participate in March Madness?

By filling out a bracket! Our Bracket Challenge Game, the official bracket game of the NCAA, will open immediately after the committee announces the field on Selection Sunday (March 17). The brackets will lock on that Thursday, before the first game of the first round begins, so get your picks in before then. How hard is filling out a bracket? Well no one has ever gotten a perfect bracket, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

So get those brackets finished, stock up on your beverages of choice, and make sure you know your allowable sick days.

Enjoy March Madness!



Posted On: March 14, 2019

Saint Patrick’s Day,  (March 17) PATRON SAINT OF IRELAND

Born in Roman Britain in the late 4th century, he was kidnapped at the age of 16 and taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned about 432 to convert the Irish to Christianity. By the time of his death on March 17, 461, he had established monasteries, churches, and schools. Many legends grew up around him—for example, that he drove the snakes out of Ireland and used the shamrock to explain the Trinity.

Ireland came to celebrate his day with religious services and feasts.

It was emigrants, particularly to the United States, who transformed St. Patrick’s Day into a largely secular holiday of revelry and celebration of things Irish. Cities with large numbers of Irish immigrants, who often wielded political power, staged the most extensive celebrations, which included elaborate parades. Boston held its first St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1737, followed by New York City in 1762. Since 1962 Chicago has coloured its river green to mark the holiday. (Although blue was the colour traditionally associated with St. Patrick, green is now commonly connected with the day.) Irish and non-Irish alike commonly participate in the “wearing of the green”—sporting an item of green clothing or a shamrock, the Irish national plant, in the lapel. Corned beef and cabbage are associated with the holiday, and even beer is sometimes dyed green to celebrate the day. Although some of these practices eventually were adopted by the Irish themselves, they did so largely for the benefit of tourists.



Posted On: March 12, 2019

Here's an excerpt from a great article on navigating through heavy weather.

Staying Safe In Heavy Weather

By Chuck Lutrell

Hard-won advice from a search-and-rescue expert on staying safe when the weather kicks up.

Photo of a powerboat in heavy weather

A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it's not always the fastest, safest, or most comfortable route. One cold, windy day as I patrolled Lake Meredith in the Texas Panhandle, I received a report of a small boat drifting about eight miles away. Lake Meredith is a long lake and the wind was blowing hard at a slight angle across the water and toward me.

Battling the fierce head sea, it would take me almost an hour to reach the disabled craft, and the ranger who reported the problem doubted a rescue could be made before the boat crashed into the leeward shore. After evaluating the situation, I turned beam to the sea and crossed the lake. Once in the shelter of the windward shoreline, I cruised in nearly calm water to a point above the disabled vessel. Running with the waves, I swooped in and made the rescue. Although I had traveled farther than if I had taken a direct route, I completed the rescue in less than 30 minutes.

Handling heavy weather in small boats means paying attention to conditions and using whatever advantages you have to protect the boat from the waves. It's safest to take the waves on the bow, operate near the windward shore, and stay away from the leeward shore.

But the skipper must be prepared to manage the boat in all three basic sea conditions — head seas, beam seas, and following seas. Each has its own characteristics and dangers. Each requires different operational maneuvers and techniques.

Head Seas

When you're taking the waves on your bow, you're running into a head sea. This usually poses little danger to the average powerboat. However, open-bow boats (referred to by lake-patrol rangers as "water scoops") are at greater risk than closed-bow boats. Most small, open-bow or low-freeboard boats should not be operated in heavy weather on large bodies of water at all. Larger vessels have a bow designed to meet waves. With an experienced skipper, they can safely handle moderate to severe conditions so long as the boat is trimmed (leveled) properly and operated at an appropriate speed. When trimming the boat, pay attention to the center of gravity, at the bow, the stern, the trim, and list. Here's how:

Trim the boat so it's flat:

A bow trimmed too low will cause the boat to plow through the water and plunge into and under oncoming waves, giving everyone a wet ride while taking on dangerous amounts of water. A bow trimmed too high may provide a drier ride, but the boat will pound and be very uncomfortable. The stern, already a vulnerable area, will be even lower in the water than normal. Engine trim should be adjusted so the props don't cavitate as the boat pitches, rolls, or makes sharp maneuvers through breaking waves. Generally, this means the outboard or outdrives should be in the full down position. Prevent list: Canting from side to side, or listing, reduces stability and is very dangerous. Vessels equipped with adjustable trim tabs or planes and engine trim provide the operator with options for improving the boat's ride and performance in heavy seas. As a general rule, trim tabs should be set so the vessel rides as level as possible.

Lower center of gravity:

Passengers and heavy objects should be moved to the center of the vessel to lower the center of gravity and increase stability. Gas cans, ice chests, and heavy gear need to be secured to prevent loose items from tumbling about and causing injury. In heavy weather, there's enough to worry about without dodging flying gas cans. Even a well-trimmed boat can get into trouble if it isn't operated at a proper speed for the conditions. Almost everyone tries to go too fast. Pounding is hard on the vessel and crew and should be avoided. One boat I saw that had been operated on a choppy day for only a few hours by an inexperienced Park Service employee looked as if it had been in combat. Pounding through waves had stripped screws and loosened the cabin bulkhead; the dash was held in place only by the instrument wiring. Heavy-weather boating is displacement boating. Don't even think about getting up on plane. Never go fast enough to fly through the wave crests or cause the props to clear the water. Too much speed can result in the bow plunging under waves as the vessel pitches over the crest into a trough. I've seen good, seaworthy boats flooded or sunk because the operator didn't slow down and let the bow rise with each wave. The bigger the chop, the slower the speed. Operating in head seas requires constant tending of the helm and throttle to allow the boat to ride up and down with each wave. Slow down and angle into and through each crest, then resume course and speed up. If your prop comes out of the water as you pitch over a crest, throttle back to avoid racing the engine. In choppy seas over four feet, you will just barely make headway when meeting the seas on your bow.

One of my worst experiences with a head sea occurred one winter day when I was dispatched to rescue a sinking vessel in the main body of the lake. I headed out of a protected cove into the largest combers I'd ever seen (a comber is a large wave that has reached its peak and broken into foam). As each successive wave struck, it buried the forward half of the boat in swirling, foaming water. In those conditions, I could not continue meeting the waves head on. Instead, I began tacking into the seas, zigzagging to take the waves on the bow quarters. Taking the waves at an angle converts some of the severe pitching motion to rolling motion, giving a more comfortable ride at a slightly faster speed. To tack in a head sea, select a course that meets the seas at an angle of about 45 degrees. After traveling in one direction for a while, change direction 90 degrees to take the seas at roughly 45 degrees from the other side. How long you stay on one course before changing direction to the other angle is a judgment call. Because turning in high seas presents some risk and requires an alert, skillful operator, travel as far as you can in one direction before changing course.

The Art Of "Heave To"

There can come a point when the seas grow so large that it's no longer safe to try to make headway. When this happens, you can "heave to." Head into the waves, reduce speed while maintaining steerageway, and hold your position. Heaving to under power allows you to wait for the storm to pass while taking the seas from a relatively safe direction. This survival technique will reduce pitching and reduce or eliminate rolling, the motion that frequently causes seasickness. As one wit put it, "Heave to or your crew will heave, too!"

I have not often had to heave to. Once, however, when operating during a storm at night near a shoreline with reefs, I decided it was better to heave to than risk going aground. After the storm passed, I reestablished my position and again made headway. Gerry Spiess tells of a similar experience in the book Alone Against the Atlantic that he wrote with Marlin Bree. He was under power on White Bear Lake, Minnesota, testing his sailboat Yankee Girl in a lake storm before attempting a North Atlantic crossing. After some difficulty bringing down the sails in screaming wind and pouring rain, Spiess scrambled into the safety of the boat's cabin and hove to. He says, "I needed power to maintain my position in the center of the lake. I headed Yankee Girl directly into the jaws of the wind. We seemed to be blowing backwards, so I turned the throttle up to three-quarters power. Even with the added boost, Yankee Girl made barely enough speed to give us steerageway. Still, she was holding her own."

Beam Seas

In a beam sea, the vessel is broadside to oncoming waves. These waves strike the craft's sides and cause it to roll from side to side. The effect of a beam sea depends on the vessel: its width, how top-heavy it is, its freeboard, and hull design. Beam seas cause two problems. First, the rolling motion is very uncomfortable for passengers and crew. Second, when wave height equals or exceeds boat width, there's a very real danger of capsizing. In my 21-foot patrol boat, I avoid taking the sea on the beam any time the waves are higher than four to five feet.

Even though an experienced helmsman can operate a large boat in a moderate beam sea, successful maneuvering requires constant attention. The operator must watch for big waves and turn to meet them on the forward quarter. At this point it's a good idea to get the seas off your beam by using the zigzag-tacking maneuver described in the last section. When you tack in a head sea, you angle into the wind, taking the sea first on one side of the bow and then the other. When you tack in a beam sea, you angle first into the wind and then angle away from the wind.

First take the seas on your bow quarter, then change course approximately 90 degrees to take the seas on your stern quarter, but beware, there are special risks and steps to take when the seas are on your quarter, as we'll discuss below. In most cases you should make the tacks as long as possible and be extra vigilant when the seas are on the stern quarter. A combination of slowing and turning to meet the waves at an angle will reduce your risk of capsizing. Tacking is a slow way to get where you're going, but it's more comfortable and safer than being hammered on the beam.



Posted On: March 07, 2019


HINs By The Numbers

A typical hull identification number (HIN) consists of 12 letters and numbers, as in ABC12345D404.

Here's what the letters and numbers mean:

ABC: This is the U.S. Coast Guard-assigned manufacturer identification code (MIC). Go to the USCG Manufacturers Indentification page to access the Coast Guard's MIC database.

12345: This is the serial number assigned to the hull by the manufacturer. This may be a combination of letters and numbers. The letters "I," "O," and "Q" are excluded because they could be mistaken for numbers.

D: This is the month of certification, indicating the month in which construction began. "A" represents January and "L" represents December. In our example, "D" means April.

4: This is the year of certification. The number is the last digit of the year in which the boat was built. "4" in this case designates 2004.

04: This indicates the boat's model year.



Posted On: March 05, 2019

I often get asked about what to look for when assessing the paint condition on a vessel.

Here's a little insight.


Check from multiple angles and in different conditions.  The blisters are often only slight undulations and can be hard to see.  Evening and early morning light where the sun’s rays are at an acute angle to the hull are especially good times to view.  Blisters are often most visible after a couple of days of the boat being out of water and as the hull begins to dry out.  They can appear as small wet spots (usually about the size of a dime or quarter) or areas where paint has chipped off.  If the hull has been out of the water for a few weeks or months, the blisters may have dried out and will be more difficult to see.  If the hull is not clean or has a buildup of many layers of bottom paint, blisters can be extremely difficult to detect.

Cracks (especially at keel hull joint)

Check for a crack between the hull and keel.  In some boats this may appear as a ‘smile.’  Check the bottom paint for cracking as it may not be obvious.  If the boat has recently come out of the water, the crack may appear as a slightly wet area or discolored.  If the hull is not clean it can be difficult to detect cracks.  Also check the bow area and front of the keel for any cracks or signs of stress.

Bottom paint condition

Scraping bottom paint is a time intensive job.  If multiple layers of bottom paint have built up it is an indication that the owner has not been putting much time into maintaining the boat.  A build-up of bottom paint will slow the boat down and make it difficult to see nascent issues such as osmosis blisters.

Soft spots/hollow spots

Tap on the hull with a 4oz. Hammer or some other light, metallic implement.  Listen for the sound it makes.  The sounds can be difficult to interpret as anything bonded to the hull, like bulkheads or water tanks, will make the tap sound sharper.  Listen for especially dull taps in a cored-hull as they may indicate water intrusion into the coring.  This is a big problem and should be reviewed by a professional surveyor if in doubt.

Scratches or chips in the gelcoat, evidence of filler

Look around for signs of impact or stress on the hull.  Often boats glance off docks or other obstructions and create scratches or chips in the gel-coat.  Tap these small areas closely to ensure no structural damage has occurred.  Most of time there is no problem.


Check around thru-hulls for any indication of damage, failed sealant, corrosion or blockage.  Below water thru-hulls cannot be made of plastic.  This will appear as an insurance issue if it is not ameliorated.

 Based on article in Young & Salty