Blog July 2020


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Posted On: July 30, 2020

You've completed your fact-finding missions and the used boat you are considering has come up clean.

Now it's time to PASS ... Purchase Agreement, Survey, and Sea Trial. These are the steps you need to take to make sure the boat makes the grade.

Purchase agreements are important because they protect the buyer and the seller. The agreement should clearly state that the purchase is contingent on a satisfactory survey and sea trial and the ability to obtain acceptable financing (if you are getting a loan) and marine insurance. A "good faith" deposit of about 10% should be included with the stipulation that the deposit is refundable if any contingency can't be met. Also be sure to specify a delivery date when the sale will be completed.

It is extremely important that you read the agreement before you sign it. Not only should you look for the above contingencies but also the details of what you have to do to get your deposit back if the deal falls through. The Bureau has dealt with many complaints where buyers have lost their deposits due to the contracts being broken without cause. Protecting yourself is important because the majority of used boats are sold "as is," which means that you will have little or no recourse against the seller if problems become apparent after the sale. Finally, be sure that all signature lines are signed by both buyer and seller.



Posted On: July 28, 2020

Dealer or private seller?

This argument just may have been going on as long as the debate of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Buying from each has its pros and cons. The going dealer commission rate on used boats is 10% whereas a private seller doesn't charge a commission. On the other hand, a dealer may provide after-sale service or even a warranty and might be able to help with a loan if you need to finance the boat.

Whether you end up buying from a dealer or from a private seller, I recommend, "Buy local."

In fact, consider it your mantra when looking for a boat.

You will come across all kinds of beautiful boats online or in boat classifieds; however, if you are in Albany, NY, and the seller is in Disco, WI, you can't just hop in the car and take a look at the boat without taking some major time off from work.

Also, if the dealer is five hours away and the boat develops problems, you aren't going to be happy having to drive back and forth to the dealer, wasting precious boating hours.

Local boaters know local dealers.

Your fellow boaters are good sources of information about how dealers treat their customers.

But before you buy, do your research.

"Dig up the Dirt."

Obviously, no boat is defect-free.

There are some models that are known to have problems.

But where can you find out this information?

Recalls on boats and engines can be found on the U.S. Coast Guard's website:



Posted On: July 23, 2020

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 sterndrive 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 boatbuilding, 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 boatbuilders 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 monohull 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.



Posted On: July 22, 2020

Stainless steel can and does rust.

Whoever named stainless steel must have been an optimist. Stainless steel certainly can and does rust, though if you know why, you can avoid using it in places where it's less suitable. Most marine-grade stainless used on production boats is from the 300 series. Type 304 is a good multipurpose steel. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is clad with 304. Types 316 and 316L have a slightly higher nickel content and added molybdenum to improve their corrosion resistance over 304 — especially with regard to pitting and corrosion in saltwater environments. There are higher grades as well, such as the type used in dental implants. Most boaters will opt for Type 316 and 316L.

The key to stainless steel is that the chromium in the steel combines with oxygen to form an invisible surface layer of chromium oxide that prevents further corrosion from spreading into the metal's internal structure. Stainless steel actually protects and repairs itself, except in areas where there is a low level of oxygen, such as a stainless-steel screw in a damp deck core. This kind of corrosion is referred to as "crevice corrosion." It can eat into the stainless, causing great weakening. In some cases, cheap plated steel or zinc fasteners are mistaken for stainless steel and then cursed when they begin to rust or crumble. Use stainless steel where it won't be starved of oxygen, and get high-grade stainless fittings from a known supplier. Stainless steel that is attracted by a magnet is not what you want to use on a boat.



Posted On: July 21, 2020

Ethanol gas (E10) works fine in my car so it should be fine for my boat, too.

Cars go through gas much faster than most boats. You probably fill up your car once a week or so.

But ethanol's Achilles heel is that it's hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water.

Car fuel systems are closed and under slight pressure, meaning they absorb very little water, and any small amount that gets in will just burn through the engine until it's replaced by fresh fuel next week. But most boat fuel tanks are open to the atmosphere. That little vent you see in your hull allows air to replace fuel as it's used, but it's also an inlet for moisture. A deck fill that even slightly leaks can put a lot of water in your boat's fuel. As enough water gets into your boat's gas tank, the ethanol combines with it, and when there is enough, the ethanol/water mixture separates to the bottom of the tank, right where the fuel pickup is. The result is a stalling — or even a damaged — engine.

Sailboats have the right of way.

Lots of powerboat operators may be gleeful to see this myth exposed in print, but don't get too smug because powerboats are still behind sailboats most of the time in the pecking order. But sailboats aren't even halfway up the list. Without getting into too much detail, the pecking order from least to highest privilege is seaplane, power-driven vessel (this means your sailboat, if your engine is on, even if not in gear), sailboat, fishing vessel (commercial, not recreational), vessel constrained by draft (think ship in a narrow channel), vessel restricted in ability to maneuver (such as a dredge or vessel servicing a buoy), and at the top, a vessel not under command (this could be a vessel drifting due to an engine failure or one that's flooding or on fire).

But this is not a hard-and-fast "no exceptions" statement of the rules.

Older boats are money pits.

This one may have a ring of truth to it for anyone who's ever tried to restore a "classic." But a well-cared-for older boat doesn't have to cost an arm and leg to maintain and may actually be cheaper to keep than a newer boat.

Systems (e.g., plumbing, wiring) are less sophisticated, which means someone who's handy can often do more maintenance and repairs than he or she could on a newer boat with computer controls, electric doodads, and complex engines.

The best older boats to hang onto are often those that were made in large numbers; parts are often easily available and there is usually a large group of enthusiastic supporters online who are willing to share money-saving parts-sourcing and repair tips.



Posted On: July 16, 2020

Too fast and BANG. Too slow and you lose control. Here's how to dock an outboard with finesse.

Docking makes boaters nervous. Throw a little wind and current in the mix, and you can find yourself overwhelmed with things to worry about. Your technique shouldn't be one of your worries. Coming alongside a dock or bulkhead can be accomplished in just four steps. But first, you need to know a few things about your boat.

This procedure is for outboard- or sterndrive-powered boats. Hopefully you've had enough time at the helm to know how your boat pivots when you throw the wheel hard over in either direction. Many beginning boaters are surprised at how much the stern swings or slides out when they initiate a turn. If you're not familiar with your boat's tendencies, to get a feel, practice by approaching a buoy or crab pot marker as though it were the dock. Once you've got that down, choose which side you want to tie up, deploy fenders, and you're ready to make your approach. These instructions are for a portside tie.

Step 1: Line Up Your Approach

When approaching the space on the dock where you want to come alongside, first judge wind and current. If the wind or current will be pushing you toward the dock, a shallow angle will help you keep control and not strike the dock with the bow of the boat. If the wind and/or current are conspiring to keep you off the dock, as so often seems to be the case, you'll need a steeper approach to carry enough momentum to get you into the dock. Start with a 30- to 45-degree angle as you learn what works best for your boat. Aim your bow toward the center of your landing point.

Step 2: Come In Slowly

There's an old saying, "Never approach a dock any faster than you're willing to hit it." Bump the boat in and out of gear to maintain slow progress toward your chosen spot. On twin-engine boats, use one engine at a time to creep in.

Step 3: Time Your Swing

When your bow is within, say, half a boat length, swing the wheel over hard to starboard (away from the dock). This is where knowing your boat becomes important, particularly regarding where it pivots. Turn too soon, and you won't end up parallel with the dock. Too late, and bang. With the wheel hard over, bump the engine into gear for an instant to kick the stern to port. This will
also swing the bow away from the dock (to starboard) so you won't hit it.

Step 4: The Flourishing Finish

As the boat glides toward being parallel with the dock, swing the wheel all the way back to port, and kick the engine into reverse (on twins, use the engine farthest from the dock for maximum effect). This will simultaneously stop your headway and pull the stern of the boat to port and closer to the dock. When the boat has stopped moving forward, put it in neutral. The boat should continue side-slipping right up to the dock, allowing you to simply reach out and grab a
line or piling



Posted On: July 14, 2020

Drudging illustration

Old sailors often used the current by "drudging" into harbor when there was no wind. They drifted in but kept the bow into the current by dragging the anchor from the bow on a very short scope. Provided the boat moved slower than the current, there was enough water flow over the rudder to maintain limited steerage. Modern sailors do the same thing, although some use a big bight of chain as a drag weight instead of an anchor.

Even modern ships can drudge. In small harbors, where the channel is not wide enough to turn around, they often need a tug to tow them out backward. But in windy weather, they can lower their bower anchor on a short scope so it drags along the bottom to resist any tendency to get swept sideways.

This technique influenced an old friend of mine who had a large lump of pig iron on a line that he used to stop his bow blowing off when he reversed into his tight marina berth. His old long-keeled boat didn't like going backward at the best of times, and turning a corner in a crosswind made it all a bit hairy. So his wife simply dropped the weight in up forward as he swung the boat back into her berth, and it worked like a charm



Posted On: July 09, 2020

Taking your canine buddy on your boating adventures guarantees more fun for all.


With a little planning, you and your four-legged crew can have great fun on the water.

Here are six simple tips to help your pooch feel safe, comfortable, and happy on your boat.

  1. Dogs, like people, can get seasick. Hide a capsule of powdered ginger in a chunk of cheese to settle a queasy stomach. Doggy ginger snaps are an effective treat that help to prevent mal-de-mer while doubling as a reward for great behavior.
  2. If your dog swims in saltwater, take a moment to give her/him a freshwater rinse at the end of the day. Pay attention to The paws. Salt irritates the webbing between dogs' toes and may cause cracking or bleeding.
  3. Dogs are safer if they're wearing a life jacket onboard, and easier to rescue. Avoid the styles with only one or two straps, as they can be unstable and pinch or cut skin. Select a style with full coverage under the belly to provide greater protection, and increased buoyancy.
  4. To lift large or elderly dogs aboard, consider a Rappel Sling. Designed to lower rescue dogs into remote areas, these heavy-duty slings attach easily to hardware on your boat. They will reduce strain on your back, protect your pet, and can be used to lift other heavy items on board as well.
  5. Train your dog to poop on a square of Astroturf on deck. Always keep the grass in the same spot so she understands that this is an OK place. Add a grommet to a corner of the turf and thread a line through it for easy rinsing. Solid materials should be collected and disposed of properly ashore.
  6. You can save the work of toting dog chow down the dock each weekend by storing kibble on board in an airtight plastic box. Add several bay leaves to the dry food to deter bugs. Remove the leaves before feeding your pet.