Blog August 2020


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Posted On: August 27, 2020

12 Should-Have Safety Equipment for Your Boat

Depending on the type of boating you do and where you do it, some of these may be required or only recommended items. Either way, you can pack most of these aboard even the smallest of boats.

  1. Medical kit for cuts, scrapes, seasickness or small emergencies
  2. Anchor with line to hold your boat in place while you wait for help to arrive
  3. Bailing device or bucket to dewater and stay afloat
  4. Oars or paddles if the engine quits
  5. Cellphone to call for help
  6. VHF radio to call for help
  7. Knife to cut a line around a fouled propeller
  8. Snorkel mask to inspect what’s going on under the boat
  9. Heavy duty flashlight
  10. Skier or diver down flag
  11. Working running lights if your boat is equipped with them
  12. A way to get weather updates because things can change quickly even on a lake


Posted On: August 25, 2020

How to Cook on a Boat

  1. Plan your meals ahead of time for the duration you'll be onboard.
  2. Make meals in advance onshore that you can freeze and reheat later.
  3. Focus on space management—storage is limited within a boat's galley.
  4. Ensure your galley is fully stocked with the proper kitchen tools and equipment.
  5. Adjust your expectations and be realistic when meal planning

Plan Ahead

Whether you’re heading out for an afternoon cocktail party or a two-week offshore voyage, it’s important to think through and write down your meal plan ahead of time. A boat away from the dock means you can’t just run to the store to pick up forgotten items. Also, you’ll need to check how much space you have to stow the provisions, especially if they need to be refrigerated.

  • Written menus will help you incorporate leftovers from one meal into parts of another, thereby saving time, space and ingredients.
  • If multiple people will be cooking, it’s best to have a point person who puts together a list of what to purchase or there will be too much to bring aboard, stow and left over.
  • On a long trip, use up food that will spoil quickly (like lettuce and tomatoes) leaving longer lasting items (like cabbage and potatoes) to be used later.

Meal Prep Ahead

One way to eat better on a boat is to make some more complex items at home and freeze them to use later. Stews, pasta dishes and even desserts can be made at the house. This rescues the cook from extended time in the galley, saves water on doing dishes and limits the number necessary of separate ingredients like spices.

Frozen meals help immensely on a passage when it’s too rough to cook but the crew still needs a hot meal. Even chopping vegetables and cutting cheese for happy hour can be done ahead so nobody misses any fun on deck.

Space Management

Sous chef duties can be challenging on a boat. Not only are galleys small with limited counter space, but a moving boat and a sharp knife can be a frightening combination.

  • Try moving the cutting board to the dining table inside or in the cockpit and have the prep cook safely seated and out of the way of the chef.
  • Do the dishes as you cook because boat sinks don’t hold much.
  • Cook in steps because multiple large pots and small boat stoves aren’t compatible. You can quickly reheat before serving.
  • Get all your ingredients out of the refrigerator together or in batches. The more you open the fridge, the more house battery power it will take to make it cold again.
  • When packing the refrigerator, put items you’ll use first on top and combine items like lunch meats or yogurt containers in a bag so individual items don’t disappear to the bottom of a top-loading icebox.

Proper Tools & Galley Equipment

Don’t skimp on proper tools but don’t expect to have all the equipment of home like a blender, mixer or a microwave. Invest in a couple of good knives and a cutting board that isn’t wood because boats are notorious for growing mold and bacteria. Collapsible silicone tools like bulky colanders work well in tight boat cabinets as do nesting bowls and pots with detachable handles. Check to see that baking dishes fit in the oven. Sealable plastic bags hold prepared foods, small batches of spices and leftovers. They don’t need to be washed and won’t make much trash. Have a headlamp for grilling in the dark.

Adjust Expectations & Enjoy

Excellent meals can be prepared aboard but adjust your expectations of how difficult it may be to do so. Boat ovens are small and cooking fuel like propane is limited so baking a turkey aboard for hours will be hard. Propane ovens are also damp and nearly never hold a decent temperature so turning out crisp bread or temperamental items like soufflés or custards will be challenging.

For cooks who tend to get seasick, spending hours in a swaying galley won’t be fun so consider splitting the duties with others. On the positive side, food tends to taste better at sea so even simple meals will be appreciated and dining outside under the stars means you’ll create a perfect setting with little work other than setting out a couple of electric candles.



Posted On: August 20, 2020

Operating the Boat's Throttle

Think of a boat’s throttle just like the accelerator pedal in a car. Unlike a car, however, once you adjust it to a specific speed it stays there. So slowing down requires more than just taking your foot off a pedal, you have to actually grasp the throttle and pull it back. This is important to keep in mind, because when you see a large wave or lots of traffic coming, you need to be prepared to move the throttle accordingly.

This brings up an important point we haven’t covered just yet: situational awareness. When driving any motorized vehicle it’s important to constantly monitor your surroundings for anything that might require a response—a traffic light, pedestrians, other vehicles, and so on. The same is true when you’re operating a boat. In boating terms this is referred to as “maintaining a proper lookout,” and it means that as the captain of a boat, you have to always be watching your surroundings and recognize when there’s a risk of collision, running aground, hitting a big wave, or any other factor that could require a response at the helm.



Posted On: August 18, 2020

Slowing a Boat

You have to manipulate the throttle to get a boat to slow down, but since boats don’t have brakes, there’s a bit more you need to know.

  • To begin with, you need to become familiar with your boat and learn how much stopping distance is needed to come to a complete stop in a safe fashion when running at different speeds.
  • Remember, boats don’t have seatbelts and are subject to a lot more motion than land vehicles. As a result, sudden or abrupt changes in speed or direction can throw people off balance or even cause them to fall overboard.
  • Always be conscious of how you adjust speed or turn. In cases of quick maneuvers, when possible you’ll also want to shout out a warning to your passengers so they know to hold on.

All of that said, you can slow a boat fastest by:

  • first pulling the throttle back to neutral;
  • pausing for a moment; 
  • then shifting into reverse and applying some power.

Remember to always pause in neutral and don’t shift directly from forward into reverse, because quickly shifting from one to the other can cause mechanical damage in some boats.

It’s also important to note that there are many other aspects to driving a boat that relate to the safety of you and your passengers. That’s why most states require you to take a basic boating safety course before running your own boat



Posted On: August 13, 2020


What Boat Insurance Policies Cover

How and where you boat determines the type of coverage you need. An "all risk" policy will offer the best protection. However, an “all risk” policy does not cover every type of loss. In insurance terms “all risk” just means that any risk not specifically omitted in the policy is covered. Typical exclusions include wear and tear, marring, denting, animal damage, manufacturers’ defects, design defects, ice and freezing.

You may also be able to add extra coverage. Available options may include: medical payments, personal effects, uninsured boaters liability, and towing and assistance. Most policies will cover permanently attached equipment, as well as items like anchors, oars, trolling motors, tools, seat cushions, and life jackets. Be sure to discuss these options with your agent.

Types of Boat Insurance Coverage

This will depend on the type of policy, but common coverage add-ons (in addition to basic ones above) include:

  • Specialized Coverage: Coverage for something specific on your boat like an expensive prop or navigation equipment.
  • Salvage: Coverage that pays to remove your boat due to damage, from substantial to minor.
  • Consequential Damage: Covers a loss that was the result wear and tear rather than an accident (rot, mold, corrosion).
  • Towing: Towing your boat across a body of water to safety can cost $400 per hour.
  • Cruising Extension: You can get temporary, additional coverage if you plan on leaving the USA (typically to Mexico or the Bahamas).


Posted On: August 11, 2020

Not Sea-Trialing The Boat After Repairs Are Made

A client purchased a used powerboat with a large outboard that had a cracked head. Because he wrote into the contract that the engine had to be working before he would buy the boat, the dealer had the engine fixed and claimed they performed a compression test to verify everything was fine. After paying for the boat, the first time the new owner took the boat out, the rod blew a hole in the side of the engine. The dealer he bought it from first said he'd replace it with a used engine, but eventually said that the contract stated that boat was purchased in "as-is" condition and was working on the day of the sale.

Lesson: When contingencies are written into a contract, spell out the details and don't formally accept the boat until you've verified that all repairs have been made properly. Because of the high value of the engine, it would have made sense to have an independent technician check it out and even come along for a sea trial.

Not Allowing A Shop To Attempt To Honor Their Warranty

A client took his family out for a Memorial Day weekend trip when the inboard engine in his boat quit. In hopes of getting the boat fixed quickly to get back out on the water as soon as possible, he scanned the newspapers to find a repair shop. The shop he chose found water in the engine, estimated the repair at $1,500, and said it would have to send the head out for reconditioning.

When the member got the boat back and the engine was still not working, he lost confidence in the shop handling the repair and immediately took the boat to another shop, which fixed it. The member contacted the original shop to ask for his money back or have them reimburse him for the additional work. It refused, saying they were given no opportunity to correct the problem.

Lesson: Pick a shop carefully. Warranty law allows a shop to be given the opportunity to correct a problem. If you take your boat to another shop for further work, the first shop will have no obligation to refund your money or pay for extra work.



Posted On: August 06, 2020

I pulled this up the other day, and with the hurricane season making its present felt, thought it a good read.

If you boat anywhere down the East Coast or the along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s not a matter of if you get a hurricane, it’s a matter of when, you’ll have to deal with some direct or indirect affects associated with a hurricane. Now that the hard reality is out there, there are some things to keep in mind that can help you keep yourself safe and protect your property.

Stay Informed

One of the reasons people get into boating is to get away from the constant bustle of today’s overly connected world. But if you live an area that’s exposed to hurricanes, you need to find a reliable and fast way to get the latest forecasts. Of all the things you can do to keep safe when you’re in the path of a hurricane, advance warning is, by far, the most effective.

Get Out Of The Way

For most recreational powerboats, many times the best solution is to pull the vessel and head inland. This reduces the impact of the initial storm surge and the accompanying rain and wind. The sooner the better on this because there will be lots of your boating brethren who either don’t or can’t move their boats in advance. Those folks will be the ones jammed onto the back roads and highways when mandatory evacuation orders are issued.

Batten Down The Hatches

For those boats that can’t be moved, it’s time to go old-school and batten down those hatches. That phrase has survived modern times because it precisely describes what you need to do in a crisis situation. First, remove anything that’s not permanently part of the boat. That means cushions, toasters, life jackets, curtain rods and anything else that would fall off if the boat gets sideways. Leave them aboard and you not only risk losing them for good, but you could create dangerous projectiles for anyone or anything still hanging around during the worst parts of the storm. Use plenty of extra fenders, used tires or anything else that will absorb impact and lash them to the boat. Quadruple your normal line usage, springing to any and all potential contact points. Check that all hatches and portholes are secure and detach or cover windscreens. It also wouldn’t hurt to drop an anchor fore and aft and make sure they’re well set.

Don’t Try To "Ride" It Out

There seems to be some absolutely crazy theory floating around out there that you and your boat might be better off away from your marina, riding out the storm in open water. That is a misguided and misinformed idea. Yes, you are technically out of the way of more flying debris and your boat won’t be lashed to a "fixed" object like a dock when the indescribable physics of a hurricane are set in motion. Here’s the rub: YOU will be unnecessarily in harm’s way. There is NOTHING tough about riding out a furious storm on the water. Boats become a part of our lifestyles and identities, but they can ALWAYS be replaced.



Posted On: August 04, 2020


Members of the BoatUS Catastrophe team estimated that as many as 50% of the boats damaged during Hurricanes could have been saved by using better docklines: lines that were longer, larger, arranged better, and/or protected against chafing. If you decide to leave your boat at a dock, you'll need to devise a docking plan that is liable to be far different than your normal docking arrangement. By the time preparations are completed, your boat should resemble a spider suspended in the center of a large web. This web will allow the boat to rise on the surge, be bounced around by the storm, and still remain in position.

Take a look at your boat slip and its relation to the rest of the harbor. For most boats you'll want to arrange the bow toward open water or, lacking that, toward the least protected direction. This reduces windage. Next, look for trees, pilings, and dock cleats-anything sturdy-that could be used for securing docklines. With most docking arrangements, lines will have to be fairly taut if the boat is going to be kept away from pilings. The key to your docking arrangement is to use long lines, the longer the better, to accommodate the surge. (A good rule of thumb: storm docklines should be at least as long as the boat itself.) You will probably want to use other boat owners' pilings (and vice versa), which calls for a great deal of planning and cooperation with slip neighbors and marina management.

Lines should also be a larger diameter to resist chafe and excessive stretching. On most boats you should use 1/2" line for boats up to 25', 5/8" line for boats 25' to 34', and 3/4" to 1" lines for larger boats. Chafe protectors ("Critical Points") must be on any portion of the line that could be chafed by chocks, pulpits, pilings, etc.

To secure lines to hard-to-reach outer pilings, put the eye on the piling so that lines can be adjusted from the boat. For other lines, put the eye on the boat to allow for final adjustment from the dock.