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KNOW YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE BEFORE YOU NEED IT

Posted On: August 26, 2021

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).
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RIDING OUT A STORM DOCKED

Posted On: August 24, 2021

STAYING DOCKED DURING THE STORM?

According to members of the BoatUS Catastrophe team, its 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.

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HURRICANES ARE UNPREDICTABLE

Posted On: August 19, 2021

Hurricane map

Hurricanes are unpredictable. Understanding the Hurricane which is produced by NOAA is vital.

Creating A Graphic Track

When a hurricane is forecast, the National Hurricane Center (NHC), part of NOAA, produces a map of the likely track of the hurricane. Some boaters look at the map and wrongly assume that the widening cone shows the hurricane getting larger over time. Others think that the circles drawn on the map represent areas that will be affected by the hurricane, and that everything outside the circles are safe — also very wrong. These misconceptions leave many boaters either totally unprepared or poorly prepared for the storm, vulnerable to serious damage or total loss of their boats as a consequence.

What Do Those Circles Mean?

On any good hurricane tracking forecast map, there are dots representing, day by day, how far the storm is expected to travel and where the CENTER of the storm may be. But hurricanes are very unpredictable, so a circle is drawn around each dot on the projected track. The circle is NOT, as is often assumed, the extent of the storm. And the circle is NOT showing the outer edges of the storm. It shows only where the possible CENTER of the storm may end up, which is somewhere within that circle. If the eye of the storm ends up on the edge of that circle, the ramifications for the locations all around it can be dire, including locations far outside the circle.

Cone Of Uncertainty

The predicted circles are joined with lines on each side. These form what is often called the "cone of uncertainty." The eventual track of the storm may be anywhere inside that cone, but even this is not certain. It's important to note that the cone of uncertainty is usually greater as you extend out in time, because it's easier to predict the course of the storm tomorrow but more difficult to know where it'll be next week.

BASED ON AN ARTICLE IN BOATUS

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WEIGHTED BLANKETS

Posted On: August 17, 2021

So what"s the bally-hew about weighted blankets?

You know about them.

They’re blankets stuffed with pellets—usually made of glass or a plastic like polyethylene—and can weigh as much as 25 pounds.

Weighted blankets capture the cozy feeling of waking up under a heavy comforter on a winter’s day. And there’s some scientific theory behind the idea: applying pressure to your skin stimulates neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin that calm your brain.

Who Uses Weighted Blankets

Occupational therapists frequently use weighted blankets for something called sensory integration therapy, which children who have trouble processing their senses—a trait that’s often linked with autism. Weighted blankets stimulate those patients’ senses of touch, helping their brains adapt to it.

During a recent study to determine benefits,  researchers were measuring how their patients responded to questions about their emotional state, the researchers discovered evidence that weighted blankets had a marked calming effect.

They actually had a number of our participants fall asleep while the blanket was on them. They had to be awakened to get them to answer the questions.

Another study at Denver Health found that weighted blankets help reduce anxiety in patients with an eating disorder. Their results are still proceeding through the peer-review process, and they hope it will see publication sometime later this year.

Seemingly, the blankets have a medicinal benefit as well as just making us comfortable,

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THE BASICS OF TIDE TABLES

Posted On: August 12, 2021

Using A Tide Table

 Based on article by Mel Neale for Boat US

Tide tables tell you three important things for any given place: time of high tide, time of low tide, and heights of each. Here's how to figure out the times in between.

When you need to know approximately how much water is below your boat for a particular time of day, in a particular place, and you have access to the tide tables, the "Rule of Twelfths" will serve you well. It's an easy-to-use guide for "semi-diurnal" tides, which means there are two nearly identical complete tidal cycles a day (high, low, high, low, all within approximately 24 hours).

Basically, it takes about six hours for this tide to completely rise (flood) or fall (ebb). The "slack" period (when the tide is reversing directions) varies in duration depending upon your location, the stage of the moon, the force of the wind, and other factors. Slack tide may last only a few minutes or much longer, and doesn't necessarily correspond to the exact time of high and low tide.

The times of high and low tides, as well as tidal heights above or below chart datum (the numbers showing depths on your chart) for each day, can be determined from a number of sources, such as weather broadcasts, tide tables, navigation programs, some charts, and books such as Eldridge Tide and Pilot Book, published annually. If you're coastal cruising, keep a print version of the tide tables aboard for times when electricity and Internet connections are unavailable.

Find the NOAA tide tables for free at tides and currents.

For simplicity, let's use a 6-foot tidal range (range = difference between high and low tide heights). The range should be divided into 12 parts: 6 divided by 12 = half a foot. The tide will rise or fall one-twelfth in the first and sixth hours, two-twelfths in the second and fifth hours, and three-twelfths in the third and fourth hours.

Wind can affect tides by "piling water up" in or out of a short creek, or up, down, across a broad bay. When blowing for long fetches across the ocean or bays, wind can cause deeper water along the beach, and vice versa.

Keep in mind that all this is approximate and can be affected by phenomena such as high winds and storm surges. Also, in some parts of the world (for example, most areas of U.S. Gulf Coastal States, eastern Mexico, and some Caribbean Islands) tide cycles are "diurnal" (only one 12-hour rise and fall in each 24-hour period). Diurnal tidal areas often have weak currents with long periods of slack and little tidal range. Some areas have a mixture, where highs and lows are unequal and irregular. You will see this reflected in the tide charts. There are other exceptions where wind plays a predominant role, and depending on which way it is blowing on the water's surface, can make depths different from what you see in the tide tables. Always combine what the books say with what you observe around you

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AVOIDING CAPSIZING YOUR BOAT

Posted On: August 10, 2021

In order to avoid capsizing, you need to understand what causes vessels to capsize.

What causes boats to capsize?

In a word, instability. Boats are inherently stable until something causes them to become unstable. And that something is weight — where it is and how much it is determines when a boat will tip over far enough to capsize or fill with water.

A capsize is defined as a boat rolling over onto its side or completely over; swamping typically means that a boat fills with water (often from capsizing) but remains floating. So to simplify, we'll use the term capsize from here on. As mentioned, boats capsize because they become unstable, but there are three main reasons for that instability: too much or unbalanced crew or equipment weight; leaking water, which also creates too much weight; and bad weather, which causes instability as a boat is rocked and filled with water.

We Hope It Floats

There is always a very real possibility of injury when passengers unintentionally go in the water with nothing to hold onto. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has addressed this by requiring monohull powerboats built after 1972 under 20 feet in length to float when filled with water. This is a good thing, because without it, most of the small boats in the study would have sunk out from under the crew, leaving nothing to hang onto while waiting for rescue. The bad news is that boats larger than 20 feet that don't have built-in flotation will eventually sink if capsized, and even smaller boats with flotation can still sink if grossly overloaded. (Note: Boats up to 26 feet built to the American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) standards adopted by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) also have flotation). Inboard and sterndrive boats have less rigorous basic flotation requirements than outboard-powered boats. If your boat was built before 1972, it wasn't required to — and probably won't — have flotation at all.

Which Boats Are More Likely to Capsize?

Small boats are most likely to capsize. Almost 10 percent were 8-footers, mostly dinghies, and capsizes here often didn't cause much damage. But the biggest group, according to a BoatUS study were the 15-19 footers, representing 41 percent of all capsizes. These boats were typically fishing boats, often with large, hard-to-drain cockpits, sometimes out in poor weather, and were sometimes overloaded.

The next most common group are boats in the 20-24-foot range, representing a quarter of the total; half of those were outboard-powered 22-footers. Larger boats tend to be more stable and rarely capsize, though there were several boats over 38 feet that capsized.

Why They Capsize

Nearly all capsizes can be assigned one of three causes. The most common is too much or poorly distributed weight. Small boats are much more susceptible to an extra person or two or a couple of heavy coolers aboard than larger boats. Older boats especially may have gained weight over the years as more gear is stored aboard. On boats with cockpit drains, an extra beefy friend or a second cooler might be all it takes to make the water come back in through the drains, filling the boat. While most of these under-20 foot boats are required to have flotation, they also must have a capacity plate that states how much weight and how many people can safely be aboard. Pay attention to this number, and keep in mind that the number of seats in a boat is not always an indication of the number of people it can carry safely. Exceeding the capacity limits, even in calm water, is asking for trouble; and in many states, operators can be ticketed for it. All it takes is a stiff wind, a large wake, or an unbalanced load to flip over.

The bottom line is that loading too much cargo or too many passengers in one part of the boat can affect its stability, even if the total load is within the boat's maximum capacity. Weight needs to be evenly distributed, especially in smaller boats. One other thing worth mentioning is that capsizes can also be caused by modifications that affect the stability of the boat. Even a small tuna tower can severely change the center of gravity, especially on a smaller boat.

The second major cause of capsizing is leaks. Sometimes it's as simple as forgetting to put the drain plug in; other times it's leaking fittings. Water sloshing around in the bottom of the boat affects stability and waves or a wake can cause it to flip. Tying the drain plug to your boat key is a simple way to remember the plug. On the other hand, leaking fittings that can fill the boat with water are usually out of sight, often in livewells and bait boxes. Several claims were reported when an owner installed a livewell fitting using cheap PVC pipes and valves, and at least one livewell had no shut-off valve at all with no way to stop the ingress of water once it began leaking. Any fitting that penetrates the hull needs to be closeable and should be made from stainless steel, bronze, or Marelon. One more thing the claims revealed: Some livewells are plumbed in such a way that they'll flood the boat if the valve is left open while underway.

Many older outboard-powered boats have low transom cutouts that can cause the boat to flood simply by slowing down too quickly, especially with excess weight in the stern. Newer outboard boats have a well that reduces the risk.

Some boats have cockpits that drain into the bilge (generally considered a poor design), requiring the use of a bilge pump to even stay afloat. Bilge pumps are designed to remove nuisance water only, not to keep a boat from sinking. If your boat's cockpit drains into the bilge, be aware that if the bilge pump fails, your boat can fill with water and capsize or sink.

Weather is another major cause of capsizes, sometimes in concert with overloading. Small boats are easily overwhelmed by modest waves or even wake, especially if they've got a full load and sit low in the water. A sudden squall can flip even a larger boat. Check the weather forecast before you go out, and keep a weather eye on the sky. In most areas, NOAA broadcasts continuous weather via VHF radio. If you're within range, smartphone apps can show you detailed weather maps, including radar, which can indicate approaching storms. Weather changes quickly on the water, so at the first sign of bad weather, head back to the dock. If you're caught out in a squall, have your passengers stay low near the center of the boat to maintain stability.

 

Based on an article in BoatUS

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WHEN THINGS SEEM AWRY

Posted On: August 05, 2021


I’m often approached with questions concerning lean and list and heal.  A boat not riding on its lines is dangerous, and very uncomfortable, not to mention its maneuverability is curtailed.

 Here are some reasons for list and some things you can do to alleviate the problem.

Weight
If your boat lists at rest, there is too much weight on one side. It could be gear or it could be water trapped in a stringer bay.

Suggested Solution: Investigate. Take inventory. Re-balance supplies; reposition crew if underway. Address water ingress and drain or dry.

Prop Torque
It’s normal for a right-hand-turning prop to cause listing to port in a single-engine application. The reason is that a prop is most efficient in the upper, down-moving quadrant of its rotation (between noon and 3 o’clock for a right-hand propeller) and so creates more lift on the starboard side; thus the boat lists to port.

Suggested Solution: Trim out more once on plane. The further from perpendicular to the boat the rotation gets, the less listing leverage it can exert. Use a prop with more pitch (within rpm limits).

Wind
V-hulls can tend to lean to windward. This results from turning slightly into the wind to maintain a straight course. Also, prop torque results in more lean than on flatter-bottomed boats.

Suggested Solution: Shift supplies or crew. Use trim tabs. Alter course (if possible).

Engine Trim
Running with the drive trimmed in exacerbates prop torque.

Suggested Solution: It’s correct to trim the engine in when achieving plane. But up and running, trim out to lift the bow, and, as it pertains to listing and heeling, reduce the effect of prop torque

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SOME SURVEYOR INSIGHT

Posted On: August 03, 2021

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 will be 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. 

Remember 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.

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