Scott Marine Surveyor Blog


Posted On: January 23, 2020

The fate of your boat's security in a storm comes down to these essential and critical points in your defense strategy. Addressing them early could mean the difference between your boat surviving a serious storm, or breaking free, hitting hard objects, filling with water, and sustaining catastrophic damage.

Chafe Gear

Nylon stretches and absorbs shock, which is good, but this stretching under tremendous loads also works the line against chocks and other contact points. Chafe protectors are essential on all lines — at a dock, mooring, or at anchor. At a dock, lines are liable to abrade against chocks, pilings, and the dock itself. Wise use of proper chafing gear is critical. Commercially available chafing gear such as Chafe-Pro is a good choice.


Many boats have cleats and chocks that are woefully inadequate. This problem becomes critical when more and larger-diameter storm lines are used during a storm. If necessary, add more and larger cleats and chocks now; they'll make securing the boat easier all year.

Assess the ability of cleats to carry heavy loads. This means making sure all are backed properly with stainless steel or aluminum plates. On sailboats, winches (if backed properly and designed for the job) and even keel-stepped masts can also be used to secure lines at a dock. Note that anchor lines should not be secured to the mast, as it creates that much more stretch on the line at the chock, which further increases the chances of chafe failure.

Don't put too many eggs in one basket by leading numerous lines to a single cleat, even if it's backed properly. Two lines per cleat is usually the maximum. Also, a cleat is not reliable when lines are led perpendicular to the base and the cleat can be wrenched out by the tremendous loads (see diagram below).

Reduce Windage

Strip all loose gear that creates windage: canvas covers, bimini tops, outriggers, antennas, anchors, running rigging, booms, life rings, dinghies, portable davits, and so on. Anything on deck that can't be taken off should be lashed securely.

Unstepping masts on sailboats is strongly advised. If this is impractical, sails (particularly roller-furling headsails) must be removed. Roller-furling headsails create a lot of windage, especially when they come unfurled, which is almost guaranteed to happen no matter how carefully they're secured. All halyards should be run to the masthead and secured with a single line led to the rail. This reduces windage and minimizes flogging damage to the mast. The line can be used to retrieve the halyards.

Preventing Theft

Electronics and other valuable gear should be taken home for safekeeping. Not only are electronics vulnerable when vandals comb through boatyards after the storm, they can also be wrecked by all of the water. Personal belongings and other loose gear should be taken home and the cabinets and cabin doors secured. All ship's documents should be taken off the boat.

Preventing Water Damage

Remove cowl ventilators and seal the openings. Use duct tape to cover instrument gauges. Duct tape should also be used around hatches, ports, lockers, and so on, to prevent water damage below. Note that some types of duct tape leave less gummy residue than others.

Close all but the cockpit drain seacocks and shove a plug into the engine's exhaust ports. If the boat does take on water, it will sit lower, and water could back up into the engine. Remember to remove the plug before starting the engine when the storm has passed.



Posted On: January 21, 2020

Your pet needs protection from the cold

 This week the cold weather seems to have really set in. While we bundle up, our pets are sometimes not given the appropriate attention.

 Here are some tips for keeping our pets safe and healthy.

           Keep them inside when the temperature drops below freezing.

  • Bang on the hood of your car before starting it to scare away stray cats that may have sought warmth from the engine.
  • Never let your dog off the leash on snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm, when dogs can lose their scent and become lost. More dogs are lost during the winter than any other season, so keep ID tags on a well-fitting collar.
  • Wipe off your dog's paws, legs and belly after a walk to remove ice, salt and antifreeze. Make sure a freshly bathed dog is completely dry before taking it outside.
  • Put a coat or sweater with a high collar on short-haired dogs.
  • Check your dog's paws frequently for signs of cold-weather injury or damage, such as cracked paw pads or bleeding. During a walk, sudden lameness may be due to ice accumulation between the toes.
  • Postpone housebreaking puppies during the coldest months.
  • Don't leave a pet alone in a room with a space heater. It could get knocked over and start a fire.
  • Dogs that can tolerate long, cold walks -- the larger breeds with thick fur -- will need to eat more high-protein food.
  • Pets need a place to sleep off the floor and away from drafts.
  • Dogs that spend any time in the yard must have a dry, draft-free shelter large enough to lie down in, but small enough to retain body heat. The floor should be a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The doorway should be covered with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. Do not use metal bowls for food and water.


Posted On: January 16, 2020

The American Boat & Yacht Council was formed by members of the Motorboat and Yacht Advisory Panel of the U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Council in 1954 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

Previously, manufacturers could say their products meet the standards, but in the past there was no way to know for sure because ABYC didn't verify that they did.

But that's changing, and soon there will be ABYC-certified products that manufacturers will have to prove meet the standards. Members will be more easily able to find things like thru-hulls, electrical connectors, and propane stoves that meet ABYC standards. If a manufacturer claims its product is certified but it's found that the product didn't go through the testing process to meet the standards, ABYC will take steps, up to and including legal action, to stop it.

While boats have had high-voltage AC shore power systems for years, most DC (battery-driven) circuits have been 12-volt, which, while still able to start a fire, is not dangerous if a person accidentally contacts the positive and negative leads. But new high-horsepower electric motors are changing that with the recent arrival of high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. These systems can have up to hundreds of volts DC, making them every bit as dangerous as AC shore power, so a new standard for high-voltage DC systems is in the works.

Boat propulsion systems are getting more complex with the advent of joystick controls and someday will likely even include self-docking. It's important to make sure new boats with these products are designed with the safety of the boat and crew in mind. An ABYC Control Systems Project Technical Committee (PTC) is creating a new standard to address wireless controls, dynamic positioning, and joystick controls.

LED lights are becoming mainstream for most uses aboard, but they work differently than the old incandescent lamps with which we're all familiar. The Navigation Lights and Sound Signals PTC is working on updating the navigation lights standard to better address LED technology. They've also been tasked with addressing the challenge with the growing popularity of accent lights, which could conflict or be confused with navigation lights.



Posted On: January 14, 2020

According to the latest U.S. Coast Guard statistics, alcohol use is the leading known contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Where the primary cause was known, it was listed as the leading factor in 19% of deaths. And alcohol use ranks as one of the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. Because most minor accidents aren't reported to the Coast Guard, it's hard to say how many dock bruises, falls, and aggressive boating incidents are related to alcohol, but it's also likely to be in the top five.

Alcohol Dangers

Most people know that alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination, which greatly increase the likelihood of accidents. The Coast Guard says that in alcohol-related fatalities, more than half the victims capsized their boats or went overboard. But what you might not know is that a boater is even more likely to become impaired than a driver of a car.

Stressors, such as exposure to noise, vibration, sun, glare, wind, and the motion of the water affect our skills when we drive a boat. Research shows that hours of exposure to these stressors produce a kind of a fatigue, or "boater's hypnosis," which slows reaction time almost as much as if you were legally drunk. Adding alcohol intensifies the effects, and each drink multiplies your accident risk.

Chart of blood alcohol percentage estimated by weight and number of drinks

Image Credit: U.S. Coast Guard Boating

Drinking alcohol also deteriorates cognitive abilities and judgment, which makes it harder to process information, assess situations, and make good choices. Balance and coordination are impaired, and reaction time increased. Alcohol also causes decreased peripheral and night vision as well as depth perception and makes it harder to distinguish colors, particularly the all-important red and green of boat navigation lights and aids to navigation. An extra risk factor: Most boaters don't have the benefit of operating a boat every day as they do with the family car and are much less experienced driving a boat and less able to react appropriately and quickly to a potential accident.




Posted On: January 09, 2020

Destroyed flybridge caused by incorrect winterizing

Covering your boat in the winter benefits it by protecting gelcoat, preventing snow and ice accumulation, and keeping water from pooling on the decks. More frugal skippers seem to think that a few tarps stitched together with a spiderweb of lines qualify for winter duty.

In the first serious storm, these often end up shredded, and in their death throes they deposit large amounts of snow and ice into the boat they are supposed to be protecting. If you're going to cover the boat, use a custom cover or shrinkwrap it. But either way, make sure there's lots of ventilation to prevent mold from taking over down below.

If you do choose to shrinkwrap, think twice and even three times before doing it yourself. All it takes is a moment of inattention to ignite the shrinkwrap, and if the fire occurs inside the cover, it might not even be visible right away. Every fall we get several claims involving flaming shrinkwrap, often involving multiple boats. This is one job best left to the pros.




Posted On: January 07, 2020

Three-Bladed Versus Four-Bladed Props

Three blades versus four? Stainless versus aluminum?

Just some of the questions to consider when choosing a new prop.

You may have noticed four-bladed props on boats at a marina or boat show and thought, "I wonder what that would do for my boat?" I often recommend a four-bladed prop to boat owners who enjoy tubing, water-skiing, and family outings. Four-bladed propellers have many benefits, including giving the boat more torque at the low end and in the mid-range, which is ideal for water-skiing and tubing. They also get the boat to plane quicker. That extra blade is pushing more water, making the boat get up and go. You may trade off a bit of efficiency due to increased drag, but you'll also get better bite for low-speed maneuvering as well.

Stainless Steel Versus Aluminum

Customers always ask about the differences between stainless-steel and aluminum propellers. Aluminum is a softer metal, so aluminum props have less ability to endure the pressure and demands of higher-horsepower, higher-torque motors. They break more easily, but they're relatively inexpensive and cost-effectively repairable. A stainless-steel prop lends itself to having a more customizable shape. If you look at the number of different stainless-steel props that are available, you'll see that they come in many different shapes and sizes. So if your boat can't turn up to its rated rpm, or you're not happy with another aspect of its performance, look into a different prop.



Posted On: January 02, 2020

New Year. New beginnings. New start. New chapter. New Resolutions. This is what the first few days of a new year represents,at least on the surface.

January often is a chance to reflect and make some changes and many of us write out goals and resolutions. I’ve preferred for many years now to choose a word rather than make resolutions because resolutions don’t seem to work for me.

I don’t know who started the trend but choosing a “one word” has caught on like fire and it has given purpose and direction for those of us who have abandoned the resolution making.

My one word has become not just a theme for the year but also a pilgrimage.

It challenges my comfort zone and challenges me at the same time. I’ve made the decision to go with it because it won’t go away and when I pray it pops up over and over.

The word is DARE!

I have many new ventures ahead and am not sure all what or how my one word will hold up, but I am trusting that this is the word that will sustain my spirit.

As I dare…

to live purposefully.

to grow spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically

to equip and empower others.

to share vision and not fear change

to live in humility and appreciate what I have

to judge less and give more

to forgive and be fair

to love well

and that I would trust to dare to so much more.



Posted On: December 31, 2019

There are hundreds of good luck rituals woven among New Year celebrations, also practiced in the name of exercising a little control over fate.

The Dutch, for whom the circle is a symbol of success, eat donuts.

Greeks bake special Vassilopitta cake with a coin inside, bestowing good luck in the coming year on whoever finds it in his or her slice.

Fireworks on New Year's Eve started in China millennia ago as a way to chase off evil spirits.

The Japanese hold New Year’s Bonenkai, or "forget-the-year parties," to bid farewell to the problems and concerns of the past year and prepare for a better new one

. Disagreements and misunderstandings between people are supposed to be resolved, and grudges set aside. In a New Year’s ritual for many cultures, houses are scrubbed to sweep out the bad vibes and make room for better ones.

Resolutions to give us the pretense of control over the future.

Everywhere, New Year's is a moment to consider our weaknesses and how we might reduce the vulnerabilities they pose—and to do something about the scary powerlessness that comes from thinking about the unsettling unknown of what lies ahead.

As common as these shared behaviors are across both history and culture, it’s fascinating to realize that the special ways that people note this unique passage of one day into the next are probably all manifestations of the human animal’s fundamental imperative for survival.

So, how do you reassure yourself against the scariest thing the future holds, the only sure thing that lies ahead, the inescapable reality that you will someday die? Pass the donuts, the Vassilopitta and the grapes, light the fireworks, and raise a glass to toast: "To survival!"