Blog August 2017


Posted On: August 28, 2017

Marine terminology may sound like old, archaic jargon to some, but there are good reasons why it's important to use the right words aboard a boat.

 Say What?

Let's start with the most important four terms.

The front of a boat is called the "bow," and the back is the "stern."

"Starboard" refers to what is the right side of the boat if you're facing the bow; "port" refers to what is the left side if you're facing the bow. (To remember this, note that "port" and "left" each have four letters.)

So why don't we just say front, back, left, and right?

The answer is that the starboard side is ALWAYS the starboard side, no matter which way you, or anyone else, is facing on board. This is important. Imagine that you're on a boat and the captain asks you to quickly put fenders over the right side. If you were facing one another, would that be your right or his? Or imagine it's getting dark, or heavy weather is upon you, and you can't see which way people are facing on the boat. Saying "It's to your left!" or "Look to the right!" would make no sense to anyone and would create confusion that could threaten the crew and boat. If someone yells, "Man overboard! Port side!" clear directions and the use of accurate terms could mean the difference between locating, or losing sight of, a victim.

"Gunwale" (pronounced GUNN-ell) is the edge of the boat where the hull meets the deck; the name is derived from the lip at the edge of the deck that at one time prevented cannons from sliding into the sea as the ship rolled. The toilet on a boat is called the "head," which gets its name from its traditional location in the head, or forepart, of the ship. Cabins and other compartments within the boat are divided from each other by "bulkheads" (walls), which are vertical partitions between the cabin "sole" (floor) and the underside of the deck that provide structural stability to the boat's design.



Posted On: August 25, 2017


First, DO You Have The Right Boat?

Its enviable, and always a great trip if you are prepared. If sailing from this area, count on a number of factors influencing your trip. But as a starter, do you have the boat equipped for the journey.

 The size of your boat depends in part on what's going to be comfortable for you on the trip that you plan, how carefully you'll pick good traveling weather (trust me better be very carefully), and your willingness to lay over when the weather isn't good or is forecast to change for the worse. Your boat must be large enough and built well enough to handle open ocean during times when the wind and sea come up. The boat also must be large enough and heavy enough to safely carry the equipment and supplies you'll need for the trip you plan.

Boats built to make offshore fishing trips often make good Bahamas boats. Center consoles built for blue-water fishing are also popular for travels to the Bahamas. Most people prefer some cabin accommodations to give the option of anchoring out when they choose. This, in a good protected harbor, can be a highlight of any cruise.

Speed is an essential important factor. A boat traveling around six knots will require most of the day to get from a good east Florida departure point to a safe harbor in the western Bahamas. This isn't only because of the speed but because of the effect of the powerful northerly Gulf Stream current on a slow-speed displacement hull. This boat may need several days of good weather to reach the Hub of The Abacos, more to reach the northern Exumas. A boat traveling on plane at around 25 knots can reach the western islands of the Bahamas in a couple of hours and perhaps Marsh Harbor or Nassau in a day.

Although a faster boat allows you to maximize shorter weather windows, take care to allow extra time. If you require a weather window of more than several days, odds are that it will close on you toward the end.



Posted On: August 21, 2017

When A Squall Comes Calling

Fortunately, most afternoon thunderstorms last less than half an hour. But even a "routine" squall can turn threatening and scary when combined with mechanical failure. You might be able to make it to a protected anchorage before the squall arrives and then be on your way afterward with no drama. Or, you can employ several effective techniques to deal with oncoming threatening weather.

First, check your weather before going boating, even for a day. If you're heading out on a longer trip, especially on a boat you're not very familiar with, be extremely conservative weather-wise. If a front is predicted, or thunderstorms, assume there will be squalls parading around and wreaking havoc. Wait it out and take a lay day. If you do set out, have a backup plan for seeking shelter quickly along your route, vigilantly check the weather. Squall lines can often be seen on the horizon, giving you time to take evasive action. If everyone is wearing life jackets, that's one less thing to worry about when the weather pipes up. Once facing deteriorating weather, you've got three tried-and-true options, depending on how far offshore you are and what kind of boat you have.

First Option: Tuck And Hide

If it's clear you can make landfall before heavy weather hits, do it. Don't wait to see if things get better. They rarely do, especially if gear starts to break. Find a harbor of refuge, cove, marina, or at least a protective shoreline with good holding for anchoring. The best choice is one that limits the fetch of storm-driven waves and blocks the worst of the wind. Put out enough line to create a scope of at least 3:1, make sure your anchor has dug in, then let out additional line to create scope of at least 7:1 — more if you're on a rode that's mostly rope and have swinging room. Secure the wheel or tiller in the center of the boat to increase stability; don't let it spin around. If you hear thunder or see lightning, go below if possible and avoid touching metal. Put on your shoes, stay low but never lie down, unplug electronics, if possible. Lower antennas. Stay out of the water. Touching two metals at the same time completes the circuit, one way people are killed by lightning.

If there's no lightning but strong winds, and your engine is in good working order, the most experienced person can stay at the helm and motor forward into the wind just enough to take the pressure off the anchor; this helps you avoid dragging, until the squall passes. In a driving rain, the helmsman may want to don swim goggles to take the sting out and wear rubber gloves when touching the wheel. Remember, lightning is still a danger for at least half an hour after a squall passes.

Second Option: Hold Station

If anchoring isn't possible, motoring slowly into the wind and waves permits most boats (power and sail) to make a bit of headway, maintain control, and take waves over the bow, minimizing the chance of swamping. The size and design of a boat, the propulsion power available, the experience level of the crew, and the severity of the squall all have their part to play in how a squall is best handled. Powerboats with open bows, such as bowriders and center-consoles, are vulnerable to swamping, so take the waves at a 20- to 30-degree angle; make sure to keep the boat moving fast enough so that the bow lifts over the waves, but not so fast that it buries on the other side. To maintain control, you may need to throttle up on the wave face, then throttle back as the wave passes under you. In this way, you can jog slowly to windward, making minimal headway, until the squall has passed.

Many sailboat mainsails have only two reef points and, in many cases, even pulling down to the second reef still may prove too much sail in a strong squall. In this case, it may be best to take all the sail down and motor slowly to windward. If you're confident in the boat, then leaving a patch of sail up on a larger, well-ballasted sailboat and motorsailing at a 20- to 30-degree angle to the wind can steady the boat and minimize the amount of water coming aboard. In smaller, lighter sailboats, it's often best to drop all sail before the squall hits and motor slowly to windward; if the boat gets even a little sideways to the wind, you risk loss of control or even capsize.

Third Option: Heave To

Sailboats can heave to, which will all but stop the boat in a controlled way, an invaluable technique — like engaging a handbrake on a car — that can be used in a short squall so long as you have room around you. Reef and sheet in the mainsail and partially furl the headsail. Then tack the boat without releasing the jib sheet (which backwinds the jib), and secure the helm; this holds the boat with the bow 20 or 30 degrees off the wind. With the sails and rudder balanced against one another, the boat will steady itself and drift slowly downwind, usually at no more than 1 knot. Heaving to takes practice, and its effectiveness and the precise tactics depend upon your boat's design. To make sure you're ready to employ it when you need it, head out on a day with strong but steady winds and practice. Your maneuverability will be limited when hove to, so don't try it in a ship channel in poor visibility. 

BASED ON ARTICLE BY  By Beth A. Leonard, Bernadette Bernon and Michael Vatalaro FOR BOATUS



Posted On: August 18, 2017

Teak Care

Love teak?

Here's an article by Don Casey on keeping things looking good.

In clean air untreated teak weathers to an attractive ash gray, but where most boats live, the assault of modern-day air pollutants quickly turns bare teak nearly black. Scrubbing tends to leave behind an unattractive mottled look, neither golden nor gray. Most boat owners eventually find themselves unhappy with either look and decide that some treatment is essential.

If we want the natural beauty of the wood to show, we must apply a clear coating.


Before teak can be given any coating, it must be completely clean. Your expensive teak is literally dissolved by strong cleaners, so always use the mildest cleaner that does the job. A 75/25 mixture of liquid laundry detergent (such as Wisk) and chlorine bleach may be adequate, perhaps boosted with TSP (trisodium phosphate). Apply this mixture with a stiff brush, scrubbing lightly with the grain. Leave it on the wood for several minutes to give the detergent time to suspend the dirt and the bleach time to lighten the wood, then rinse the wood thoroughly, brushing it to clear the grain.

If the teak is still dark or stained when it dries, a cleaner with oxalic acid is required. This is the active ingredient in most single-part teak cleaners. Wet the teak and sprinkle on the cleaner. Spread it evenly with a Scotchbrite or bronze wool pad, then give it a few minutes to work. While the wood is still wet, scrub it with the Scotchbrite pad or bronze wool. (Never, ever, ever use steel wool aboard your boat--it will leave a trail of rust freckles that will be impossible to remove.) Oxalic acid will dull paint and fiberglass and damage anodized aluminum, so wet down surrounding surfaces before you start and keep them free of the cleaner. Rinse the scrubbed wood thoroughly--brushing is required--and let it dry completely.

Two-part teak cleaners are dramatically effective at restoring the color to soiled, stained, and neglected teak, but these formulations contain a strong acid--usually hydrochloric--and should only be used when gentler cleaning methods have failed. Wet the wood to be cleaned. The cleaner will dissolve natural bristles, so use a nylon brush to paint part one onto the wet wood. Avoid getting the cleaner onto adjoining surfaces. Remove the dissolved surface by scrubbing the wood with the grain with a stiff brush or a Scotchbrite pad.

Part two neutralizes the acid in part one, and it usually has some additional cleaning properties. Paint a sufficient amount of part two onto the teak to get a uniform color change, then scrub lightly. Flush away all traces of the cleaner and let the wood dry.


Oiling teak on boats is a time-honored tradition. Oil intensifies the colors and grain patterns of wood and gives the wood a rich, warm appearance. Because it simply enhances the inherent beauty of the wood--more like salt than sauce--oiling is arguably the most attractive of all wood finishes, and it restores some of the teak's natural oils and resins. Unfortunately, the benefit of oiling exterior teak is extremely transitory. The sorry truth is that teak will last just as long if you don't oil it--longer really, since repeated between-coat scrubbing wears the wood away. But oiling teak isn't about protecting the wood; it's about recovering and maintaining that golden glow that made us want teak on the boat in the first place.

Teak oils are primarily either linseed oil or tung oil, bolstered by resins to make them more durable. Linseed oil tends to darken the teak, but it is significantly cheaper. Tung oil doesn't darken the wood, and it is more water resistant than linseed oil--a notable advantage for boat use. However, a month or two after application, it may be hard to discern that much difference since both oils carbonize in the sun and turn dark. Proprietary teak oils address this problem with various additives, including pigments, UV filters, and mildew retardants. Some that perform admirably in one climate are reviled in another. If you are going to oil your teak, make your teak oil selection based on the recommendations of other boatowners in your area.

Apply teak oil with a paint brush. Immediately wipe up (with a spirits-dampened cloth) any drips or runs on fiberglass or painted surfaces, or the resins the oil contains will leave dark, nearly-impossible-to-remove stains. Watch out for sneaky runs below the rail.

Oiling requires multiple coats. The wood will initially "drink" the oil, and thinning the first coat about 20% with mineral spirits or turpentine encourages it to penetrate the wood more deeply. By the third coat, oil will begin to stand in some areas. Wipe up excess oil with a cloth. Continue to brush on the oil and wipe away any excess until the wood is saturated. The wood should have a matte finish without any shiny spots.



Posted On: August 14, 2017

Behind most successful used-boat transactions, there’s a Purchase Agreement and Bill of Sale that clearly spell out how the boat was bought or sold. While not perfect, this goes a long way to alleviate any misunderstandings.

“A Purchase Agreement is necessary if you intend to buy a boat, but require that certain things must be done before you will accept the boat, such as a satisfactory marine survey, specific repairs, and the ability to finance or insure the boat. It also describes both parties’ obligations. Once a buyer accepts the boat, the bill of sale is used as proof of purchase. You can get download forms online and print both forms 24-hours a day.

The two forms were designed to meet the needs of most buyers and sellers, but if you aren't sure you may want to seek legal advice if there are any questions about whether the forms are appropriate for their situation.



Posted On: August 11, 2017

 Bye-Bye, Summer Buzzkills!

We picture summers as non-stop fun, but bothersome joy-spoilers are everywhere. Nothing wrecks a day like a tossing deck, floating creature, swarming insect, broiling sun, or proliferating bacteria. However, we know simple ways to ease the summer blues… and reds… and greens.

Bug Bites

Make your own repellent with oils (such as citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, or catnip) or buy a commercial bug spray (though many experts advocate for DEET, we’re not fond of it for many reasons, including that it lowers the effectiveness of sunscreen). Wear light-colored, long-sleeve shirts and long pants. And for an extra measure of protection, serve foods made with lots of garlic!

Should a biting bug get through anyway, treatment depends on the wound (and if there’s a stinger left behind). In general, wash the area and stop swelling by holding ice cubes or an ice pack against the bite for up to 15 minutes. Then apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream or anti-itch lotion. Other remedies include a paste of water-moistened baking soda, salt, meat tenderizer, or crushed aspirin (adults only) over the dampened area.


When you bang into something (or vice versa), apply ice immediately. If the skin is broken, cover with gauze. Elevate the area whenever possible and don’t put weight or pressure on the spot.


Rest and drink water with a pinch of salt. Once you’re feeling better, keep drinking water.

Jellyfish Stings

The best prevention is to avoid going in the water or wear protective gear if you do go in. If you’re stung, treat immediately by rinsing with sea water before coming back aboard. If there are tentacles in the bitten area, use a stiff piece of cardboard or a credit card to rub them up and out. Then apply vinegar or isopropyl alcohol to neutralize the toxins (we hear cola works in a pinch). You may also take an oral antihistamine or apply a cortisone ointment.

Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac

The best treatment is complete avoidance, so familiarize yourself with the plants you should never touch before you leave the boat to explore the shore. If contact was made with the leaves, remove and bag up any clothing that may have made contact and rinse the area with cool water and soap (some swear by apple cider vinegar) but don’t spread the rash-producing oil around. Ice the area and then apply cortisone cream, calamine lotion, aloe gel, a banana peel, or a mashed-up cucumber. Do not rub on an antihistamine cream.


Those who are prone to motion sickness should start treatment before heading out for the day. Pick up an over-the-counter antihistamine, get a prescription for a pill or a behind-the-ear patch, stock up on ginger capsules (soda, snaps, or tea help, too), and/or acupressure bands that block nausea. Wear, take, and nibble on whatever you need to keep queasiness at bay.

If seasickness strikes while underway, position yourself outside towards the middle of the boat (a breezy, shady spot is best). Breathe deeply and either close your eyes or fix your gaze on a specific spot on the horizon. Slowly sip a cool drink to avoid dehydration.


You knew you shouldn’t finish a sandwich you started two hours ago, after you left it on the deck to go swimming and then take a nap. But you did, and now you’re in distress. Sit up, breathe deeply, apply a warm compress, take an over-the-counter stomach-soothing medication, or drink peppermint tea or water with lemon either iced or warm.


Treatment won’t be necessary if you take steps to prevent skin damage before you leave home. It’s unwise to wait to apply sunscreen until you leave the dock — you’ve already been exposed to harmful rays while in the car,  walking to the boat or riding the launch, and loading on supplies. Apply sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher before you get dressed, and once you’re outside, reapply at least every two hours (more often if you get wet). If you miss a spot and become sunburned, apply a soft cloth soaked in cool water, vinegar, whole milk, or unsweetened green tea to the affected area. Relief can also come from aloe vera gel, an over-the-counter cortisone cream, or one containing menthol or camphor. Place raw cucumber or potato slices over your well-done areas or mash up some strawberries and rub them in. A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen may also ease some of the swelling and pain.

Sun Sensitivity and Heat Rash

Certain medications and treatments can cause sun sensitivity and rashes. Tell your prescribing doctor or pharmacist about your boating plans or look at the warning label on over-the-counter treatments. If there’s a risk, apply sunscreen, wear sun-resistant clothing, and remain in the shade. If you suffer a mild reaction, apply cool compresses and then let your skin air dry.

Ensure that the mouth and nasal passages are clear. Swallow cool water slowly and nibble on bland food as tolerated. Follow tips for seasickness and stomachache.



Posted On: August 07, 2017

Nothing beats a day at the beach — except perhaps a day at the beach when you arrive by boat.

So it's understandable that many new boat owners want to beach their boat when it's time to go swimming. I strongly advise to resist this urge.

While driving the boat into shore with the outboard or stern drive trimmed up is the simplest approach, leaving your boat bow to shore presents some drawbacks.

  To address the issue, I refer to an article written by Michael Vatalaro who is executive editor of BoatUS Magazine. The article was originally published in 2014 but still holds true today.

First, it's easy to get stuck. A falling tide, wind, or waves pushing onshore — or even a large wake from a passing boat — can easily leave you high and dry, and a quick survey of Internet boating forums shows that's a common occurrence. Second, even if that passing wake doesn't push the boat ashore, it can swamp the boat, riding up and over the transom, which — depending on how far up the beach you left your boat — may be lower in the water than usual. Even if you deploy a stern anchor to keep the boat from being pushed out of position, you can't eliminate the possibility of stranding or swamping.

It takes a bit more effort, but anchoring your boat just off the beach, bow out, can prevent these problems and offer easier access to and from the boat via the stern.

Follow these steps:

1. Remove your anchor from the bow locker and carry it to the stern of the boat, making ure you pass the rode outside the stanchions and under the bow rail before heading to the back of the boat. Keep the other end of the rode attached to the boat.

2. You'll want to set your anchor with enough scope to hold, but not so much that the boat swings into very shallow water. It may take a few tries to find the sweet spot at a particular beach.

3. With the engine in neutral, have a crew member lower the anchor over the side at the stern. When it has touched bottom, motor extremely slowly toward the beach as your crew pays the anchor rode out carefully, keeping it away from the prop(s).

4. Continue very slowly into shore as you would normally, cutting the engine and trimming up in plenty of time before the bow nuzzles gently into the sand, where you'll stay temporarily

5. Unload your crew and gear over the bow. This includes a second stern anchor or sand spike for the beach and line. After securing that second line to an aft cleat, have a crew member walk that second anchor (or spike) toward the beach and set it securely.

6. With your crew ashore and the engine(s) remaining trimmed up, pull the boat back into deeper water using the bow anchor rode until you're satisfied that the stern is well clear of the bottom.

(It may help to get a little shove off the sand from someone ashore.) If using a stern anchor, be sure the line is flaked out to run free.

7. When you're a short distance off the beach, snub off your anchor rode at the bow, and pull your stern line so that you get enough tension to hold the boat in place. I like the water to be at least waist deep at the stern. That way, when I put out the boarding ladder, I don't have to worry about it striking bottom if a big wake comes ashore.

8. When it's time to leave, go out to the boat, climb aboard, pay out a little more scope on the bow anchor rode, pull in some of the stern anchor rode, then have the rest of your crew wade out to the boat and climb aboard. One of your crew can pick up the stern anchor or spike. Next, bring all the stern rode back into the boat and make sure it's coiled and secured in the cockpit. Don't forget to pull up the boarding ladder. Then, with your bow anchor rode, pull the boat back to deeper water until it's safe to lower your engines and fire them up. With the engines in neutral or in idle forward, if needed, pull in the rode and bow anchor, and you're away. 



Posted On: August 04, 2017

Company's Coming" – Understanding Your Legal Liability to Guests

When a guest steps aboard, the typical boat owner is more likely to be thinking more about having lunch or getting underway than worrying about his legal duties and responsibilities as "Master" of the vessel. But if that guest were to stumble and be injured, you can bet the boat owner would quickly ponder what, if anything, could have been done to have prevented the injury and, heaven forbid, whether he might be liable.

The question of liability is both simple and complex, steeped in more than 3,000 years of maritime legal principles dating back to the Phoenicians. Admiralty law, like land-based legal concepts, starts with the premise that a property owner owes his invited guest a duty to exercise ordinary or reasonable care for the safety of the guest.

Deciding just what constitutes reasonable care can be especially complicated on a boat, which is bobbing, slippery and filled with obstructions. It has a great deal to do with the experience of the boat owner and the boating experience of the passenger and whether the boat owner had or should have had knowledge or notice of some dangerous condition. Additionally, it may depend on whether the owner knew or should have known his guest was unaware of or unfamiliar with the condition.

The duty to exercise reasonable care is rooted in the duty to provide a reasonably safe boat for the invited guest. This does not require that the boat be accident proof. Under the law, the applicable standard of care requires the boat owner to provide a boat that is reasonably safe, not one that is absolutely safe.

A guest also has some responsibility - a duty to exercise care for his or her own safety. A guest cannot simply walk blindly about the boat. But reasonable care does mean that you may be held accountable if you fail to warn a guest, for example, about a ladder you know is unstable.