Blog September 2017


Posted On: September 29, 2017


The days are shorter now.....

If you are going to be out on the water at night, whether by chance or by choice, the minute the stars come out, the world looks very, very different. Your ability to  navigate home requires careful attention  and preparation is the key at night to get back without getting lost or banging into an underwater obstacle.

Here are a few common-sense rules to make it home safely:

Slow Down
Most state and local jurisdictions have lower nighttime speed limits — some as low as idle speed. It's a natural precaution, because familiar landmarks change or even disappear at night, making it easy to run off-course. Floating debris big enough to damage your boat are invisible on the black water's surface. Other boats' navigation lights can be difficult to discern from the backscatter of shore lights. To stay in control slow the pace.

Concentrate....Eliminate Distractions
Nighttime operation is usually a matter of reading subtle clues. This can be hard to do when cockpit lights compromise your night vision. Dim the interior lights and pop your head above the windshield to reduce reflections. Even a loud stereo can become a hazard. .

Be Careful With the High Beams
Some might think headlights are the answer. (If your boat has a built-in pair, they're actually "docking lights" intended for close-quarters maneuvering only.) Powerful forward-looking lights or swivel-mounted or handheld spotlights can be helpful, but they can also confuse other boaters by overpowering your navigation lights or blinding approaching captains. Use spotlights judiciously, and never shine them into the face of another boater

Use a Compass or GPS
Never make your trip into unfamiliar waters at night. During the day, make note of the compass direction from home port to a landmark. (say, you’re a waterfront restaurant.) When you return, it's an easy thing to add or subtract 180 degrees to get your reciprocal or return course. Most smart phones contain GPS and compasses.

Understand what things mean...Learn the Lights
Every boater should know the combinations of red, green and white lights that tell you whether a boat is coming or going, and in what general direction.

Light Show
Navigation lights are designed so that the only time you'll see both green and red together is when another boat is coming at you head-on (top). Otherwise, you'll see either a green or a red light (middle and bottom), if the boat is crossing your course, and a white light (stern), if the boat is moving away from you. A very simple rule to remember is that when you see red, stop. The other boater has the right of way.



Posted On: September 25, 2017

So you see the vessel you have been looking for, and low and behold, its a new baby! 

But the dealer is offering you a service contract?

Should you take it?

HERE ARE SOME facts to help you decide if buying a service contract makes sense for you.

Fact 1.

"Extended “warranties” you have to buy aren’t really warranties; they’re service contracts.

A true warranty offers broad coverage and has the weight of state and federal warranty laws behind it. Service contracts, on the other hand, are really insurance policies generally underwritten by third parties, not manufacturers, and are regulated as such in most states.

Fact 2.

Service contracts have limitations that true warranties don’t. A service contract may cover a broken  alternator ($650). But it probably won’t cover consequential damage (when one part causes another to be damaged), so it won’t pay if the alternator damages the engine control unit ($1,300), leaving an owner to pay the difference.

Fact 3.

Having a service contract won’t protect you from out-of-pocket expenses. Service contracts, like health-insurance policies, usually come with deductibles, often between $25 and $50 per incident. Many contracts don’t pay to remove the engine from the boat or have the boat hauled if it’s required for repairs, so there may be additional expenses for that.

Fact 4.

Most service contracts aren’t backed up by manufacturers. Third-party insurance companies usually write the contracts, and manufacturers and dealers typically won’t step in to help if there’s a problem. On the other hand, factory-backed programs have agreements with their dealers; the factory is ultimately responsible, so you should expect better service when there’s a problem.

Fact 5.

You may be paying for coverage you don’t need. If you buy a third-party service contract when you buy a new boat, it won’t apply during the manufacturer’s warranty. That means that if you buy a three-year contract on a boat with a one-year warranty, the contract may cover only the last two years. Many service contracts offer a nine-month to one-year window for signing on.

Fact 6.

Service contracts are usually moneymakers for dealers. Some contract plans administered by independent companies allow retailers to mark up contracts more than 100 percent over the actual cost they pay to the service-contract company. Don’t forget, though, that service-contract prices are a negotiable part of the sale.


Fact 7.

Independent service contracts require preauthorization before starting repairs. While that’s fair, some companies may require you to use their network of shops, just like healthcare PPOs, and there may not be a facility in your area. Manufacturer-backed service contracts usually perform more like warranties — simply bring in your engine for service, and the dealer takes care of all the paperwork and billing.

 Fact 8.

Most service contracts are transferable, for a fee. A new owner may need to pay a prorated amount of the contract. In that case, the seller may get a refund of the same amount, which can be used as part of the negotiations.

 Fact 9.

You may be able to cancel the contract within 30 days of buying a boat. Typically, you’ll pay a prorated amount plus a fee. Review the company’s contract to see how it works.


Most defects in new boats and engines show up within the warranty period, so spending money up front on a service contract may not make sense.




Posted On: September 22, 2017

After Hurricane Irma’s devastating strike, first thoughts went toward the well-being of those in the Florida Keys who lost homes, livelihoods, boats and possessions.

Then came more selfish thoughts: What about the hideaways, touristy spots, restaurants and resorts stretched throughout the chain of islands that belonged to all of us?

Thanks to the Florida Sentinel and Travel for the updates.

Green Parrot Bar, 601 Whitehead St., Key West, 305-294-6133 or


The popular hangout with live music that Ernest Hemingway once frequented is doing fine, said John Vagnoni, who operates the long-running bar with partner Pat Croce.


National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration satellite images taken after the storm seemed to confirm this, showing no structural damage to the bar’s roof or nearby trees.


The bar, Vagnoni said, is running on generator power, and sustained no flooding or structural damage. “We’re staying closed for business because there’s no clean water,” says Vagnoni, who evacuated to Sarasota to ride out Hurricane Irma and spent the night in a shelter. “There’s plenty of time to party later, when everyone is safe.”


Vagnoni said a longtime Green Parrot employee, Buco Pantellis, managed to rig a low-voltage landline inside the bar, which Conch residents have been using to let friends and family know they survived.


He said Pantellis’ improvised landline has, so far, drawn “lines of people around the block, 50-deep.” “[Buco] is a real MacGyver for stuff like this. We basically turned the bar into a relay station,” Vagnoni said. “It’s been a full-time job for somebody to man that phone.”


Vagnoni expects the bar will reopen “in a week or so,” after Key West’s water is “safe enough to make ice.”

No Name Pub, 30813 Watson Blvd, Big Pine Key, 305-872-9115 or


Owners of the historic No Name Pub on No Name Key believe the bar is "still standing" after Hurricane Irma, according to a Sept. 13 Facebook post.

Satellite imagery taken after the storm by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows trees toppled and a boat in the foliage across the street from this famous off-the-beaten-track pub, a former brothel and one of the oldest bars in the Keys (open since 1936), whose front sign reads, “You found it.”



Images appear to show the roof and structure undamaged, good news for a restaurant where the walls are covered with dollar bills left by patrons. Thousands of dollars – each embellished with names, initials, doodles and messages – have been stapled by visitors through the decades after they enjoy burgers, pizzas, local seafood and barbecue pork sandwiches.


Phone calls lead to a busy signal, and no updates from the pub have been posted to No Name’s Facebook and Instagram pages.


An update posted Sept. 14 on the pub’s website says, “Our site and online store is currently down. We have no electricity, no mail service, no cellular service, etc. Once we are able to access the Pub and assess the damages, we will be back online.”


Snappers Oceanfront Restaurant and Bar, 139 Seaside Ave., Key Largo, 305-852-5956 or


The longstanding Key Largo staple has been destroyed.

National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration satellite images taken after the storm show major debris at the oceanfront restaurant. The bar itself is in tatters — although the thatched room still stands — after a storm surge shoved it into the neighboring fence of a nearby business. Winds and storm surge also knocked down the restaurant’s boarded-up windows, leaving more water damage inside. There are also fallen palm trees in the parking lot, and the dock is also wrecked.


A CNN report on Monday, meanwhile, showed the full destruction of the Key Largo hot spot. Snappers later posted the clip on its website, featuring CNN anchor Bill Weir describing how the rubble had shaken him “unlike anything” he had seen “in 25 years of reporting and eight other hurricanes.” The bar is also selling T-shirts and soliciting donations to aid in relief.


Snappers’ website and Facebook page appeared to downplay the extent of the damage: “Snappers had a rowdy visitor called Irma who caused significant damage. Nothing we can't fix though so after the dust settles, our plan is to rebuild as quickly as possible, better than ever, and keep the party alive at your favorite Key Largo ocean front bar and restaurant! Stay tuned for updates. Be Good, Do Good!”



Posted On: September 18, 2017

How Much Boat Insurance Is Right For You?

The amount of boat insurance you need depends on a number of factors, including the boat’s value, motor size, age, and how you use it. For example, if you have a brand new high performance speed boat, you will need more coverage for bodily injury and property damage liability than if you buy a pleasure cruiser. If you are a commercial vessel, still more applies.

Insurance professionals recommend buying at least $1,000,000 in liability insurance, and even more if you have a fast, powerful boat that is both riskier and can cause more damage, or a vessel you use commercially; such as a charter.

For uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage, a typical minimum is $10,000. However, the amount you purchase should reflect the potential injuries and damages you may need to cover if you or one of your passengers is seriously hurt, or your vessel is damaged.

Your other coverage amounts, including collision coverage and comprehensive coverage, should be based specifically on the value of your boat.



Posted On: September 15, 2017

According to an article in today's Wall Street Journal, it may take some time to get an insurance adjuster out to your place.

After Hurricane Irma, Florida residents are lacking in many necessities. One of the more frustrating is a scarcity of insurance adjusters, which is threatening to anger policyholders and potentially delay the state’s rebuilding efforts.

Many of the state’s adjusters—responsible for inspecting property damage and estimating the value of the loss—are 1,000 miles away, working on claims made after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

Insurers are scrambling to get more of the nation’s 57,000 independent adjusters to Florida, creating a bidding war and the promise of a record payday for those who are available. Some Florida home insurers have increased fees paid to adjusters by about 30%, insurers and adjusters say. In some cases adjusters can earn $30,000 for evaluating a single complex property claim.

While insurers are well prepared to respond to natural disasters, it is unusual to have two large catastrophes within days of each other, especially in densely populated areas of the U.S. where insurance coverage is broad compared with other parts of the world.



Posted On: September 11, 2017

After The Hurricane

As residents start to return home and think about recovering, the IBHS (Institute Business & Home Safety) offers the following safety guidelines and recovery resources.

Protect yourself. Always be careful when entering a damaged building. If there is serious structural damage, contact local officials before entering. Report downed power lines or gas leaks. Keep electricity turned off if the building has been flooded.

Protect your property. Take reasonable steps to protect your property from further damage. This could mean boarding up windows and salvaging undamaged items. Your insurance company can tell you what they will pay for regarding protection.

Report the loss as soon as possible. Contact your insurance agent or insurer as soon as you can. Provide a general description of the damage and have your policy number handy if possible. Write down the adjuster’s name, phone number and work schedule as soon as you have them.

Prepare a list. Keep damaged items or portions of them until the claim adjuster has visited, and consider photographing or videotaping the damage to document your claim. Prepare a list of damaged or lost items for your adjuster.

Keep receipts. If you need to relocate, keep records and receipts for all additional expenses. Most insurance policies cover emergency living arrangements.

Return claim forms. After your insurance company has been notified of your claim, they must send you the necessary claim forms within a certain number of days (time period varies by state). Fill out and return the forms as soon as possible. If you do not understand the process, be sure to ask questions and write down the explanation.

Cleanup. When starting the cleanup process, be careful, and use protective eyewear and gloves if available. Adjusters may tell business owners to hire a professional cleaning service.

Build stronger next time. When you’re ready to start repairs or rebuild, work with your contractor to make the new structure disaster-resistant.



Posted On: September 08, 2017

Don’t Be The Worst Marina Guest

I travel more than my fair share, and whether I'm at my dock or visiting a new port, these common sense tips will go a long way to keeping the peace.

Okay, so it’s nearing the end of summer cruising season, and boaters are looking to fit in one more trip away from home. A new port or marina means boaters should recognize that they have responsibilities as marina guests. Ignoring these responsibilities and you risk earning the ire of the locals and the scorn of management. Worst case you will be asked to leave.

What will get you in trouble?

Here you go:

You’re approaching the gate to your dock, and there they are. Workmen with toolboxes, families with ice chests and water toys, and other seemingly nice people waiting for someone with a key to let them in the marina. It’s awkward, annoying, and a pain. What do you do? You should tell the stranger where to find the marina office. Allowing strangers access is bad idea.

At the marina dock, keep the music volume reasonable, honor the marina’s posted quiet hours, and invite your neighbors to come aboard and make friends.

Poop ! That’s right – your dog’s poop is bad stuff. Just like oil, grease and other toxic chemicals, you don’t want bad bacteria leaching into the water we swim in. Don’t be the shunned as the “poopie” boater – clean up after Fido.

And finally, It goes without saying that being considerate of others, like not hogging dock carts, keeping docks clear, and following the safety rules will make you a welcome guest



Posted On: September 04, 2017


Despite its shifting strengths, Irma is expected by forecasters to be a very powerful storm. Previously, the National Hurricane Center has said models show Irma may grow into "an extremely dangerous category 4 hurricane."

In an advisory issued at 4 a.m. Sunday, the hurricane center warming seas and moistening skies should allow Irma to strengthen over the next 72 hours, with "a park in intensity" possible on Tuesday.

Where Irma may go

In its 4 a.m. advisory, the Hurricane Center said Irma was "likely to continue" following its west-southwest trajectory over the next 36 hours. Then, modeling shows Irma turning northwest.

Why Irma's path is uncertain

When Irma makes that turn northwest could mean the difference between peeling away into the Atlantic Ocean, or taking aim at land masses in the Caribbean and on the U.S. East Coast. Jeff Weber, a meteorologist at the University Corp. for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, said Friday that Irma was tracking along the bottom of a high-pressure zone known as the "Bermuda high."

Irma's ultimate path appears dependent on how long the Bermuda high keeps the storm to the south before allowing Irma to veer northwest, Weber said Friday. And how long the Bermuda high holds its position appears dependent on how the high interacts with a jet stream issuing from the Pacific Ocean and steering east across the top of North America.