Blog October 2018


Posted On: October 29, 2018

Few boat topics are as likely to generate strong opinions — and colorful language — as anchoring. Volumes have been written on how to anchor and which anchor works best. But to hear some of the comments at the dock, there's precious little written about the etiquette of anchoring.

Come In Slowly

Anchoring is kind of like moving into a new neighborhood. You want to make a good first impression so your new neighbors will invite you over for a drink and not call the local water police. Wakes are a no-no in any anchorage, so you want to come in very slowly and stately (plus it gives you more time to scope out the place and decide who you want for your temporary neighbor). If you come in fast enough to overturn somebody's lunch, you'll likely end up an outcast and probably get an earful.

When you're weaving your way through an anchorage, pass behind anchored boats; it's nerve-wracking to see someone passing right over where you know your anchor line is. Also, if you come in at night, try not to blind your fellow boaters with a million-watt spotlight, ruining their night vision. Keep the light aimed low, have all your own deck lights on, and keep your voices low and clear.

The First Boat Sets The Precedent

While there are no laws addressing priority, anchoring is traditionally on a first-come, first-served basis. If there are lots of boats already there, your position is low man on the totem pole. Really, all that means is that boats that come in later need to respect the space needs and the 360-degree swinging room (with rode stretched out) of all the other boats there. If you were the first one in, congratulations, you're king for the day. If you arrive later, don't anchor too close to other boats, or in their swing radius.

It's perfectly OK — in fact it's preferred — to talk to your potential neighbors, whether a new boat coming in or already anchored. If you're gliding by looking to anchor near a boat and the owner is in the cockpit, compliment their boat and ask if they're OK with where you plan to anchor. Ask them where their anchor is and how much scope they have out. Perhaps ask about the bottom. Some are good and some are bad for holding. Don't be surprised (or offended) if they're not OK with your plan for whatever reason. Everyone has his or her own social limits. Plus, there may be important issues at play: they might have multiple anchors out; there may be shallows or obstructions nearby; they could have engine trouble, meaning they may appreciate a little extra room "just in case;" or maybe your neighbor is waiting for another boat to raft up with them. So just say thanks, let it go, and move on to the next potential spot.

Once The Hook Is Down, Don't Just Hop In The Dinghy

Nothing screams newbie louder than tossing an anchor over and leaving before your boat has settled back with the wind and really "set" its hook. An anchor has to grab the bottom, dig in, and set to really hold, which usually entails letting out enough scope (5-to-1 rode to depth, measured from your anchor roller to the bottom), backing down on it slowly until it hooks the bottom, and then more strongly to dig its flukes in until it's clear the boat will remain in place. Even after whatever tactic you use to set it, you should still see how it does before you leave.

Conversely, don't put out more than 5-to-1 scope unless it's really needed; otherwise you will swing over on top of another boat if the wind should shift. If everyone uses this same 5-to-1 ratio, an anchorage of boats should swing around together if they have similar bottom and windage characteristics. Always drop your hook behind the stern of a neighbor's boat, never alongside it; this ensures that you'll both swing in your own circles.

The wind may be nothing now, but when that little dark cloud on the horizon starts growing and getting closer, not only the strength, but the direction of the wind will probably change. If you're ashore with a poorly set anchor, you may be the one responsible for the slow-motion boat-sized pinball game that ensues. Not cool, and you're sure to create damage to your boat and others.



Posted On: October 26, 2018


Beyond Bellows

While you are inspecting your bellows, take a little time to look over your prop as well.

Any visible damage?

Any signs of fishing line down there?

Fishing line can damage the seals that hold the gear oil in the sterndrive housing. Monofilament line can even reach the melting point when wrapped around a revolving propeller shaft.

Photo of fishing line

Fishing line wrapped around the propshaft can cause the lower unit seal to fail, allowing water to contaminate the oil, which can destroy the unit. (Photo: Doug Alling)

If line is discovered, removal of the prop may be necessary to disentangle it. Take a look at the seal that is just forward of the prop and look for any signs of leaking oil. Then, take a look at the gear oil itself.

Is the level OK? If the oil has a milky white appearance, water has entered the sterndrive and the oil will have to be replaced.

Remember, refilling your sterndrive oil is counterintuitive.

New oil must be pumped UP into the sterndrive. Never refill from the top oil port or vent hole.

If you are concerned about the integrity of your oil seals, your mechanic has a simple method of checking them by vacuum or pressure.

As you run down the list of recommendations your sterndrive manufacturer has outlined for annual maintenance, you'll note that you should be lubricating some important moving parts. Don't overlook the prop shaft, U-joint shaft splines, and steering system cables. One grease gun may not cover the needs of these different applications. Check your owner's manual for recommendations.

If your boat spends much of its time in saltwater, corrosion of the sterndrive becomes a concern. Manufacturers install sacrificial anodes that are designed for your boat's sterndrive and protect the aluminum housing from corrosion. Monitor them closely and replace them when they become half wasted. How often that is depends on the amount of time the boat spends in the water. Check your motor's manual for the location of all of the anodes because some are cleverly hidden, such as under the cavitation plate just above your propeller.

Photo of anode that needs replacement

This anode is past due for replacement. Without proper anodes, an outdrive will quickly corrode. (Photo: Doug Alling)

Replacement with aluminum anodes is recommended. Magnesium anodes should only be used if your boat lives in clean fresh water all of the time. Remember that anodes should never be painted. Mercury Marine has gone the extra yard and in some sterndrives has installed the MerCathode system. This is an active or "impressed" system that actually delivers a small electric current to the sterndrive to counteract corrosion on the unit. The MerCathode derives its power from your boat's battery so, to be effective, your battery has to be charged, and all wires and connections have to be sound. Again, your mechanic should have a simple test to ensure that your Mercathode system is working properly.

Not only should you keep the paint brush away from your sterndrive's anodes, you should steer clear of getting too close to the sterndrive itself. Most bottom paints contain copper and most sterndrives are constructed of aluminum. These two dissimilar metals do not cohabitate well and underwater can turn into a battery of sorts that can lead to corrosion issues. It's important to keep the copper in your bottom paint away from the aluminum in your sterndrive. So, when painting the boat's transom, keep an unpainted area around your sterndrive. Most recommendations are for about one-and-a -half inches of unpainted surface. Use a copper-free, drive-specific paint, such as West Marine's Antifouling Outdrive Spray paint, if the boat is kept in the water full time.

Photo of cracked lower unit housing

This lower unit cracked over winter when trapped water froze and expanded.
Check for milky oil in the unit before laying up for winter. (Photo: Doug Alling)

And finally, when it comes to storing your sterndrive, it's important to prevent water from entering the exhaust hub of the propeller. Openings that are designed to let the exhaust out can also allow rainwater and snowmelt in. Water will accumulate in the unit's housing if the drive is stored in the "up" position. In cold weather, any accumulated water in the sterndrive can freeze and, under the right conditions, ice may expand and crack the housing. When putting your boat away for the season, store the sterndrive in the "down" position or use a sturdy, waterproof cover over the prop to prevent water accumulation in the housing.



Posted On: October 22, 2018

The Care And Feeding Of Sterndrives

Here's an article by Doug Alling on caring for your sterndrive. Good Reading!!

Keeping your sterndrive in tip-top shape will add years to its life — and help to keep your boat afloat.

Photo of Volvo DP-3 sterndriveGiving your sterndrive some attention now can prevent major problems later. (Photo: Volvo Penta)

Sterndrives were first commercially introduced in the early 1960s, and came to dominate the boat propulsion market in short order. The biggest names in the sterndrive game today are Mercury and Volvo with thousands of older Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) drives still in use but no longer being produced.

When you power up your engine and pull away from the dock, you set in motion a lot of activity at the stern of your boat. You push the throttle, engaging the prop. Power from your engine is transferred to the sterndrive via the drive shaft. Exhaust is pushed from the engine and exits at your prop. All of these functions start inside your boat and end at the sterndrive and require holes through the transom of your boat, at or below the waterline. Three to be exact: One for the throttle cable, one for the drive shaft, and one for the exhaust. And there's only one thing that keeps the water outside the boat from entering those openings — the sterndrive's bellows, those black corrugated rubber things that are clamped to the boat's transom and sterndrive in a place that makes them really hard to see. Perhaps the old saying, "out of sight, out of mind," is why bellows become such a big issue when it comes to sinkings. Take away the biggest and most obvious cause of boat sinkings at the dock — hurricanes — what do you think comes in second place? If you guessed sterndrive bellows failures, take a bow.

Photo of a corroded sterndrive

Ignoring your sterndrive now can cost you money and down time next season.

Take a moment to think about the environment that bellows operate in and the work they are tasked to do. They are exposed to hot and cold, wet and dry, vibration, UV, and marine life (sharp barnacles), and through all that they are expected to stretch, expand, and contract as you tilt and steer your sterndrive. Bellows will wear out — and when they do, they can easily let enough water into the boat to sink it. To keep your sterndrive-powered boat afloat, bellows require inspection and maintenance on a regular basis.

Bellows Inspection And Maintenance

Inspection of the bellows can be accomplished while the boat is out of the water — on a lift, a work stand at the marina, or on its trailer. Keep safety in mind while doing this! Make sure the boat is properly supported and if on the trailer, chock the trailer tires. It is good practice to make sure that there's no way the engine can be started while you are performing your inspection by disconnecting the batteries. The inspection area is tight and will require moving the sterndrive from one position to another — port and starboard, up and down — to access as much of the bellows as possible. The inspection is as simple as taking a close look (a flashlight is required) at the condition of the rubber bellows and their clamps. Are there any obvious signs of cracking? Is the rubber becoming brittle? Is there any rust showing on the bellows? Do the stainless steel clamps show any signs of corrosion? If you spot any marine growth (barnacles, mussels, or the like), they have got to go. Barnacles and broken shells can be razor sharp and your rubber bellows won't stand a chance against them.

Photo of marine growth on bellows

Marine growth can be razor sharp and slice open bellows, allowing water into
the boat. Inspect bellows frequently throughout the season. (Photo: Doug Alling)

That's what to look for outside of the boat. Inside the boat, look for any water tracks at the transom pass-throughs and standing water in the bilge. If your bilge pump has been cycling on and off, it's time to inspect the bellows. OK, we've done our inspection and things look good, but keep in mind that all manufacturers have a recommended replacement schedule for your sterndrive bellows. You will most likely find it in your owner's manual and you should adhere to it. If you are unsure or can't find the information, a call to the manufacturer's customer service center is in order. I have dealt with both Mercury and Volvo in this regard and both manufacturers have been very responsive. Even if your bellows inspection shows good results, the manufacturer knows best when it comes to keeping them in tip-top shape and how often they should be changed. Most manufacturers agree that a 5-year-old bellows is living on borrowed time. Not replacing it is inviting water into your boat.

If you poke around the Web, you'll undoubtedly find videos posted on how to change out your exhaust bellows while the sterndrive is still attached to the boat. It can be done — with really small hands and the right tools. But the exhaust bellows is the only one that can be changed while the sterndrive is attached. The other two bellows contain the drive shaft and shift cable, and they can only be changed by removing the sterndrive from the boat and disconnecting those systems. Changing out the exhaust bellows alone goes against one of the first rules that a marine surveyor learns: If something breaks or wears out underwater (a bad cutless bearing, a bent rudder) and there are two or more of them, you must always check them ALL. If you are going to the trouble of changing the exhaust bellows, replace the other two, period.



Posted On: October 19, 2018

“Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog”

“Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing”

“For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and babble”

“Double, double, toil and trouble, Fire burn, and caldron bubble”
William Shakespeare

Witches and Warlocks have had a long history with Halloween. Legends tell of witches gathering twice a year when the seasons changed, on April 30 – the eve of May Day and the other was on the eve of October 31 – All Hallow’s Eve.


The witches would gather on these nights, arriving on broomsticks, to celebrate a party hosted by the devil. Superstitions told of witches casting spells on unsuspecting people, transform themselves into different forms and causing other magical mischief.


It was said that to meet a witch you had to put your clothes on wrong side out and you had to walk backwards on Halloween night. Then at midnight you would see a witch.


When the early settlers came to America, they brought along their belief in witches. In American the legends of witches spread and mixed with the beliefs of others, the Native Americans – who also believed in witches, and then later with the black magic beliefs of the African slaves.


The black cat has long been associated with witches. Many superstitions have evolved about cats. It was believed that witches could change into cats. Some people also believed that cats were the spirits of the dead.


One of the best known superstitions is that of the black cat. If a black cat was to cross your path you would have to turn around and go back because many people believe if you continued bad luck would strike you.



Posted On: October 15, 2018

Gas Hose Fail

The weather is changing. Hot one day, cool another. Still your not ready to store your boat away just yet. make sure you inspect your hoses.

On quick inspection, a gas-tank setup may look fine. But peer a little closer (see photo above) and you'll see that it's everything but fine. Where the hose makes a bend, it's cracked and a failure is imminent. This kind of hose failure can send gas into the bilge, where vapors can build up and then be ignited by the smallest spark.

The next time you're in your boat examining the fuel system, follow every hose and make sure there's nothing like this hiding around a dark corner. If you're not sure how old your fuel hoses are (manufacturers typically say 10 years is their useful life), they are marked with the year they are made.

If your hoses are more than 10 years old, they're due for replacement.

If they're not marked, it means they aren't Coast Guard-approved and should be replaced right away.



Posted On: October 12, 2018

So Fall is here and its’ time to think all things maintenance, including your attire.

Apart from the obvious, when you are out boating, if you wear shoes, chances are they are some form of boat shoes. Boat shoes can be worn in a variety of ways.  In everyday wear, they can replace your sneakers. One point on which there has been much-heated debate is whether they should be worn with or without socks. Boat shoes were originally meant to be worn without socks (for practically while boating) but in an urban setting, they can be worn with socks. However, most people do not wear them with socks, and this contentious issue is best left to your personal preferences and comfort since at the end of the day there is no right or wrong answer. If you are concerned that your bare feet will sweat too much, but you don’t like the look of socks, you may want to try a cotton insert.

So how should you care for them?

Like all shoes, boat shoes need to be taken care of, especially since they are often exposed to saltwater and the sun.

  1. To protect smooth leather from the elements, shine them with water-based cream shoe polish on a regular basis. It’s the stuff you find in glass jars, not tins.
  2. Avoid liquid and quick-drying polishes that contain alcohol or silicone.
  3. Keep them free of dirt, dust and salt deposits. Use a brush to do this as required.
  4. Suede boat shoes can be cleaned by sprinkling and massaging cornmeal onto the surface. Leave them overnight and then brush off the cornmeal. Use a brass bristle suede brush to realign the grain.
  5. Although some say your canvas boat shoes can be machine washed if they don’t contain any leather, I would not do it. Much better to hand wash them with soap because you may destroy inexpensive boat shoes in the washing machine.
  6. Dry your shoes at room temperature and avoid direct heat or sunlight to prevent them from drying out and developing cracks.
  7. Store them carefully, and use shoe trees to help retain their shape.
  8. Use a shoe horn to put them on and maintain the shape and structure of their backs.
  9. Keep a close eye on their soles and get them repaired when you see significant signs of wear and tear.
  10. One last handy tip — you can remove spots using a pencil eraser and a vinegar and water solution. If you have oil or fat spots, apply rubber cement, allow it to dry and then rub it off. Again, you do it at your own risk.


Posted On: October 08, 2018

Columbus mapped the coasts of Central America and South America but never set foot on North America, and died thinking he had discovered Asia. He ruled the Caribbean islands as viceroy and governor so brutally that, according to “Even his most ardent admirers acknowledge that Columbus was self-centered, ruthless, avaricious and a racist.”

Columbus has long been believed to have been born in Genoa, Italy, though some historians think he was born in Spain’s Catalonia region. He sailed for the Spanish crown, and his remains are in Spain. Italians in the United States have taken great pride in him and sponsor many of the celebrations held in his name each year to honor Italian American heritage.

The first Columbus Day celebration recorded in the United States was held in New York in 1792 to honor Italian American heritage and to mark Oct. 12, 1492, the day that Columbus and his ships first made landfall on an island in the Caribbean Sea.

In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison issued a proclamation encouraging Americans to mark the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage with patriotic festivities

In 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Congress, bowing to lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, an influential Catholic group that wanted a Catholic hero to be honored, proclaimed Oct. 12 to be Columbus Day, a national holiday. In 1971, the holiday date was changed to the second Monday in October

Here are some things to know about Columbus:

*He didn’t prove that the earth is round.

Kids in school have long been taught that when Columbus set sail in 1492 to find a new route to the East Indies, it was feared that he would fall off the edge of the earth because people thought the planet was flat. Nope. As early as the 6th century B.C., Pythagoras — later followed by Aristotle and Euclid — wrote about earth as a sphere, and historians say there is no doubt that the educated in Columbus’s day knew quite well that the earth was round.

*Columbus didn’t “discover” America.

During four trips that started with the one in 1492, Columbus landed on various Caribbean islands that are now the Bahamas, as well as the island later called Hispaniola. He also explored the Central American and South American coasts. But he didn’t reach North America, which, of course, was inhabited by Native Americans, and he never thought he had found a new continent.

The famous names of the ships he took on his famous 1492 trip across the Atlantic Ocean, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, probably weren’t really named Niña, Pinta and Santa Maria. The Santa Maria was also known at the time as La Gallega, meaning the Galician. The Niña is now believed to be a nickname for a ship originally called the Santa Clara, and the Pinta also was probably a nickname, though the ship’s real name isn’t clear.



Posted On: October 05, 2018

Unfortunately, after a bad storm or hurricane, there are always people affected in a negative way.

We are often asked what is the right way to recover property and if necessary, take steps to start the salvage process.

Here's some tips to assist boaters in recovering their vessels and starting the salvage process.

1. Get permission first. Never try to enter a storm-affected marina or boat storage facility without permission. Spilled fuel combined with the potential of downed electrical wires and a host of other hazards make them extremely dangerous places. Smoking is a big no-no. For your safety, never climb in or on boats that have piled up together or are dangling precariously from dock pilings or other obstructions.

2. Remove valuables. If your boat has washed ashore, remove as much equipment as possible and move it to a safe place to protect it from looters and vandals. It’s a good idea to put your name, telephone number, address and email somewhere conspicuously on the boat – along with a “No Trespassing” sign.

3. Minimize further damage. Protect your boat from further water damage resulting from exposure to the weather. This could include covering it with a tarp or boarding up broken windows or hatches. As soon as possible, start drying out the boat, either by taking advantage of sunny weather or using electric air handlers. All wet materials, such as cushions, must be removed and saved for a potential insurance claim. The storm may be gone, but the clock is ticking on mold growth.

4. “Pickle” wet machinery. Engines and other machinery that were submerged or have gotten wet should be “pickled” by flushing with freshwater and then filled with diesel fuel or kerosene.

5. Consult your insurance provider. If your boat is sunk or must be moved by a salvage company, we recommend that boat owners should not sign any salvage or wreck-removal contract without first getting approval from their insurance company. Proceeding without your insurer’s knowledge may jeopardize your coverage.