Blog June 2019

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KEEPING YOUR BOAT CLEAN

Posted On: June 28, 2019

Most boat owners like a clean vessel.

The trick is to get the cleaning and maintenance finished so you can maximize your time on the water.

Fresh Water & Woolite

Eisenglass (clear flexible vinyl) should not be cleaned with an ammonia-based glass cleaner because the ammonia breaks it down and will dry it out. The best approach is to wash eisenglass with fresh water, add some Woolite for a second wash, then rinse. Dry the eisenglass with a soft cotton or microfiber cloth and apply 210 Plastic Cleaner or Plexus for long-lasting protection.

Waterline Wars

Nothing's worse than leaving the boat ramp with a dingy waterline stain, but there's no reason to let that nasty stain linger. After hauling the boat, soak a sponge in vinegar and wipe down the water stains. Some will disappear immediately; usually what remains will be gone by the time you get home. Some stains require other products

Skin Deep

Surface rust can be taken off metal and fiberglass with a paste made of water and baking soda (50-50). Rust that's more than skin deep, however, requires a potent cleaner containing oxalic acid. Find several to choose from at West Marine. Always remember to thoroughly rinse it away after the rust disappears because the acid can damage metals and fiberglass if left on too long.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Use Rain-X on your boat's exterior glass. Once Rain-X is applied, the glass doesn't attract or retain hard water spots as easily, and unless in a downpour you  don't need to run the wipers because the water simply slips off the glass.

Tart Up Aluminum

Dissolve two tablespoons of cream of tartar in one quart of hot water, and use it as a polish with a soft cloth.

Preventive Maintenance

If you want a clean windshield when you arrive at the boat ramp after a long haul down the road, simply cover your windshield with a strip of plastic wrap before leaving home. Secure it well. When you arrive at the boat launch, peel the plastic wrap off and unavoidable bug splatters and road grime will peel away with it.

Cockroach Killer

Use equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar. The sugar attracts them and the baking soda kills them. Editors' Note: Cockroach hotels are another option.

Clean And Green

Save major cleaning jobs for when the boat is out of the water. When using cleaning products keep them near the center of the boat to reduce the chance of an overboard spill, and when performing bigger jobs on land, try to conduct the work as far from the water's edge as possible.

Don't Forget The Canvas

Every time you wash your boat with a soft deck brush, use the same brush and soap on the boat cover or other canvas, which will keep canvas clean for a long time.

Fog B Gone

When acrylic windscreens and opening ports become foggy looking from countless tiny scratches, buff them out with regular toothpaste (not gel). It has just the right amount of abrasives to buff out those scratches without making a bunch of new ones. All it takes is time, elbow grease, and lots of circular motion with a cotton rag. Try out on a small spot first.

Stain Magic

Magic Eraser, a Procter & Gamble Mr. Clean product, is a great tool to have on the boat. It gets rid of stubborn stains, skid marks, and streaks on just about any surface. I use a Magic Eraser pad for nonskid deck areas. You'll need to rinse your work area as you go; if it remains in contact with an area for an extended time, its "magic" will remove a waxed finish.

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BEATING THE HEAT

Posted On: June 24, 2019


Keep these signs of heat exhaustion in mind this summer to avoid health hazards

As the temperatures rise, they pose a threat to people who are unaware of heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is a condition that occurs when your body overheats, causing a variety of symptoms. As you and your family enjoy the summertime heat, it is important to remember these causes, symptoms and treatments of heat exhaustion to avoid a potentially life-threatening situation.

Causes

When the temperature rises in the summer, the body is made to cool itself in a variety of ways. The body’s main method of self-cooling is through sweating. As sweat evaporates, it allows your body temperature to stay regulated; when sweat production is unable to cool the body down enough, heat exhaustion sets in.

Heat exhaustion is typically seen in people exercising strenuously in hot weather. According to the Mayo Clinic, it can also be caused by dehydration, which reduces the amount of sweat that can be produced; alcohol use, which affects the body’s ability to change its temperature; and wearing too many clothes.

Symptoms

Symptoms of heat exhaustion can occur quickly or can develop overtime, depending on what is causing the heat exhaustion. Typically, though, the symptoms are easy to catch if the person is aware of what heat exhaustion is. The symptoms of heat exhaustion typically consist of the following:

Moist, cool skin with goose bumps
Faintness or dizziness
Heavy sweating
Fatigue
Weak, rapid pulse
Nausea or vomiting
Muscle cramps
Headache
If the person suffering from heat exhaustion has a high body temperature above 103°F, call 911 immediately. This high temperature means that the person is past the stage of heat exhaustion and is suffering from a heat stroke, which can be life threatening.

Treatments

The first step to treating someone with heat exhaustion is to call a doctor or medical professional. As the CDC points out, heat exhaustion can sometimes lead to the much more severe heat stroke illness, which is considered a medical emergency. It is important to have a medical professional determine whether or not the victim of heat exhaustion is in danger of developing heat stroke.

Once a doctor determines that the person is not developing heat stroke and is instead suffering from heat exhaustion, then move the person to a cooler location. This can be into an air-conditioned building or simply into the shade. Once there, apply cool, wet cloths to the person’s body and have them sip water. If vomiting occurs, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat exhaustion is easily preventable if you know the signs. Make sure to remember these warning signs of heat exhaustion as your family enjoys the summer weather. It can be a lifesaver.

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WHAT DEFINES A BOATING ACCIDENT

Posted On: June 21, 2019


BOATING ACCIDENTS

The United States Coast Guard defines a "boating accident" as one of the following three scenarios: (1) a boat passenger dies or becomes seriously injured; (2) a boat passenger disappears and death or injury is suspected; or (3) a vessel causes or sustains damage.

Boating accidents are therefore not limited to collisions, but may occur whenever a someone is killed, injured or disappears while boating.

Common Causes of Boating Accidents

A number of different factors commonly cause boating accidents:

  • Significantly, over one third of all boating accidents involve a driver who is under the influence of alcohol. All states have criminalized boating under the influence (BUI) and often impose heavy fines on or incarcerate those convicted of such an offense.
  • Severe weather, such as strong winds or heavy rains also cause boating accidents. Sailors may experience difficulty in properly navigating and avoiding collisions, or in keeping a boat upright and afloat under certain weather conditions. Furthermore, lightning strikes may electrocute passengers or damage the boat or on-board electrical equipment. Extreme exposure to sunlight may also cause boat passengers to suffer heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.
  • Boat engines produce toxic carbon monoxide, which may cause death or serious injury if passengers are exposed to high concentrations of the gas.
  • Finally, accidents often occur when inexperienced boaters encounter dangerous or unfamiliar conditions. Boating accidents may be reduced by following the safety guidelines set forth by the United States Coast Guard.

Accident Liability

Generally, persons are at fault for a boating accident if they act negligently. Persons acts negligently if they fail to conduct themselves as a reasonable person under similar circumstances. A reasonable boater would typically adhere to all safety rules and precautions and be mindful of passengers and other boaters. A jury determines whether the boater met the "reasonable person" standard.

Persons who cause a boating accident may incur civil liability, criminal liability, or both. Victims of a boating accident may sue another boater for property damage, medical expenses, and other losses they have incurred as a result of the incident. Additionally, the state may bring criminal charges against a boater if the driver caused an accident while intoxicated or operated their vessel recklessly or with gross negligence.

Accident Reports

The boat operator must file an accident report when a boating accident occurs that causes significant personal injury or property damage. The exact circumstances under which a report must be filed varies between states. The accident report must be submitted to either the applicable state agency regulating boats, the United States Coast Guard, or both. If personal injuries or death result from the accident, the report must be filed within 48 hours of the accident. If the accident caused only property damage, the report must be filed within 10 days of the accident. Failure to report the accident is a crime.

Boating Safety Regulations

Federal and state agencies regulated boating safety. The United States Coast Guard is the federal agency designated as the National Recreational Boating Safety Coordinator. The Coast Guard is authorized to regulate the safety standards of boats and boating related equipment. The Coast Guard strives to prevent and minimize the effects of recreational boating accidents.

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AVOIDING FUEL LEAKS

Posted On: June 17, 2019


The weather is nice, the SUMMER is approaching, so take a little time and make sure your time aboard your boat is safe.


Fuel Leaks

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you probably know that during last several years, ethanol has been added to gasoline. This can degrade older fuel lines much faster then anticipated. Even newer hoses don't have quite the same lifespan. Degraded fuel lines get brittle and will eventually leak — and a leaking fuel line is a disaster waiting to happen. If your hoses are more then ten years old (proper USCG-approved hoses are date-stamped when they were made), bend them, squeeze them, and see if they move or rotate on the fuel fittings. If so, they're loose enough to leak. Sometimes fuel hoses are accidentally stepped on and damaged during routine engine maintenance. Run your hand along the hose or use a clean white rag and see if you smell gasoline (or worse, see it). If so, replace the hose using approved fuel line. While there are different types for different purposes on a boat, I recommend using only USCG-approved A1-15 hose. This hose has passed rigorous testing and can withstand a 2.5-minute burn test, which is designed to be enough time to put out a fire or abandon ship before the hose begins leaking. Most fuel-line manufacturers suggest that their fuel lines should replaced every 10 to 15 years even if there are no indications of leaks or damage. Proper fuel-lines are marked as shown, below.

Other places gasoline can leak are where hoses connect to other fittings. Fuel-fill spuds, fuel-tank lines and gas-tank gaskets, as well as carburetor and fuel-pump fittings can leak. Use the clean dry-rag method for these areas too.

Preventing Ignition Fire

Gas fumes by themselves are relatively harmless. But the slightest spark can ignite the fumes with great power, enough to blow the deck off of a large boat or throw crew in the water. The other side of preventing explosions is to have no way to ignite gas fumes that may have built up. Any starters, alternators, or pumps — or any other electrical equipment — in your engine room or generator compartment must state that they are "Ignition Protected." Ignition protection is a standard that makes a product, such as a starter or alternator, safe to be installed in an environment that could become explosive. It means it won't spark, which is all that gas fumes need to ignite. Don't listen to the kid at the auto parts store who says auto and marine parts are all the same — they're not. It costs more to make marine ignition-protected parts, but they may just save your life. If you have any reservations about whether something is ignition protected, replace it. Some pumps that you might consider safe because they're installed on your boat are not necessarily ignition protected. Electric raw water pumps, for example, as well as some pumps used for pumping the bilge may not be ignition-protected. A previous owner could have installed a non-ignition-protected pump that could spark on startup. So check that all electrical parts that go on a gasoline engine (or in a gasoline engine space) have a label that says "Ignition Protected." Note: even power tools used in a gasoline engine space can cause a spark sufficient to cause an explosion! Don't take chances.


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FLOAT PLAN BASICS

Posted On: June 14, 2019


A float plan, is a pretty simple way to ensure the safety of everyone aboard your vessel, whether on a multi-day adventure or an afternoon outing. I know many of you will say its not necessary you aren’t going far and you will be where everyone can see you. But suppose you are on an ordinary getaway to your favorite destination; suddenly the fog rolls in, the engine dies, or the wind quits blowing. Or worse, your back goes out while you’re attempting to raise the anchor and you can’t move. You realize you have no cell phone reception. You are either literally or figuratively up the creek without a paddle. All those people who see you, won’t know you are in trouble; and no one will know where to look hours later.

 Whether temporarily stranded or in need of medical attention (when every second counts), you’ve increased the chances of a timely rescue because you shared your float plan with a family member, friend, or someone at the yacht club or marina. Once you fail to return at the time you assigned, the nautical wheels are set in motion to bring you back to port safe and sound.

A float plan may be as simple as a note saying, “I’m heading to Tranquil Cove today and expect to be back around 7:00 pm.” It can also be detailed — yet not very time consuming. There are templates available so you can fill in never-changing information including your boat type, length, color, and vessel name. Attach a photo of the boat and duplicate the semi-completed plan. Then you only have to jot down who’s aboard, the particular day’s destination, and an expected return time before handing it to a responsible person. Safety experts advise you not to leave the float plan on the dashboard of a car or a boatyard bulletin board, as someone with disreputable intentions will see how far away from home you’ll be and for how long.

The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has a mobile app with a float plan component among its safety features. Personal information is stored on the phone but not transmitted unless the user chooses to send it, so authorities are neither tracking you nor logging your location unless a need arises.

Occasionally a boater will confess that he or she never bothers with a float plan. The usual excuse is that they only boat in popular local areas where they’d be spotted in case of an emergency and rescued immediately. That may sound reasonable, but does a boat bobbing on the hook in a cove convey outward signs of distress while the skipper’s down below feeling woozy or in pain?

“I don’t want to bother — I just want to hitch my boat to the trailer and go!” is another excuse. What would a loved one say to the authorities if they eventually suspected you might be in trouble but had no idea how to narrow down the search area? Without helpful information to narrow the search, precious time ticks away (and the weather or your predicament may worsen) while the USCG issues a non-specific “missing mariner” notice to all rescue crafts, boaters, and volunteers.

Once you grasp all the things that might happen because you kept your boating plans hush-hush, we’re betting you’ll  spill the beans every time you head out (don’t forget to give your land lookout a heads up when you return to shore after a fun and safe day).

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WHAT YOU DO NEXT CAN SAVE LIVES

Posted On: June 10, 2019


What You Do Next Can Mean The Difference Between Life And Death

Came across this article, and as always, a great read at any time of the season.

It’s your worst nightmare. A fitting may have failed; perhaps you struck a deadhead; maybe you stuffed a wave, or chopped the throttles to avoid a collision, bringing aboard tons of green water. You are taking on water faster than the pumps can evacuate it. What do you do now?

Here are seven steps that form the basis of an action plan. They are ordered by priority, but if you have able and responsible crew that you trust, assign them to handle some of the tasks so things get done simultaneously. Time is of the essence.

Order crew to don life jackets. Also, grab the ditch bag that you assembled with key items like a personal locator beacon, waterproof handheld VHF and signal flares.

Order crew to don life jackets. Also, grab the ditch bag that you assembled with key items like a personal locator beacon, waterproof handheld VHF and signal flares.

Make a mayday call. Hail the Coast Guard on VHF Channel 16, providing your location, the number of souls aboard and the nature of your distress. Wait 10 seconds for a reply before repeating.

Find the leak. If a hose has burst, you may be able to close its seacock. You can also jam wadded clothing into a rudder, prop-shaft hole or crack in the hull. Wedge the wad with whatever is available — knives, fishing rod butts, etc.

Use crash pumps. Inboard and sterndrive owners may be able to disconnect the engine’s raw-water intake hose and use the engine as a crash pump. Drop it in the bilge and get a crew member to monitor the water level: As it drops, throttle back so as not to run dry and overheat. Some boats are fitted with so-called “safety seacock” adaptors, like Groco’s SSC series that provide a valve enabling you to switch between engine intake and bilge at will.

Trim to slow the flow. If the leak is on the starboard side, shift crew and gear to port. Even if the hole doesn’t clear the water, moving it higher slows the flow.

Head for shore. Intentionally grounding on a bar or beach may be better than sinking, if you can avoid jagged rocks or high surf.

Stay with the boat. Many boats will float capsized and make a bigger target for a helicopter. Climb aboard to stave off exposure. 

Have a plan in place.

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WAVE BASICS

Posted On: June 07, 2019

Understanding the Waves 

       

The first rule of waves, especially in the open ocean, is that there are no rules. Kind of a hypocritical statement considering the intent of this, but it is a cold hard fact. There are simple physical factors that makeup the "normal" wave, but within the forces of nature, there a myriad of other factors that need be considered. Regardless, an understanding of what makes a wave can be of considerable benefit  to the everyday sailor.

There are three factors that make up waves:

  • Wind speed Length of time the wind has blown
  • Distance of open water that the wind blows over; called fetch

All of these factors have to work together to create waves. The greater each of the variables in the equation, the greater the waves. Waves are measured by:

  • Height (from trough to crest) Length (from crest to crest) Steepness (angle between crest and trough)
  • Period (length of time between crests)


Waves are never created in one uniform height. Waves fall into a systemic pattern of varying size. Therefore, in order to classify wave height we determine the significant wave height, which is the average of the highest 1/3 of the waves in a system. This is how weather reports will specify wave height. Once you have the significant height, it is simple to determine the theoretical average height, the highest 10% and the highest wave sizes in a given area. Mathematically speaking, it's simple arithmetic based on predetermined ratios:

 

Average height

.64:1

Significant height

1:1

Highest 10%

1.29:1

Highest

1.87:1

TYPES OF WAVES

Waves take their time to develop; they don't spontaneously erupt from the ocean. It takes a certain speed of wind to blow over a certain distance for a considerable length of time to create lasting waves.

There are three different types of waves that develop over time:

  • Ripples
  • Seas
  • Swells

Ripples appear on smooth water when the wind is light, but if the wind dies, so do the ripples. Seas are created when the wind has blown for a while at a given velocity. They tend to last much longer, even after the wind has died. Swells are waves that have moved away from their area of origin and are unrelated to the local wind conditions -- in other words, seas that have lasted long beyond the wind.

The definition of swells can be a bit confusing when you understand that waves never actually go anywhere. The water does not travel along with the waves, only along with the current -- two mutually exclusive elements of water animation. If two people stand at either end of a long rope and undulate their arms up and down in an equal rhythm, waves will develop along the length of the rope that appear to move from one end to the other. The rope fibers aren't actually moving at all, other than up and down. This is exactly what is happening with waves. The speed, or velocity of the wave is measured by how long it would take a wave to pass a given point crest to crest -- say a line drawn on the ground beneath the rope. There is a slight movement of the water particles within a wave, Waves can be further described as:

  • Non-Breaking
  • Breaking

A non-breaking wave, is a "normal" rolling wave. A breaking wave is one who's base can no longer support it's top and it collapses. Depending on the size, this can happen with considerable force behind it -- 5 to 10 tons per square yard. Enough force to crush the hull of a ship. When the ratio of steepness of a wave is too great, it must break. This happens when a wave runs into shallow water, or when two wave systems oppose and combine forces

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BEACHING YOUR BOAT SAFELY

Posted On: June 03, 2019

How To Beach Your Boat
And Leave Again( Safely)

We get asked a lot of questions about beaching boats, especially when they get damaged. Beaching, rather than anchoring, to swim or go ashore can be a great way to temporarily secure your boat, if you do it the right way.

Found thIs article originally                                                                                      

  published By Michael Vatalaro in Summer 2013

 In many parts of the country, boaters gather on beaches and sandbars to swim and socialize. Beaching your boat to take part seems simple enough to do, but in order to make sure your boat is A) still there when you're ready to go, and B) still able to float at that time, it's important to take a few precautions.

Know Your Bottom

While most of the popular spots have sandy bottoms because it's comfortable for swimming, some places have soft mud or muck bottoms that can trap a boat in place, particularly on a falling tide.

Remember every beach is different, and just because you've done this 100 times at your local sandy shore, it doesn't mean the one three miles downwind is the same. Stay alert to the terrain, waves, and weather, and act appropriately, including abandoning the plan and putting out an anchor, or moving on somewhere else if your gut and the elements say it's not safe.

Know Thy Tide Chart

There is no surer way to meet your local TowBoatUS captain than by running up on a beach at high tide. By the same token, an incoming tide can lift a securely beached boat and carry it off, if you're not paying attention. And just because you boat on a lake or river system, don't think you're off the hook. Sudden changes in wind direction can push water away from a shore, or pile it up with the same result. Pop-up thunderstorms strand boats every year on both tidal and non-tidal waters by quickly building up wind and wave action that drive boats ashore before their owners can move them to deeper water.

Come In SLOW

A lot of boaters seem to think they need momentum to push the boat up on the beach or sandbar. Coming in much faster than dead slow only guarantees the sand will scratch up the gelcoat on your keel that much more. A smarter approach is to only motor in to where the water is waist deep, turn off the engine, trim the motor or outdrive all the way up, and then have a crew member go over the side to walk the boat to the desired location with a bow line.

Park So You Can Leave Again

With a favorable (incoming) tide and a protected location with little or no wave or wake action, veteran sandbar enthusiasts will pull the boat inshore until the keel under the bow firmly nudges bottom, and then take the anchor to the beach or further inshore to provide tension to keep the keel against the sand. But this leaves the stern of the boat vulnerable to being swamped by wakes, or for wind or wave action to push the boat parallel to the beach. If the entire keel ends up resting on the sand, it can be difficult to get the boat back into deeper water.

A better method is to march the bow in till the water is just over your knees, and then spin the boat 180 degrees so that the bow faces out toward the deep water (larger boats will require more draft). You can then walk or swim an anchor out to deep water, AND deploy one or two stern anchors or sand spikes on the beach to keep the boat pointed the correct direction.

Hear The Music

Wave action against the bow won't be an issue, and this has the added benefit of giving you and the crew easy access to the boat via the stern, and usually makes it easier to hear the stereo, too. When you are ready to go, pull up the stern anchors, get aboard, and pull the boat to deeper water using the anchor rode.

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