Blog January 2020


Posted On: January 31, 2020

Groundhog Day  is a traditional holiday originating in the United States that is celebrated on February 2. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early, some time before the vernal equinox; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, and winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

Modern customs of the holiday involve early morning celebrations to watch the groundhog emerging from its burrow.

In southeastern Pennsylvania, Groundhog Lodges (Grundsow Lodges) celebrate the holiday with social events in which food is served, speeches are made, and one or more plays or skits are performed for entertainment. The Pennsylvania German dialect is the only language spoken at the event, and those who speak English pay a penalty, usually in the form of a nickel, dime, or quarter per word spoken, with the money put into a bowl in the center of the table.

Groundhog Day was adopted in the U.S. in 1887. Clymer H. Freas was the editor of the local paper Punxsutawney Spirit at the time, and he began promoting the town’s groundhog as the official "Groundhog Day meteorologist".

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, with Punxsutawney Phil. Groundhog Day, already a widely recognized and popular tradition, has received widespread attention as a result of the 1993 film Groundhog Day.



Posted On: January 26, 2020

What are red tides?

Phytoplankton, the drifting communities found throughout the surface layers of the ocean, perform the crucial role of capturing the energy in sunlight to produce complex molecules in the process of photosynthesis. In doing so, they provide the basic food on which almost all the oceans' animal communities depend. But sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, and red tides — or algal blooms — are one of the results.

"Red tide" is a general term for the phenomenon in which the tiny phytoplankton cells become locally so numerous that they cause discoloration of the water. The discoloration is caused by the concentration of pigments in the algal cells, and although these are often red, sometimes extremely so, they can also appear as orange, yellow, brown, or green, depending on the species.

Algal blooms can often be harmful. The harmful effects are usually the result of the production of natural toxins by the algae, which can have serious consequences for both wildlife and man, particularly because the toxins can accumulate in commercially exploited Mollusca shellfish such as oysters and mussels. In addition to these toxic effects, some algal blooms can be so concentrated that they clog the gills of fish and shellfish, and their decaying remains can deplete the oxygen concentration in the water to lethal levels.

The cause of algal blooms is often uncertain, though a sudden and local increase in the availability of nutrients is usually involved. Like their terrestrial equivalents, marine plants, including phytoplanktonic algae, are dependent on sufficient sunlight, adequate warmth, and the availability of nutrients such as phosphates and nitrates. In a red tide situation, the injection of nutrients is either too rapid or at the wrong time to allow herbivorous animals to control the growth.

The source of the nutrients can be a result of human activity. For example, algal blooms in freshwater lakes are often caused by runoff from agricultural lands carrying fertilizer into the water body. In the same way, rivers flowing through agricultural landscapes can carry high levels of nutrients to the sea and stimulate algal blooms as a consequence. Some blooms, however, seem to be entirely natural and caused by local wind and water conditions churning up nutrients into the upper water column.



Posted On: January 24, 2020

Choosing A Policy

All-risk policies, with consequential-damage coverage for losses due to specific peril such as fire or sinking, are among the broadest recreational marine policies available today. They cover certain types of losses resulting from a failed part, even if the cause of the part's failure is excluded. With consequential-damage coverage, for example, if a thru-hull should fail due to corrosion (a typical exclusion in marine policies) and your boat sinks, the repair or replacement of the thru-hull would not be covered, but the damages directly related to the sinking would.

All-risk policies provide for a broad array of losses from an accidental cause that could befall your boat, such as theft, vandalism, lightning, fire, grounding, and sinking. When comparing policies, look for options that protect your personal items, such as watersports equipment and fishing gear. Non-emergency towing coverage is also important to have in the event of a breakdown.

Typical recreational marine policies in the market give you the option to insure your boat in the event of a total loss for its "agreed value" (also known as "stated value") or for the current market value (often "called actual cash value"), which may be lower than the agreed value. Generally, an actual cash value policy is less expensive. The larger the boat's value relative to your total assets, the more important insurance becomes to protect yourself from financial loss.

The Bare Minimum

If you're comfortable with risking the value of your boat, many companies, give you the option for a liability-only policy that doesn't insure physical damage to your boat at all but provides a specified amount of coverage for your liability to others in the event of an accident, as well as protection from uninsured boaters.

Even if your boat isn't worth very much, you should still consider purchasing liability insurance. A collision with a small powerboat can cause serious injuries, and even if you're not found liable for those injuries, it could cost a significant amount of money in legal fees to defend yourself against such claims.

Policies that cover liability only, with no hull coverage, can be significantly less expensive than full-coverage policies.

Note that if you already have a homeowner's umbrella (or excess-liability) policy, it will usually require your boat policy to have certain minimum liability limits (typically $300,000, but sometimes as high as $500,000), and you should make sure there's no coverage gap.

Boat insurance is flexible, so you can buy the right kind of policy at the right price for you, from one that protects your assets in case of a liability claim against you to one that covers most situations that could damage or destroy your boat. Getting quotes on several different types of policies will allow you to make an informed decision based on the coverage versus the cost. 



JANUARY 20, 2020

Posted On: January 20, 2020

Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States


What Do People Do?


Martin Luther King Day is a relatively new federal holiday and there are few long standing traditions. It is seen as a day to promote equal rights for all Americans, regardless of their background. Some educational establishments mark the day by teaching their pupils or students about the work of Martin Luther King and the struggle against racial segregation and racism. In recent years, federal legislation has encouraged Americans to give some of their time on this day as volunteers in citizen action groups.


Martin Luther King Day, also known as Martin Luther King’s birthday and Martin Luther King Jr Day, is combined with other days in different states. For example, it is combined with Civil Rights Day in Arizona and New Hampshire, while it is observed together with Human Rights Day in Idaho. It is also a day that is combined with Robert E. Lee’s birthday in some states. The day is known as Wyoming Equality Day in the state of Wyoming

Martin Luther King was an important civil rights activist. He was a leader in the movement to end racial segregation in the United States. His most famous address was the "I Have A Dream" speech. He was an advocate of non-violent protest and became the youngest man to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in 1968.


In 1968, shortly after Martin Luther King died, a campaign was started for his birthday to become a holiday to honor him. After the first bill was introduced, trade unions lead the campaign for the federal holiday. It was endorsed in 1976. Following support from the musician Stevie Wonder with his single "Happy Birthday" and a petition with six million signatures, the bill became law in 1983. Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986, although it was not observed in all states until the year 2000. In 1990, the Wyoming legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr/Wyoming Equality Day as a legal holiday.



Posted On: January 17, 2020

We see too many claims that could have been avoided by improving the skills of the operator.

To see what we mean, try answering these quick safety quiz questions:

Answers at bottom

1. What is the safest thing to do for someone suspected of having hypothermia?
a. Give them a warm alcoholic beverage
b. Massage the body to circulate blood
c. Get immediate medical attention
d. Apply hot towels to the head to thin the blood

2. How does alcohol use affect boat operators or passengers?
a. Physical reactions become slower
b. Depth perception becomes sharper
c. Reasoning ability becomes quicker
d. Balance and sense of direction improve

3. Which of the following is considered a safe refueling practice?
a. Closing all hatches and doors while ­refueling
b. Turning your key on to operate the fuel gauge
c. Sending all passengers below while ­refueling
d. Using the hands-free automatic shutoff to avoid spills

4. U.S. Coast Guard regulations require that a 14-foot powerboat carry which of the following items between sunset and sunrise?
a. Power horn and bell
b. Garbage placards
c. Navigation lights
d. Navigation handbook

5. Which of the following is a requirement for life jackets?
a. They must be properly sized for the intended wearer
b. They must be stored safely in a watertight bag
c. They must provide miles-per-hour impact
d. They must be orange or other highly ­visible color

6. Which of the following is recommended when docking with wind and the current?
a. Whenever possible, approach the dock with the wind and the current
b. Have your fenders and docklines ready before you approach the dock
c. Have crew positioned to physically fend off the dock
d. Prepare two docklines; any more than that will get tangled

How'd you do?

Answers: 1: C, 2: A, 3: A, 4: C, 5: A, 6: B



Posted On: January 13, 2020

Considering peer to peer boat renting?

Here"s an interesting excerpt from an article in BOATUS,

Give us a call to see if you are covered.

Peer-to-peer, apples-to-oranges Insurance offerings vary significantly from platform to platform, and in many cases, from boat to boat.

For example, Boatsetter provides the BoatUS Peer-to- Peer Boat Rental Policy and on-water assistance through TowBoatUS with every rental.

On the other hand, other companies, like GetMyBoat, require the boat owner to hold the appropriate insurance.

Click&Boat, a European P2P platform, requires boat owners to have their own insurance for boat rentals and offers optional assistance, repatriation, and cancellation insurance to renters.

To further complicate things, there are also important differences between P2P boating insurance and recreational boat owner's insurance. During the rental you could be subject to different insurance terms than what you may be used to. For instance, the geographical area you're permitted to boat in is likely to be different. Boat owners and renters should do their due diligence and understand their insurance coverage before renting P2P.

Questions A Boat Owner Should Ask

According to Boatsetter, in 2018 the average owner grossed $4,600 in rental income on the platform. It's one way to offset the costs of moorage and maintenance, though regional and demand differences make that figure vary widely.

If you're thinking about renting your boat out on a P2P rental platform, here are the insurance questions to ask:

Does my existing insurance cover rentals?

Almost all recreational boat insurance policies prohibit rentals, which leaves boat owners with two other options. The first is through a platform like Boatsetter that provides P2P insurance.

Many platforms, however, do not offer insurance or recommend insurance providers.

Essentially the only other option is to get a charter policy that allows for bare-boat charters. Otherwise you and your renter may not be covered at all. These types of policies are typically more expensive and harder to find.

How will my boat be valued in case of a total loss?

One of the marked differences between P2P policies and recreational policies is how the boat is valued in the case of a total loss (e.g., major fire, sinking).

The majority of folks have agreed value policies on their boats, but the P2P policy is an actual cash value policy. The difference is that an actual-cash-value policy accounts for depreciation.

Let's say the agreed value on a recreational policy is $30,000. That's what would be paid out if the boat is a total loss. If you have a total loss during a rental, which is covered by a P2P policy, the value will be based on actual cash value. If the market industry reference material (BUC or NADA) says that boat is worth $25,000, that's what would be paid out. So when your boat is used in a P2P program, the insured value may be less.

"With that said," Pellerin continued, "there are very few total-loss claims that we see come through the peer-to peer program. Most losses are things like striking submerged objects, striking the ground, hitting the dock, and dock rash scenarios."

How much liability insurance do I need?

The BoatUS Peer-to-Peer Boat Rental Policy provides up to $300,000 in liability coverage, which is comparable to most recreational policies. "With recreational policies, the majority of people carry a $300,000 limit," said Pellerin." However, depending on your risk tolerance, you may want to buy supplemental insurance.

Pellerin suggests that high-net-worth owners may want to ask how much liability coverage the P2P policy is providing and then check with their homeowners or umbrella insurance to see if there are any additional limits available.

Is my boat safe, and am I meeting regulatory requirements?

"It's the owner's responsibility to make sure that the boat is equipped with all legally required safety equipment, everything is operational, and the boat is seaworthy," said Pellerin. "They should be doing a quick safety check and walk through with the renter."

Boat Owners

Ensure your boat has all the required safety equipment.

Request a trip plan.

Do a detailed walk through and test drive with renters.

Create your own "renter's manual" with safety and basic boat operation checklists, emergency contact information, and what to do in case of an accident.

Consider additional insurance that may increase your liability coverage on the water (e.g. umbrella and homeowners insurance).




Posted On: January 10, 2020

You hear what sounds like a squealing noise coming from your engine.

it may be a warning that your alternator belt is too loose. This usually can be easily diagnosed and should be fixed as soon as possible. You can probably handle the job easily, quickly, and with tools that you have aboard.

First, check the alternator for significant problems. If, for example, the belt is rapidly deteriorating or a mechanical part is interfering with the alternator, shut down the engine if it's safe to do so.

Then check for an increase in the DC alternator load. Examples of this could be from 12-volt refrigeration, a 110-volt microwave powered by a battery-fed inverter, or even a wiring short that you'd probably find by seeing "arcing" (sparks or electrical discharge), a burning smell, or even fire.

Confirm at the 12-volt panel if possible; if there's excess electrical draw, turn off or fix the device. If the extra loading has occurred before without squealing, or if squealing continues after you turn off the DC load, then it looks like the culprit is a loose alternator belt that needs tightening or replacing.

Keep in mind:

Fine belt "dust" around or under the belt's path could indicate any of the above or misalignment of pulley wheels, but these particles are normal to a limited extent after lengthy running.

Misalignment of wheels is usually best determined by removing the belt and putting a straight edge into the center of the grooves.



Posted On: January 06, 2020

Take A First-Aid Course

If one of your guests falls and hits his or her head on your boat, would you know what to do?

How about if one of your crew develops heat exhaustion? Or has chest pains?

Unfortunately, panic during these frightening situations, and an understandable focus on the injured individual, often lead to a cascade of other problems.

According to insurance files, claims for damage (and sometimes liability claims for injuries that weren't properly addressed) result. The more you and your crew know about how to treat someone who's hurt, the better.

Dreaming of summer cruises doesn't usually include fishhook-impaled fingers, sunburn, or sprained ankles, but we all know stuff happens on the water. Having a first-aid kit is great, but you need to know how to use what's in it, and how to respond if there's a medical emergency onboard. Having a course under your belt will take away much of the stress of an emergency as well as make it more likely your crew (or you) will quickly recover.

The Red Cross offers first-aid and CPR courses around the country, and you can also find American Heart Association courses specifically for boaters that cover extras like carbon monoxide exposure, hypothermia, electric shock drowning (ESD) and seasickness.

Based on an article in BoatUS