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Ensure Safer Boating and Money Saved with Your Winter Reading List: Owners Manuals?

By badriance - Published January 28, 2009 - Viewed 3028 times

Maybe they’re buried under a bunk or stuffed into the nav station with some outdated chartbooks. Or perhaps they’re jammed into a hanging locker, gathering mildew beneath piles of damp foul weather gear. But wherever they are, the various manuals that came with your boat and equipment were meant to be read before problems occur.


“Before” is important, because skippers typically wait until something goes wrong, maybe terribly wrong, before they’ll consult an owner’s manual. A skipper in Florida, to cite on example, heard a “buzzing” and reluctantly consulted his engine manual (without shutting off the engine). After fumbling around in lockers to find the manual and thumbing through the pages, he finally figured out that the irritating noise was an oil pressure alarm.


Another manual mishap occurred when the eager skipper of a new boat (“new” to this skipper) tried to make breakfast on the pressurized alcohol stove without first consulting the manual. The skipper knew to pump alcohol from the tank to the strove but was a little fuzzy about what to do next. He turned on the burner and lit a match, which produced a flame. Reassured, he reached for the eggs.


Unfortunately, the alcohol continued dribbling out of the burner into the pre-warming pan and then onto the stovetop. As the alcohol spread, the flame grew larger and spilled over the front of the stove. The skipper turned off the burner (some things you just know to do, even without a manual) and grabbed a fire extinguisher. After several seconds of fumbling around with the extinguisher -- he’d never given the fire extinguisher much thought either -- the harried skipper managed to put out the fire.


In this case, the broker who sold the boat hadn’t taken the time to acquaint the skipper with the details of the stove, or for that matter, any of the boat’s other systems, because he was late for his Wednesday night sailboat race. And while it may be tempting to dump all of the blame on the “grab-the-money-and-run” mentality of the broker, the skipper himself had been remiss by not bothering to consult the stove’s manual before striking the near-fatal match.




Manufacturers worry about liability, to be sure, but owner’s manuals don’t just say thanks for buying the product, and by the way, don’t stick your fingers into moving parts. Manuals have as much to do with service, operation, and getting the most for your investment as they do with safety. The money you’ll save by following recommended servicing is reason enough to read your manuals. With engines, for example, the manual is the only way to learn which octane gasoline should be used; how long the engine should idle before it is shut down; when you should change the filters, and at what RPM the engine is most comfortable, etc.


Engines, as well as water heaters, freshwater systems, etc., last longer when they’re treated well and, conversely, they can die quickly if they’re not. Every spring, BoatU.S. claims staff receive reports of engines that were ruined because owner’s manuals were not consulted when the boat was laid up. Overlooking just one drain cock can wreck an engine or, for that matter, a water heater or freshwater system. These mistakes are costly, and they usually aren’t covered by insurance. And in this economy, who needs that?


For best coverage of your boat and gear this season, check out what the experts at BoatUS Marine Insurance have to offer. Affordable policies for all boat types, unique coverages designed just for boaters, 24/7 service from boating professionals. Click Here for a Fast, Free Quote!

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