ALEXANDRIA, Va., September 23, 2014 -- As their annual migration south approaches, sail and powerboat cruisers are stocking their boat’s lockers, checking systems and taking inventory of spare parts. But that’s not the only preparation these cruising “snowbirds” will need to do, says Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). They need to look at their boat’s insurance policy, should strongly consider having an on water towing service, and rent an EPIRB for those taking an offshore route.
“Checking insurance paperwork, towing and communications gear may not be as exciting as stocking the boat, but they can make or break the trip south,” said BoatUS spokesman Scott Croft.
Are you covered? Your boat’s insurer will need to know when you are outside the “home waters” named on your policy, and waiting to the last minute can be a pain because they may require additional payment or delay a departure date by requiring a rigging or engine survey – so do this early. Croft says the BoatUS insurance program offers upfront “no-hassle” cruising limit extensions for popular cruising destinations that can be set up at the beginning of a boat’s insurance policy. “This one-time approval gives the boater the coverage they need, eliminates surprises and takes away the hassle of having to ask each year or pay for an extension every time they depart home waters.” Additionally, in Mexico, all boats are required under Mexican Law to have liability insurance issued through a Mexican insurance company. BoatUS can help find this coverage through a partnership with a Mexican insurer.
Ready for a grounding? The second most important task is having an annual on water towing plan for the Intracoastal Waterway’s (ICW) notoriously shallow waters. “Every ICW chat board is filled with grounding stories,” said Croft. “It’s wise to have an on water towing plan before you go, as paying for ungrounding services out of pocket can be very expensive.” BoatUS offers an annual Unlimited saltwater towing plan at BoatUS.com/towing for $149 that includes BoatUS membership.
Calling for help offshore?
Croft advises those making offshore passages to have an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) so their safety needs are met when cruising beyond VHF radio or cell phone range. If snowbirds don’t want to make the investment, the BoatUS Foundation offers $65 weekly EPIRB rentals for the boat and Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) for the crew for $45 weekly, plus shipping. Boaters can order online at BoatUS.org/epirb
or call 888-663-7472 and mention code “DISC10” for a 10% discount on their weekly rental rate through December 1, 2014. All beacons are shipped via FedEx in watertight hard cases and come with a prepaid FedEx form to easily return when the passage is complete.
Do you know what lies ahead? New navigational issues are always a part of each new boating season on the ICW. To help boaters keep clear of troubles is the complimentary “East Coast Alert” bi-weekly email service by liveaboards and authors Tom and Mel Neale available by signing up at BoatUS.com/eastcoastalert. Some recent alert information has included warnings about shifted buoys and shoals, dredging activities, and changes to drawbridge operating hours.
Get a discount on fuel, overnight slips: While saving money isn’t a provision, BoatUS members ($24 annually) pay less for gas – from $.05 to $.10 off each gallon of fuel at dozens of BoatUS Cooperating Marinas along the ICW. Many marinas also offer discounts of up to 25% off transient slip fees and up to 15% on boat and engine repairs. BoatUS.com/map can help snowbirds find BoatUS Cooperating Marinas along the way.
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS.com
) is the nation’s leading advocate for recreational boaters providing its over half-million members with government representation, services such as 24-hour dispatch, on water boat towing as well as roadside assistance for boat trailers and tow vehicles, feature-packed boat insurance programs, money-saving benefits including marina and service discounts, and vital information that improves recreational boating. Its member-funded BoatUS Foundation is a national leader promoting safe, clean and responsible boating and offers range of boating safety courses – including 33 free state courses – that can be found at BoatUS.org/courses.