Seaworthy: All The Advice That's Fit To Print

Our annual plea to readers to give gift subscriptions of Seaworthy to friends and family

In this issue, editors are going to “lay it all on the line” about what advice is fit to print in Seaworthy. The point has always been to help you, the readers, learn from other people’s mistakes; there’s no use blowing up your boat, for example, to learn that you should have been inspecting your fuel system occasionally for gasoline leaks. But while we’ve tried to include the finer points of avoiding boating mishaps, we’ve also been careful not to insult our readers by publishing accounts of really obvious mistakes.

Photo: Bill Wahab

Until now: This past August, a boat owner in Norfolk, Virginia left the security of his marina and went sailing just before Hurricane Irene came ashore. The reason, the skipper said later, was that he was worried about his boat being damaged so he was trying to take it to a more secure location that was 150 miles further inland. That’s certainly a viable strategy if the hurricane is still a day or two offshore. But his decision to cast off the lines and raise the sails when the wind and waves were already building was not well thought out and, not surprisingly, the skipper and boat quickly got into trouble. Shortly after leaving the marina, conditions became horrendous and the forestay parted. The boat’s engine wouldn’t start. The skipper threw out the anchor. The windlass pulled out of the deck. When the boat had dragged to within a few yards of the surf line, the skipper put out a mayday. Given the conditions, rather than launch a helicopter or surfboat, the Coast Guard opted to conduct an old-fashioned rescue from the beach. The skipper and his girlfriend, who was also aboard, were rescued. Shortly afterward, the boat came crashing through the surf and wound up on a beach.

The boat was not insured by BoatUS. In fact, it appears that the boat wasn’t insured by anybody.

A few points that are begging to be made:

Some hurricane prep strategies work better than others.

It’s a good idea to insure your boat.

It’s an even better idea to insure your boat with BoatUS because in addition to paying (legitimate) claims quickly, you can get a lot of practical advice by reading Seaworthy.

One more point: If the skipper had read Seaworthy, he would have known that the time to begin planning for a hurricane is before the start of the hurricane season, not during a hurricane. If you know someone who owns a boat but still has a lot to learn, for only $10 ($18 for two years) you can give him or her a gift subscription to Seaworthy. We’ll send a card saying the subscription is from you. Note that you can also give yourself a subscription (paper copy) for only $6 a year.

For subscriptions, call 800-262-8082, ext 3276. You can also go to Or write to Seaworthy, c/o BoatUS 880 South Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304.

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Seaworthy (The Book)

Published by McGraw Hill/International Marine, Seaworthy (the book) has 280 pages of advice on how to avoid all the things that can ruin a peaceful afternoon on the water—collisions, fires, falling overboard, sinking, etc. There are over 150 photographs. Seaworthy is currently available in hardcover for $17.54 plus shipping at and all major bookstores.