Sharing Lessons From The Front Lines

Published: October 2013

Put children, water, and anything that floats together, and you can be certain a boat — of one kind or another — will result. It's as if we're born with the desire to captain our own vessel, no matter how humble. Researchers talk of a human drive toward exploration, a genetic need to expand our hunting grounds, an instinct to disperse to prevent overpopulation. Maybe. But those children with that bit of Styrofoam at the edge of a pond aren't really trying to go anywhere. They're just being kids, and most kids love water and anything that lets them stay in — or on — the water longer.

If that urge to get out on the water weren't so fundamental, there'd be a lot fewer boaters. Because once our boats become more than a bit of Styrofoam or a big piece of driftwood, it starts to feel as if nature is out to get us. Mostly it's our fault because we want to take so much stuff with us — our families, our fishing gear, our buddies, our pets, our cold drinks. Some of us even want to take our kitchens, bathrooms, and beds. We want to go farther and get there faster, so we trade in wood for fancy fiberglass composites, replace oars with an engine, and add sophisticated electrical systems to power our fancy electronics.

Now there are lots of things that can and do go wrong. On most boats, we start with a perfectly watertight fiberglass hull, and then we cut and drill holes through it. Some of those holes are below the waterline, so we attach hoses and valves and clamps to keep the water out. We run wiring all over the boat, and we cram equipment into spaces where it can only be accessed by 3-year-olds. Nature tries to undo it all with saltwater that corrodes metals and wiring connections, chafe that parts lines and damages wiring, UV radiation that makes plastics brittle and gelcoat fade, and high temperatures that bake electronics and cause poorly ventilated equipment to overheat. To add insult to injury, cormorants bomb our decks with stinky, corrosive droppings, and winter invaders chew on insulation and nest in our cushions

Sometimes it feels like a war out there. And Seaworthy has long been reporting from the front lines. To keep your boat from succumbing, to keep it seaworthy, takes hard-won knowledge amassed over decades. The BoatUS Marine Insurance program's claim files represent a treasure trove of information that we are privileged to mine for you. Seaworthy lets grown-ups spend more time on the water indulging their inner child.

Photo of boat fire being put out

Photo: Christine Doyle

Seaworthy isn't afraid to delve into everything from critter-proofing boats to preventing ethanol damage to engines to avoiding the top 10 causes of boat insurance claims. It's entirely possible — likely even — that other boaters you know haven't learned those hard-won lessons and are badly in need of a subscription to Seaworthy. Go to www.BoatUS.com/Seaworthy, click on the subscribe button, and, in just a few minutes, you can check off some of your boating friends' names from your Christmas list.End of story marker


To comment on this article, please contact Seaworthy@BoatUS.com